Desert Academy is an International Baccalaureate World School and a college preparatory, independent, coeducational day school for grades 6 through 12.
The school was founded in 1994 and is located on our beautiful new 26-acre campus along the historic Old Santa Fe Trail. Our current enrollment in grades 6-12 is 180. 25 percent of those students are considered members of ethnic minority groups, and 41% of the student body receives financial aid or scholarships. The class of 2016 had 13 students. The 2017 graduating class is anticipated to be about 44 students.
“We appreciate the kind, inclusive, globally-minded community that you foster at Desert Academy. We truly feel welcome at your school and believe this is an environment where our child can thrive. The atmosphere is palpably different from other schools we have visited and we value the attention you place on developing well-rounded, respectful, caring students. We feel that Desert will engage our child in learning by encouraging his intellectual curiosity, while also providing a safe, supportive space for him to blossom as an individual”
– Prospective Parent
Faculty: The total number of teaching faculty is 31 (including part-time). The student faculty ratio is 8:1. Our average class size is 12 students. DA’s 96 classes are offered on an alternating block schedule.
Mission: Desert Academy is dedicated to academic and personal excellence. We provide a quality college preparatory education in a diverse school community that values individuality, builds character, promotes self-confidence, and fosters global understanding.
Accreditation: We are accredited and in good standing with AdvancEd (formerly the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges) and the New Mexico Department of Education, and authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization.
Graduation Requirements: Each high school student is required to take four years of English, three years of History, three years of lab Science, four years of Mathematics, four years of one Foreign Language, one year of Visual or Performing Arts, and additional electives to 28 high school credits.
The International Baccalaureate Program
We offer this program for all of our students, via the Middle Years Program for grades 6-10 and the Diploma Program for grades 11-12.
In 2015, we graduated ten full IB Diploma students (of the thirteen that attempted the Diploma Program). Many others take IB Certificate examinations (last year 24 seniors took 123 exams). The class of 2016, a smaller class, graduated three full IB Diploma students.
Our IB Curriculum Consists of these courses:
- English HL (high level)
- Spanish SL (standard level)/HL, Chinese Ab Initio SL, or French SL or Ab Initio SL
- History HL
- Philosophy HL
- Biology SL/HL
- Math SL/HL, Math Studies SL
- Visual Arts HL
- Film HL
- Music SL/HL
- Theory of Knowledge
- Extended Essay
Creativity, Action, and Service: Students must also complete their annual IB CAS credits and project outside of the classroom, regardless of whether or not they are full Diploma students.
Grading System: The school year is divided into semesters and the grading system is based on a 4.0 scale. IB courses receive an additional 0.25 grade weight.
Class Rank: Since the student population is so small, we do not compute rank in class. We will provide a GPA. The 2015 highest average at the end of junior year was 4.11; the lowest was 2.48. The average GPA in the class is 3.25. To be placed on the Honor Roll, a student must attain a 3.5 average, and the High Honors designation goes to students with a 4.0 and above.
National Honor Society (NHS) and National Junior Honor Society (NJHS): Desert Academy students can apply to NHS after the first semester of tenth grade, and they are selected according to their grades and participation in service. Students must maintain a 3.5 GPA and complete service (including working with the after school tutorial program) in order to remain in NHS. Likewise, students can apply to NJHS after the first semester of eighth grade, and they are selected according to the criteria above.
Sports and Activities:
Varsity Sports: Basketball, Cross Country, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Track & Field, and Volleyball.
Extracurricular Activities: Chamber Music, Chess, Dance Committee, Gay Straight Alliance, Glee, Global Issues Network, Leadership Experience Opportunity (LEOs) Club, Model United Nations, Newspaper, National Junior Honor Society and National Honor Society, Outdoor and Sustainability, Personal Safety, Project, Salsa Dance, Speech and Debate, Student Council, Supercomputing, Yearbook.
Standardized Testing: Desert Students generally take the ACT test. The 2015 average composite score was 28. IB Scores: (2015) 28 students sat for 131 exams. 86% (112 exams) passed (scored 4 or above).
College Matriculation: DA supports our graduates who go in many varied directions. Over the past five years, approximately 93% of the students have gone to four-year colleges and universities. Another 3% have gone to two-year colleges. Of the students attending four-year institutions, 6.3% have attended art schools or conservatories, 14% percent stay in New Mexico for college, and 5% study abroad.
Students in the classes of 2009-2015 have attended these four-year colleges: Academy of Art, Beloit, Brown (2), Cal Arts, Champlain, Chapman, Clark, Colby-Sawyer, Colorado College (2), Colorado State (3), Columbia College (Chicago), Columbia U/Sciences Pro, Connecticut College, Cornell College (2), Cornish College of the Arts, Dartmouth, Drew (3), Eckerd (2), Eugene Lang (2), Fort Lewis (2), Franklin College (Switzerland), Franklin & Marshall, George Mason, George Washington, Goucher (2), Grinnell (2), Hampshire, Hendrix, College of Idaho, Indiana U, Landmark, Lehigh, Lewis & Clark (2), Loyola (NO), MICA, Marymount Manhattan, MIT, Middlebury, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Mount Holyoke (2), Musician’s Institute (2), National Cheng Kung U (Taiwan), New Mexico State (2), New Mexico Tech (3), New York U, Northeastern U (2), Northern Arizona U, Occidental (2), Oxford College of Emory U, Pacific U, Parsons School of Design, Pitzer, Prescott, Princeton, Reed, Regis (2), RISD, Richmond (London), Sarah Lawrence, Savannah College of Art & Design, Skidmore (2), Stanford, Southwestern, Swarthmore, Texas A&M, Trinity U, Truman State, Tulane, Universities of: British Columbia (2), California/Irvine, California/San Diego, California/Santa Cruz, Chicago (2), Miami, Mississippi, New Mexico (17), Oregon (2),Redlands (2), Rochester, San Diego, San Francisco, Southern California (3), Victoria (Canada); and Vassar (2), Washington U (St. Louis) (2), Western Washington U, Wheaton (3), Whittier, and Willamette.