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APS Esports

2024 Best in Class Nominee APS Esports

Students competing in an esports match.

“Six years ago, Dr. Richard Bowman shared his dream to bring esports to APS,” said Laurie Lehman. “And so we began a journey and commitment to our students to provide esports as a gender neutral activity that would hold engagement, equity, and inclusion as goals, expand to every grade level districtwide, and focus on opportunity and sustainability.”

“Esports brings me joy and cheers me up.” - Rainer

Receiving a Success Grant in 2019 enabled our goals of equity and inclusion. We wanted students to be able to participate in the NMAA State Championship Finals, which had just expanded to include esports, without the burden of paying fees associated with this event. The award allowed our students the opportunity of participation with purpose. But there were more benefits - esports became a growing and thriving tool for student engagement and social emotional learning, while fostering STEM Tech skills that would lead to college and career readiness.

“Without this scholarship I would not be able to afford to play esports as I live in a homeless shelter.” - Anonymous

The addition of an esports curriculum in 2023 further enhanced our commitment to scholastic esports, which is the beautiful integration of competitive esports and education. Now students were able to blend academics, the development of 21st century skills, and digital citizenship while following their passion for gaming.

“There is a stigma about female gamers, and I want to show society that playing video games is not limited by race or gender.” - Vy

Esports builds confidence, provides a space where students feel safe, where they can learn, lead, and grow. Please join us as we continue on this amazing journey. APS Esports remains dedicated to sustainable growth as we engage, educate, and inform students, parents, teachers, administrators, and the community about the many positive benefits of esports.

If We Win…

Equitable expansion of APS Esports remains our goal, and as we continue to grow and expand, equipment needs do, as well. “While our traditional high schools received gaming devices, middle and elementary schools rely on fundraising and grants to supply their students and labs with needed devices,” explained Laurie. We would like to expand our program in our middle and elementary schools by providing Nintendo Switches which would allow more students to be able to participate in esports. Consoles are an inexpensive way to provide students access to games, often at ⅓ the cost of a gaming device.

Scholarships for our graduating seniors as they move to higher education in New Mexico colleges and universities would be a positive way to encourage students to further their education in related fields such as technology and as digital leaders. “Providing our students with the tools to grow and lead in college, career and beyond, would be an investment into the future of our students,” said Laurie.

APS Esports

Scholarship and Program

  • The APS Esports offers all high school students the opportunity to play NMAA competitive esports, and develop leadership and critical thinking skills.
    • The APS Esports Scholarship was a bridge for students who have a desire to participate in esports but are financially unable to do so.
    • Esports provides a valuable path for socialization and provides inclusive opportunities for all students in innovative ways by promoting healthy development of social skills in a classroom environment with positive reinforcement.
    • The Esports program also serves middle and elementary schools.
  • Program started in 2019 – in existence for 4 years
  • Student Impact – The original student impact was 100, the first year it grew to 200. The program currently serves over 1200 students.
  • Growth and Program Model for other APS Schools and departments – The program started in 8 high schools and grew into a total of 17 high schools in the first year. The expansion has also included middle and elementary schools. Hosts annually the Esports Expo for all ages.
  • Sustainability – This program has secured other grant funding, sponsors and individual donors. The district has also included the program in the overall budget.