South Mountain High School is one of the first and oldest high schools in the South Mountain community. Opening it’s doors in 1954, South Mountain High School has been a staple in educating South Mountain students. Attracting students from all over the Valley, a newly incorporated Academies program is preparing students for career fields like aerospace science, nursing, and legal services. The current school is being renovated to house the four specialized programs: Science and Technology; Public and Social Services; Aerospace and Engineering; Media, Arts, and Design. Each program will be equipped with tools necessary for learning. Tools include an art gallery, court room, radio station and simulated Air Traffic Control tower, as well as one of the largest and well-equipped auditoriums in the state. The new concept requires a $30 million dollar renovation as they transform one school into four academies on an occupied campus. This allows South Mountain High to break down the school into smaller communities where students can easily connect with like-minded individuals. Each Academy will offer Advanced Placement, Honors Classes, and evening classes. Since adopting this concept of learning, South Mountain had over 700 Freshman enroll in Fall of 2018 making Phoenix Union High School District place a cap on enrollment for the first time ever in school history.
Teacher Bryan Willingham said the goal is for the students to “create a connection to the school” and have a “positive reason for [the students] to get up and go to school every day.”
By giving students the opportunity to attend a big high school campus while focusing on a smaller, specialized learning environment geared toward their interests, South Mountain is keeping students engaged and the Academies help students see new possibilities for their future beyond high school.
Currently, the team is finishing up framing on the M-4 phase which is the first floor of the two-story classroom building and preparing for drywall. The team is also working towards the overhead MP&E, grind and polishing of the floors, and installing hollow metal door frames. The twin engine airplane will be receiving a fresh coat of paint as well. All phases are slated to be completed Summer of 2019.