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Signature Programs: Academies

Unlock the Future.

Academies at Desert Shadows Middle School help create an environment in which students can feel invested and engaged in a program that suits their interests. When students have a talent and passion in a specific area, are surrounded by others who share that same talent and passion, and are mentored by a teacher who is equally as talented and passionate, the outcomes are exceptional.

The Academies become a "home base" for students. Our teachers are exceptional. The curriculum is exciting. Students leave these programs truly prepared for success in high school and beyond.

Desert Shadows is pleased to offer the following academies:

Band Academy

By enrolling in the Band Academy, wind and percussion students will become members of the Symphonic Band. Students will study and perform advanced musical techniques in a variety of different styles. This ensemble will challenge students to increase their knowledge of music theory while developing self-confidence, fine motor coordination, and cooperation with other musicians. The Symphonic Band will participate in frequent performances for the school and community and attend musically enriching field trips throughout the year. An audition and an application submission are required for acceptance.

Chorus Academy Ensembles

Desert Harmony

Desert Harmony is the advanced mixed chorus at Desert Shadows Middle School. Admission is open following a successful vocal audition and admission into the Desert Shadows Middle School Academies of Choir. Students primarily perform two, three, or four-part choral literature from the Medieval through Contemporary musical periods. Students perform in three major concerts per year along with special performances for the community throughout the year.

Vocal audition and application submission are required for acceptance.


Bravo is an ensemble specializing in musical theatre literature. Students will study and perform a variety of musical theatre selections. These performances will consist of extensive vocal work and choreography. Students perform in three major concerts over year along with special performances for the community throughout the year.

Vocal audition, callback dance audition, and application submission are required for acceptance.

Computer Science Academy

The world has become a small, connected place because of technology.  Computer and technical skills are a must both today and in the future.  The 2-year Computer Science Academy introduces students to the myriad education and career options available in the Computer Science and Information Technology sectors.

In this hands-on, project based Academy, students will learn about various aspects of Computer Science including website development, networking, cybersecurity, algorithms, programming/coding, data, social media, and how to use productivity software.  Students will also look to the future of the field and how what used to be Science Fiction is becoming a reality.

Engineering Academy (Honors)

This is a Career Technical Education class with the intent of exposing students to a possible career in Engineering. This two-year program is project based and will require students to use new untested skills. 

The Engineering/Robotics class will use the academic program created by Project Lead the Way ( This program requires students to critically think and to enhance their problem-solving skills. This class is a S.T.E.M. class, meaning students will be using Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Students will be using the adult software AutoDesk Pro to acquire their skills in 3D Computer Aided Design (C.A.D.).  

This Academy will also study and apply Robotics & Automation. Students will learn mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation and computer control systems. They will create mechanical machines and apply motors, sensors, wires, buzzers and switches. Using programming software RoboPro, students will put their machines into autonomous action.

Visual Arts Academy

The Visual Art Academy at Desert Shadows allows students to study art year long, for their full two years in middle school.  The curriculum begins in 7th grade with an emphasis in skill building in observational life drawing, linear perspective, advanced color theory, and utilizing new media such as studio grade acrylic paints, printmaking of various types, sculpture, and ceramics.  As the first year progresses students are introduced to "Design Process Thinking," and begin to increasingly develop their own ideas based on themes and creative restraints.  By the time they move into 8th grade, students are working with complex themes more conceptual in nature.  Academy students participate in one art related field trip in both 7th and 8th grade.

World Languages Academy

The World Language Academy prepares DSMS students to be future leaders in a global economy. Students gain a more profound understanding of their own culture by learning both French and Spanish, which are spoken in more than 60 different countries in our world. In 7th grade, World Academy students take both languages, but in different semesters. In 8th grade, students can continue on taking both languages simultaneously for a full year. The opportunity for international travel at the conclusion of the 8th grade year complements the World Language experience.

Academy Application Documents (2023-24)

  • Check back for 2023-24 school year academy applications. 

Supporting Documentation

Academy Application Checklist

Teacher Recommendation Form

If you have any other questions, contact Laurie McGill or main office.