New academy appeals to tech savvy teens
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Jan 31, 2014 | 4351 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Academy night
West High School junior Kevin Flores (left) talks with Monique Mitchell and her son Kalif Lawson, a Monte Vista Middle School eighth-grader, about the new Academy of Business for Technology and Entrepreneurship. West High had a special-programs night for future freshmen Monday in the West High gymnasium.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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Students at West High School can study designing video games and apps when the Academy of Business for Technology and Entrepreneurship opens in August.

“I’m excited,” said Assistant Principal Zachary Boswell, as he watched a long line of parents and future students in the gymnasium inquire about the program during an information night Monday.

“The idea is new,” he said. “We’re adding to what’s already there with a unique focus.”

The academy is open to incoming freshmen from all over the district, who can apply to transfer to West High. Students will take courses on video game design and computer literacy, web game design and international business, animation and marketing and mobile app development and entrepreneurship.

Boswell, who was hired earlier this school year, designed the academy to operate in unused classroom space in the school’s annex that houses the Institute for Global Commerce and Government.

Boswell said the direction of the academy began with a poll of students. Video game design was favored by 38 to 40 percent over such choices as fashion design and digital music.

“This would be their No. 1 choice,” he said.

Eighth-grader Brian Furtado III and his family wanted more information about the academy at the presentation Monday. He heard about the program at Monte Vista Middle School.

“There’s a lot of benefits to it,” he said. “I like the app program. I want to learn how to do it.”

Furtado’s father said his family was excited about his son’s endeavors and wanted to support his interests.

Boswell said students in the mobile apps program will be certified when they graduate.

“This academy is to take a kid without computer experience, but an interest,” he said. “This is a jumping point, a starting point to give them the skills to bring them to the next educational level.

“People in today’s world like customization. As technology changes, this will be able to change, too.”

Business academy teacher and program coordinator Lynn Huggins said the academy would teach students how to globally market a product.

“The focus is to get them inspired so when they go to college, they will know the career path they want to go into,” she said.

Applications for the academy will be accepted through mid-February.

Boswell said more than 125 students took home applications Monday. He said about 30 students are needed to launch the academy, but he hoped 60 to 90 students would apply.

For information on the academy, call 830-3380.

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or drizzo@tracypress.com.
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