A large and glorious building sits just off the Black Horse Pike, major road to “America’s Favorite Playground,” Atlantic City. This is the fourth and current building for Atlantic City High School, home of the Vikings. The 450, 000 square foot building was constructed on “Great Island,” which before hand was only a marsh, overlooking Lakes Bay and opened in November 1994. The first building for the high school was built in 1895 at Illinois and Artic Avenues. By 1901 the school had to relocate to a larger building on Ohio and Pacific Avenues. The third building, which featured a 1,000-seat auditorium and a pipe organ, opened in 1923 on Albany and Atlantic Avenues.
Atlantic City High School welcomes students from five popular Jersey shore cities: Atlantic City, Brigantine, Longport, Margate, and Ventnor. There are slightly more than 2,500 students and 225 staff members tackle the task of providing an education to these students from diverse backgrounds. According to results on www.greatschools.net Black and Hispanic are the primary ethnic backgrounds, then Caucasian and Asian.
AC High tends to get negative press due to violence and low test scores among the students, but the majority of parent reviews on www.greatschools.net disagree. Responses like “The diversity, the cirriculum, and the state-of-the-art facility are all positive things that many look past,” were common posts.
The state-of-the-art features of the school include a 750-seat theater, 50,000-volume library, a fully equipped TV studio and radio station, a 48-seat distance learning lab, a science research lab and greenhouse, a graphics and communication lab, an electronic keyboard lab and eight fully equipped computer labs with a totoal of 650 computers for student and staff use. The installment of these facilities allows students to partake in courses like Television and Radio Production, Photography, and Graphics Communications.
Student athletes participate in all the major New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association sports. The athletic complex features an Olympic sized Amatuer Athletic Union swimming pool, 10 tennis courts, a 2,000 seat gymnasium and a 5,000 seat football and track stadium.
The website, which is in part of Atlantic City School District’s website (www.acboe.org), states the school’s mission is “to produce academic champions for all levels of our society through a highly responsive community based school system.” Principal Oscar Torres was unavailable for comment but writes in his Principal’s Note on the website, “we pursue and achieve excellence in Academics, Attendance, Attitude, Athletics and Aesthetics.”
According to the New Jersey School Report Card Narrative by Principal Torres the school prides itself with high student involvement like sponsoring programs such as, New Jersey Science League, which compete academically with students throughout the state, Students Against Destructive Decisions Club, Student Council, Job Placement program, and the DECA program that promotes leadership skills, along with several other positive programs.
The high school also strives and maintains strong communication with parents. The Parents Advisory Council, band boosters, football boosters, the crew booster parents, and stakeholder committees meet regularly to continue parental involvement in the life of the school and to review policy and procedures. The school prepares students for a college future with Honors and Advanced Placements classes in English, Spanish, Latin, Algebra/Trigonometry, Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science, United States History and Government, and European History.
The school was identified by the state as one of the seven “persistently dangerous” schools in 2003 but the administration of the 51st Annual Merck State Science Competition recently determined Atlantic City High School to be the No.1 Chemistry team in Atlantic County for the 13th consecutive year. The schools tends to get smothered by negative press when there are such positive and enriching facts about the school. Activities that are common among all public high schools which are also installed at AC High are yearbook (The Herald), school newspaper (The Viking), literary magazine of students work (Cassandra), band, choir, and orchestra. Selected students have been a part All-South Jersey and All-State Band and Orchestra for instrumental excellence. Every year the English department sponsors a school play and two concerts.
The upcoming school year will start a new mandatory high school uniform policy. The policy bans students favorties, jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies. The uniform consists of plain polo shirts, only white, navy, or black, and only black, navy, or khaki color dress pants or skirts. The ACHS school logo is the only logo allowed on clothing.
Principal Torres concludes his note on the website with, “Remember, the unvoiced problem can not be resolved, as the missed opportunity rarely offers itself again. Our goal remains to provide the best possible education for each student.”
Atlantic City High School is located at 1400 Albany Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ. For more information call 609-343-7300 or visit the website at www.acboe.org and click on schools.
For more information about what’s going on in our local schools and what today’s students are up to, visit our South Jersey Schools page.