By Anne Gibson
The four traditional Vail high schools and one alternative are preparing to say goodbye to 814 qualifying senior students with graduation ceremonies. The culture of each high school varies, but all four traditional schools have received the grade of “A” from the Arizona State Board of Education. Alternative schools are not graded, but Pantano received the first ever grade offered to an alternative high school, an A+ School of Excellence Award from the Arizona Education Foundation in 2015. The foundation requires all A+ schools to reapply every three years. This April, Pantano’s A+ grade was renewed.
In keeping with the Vail School District’s philosophy of parent choice, high schools have no boundaries. Parents and students pick the high school of their choice conditional on existing vacancies.
Andrada Polytechnic High School is the district’s newest high school opening in 2012 at 12960 S. Houghton Road. Andrada’s culture offers a unique approach to learning for its 1,000 students. In 10th grade, students select a pathway. In addition to their regular core classes and electives, they choose from behavioral health, bioscience, digital communication, engineering, medical assisting, transportation technologies, or veterinary assisting. This year, 140 Andrada seniors will graduate on Saturday, May 18th, 4 PM, at the Tucson Convention Center. “Our Andrada seniors are ready for the real world! With our focus on college and career, our students will be leaving us ready to enter universities, join the military, and with certifications to help them begin working in industries all over the world. We are so proud of our hard-working class of 2019,” said Andrada Principal Julia Kaiser.
Cienega High School is Vail’s first comprehensive high school opening in 2001 at 12775 E. Mary Ann Cleveland Way. Being the largest high school in Vail, it is able to offer over 100 extra-curricular clubs, an award-winning fine arts program, a variety of
advanced placement courses, a competitive sports program, and the largest Navy Junior ROTC program in Arizona. According to Cienega Counselor John Tritz, Cienega enrolled 1,951 students this year and 498 seniors will graduate on Saturday, May 18th, 7 PM, at the Tucson Convention Center. “Hard work, dedication and perseverance are the best way to describe this year’s seniors at Cienega High School. Our students have “grit.” The 2019 graduating students are leaders and will make a difference. We have scholars, champions, and over $11 million in scholarships earned from our graduates. Our students are some of the best people I know and will be successful in their adult lives. Our seniors are a huge part of our A label, A+ School Award and overall excellence! We are Bobcat Nation,” said Cienega High School Principal Nemer Hassey.
Empire High School’s doors opened in fall 2005 as the first one-to-one laptop, textbook free, comprehensive public high school in the nation. The digital content is a means for its 836 students to achieve a vision that is centered on long-term student success. The mission of Empire High School is to provide students with the tools and structures to be college-ready through challenging curriculums and a variety of educational opportunities. “I am always amazed by the achievements of our graduating seniors, and this year’s seniors have continued the trend. We just started getting updates, but know that our seniors have earned about a million dollars in merit awards from our in-state universities. Some of this year’s top awards include Quest Bridge Scholar (worth over $200,000, covering all tuition, fees and living costs), multiple National Hispanic Scholars, Leadership Scholar through ASE, and a ROTC Scholarship. Our students have also received acceptance into a variety of schools, including Northwestern, Colorado School of Mines, Brigham Young University, Gonzaga University, as well as our state universities,” said Matt Donaldson, Empire High School Principal. On Thursday, May 23rd, 7 PM, 182 students will walk across the stage on the school’s football field located at 10701 E. Mary Ann Cleveland Way and receive their diplomas. Three are juniors graduating early.
Pantano High School beginning the 2012-2013 school year in a new building at 13010 S. Houghton. Its mission states it is a credit recovery alternative school committed to serve the specialized needs of today’s youth. On Wednesday, May 22nd, 6:30 PM, 51
Pantano students will receive their high school diplomas on the football field at Empire High School located at 10701 E. Mary Ann Cleveland Way. Pantano’s yearly enrollment is 150 students. “As you begin reading, take a minute to think back to your days in high school . . . was it a fun, carefree time or was it one filled with hardships that only a few people, if any, knew you were struggling through? If you saw yourself or someone else more in the second scenario, Pantano High School might have been the perfect place for you! It is our privilege to provide a safe, nurturing, learning environment where hope for a brighter future gives way to reality and a student’s perseverance, persistence and pride ensures they achieve their ultimate goal . . . earning a diploma,” said Pantano High School Principal Monica Wright.
In 1990, there were over 1,000 students in Vail and no high school. After eighth grade, Vail students were bused to high schools in other districts. Vail Charter High School opened in 1997 with 100 students in rented space at the U of A Science and Technology Park. Over-crowding and the DMAFB flight pattern caused the construction of the new school at 7762 E. Science Park Drive. In 2010 Vail Academy and High School (VAHS) won an award for innovative architecture and in 2011 VAHS was awarded a LEED Gold Certification. Currently 480 students attend the Academy and High School. Vail Academy and High School’s graduation will be held on Tuesday, May 21st at 6:30 PM, in the Vail Theatre of the Arts, 10701 E Mary Ann Cleveland. Forty-three students will receive diplomas. “This year’s
graduates are some of the most courteous and respectful young adults with whom I’ve worked. They have prepared themselves for their futures and their ability to work together and complete tasks will serve them well in the future. I really appreciate the tone they set as the leaders of our campus this school year,” said Vail Academy and High School Principal Dennis Barger. “Almost 20%of this senior class was selected to participate in the Early College Program at Pima community College. Together, this senior class has earned an average of almost 9 college credits and $8,000 in scholarship per student. They have been accepted into colleges from Hawaii to South Carolina,” Barger noted.