From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigationJump to search

Air Academy High School (AAHS) is a public high school in El Paso County, Colorado, United States that serves the northwestern end of Colorado Springs, Colorado, as well as the United States Air Force Academy. Air Academy, a part of Academy School District 20, has been ranked[who?] within the top 10 high schools in the state for its high academic standards.[3] It is the only high school in the U.S. built on a military academy (the school district also has an elementary school on the Air Force Academy).

Air Academy is situated in the foothills of the Front Range, at an approximate elevation of 6,550 feet (1,995 m) above sea level.

The school's sports mascot is the "Kadet" (KAY-det), a fictional bird of mythical proportions that is representative of a baby falcon. The name itself is a reference to the fact that the high school can be seen as a "little sibling" to the Air Force Academy. The USAFA college students are called "Cadets," and the AAHS mascot name was replaced with a K, resulting in "Kadet."


The school was opened in 1957 on the grounds of the United States Air Force Academy for the 1957–58 academic year and had its first commencement ceremony in 1958, making the class of 2019 its 62nd graduating class. It is the second oldest high school in Colorado Springs, behind Palmer High School.

It was originally constructed as just one building, which is now referred to as 'A' Building, which was finished in 1959, and includes all classrooms in the 100s. 'B' Building was added the second year after the original building was constructed, and consists of the rooms in the 200s. Through the years, two other buildings were constructed to supplement the growing student population, 'C' (300s and cafeteria) and 'D' (400s and 500s) Building. The latest addition, an extension to D Building that includes all classrooms in the 500s, was completed in 1998 and consisted of several new classrooms, as well as a new gym and band room. Both gyms are located in A Building, while the smallest gym (in C Building) was converted to a weightlifting gym in 2004.

In 2018, B Building and the library were remodeled. The process began in early summer of 2018 and was finished before the spring term. Into the next year, A Building will also be remodeled. Both of these projects were motivated by the asbestos present in the buildings, due to their time period of construction, in the 1950s.


The school was recognized by Newsweek in 2004 and 2005 as being one of the top 1000 public high schools in the country in terms of academic achievement. Air Academy has been ranked as one of the top 10 schools in Colorado multiple times and the school continues to achieve 'superior' rating on standardized tests. Air Academy is also an 11-time winner of the John Irwin School of Excellence Award (2001-2007, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016) from the Colorado Department of Education.[4]

AAHS offers Advanced Placement classes to students in numerous subject areas.


Air Academy offers varsity and junior varsity athletic teams competing in Colorado High School Activities Association 4A and 5A sporting events. Facilities at the school include two gyms, a weights facility, a track, a yoga and fitness room, soccer, baseball, and softball field, eight tennis courts, race track, and an outdoor football/soccer stadium (nicknamed the K-Dome).

Air Academy has had many teams enter the state playoffs, with teams such as men's and women's basketball, men and women's swimming and diving, wrestling, hockey, baseball, women's lacrosse, and cheerleading all competing for state titles. Air Academy has had individuals compete in and win individual state titles in swimming, cross-country, and track.

In 2008, Allie McLaughlin capped off these individual achievements by capturing the 5A state 3,200 meter track title with a time of 10:49. In the 2008-2009 season, McLaughlin won the individual 5A cross country finals with a time of 17:04, beating the second-place finisher by exactly one minute.[5] She then went on to finish fourth in the Foot Locker Regional and fifth at the national competition, only twelve seconds behind the winner.[6]

Gary Barnett was the head football coach at AAHS in the 1970s; he was later the head coach at Northwestern (1992–1998) and Colorado (1999–2005).

Performing arts[edit]

Choir program[edit]

Air Academy's choir program [7] features five performing choirs: Chamber Singers, A Capella (Out of the Blue), Jazz Choir, Treble (Women's) Choir, and Festival Singers. Students often enter Treble Choir or Festival Singers their first year in the choir department to develop their musical knowledge and vocal skills, advancing into Jazz Choir, A Capella (Out of the Blue or OTB for short), and Chamber Singers in their later years.

Air Academy's Jazz and A Cappella choirs have repeatedly performed at CHSAA Jazz and won Superior ratings. The Chamber Singers, the high school's classical choir, have performed regularly at CHSAA Music Festivals, also achieving Superior ratings. The Air Academy Chamber Singers were also invited to perform at the 2020 Colorado Music Educators Association (CMEA) Conference. In recent years, multiple Air Academy choir students performed in the Colorado All-State Choir.

On June 1, 2019, Air Academy choir members performed Kevin Padworski's "Wanderlust" at Carnegie Hall[8] in New York City.

Air Academy Choir emphasizes the importance of student leadership through its Choir Leadership Board, which helps run fundraisers, concerts, and extracurricular activities throughout the year. Additional opportunities include choir honor groups like the Air Academy Kadet Chorale, an SATB a capella chamber ensemble for all grade levels.

Theatre program[edit]

Air Academy's drama department includes an award-winning chapter of the International Thespian Society. The school holds an annual student directed variety show called "Montage" in September, as well as a fall play and spring musical.

Air Academy's advanced acting classes won first place at the Pikes Peak Regional One Act competition in 2017, 2018, and 2020, as well as Best Actor (2018), Best Makeup (2020), Best Actress (2020), and Best Actor (2020).

Forensics program[edit]

Air Academy High School was the first (and only) school in district history to sweep all of the possible team awards for the Colorado Grande National Qualifiers Tournament, having won the Congressional Debate Sweepstakes, Debate Sweepstakes, Speech Sweepstakes, and Overall Sweepstakes during the 2013-2014 season.

The extemporaneous speaking portion of the team was also the first in district history to sweep all of the Colorado Grande National Qualifiers for Foreign Extemporaneous Speaking and United States Extemporaneous Speaking in one tournament, having completed this feat in the 2013-2014 season.

Air Academy High School maintains rivalries with Pine Creek High School, Cheyenne Mountain High School, Lewis-Palmer High School and Discovery Canyon Campus School for the highest-ranked team in the district.

Instrumental music program[edit]

Air Academy's marching band has consistently been state finalist since 1989 and has received state titles in 1994, 1998, 1999, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018 along with percussion caption awards (when it was still an available award) in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2003. The AAHS marching band participated in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA twice: the 1991-1992 band on January 1, 1992, and the 2017-2018 band on January 1, 2018, as well as the Orange Bowl Parade in Miami, Florida on December 31, 1994.[9]

Outside of the state, the marching band has competed in Bands of America Super Regionals, winning 1st place in class AA in 2011 (San Antonio, Texas) and 2015 (St. Louis, Missouri). They have been a BOA finalist in 2013 (St. Louis), 2015 (St. Louis), and 2016 (St. Louis).

Air Academy's concert bands and jazz ensembles also consistently receive superior ratings.[10]

Winter guard[edit]

The Air Academy winter guard has won many titles, including state champion in 2004 (Regional A), 2007 (Scholastic A), 2013 (Scholastic A), 2014 (National Scholastic A), 2015 (National Scholastic A), 2016 (Scholastic A), and 2018 (Scholastic A). They also were the Scholastic A Class champions of the WGI Denver Regional in 2016. For the 2019 WGI season, the Air Academy Color Guard moved to the Scholastic Open class. They plan to compete at WGI World Championships in Dayton, Ohio in 2020.


Air Academy is home to District 20's CO-20021 AFJROTC Program. There are currently over 250 students from across the district enrolled in it. The schools eligible are Liberty High School, Rampart High School, Discovery Canyon Campus, The Classical Academy, Air Academy High School, and Pine Creek High School. The unit won Distinguished Unit with Merit for the 06-07, 12-13, 15-16 and 18-19 school years. Currently, the unit holds the honor of having the highest number of cadets to attend service academies and ROTC scholarships in the nation. Each class is broken down into military style "flights" consisting of A Flight through G Flight, also top five and wing staff flights making two "groups", and all together one wing.

Notable alumni[edit]

  • T. A. Barron, fantasy writer
  • Gregg Brandon, football coach
  • Donald Cerrone, professional mixed martial artist, formerly with World Extreme Cagefighting, currently competing for the Ultimate Fighting Championship[11]
  • Pat Forde, sports journalist currently with Sports Illustrated
  • Linden King, professional football player
  • Wil McCarthy, inventor, scientist, science fiction writer
  • John Novembre, MacArthur Genius Award winner; Professor of Computational Genetics, University of Chicago
  • Pat Rice, former MLB player (Seattle Mariners)
  • Eric Franklin Rosser, former keyboardist for John Mellencamp
  • Matt Slauson, professional football player, New York Jets, Chicago Bears and L.A. Chargers
  • Maxwell Atoms, Creator of the Cartoon Network series Grim and Evil, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Evil Con Carne
  • Nate Zuercher, banjo player, Judah & the Lion
  • Robert G. Case, PRIMETIME EMMY Award nominated Documentary Film Director and Director of Photography

See also[edit]

  • Academy School District 20
  • Liberty High School
  • Pine Creek High School
  • Rampart High School


  1. ^ a b c d "Search for Public Schools - AIR ACADEMY HIGH SCHOOL (080192000002)". National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Air Academy High School Administration". Academy School District 20. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Report Card - Colorado School Grades".
  4. ^ "Colorado John Irwin Schools of Excellence Awards".
  5. ^ "Allie McLaughlin, Air Academy". Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  6. ^ "Athlete Bio". Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  7. ^ "Choir". Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  8. ^ [email protected], Danny Summers. "On their way to Carnegie Hall: Air Academy High School will perform June 1 in New York City". Colorado Springs Gazette. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  9. ^ "Air Academy Bands Fun Facts". Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  10. ^ "Marching Band Awards".
  11. ^ "Donald Cerrone UFC Bio". Retrieved 2014-01-01.

External links[edit]

  • Official website
  • AAHS Daily Schedules
  • AAHS 2017-2018 Master Schedule