A new school year is just on the horizon.
For students of the Maricopa Unified School District, the first day of school is July 21 — and for some, it will be a new year at the brand new Desert Sunrise High School.
The new high school is located at 16200 N. Murphy Road and is the second high school in the district.
According to DSHS Principal Marlene Armstrong, there's around 300 freshmen and 300 sophomores signed up to attend the new high school. It's "right on target" with the enrollment the district anticipated they would have based on demographics, she said.
This school is also expected to continue to grow as Maricopa grows.
In May, the district held a soft-opening and ribbon cutting for the new high school. Various Maricopa Unified School District staff, as well as contractor and architect firms and community members attended the event to celebrate the completion of the project's first phase.
“The ribbon cutting marks the completion of phase one of what will eventually be a 125,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art school set across 80 acres,” Superintendent Tracey Lopeman said at the time.
The first phase includes a cafeteria, football field, administration building, music building, two-story classroom building and upgrades, parking lot, gymnasium and track complex.
"Phase one of the new Desert Sunrise High School is in the last stage of completion," Mark Rafferty of Facility Management Group said. "Final touch-ups and kitchen and furniture installation are all that remain."
The school is built to accommodate 1,300 students.
The mascot is the Golden Hawk, and the school colors are gold, navy blue and gray.
“Both the mascot and colors were chosen to embody the intention, values and culture of the school, and the logo symbolizes the promise of sunrise and the majestic prominence of the mountain views in the area,” said Lopeman.
That same day, MUSD leaders celebrated the groundbreaking of phase two, which includes the construction of additional sporting facilities and a student commons building that will have a performance stage, college and career counseling area and media center.
"The construction contractor will move on to phase two of the school later this summer," Rafferty said.
The second phase is projected to be completed by July 1, 2023.
A third phase of construction is being planned for the new high school as well. It’ll include additional educational facilities and sporting areas. There isn’t a timeline for this phase, and it is based on additional funding availability.
“Phase three could bring even more arts and career and technical education classes to the campus,” said Lopeman. “A competition gymnasium complex will also be added as will tennis courts, additional baseball and softball fields, and grandstand seating.”
But DSHS will offer a career academies program from day one.
Subjects like chemistry and English will be included in all curriculums. There's also the choice of specialized career academy courses focusing on critical job skills in industries ranging from graphic design and journalism to air transportation and sports medicine.
Armstrong said what the students are offered will expand as well, noting that she approaches what is offered at the school through the perspective lens of a mom and educator — thinking back to what she wanted as a student and what she wanted for the students she taught.
Armstrong said the staff continuously examines career trends and what's needed in the community for the students to be "career ready" and remain intently focused on that.
Some of the career academies offered at DSHS include:
- STEM Academy
- Software & App Design
- Air Transportation
- Sports Medicine
- STEM Academy Electives
- Leadership Academy
- Business Management
- Digital Communications
- Ed Professions
- Sports Broadcasting/Journalism
- Leadership Academy Electives
- Academic Decathlon
- Speech & Debate — Law & Public Safety
This school also provides electives such as:
- Art I & II
- Spanish I &II
- Physical Education
- Advanced Physical Education
"The opening of Desert Sunrise High School is the culmination of clear direction from our Governing Board and two years of planning and follow-through by the architect and builder, the principal and her staff, and carefully assembled focus groups," said Lopeman. "This dream team navigated their way around obstacles in funding, supply chain issues and a global pandemic to ensure our students have a comprehensive high school open in July 2022. And when you stand in the halls and smell fresh paint, it’s the scent of the promise of more great things to come."