Albuquerque Academyreview by Duke University student. Albuquerque Academy offers superb academics in an intimate setting. Students enter in classes of about 150 students in the sixth grade and soon begin to form relationships with their peers that mature as they face a rigorous yet entirely reasonable set of academic challenges. In the lower school division (grades 6-7) no formal grades are issued; instead, students receive detailed "narratives" of their performance that praise their strengths and point out areas that could use improvement. In this low-risk environment, students have a chance to warm up to the level of performance expected at a college preparatory school. Grades 8 and 9 begin the formal grading system but few if any students experience a rocky transition owing to the lower school experience. Classes are never larger than about 18 students, so individuals receive ample attention. Teaching is primarily discussion based, will the occasional lecture where absolutely necessary (i.e. the material was very complicated). Of course, teachers are always available for discussions outside of class concerning schoolwork or otherwise. Albuquerque Academy offers a plethora of advanced placement courses across many disciplines, so whatever your child's interests may be, he or she will find avenues to explore them. Personally, I found that with each new year my classes became more interesting, not only because the level of discussion was higher but also because my teachers were visibly more intrigued and impressed by the intellectual maturation of their students. My favorite aspect of Academy's academic experience was the senior project, which is a month-long break from regular classes seniors take just before graduation in which they pursue a potential career interest through an internship, seminar, or independently designed project. I had friends who shadowed physicians, worked under newscasters, produced their own rap songs, and toured across state borders with their rock bands. My project was a 1 on 1 seminar with a faculty mentor in which we struggled with problems in the philosophy of mind, and I can honestly say that my decision for a college major (neuroscience) was heavily influenced by this rich experience. Additionally, Academy prepared me well to face the rigors of study at a highly regarded university.
Unlike other college preparatory schools of its caliber, Academy does not require students to live on campus. This allows students to have a healthy distinction between home life and school life, which can be very valuable as pressure begins to rise during the later year of the experience. Academy still offers a varied and exciting array of activities and facilities for its students, including a large library, computer labs equipped with up to date technology, multiple gymnasiums, an olympic pool, tennis courts, a full size track and various athletic fields. Academy is situated in a safe and relatively opulent neighborhood in the northeast heights of Albuquerque. The student body is fairly diverse, though as the school is private there are a good number of wealthy students. Nevertheless, I never witnessed socio-economic status (or race, for that matter) being the object of insult. Instead, the prevailing culture on campus is one of friendship and cooperation in the pursuit of intellectual, personal and physical improvement. As far as discipline goes, I do remember several cases in which the punishment for practical jokes was a little harsh, but I suppose that was only because the school's administration is very serious about protecting students from situations that could be detrimental to their personal or academic lives. The school does not force its students into pursuing the most rigorous academic path available, yet it certainly encourages students to strive to be the best they can be. I loved my experience at the Academy, from the friends I made and continue to spend time with to the personal growth I achieved under the guidance of adults who genuinely cared about my life and goals.
Academy students do a great job of balancing academics and extracurricular activities. It offers a plethora of student clubs in addition to the option to propose new clubs to be created if interest exists. Where athletics are concerned, Academy's strengths are certainly cross country and track and field. Each of these teams regularly places 1st or 2nd at the state championship. The swim team and soccer team are also often competitive. Football and basketball are often weaker, but they still offer plenty of opportunities to interested students. The school's greatest rival is prep school St. Pious X. Whenever the two meet in a major competition, you can expect students to appear in droves to support their peers. Community service is another common extracurricular activity. Each year, the school requires each student to devote two hours to community service projects, but few students stop there. Many put in ten to 100 hours of service each school year through the large community service club that meets weekly to outline projects. I would guess that the average student spends 6 hours each week to activities outside the classroom. Most students have some significant endeavor outside of school, so the student body is full of talented and interesting individuals. This creates an environment that is conducive to sharing of these skills.