Mountain Pointe High School has made the grade: The Ahwatukee Foothills campus has received A+ School of Excellence recognition, a prestigious statewide honor that recognizes overall merit.
Mountain Pointe is one of 20 schools around the state to receive the honor this year, and one of only three high schools. It is the first Tempe Union High School District campus to get the A+ designation in the award’s 27-year history. A total of 337 schools around Arizona have received the award since 1983.
Principal Bruce Kipper said the honor validates the hard work that goes into giving Mountain Pointe students the best education possible.
“This is by far the greatest achievement we’ve ever received here,” Kipper said. “We have so many programs that we offer and you have to be excellent in all of them (to be named an A+ school), which is hard, especially at a large high school.”
The award looks at every aspect of the school, including academic excellence, school culture, how students’ academic and non-academic needs are filled, community partnerships and what students learn beyond state standards, said Bobbie O’Boyle, executive director of the Arizona Educational Foundation, which gives out the award.
Mountain Pointe’s culture and sense of inclusion especially impressed the judging committee, O’Boyle said.
A sense of caring, pride and unity permeates the school, which is hard to accomplish on a large campus, O’Boyle said.
“The students are excited about their school, proud of all the trophies in their trophy cases they’ve received – not just sports wise, but art, academic awards,” O’Boyle said. “It just sounds like it’s a place kids want to be. They feel safe, they feel cared about. And that’s what makes for a successful school.”
Kipper said the administration and staff make a point to treat everyone as an individual, whether it’s a guidance counselor working one-on-one with a student to a freshman boot camp the school is beginning this fall to get new students onto the campus early to meet teachers, older students and each other.
Mountain Pointe staff try to keep the school open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to get as many students involved in extracurricular activities as possible, Kipper said. There’s already 77 percent of kids involved in some kind of campus activity, and Kipper wants that number to grow even more.
“It’s one of our goals, to make a large high school feel intimate or small,” Kipper said. “When people leave here, it’s really important to me that they feel like they’re part of a family. It’s what we build on.”
The application process and the award itself really were a community effort. Every single department had to submit something to the application, said Assistant Principal Pat Goolsby. When the judging committee made a site visit, they interviewed everyone from students and teachers to parents, cafeteria workers and community members who frequently work with students.
It’s not just people on campus who are excited about the honor. The Tempe high school district’s superintendent and staff are also thrilled by Mountain Pointe’s recognition, said district spokeswoman Linda Littell.
“Mountain Pointe has made some great strides in terms of the special programs they have created and their outreach to the community,” she said. “It just shows they go beyond expectations.”
This is the second major award Mountain Pointe has received in the past month. The school was also honored with the Phoenix Mayor’s School of Excellence Award for Outstanding Arts Education, which recognizes Phoenix schools for comprehensive and outstanding fine arts programs.
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon is scheduled to present the arts award to the school at 9:25 a.m. today. The A+ award will be presented April 29. The public is welcome at both ceremonies, Kipper said.