The first stand-alone U.S. Air Force magnet high school in the nation will begin taking applications Wednesday in Gilbert in a first-come, first-served process expected to draw hundreds of applicants from all over the Valley.
“We had 700 applications printed, and they’re getting low. We’re looking into whether we need to print more,” said Dianne Bowers, spokeswoman for the Gilbert Unified School District, on Friday. Applications may also be downloaded from the district’s Web site. “As soon as word got out about the board approval (of the academy), we got a barrage of requests.”
Brenda Crouse of Gilbert is among a horde of parents who plan to be among the first to turn in their children's applications to the school Wednesday. If he is accepted, her son Mike, 14, would be among the first graduating class.
“I know I'm going to be there,” she said. “Just to be on the safe side, I am going to be there early.”
The Technology and Leadership Academy will open as Gilbert’s fifth high school on Aug. 14 — but enrollment is open to students from any school district. In its first year of operation, it will only enroll 100 freshmen and 100 sophomores, but eventually it will include juniors and seniors. The academy will never enroll more than 300 students, with the goal being to eventually have 75 students at each of its four grade levels.
A partnership between the Gilbert district and the Air Force, the academy will provide a rigorous curriculum and Air Force Junior ROTC classes. Students will be required to wear ROTC uniforms on some days and uniforms consisting of khaki pants, skirts, shorts and polo shirts at other times.
Similar academies operate in schools in Chicago and Washington, D.C., but Gilbert’s academy will be the first stand-alone school of its kind, Bowers said.
“This was really important to the Gilbert community,” Bowers said. “When we started, we had a big committee with representatives from business. We also heard from parents who preferred a different environment from a comprehensive high school. They wanted it to be small and structured.”
To be accepted into the academy, students must have at least a 2.0 grade point average and agree to follow conduct codes. Applications that meet entrance requirements will be processed in the order they are received — each one stamped with the time and date received.
Prospective students will be notified of their acceptance status by May 1.
To qualify for admission to the Technology and Leadership Academy, students must:
• Have a GPA of at least 2.0.
• Agree to abide by the academy’s uniform and grooming standards.
• Have no major discipline referrals resulting in a 10-day suspension.
• Agree to abide by the district’s student conduct codes.
• Include two letters of recommendation in their application, including one from the school the student currently attends.
• Write an essay explaining why he or she wishes to attend the academy.
What: First-come, first-served registration for Gilbert Technology and Leadership Academy
When: 7:30 a.m. Wednesday
Where: Gilbert Unified School District, 140 S. Gilbert Road