Pictured from left to right are Ms. Defreitas, Dr. Ewing and Ms. Amis who were honored during the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Arrowhead Park Early College High School (APECHS) was honored in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 7 by the U.S. Department of Education for earning a national Blue Ribbon Award.  APECHS is the only school in New Mexico to earn the “Exemplary High Performing School” award, according to the US Department of Education.  In attendance to receive the award were Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Greg Ewing, Principal Jennifer Amis and APECHS English teacher Lynette Defreitas.  U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was also part of the awards ceremony.

“I am so proud of our students, the teachers and staff, parents, and the community partners that make Arrowhead Park a gem of the southwest,” said Superintendent Greg Ewing.  “The school is also blessed to have such great instructional leadership in Jennifer Amis.”

APECHS is one of 342 schools in the nation, and one of three schools from New Mexico, to earn the Blue Ribbon distinction.  The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups, according to the US Department of Education.

APECHS is the fourth school in the Las Cruces district to earn the Blue Ribbon Award since the program’s inception in 1982.  Past local recipients are: Las Cruces High School – 1985; Hillrise Elementary – 1990; and Loma Heights Elementary – 1992.

New Mexico’s other 2017 awardees are Desert View Elementary in the Gadsden Independent School District, and Wood Gormley Elementary in the Santa Fe Public Schools district.  Both were recognized for the category “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools.”

Located on the campus of New Mexico State University, APECHS was New Mexico’s first early college high school and continues to have a 95 percent graduation rate, offering students the opportunity to earn certifications and college Associate Degrees while they are in high school, said Principal Jennifer Amis.  APECHS has 387 students and its neighboring early college campus – Arrowhead Park Medical Academy – has 244 students. About 52 percent of the students will be the first in their families to attend college, she said.

—For more information, contact Jo Galvan, Chief Communications Officer,, 575.527.5811