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West Mesa High School

2023 Best In Class Nominee for Mustang Makerspace

West Mesa students participating in a STEM event.

West Mesa High School
Mustang Makerspace

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Major Mark Hendricks was part of a team that won the first Best In Class recognition in 2017. Along with Chuck Newman of Valley High School (retired) and Alma Ripley of Carlos Rey Elementary School (retired), Major Hendricks was honored for pioneering STEM-focused project-based learning across the district. Still serving as an instructor of the Navy JROTC at West Mesa High School, Major Hendricks and Senior Chief Kirk Nicholson engage students in local, regional, and national competitions that include the Team America Rocketry Challenge, the Near Space Challenge, Sea Perch and the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) competition.

In 2018, after receiving several small grants that allowed his students to compete, Major Hendricks aimed to expand the knowledge his students continued to acquire year after year to younger students by providing a space in which students could design, fabricate and manufacture project materials.  Students gutted and painted two portables made available by the school and with their own money, Major Hendricks and Senior Chief Kirk Nicholson began purchasing workbenches and stations. With Foundation funding, the Navy JROTC was able to purchase additional furniture, tools, and equipment, including a GlowForge Pro Laser Forge and additional cutting-edge 3D printers and engravers. Major Hendricks brings back alumni to mentor current students and collaborates with the JROTC Middle School Leadership Program so that current students can mentor younger students.  

He states, “If we are awarded the $15,000 grant, we will use the funds to continue to compensate our STEM mentors for their time and costs as they teach and mentor our WMHS students and students from other schools in these important emerging technologies.  The rest of the funds will be used to pay for needed supplies to support our program.”