A Glimpse Into The Past: ACP’s Many Previous Incarnations

Every high school has a unique story; maybe it’s a haunted stairwell or even an abandoned classroom. While we may not always seem to keep up with the typical “high school archetype” that a certain series of Disney movies instilled within us at an early age, ACP has just as rich of a history as any Arizona school! So without further ado, let’s take a look at the origins of ACP, it’s traditions, and even the secrets that lie within our current building.

As we all have been told since our first freshmen orientation, ACP was originally a more “elevated” academic option that sprouted off of Hamilton. Appropriately, it was dubbed Hamilton Prep. While this may seem like a mundane move, Hamilton Prep was actually the first college preparatory program for junior high/high school in CUSD back in 2007. Impressive, huh?  Even more so, the school itself was located in a church…Chandler Christian Church to be specific (which is now Compass). As Mr. Bickes, our wonderful principal, phrased it “We had no bells, no gym, no science labs, or other typical school resources but a dedicated and passionate staff made it work and helped our school grow and become successful.” Since the idea of a prep school wasn’t quite seen as its own entity yet, those church walls housed the knowledge and inspiration that would soon cultivate itself into Arizona College Preparatory.


However, another major shift had to be made. “Over the next five years, demand for Hamilton Prep grew, and the church had no additional rooms available for lease to accommodate our school’s growth. In the spring of 2011, district administration, along with a panel of parents and community members, reviewed school sites in the northern part of the district that could be repurposed due to declining enrollment and other factors to evaluate whether a site was available and should be considered for Hamilton Prep. It was during these meetings that Erie Elementary was selected as a site to be repurposed and remodeled to accommodate a junior high/high school student population,” he noted. Erie Elementary was originally built in 1970 “and yes, it is true that the library was built to also serve as a bomb shelter (a little Cold War history for you) for students and teachers,” Mr. Bickes added. He even “had the opportunity to participate in the construction and design of the gym and report to the site on a regular basis to follow the progress of the work. It was exciting for the Hamilton Prep students and staff to know a new home was being built for us.” Rumor, or just our school’s Wikipedia page, has it that these renovations costed up to $8.6 million!

Whether we realize it or not, even our mascot and school colors have a backstory! Mr. Bickes reminisced as he recalled that “during the 2011-2012 school year, the students at both Hamilton Prep and Chandler Traditional Junior High (now ACP-Oakland), voted on the ‘new’ school’s mascot and colors. The school color choices that were submitted by and voted on by the student body were dark blue, black, & white/silver; dark purple, black, & white/silver; red, black & white; black, silver & gold; or navy, green & gold. The mascot choices were the Owls, Phantoms, Knights, Stallions, Phoenix, or Vipers. As you know, in the end, the students voted for dark purple, black, & white/silver and to be the Knights! District officials worked to develop and approve a name for the school and Arizona College Preparatory – Erie Campus was the final selection .”


So, how does our ever-continuing story as a community flip to the next chapter? Well, “After celebrating the first and only Hamilton Prep graduating Class of 2012 (which was eight students; seven girls and one guy) we spent the rest of the summer moving all our supplies and materials from the church to ACP-Erie – it was quite the process and memorable adventure. After a whirlwind of a summer, ACP-Erie officially opened its doors to 359 students (227 junior high students and 132 high school students),” Mr. Bickes replied.

Well I don’t know about you, but I’d say that’s as rich of a history as possible! A big thank you to Mr. Bickes for his insights into the Knights’ history and where we are today, along with his hard work in spearheading us into the future. I think he put it best when he said “And the rest, as they say, is history.”