It was early in the year 2000 when a dream started coming together in the form of an Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) Charter School Application. A small group of community members, with the help and guidance of others, created a plan for a school where creative, talented students could grow and develop into master creative learners and beings. The founders, Frank Butler, Joan Findley Perls, Kristina Lord Linde, Fred Pink, Bob Perls, and Valerie Scott created the first Mission Statement, “Our mission is to create a New Mexico charter school that will provide an environment to develop an excellent academic and performing arts foundation for interested students. We are not here to create the stars of tomorrow; rather we are here to create a whole human being today.” APS approved the application, and the Public Academy for Performing Arts (PAPA) opened its doors in August, 2001.
The PAPA Charter has been renewed twice, once in 2005 and again in 2010. Starting with 180 students in grades 6 through 9, PAPA has grown to its maximum 365 in grades 6 through 12. Further growth is limited by the current facility. PAPA has a diverse student population selected through a lottery process. Students are from all over the city, Rio Rancho, south to Belen, east to Moriarty, and north as far as Santa Fe.
PAPA is currently governed by an elected council consisting of seven members. The members represent parents and community members with three additional school staff members acting as advisors to the Governing Council (GC). The Student Body President is also considered an advisory member. The GC hires and supervises the Executive Director, reviews and approves policy, reviews and approves strategic plans, reviews and approves facility plans, and approves the budget. The school administration consists of the Executive Director, Assistant Principal, Director of Special Services, and Business Manager. Support staff includes the Academic Counselor, Social Worker, Business Assistant, Administrative Assistant, Stars/Registrar, Educational Assistant, and Lunch Assistant. There are 30 teachers.
From the beginning, PAPA’s educational program placed equal emphasis on academics and the performing arts. Curriculum features an integrated program with a student-centered environment that provides safety and enjoyment while students grow and pursue knowledge and skills. PAPA’s academic curriculum consists of college preparatory courses including Advanced Placement opportunities and Dual Enrollment through the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College. Traditionally, PAPA’s graduation and college entrance rates have been among the top in the city. The performing arts program includes Choir, Band, Orchestra, Guitar, Piano, Theatre, Musical Theatre, Film, Visual Arts, and five types of Dance (Flamenco, Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary, and Ballet). Students have many opportunities to perform in school-based and community requested performances.
PAPA and its staff are proud to be members of and partner with several organizations in the Albuquerque community and beyond. The list includes the Albuquerque Theater Guild, Safe TEEN NEW MEXICO, National Dance Education Organization, Albuquerque Boy Choir, Rio Metro, Creative Albuquerque, NEW MEXICO Coalition of Charter Schools, N4 Art Center / VSA, NEW MEXICO Music Educators Association, City of Albuquerque Los Poblanos Rio Grande Farm Maize Maze, and Hummingbird Music Camp.