Andrew billman

Senior project: cover album

Hello, my name is Andrew Loren Billman, and I am a senior at Academic Arts High School. Prior to coming to Academic Arts, I had been to one other high school, which was Sibley; this school was not right for me. During my few days there, I was bullied to the point where I had feared even going to school, and no one did anything about that. Soon after, I chose to enroll at Academic Arts, which is, in my opinion, the perfect school. The teachers are nice, and the students are amazing. Why I prefer AAHS to other schools is the individualized learning for each student to get the right help for what they need.

I am incredibly excited to graduate from such an amazing school, it has offered me a better and more hands on way to learn and excel at what I am doing. After high school I hope to go on to college and become a music instructor for guitar.

For my senior project, I am making an album with my best friends.What I am doing for this project is creating and producing a full album with my three best friends who are also in the band I am in.I chose this project, because I have full intent on becoming a music teacher in my future. I also have a passion for music and producing it. My band mates are Mathias Epps and Nick Vigliotti, and our producer is Leif Thune. I am also working with another friend of ours outside of school that produces music and one teacher, Josh.

This project is important to me. My entire childhood was spent moving from one place to another, and while the places I moved around to and other aspects of my life never stayed the same, the music I listened to never did. It was always there for me, and it never left. I believe others should care about this project, because having a deeper understanding of the music you listen to and the work involved in its production can broaden your musical horizons. Another reason music has been a big part of my life is knowing it never took a lot of money to have fun and enjoy music alone or with friends. I hope to one day bring that same feeling to those that might enjoy my music.

Alicea gabriella

early graduate

mathias epps

Senior project: cover album

My name is Mathias, and I am a senior at Academic Arts High School. I have been in and out of schools since eighth grade, because I had a hard time talking with teachers, and because of this, I would not speak up for myself and what I needed to best learn. This led to poor grades and behaviors when I could not understand the work, and I would get frustrated. Before Academic Arts, I was at a treatment school for behavior issues. That last school’s environment was a bad scene for me; I didn't do my work, and I was defiant. After that, I was home schooled for about a year, but I missed a key part of school, the interaction with other students. I wanted to find a smaller school that I was more comfortable with. My mom and I started looking for school, and I toured two schools before finding Academic Arts.

My senior project is to make record, mix, and produce a professional level album with my friends and band mates Nick and Andrew. Our goal is to make more of a name for ourselves in the music scene and hopefully get a gig at the Hard Rock Café at the Mall of America.

rhianna gantzer

Senior project: aahs school yearbook

My name is Rhianna Gantzer. I am a senior at Academic Arts High School. Before attending AAHS, I went to Sibley all of my Freshman year and two months into my sophomore year. I never wanted to go to school during the time that I was enrolled at Sibley, as I felt uncomfortable there.  I decided to transfer to Academic Arts, because of the smaller class sizes and the friendlier environment. Since transferring to AAHS, I now enjoy going to school. I am excited for graduation, but I am also nervous. My plans for the future include being involved in the health field; I would love to be a surgical assistant or an ultrasound technician.

For my senior project, I will be creating, editing, and producing the Academic Arts School yearbook for this school year. I will be drawing sketches for the yearbook and making the design online. My community expert is Ben LaLonde from Picaboo; Ben has been helping me put the yearbook together and figure out pricing. Making the yearbook is important to me, because this is my senior year at AAHS. I would like to have something tangible to remember the school by in addition to the friends and great memories I’ve made while attending AAHS.

Maria HErnandez

2017 Graduate

haley koehnen

Senior project: improving your dog's health

Hi, my name is Haley, and I am a senior at Academic Arts High School. Before I came to Academic Arts, I attended Henry Sibley High School. I quickly found Sibley was way too big of a school for me, so during the summer after ninth grade, I started to research smaller schools. I happened to come across Academic Arts High School, and my dad and I came to the school to check it out. That same day, I enrolled, and I have been here ever since.

The goal for my senior project is to educate families on the proper care for dogs. Often times, I see families adopt their first pet without much research into the involvement and commitment they are making. This leads to neglected, mistreated, or downright abused animals. My project involved teaching people how to care for their dogs the right way. As part of my project, I created a Facebook page to get my information out posted assistance there often.

maddie leyde

Senior project: post secondary enrollment options (pseo)

Hello, my name is Maddie Leyde. Academic Arts is my second high school, the first being Hastings High School. I have been a student at Academic Arts since my freshman year, and I switched schools because I had a lot of anxiety with there being so many students at Hastings. In addition to this, I have always had a really hard time making friends, but within a few months after switching schools, I had found a few people I really enjoyed being around. I am very excited to be graduating high school and finally start working towards what I want to do for a career. I will be attending the University of Wisconsin-River Falls next fall, and I am hoping to either become a veterinarian or a veterinary technician for farm animals.

My senior project is called “PSEO: College in High School.” It is about Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) which allows high school students to attend college either part time or full time. I have been doing PSEO full time at Inver Hills Community College since the middle of my junior year, and it has been a very beneficial part of my educational journey. I have been working with Mary Kadrlik, the Inver Hills PSEO Admissions Coordinator, which allowed me to speak at the PSEO Information Session in March. This informational session was for high school students considering PSEO as an option for the following school year. I am also hoping to work with students at AAHS considering PSEO for next year. My overall goal for this project is to get more and more students involved in this opportunity. It has helped me so much over the past year and a half, and I hope that other students can have the same benefits that I have had.

Audrey mcmonigal

Senior project: helping homeless lgbt youth

Hello, my name is Audrey McMonigal. I am senior at Academic Arts High School. I previously went to Simley High School, but due to my horrible grades and the behaviors I exhibited while I was at Simley, my mother decided to do some research on smaller schools, so I could focus on my work. I am extremely excited for graduation and even more excited to attend a post-secondary school for cosmetology. Cosmetology is my passion, and I would be very happy to have the opportunity to be a cosmetologist as my future profession.

For my senior project, I originally wanted to help homeless LGBT youth, but there are not a lot of LGBT centers in Minnesota and the few that do exist did not contact me after my repeated attempts. Being that was the case, I decided to take a different spin on my project by doing a clothing donation drive for the homeless.

jonathan meade

early graduate

najib mohamed

Senior project: school marketing

My name is Najib Mohamed, I am eighteen years old, and I am a senior at Academic Arts High School. I attended Henry Sibley High School, which is located in Mendota Heights, until tenth grade. That is when I heard about Academic Arts High School. I transferred to Academic Arts, because I was struggling at Henry Sibley and never did the homework. I wanted to put myself back on track and start fresh at a new school where I didn't know anyone. I felt like I could focus more at Academic Arts, which has been successful seeing as how I’m graduating this year! I can't wait for graduation day, so I can start going to post-secondary school to prepare myself for the careers I've always dreamed of.

My senior project revolves around marketing for the school (Academic Arts) and recruiting up and coming high school students, because I feel like people really don’t hear about charter schools or other non-traditional options. Knowing what else is available can’t hurt, and these schools exist to help tons of students. A short film was created to highlight programs the school offers and showcases students’ and staffs’ perspectives on why they picked this school. I also created a brochure for the school that contains information about the school which I have handed out. Additionally, a slideshow was constructed to provide more in-depth information about the different classes and field trips that occur here.

carolina ortiz

Senior project: cosmetology

Hello, my name is Carolina Ortiz, and I am nineteen years old. Before attending Academic Arts High School, I went to St.Paul Central High School for three years. I have four siblings, my family is from Mexico, and I was born here in St. Paul, Minnesota.

My senior project is based on the art and industry of makeup and cosmetology.  I will be learning skills and techniques that professional makeup artists use, and I will be performing those learned skills by doing makeup on several people and creating makeup tutorials. I will also be taking before and after pictures to show how much of a change makeup can make to someone’s appearance. The reason I chose this topic is to find out if cosmetology is the career field that I want to pursue once I graduate.

yazmine ricci

Senior project: helping one teen at a time

I’m Yazmine Ricci, and I’m a senior at Academic Arts High School. I have attended two high schools in my educational journey. I was enrolled at South Saint Paul High School before deciding to transfer to Academic Arts High School. What made me want to switch schools was learning more about AAHS and its project based approach to learning.  Hearing that caught my attention, because I am a hands on and artistic person. After High School, I plan to go to college part time at Saint Paul Community College and working part time as well. Once I graduate from Saint Paul College, I will be looking into applying to law school.

My Senior Project is titled“Helping All Teens.”  I am volunteering at the Neighborhood House in West Saint Paul. I specifically volunteer in the Celita Center where kids ages 8-18 are. The Celita Center is a drop in center for pre-teens and teens. The Celita Center provides snacks, school supplies, feminine products, sexual protection and much more. Teens often go to the Celita Center for help with homework, and to talk about problems they may be having at home or at school. I chose to do this for my senior project, because I’m a teenager myself, and I feel like that the teenage years are when kids need the most support, help, and guidance. The community should care, because every teenager is going to have a future; they are the future. They will one day be the ones running the world, and they need to be educated and guided down the right path.

sarah routhieaux

Senior project: profit4pawz

My name is Sarah Routhieaux, I am a senior at Academic Arts High School. My high school career has been far from simple. I began my freshman year at Henry Sibley High School, which was a big mistake. Sibley was and still is known for being extremely cliquey which was always a problem for me. After a year and a half at Sibley, the cliques and basicness of the school led me to transfer to Creative Arts Secondary School. I thought this would be amazing, and it really was for the first year I was enrolled, but at the beginning of my junior year, the school tanked fast and hard. Creative was an ALC school the first year I went there, but was taken over by St. Paul Public Schools in 2015. This change turned the artistic and accepting school that I knew into a stomping ground for kids that had been kicked out of every other school in the district.

By the beginning of my senior year, I was extremely fed up with high school. I signed up for PSEO at Inver Hills Community College and enrolled at yet another high school, Academic Arts High School. For the short while I’ve been here, AAHS has been very accepting of me, even though I’m generally pretty quiet and tend to keep to myself. That said, I cannot wait to graduate. I plan to continue my education at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and I could not be more excited.

My senior project has been a struggle from the jump. Initially, the project was called “Profitz4Pawz,” but now it’s rather nameless. The plan was to create clothing, sell the clothing, and use the profits to adopt an animal from a kill-shelter. I met up with one of my former teachers who is now a self-employed artist, Booka-B. We created shirt designs together and planned to start screen-printing the shirts as soon as I found funding. Unfortunately, proper funding was not received, so the clothes were never made. After failing to find someone who would sponsor a 17 year old’s high school project, I took matters into my own hands. I have always been very passionate about photography so I thought that would be my best bet. I asked other seniors if they would be interested in paying for senior photos and went from there.

monica sevilla

Senior project: project free movement - offering free dance classes for youths

My name is Monica. I am a senior at Academic Arts High School. Before attending Academic Arts, I was attending Henry Sibley High School. My family is from Mexico, but I was born here in Minnesota. I have one older brother, a twin sister, and three little sisters, so there are six of us in total.

For my senior project, I would like to offer a free dance class to younger children attending local elementary schools. Dance classes are expensive, and parents may not be able to afford them, which is why so many kids do not get into dance. I would like to offer these classes to invite and introduce the art of dance to our community. I will be hosting classes at Academic Arts High School, and I hope to draw talent and experience from local instructors who are willing to help lend a hand.

zachary schmitz

Senior project: spreading lnt

My name is Zach Schmitz. I am 19 years old and have attended Academic Arts High School for the last three years. My education started out in a public elementary school with the usual big classes.  From third to seventh grade, I attended a private catholic school where classes were very small. I then went to South St. Paul Secondary School from eighth to tenth grade, but transferred once more, because I felt I was not getting the help I needed and began falling behind. That was when I transferred to Academic Arts, and it all changed for the better. I am currently in my senior year of high school and am about to graduate. After high school, I plan on attending automotive school to receive my Mechanic and Diesel Mechanic licensure.

Ever since I was young, I have been really close with my grandma. When I was about five years old, my sister and I were introduced to an organization called Leave No Trace (LNT) through her. Initially, I was interested, but as I got older, I lost interest until the last year or two. Academic Arts adopted the LNT model and principles, and I became more involved. I started helping my grandma out, whether it was doing booths at the state fair, city park, or other expos. I even worked in a Bigfoot costume, which is the mascot for LNT! Last year, I took a Master Educator course with LNT, and I am now a certified trainer and teacher in the subject. The class was a week long and cost me 400 dollars, so I figured, this is important to me, so why not use this training as part of my senior project? My project is to get the community and the school more interested in LNT and focused more on the path of LNT’s ethics of camping and hiking. For my project, I’m going to use games, activities, and other teaching methods to get people more involved in how to Leave No Trace!

lily thompson

Senior project: care for exotic animals

My name is Lily Thompson, and I am a senior at Academic Arts high school. I went to South St. Paul secondary until the end of my freshman year before making the switch to Academic Arts in search of a better learning environment. During my time at Academic Arts, I made a lot of fun memories and met a lot of great people. However, I am excited to graduate and continue forward with my adult life, but I will never forget the time I had, the friends I have made, and the things I’ve learned and experienced while at Academic Arts.

My senior project is about the adequate care of exotic pets such as reptiles, small mammals, and aquarium fish. I have been researching many common myths among pet owners, such as keeping a fish in a fish bowl is acceptable, and finding out why those myths can be harmful to the animals. I met with three community experts; two of them are coworkers from a local pet store and one is a local veterinarian. I interviewed them on their thoughts on exotic animal care. I am also running a Facebook page where people can post about their exotic pets and ask questions about them. This project is important to me, because I have been taking care of the fish at school for the past two years as well as the numerous exotic pets that I have at home.

leif thune

Senior project: producing an album

I am Leif Thune, and I am currently in my Senior year of high school and a PSEO student at McNally Smith College of Music. I came to Academic Arts High School as a freshman, because I enjoy the work environment AAHS provides much better than traditional public schools. I did not want an overload of work that I would spend hours on. I am an introvert, and I prefer smaller class sizes and a smaller number of friends, so I really liked that the staff of the school is a smaller community of friendships. Building healthy relationships with people can benefit your own career and social life, which AAHS hopes to show its students. I look forward to graduating this spring, to keep moving forward in my own life and career, as well as starting to get involved with the way AAHS runs. When I graduate, I plan to join the school board, and I hope to start teaching some skills I have learned for music classes at the school as well. I will continue as a full-time student at McNally Smith College and plan to find a job locally at a music venue.

My senior project is to recordan album. I have been taking college classes for music production, and I hope to turn it into a career. I am acting as a producer on a cover album for other students, and I am recording a documentary style video as one of my finished products. I hope to show how much work goes into an album, even a cover album. My plan for the documentary is to show that the effort put into the album is extensive. A band that's just getting out into the community needs support to be successful, and they will need even more support to start traveling for small gigs and tours.

kaitlyn tiedeman

Senior project: urban exploring

Hi, my name is KaitiTiedeman. I am a senior at Academic Arts High School, and I am just a month away from graduating! My education started in Hudson, WI at the district elementary school through sixth grade. In my seventh through eleventh grade years, I was a student at Tartan Senior High School, but after a few incidents of being the target for bullying, I felt unsafe, and I decided to leave Tartan. I am now finishing my last year at Academic Arts. At the beginning of twelfth grade, I took PSEO classes and learned a lot about college life. I'm not sure what to expect after highschool, and I have not yet made up my mind about my career path, but I’m excited to start walking down that path.

My senior project is about urban exploring in MN. About a year ago, I was introduced to it when I ran into people that knew some of these secret places. It really caught my interest, because most people don’t expect to have places like these hidden in plain sight. For instance, there is a whole tunnel system below downtown St. Paul called The Labyrinth. I think people should take an interest in urban exploring, because you could be walking or driving right over something amazing that you don't even know is there. For this project, I am exploring these places, taking pictures and I'm also trying to tell a little bit of history about each one. 

taylor unruh

Senior project: kindergarten readiness

My name is Taylor Unruh, and I am currently a senior at Academic Arts. Before enrolling at Academic Arts high school, I attended Henry Sibley high school until the end of my junior year. Going to Sibley didn’t help me grow as a person, and I didn’t feel it was the school for me. When my best friend ended up leaving Sibley, I finally got the courage to leave as well. After transferring to Academic Arts, my learning experience became more enjoyable. This school has had an amazing impact on how I view school, my education, and my future.

For my senior project, I am working with several different preschools, elementary schools, and daycare centers. My goal is to better understand how young children and toddlers learn and develop, as I want to be a teacher one day. I plan on attending Normandale Community College to start my journey as a future educator. My senior project has helped me decide that teaching is something I would enjoy doing in the future. It has given me an opportunity to volunteer in kindergarten classrooms and research the materials, methods, and ideas teachers use in everyday in those classrooms. As part of my senior project, I also reached out to future teachers about figuring out what level of education would be right for them, and what things to expect when I have my own classroom.

alissa wolf

Senior project: college preparation

My name is Ali Wolf. I started at AAHS halfway through my sophomore year in January of 2015. I came here from East Ridge High School to make friends, leave a toxic community, and be in classes that I enjoy. Academic Arts has an amazing community and staff who are supportive, friendly, and diverse. After graduation, I plan on continuing my education at Inver Hills Community College, where I've been completing classes through PSEO. I'm not sure what my future holds, but I'm excited for what's to come!

I did my senior project on college readiness and study skills. I wanted to prepare the students here at AAHS for higher education and get them thinking about their future options. I'm currently leading a class twice a week. In this class, we talk about study skills, interests, college options, and many more things pertaining to their future and higher education.

zackary zafke

Senior project: desktop dreams - assembling your own personal or business computers

My name is Zackary Zafke. I am a senior at Academic Arts High School. I chose Academic Arts, because  I like working with my hands, and this school allowed for a space that was more hands on.  I am hard working, but I admit that I am a bit of a procrastinator, which I like to think that has helped me be a more creative person. I am also pretty great with kids. I am a good friend, and I work hard to have healthy relationships with the people in my life, even though it can be hard at times. I am an empathetic person, and I try and be helpful to others whenever possible.

My Senior Project is about computers. I will be showing the audience that it does not take much to learn the different parts of a computer, how they work, how to diagnose problems, and how to fix those problems or replace broken components. I will compare costs of building your own computer to purchasing one from a store, and I will also compare costs of fixing your own computer to hiring a professional. I want the audience to learn from this and use this information in their own lives to save a lot of money whether that be at home or in the workplace.