ACE Leadership Celebrates First Graduates From Re-engagement Program

The ACE Leadership High School Re-engagement Program graduation was held Saturday, June 25th with over 60 family members and friends in attendance to celebrate 13 graduates in caps and gowns receive their diplomas.  It was truly a family event for all generations.  Maria Guy, VP of Operations Support for JB Henderson Construction and President of the ACE Leadership Governing Board, was eloquent at the podium and addressed the group in Spanish. 

Families cheered as the graduates’ names were called and they walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.  A moving speech was delivered by class representative Anthony J. Sanchez, who said he felt ACE Leadership was the best school in Albuquerque.  Maria Teresa Salazar spoke of a parent’s gratitude for what ACE Leadership has been able to accomplish with its Re-engagement program.  Acclaimed poet Jasmine Cuffee skillfully delivered a beautiful message via Maya Angelou’s  poem “Still I Rise”.

The Albuquerque Journal featured a great article about the graduating class on the front page of the Metro section on Saturday, June 25th.
If you are not a subscriber please find the article reprinted at the end of this article.

The evening before the graduation for the Re-engagement students, a ceremony was held for the 9th grade students of ACE Leadership.  Special recognition to selected students was aligned with the core values of the school.  Students who achieved completion of the NCCER core curriculum received certificates.  Maria Guy addressed the risks the students and their families took by making the decision to choose ACE, and wonderfully built the risk theme into the value of good decisions. 

ACE Leadership Co-Founder and Director of Curriculum and Assessment Tori Stephens-Shauger announced that all 9th graders were moving up to 10th grade.  There was much excitement in the building as the students enjoyed the recognition and wished each other great summer vacations.  Many family members were in attendance and spoke highly of ACE Leadership. 

Outstanding Contribution Awards
ACE Leadership teachers and advisors nominated students for 4 awards, and all non-teaching staff served on the selection panel. 

The following 9th grade students were awarded for outstanding contributions to their class. 

  • Protector of the Community Award - Michael Ontiveros
  • Self Discipline Award - Nick Perea and Gerardo Hernandez (tie)
  • Heavy Lifter Award - Adelene Armenta
  • Best Rep. Award - Johan Valcarcel


Article from Albuquerque Journal

Rebuilding a Future

By Hailey Heinz / Journal Staff Writer on Sat, Jun 25, 2011
Hernan Castruita and his teammates were hoping to give their horno an igloo shape when they first started working on it. They drew up plans, made measurements and started making bricks out of mud and straw.

The boys – all 18 or 19 – used geometry to plan the curved shape of their oven’s door, and ended up making the horno more cone-shaped than they had originally planned. Next time, they know they need some smaller bricks if they want a truly dome-shaped oven.

The boys are all students in the evening program at ACE Leadership High School. ACE is one of Albuquerque’s newest charter schools, and its evening program aims to re-engage students who have previously dropped out of school. Castruita, 19, is one of 13 students who will graduate today as the evening school’s first graduating class. About a dozen more students are on track to graduate in December.

Everything at ACE – which stands for architecture, construction and engineering – is taught through the lens of those three fields. Science can be taught by measuring soil density, and history can be taught with an emphasis on buildings, for example.

The evening school students were at a display earlier this week, showing their completed hornos and design drawings, as well as essays and other examples of their work. Neighbors and ACE staffers walked around to the displays, asking questions and evaluating them.
Castruita and others said the lessons they learned have made them more marketable to employers.

“We get our hands around tools at this school,” Castruita said. “It’s easier to get us into a job site because you can just say, ‘Do this,’ and we know how to do it.”

Of the 13 students graduating today, 12 are Hispanic and one is Anglo. Ten are going on to Central New Mexico Community College, and two have already landed jobs in architecture or contracting. Their ages range from 17 to 22, and three are single parents.
All became disengaged from traditional high schools for one reason or another, and found a better fit at ACE.

Angel Alvarez, 22, is on track to graduate in December. He originally quit school in order to work full time and help support his mother and sisters. He was working as a fast-food manager when his mother heard about the school and suggested he try it out. Alvarez had no previous interest in construction and architecture, but tried the school anyway. He worked and attended ACE at the same time until his employer became less flexible with his hours and forced him to choose between the two. This time, he chose school.

“I knew I would have a lot better opportunities if I stayed here,” said Alvarez, who now has an internship at SMPC Architects.

Numerous students, including Alvarez, said the smallness of the ACE program helped keep them on track. Alvarez said he received more individual help and had more independence than he had in traditional school.

“The teachers and staff really care about you,” he said.

What do you think?