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Air Academy High School (AAHS) is a public high school in the western 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.[1] 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 High School

Coordinates38°58′08″N 104°50′46″W / 38.969°N 104.846°W / 38.969; -104.846Coordinates: 38°58′08″N 104°50′46″W / 38.969°N 104.846°W / 38.969; -104.846
TypePublic school
MottoIt's a Matter of Pride
Established1957; 62 years ago (1957)
School districtAcademy District 20
DeanJulie Attias
PrincipalDaniel Olson
Assistant principalsLiz Walhof (A-D)
Sean Whitson (E-K)
Terence "Blue" Anderson (L-Q)
Robin Koldenhoven (R-Z)
Number of students~1,400 (2016–2017)
Color(s)         Blue and silver
RivalCheyenne Mountain
Elevation6,550 ft (1,995 m) AMSL
Air Academy High School
from northwest, circa 2008

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 1957on 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.[2]

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, 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.[3] She then went on to finish fourth in the Foot Locker Regional and fifth at the national competition, only twelve seconds behind the winner.[4]

Gary Barnett was the head football coach at AAHS in the 1970s; he was later the head coach at Northwestern (19921998) and Colorado (19992005).

Activity Year(s) won
Baseball 1989
Basketball, boys 1989, 2015
Basketball, girls 2012
Cheerleading, co-ed 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009
Cheerleading, girls 2010, 2011, 2012
Football 1962
Ice hockey 1995, 2000, 2005
Lacrosse, boys 1990, 1991, 1992
Lacrosse, girls 2009, 2012, 2014
Swimming & diving, boys 1993, 1999, 2012, 2013, 2014
Soccer, boys 1980; (1st CHSAA varsity),
1990, 1992, 2010, 2014, 2017
Soccer, girls 1993, 2012
Tennis, boys 1996, Doubles
Track and field, boys 1994; 4x100 relay; 1998 4x800 relay
Track and field, girls 1994; HJ

Performing artsEdit

Instrumental music programEdit

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. On January 1, 2018, the 2017-18 AAHS marching band participated in the 2018 Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, CA.

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.[5]

Winter guardEdit

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.

Choir programEdit

The school has several choirs and three a cappella groups. There is an all-boys a cappella group named the Echos from the Deep, an all-girls a cappella group named Amber Cascade, and a mixed a cappella group named Out of the Blue.[6]

Drama programEdit

Air Academy has a drama department that includes an award-winning chapter of the National Thespian Honors Society. The school holds an annual student directed variety show called "Montage".

Air Academy's advanced acting classes won first place at the Pikes Peak Regional One Act competition in 2017 and 2018, as well as winning the award for Best Actor in 2018.

Forensics programEdit

The school has a speech and debate team which usually sends at least three people to nationals, and Air Academy is well known in the forensics community for its domination of Congressional Debate. 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.


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, and 15-16 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 alumniEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Report Card - Colorado School Grades".
  2. ^ "Colorado John Irwin Schools of Excellence Awards".
  3. ^ "Allie McLaughlin, Air Academy". Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  4. ^ "Athlete Bio". Retrieved August 1, 2014.
  5. ^ "Marching Band Awards".
  6. ^ "AAHS Choir". Archived from the original on 2015-01-01. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  7. ^ "Donald Cerrone UFC Bio". Retrieved 2014-01-01.
  8. ^ "Emmy-Winning Student Documentary About Pluto Space Probe To Be Screened At Int'l Film Festival". Retrieved 2019-01-14.

External linksEdit