The Path September 2023

An Albuquerque Academy Community Newsletter


Convocation Celebrates Sixth Graders, Seniors, Creativity, and Courage | 50+ Years of Girls | '78 Grad Continues to Blaze Trails | Levanta Arts Classes for Adults and Kids | Admission Open House October 22 | Chargers Spirit Drives Homecoming Weekend | English Teacher to Introduce CliFi Curriculum | Campus Spotlight: The New Path | Sixteen Seniors Recognized as National Merit Scholar Semifinalists | Academy Student Honored in NPR Podcast Challenge | Help with Community Day | Reconnect at Alumni Weekend on October 27 & 28 | Summer at the Academy | Guest Speaker Ignites Discussion on Artificial Intelligence | Senior Meets President Biden | Campus Spotlight: Community Service | Juniors, Seniors Recognized by College Board | Why Albuquerque Academy Needs Your Support | Academy Wins NMAA Director’s Cup for Fifth Straight Year | Charger Aquatics Named Top-100 Program | Tackling the Wilderness | Corporate Partnership Opportunity | Photo Gallery

Convocation Celebrates Sixth Graders, Seniors, Creativity, and Courage

Chargers returned to campus for the 2023-24 school year on a sunny morning filled with hugs, applause, and words of encouragement. The year began with Convocation – an Academy tradition that welcomes our incoming sixth graders and celebrates our seniors as they march up the Path, with family members and the rest of the school cheering them on. This year, every student from the classes of 2024 and 2030 was specially paired so they could begin making connections that they will be able to nurture at other schoolwide events, such as Community Day.

Once everyone was assembled on the field, Head of School Julianne Puente addressed the crowd with a powerful message about the importance of the arts in schools, noting that creativity is critical to every discipline, especially in the age of artificial intelligence.

“An arts education isn't a luxury,” she said. “It's a fundamental necessity that fosters holistic development. When we infuse arts into every aspect of learning, we cultivate creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and emotional intelligence. Every invention, every scientific breakthrough, every technological advancement starts with a spark of creativity. The arts cultivate this kind of creativity, encouraging us to explore new horizons, challenge conventions, and envision possibilities beyond the realm of the predictable.”

Student Senate President Abhishek Narahari ’24 shared his appreciation for many aspects of Academy life – including trust among students, commitment to diversity, and willingness to have difficult conversations – and encouraged a continued focus on student wellness and trying new things. “While risks may carry with them the potential for failure, the rewards you will get from them are something you will never reap if you pass up the opportunity.”

Celebrating 50+ Years of Girls at the Academy

Fifty years ago, a landmark decision by the Board of Trustees transformed our institution from Albuquerque Boys Academy to Albuquerque Academy. In the fall of 1973, 22 girls entered the sophomore class. The next fall, three girls – Susan Herder, Kathryn “Kippi” Throckmorton, and Wendy Tooker – enrolled as seniors and, in the spring of 1975, became the first women to graduate from our school.

Over the years that followed, the number of girls at the Academy increased, and they entered more grades. Slowly, girls played a bigger role in the community – in the classrooms, on experiential education trips, and in athletic programs. We are proudly marking half a century of coeducation with a special series of interviews with some of our remarkable female alumni.

From distinguished scholars and pioneering athletes to compassionate philanthropists and trailblazing professionals, these women have made an indelible mark on our school and the world beyond.

They demonstrate the pivotal role women have played in shaping our school’s rich history and vibrant future. Join us in celebrating our female graduates, whose accomplishments remind us of the importance of Albuquerque Academy and inspire us to ensure the excellence of an Academy education that remains available to New Mexico children.

'78 Grad Continues to Blaze Trails

By Ted Alcorn '01

Two weeks after crossing the Rocky Mountains by foot, Deborah Cantrell ’78 was still nursing her blistered toes. This July she was perhaps the only law professor to walk the Colorado Trail, a nearly 500-mile trek running east-west across the state. She was almost certainly the only such professor with a splash of rainbow-colored hair.

Deborah is not afraid to stand out. In her years at the Academy, she had little choice — her class was the third to admit girls. The school integrated awkwardly; for example, she recalled how all the female students were placed into a single math class, regardless of level.

But being in a tiny minority among the students had its benefits, too. She walked onto the softball, track, and field hockey teams. And in spite of typical high school-age pressures to conform, she found — and founded — a culture among her peer athletes that celebrated all teammates as they were.

The Academy was intellectually challenging, but most importantly, the school taught her to challenge herself, to truly engage. “I could not get away with being a sloppy thinker,” she said. “I never felt like I was chastised or embarrassed or shamed, but I absolutely felt like I was being called forward to do better, bring more.

“It's not that you have to know what you want to do, because many of us don't,” she said. “The Academy fosters the steadfastness and the willingness to step into uncertainty.”

That practice is apparent in the life Deborah has built in the decades since. After graduating from law school in California and making partner in a firm, she realized her heart was really in public interest work. So she returned to New Mexico to help set up a program to assist seniors around the state with their legal affairs and then ran a large anti-poverty non-profit. The through-line, she said, was her belief in proactively seeking out ways to be of service. “I think lawyers have an obligation to make the effort to find the communities that could benefit from assistance,” she said.

The Academy left a mark on her spirituality, too. A visit Mr. Pennington’s class on world religions took to a Zen monastery helped spark what is now her deep commitment to Buddhist practice. She’s written legal scholarship about the religion, and it also shapes her everyday choices. She believes deeply that even if she can’t change the world, every action she takes, no matter how trivial, has consequences. “I need to live a good life each day, being compassionate, equitable, thoughtful,” she said, whether that is carefully listening to a student or helping someone at the grocery store.

Her month-long walk this summer was a good reminder of this inescapable responsibility. For all the solitude she found in the high mountains, she was also, inevitably, a member of a group of people moving the same direction along the trail. “You are always in community.”

New in September: Acting, Dance, Orchestra, and Guitar Classes for Adults and Kids

Classes for adults through the Academy's Levanta Institute for Music and Creativity begin this month! There are also after-school music classes for kids in grades 4-6. Registration for all classes is open now. For more information and registration, please go to aa.edu/levanta.

Academy Welcomes Future Chargers at Admission Open House October 22

The Academy will host its annual admission open house on Sunday, October 22, from 12-2 p.m. This is a wonderful opportunity for interested families to explore our campus; meet with faculty, students, and parents; learn about student organizations; enjoy performances; and get details about admission and tuition assistance for the 2024-25 school year!

If your family or a family you know is interested, please share the registration link and plan on attending; reservations for an arrival time slot are required. We would love to meet you on our campus!

Apply now for Fall 2024.

Chargers Spirit Drives Homecoming Weekend

Students, alumni, parents and grandparents, and faculty and staff past and present enjoyed a jam-packed weekend. Spirit Week ended on Thursday with an all-school pep rally and student activities in the evening. On Saturday, we cheered on the Chargers at football, soccer, and volleyball home games. The day was capped off with the students’ Homecoming Dance and post-game alumni gathering.

English Teacher to Introduce CliFi Curriculum Following NEH Program

English department member and Academy alum Norah Doss ’08 was one of 25 secondary school teachers selected to participate in the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Climate Futurism program for two weeks over the summer at Sonoma State University.

She and her fellow teachers, representing disciplines that included history, theater, and library science, explored CliFi — or climate fiction — through texts like Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, short stories, and theoretical pieces. They also created art, worked through their readings in the theater, and conducted fieldwork at places like the Fairfield Osbourne Preserve, a nature reserve in Sonoma County, California.

“I have been a science fiction fan since I read Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin for sophomore summer reading,” says Norah. “Oftentimes, people view science fiction literature as non-academic, but I love how Le Guin talked about science fiction from an anthropological lens.”

Norah plans to teach two of the texts from the institute — MT Anderson’s FEED and Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves. “I am also bringing back lots of innovative teaching practices.”

Working with academics from other institutions, including Indiana University, the University of Connecticut, UCLA, and Arizona State, was amazing, she says. "I learned so many relevant teaching strategies. We worked with an art teacher to make stop-motion films; I made a short about a California poppy blooming. We also got to write poetry while in the field, which was a wonderful experience to be by a creek, with newts and fish swimming by.”

Norah has always been interested in environmentalism and the outdoors, so this particular program seemed like a perfect fit.

Part of the charge of the NEH program is to disseminate what participants learned, so she hopes to use the curriculum she’s developing for her students to build reproducible units to present at the National Council for Teachers of English Conference in 2024 and publish it in journals like Climate Lit.

“The sub-genre of CliFi can definitely fit into other popular genres like dystopian fiction, which makes it a particularly high-interest genre for students. Climate fiction also allows environmentalism and future thinking to exist outside of STEM classrooms.”

Campus Spotlight: The New Path

Sixteen Seniors Recognized As National Merit Scholar Semifinalists

The National Merit® Scholarship Corporation has announced that 16 of the Albuquerque Academy seniors who competed in the National Merit Scholarship Program last school year have been named semifinalists in the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program.

As juniors, they entered the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which serves as an initial screen of program participants. The approximately 16,000 semifinalists across the country, representing fewer than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, include the highest-scoring entrants in each state.

Next spring these students will have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,140 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 million.

  • Aaron Alcalde
  • Felipe Canaca
  • Abigail Czuchlewski
  • Alex Goss
  • Uzair Hammad
  • Serlha Kundeling
  • Simon Lane
  • Abhishek Narahari
  • Anya Parasher
  • Ben Raihane
  • Julia Schiek
  • Nate Shay
  • Tiffany Tausch
  • Daphne Yao
  • Leela Young
  • Karen Zhang

Academy Student Honored in NPR Podcast Challenge

Sophia Wrobel ‘24 earned an honorable mention in NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge for her podcast, The Perfect Romance Novel. The annual contest invites students to create podcasts and compete for a chance to have their stories featured on NPR.

Sophia, pictured here in the spring musical, has been developing podcasts for several years. They helped serve as outlets for her writing and acting talents during COVID. They also helped her process the chaos brought on by the pandemic.

Sometime last year, her mother, who listens to NPR, introduced her to a podcast challenge they were having. With scholarship opportunities on the radar, Sophia says, “I added it to my list. I had some scripts that I had started but forgot to finish, so I picked a random one and added to it. (I tried to stray away from heavy or deep topics because I had a feeling many of those kinds of stories would be submitted.) I decided to start with a basic "cooking show" format but make it a novel instead.”

Sophia’s teacher and advisor, Karen Glenn, acted as her sponsor for the NPR competition, helping her upload the podcast and serving as her teacher contact. Not expecting an "off the top of my head" podcast to make it to NPR’s honorable mentions, Sophia says it took about five hours to create, and since “my brain tends to move faster than my mouth” she had to re-record it many times.

Listen to Sophia’s podcast, The Perfect Romance Novel.

Join the Tradition: Become a Part of Community Day

Please join us on campus on October 27 for Community Day! Community Day strengthens connections between all members of the Albuquerque Academy community. During this special day, regular classes are replaced with a unique schedule of events.

We would love for our current students to learn from the experience, passions, and expertise of members of our rich network of alumni, families, and friends. We are seeking community members (alumni, parents, grandparents) to lead student workshops from 9-11 a.m. or to represent community initiatives at the Community Fair from 12:15-1:45 p.m. Volunteers for either of these events are welcome to join us for lunch from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. and the annual running of the Reynolds Regatta cardboard boat race! Let us know how you would like to participate in Community Day.

Please complete this participation form by September 22.

Get Ready to Reconnect at Alumni Weekend on October 27 & 28

Academy alumni, please join us for a broad range of activities geared toward our alumni and their families. There is something for everyone! Check out the schedule of events. On Friday, alumni are welcome to attend Community Day by offering to share their passion, profession, or hobby with students and attend the Alumni Art Show or the Alumni Awards Dinner. On Saturday, join us for meals throughout the day featuring New Mexico favorites and Charger classics, Bear Canyon hikes, State of the Academy Address and annual Alumni Association meeting, pick up games of basketball, tennis, pickleball, volleyball, and a cross-country run with your family. Come cheer on the Chargers football team as they play the Bernalillo Spartans, watch an evening balloon glow, attend benchmark reunions or an All-Alumni Reception off-campus.

We hope to see you at one of the events! Visit aa.edu/alumni-weekend for complete details and to register for activities with limited availability or that require a ticket and register for Community Day.

Summer at the Academy

We had a great time in June and July with more than 1,300 Think Summer students, including 840 registered in full-day or half-day camps. The offerings included six credit courses for Academy students, 14 recreational/academic camps, and more than 150 individual enrichment classes. Over 200 student employees and 120 Think Summer faculty/staff members provided unforgettable opportunities and experiences.

Summer classes in woodworking, ceramics, and sewing continued to be popular and well-attended. Multicultural Summer Honors Program included 46 5th-grade students instructed by eight teachers in Language Arts, math, Experiential Education, and Culture Through the Arts.

In the final week of the session, nearly 175 summer students participated in dance, music, and drama performances that drew big, appreciative crowds.

Regular sessions of Think Summer and the Multicultural Honors Summer Program may be over, but we are already excited about next summer!

Guest Speaker Ignites Discussion on Artificial Intelligence

Days before the school year started, faculty and staff had the opportunity to be students themselves, learning about artificial intelligence from Luyen Chou, an educator, entrepreneur, and technology innovator. “An avalanche is coming,” he told the group.

Like many academic institutions, Albuquerque Academy is exploring the role of artificial intelligence in education. Luyen, who started his career in the early 1990s as a high school history and social studies teacher, and an early pioneer in classroom technology, said that AI technologies like ChatGPT are still in their infancy, and there is no question they will improve quickly over time. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses is important as educators seek to understand the implications of their work with students. “Technology is easy; how we use it is hard.

“The answer isn’t to start an arms race between AI’s and anti-AI AI’s,” he said. “Rather, it’s for educators, and students, to use this moment as an opportunity to rethink the rhythms and rituals of education and to fundamentally improve the ways that we teach students to think and express themselves in a rapidly evolving world.”

Senior Meets President Biden Through City Internship

Anya Parasher ’24 finished her summer working in the mayor’s office with a chance to meet President Biden when he, members of his staff, and New Mexico government officials visited Belen to promote clean energy and job creation. “We talked about the importance of including youth voices and advocates in decisions, especially in ones that affect local communities,” Anya says. “He said that he hopes more youth feel encouraged to be involved in policy and government.”

Anya has worked at the office of Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller since January 2022 on such projects as Bank on Burque, youth housing, and the Stories of Us initiative as well as mentoring with First Lady Liz Kistin Keller ’00.

She visited the Arcosa Wind Towers in Belen, funded with $1.1 billion by the Inflation Reduction Act, where she heard from President Biden, Senator Martin Heinrich, Senator Ben Ray Lujan, and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. She also spoke with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “I watch her a lot during White House press briefings, so it was really cool to meet her and talk to her!”

Campus Spotlight: Community Service

Juniors, Seniors Recognized by College Board

Thirty Academy students have earned academic honors from the College Board National Recognition Programs. These National Recognition Programs grant underrepresented students academic honors that can be included on college and scholarship applications and connect students with universities across the country, helping them stand out during the admission process.

Students who may be eligible have a GPA of 3.5 or higher who take AP®, PSAT/NMSQT®, or PSAT™ 10 exams PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10 exams and are African American or Black, Hispanic or Latino, Indigenous or Native, or attend school in a rural area or small town.

See the full list of honorees here.

Stronger Path Forward – Why Albuquerque Academy Needs Your Support

As the Academy embarks on a new school year and a three-year strategic plan, we are excited to share A Stronger Path Forward -- Why Albuquerque Academy Needs Your Support with our community. “This case for support, a short but essential document for any non-profit, should be the next ‘must read’ for anyone who recognizes the importance of the role Albuquerque Academy has played in their lives or who cares about our school,” says Director of Advancement Joe Weiss.

We encourage you to discover the potential for positive impact that lies within our unparalleled network of alumni, families, colleagues, and friends. Community members might be surprised by some of the data in A Stronger Path Forward and in the school’s 2022-23 Impact Report.

If you have any questions about these publications or are interested in making a gift to the school, please contact the advancement team at advancement@aa.edu. We welcome all conversations about the future of the Academy and the essential financial support that will be required this year, and in the years to come, to sustain our powerful mission and effectuate the vision for our school established in our new strategic plan, Academy in Motion.

We greatly appreciate each and every gift made to our school, every one of which is a sign of support, trust, and gratitude for the dedicated service of generations of Academy community members. If you are in a position to have a conversation about a leadership gift to our school (i.e., $10,000+, a matching gift incentive for your class year, a planned gift, or multi-year pledge), please contact Joe Weiss at weiss@aa.edu. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Academy Wins NMAA Director’s Cup for Fifth Straight Year

Albuquerque Academy has been awarded the New Mexico Activities Association 4A Director’s Cup for the 15th time since its inception in 2005 and for the fifth consecutive year. “It should not be a surprise,” says Athletic Director Taryn Bachis, “with as many championships we competed in. In fact, we had the most points overall, regardless of class.”

Read the news story for more.

Charger Aquatics Named an ASCA Top 100 Program

The Charger Aquatics (CAQ) program — a swim club located at Albuquerque Academy — has been recognized as a 2023 Age Group Top 100 Club by the American Swim Coaches Association.

The results were compiled using USA Swimming results of top-ranked swimmers in the 10 and Under and 11-12 age groups for the 2022 Long Course season and 2022-23 Short Course season. Swimmers were scored for finishing in 1st through 20th place in individual events only; relays were not included.

Because the ranking focuses on younger swimmers, the results show great promise for the future, says CAQ Director John Butcher.

CAQ, which offers year-round competitive swimming for all ages, has about 250 school-age club athletes and 50 masters swimmers. Learn more at aa.edu/charger-aquatics.

9th Graders and New Chargers Tackle the Wilderness

The experiential education department (Ex Ed) started the year with four 9th-grade trips exploring several different areas – the South San Juans of Colorado, Cruces Basin, and the Latir Mountains in northern New Mexico. “This was the students’ capstone Ex Ed experience – they camped, cooked, traveled, tried to avoid the rain, and finished the week a little more self-reliant than when they started,” says Department Chair Sarah Councell. And new 10-12 students got the opportunity to experience an Ex Ed trip, traveling into Bear Canyon for their first Academy overnight.

For more information about the Ex Ed program, including wilderness first aid courses, visit the experiential education webpage.

Corporate Partners Invited to Support Academy

Albuquerque Academy is excited to announce a new corporate partnership program designed to attract private sector partners who are proud to support our school’s mission and are interested in connecting with our school community. Depending on their sponsorship level, corporate partners could be featured in video spotlights, have prominent logo representation on the Harper Memorial Field scoreboard, promote job and internship opportunities to current students and alumni, and take advantage of many other opportunities to cultivate relationships with our robust school community. Visit our corporate partnership webpage for more information and to review the Corporate Partnership Program benefits packages.

Albuquerque Academy drives economic development by serving as one of the city’s larger employers and attracting new businesses whose employees seek exceptional educational opportunities for their children. By serving as a corporate partner of Albuquerque Academy, you are not only investing in the education of our future leaders, scholars, and changemakers, but are also contributing to the overall strength and vibrancy of our entire community.

To find out more about how your company can participate, please contact our advancement team at advancement@aa.edu.

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