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Updated Sep 12, 2013 - 9:38 am

Phoenix school opens new campus with 9/11 ceremony

Phoenix Vice Mayor Bill Gates and Starshine Academy staff perform a ribbon cutting as students look on. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- Bagpipes, prayers and the releasing of white doves were all a part of a 9/11 remembrance ceremony at the grand opening of the Starshine Academy's new campus in Phoenix on Wednesday morning.

Founder Trish McCarty said the events of 9/11 inspired her to start Starshine to change the opportunities for kids in at-risk neighborhoods. McCarty thinks if one person in the world doesn't have a proper education, the entire world is at risk.

"Terrorism starts with someone being fearful," she said. "Fear is bred by people who don't understand how to get love or how to control their fear. To me, the best thing that we can do for anti-terrorism is to teach love, peace, community and service inside of schools."

Phoenix Vice Mayor Bill Gates attended Wednesday's ribbon cutting ceremony. He said having the grand opening on Sept. 11 is appropriate, because it should remind people that young kids who weren't around on that day need to learn about what happened and why.

"I think it's very important that we as parents take the time to explain to our kids what happened," he said. "One of the most important things we have to explain, especially to little children, is that they are safe. We now live in a safer world because of the tragedy that occurred."

The new campus is near 35th Street and McDowell Road. Among its features are a small farm with animals. It also has music and art programs, a field house with a basketball court and theater-ready stage and the latest in technology.

Some 500 students attend the holistic kindergarten through 12th grade school. It's one of three schools in the Starshine district, which began in 2002.

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About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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