#MemorialDay special: Remember our recent fallen soldiers from Mesa

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Kap Sikahema named head football coach at Mesa High

By Jill Adair

At a school rich with tradition, bringing back a former football star to coach only seems fitting.

Applying for the job as Mesa High School varsity football coach earlier this year, Kap Sikahema didn’t get very far in the process but was offered a job as assistant coach at Westwood High School. After some encouragement on social media for the community to call for district officials to reconsider, things turned around. Kap was offered the head coaching position at Mesa High and planned to meet the team for the first time Wednesday morning.

“I don’t think I’d be here if it wasn’t for the community,” Sikahema said Tuesday. “They really came together and went to bat for me. I’m grateful for them.”

Kap Sikahema (photo from BYU Athletics online)

Sikahema played for the Mesa Jackrabbits from 1982 to 1984, graduating with the Class of ’85. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tonga and, after returning, played as a defensive back for BYU.

His older brother, Vai Sikahema, played for the Jackrabbits in the late ’70s, helping the team to the state finals in 1979. He went on to play for BYU, and, after serving a two-year church mission, became the first Tongan to play in the NFL, being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals) and then playing with the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles. He is news co-anchor and sports director at the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia. He said he is proud of his younger brother.

“Kap is a highly respected coach,” Vai said. “He’s a really good defensive coach and is really good with kids.”

“It’s kind of an iconic job,” Vai said of the head coaching position at Mesa High. “I have such a love for the school and the people who taught and coached us. I never took for granted the great education I got there and the amazing coaching and mentoring we received. Now to think my kid brother will have that kind of influence…it’s very surreal.”

Kap graduated with a master’s degree in public administration from BYU and went into business. He said he’s been coaching for the last 20 years at high schools in Utah, Washington and Pennsylvania.

“It’s been a blessing to be involved with these kids’ lives,” he said.

After visiting Mesa recently he really wanted to return to the school he had attended more than 30 years ago.

“It means everything to me,” he said.

Scot C. Schmidt, Mesa High School assistant principal/athletic director, said in a prepared statement Wednesday morning: “Mesa High School would like to announce their new head football coach as Kap Sikahema. Coach Sikahema comes to us from Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City Utah. With over 15 years of coaching experience at various high schools Coach Sikahema is dedicated to excellence.”

Coach Sikahema said he is assembling a team of coaches who understand Mesa High and the traditions that the school and community hold dear.

He plans to have his staff include former Cardinals player Deuce Lutui; kicking coach Scott Baker and former head coach Bill McKane – all who have deep ties to Mesa High.

“We are Mesa High and Mesa High is us,” he said.

“I want these kids to be coached by quality coaches, quality people,” he said. “We want to bring back the traditions that we helped build. I think the community will be proud of what we can put together and compete with the Hamiltons and Brophys out there.”

After high school Kap Sikahema served a church mission with his parents in Tonga. (photo from Vai Sikahema).


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Graduation Night: May 6, 2016

The Mesa Leadership Class of 2016 graduation ceremony was a great event, celebrating a wonderful journey through the program.

2016 Chair Melissa Jones holds the annual business meeting before graduation. Melissa, you totally rock!
Michael Book and Jill Adair give an overview of the class project at the Grant Woods – Mesa Branch of the East Valley Boys and Girls Club. (Photo by Mark Young)
A new tradition is starting – thanks to 2016 classmate Lyn Gorton – that will involve current class members and Mesa Leadership alumni to participate as a team in Mesa Relay for Life. (Photos below by Scott Adair)
Then we moved into the Graduation Program. The Hilton served up a delicious dinner.
A few words from Mayor John Giles.
Former Mesa Woman of the Year Claudia Walters inspires us with a pinch of personal experiences from her life and good amount of common sense advice!
Michael Book and Jill Adair give an overview of our 2016 Class.
Melissa Jones gives Mesa Chamber President Sally Harrison a special recognition for the chamber’s support of the Mesa Leadership program.
Yes, we do get to graduate with a Certificate of Recognition!



Diane Clevenger receives her certificate.
Vince Evans
John Gilliam
Wayne LaMarre (center) with Lucy Lopez and Forrest Smith.
Patti Oskverek
Kristen Rubi
Sen. Morgan Sarager
Mark Young



A wonderful, thoughtful gift to each of us from Jaime Glasser, our artist and creator of the 100-foot mural!
Good company! (photo by Sally Harrison)
Decadent dessert (photo by Sally Harrison)

Our remarks on the class service project by Michael Book and Jill Adair (presented during the business meeting):


Jill: Early in September our class toured the Grant Woods Branch of the East Valley Boys and Girls Club in downtown Mesa. As we later discussed a class service project our minds turned to the Boys and Girls Club and what we might be able to do to help them.

Michael: We identified four projects and formed committees and committee heads. These included 1. Collecting books, supplies and educational materials. 2. Cleaning up and revamping the playground area. 3. Painting a 100-foot mural representing the club and adjacent school. 4. Remodeling the front office/receptionist area.

Jill: We had several fundraisers including selling Jamba Juice cards, a yard sale and a night at Pie Five Pizza. We also received private and corporate donations. In total, we raised nearly $4,000.

Michael: While our plans may have had to be scaled back a little, we pretty much accomplished what we set out to do, and a couple of things we still plan to complete. As a brief overview, this highlights what was done:

Jill: The book committee solicited new books from local authors in sets of 10 for the club’s book club and reading circles, last count we had 243 new books donated. In addition, we had more than 200 used books donated and as well as hundreds of supplies from the club’s wish list and thousands of pencils (what they said they considered “gold.”) They were also presented a check for $500 for anything else that they needed.

Michael: We had a service day Jan. 30 where we cleaned up the playground area, repainted the lines on the basketball court, added a logo to the center of the court and painted some other things. We also painted a 100-foot section of the block wall facing the playground, which later became a mural.

Recently, some contractors did some impressive work by grading the area around the outside of the playground and adding several tons of large rocks in order to make the area drain and distribute rain water effectively to the retention basin and keep it out of the playground area.

There were also several things done to keep the gravel off of the basketball court and a sidewalk was installed on the west side of the playground which now makes the park ADA accessible, provides a path for kids and parents to walk from the parking lot down into the playground area, and also creates a buffer between the playground and basketball court.

Jill: Our group’s artist met with the students to design the mural.  Their ideas in pictures and words were transformed into this colorful 100-feet-long and 6-feet- high mural. Most of us had a chance to paint on it, even though we aren’t artists, and many of the children painted and now they have ownership in it. The act of creating this crossed ethnicities, experience, race, and age. Now the children have this mural to remind them that anything they want to do they can and it is an expression of what the place means to them.

Michael: Lastly, we still plan to remodel the office area with donated furniture and supplies from SRP, which will come at a later time this year. And we still have money set aside to put in a grill, set in concrete. A company working on light rail may be able to do that for us when they start construction again. So much was donated that it’s impossible to put a total estimate on it. The contractors’ work alone is probably about $10,000.

Jill: Each of us in the class feels that this was such a worthwhile project benefiting the children in our community. Everybody who had a role did an outstanding job. It’s amazing to see what can be done when 25 people set out to use their time, talents, resources and contacts for the benefit of their community!


Our 2016 Class Presentation by Michael Book and Jill Adair (presented during the graduation program):


“The Journey”

Michael: Well, it’s been quite a journey, right, Jill?

Jill: Yes, Michael, it sure has!

Michael: At the beginning of the class we didn’t know what to expect, new faces from different backgrounds, but we all had a common goal: Learn more about Mesa and get involved.

Jill: (show slide 1–first class meeting) The first class meeting was at a firehouse community room downtown. We learned a little about what to expect from our class organizers, but mostly we tried to build a structure from marshmallows and sticks without it falling down.

First meeting.JPG

Michael: There were many things to accomplish in order for us to get the most of this opportunity, from interaction with our classmates, to ride-a-longs and shadowing opportunities, from group tours to the group project.

Jill: (show slide 2–ride-a-longs) We were all able to go on four different types of ride-a-longs: fire department, police, park rangers, and code compliance. Each one opened up our eyes with so many things we often take for granted from these vital city groups. And we got some great stories to tell.


Michael: Hey, Jerry, didn’t you have an encounter with a male prostitute? No, I mean on your police ride-a-long. Ha! (show slide 3–tours) Along with our monthly classes, there were 36 group tours since last August. The tours included nonprofit agencies and government and business operations. The tours opened up our eyes, and in some cases, our hearts, to the abundant needs in Mesa. We understood better the great needs of our community but we also saw and met a multitude of wonderful people who are active in the community and making a positive difference. Each tour had its own inspirational moments.


Jill: Some of our class members were able to attend more of the tours than others. Sharon, who ended up with the most points earned, seemed to be at every single tour. I think she even scheduled and attended her own tours.

Michael: I believe there is a 12-step program for this.

Jill: She seemed dedicated to experiencing each and every tour that was available but I’m not sure how that impacted her job as we saw this posting on the City of Mesa’s website. (show slide 4–Sharon is missing)

Missing Person Sharon.jpg

Michael: Wait, I see Sharon in the audience now. Was there a reward offered? (show slide 5–shadowing) We had some amazing opportunities to shadow some interesting and important people in our community, including the mayor and city councilmen; the superintendent of Mesa Public Schools, businessmen and women, leaders of nonprofits; city and assistant city managers.


Jill: Morgan even went all the way to Washington DC to shadow Congressman Matt Salmon, and we found out that Morgan has aspirations for high public office. But he’s been a little quiet on just how ambitious he is. We have uncovered some photos from some of his other shadowing experiences. (show slides 6-9–Morgan gets around)

Michael: (slide 10 – tour of Boys/Girls Club) Early in September our class toured the Grant Woods Branch of the East Valley Boys and Girls Club and adjacent charter school, Mesa Arts Academy, in downtown Mesa. Later, as our class discussed its service project, our minds turned to the Boys and Girls Club and what we might be able to do to help them. Now, looking back, our class was able to accomplish some great things.

boys and girls club.JPG

Jill: We wanted to use a multipronged approach to our class project and benefit the organization in several ways. Through fundraisers we collected more than $4,000 that went toward some of the project’s supplies but the donated time and materials were so much more than that! (show slide 11–book donation) Patti and her book committee solicited new books from local authors in sets of 10 for the club’s book club and reading circles, we had nearly 250 new books donated. In addition, we had well over 200 used books donated, hundreds of supplies from the club’s wish list and thousands of pencils (what they said they considered “gold.”) They were also presented a check for $500 for anything else that they needed. We held a “Meet the Authors” night this week at the Boys and Girls Club with some of those authors who donated books.\


Michael: (show slide 12–playground upgrades) We wanted to improve their playground amenities, and we did so by repainting the outdoor basketball court lines and adding the Mesa Arts Academy logo at center court. Through Missy’s contacts we were able to secure contractors who graded the area around the outside of the playground to make the area drain and distribute the rain water effectively to the retention basin and to keep it out of the playground area. They also stabilized the area so that the rocks do not slide onto the basketball court. Several tons of large rocks around the perimeter of the Club were added to make it look nicer and also aid in drainage issues.


Jill: And if that wasn’t enough, these contractors installed a sidewalk on the west side of the playground which now makes the park ADA accessible, provides a path for kids and parents to walk from the parking lot down into the playground area, and also creates a buffer between the playground and basketball court.

Michael: (show slide 13–mural painting) Finally, we helped the children to design and paint a 100-foot-long, 6-foot-high mural on the block wall bordering the playground.

mural helping.jpg

Jill: Our classmate and artist Jaime, who took the lead for this project, describes this as an interactive project with the kids who go there every day–not just for them but with them. Members of the two leadership clubs came up with ideas about what the place means to them and then drew pictures of what those ideas looked like. Those pictures and words were transformed into this colorful mural. (show slide 14–mural complete) About 12 kids were involved with the design and another 35-40 kids from the club ultimately took part and they all have ownership in it. You can see the names of anyone involved on separate leaves on the mural.

muralmural leadership logo

Michael: There is a possibility our class may still work to improve the Boys and Girls Club office with donated cabinets and design and install a barbecue area overlooking the playground to be used at their facility events.

Jill: Based on our efforts, Chris Quasula, District Executive with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley wrote the following message:

 “On behalf of the Grant Woods/Mesa Branch and Mesa Arts Academy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley, I would like to sincerely express our gratitude and thank you for everyone’s hard work and dedication to the families and youth that we serve.

All of your efforts are truly benefiting the over 1,000 youth and families that we serve here in the City of Mesa every single day.

One of our staff came up with this quote that expresses why we do what we do in Mesa. “Grant Woods means family. We come from different races and different places but in the end, we are family.” Now each and every one of you are part of that family!”

Chris Quasula receiving some of the book donations.

Michael: Thank you to Diana, our own class member who stepped up to lead our efforts and ensure a successful project. And was promoted to Lieutenant with Mesa PD during the class. We also want to thank Rummel Construction who did the grading/drainage work, DCS Contracting who constructed the concrete ADA ramp, Gothic Landscape who placed the large rock and stabilized the slopes preventing any loose gravel.  Just the time and materials these contractors donated is valued over $10,000. Thank you Damian Charette who contributed his time and artistic talents to help make the mural a focal point that enlivens the entire playground. And DMB Associates Inc. for their generous donation. We don’t have time to mention each of our classmates by name but every person contributed in an important way to make this project a success!

Jill: I think with all the work our class did for this project, there was some talk from all of the other Mesa Leadership classes this truly was the best project completed in the history of Mesa Leadership.

Michael: Yes, I heard the same thing. Great job everyone!

Jill: (show slide 15–Mesa Leadership logo) Of course, our class couldn’t have had these wonderful experiences without the time and support from our Mesa Leadership mentors: Melissa, Forrest, Tony, Lucy, Mandy, Mark and Phyllis. (present gifts)

mesa leadership logo

Michael: In addition, thanks goes to Sally Harrison and the Mesa Chamber for her support of this vital community program.

Jill: (show slide 16–Mesa Leadership 2016) In closing, to our Mesa Leadership 2016 classmates: We’ve learned a lot, we’ve worked hard and we’ve had a lot of fun. We’ve made new friends and expanded our vision of what our community needs and what we can offer.


Michael: It doesn’t matter what each one of you does moving forward; just remember to recognize and seize opportunities as they come and, most of all and strive to be a positive influence in our community. The journey for us is not ending; this is just the beginning!


Thank you, Mesa Leadership!

For more information or if you’re interested in applying for the program, go to: http://mesaleadership.org/





Meet the Authors night at the Boys and Girls Club

Wrapping up our Mesa Leadership class project, and particularly the book drive, we invited some of the local authors who had donated new books to the Mesa Boys and Girls Club on Tuesday, May 3.


Author Angela Chase

Author Angela Dawnell Chase is the author of “The Confident Butterfly.” The children seemed eager to read her books that she donated. For your own copy, go to her website at: www.discoveryourwings.net

Author Plynn Gutman.

Author Plynn Gutman donated a set of her book, “My Son Dave (the Duck),” to the Mesa Boys and Girls Club and earlier this year she made a presentation to the Discovery Children on Friday, Jan. 29. She encouraged them to read and write and the kids were very interested the storytelling and her book. We’re so glad Plynn got to come and greet the children again!


The children were treated to punch and cookies too!
Authors Angela and Plynn


Last class: Learning about community healthcare and public safety

Our last Mesa Leadership class was Friday, April 1. No, not a joke!

We started our morning hearing from Mesa Police Department Chief John Meza. He says he leadership style is based on the idea that it’s all about “how you treat people.” And that should be with “respect and dignity, even the ‘bad guys.'”


We then got to see the K9 unit and learn about how the dogs are trained and how extraordinary they are in assisting police officers.


Did you know?

  • They are mostly males.
  • A police dog will work about eight or nine years before he retires.
  • He can run up to 30 mph.
  • Some wear protective vests.
  • Each costs about $10,000 (and come fully trained).


We heard from Mesa Fire and Medical Department Assistant Chief Mary Cameli.




She had a great presentation and talked about “the box” and how things are put inside our box when we are children (how we think about ourselves, etc.) and we have no control over that. Now, as adults, we can choose what we put in our box!

She also shared some great motivational videos with us:

Soccer Ugly: BYU vs. New Mexico: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNmPybFK2_o

Girls Softball: Central Washington vs Western Oregon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEDBnKahuNs

Louis CK Everything is Amazing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8LaT5Iiwo4

Chicago Bulls Kiss Cam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9M7gy6Wgjg

We also heard about our upcoming graduation on May 6 from 2016 Mesa Leadership Chair Melissa Jones.


We heard about healthcare from Tracy Coulter of CIGNA.


And from Will Humble of the University of Arizona and former DHS director.


We took a tour of the Mesa Public Safety Training Facility in north Mesa.