Posted by: bunnyterry | April 23, 2010

Zachary and the Albuquerque Academy

Zachary with my dad, Ken Terry

I’m cooking yet another pot of posole, this time for my son Zachary, who is spending a couple of days with me in Logan before he goes on to his 10 year reunion at the Albuquerque Academy (  I’m crazy proud of Zachary – he just finished his PhD in aerospace engineering at UT-Austin, and while he’s a brainiac, his intelligence is subtle and unobtrusive.  He’s one of the easiest people I know with whom to spend time (yeah, I know, I’m his mom, but truly, that’s what anyone who knows him would say), and his world view is compassionate and concerned without being over the top.  He has an incredibly logical nature – if I’m ever in a quandary, he has a clear answer or solution.  I’ve always thought he’s much more grown up than me.  He has my blue eyes, and my nose, which on him is quite handsome, and a clear gaze through which he views the world.

I’m certain a large portion of that easy-going, but interested and interesting life attitude comes from the education he received as a student at the Albuquerque Academy.  His fifth grade teacher, sensing that he was never going to get what he needed academically at APS, suggested to me that he apply for sixth grade at AA. 

At the time, I was beyond financially strapped.  Some months I had to decide whether to pay the electric bill or buy groceries first (okay – most months).  The idea of sending little Zachary off to a private hoity toity school where the tuition was something like $8,500 annually (and that was in  1992) and where the acceptance rate was only 10% of applicants was intimidating, to say the least. 

I cringed as I completed the application and the financial aid form, went with him to orientation and testing and his personal interview, and then as we waited, month after month, for the acceptance letter.  By the time we got to the waiting stage, I decided we had totally lost our minds.  I couldn’t bear the thought of him being rejected, but I was also frightened by the prospect of him being accepted.  I knew saying yes to the Academy was going to be a huge commitment, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to say we would definitely stay in Albuquerque for the next seven years. 

I remember that the acceptance letter came on April 15.  And it was a yes.  As was total financial aid.  I had to pay for lunches and fees, which were in the neighborhood of $150 a month (it might as well have been $1,000 per month on my budget, but somehow we figured it out).  And Zachary became a Charger.

Now when people ask me if they should send their child to the Albuquerque Academy, my answer is an immediate resounding YES.  Zach’s life was changed by the friends he met there, by the way he was taught, and by the acceptance he experienced.  There is a moment in every child’s life when being the smartest kid in the class is no longer cool.  We had reached that moment in fifth grade.  Then when Zach went to the Academy, it was suddenly cool again to be such a brain. 

I’m proud of my boy.  I’m proud of the fact that he got accepted into such a great institution and then stuck it out until graduation.  I’m most proud that he became such a likable adult.  He’s incredibly kind and generous and continues to be endlessly curious about the world.  He’ll do something with his life that makes the world a better place to be.  He already does that for his family and friends.  When I think back to how scary it was to consider Zach being a student at the Academy, I’m reminded that sometimes the stuff that scares us the most ends up being the biggest comfort in the long haul.

So, I guess this blog post is both my pat on the back for Zachary (sort of a belated PhD congrats card. . .?) and my thank you note to the Albuquerque Academy.  Thanks for being dedicated to teaching him everything from how to replicate DNA to how to play classical flamenco guitar (thanks especially Mr. Truitt!).   The Academy, with its tree-lined paths and brick buildings, will always be one of my favorite places in New Mexico.

One side note:  If you get to go to the Academy, either just for a visit, or in contemplation of sending your child there for a great education, take a minute and visit the medicine wheel located east of the Music Building.  It was built by the Class of 2000 (Zach’s class) for their best pal, Minoa, who was killed in a senseless traffic accident.  It’s a beautiful momument to how close these kids were to a guy who touched all of them deeply.  It always moves me to tears.



  1. Well, shoot, your post moved me a sob and a few tears, Bunny. The medicine wheel tribute…being responsible for Zach’s greater enrichment…the change to a class where intelligence is rewarded, not laughed at…the fifth-grade teacher that saw, Saw what was needed in his life…and your grace and altruism–pride, too–that Zach will accomplish something for a better world: all of this is excellent and sterling. I so hope in the future to read more about Zach in your posts. When we go to Albuquerque, I’ll make sure to visit the academy.

  2. Great post! I am also so proud of Zach. You know I haven’t been around him that much but he is a very kind and gentle young man. You have to be very proud…

    • The Academy may be the greatest school ever (at least to this family) but there is a lot more credit due to the amazing mother that raised this incredible guy and who nutured his intelligence at every turn. Neither of us would be the people we are today without you mom and you too certainly deserve a pat on the back.

      I am so thankful and proud of my amazing brother. We are blessed to have him, his insights and his wisdom in our lives and our family. He has always been my strongest example and the person I look up to the most. I never get tired of bragging about Zach!

  3. We are so blessed that Z. is one of our 3 great gramdsons, 5 wonderful granddaughters. He has risen above any adversity in his path (something we all have at some time in a normal lifetime) and has shown awesome strenght and character. His loving attachment to family is part of his true spirit and we all benefit from this blessing.

    • Andy Watson, Head of School at Albuquerque Academy, shared this wonderful blog with us about Zachary and the Albuquerque Academy. I am the Assistant Director of Admission at the Academy so, obviously, I LOVED your blog. I was wondering if I could have your permission to copy your blog? I would include it in a folder with school information that we hand to perspective parents when they come to our campus for a tour.
      Gigi Chinisci

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