The Path November 2023

An Albuquerque Academy Community Newsletter


Reunions Bring Hundreds Back to Campus | Diwali Celebration | Fall Sports News | Make the Academy Your Nonprofit of Choice on Giving Tuesday | Admission Open House | PBS Features Academy in Affirmative Action Story | Community Day Brings Us Together | '89 Grad's Love for Piano Guides Her Life | 2024 Multicultural Summer Honors Program Accepting Applications | Alumni Gather in New York City | State of the Academy Address Showcases New Initiatives | Fall Play Emphasizes Diversity | Ramo Lecture Series | Celebrating Native American Heritage Month | Guitar Students Participate in District Festival | Education Expert Speaks on Helping Teens Navigate the Unknown | Upcoming Events | Delegates Shine at Model UN Conference | Photo Gallery

Reunions Bring Hundreds of Alumni Back to Campus

Fostering strong connections with alumni is critical to the Academy and its mission. Our alumni play pivotal roles as mentors, contributors, innovators, and ardent supporters of our school community. They are the graduates who pave the way for our current students, forging new paths and returning home to campus with a deep appreciation for their educational roots.

The 2023 Alumni Weekend, October 27 and 28, served as a vivid reminder of their invaluable contributions and enduring connections. With over 600 alumni and other members of our greater alumni community participating in at least one activity, it was perhaps the most robust participation yet of any alumni event. Throughout the weekend, both alumni and current families enjoyed a diverse array of events.

Alumni played an active role in hosting student workshops during Community Day, covering a wide range of topics such as pueblo breadmaking, the basics of DJing, the wonders of glass, leadership, entrepreneurship, careers in the performing arts, veterinary medicine, quantum computing, board game fun, and more. The Alumni Art Show showcased the work of 23 artists spanning class years from 1963 to 2022, attracting over 100 guests. The Alumni Awards and Athletics Hall of Fame Dinner, which honored three outstanding alumni award recipients and welcomed five inductees, drew nearly 200 guests. For the second year in a row, Bear Canyon alumni hikes reached full capacity, and the State of the Academy address featured school leaders discussing key aspects of the school’s operations that impact the experience of current students and the future of the school. Thirteen benchmark class reunions were celebrated, bringing together nearly 400 guests. Over 500 guests enjoyed a balloon glow, and an alumni gathering at Starr Brothers welcomed 200 guests.

It was heartwarming to witness our alumni enjoying the company of their families, friends, faculty, and administrators. This event underscored the significance of cherishing our past while eagerly embracing the future. We invite you to share your favorite images from the weekend here.

Diwali Celebrated on Campus

The Albuquerque Academy Asian American Parent Council hosted a parade during the school day and an all-community Diwali Celebration event November 18 featuring cultural performances.

Diwali, India's biggest and most important holiday of the year, is a festival of lights that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and the human ability to overcome. In the very old Indian language Sanskrit, Diwali (or Deepavali) means "row of lamps." People light lamps at Diwali to show that light is more powerful than darkness and good is more powerful than evil. Diwali also celebrates new beginnings.

Congratulations to the Fall Sports Teams

The girls cross country team captured another state championship and took first at districts.

The boys cross country team were district champs and the runners-up at the state meet.

Chargers volleyball took second at the state tournament and were district champs.

The girls soccer team took second in the state tournament.

The boys soccer team finished their outstanding season at the state semifinals.

Chargers football took their season all the way to the state quarterfinals.

Make the Academy Your Nonprofit of Choice on Giving TuesdAAy

On November 28, the Academy will participate in Giving Tuesday, a global movement that inspires millions of individuals to come together, give back, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. This year, we are excited to introduce two Giving TuesdAAy campaigns: the I GIVE and the Give Your Year Over a Year campaigns.


We would love to hear from you, our Charger community, about why you have selected Albuquerque Academy as your nonprofit organization of choice this Giving Tuesday. To participate, simply download the I GIVE card using this link. Share your reasons for supporting the Academy Fund on the card, take a photo with it, and post it on your social media accounts using these hashtags: #givingtuesdAAY, #giveyouryear, #albuqerqueacademy.

On Giving Tuesday, we will distribute I GIVE cards at various locations, including parent drop-off, the library, the bookstore, and administrative offices. You can also find them at Common Grounds Café.


This year, our Advancement Team, Alumni Council, and AAPA have joined forces to build the Give Your Year Over a Year campaign. By establishing a small recurring gift in honor of a special class year, we can collectively build the Academy Fund for today. For example, if 50 alumni from the Class of 1993 contribute $19.93 each month for a calendar year and 50 parents from the Class of 2026 donate $20.26 each month for a calendar year, we can raise over $26,000!

Albuquerque Academy subsidizes over $8,000 of every student's education each year through our endowment and philanthropic efforts, such as donations to the Academy Fund. Our mission is to build a strong Academy Fund for today and secure the endowment for the future. You can learn more about this initiative by reviewing A Stronger Path Forward, our case for support.

We invite you to stand alongside Chargers across the country and around the world on the global day of giving, November 28, by helping us meet our Giving Tuesday goals of $150,000 and 500 gifts. Make a gift today.

Admission Open House Welcomed Families to Campus

Hundreds of families joined us for an exciting day of exploration and discovery at the Academy’s admission open house in October. Self- and student-guided tours allowed parents and prospective students to experience our vibrant community, top-notch facilities, and outstanding academic programs.

Our visitors:

  • Enjoyed performances – guitar, band, chorus, strings, and dance.
  • Visited academic departments, saw classrooms, and met teachers.
  • Learned about student activities and school services such as clubs, student organizations, auxiliary programs, college guidance, health office, community service and more.
  • Met school administrators, including our head of school, associate heads of school, and division heads.
  • Explored ways to get involved through the Albuquerque Academy Parents' Association and the parent councils.
  • Toured our awe-inspiring facilities – Simms Center for the Performing Arts, Common Grounds Café, Bookstore, Simms Library, and the Science Building.
  • Got an insider’s view from an Academy Charger.
  • Learned about admission and tuition assistance.

We are proud of our school and our mission, and we are honored to be recognized by Niche as the #1 Private High School and STEM school in the Albuquerque area.

We hope you will recommend us to your friends, family, and neighbors with a student who you believe would make a valuable addition to the Academy's student body. Learn more.

PBS Features the Academy in Affirmative Action Story

A reporter and film crew from PBS NewsHour interviewed Dean of College Guidance Ralph Figueroa, others from the College Guidance Office, and students about the college-prep landscape in the wake of the Supreme Court’s affirmative-action decision.

Community Day, Longstanding Tradition, Brings Us Together

This year, Community Day brought perfect weather, an inspiring opening gathering in the gym, diverse and engaging workshops, the biggest Reynolds’ Regatta ever, and a robust community fair. Several alumni returned to campus to lead student workshops and shared memories of their long past Community Days, and 6th graders and seniors reunited from Convocation over lunch.

The format and content of Community Day has evolved over time, but it continues to be a tradition at the Academy. The Community Day planning committee, with considerable adult and student input, spent time last spring and summer developing a mission statement to guide its planning process:

Community Day strives to strengthen connections between members of the Albuquerque Academy community by embracing the opportunity to pause and enjoy our campus and each other. We aim to cultivate joy and belonging through experiences and activities that prioritize the sharing of time, place, and culture.

'89 Grad's Love for Piano Guides Her Life

In honor of 50 years of coeducation at Albuquerque Academy, Alumni Council member Ted Alcorn '01 is telling the stories of women alumni.

By Ted Alcorn ’01

Jocelyn Swigger ’89 can hardly remember a moment of her childhood when the radio wasn’t on. Her dad liked to tune into the classical music of Albuquerque’s KHFM right after the morning news. “That's just what the house sounded like,” she said.

Jocelyn ultimately made that music the soundtrack of her life, finding her way to a career as a concert pianist and professor at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Pennsylvania’s Gettysburg College and piano instructor at Interlochen Arts Camp. The pleasure of playing the piano is so fundamental that she struggles to explain it, comparing it to eating. “I don't really feel like I can live without it.”

She’d dreamed of a career in music since entering the Academy in ninth grade, where she arranged her free periods at the end of the day so she could travel to UNM for piano lessons and practice sessions. But she loved her other classes, too, gravitating toward teachers who challenged and sometimes outright scared her friends, including Charles Wong for precalculus and John O’Connor for English. At the Academy, she said, “I could be a nerd who wanted to do well in school” without fear of criticism. “I felt really safe.”

That didn’t protect Jocelyn from occasional crises of self-doubt. But she held on to her love for the piano, first as a student at Oberlin College and Conservatory and later earning master’s and doctoral degrees at the Eastman School of Music.

Over time, she came to appreciate the dimensions of her own abilities. Memorizing music comes more easily to her than improvising. She is also keenly aware of the ways her whole body contributes to her playing. “Put your hands in front of yourself and wiggle your fingers,” she instructed me, as a demonstration of how, when a person lowers their head until their chin is at their chest, that motion becomes harder to sustain. “A lot of the time, what I need to do to make my sound better, really, might be to lift my head up, or feel my feet on the floor, or breathe.”

Playing the piano is far more physical than many people realize, and Jocelyn has been drawn to its biggest challenges. During maternity leave after the birth of her son, she decided to learn and record Frederic Chopin’s 27 etudes. “It's sort of the Mount Everest of the piano repertoire,” she said. “Most pianists, if I tell them that I did that, their eyes get kind of wide.” Its difficulty caught even her off-guard; she thought she’d finish in two years but ultimately took more than seven.

That was good training for her next goal – reviving the difficult compositions of a little-known female composer, Agnes Tyrrell, whom Jocelyn came across in her scholarship. “I have spent my life as a pianist in conversation with geniuses,” Jocelyn said on a podcast recorded by her high school classmates, ticking off the composers who have guided her fingertips across the keys. “And when I play this music, it absolutely feels on that level.”

Tyrrell, who was born in what is now the Czech Republic and composed prolifically throughout the 1860s and 1870s, could never have known her music would be so inspiring to another pianist 150 years later, a continent away. And that gives Jocelyn hope.

“I’m playing this music in a spirit of radical optimism because its existence proves that what is possible is way more than we imagined.”

All of Swigger’s albums are available on streaming services, and readers can follow her discoveries of Agnes Tyrrell’s music at https://jocelynswigger.com/agnesblog.

2024 Multicultural Summer Honors Program Accepting Applications

The Multicultural Summer Honors Program is a six-week, five-period, full-scholarship summer program that includes academic enrichment, creative arts, experiential education, and community building. Current 4th-grade students from all cultural backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

The Academy believes that our student body should represent the diversity of our city and state. We welcome youth from underrepresented and marginalized populations, including African American, Asian American, Indigenous, and Hispanic, in our summer honors program to expand the reach of our mission and help fulfill the potential of talented young people in Albuquerque.

Alumni Gather in New York City

In November, Head of School Julianne Puente, 10-12 Division Head David Kim, former faculty member Leslie Kim, and school leadership reconnected with over 80 NYC-area alumni and friends and shared the exciting strategic initiatives at Albuquerque Academy.

State of the Academy Address Showcased New Initiatives

Parents, alumni, and current and former faculty joined us for the State of the Academy address on Saturday, October 28. If you weren't able to attend, please watch this video to hear from the alumni council president, student senate president, board chair, head of school, and director of advancement.

Fall Play Emphasizes Diversity

Academy thespians presented The Laramie Project over two weekends in November and left a lasting impression on their audiences. “The Laramie Project is the only play I can remember at our school whose importance transcends the marvelous performances,” said English department member Hugh Himwich.

The play comes from the Techtonic Theater Project, whose members traveled to Laramie, Wyoming in 1998 to explore the town’s response to the murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay university student. The resulting work is a story about love, hate, hope, fear, and courage.

Although the fall play traditionally has a small number of students, Director David Sinkus found a way to involve every student who was interested. “This play is about inclusion, and, in that spirit, I decided to include anyone who wanted to be involved, really show the diversity of our own Albuquerque Academy community,” he said. “I think that this was a show the kids won’t forget since we were all so invested in the events, the cause, and hope for the future.”

The show also implemented a variety of theatrical styles – epic theatre style, which uses the voice of the community as a catalyst; Greek chorus for the ensemble; and Japanese kuroko, used in kobuki theatre, for the narrators.

Ramo Lecture Series Hosts Leading Expert on Voting and Political Process

Through the support of the Ramo Lecture Series, students had the opportunity to hear from scholar and award-winning teacher Pamela S. Karlan, co-director of Stanford Law School’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, where students litigate live cases before the court. One of the nation’s leading experts on voting and the political process, she has served as a commissioner on the California Fair Political Practices Commission, an assistant counsel and cooperating attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and (twice) as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 1998, Karlan was a professor of law at the University of Virginia School of Law and served as a law clerk to Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Abraham D. Sofaer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Karlan is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Law Institute.

About the Ramo Lecture on the U.S. Constitution and the Responsibilities of American Citizenship

The lecture series, established by Albuquerque lawyer Roberta Cooper Ramo, the first female president of the American Bar Association and the American Law Institute, is funded by a gift in honor of Cooper Ramo from the ECMC Group, a family of companies that provide financial tools and services, nonprofit career education, and job placement services to help students succeed and achieve their academic and professional goals.

Academy Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

In November, Simms Library hosted a display sponsored by the Native American Parent Council that featured contemporary art by Native Americans and artifacts from Academy families.

Read more about Native American Heritage Month here.

Guitar Students Participate in District VII Festival

Several students in grades 6-12 were chosen to participate in the District VII Honor Group Guitar Festival, putting in many extra hours of individual practice to prepare for the event as well as rehearsing with guitarists from other schools. The performance on Saturday, November 4 included improvised solos by Quinn Ross ’25 and Andreas Hofer ’27.

See the news story for more.

Education Expert Addresses How to Help Teens Navigate the Unknown

Our community had another opportunity to hear from an educational expert – Alexis Wiggins, founder/director of the Cohort of Educators for Essential Learning. Alexis spent the no-school, in-service day on Friday, November 10, leading a workshop on Spiderweb Discussion – a teaching method focused on student-centered discussion –and gave an evening talk to parents about preparing teens for success that included practical suggestions about how to help guide teenagers and lots of time for questions.

A renowned educational leader, Alexis is a highly sought-after speaker and the daughter of Grant Wiggins, who pioneered the extremely powerful idea of understanding by design and worked with the Academy over 20 years ago.

Upcoming Events

Young Alumni Gathering | Classes 2018-2024 | November 22, 5:30-7 p.m. | Simms Library, Common Grounds Cafe | Register here.

Academy Alight | Saturday, December 2, 6-8 p.m. | Please enter at the Academy and Moon Gate and proceed one way through campus, exiting at the Harper Gate; the main entrance on Wyoming will be closed. For best viewing, turn off your headlights and use only your parking lights as you drive through campus.

Levanta Concert: A Night of Brazilian Music | December 9, 7 p.m. | Simms Center for the Performing Arts | Purchase your tickets now.

Alumni Holiday Gathering | December 15, 5:30-7:30 p.m. | Hollow Spirits Distillery | Register here.

Alumni XC Run | December 27, 10 a.m. | Register here.

Alumni Swim & Dive Reunion | December 30, 9 a.m. | Register here.

Delegates Shine at Model UN Conference

The Albuquerque Academy Model UN team had an impressive showing at the state conference held at the Roundhouse in early November. A record number of Academy delegates — 31 — participated, representing four countries with more than 20 delegations.

See the news story for more.

Photo Gallery

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