Academy of Architectural and Contemporary Themes

Academy of Architectural and Contemporary Themes

infobox School
name = Academy of Architectural and Contemporary Themes
established = 2004
type = Public high school
principal = Ms.Brancato
enrollment = 90
faculty = 7
ratio =
mascot = Lasercats
conference = Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic Association
colors = Teal and Purple color box|#009999 color box|#660099
location = 2000 85th Street
North Bergen, NJ 07047
information = 201-662-6801
website = [ School website]
The Academy of Architectural and Contemporary Themes (AACT) is a full-time public high school located within High Tech High School in North Bergen, New Jersey. It was established in 2004. 2008 will be the first year any student will graduate from AACT. It is similar to AIS (Academy of Independent Studies, also located within High Tech High School) in that students receive the freedom to express themselves through project-based learning and at the same time follow the guidelines of the NJCCS (New Jersey Core Curriculum Standards). The high school is based around students being exposed to architecture and any other fields they choose to follow. There are currently 7 teachers and 90 students. Basic requirements for AACT are that students fulfill required seminars and seminars that expose them to areas that they are interested in learning about. Students get credits for these seminars by fulfilling projects of their choice based on that subject. This environment also helps the students passionate about a subject determine if they want to pursue it as field of interest. Teachers, known as advisors, help students from narrowing down a choice of projects to just being a good listener. AACT high school has a no tolerance attitude towards racism, homophobia and bullying; this is so students have an environment where they can feel safe. Classes that are not project-based are offered within High Tech High School.

History of AACT


To help in work and homework, AACT has state of the art computers in every mentor group, also known as homeroom. Along with these computers, every student is provided with their own personal laptop which they are allowed to take home for work if needed. These laptops come fully loaded with all the programs the student needs for his/her projects including features like [Microsoft Office] , Adobe Photoshop and more.


The Majors offered at AACT include Accounting, Automotive Tech, Audio Tech, Broadcasting, Business APP and Tech, Dance, Desktop Publishing, CADD, Motion Picture, Studio Arts, Science Research Tech, Theatre Arts, TV production, Medical Science, Culinary Arts, and Web Site Development.

Project-Based Classes

The Academy of Architecture and Contemporary Themes is famous for its unique forms of presenting projects. For example, there were a few students that decided to make a video presentation about the history of video games and tied it into the history of the world. Another group of students made a presentation of the history of France and transformed it into a Fashion Show and created the first annual AACT Fashion Show.

Many students made art pieces that are still being displayed in AACT. Students also made recreations of movies and tied them into history, science, math or literature. Live shows were also created and were presented to the students of AACT and the students of High Tech. It became a very attracting scene and made other students become interested in the Academy of Architecture and Contemporary Themes.

These presentations made numerous people laugh and cry. The principal and superintendent attended many of these presentations and AACT was featured in the Jersey Journal recently. The different students and different backgrounds created many exclusive projects that only AACT would think of.


Teachers here aren't like regular high school teachers. Students refer to them as advisors. Advisors help students with their projects, from picking a topic to the final presentation. Students rely on advisors to lead them through to achieve the greatest potential they can achieve. Advisors are there for more than just projects, they are there when you need a hand or a shoulder to cry on. Advisors are there to listen to your problems and be there for you in every way they possibly can. As the year goes by students become more confident in their work and that's what leads them to high test scores and great attendance. Mentor groups are usually made up of 10 to 12 students, and with a small class size the teacher can help every child individually and not have the hassle of forgetting to help another student or not having the opportunity to help the student enough. Mentor groups are better than regular class sizes. Most class sizes in regular high schools consist of 25-30 students, which sometimes can get in the way.


Students here are required to take two seminars each semester. The topic range from 9/11 Memorials to Architecture. Students have very flexible schedules here, depending on the the students schedules is depending when they can take the seminar, if one student can only take the seminar on Tuesday, and another student can only take it on Friday, what could be done is that the seminar could be held on two different days to accommodate us as students.

Traditional Classes

The traditional classes at AACT are very limited to only a few. The traditional classes are math, foreign language, physical education, and the majors and electives that you would take upstairs in High Tech High School.

AACT Class Schedules and Requirements

Here at AACT, the students have an ability to choose their classes. It’s not like any other school; but, of course, we take the main classes that are required for high school: 4 years of English and Gym, 3 years of Math, History, and Science, and 2 years of Language and Architecture. Some students choose to take extra years for some classes.

Unlike some high schools, the students here have nine-forty-minute periods everyday. Every week they have some classes take place on the same day and same time. Other times, the students travel to different rooms and complete other classes. Their schedules are always changing. Most of the work is completed as projects instead of test and quizzes. They have projects back-to-back that needs to be completed. No student should ever have to say that they don’t have anything to do, because there’s always something that needs to be done.

If a student has no classes at any time of the day, they will report to advisory. Advisory is just like homeroom; but, instead of just sitting and chatting, projects are being completed. Every student has that class. They could either choose to keep that time to work on projects, or they could fill it in with a class or seminar.

Field Experiences

AACT High School provides a fun and educational hands-on learning curriculum. Students will go on these experiences when it is related to the work they are doing. These field experiences provide the student with a fun and interesting way of learning. Although different from most schools, this method shows much posivite feedback from both students and parents. These Field Experiences help the student experience life through practial ways not just by reading it in a text book. []

Awards/Newsworthy Achievements

High Tech High School has been named a Top Ten High School, A Governor's School of Excellence, A New Jersey Star School(twice)and has been cited by New Jersey Magazine as one of the state's top public high schools.Jonathon Colella a 16 year-old senior from AACT was awarded just recently, The 2008 Everyday Heroes/Newspapers in Education Award in the Environmentally Cautious category for his accomplishments to save the Environment. He owned his first laptop when he was 5 years old and became interested in technology from the start. He already has built 2 computers from scratch and wanted to do more to help the environment while using his skills. His team, made up of 7 fellow AACT High School students wanted to refurbish discarded computers and donate them to less fortunate people, who don’t have computers. He thought of the idea while he was attending a field trip and saw a dumpster full of discarded computers. Along with his fellow classmates they donated 10 computers so far and plan on donating a total of 20 by the end of 2008. Gerald Lyons a teacher at AACT was awarded 2006 Everyday Heroes and is a Social Studies coordinator at AACT.

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