Albuquerque Academy

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Albuquerque Academy
Albuquerque - aerial view of Albuquerque Academy.jpg
Aerial view of Albuquerque Academy, 2013
6400 Wyoming Blvd. NE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87109
United States
Type Independent, Private
Motto Scientia ad faciendum
(Knowing through doing)
Established 1955
Principal Andrew T. Watson
Faculty 139
Grades 6-12
Enrollment 1,118 (2014-15)[1]
Color(s)      Red
Athletics conference NMAA, AAAA Dist. 5
Mascot Charger
Newspaper The Advocate
Endowment $100 million

Albuquerque Academy is an independent, co-educational day school for grades six through twelve located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. It is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest[2] and the New Mexico State Department of Education. Albuquerque Academy is also a member of the National Association of Independent Schools. It is not to be confused with Albuquerque High School, the first high school established in Albuquerque, which was originally named Albuquerque Academy.

Albuquerque Academy comprises three different divisions: the six-seven division (or "lower school"), the eight-nine division, and the ten-twelve division (both in the "upper school", or the upper campus).


Albuquerque Academy was founded in 1955 as The Academy for Boys in the basement of a small Albuquerque church by William B. S. Wilburn. The school was eventually moved into a facility that is today used by Sandia Preparatory School. In 1965, the school moved to its current site in northeast Albuquerque.[3]

Between 1957 and 1964, the Academy received a large tract of undeveloped land north of Albuquerque, part of the Elena Gallegos Land Grant,[4] from the Albert G. Simms family. The western portion (from Wyoming Boulevard to the Rio Grande) was sold to finance the creation of the current campus and the first endowment fund, and the present campus was created in the middle of the tract. The land east of the campus, reaching to the crest of the Sandia Mountains, was sold later in a series of deals. First the section from the campus to Juan Tabo Boulevard was sold to create a second trust. Later, the City of Albuquerque attempted to facilitate a deal to sell the remainder to the Bureau of Land Management by putting up a parking garage as collateral.[citation needed] The deal fell through and the Academy became the garage owner while still retaining the area.[citation needed]

In July 1982, the city purchased most of the land in a complex deal with the Academy and the US Forest Service. The City paid the Academy $23.9 million, raised by a bond issue supported by a temporary ¼ percent sales tax.[5] The City retained part of the land, which is now the 640 acre (2.6 km²) Elena Gallegos Picnic Area/Albert G. Simms Park, located at the feet of the Sandias at the mouths of Bear and Pino Canyons. The 7,000 acre (28 km²) plus remainder of the purchase, most of it forest land in the canyons proper, was sold to the Forest Service, and is now part of the Cibola National Forest and the Sandia Mountain Wilderness.[6] The Academy retained two parts of the tract, the larger adjoining Tramway Boulevard. The school set up the High Desert Investment Corporation (HDIC) to develop this portion as the master-planned community known as High Desert. (The smaller portion, within Bear Canyon itself, is still used by the Academy for experiential education purposes.) HDIC then purchased a large tract of land in the northern section of Rio Rancho, which it is currently developing as Mariposa.[7] The proceeds from the land sales and from HDIC have provided the Academy with a substantial endowment, which is used partly to defray tuition expenses and to subsidize a significant need-based financial aid program.

The school remained an all-boys school, with grades five through twelve, until 1973, at which time girls were allowed into grades nine through twelve. Part of the reason for the delay in allowing girls and for the gradual inclusion was that the Simms grant specified that the number of boys not decrease in order to make room for girls.[citation needed] The 5th grade was dropped in 1979, and the school became fully coeducational in 1984.

Today, the Academy has an enrollment of just over 1,100 in grades 6 through 12, with students drawn from throughout the Albuquerque metropolitan area and the state of New Mexico. The Albuquerque Academy celebrated its 50th anniversary during the 2004-2005 school year with a year-long celebration of the school's history. Most recently, the 60th anniversary of the school was celebrated during the 2014-15 school year by gathering all of the students on to the football field and creating a large 60 which was photographed and displayed around campus.

Heads of school[edit]

  • William B. S. Wilburn, 1955–60
  • Rev. Paul G. Saunders, 1960–64
  • Ashby Harper, 1964–85
  • Robert L. Bovinette, 1985–96
  • Timothy R. McIntire, 1996–99
  • Donald W. Smith (interim head), 1999–2001
  • Andrew T. Watson, 2001–present


The school sits on an approximately 312 acre (1.5 km²) gated campus in the northeastern part of the city. It is divided into two campuses, the West Campus and the East Campus. The two campuses are separated by about a quarter of a mile, with the library, science building, and athletic fields in between. The school buildings conform to a consistent, Mediterranean-influenced architectural style, which incorporates brick buildings, arches, and tile roofs.

West Campus[edit]

The West Campus comprises eight buildings including sixth and seventh grade classroom buildings, an administration building, a dining hall, and a gymnasium including the circle. In addition, the Visual Arts building and Natatorium are on the West Campus. All of the buildings except the Natatorium were designed by Robert McCabe of Flatow, Moore, Bryan, and Associates, and opened in 1984. The Natatorium was added to the West Campus Gymnasium in 1997.

Simms Library[edit]

Simms Library

The Dr. Albert G. Simms II and Barbara Young Simms Library (almost always shortened to "Simms Library") is the Academy's most iconic building, housing the school's collection of over 135,000 books, periodicals, videos, and recordings. It comprises two wings that open onto a central lobby, with the fiction/nonfiction section housed in the larger north wing and reference materials in the east wing. The Library was designed by Alexander "Sandy" Howe of the Boston firm of Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott and opened in 1991 along with the Science Building. The Library spire is the highest point on campus.

Science Building[edit]

The Science Building sits across a brick plaza from the Library. It houses the majority of the Academy's science classrooms, labs, and faculty, as well as some teachers from other departments. The building comprises two classroom wings and two laboratory wings grouped around a square central courtyard, which includes a small pond, containing some small fish and aquatic pond snails. The main foyer houses a large Foucault pendulum. (Another much smaller pendulum is located in Brown Hall on the East Campus). The Science Building was also designed by Howe and opened at the same time as the Library.

East Campus[edit]

The East Campus currently houses grades 8-12. It includes the Academy's four original buildings, all grouped around a central quad: McKinnon Hall (formerly North Hall, the 8-9 classroom building), Brown Hall (the 10-12 classroom building), the Administration Building (which includes the office of the Head of School), and the gymnasium-dining hall complex. All were designed by Edward O. Holien of Holien and Buckley and completed in 1965. Also on the East Campus is the Simms Center for the Performing Arts, designed by George Pearl, completed in 1975, and remodeled in 2000; and the Music Building, designed by Bill Sabatini of Dekker/Perich/Sabatini and completed in 1996.

Athletic facilities[edit]

The Academy's largest sports facilities are the Athletic Field (used for football and soccer games and track and field meets), the East Campus Gym (basketball and volleyball), and the Natatorium (swimming and diving). There are also several soccer, baseball, and softball fields, a 16-court tennis complex, a cross country course, a weight room, and basketball courts.

Experiential education[edit]

The Academy curriculum includes a significant experiential education component, part of which involves outdoor activities such as backpacking, rock climbing, and canoeing. The school's 270 acre (1.1 km²) tract in Bear Canyon is used for this purpose; trips also take place in areas throughout the state. The sixth grade students in 2008/2009 were the first sixth grade class in recent years to take an overnight trip in Bear Canyon. In addition the sixth graders also go on day trips, while the seventh grade class goes to Bear Canyon for a week. The 8th grade class takes a weeklong retreat to Manzano mountain or Hummingbird Music Camp and the 9th grade class takes another 4 day, 3 night, backpacking trip to various areas throughout the state although sometimes just inside the borders of Arizona or Colorado. As a conclusion to the theme of group camping trips, the entire senior class also ventures to Manzano mountain retreat over the first weekend of school for additional bonding among the members of the grades, who have often been together for 7 years at the school. The campus also houses a low ropes course, and a higher 60 ft (18 m) tower, with a harness swing attached, called the Alpine Tower. The older students are offered classes in outdoor leadership as well as kayaking and tai chi chih.

Student body[edit]

The school is roughly half boys and half girls, and nearly one half of the students have non-white backgrounds. The Academy also ranks among the top independent secondary schools with regard to need-based financial aid offered to students, totaling nearly one-third of the student body and 2.2 million dollars.[8]

Albuquerque Academy prides itself on its 8:1 student/teacher ratio.[9]

In 2009, 93 of 400 upper school students were named AP Scholars by the College Board in recognition of their exceptional achievement on AP exams taken in the spring of 2008. 31 out of 160 seniors were named National Merit Semifinalists. Academy Seniors received both New Mexico Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement, given to two seniors, one male and one female, from each state.


The board of trustees sets tuition for each school year. While the current cost per student stands at $35,000 per year, the endowment allows for a tuition cost of $20,000. Financial aid is awarded based on tuition (including lunch fees) and an average book cost. The Academy participates in the National Lunch Program, a federally funded program that allows families with certain income levels to receive free or reduced lunches. Families that qualify for this program will be asked to apply as part of their overall financial aid award. The Albuquerque Academy adds that every student's education is half provided for from their own endowment on a yearly basis.

Tuition (including lunch fees) for 2015-2016 - 21,689

Books: Cost ranges from $250–$500 per year, depending upon grade level

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Extracurricular activities are an important part of the Academy experience. Some of the larger activities include many state championship sports teams, The Advocate (a student newsmagazine that has received numerous awards from the Albuquerque Tribune and the New Mexico Press Women), Science Olympiad, Science Bowl, and theater. Student government is controlled by the 10-12 Student Senate. Headed by the student body president and 12 voting members, the senate oversees a wide variety of topics, including student clubs and general school policy.

The Academy sponsors a guitar quartet, an outgrowth of its guitar program, which is prominent in the local music community.

The three longest sports state championship streaks by Academy sports teams are the 6-Peat Boys Basketball team (1989–1994) led by Coach Mike Brown, the 13-time[10] defending state champion Boys Tennis Team (2003–present), and the 6-time state champion Boys Track team (2002–2007) led by Coach Adam Kedge.

Coach Kedge, also a ninth grade chemistry and physics teacher, has also led the Boys Cross Country team to Nike Cross Nationals (formerly Nike Team Nationals) five times, most notably to a third-place finish in 2007 and a fifth-place finish in 2009.

The school's mock trial team won the 2012 National High School Mock Trial Championship in May 2012, marking the first time a New Mexican team had won the title, and the first time a team from the host state had won. In 2013, the team won the national championship again, which was only the third time in tournament history that a school won twice in a row. The program has qualified at least one team for state competition every year since the program was rebooted in 2005. The 2012 national champion team was the second Academy team in a row to qualify for nationals.[11]

In May 2010, the school's team won the US DOE Middle School Science Bowl competition in Washington, DC.[12][13] Previous Academy Science Bowl teams had finished second (in 2006) and fourth (in 2009).

In the spring of 2006, the orchestra, called the Chamber Players, was invited to attend the National Orchestra Festival in Kansas City, Missouri, where they received a superior rating.

In addition to these optional extracurricular activities, all students at the Academy spend the final month of their senior year doing a "senior project," which is the culmination of the experiential education part of the curriculum. A senior project is usually an off-campus internship with a community sponsor; it can also be on-campus work with a faculty mentor, participation in a seminar, or it can be a completely self-directed project.[14]

The Academy also offers a summer school program, which has a variety of classes including language, science, and art. The summer program usually runs from early June to mid-July, lasting 6 weeks (with a vacation for Independence Day). In addition to the academic offerings, the summer program includes a traditional summer camp and athletic and aquatic camps.

Speech and Debate is offered as an extracurricular activity at Albuquerque Academy. The Albuquerque Academy style of Original Oratory is popular on the National Speech and Debate circuit. At the 2009 State Speech and Debate Tournament, Albuquerque Academy had five state champions, as well as winning Speech Sweepstakes, Debate Sweepstakes, and Debate Coach of the Year (Susan Ontiveros). The Speech and Debate team had held the state title for 24 straight years by 2010(taking Speech Sweepstakes, Debate Sweepstakes, and having many state champions.) At the 2014 New Mexico State Speech and Debate Tournament, the Albuquerque Academy Speech and Debate team reclaimed the title by winning the Speech Sweepstakes, Debate Sweepstakes, and having 7 state champions.

Sports State Championships[edit]

The Academy has won a number of state championships.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Albuquerque Academy". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  2. ^ ISAS Home Page
  3. ^ About the Academy (school website)
  4. ^ "New Mexico Office of the State Historian: Elena Gallegos Grant", New Mexico Office of the State Historian,, accessed 1 Oct 2011.
  5. ^ "City Acquires 7,761 acre (31.4 km²) Elena Gallegos Property in Sandias", Albuquerque Journal, July 2, 1982.
  6. ^ Open Space History, City of Albuquerque, accessed 3-8-2007. Archived April 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Patrick Armijo, "Mariposa Plan Earns an OK, Council Approves Land Annexation", Albuquerque Journal, February 15, 2002.
  8. ^ Academy Facts Archived 2005-02-14 at the Wayback Machine. (school website)
  9. ^ AA at
  10. ^ Prep tennis: ABQ High tops La Cueva for girls title | Albuquerque Journal
  11. ^
  12. ^ "DOE press release" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  13. ^ ABQJOURNAL NEWS/STATE: Brainpower on Display
  14. ^ Extracurricular programs (school website)
  15. ^ "NM MVP Pub: Cross Country State Champions". New Mexico Activities Association. Archived from the original on 6 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  16. ^ "NM MVP Pub: Football" (PDF). New Mexico Activities Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  17. ^ "NM MVP Pub: Soccer Past State Champions". New Mexico Activities Association. Archived from the original on 2010-10-24. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  18. ^ "New Mexico State Volleyball Champions" (PDF). New Mexico Activities Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  19. ^ "NM MVP Pub: Swimming & Diving". New Mexico Activities Association. Archived from the original on 2011-03-15. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  20. ^ "NM MVP Pub: Wrestling Past Champions". New Mexico Activities Association. Archived from the original on 2011-03-15. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  21. ^ "NM MVP Pub: Basketball Past Champions". New Mexico Activities Association. Archived from the original on 2011-03-15. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  22. ^ "NM MVP Pub: Baseball Past Champions". New Mexico Activities Association. Archived from the original on 15 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  23. ^ "NM MVP Pub: Golf Past Champions". New Mexico Activities Association. Archived from the original on 6 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  24. ^ "New Mexico State Softball Champions" (PDF). New Mexico Activities Association. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  25. ^ "NM MVP Pub: Tennis Past Champions". New Mexico Activities Association. Archived from the original on 6 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  26. ^ "NM MVP Pub: Track & Field Past Champions". New Mexico Activities Association. Archived from the original on 6 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  27. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  28. ^ Alex Bregman - Player Profile | Perfect Game USA
  29. ^ amfAR :: R. Martin Chavez, Ph.D. :: The Foundation for AIDS Research :: HIV / AIDS Research
  30. ^ Stocks - Bloomberg
  31. ^ "Chainey Umphrey". USA Gymnastics. Retrieved May 31, 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°09′07″N 106°33′08″W / 35.15194°N 106.55222°W / 35.15194; -106.55222