Education Echoes


Borderlands Film Festival: Gear Up Showcase


On November 8th, the Santa Cruz County School Superintendent’s Office in conjunction with Gear Up and the Borderland Film Festival hosted a student film festival at Oasis Theater. The group of 8th graders created 1-minute films all centered around the theme of life on the border. All 8th graders had been given workshops about the different aspects of filmmaking by Arts Coordinator, Nick Mansfield.  

Fifty kids from Desert Shadows, Wade Carpenter, Coatimundi, Calabasas, Lourdes, and Little Red took part in the film festival. At the event, there was a red carpet, photo booth, interviews from various journalists and all the fanfare expected at any movie premiere. Approximately 100 people attended the event. Along with students, principals, parents and other spectators were in attendance.  

The goal of this event was to give students an opportunity to creatively express how they feel about their community, culture, and lives in a creative and introspective way. Following the success of this event, the Superintendent’s Office would love to continue with the possibility of more workshops or summer camps centered on film making and storytelling.  


2019 National Gear Up Week

Thank you Santa Cruz County, for celebrating National Gear Up Week!
Mr. Alfredo I. Velásquez and the Santa Cruz County School Superintendent’s Office would like to thank all who participated in the festivities during National Gear Up Week~ September 23-27, 2019. 8th grade Gear Up students engaged in college and career readiness activities, and pledged to “Believe in the Power of YET” and incorporate a Growth Mindset into their post-secondary plan. 

Gear Up, Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Under-graduate Programs, is a federally funded grant program in place since 1999. The Superintendent’s Office was awarded the grant in October of 2018, and will continue supporting students until 2025. 

The Santa Cruz County C-CREO Gear Up Program provides services centered around career exploration, academic preparation, building perseverance, and developing a post-secondary plan on all middle school campuses through the work of success coaches. A college and career Liaison at the C-CREO Hub and Arts Coordinator at the Imagination Center, both located in the Santa Cruz Center, are available to work with the community in conjunction with Gear Up and the Santa Cruz County Arts for Learning Initiative in partnership with Young Audiences. 

For more information about the C-CREO Gear Up Program, please contact Program Director Maya Donnelly at

Thank you to our Partners

Educational Communities

NUSD #1: Wade Carpenter Middle School, 

Desert Shadows Middle School

SCVUSD #35: Calabasas School, Coatimundi Middle School

Patagonia Elementary School

Elgin School

Little Red School

Mexicayotl Charter School

Lourdes Catholic School

Sacred Heart of Jesus School


Santa Cruz Center       Dandy’s Creative Graphics                 Lead Local

Bordergráfico               Vib’n Certified                                      Borderlands Film Festival


Creating Supportive Learning Environments

On Wednesday, August 28th, the Santa Cruz County Superintendent’s Office held its first consortium meeting of the school year at the Santa Cruz County Complex at 10:00 a.m. The theme of the consortium is Career Technical Training with presentations from NUSD #1, SCVUSD #35, PUHS #20, Santa Cruz County Provisional Community College, Pima Community College, JTED, and Cochise Technical Educational District. It was a great forum to learn about what local school districts and community colleges are doing to prepare our students for the workforce.

The meeting initiated with a welcome from the Santa Cruz County School Superintendent, Mr. Alfredo I. Velásquez.  The goal of this consortium is to create and support learning environments for all students in Santa Cruz County. Several educators from different educational sectors were in attendance.  

Mr.  Velásquez plays a critical role in supporting the creation of safe and supportive learning environments for all students. He has achieved this by working closely with school district superintendents, universities, Arizona@Work, training programs, and college educators to set the overarching academic goals for the county’s K-12 public education system while supporting specific efforts to help students achieve those aims. Alfredo I. Velásquez is committed to partnering with districts and other organizations to create a network of support that propel our students to achieve and thrive. For more information please contact the Santa Cruz County School Superintendent’s Office at: (520) 375-7952