Charter Makes History with Football Win

American Leadership Academy Becomes the First Charter to Win an AIA State Football Championship

Arizona’s charter movement hit another milestone this year, as American Leadership Academy Queen Creek became the first charter school to win an Arizona Interscholastic Association state football championship.

The East Valley high school earned the distinction after its football team won the State 3A championship, beating Tucson’s Sabino High School 31-14 on Nov. 26.

“Arizona charter schools have been part of the fabric of Arizona’s public school landscape for over 20 years,” said Eileen B. Sigmund, President and CEO of the Arizona Charter Schools Association. “ALA Queen Creek’s success shows that charter students can receive top marks in the classroom and also be competitive on the field.”

This was only the ALA Patriots’ third year in the AIA. Last year, they lost in the state semifinals.

“This win means a great deal to us. We have had unbelievable support from our students, administration and families, and to win this for them is very satisfying,” said Head Coach Rich Edwards.

Although ALA is talented, passionate and has added a championship to its trophy case, the school isn’t solely focused on becoming a football powerhouse.

“We have high character kids. Their families expect effort and our kids have bought in.  They don’t come to our school for athletics. They come for our environment and culture. Yet, they want a high school experience like any other and they want to compete,” Edwards said.

ALA has proved its ability to compete with and beat any team during its meteoric rise through the AIA. The championship has served as validation for their efforts.

“I am at a loss for words. To be able to get it done with these guys is the best feeling in the world,” said Senior Donovan Hanna.

The championship was one of many accomplishments in a landmark year for ALA.

Earlier this year, the high school celebrated its first-ever individual state champion when sophomore Katie McBratney won two events at the AIA State Swim Championships.

In November, elementary teacher Richelle Lewis was also honored as the Arizona Charter Teacher of the Year.

Arizona charter schools now make up about 30% of public schools in the state and serve over 180,000 students. For the last two years, Arizona charter students outperformed their peers across the state on AzMERIT in every grade level and subject area. In addition, Arizona’s charter students outperformed nearly every other state on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in English, Math and Science.