Traci Davis tours AACT and visits with staff and students

I had the pleasure of addressing nearly 600 students – the entire student body – at AACT High School during my recent visit. I told them how excited I was to be at their school, to learn about the great opportunities for students, and enjoy the school culture. Spending time with all the AACT students was a great way to start my visit at their school.

Principal Josh Reddig, Assistant Principal Josh Hartzog, and school counselors Gary Landa and Stacy Erickson shared information about their school, their students, and their path for the future. I learned about the seven CTE programs that the school offers. They highlighted the programs’ focus on career and college pathways, community service, dual credit courses, internships, and the senior capstone projects.

AACT juniors and seniors accumulated an impressive 8,600 volunteer hours for their community service projects. This achievement earned them a Gold Medal award at SkillsUSA. As part of the academic plan, students also participate in state and regional Career & Technical Student Organizations (CTSO). AACT students were highly successful overall this year. The CTSO competitions allow students to demonstrate their academic foundations and knowledge in their area of study. The students are truly learning valuable skills to contribute to their futures. They also shared information with me about professional development, their PLC system, and “open doors” philosophy for all facets of a student’s high school education at this school.

Next, I was treated to ‘student talk’ by five amazing AACT students. Trey, Lorenzo, Belle, Paulina, and Tawni each gave me a brief presentation about the academies they are part of, their experiences at the school, how and why they chose AACT, the benefits they’ve experienced in their high school career, transitioning from middle school, and their admiration for the teachers and their peers at AACT. Their heartfelt speeches were very impactful. Hearing directly from these students and talking to them afterwards provided me with a realistic overview of the culture of the school and its students. After hearing from these students, I was introduced to Makenzie and Carlos, senior student leaders, who gave me a personal tour of their school. They showed me around the building, pointing out where all the different academies and classroom are located and sharing their personal stories and memories. We toured the preschool where the education and training academy is located and the culinary arts kitchen where we saw Chef Fred Wright and his students baking tasty treats. It was a delight to spend one-on-one time with these students for my personal tour.

Principal Reddig and I visited classrooms. We met with Michelle Urrutia and her students who were doing an exercise to help them learn and memorize medical terminology. The students were focused while demonstrating their mastery of these terms.

Junior and senior students in Raynette Wilson’s trigonometry class were doing an exercise where they were determining which equation in a group did not fit. They were working with their groups to make this determination and then they were having a class discussion to explain why an equation did not fit. Not only were the students good at figuring out the answer, they were very good at explaining it.

Laura Vargo’s biology students were doing an interactive project about structural enzyme sequences. The students were making designs of the sequences after cutting them out and then putting them together. Everyone was chatting about it as they worked.

Students in Greg Burge’s elements of literature were reading and analyzing poetry. I enjoyed talking to the students about the poetry that they were reading and what they thought about it. Their comments were outstanding and showed how much consideration they had given to the assignment.

Nearly 40 freshmen students joined me in the comfortable AACT restaurant for the superintendent’s lunch with freshmen. I talked to them about the unique opportunities afforded to them at AACT. I also told them how important it is for them to use the challenges they encounter as learning opportunities. I talked to them about the options they will pursue after graduation. The students asked me great questions. The questions covered topics such as what I thought about AACT, how specific course offerings are determined for our schools, what the new WCSD CTE Academy will be like, and what is the difference between a superintendent and an area superintendent. During lunch, students representing the Natural Resources and Animal Science Academy presented me with a bouquet. I was delighted to receive this beautiful bouquet that they designed.

Thank you to the amazing team at AACT for sharing information with me about all of their accomplishments and the great things they are working on. There is a lot going on at AACT! Go Trailblazers!