HORACE, N.D. (KFGO) – Horace is home to the area’s newest high school, but it’s not just the facilities that are state-of-the-art: the home of the Hawks is also trying out a new academic model at the school, focused on making classes more relevant to students’ future career paths and interests.
Under the model, students choose which academy they join prior to their freshman year. Horace currently offers three: Health and Human Services (H²), Design, Art, and Communications (DAC), or Manufacturing, Engineering, and Technology (MET). The idea is to create smaller learning communities within each grade, comprised of students with like interests, focused on a career-connected theme.
Within each academy, students can pick more specific pathways – journalism and graphics are two of the pathways offered within DAC.
Horace High School Principal Dr. Pamela Cronin said it’s a flexible system.
“There’s plenty of room in the schedule. We’re not expecting these kids to make life decisions as eighth graders, so they can change academies and pathways numerous times, and they can experiment and still try all kinds of classes. But we really want them to find their passion,” she said. “So in DAC English they might be a little more creative. Whereas the students who are in MET, their English class might be more technical or they might be reading books that are more geared towards engineering. Social studies classes might have a different slant based on academy – so that we can get to their interests, make it more relevant.”
This year’s freshman class at Horace is the first one to be fully immersed in the model.
Brooklyn Herrick said she considered all of the academies before choosing one. The captain of Horace’s Cross Country team chose a bio-med pathway within H², but she still takes engineering and ceramics classes.
9th graders Lilia Rexin and Keagen Kratcha are in the DAC academy. Both said the community the academy model creates is a big plus.
“You’re with the same people throughout most of your classes so you get to know them and you develop better relationships,” Rexin said.
Kratcha said the model helps students and teachers have better discussions in class.
“You really get to know these people because you have a lot of smaller classes with them and have the same interests. You’re surrounded by a community that shares and enjoys the same things,” he said.
By the fall of 2026 all West Fargo high schools are slated to transition to the academy model.