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Preparing for life after high school

How Ankeny Schools hold up
Josie Babcock
Ankeny High School offers a multitude of college-level courses students can take as early as eighth grade. Select students are offered to take courses through DMACC (Des Moines Area Community College) to get a head start on their high school credits, as well as build a college transcript.

The Ankeny Community School District is known for its diligent academics and highly involved student body. Much of this success is due to the district’s Five-Year Strategic Plan, which was implemented in 2022. The plan includes three different “pillars” that intend to improve the lives of students in multiple areas.

Infographic by Josie Babcock using Piktochart

The first focus of the Five-Year plan is to increase stimulating academics in the school district. Administration at both Ankeny and Ankeny Centennial High School have taken measures to ensure students will successfully adapt to life outside of high school and be prepared for their next steps. 

“Pillar one really focuses on rigorous and relevant academics. So, I think that is a clear indication that we want to not only support our gifted, high-performing students, but we also want to support students that may be struggling,” Superintendent Dr. Erick Pruitt said.

The district plans to adequately prepare students by offering courses and activities that get students involved in the workforce. They will also offer a wide range of college-level courses offered at both high schools and through Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC). As of the 2022-23 school year, 78.1 percent of students in the district were involved in courses focused on post-secondary readiness, such as AP classes and honors programs. The plan intends to allow all students to have a quality education that will put them on a path to personal success. 

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“If you do not have a plan for yourself, then somebody else has a plan for you,” AHS Principal Dr. Daniel “DJ” Johnson said. “I am always a proponent of individuals controlling their destiny, so a plan is essential for that.”

Ankeny staff intends to begin the future readiness process for students as early as fifth grade. The district’s partnership with Junior Achievement allows students to have an interactive experience with activities such as BizTown, Finance Park, and the College and Career Showcase. A goal of the plan is to make these activities more accessible, which will be occurring throughout the next five years. Ankeny Schools plans to build the Innovative Secondary Hub, a building where students can engage in college-level and work-related activities. 

“The innovative secondary hub is where we envision Orbis will be. We envision our CTE [Career and Technical Education] programs being in this facility,” Pruitt said. “There’s a possibility to have some of our Junior Achievement programs in this facility. We are also exploring some leadership opportunities with regard to JROTC [Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps]. With regards to the post-secondary readiness, we are doing a lot on the development side.” 

The developmental aspects of the Strategic Plan were thought out by not only administrators but community members as well. 

“In essence, the Strategic Plan is a plan our community created,” School Board Vice-President Joy Burk said. “I feel the school district is doing a tremendous job creating different pathways for different students.”

Burk’s children attend Ankeny Schools and have gotten to experience the future-readiness process firsthand. 

“I know BizTown is big in elementary school right now,” Burk said. “We have to set them up for success. We have to instill in them that they can be whatever they want.” 

Although the Strategic Plan is only in its second year, it has already made multiple changes in the lives of students and families. The following three years will consist of providing even more opportunities and allowing students to explore themselves. Burk has full confidence in the process of improving the district and the quality of her children’s school experience.

 “I know that they go to school every day and they’re going to get a great education,” Burk said. 

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About the Contributor
Josie Babcock, Staff Reporter
Josie Babcock is a senior at Ankeny High School. She is involved in marching band, jazz band, National Honors Society, throws for track and field, and dances competitively outside of school. Josie plans to attend the University of Iowa after high school to study english and secondary education. A fun fact about Josie is that she enjoys collecting vinyl records and listening to music in her free time.
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