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News from 2020-2021

Posted: March 29, 2021

APS High School Breaks With Tradition to Promote Inclusivity and Diversity

The tradition of voting for a prom king and queen is transitioning to a more inclusive and diverse model at Atrisco Heritage Academy.

Atrisco Heritage Academy, the state’s largest high school on the city’s far west side, is the first  APS high school to adopt a gender-neutral model for prom and homecoming courts. Starting this year, students will be selected to the school’s Royal Courts based on merit and vote count, but not by the male/female categories. The highest number of votes will determine the winners. Winners will be recognized individually and as a group rather than be partnered with members of the opposite sex.

“We won’t necessarily have a king and queen per se because we’re taking gender out of the equation,” said Atrisco Heritage Academy Activities Director Jessica Martinez. “Our student council took the idea to our students, staff, and families and received overwhelming support to revamp this fun and memorable experience. We want all students to feel they can participate, so Royalty Courts aren’t perceived as exclusionary.”

Titles for the Royalty Court will also change. There will no longer be a king and queen. All winners will be called Royalty with tiered designations for First and Second High Court.

“I’m happy we are creating space for more of my peers to participate in school events,” said AHA Student  Body President Alexis Quinones.” We want our students to feel comfortable. I am extremely proud to represent an amazing school intent on setting a new standard for years to come.”

Though Atrisco Heritage Academy is the first high school in APS to deviate from the long-standing tradition of electing kings and queens for special occasions, it is not the first in the nation. Many high schools across the country are moving to this model, so students hear loud and clear that they are accepted, welcome, and celebrated regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or ability. 

“I’m very proud of my students,” said Atrisco Heritage Academy Principal Irene Cisneros. “This idea was brought to us by students who want their peers to know they are valued and belong. It may seem like a little thing, but a shift in culture like this has the potential to change lives. Everyone is welcome here. That’s the message we want our students to hear.”

Royalty voting for Atrisco Heritage Academy students will take place March 30-April. 6. Winners will be crowned on April 8 and will be posted to the school website by April 9.