The Technology and Leadership Academy in Gilbert had a bumpy start, but students now know where they are going, rooms have desks and things are running smoothly, said headmaster Lt. Col. Lowell "Ed" Fox.
"With us being a new school, we couldn’t order supplies until it was OK’d in the budget," Fox said of the first stand-alone U.S. Air Force magnet high school in the nation.
He said the students’ desks came after the newest high school in the Gilbert Unified School District started.
"But the kids weren’t sitting on the floor, as a newspaper reported," Fox said. "We put tables in the rooms for them to sit at."
The school accepted only ninthand 10th-graders this year, with 82 students starting in August.
"About 10 students have left, but seven students have joined," Fox said. "Those who left either realized this wasn’t their cup of tea or the curriculum was too hard."
He said the school will grow during the next two years with students in ninth through 12th grades.
Ken Folts, dean of students, said while the school is running fine, it isn’t done adding activities.
"There are a lot of students that have a desire to be a pilot. So next year we will offer a class that is the first one needed to get a private pilot’s license," Folts said.
Science teacher Jennifer Greene said she plans to sign up the school to compete in March in the science fair put on by Intel at Arizona State University.
"I’d also like to start a science club," she said.
Greene said she helped open Highland Junior High and taught there for five years before coming to the academy. She said she never knew just how much she was going to enjoy a dress code.
"I can’t believe how much time I spent at Highland telling kids that their shirt was inappropriate or telling the boys with baggy pants, ‘Pull your pants up, pull your pants up, pull your pants up,’ " Greene said.
Sean Wright, a freshman, said he is very happy at the academy.
"I like the military aspect of the school, and the uniforms really help in the morning because I don’t have to think about what I am going to wear," said Wright, who went to Thunder Mountain Middle School in Apache Junction last year.