School team sports

Canyon del Oro High School

Canyon del Oro High School, also known as CDO, is a comprehensive public high school in Oro Valley, Arizona, located north of Tucson at the base of Pusch Ridge. Established in 1962, CDO is one of three high schools of Amphitheater Public Schools and serves over 1,800 students in grades 9-12. The school name originates from the remote Canyon del Oro (Spanish for Canyon of Gold) in the nearby Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The school mascot is the Dorado (from the Legend of El Dorado), a mythical Latin American warrior, and the school colors are forest green and gold. The Dorado mascot was originally designed by former art teacher Diane Redhair in the mid-1960s.

CDO is primarily known for its academic program and the notable number of Major League Baseball players the school has produced in recent decades. CDO is statistically one of the highest achieving schools in Arizona, both academically and athletically. In 2007, Newsweek Magazine rated CDO in the top 5% of public schools in the U.S., one of 12 schools in Arizona included on the list. In 2005, 2006 and 2007 CDO was academically classified as Excelling by the Arizona Department of Education (top 10 percent in Arizona). As of 2007 CDO has graduated 25 National Merit Scholar Finalists since 2000. CDO is also home to the 2006 Arizona Academic Decathlon State Champions, who finished 5th in the National Academic Decathlon. The team placed as State Runner-Up in both 2007 and 2008. CDO is also ranked 6th in Arizona for the most all-time state championships in 4A & 5A (large school) team sports as of 2006 (Arizona Interscholastic Association).

Notable awards and recognition

  • Kenzie Fowler received high school softball's most prestigious award, being named The Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year in 2008. Fowler was the first junior to ever win Gatorade's softball award, and just the second athlete from Arizona to win the national honor in any sport. CDO's Bre Ladd was the other Arizona athlete, named Gatorade's National Volleyball Player of the Year in 2002.
  • 4A Division I Softball State Champions (2007 & 2008).
  • Softball team finished the season ranked 5th nationally by USA Today (2008).
  • First place student finish in the Arizona State Math Contest, and four other students placed in the state's top 50 scorers (2008).
  • Arizona Academic Decathlon State Runner-Up and ranked in the top 20 nationally (2008).
  • 4A Division I Football State Runner-Up (2007).
  • Newsweek Magazine's list of the top 5% of public schools in the U.S. (2007).
  • Arizona Academic Decathlon State Runner-Up (2007).
  • Softball team finished the season ranked 2nd nationally by USA Today (2007).
  • Arizona Academic Decathlon State Champions, 5th place in the National Academic Decathlon (2006).
  • Seven National Merit Finalists (2006).
  • 4A Division I Girls Track & Field State Champions (2006).
  • Named an Excelling School by the Arizona Department of Education (2005-present).
  • The Future Problem Solving Team won second place in the state competition and sixth place in the national competition (2006).
  • Five students placed in the state's top 50 scorers in the Arizona State Math Contest, with another 10 students scoring in the top 10 percent in the state (2006).
  • Librarian Beth Malapanes was selected Circle K/UA Athletics/KOLD Teacher of the Year for the Tucson area (2007).
  • Family and consumer sciences teacher Patti Schmalzel was selected Circle K/UA Athletics/KOLD Teacher of the Year for the Tucson area (2006).
  • Southern Region Academic Decathlon Champions (2002–2007).
  • 5A State Softball Champions (2005), 5A State Baseball Champions (2002).
  • Math teacher Chris Yetman was named an Ambassador for Excellence by the Arizona Educational Foundation as a top 5 finalist for Arizona Teacher of the Year (2005).
  • Arizona Academic Decathlon named math teacher Chris Yetman Region III Coach of the Year (2002).
  • Awarded the Tony Komadina Award for best women's athletic program in the state (1993).


Financing through bonds

The dramatic population growth in the Amphitheater School District during the 1950s placed increasing demands on the district's existing schools. Enrollment reached capacity at the district's sole high school, Amphitheater High School, in the late 1950s. As a result, District Superintendent Marion Donaldson developed a bond proposal in June 1959 that included the purchase of a second high school site in the district. Voters approved the $1.9 million bonds ($12.8 million in 2006) by a 4 to 1 margin. Population growth in the area north of the Rillito River and Tucson was rapidly expanding, and the original 40 acres purchased for the second high school was then determined to initially serve a middle school population as well. Another bond issue was proposed for the construction of Canyon del Oro School in June 1961, with $1.4 million ($9.2 million in 2006) for the first phase of the school, and $2.3 million ($15.3 million in 2006) for expansion of the school. Voters again approved the bonds by a 3 to 1 margin (Amphitheater by Peyton Reavis, 1981).

Canyon del Oro Junior High School

Canyon del Oro School opened as a junior high school in the fall of 1962 with only a seventh grade class. The campus was only a few buildings with a large grass courtyard accessed by Calle Concordia, which was then only a small dirt road. Land values north of Tucson were beginning to appreciate through the 1950s, and many residents of the Amphitheater School District expressed concern that the site of the school in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains was too costly (Amphitheater by Peyton Reavis, 1981).

The school added a new grade level each year, and Canyon del Oro High School was established and declared a high school by the State of Arizona on July 1, 1965, serving grades 9-10 with only a few hundred students. Canyon del Oro Junior High School would continue operation on the same campus, serving grades 7-8 until 1974, when L.W. Cross Middle School was established on a separate campus to accommodate the middle school students.

Canyon del Oro High School

Construction continued on the high school campus, and CDO gained recognition as a school of privilege with state-of-the-art facilities. The campus was designed in a Modernist style by architects Bernard Friedman and Fred Jobusch (Friedman & Jobusch) to be completed in phases. Friedman & Jobusch also designed the contemporary Main Library at the University of Arizona in 1976.

The Modernist style incorporated into the Canyon del Oro campus design in the early 1960s is a significant example of the Modernist movement that dominated in the U.S. following World War II. The Canyon del Oro campus represents a shift in 20th century American architecture when Modernism was favored over traditional styles in an effort to project American progress. The gymnasium at the school featured a four-sided score board suspended above the basketball court (Amphitheater by Peyton Reavis, 1981).

The CDO campus expanded with the gradual population increase north of Tucson, and the first graduating class was in the spring of 1968. New construction occurred through the late 1990s, adding technology and laboratory science facilities for chemistry, physics, and biology. A second gymnasium was completed in the 1970s, along with an expanded library, fine arts complex, and bookstore. As of 2007, the campus included 21 buildings on 68 acres.

Among the most notable families whose children attended CDO during the 1960s and 1970s was the Udall family. Mo Udall represented much of southern Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives at the time, and his brother Stewart Udall served as president of the Amphitheater School Board before later serving as Secretary of the Interior under U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, CDO became a dominating presence in golf and tennis, capturing the respective state titles nearly each year. CDO also won back-to-back state championships in both basketball and football in the late 1970s. The CDO girl's basketball team registered an undefeated 28-0 record in 1987, capturing the 5A State title (Arizona Interscholastic Association).

Substantial growth

As the Oro Valley area experienced significant population growth in the 1990s, enrollment at CDO increased as well. At its enrollment peak, CDO served a student population of nearly 3,100 in 2001. CDO had the highest enrollment of any high school in southern Arizona, and was one of the largest schools in the state. The growth and desirability of Oro Valley (the fastest growing municipality in Arizona for several years in the 1990s), was often credited by the media to CDO and the strong educational reputation the school established (Arizona Daily Star). In 2001, CDO received relief as the Amphitheater School District opened Ironwood Ridge, the district's third high school, in northwestern Oro Valley.

Current state of the school

Canyon del Oro continues to register among the highest standardized test scores in Arizona, and a notable number of National Merit Scholars. CDO is one of the few high schools consistently designated as "Excelling" (the highest academic distinction) by the Arizona Department of Education.


Throughout CDO's history, the school has continually ranked among the top high schools in Arizona in standardized test administrations and academic performance evaluations by the Arizona Department of Education. As a comprehensive institution, the course selection at CDO is extensive. The school offers 17 Advanced Placement courses, among the widest variety available. Over 90% of the school's graduates seek post-secondary education. Half (49.5%) of CDO faculty have attained a Master's degree or a PhD. Canyon del Oro is under accreditation by the North Central Association.

CDO has graduated among the highest number of National Merit Scholars in Arizona. Scholars have been represented in every graduating class since the school's first class in 1968, with the exception of two years (2000 & 2002). The school has also promoted several Flinn Scholars of the Flinn Foundation, the highest scholastic honor in Arizona, into the state's institutions of higher learning.

Achievement rates on Advanced Placement exams, particularly in the laboratory sciences and mathematics, have historically far exceeded the national average. The school's journalism department has been recognized by the Interscholastic Press Association for outstanding work by the school newspaper, The Palantir, and the yearbook, Años de Oro. Since the school opened in the 1960s, CDO has also had a notable history in chess, with teams continually ranked nationally.

Extracurricular activities

The extracurricular activities offered at CDO are numerous and varied. There are chapters of national organizations such as the National Honor Society and clubs founded by CDO students such as Science Explorer, in which students promote science through practical activities in the local community. Service organizations such as Key Club coexist alongside recreational clubs.


Competing in the 5A Division for 25 years, the school captured several hundred championship titles (region and state). Such championships include 6 state crowns in baseball, 5 state titles in softball, 11 team state titles in boy's tennis, 6 team state titles in girl's tennis, 7 team state titles in boy's golf, and 3 team state titles in girl's track and field. Due to recent downsizing from the opening of a new high school, CDO presently competes in the Arizona Interscholastic Association 4A Sonoran Conference, Division I (Arizona Interscholastic Association).


After winning back-to-back state championships in 1976 and 1977, the Canyon del Oro football program experienced difficulty repeating such success. CDO began to revamp its football program in the 2000 season resulting in a 6-4 overall record in 5A play. The following year CDO recorded a 7-3 regular season, falling to perennial powerhouse Mesa Mountain View in the opening round of the 5A state playoffs. After dropping to 4A due to an enrollment decline, CDO's football program has experienced marked recent success, including several berths in the state playoffs. In 2007 CDO finished a 9-1 regular season, the sole loss to Glendale Cactus 36-34. Victories followed over Cienega High School, Prescott High School, and Peoria High School in the opening, quarterfinal, and semifinal rounds of the 4A state playoffs. CDO reached the 4A State Championship, ultimately losing to the defending State Champion, Scottsdale Saguaro High School, 23-21 after a field goal by the Sabercats with two seconds remaining in play.


Canyon del Oro baseball is well known for its prominence in Arizona and the U.S. CDO's most recent baseball state titles include 1997, 2000 and 2002. CDO baseball has produced a significant number of players drafted by Major League Baseball. The 2002 State Championship team merits special distinction, as it was ranked 12th, out of more than 1,000 other high schools, nationally by USA Today. This team finished with a record of 27-6, never losing a home game (Arizona Interscholastic Association). The 5A State Championship baseball team finished the 1997 season ranked 25th nationally by USA Today.


Canyon del Oro softball is a successful program as well, with five state titles. The softball program has three 5A state titles (1992, 2001 and 2005), and won both the 2007 and 2008 4A Division I state titles. The 2008 state championship team finished the season with a 33-4 record, and ranked 5th nationally by USA Today. The 2007 state championship team finished the season with a 33-3 record, ranked 2nd nationally by USA Today. The team also ranked 14th in 2006, 18th in 2005, and 6th in 2001 in the USA Today national rankings. As of 2007, the CDO program had produced 24 Division I softball players, along with a 397-106 record since the program's first state title in 1992.


Recently, boy's volleyball has been recognized nationally. CDO boy's volleyball won the Arizona 5A State title in 1996 and fielded one of the school's most successful teams in 2005. In 2005, the team compiled a record of 40-3, and despite losing the state title game, CDO was widely recognized as one of the premier boy's volleyball teams in the nation (Arizona Interscholastic Association).

Athletic state titles

CDO teams and individuals have won over 80 State Championships, and placed as the State Runner-Up over 35 times. CDO has also had 8 athletes medal in golf. The school has been recognized as maintaining the most outstanding girls' athletic program in Arizona, and received the Overall Excellence Award for the highest achieving athletic program in Arizona 7 times. CDO has won more 4A & 5A (large school) state championships than all other schools in southern Arizona, with the exception of the oldest, Tucson High School (Arizona Interscholastic Association).

Below is a comprehensive table including all athletic state titles won by CDO teams. Canyon del Oro teams competed at the 3A equivalent level from fall 1966 to spring 1968, and the 4A equivalent level from fall 1968 to spring 1980. Between fall 1980 and spring 2005, CDO teams competed at the 5A level, resuming 4A competition from fall 2005 to the present.

Sport State Champion State Runner-Up
Baseball 2002, 2000, 1997, 1994, 1984,
1980, 1978, 1976
Boys Basketball 1978, 1977 1975, 1973
Girls Basketball 1987 1985
Boys Cross Country 1993
Girls Cross Country 1985, 1984, 1977
Football 1977, 1976 2007
Boys Golf 1980, 1979, 1978, 1976, 1975,
1974, 1968
1972, 1970
Girls Golf 1998
Boys Soccer 2007
Girls Soccer 1997
Softball 2008, 2007, 2005, 2001, 1992 2006, 1997
Boys Swimming & Dive 1991
Boys Tennis Doubles 2001, 1985, 1980, 1977, 1975,
1974, 1973, 1969, 1968, 1967
Girls Tennis Doubles 1980, 1979, 1978, 1977, 1976
Boys Tennis Singles 1995, 1987, 1986, 1979, 1977,
1976, 1975, 1974, 1973, 1969,
Girls Tennis Singles 1995, 1994, 1987, 1980, 1978,
1977, 1976, 1975
Boys Tennis Team 1986, 1980, 1977, 1976, 1975,
1974, 1973, 1972, 1969, 1968,
1987, 1985, 1979, 1978
Girls Tennis Team 1980, 1979, 1978, 1977, 1976,
2007, 1987, 1986, 1974, 1973
Boys Track & Field 2007, 1979
Girls Track & Field 2006, 1980, 1976 1975
Boys Volleyball 1997, 1996 2005, 2002, 1995
Girls Volleyball 1980, 1978


Academic Decathlon

Canyon del Oro is also home to one of the top performing Academic Decathlon teams in Arizona. The CDO team is a perennial powerhouse in the region, defeating other academically reputable schools in the area nearly every year. As of 2008, the team had captured seven consecutive region titles. Additionally, CDO placed 3rd in Arizona in 2005.

In 2006 the team became the Arizona Academic Decathlon State Champions, outscoring defending state champs Mesa Mountain View 46,482 points to 46,406 points. CDO represented Arizona in the National competition, placing 5th. In 2007, the team scored 45,667 points, placing second in the state behind Mesa Mountain View with 47,402 points. In 2008, the team scored 46,600 points, placing second in the state for the second consecutive year.

Notable alumni

Since the school's first graduating class in 1968, nearly 17,000 individuals have been awarded high school diplomas from Canyon del Oro (2006). The following is a list of encyclopedic people associated with Canyon del Oro. Notable alumni include a current member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a head NFL referee for several Super Bowls, and a significant number of former and active Major League Baseball players.


Politics & government


Attendance boundaries

The attendance boundaries of Canyon del Oro encompass segments of the communities of Oro Valley, Casas Adobes, and Catalina Foothills.

The northern boundary roughly follows the Cañada del Oro and East/West Lambert Lane. The eastern boundary is defined by Catalina State Park and the Coronado National Forest/Pusch Ridge Wilderness Area. The southern boundary is East/West Orange Grove Road from North Shannon Road east to North First Avenue. Between North First Avenue and the North Alvernon Road parallel, East Ina Road is the southern boundary (including the neighborhoods of Pima Canyon Estates and Cobblestone Estates). The western boundary is North Shannon Road.

Feeder schools

Elementary schools in the Canyon del Oro attendance area include Marion Donaldson, Winifred Harelson, Mesa Verde, and Copper Creek. L.W. Cross Middle School is the only middle school feeding into Canyon del Oro.

Enrollment history

Year Enrollment
1965-66 283
1966-67 478
1967-68 560
1968-69 814
1969-70 896
1970-71 979
1971-72 991
1972-73 1,101
1973-74 1,266
1974-75 1,389
1975-76 1,464
1976-77 1,256
1977-78 1,333
1978-79 1,575
1979-80 1,652
1980-81 1,669
1981-82 1,698
1982-83 1,681
1983-84 1,791
1984-85 1,851
1985-86 1,990
1986-87 1,924
1987-88 2,089
1988-89 2,027
1989-90 1,971
1990-91 2,073
1991-92 2,267
1992-93 2,368
1993-94 2,452
1994-95 2,518
1995-96 2,527
1996-97 2,642
1997-98 2,809
1998-99 2,872
1999-00 2,988
2000-01 3,080
2001-02 2,446
2002-03 2,165
2003-04 1,865
2004-05 1,754
2005-06 1,700
2006-07 1,763
2007-08 1,997
CDO opened in the fall of 1962 with a limited enrollment of only grade 7, and by 1965 the school had a high school enrollment of 283 students (specifically grades 9-10.) In its first year as a high school with grades 9-12, CDO had an enrollment of 560 students. Enrollment gradually increased, exceeding 1,000 students in 1972, 2,000 students in 1987, and 3,000 students in the fall of 2000. The largest enrollment was 3,080 in 2000 (when CDO was the 6th largest high school in Arizona), and declined to 1,700 in 2005 due to the establishment of a new high school (Ironwood Ridge High School) in the fall of 2001. Due to open enrollment, CDO has sustained enrollment above 1,800 in recent years (Arizona Interscholastic Association).


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