The next generation of innovators and leaders in the West Valley will soon have a new space to learn, compete and grow.

Highland Prep West broke ground on its new, 42,285 square foot facility in Avondale on Friday, November 5. Highland Prep West is being built on nearly 10 acres at 12235 W. Van Buren St. in Avondale. The new public charter high school will focus on delivering a world-class STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) college preparatory high school experience to the students it serves.

“With a vision of fostering tomorrow’s STEM innovators and leaders, Highland Prep West’s educational approach is inquiry-based and collaborative as we fully prepare our students to attend any four-year college or university of their choosing,” said Highland Prep West principal Jessica Alessio. “This unique preparation will give Highland Prep West students a competitive edge in college acceptance, scholarships, and in the global marketplace.”

Highland Prep West is the third Highland Prep school in the Valley. Highland Prep in Surprise is located at 15600 W. Hearn Rd. and Madison Highland Prep is located in Phoenix at 1431 E. Campbell Avenue. The facilities at Highland Prep West will include a full-size soccer field, basketball court, and three tennis/pickleball courts. There are two buildings connected by a two-level shaded breezeway. The buildings include 18 classrooms, a gymnasium, cafeteria, chemistry lab, fine arts room, boys and girls locker rooms and serving kitchen.

“We are here to transform the educational landscape and spark change, innovation and reform,” Highland Prep Executive Director Dr. Kerry Clark told the guests gathered for the groundbreaking event. “In these times, we need folks who are strong, smart, problem solvers and people who want to change the world and make it a better place. That’s who we are and that’s what we do.”

The building was designed by SPS + Architects and Willmeng Construction will serve as the general contractor on the project. Work is expected to be completed on the project in time for the new school year beginning in August of 2022.

A freshman class of 175 students will open Highland Prep West and the school will continue adding one class each year. Enrollment is expected to be approximately 600 students by year four. Alessio pointed out some unique features of the design of Highland Prep West. One notable design feature is the community and communication stairs, one facing outside and one facing indoors.

“Outside, our community stairs will serve as a student gathering place where students do life together as Highland Prep West Hornets,” said Alessio. “Inside, our communication stairs will feature space for students to collaborate in their learning as they foster a STEM mindset through inquiry-based learning opportunities.”

Alessio also noted that the new facility will allow Highland Prep to reach more students who are attracted to the STEM educational model and give them the chance to have a full high school experience with opportunities to take part in athletics and fine arts.

“With low student-to-teacher ratios and a plethora of athletic and extracurricular opportunities, our students are known as individuals and are nurtured in a safe and rigorous learning environment,” Alessio said. “Students have a keen interest in STEM academics and extracurriculars, including Vex Robotics, Drone Racing, Engineering Club, Speech and Debate and more. At Highland Prep West, students will have opportunities to become community change agents through participation in various clubs and volunteer experiences.”

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