During this time of national health concerns and school closures, Desert Sands Unified School District is taking this time to reintroduce you to our schools such as Desert Ridge Academy, home of the Diamondbacks. The articles that will appear in this column over the next several weeks have been taken from the archives and updated. For the next several weeks, we will reintroduce you to the middle schools of Desert Sands Unified School District. They all provide an outstanding education and offer many extra-curricular activities.

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Desert Ridge Academy’s (DRA’s) mission is to foster high expectations in social, emotional, and academic development, by providing a safe and rigorous 21st century learning environment and by leading the way with Accountability, Integrity, and Respect.

We are accomplishing our mission by creating a robust Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) that focuses on three areas in order to meet the needs of the whole child: academics, social emotional and behavior. We are a community where all means all- All adults (faculty, staff, families, and community members) working together in a supportive and collaborative manner in order to meet the needs of all students.

DRA provides a warm, stimulating environment where students are actively involved in learning academics as well as positive values. Our faculty, and support staff are highly trained professionals that have continuous Professional Development in Common Core standards, English Language Development (ELD), Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) services,  Special Education services, and technology development.

DRA is an Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)  Site of Distinction, an honor awarded to fewer than five percent of schools nationwide. The recognition takes note of schools that create systems of support and a college going atmosphere. DRA offers AVID Excel, specifically designed for English language learners. Every student receives coding instruction in math class, as well as a variety of technology courses. Our video production program produces quality work not usually seen at the middle school level. The crew has assisted the district in the coverage of several major events.


City of Indio Miles Avanue Bridge Project

DRA also holds a strong fine arts program, which resulted in 25 of our students winning the City of Indio Miles Avenue Bridge Art Contest and notable recognition in the Dia de lo Muertos Block Party by Raices Cultura in Coachella . Our music department offers traditional programs such as beginning and advanced band as well as non- traditional classes such as guitar and percussion.We develop leaders by offering a variety of leadership programs such as: Where Everyone Belongs (WEB) program, Associated Student Body (ASB), Renaissance, yearbook, Speech and Debate, and Cadet Corp.

In addition to offering a rigorous curriculum and integrating Common Core strategies, we provide students with opportunities to grow beyond the classroom: tutoring during and after school, after school sports, over 20 different clubs, journalism, and After School Education and Safety (ASES).

Every student at DRA participates in the Accountability, Integrity and Respect (AIR) Class weekly in which teachers deliver CharacterStrong curriculum and material. CharacterStrong curricula is focused on fostering the “Whole Child” with lessons that teach Social Emotional Learning (SEL): Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, Responsible Decision-Making,   and character: Patience, Kindness, Honesty, Respect, Selflessness, Forgiveness, Commitment, Humility.


Ribbon Cutting at the Parent Center

This year we opened our Parent Center with the support of our amazing Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). DRA has a strong counseling program which supports the healthy development of our students. We have partnered with multiple community programs such as the Ophelia Project, Above the Influence, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Desert, Ronnie’s House for Hope, Stress Busters and Insight.

It truly is an honor and a privilege to be the principal of Desert Ridge Academy Middle School. Our faculty, staff, students, families, and community members are united in creating a safe and rigorous learning environment. Without a doubt, DRA leads the way with Accountability, Integrity and Respect.

Way to go Diamondbacks!

Information on student meal service and supplemental learning during school closures can be found by clicking here. 

Image Sources

  • Miles Avenue Bridge Project: DSUSD
  • : DSUSD
  • Toy Story rally: DSUSD