I was lucky enough to attend an excellent school during my high school years. Now that I’m well past that part of my life, I wanted to give back to the school and help in their success. The school, the Lawton Academy of Arts & Sciences, is a small non-religious private school in Lawton, Oklahoma. The school was founded by my grandmother in 1999 - she had just retired from a fifty-year career in various roles with public schools in Lawton. Her career culminated with her serving as the superintendent of a magnet school. People from the community came to her when she retired and asked her to start a non-religiously-affiliated private school. At the time the only options for private education in Lawton were Catholic or hardline Southern Baptist schools, and the town was losing people like surgeons and engineers that didn’t want to put their kids into that kind of education. She started the school with my granddad, and now my grandparents and my parents all teach there.
The school focuses on bringing out the best in students, and I know that I wouldn’t be the same today if I hadn’t been exposed to the school during my formative years. My grandmother (along with other non-related instructors) pushed me to explore the arts, which ultimately led to me attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Our robotics team exposed me to basic circuitry and engineering and sparked a passion for tinkering. It was an amazing experience, and I knew that I wanted to help the organization succeed and impact more childrens’ lives.
It’s easy to make associations and assumptions about private schooling, but I feel like this was a very different experience than “traditional” private schools. I entered the school when my family completed our circle of moving for the Army - we moved back to Fort Sill, the town where I was born, after bouncing all over the Bible Belt. I was just entering my 9th grade year, and the school was just starting their high school program. Because the school was still developing, attending the school was very much like being an early customer for a startup - if we wanted something from the school, we helped them create it. That attitude definitely molded my character and philosophy of taking on large projects that still need shaping.
I went back to show the website to a friend to explain my high school experience, and I was greeted by a site that was obviously built using a site generator. There was a ton of information, but it lacked the polish that the rest of the school exuded. I proposed that I take a crack at a website redesign, and we ended up rebuilding the whole system on Wordpress. There’s an abundance of information to communicate on the site, which made the project especially interesting. Take a look at the site to learn more about the school’s mission and history, keep up to date on events, and see what the application process looks like.