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Friday, March 24, 2017

ALA Recognized for Academic and Athletic Accomplishments

With an enrollment of only 160 students, Arizona Lutheran Academy in Laveen has again confirmed its position as one of Arizona’s elite high schools. For the second time in three years, the Lutheran high school, located just south of Southern Avenue on 27th Avenue, has been named a finalist in the 1A-3A category for the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Blue Cup Award, the state’s most prestigious honor for outstanding achievement in activities, scholastics and athletics.
 
“Being a finalist celebrates all of the things that we are about,” said Athletic Director Doug Meyer, who was also named a finalist for Coach of the Year after leading the varsity football and men’s basketball teams to the state finals this year.
 
Other Blue Cup finalists in the 1A-3A category include Phoenix Country Day School in Phoenix and Seton Catholic High School in Chandler. All finalists will be honored at the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Everyday Heroes gala at the Orpheum Theatre on May 20.
 
Among the award qualifications, schools nominated must demonstrate outstanding sportsmanship and academic excellence by students taking part in extra-curricular activities. Seventy percent of ALA’s student body participates in athletics and 66 percent are involved in band or choir.
 
This year, the cumulative grade point average for students playing in at least one of the school’s 12 interscholastic sports programs was 3.3. One of those students, senior Andrew Schroeder, who played basketball and football for four years and was in choir for one year, is one of only two state finalists in the boy 1A-3A category for Scholar Athlete of the Year.
 
“Athletics is a chance for kids, coaches and parents – all of us – to really learn life lessons, build character and learn things that will serve us well in life,” said Meyer, adding that all ALA teachers coach sports or some other kind of extra-curricular activity.
 
In addition to coaching, Meyer teaches religion, world history and European history.
 
“We really believe that athletics is an extension of our ministry and there’s no better way to live out our mission statement than through sports,” echoed Principal and ALA alumnus Dan Johnson, who also teaches United States/Arizona government.
 
Over the past five years, ALA students’ average scores on the ACT, a national college admission examination that tests subject areas such as English, mathematics, reading and science, have been above nationwide and state standards. Two members of last year’s senior class – which included a National Merit Scholar – are in the military and the rest are currently attending college. So far, 35 percent of the current senior class has earned scholarships at one of Arizona’s three state universities – Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University.
 
“For us it’s not a matter of encouragement that you should go to college. It’s really where and how we can help you,” Johnson said. “That’s really the spirit on which we operate.”
 
The nationally accredited school serves students from throughout the Valley, as well as Flagstaff, Prescott Valley, Tucson, Safford, Kingman, Lake Havasu and Casa Grande. On an international level, students from South Korea and Mexico currently attend ALA and more are expected from China next year. Out-of-town students live with a housing family in the Valley and, when possible, go home on the weekends.
 
ALA opened in 1978 and moved to its present location in 1986. At that time, the campus was surrounded by farmland and cotton fields; however, those have since been replaced with expanding neighborhoods.
 
“We could not be more excited about what is happening within the South Mountain Village and Laveen,” Johnson remarked. “We have had record inquires just this last couple of months, so we are truly excited about being meshed with this community.”
 
Part of that community connection includes ALA students participating in service-learning initiatives, including recent efforts such as volunteering at the HELP Thrift Store, spending time at local food banks and traveling to East Fork to paint the Apache Christian Training School building. In addition, during the past two summers, students traveled across the country to help out at churches in Florida, Wisconsin and Iowa, as well as at locations throughout Canada.
 

More information on Arizona Lutheran Academy is available by contacting Dan Johnson, ALA principal at 602.268.8686 or johnson@alacoyotes.org.

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