When I’m asked what kind of school I work at or what I do in my job, I often answer that I work as part of a team that helps high school kids reach beyond their limitations and explore all the possibilities they can imagine. While this sounds like “moon shot” thinking, we are working on making this a reality at ACA for every student who comes in our doors. Here are just a few ways we are making this happen:

Houses of Study

Our goal is to create a basic focus to prepare our students for a more specific field of study in college. The goal is to help them find their passions and for them the sort of meaningful experience in these disciplines few high school students receive. At that time, students will decide which track they will be following for 11th and 12th Grade: STEM, Fine Arts, Business, Career, and Technical, or Civics.

Each House gets their own logo, T-shirts, hosts competitions and dodgeball tournaments, and their own wall space. In addition to these things, Houses award special recognitions and scholarships to their members. Each House has its own culture, and the chance to show it!

  • House of STEM – The House of STEM focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These young men and women are tomorrow’s research scientists, bridge-designers, and mathematicians. They’re taking their first step towards advancing the knowledge and capabilities of humanity.
  • House of Fine Arts – There is more to life than numbers and money, and the members of this House are determined to create beautiful new works and entertainment. Whether it’s painting, performance, graphic design, or something else, we’re sure you’ll be able to say you knew them when . . .
  • House of Business Studies – Entrepreneurship and business skills fuel the engine that moves our entire country forward. Without intelligent and industrious young people like the members of this House, we could not enjoy the high standards of living and education we enjoy.
  • House of Civics – There are always those among us called to service. ACA makes certain they not only receive the tools they need to start down this path but understand the underlying reasons and responsibilities inherent in this choice.

Senior Projects.
100% of our seniors are planning on post-secondary education and the majority have a direction on what career path they are interested in. This year, we are launching senior projects that can be research-based, performance based (fine arts) or internships in their field of study. After their research and presentation of findings to an advisory panel, projects will culminate in a showcase for the entire ACA community. We are in need of mentors and internships, so if you’re interested please contact Mr. Schmidt at kschmidt@azcharter.com.

Increased Opportunity for College Credit
We are expanding our dual enrollment courses through Grand Canyon University to 11th graders and offering the entire online course catalog to our students. We have also forged an exciting partnership with ASU School of Sustainability, offering our students a college level environmental science class and the opportunity to work with world-renowned scientists in the areas of sustainability on the ASU campus. Students in the program will have the preferential admission to ASU and start their college careers out with 6 credit hours.

We are training all of our students to use Microsoft Office365, which includes email, calendar and storage functions. Students are participating in weekly online discussion forums that mirror a requirement in most college courses. Digital content is being accessed through a variety of devices including smartphones, laptops, and tablets. This move towards technology is already fostering a collaborative environment between students and teachers and increasing productivity.

9th graders are participating in a Foundations course that equips them with skills for success including technology, note taking and speech and debate. These skills are all learned through a problem-solving approach to global issues such as world hunger, armed conflict, access to free education and workplace inequality. Students are learning to generate real solutions for issues and in some cases, making their solutions a reality. More to come on this exciting venture!

In closing, students are ready and eager to learn and our amazing staff is here to direct their learning through rigorous academic achievement and life changing experiences.

Sound exciting? Want to get involved?

One way to help is to join the Bulldog PAC, which is assisting in fundraising, volunteering and supporting our high school. The next meeting is September 22nd, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM in the Student Center.

Hope to see you there!

Stephani Olson High School Principal Arizona Charter Academy

Stephani Olson
High School Principal
Arizona Charter Academy


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