Javier Alcántara-Rojas not only grew the music program at both Granite Hills High School and its feeder middle school, Phoenix Academy, he was a key player in advocating for and creating a new curriculum that would become the Granite Recording & Entertainment Arts Training (GREAT) Academy. For three years, Alcántara-Rojas and a small group of educators developed this career technical education (CTE) program specifically for the performing arts. The GREAT Academy, which opened in 2018, offers core arts training along with applied technical training.
In one of Alcántara-Rojas’ “40 Under 40” nomination letters, a colleague wrote, “The amount of creativity it took to create this system — which allows students to move through an academy-style system of classes while still allowing them to take desired classes within the other subjects — frankly boggles my mind,”
The academy’s mission is to prepare high school students for college and career readiness and to “equip them with the technical proficiency and aesthetic sensitivity” for a career in the entertainment industry.
One-third of Granite Hills High’s students participate in the academy. According to Alcántara-Rojas, the academy coursework focuses on student interests and offers a comprehensive music program, as well as classes in dance, theater, animation and tech theater. The GREAT Academy also has a newly renovated performing arts center, and performing there encourages “students to give their creative best,” he said.
The California Department of Education saw the immediate impact of the GREAT Academy and recognized it as a Regional Technical Assistance Site to help other schools build and grow the arts in their communities.