Then and Now…American Academy and Elk Ridge Park
View of American Academy charter school taken from atop a hill in Elk Ridge Park (in the foreground).
By Patte Smith, photo by Tim Gamble
The front page story and barren photo from the inaugural issue of The Castle Pines Connection featured the excavation of a parcel of land that would later become American Academy charter school and Elk Ridge Park.
From its humble beginnings at a strip mall in Lone Tree to a thriving campus in Castle Pines, American Academy (AA) has experienced growth and stability over the past 10 years. When the Castle Pines campus opened in 2009, the enrollment of students doubled as was planned, and has stayed at approximately 800 students. In 2013 and 2017, AA opened two additional campuses in Parker.
A new and innovative program of next-level STEM challenges for middle school students was launched in 2015. The program teaches specific, real-world engineering skills using actual engineering tools to solve actual engineering problems.
AA’s mission recently expanded from a STEM emphasis to include a STEAM emphasis that recognized the need for a visual performing arts program. The STEAM program has grown immensely in size and success.
Following the opening of AA, the city has made some significant roadway improvements that have had a very positive impact not only on the school, but the park and surrounding community. And, of special note, the staff and parents of AA would like to thank the City of Castle Pines for the roundabout on Lagae – “it is great!”
Sports teams at AA like volleyball, basketball, soccer and cross-county have grown over the years, and Elk Ridge Park is the school’s home field for soccer and cross-country.
Elk Ridge Park
Not only for sports, Elk Ridge Park is a roaring success for the City of Castle Pines. “Since the park opened in 2011, it has been a keystone in our community and is the location of many community events and special community-wide gatherings,” emphasized a city official. “This includes thousands of residents who attend the Run Wild and Party in the Park events.”
In 2018 alone, 19 different sporting groups/teams rented field space at Elk Ridge Park for practices, games, tournaments and camps. There were 25 pavilion rentals for birthday parties, sports team events, family picnics, Scout events and school field trips. The park has grown in popularity over the years, and families, kids, people walking their dogs and sports teams can always be found enjoying the park and playground.