Hmong American Peace Academy Celebrates New High School at Grand Opening Event
State-of-the-art high school offers HAPA scholars a 21st Century education and provides a resource center for the greater community
MILWAUKEE, October 22, 2021 – The Hmong American Peace Academy (“HAPA”), a charter school in the Milwaukee Public School system recognized as one of the city’s highest performing schools, today celebrated the grand opening of its newly constructed 99,000 square foot high school on its main campus at 4601 N. 84th Street in Milwaukee’s Lindsay Park neighborhood. The new high school can support up to 900 students with state-of-the-art classrooms, a gymnasium, resource centers and more, while also serving as a cultural center for the Hmong community.
At a grand opening event for the new high school, Chris Her-Xiong, HAPA’s founder and chief executive officer, was joined by Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley and HAPA Board Chair and Northwestern Mutual executive Jason Handal, among others including executives and representatives from area schools, nonprofits and local organizations. They shared their excitement for the new high school and all it will offer to HAPA scholars, their families and the greater community.
“I am so proud of this new high school and what it signifies to our scholars, their families and the community,” said Her-Xiong. “We aspire to become one of the very best schools – without qualification – in Wisconsin, and this beautiful new building represents our drive and relentless focus to reach this goal. Because of all the hard work and careful planning from our board, our teachers and staff as well as the scholars and their families, this new building is possible.’”
HAPA’s new high school contains 38 modern classrooms featuring tech-enabled elements, and a 16,000 square foot gymnasium that allows student athletes to compete in WIAA sports. The school also contains dedicated college and career resource centers, high school and HAPA administration offices, and professional development facilities for teachers and staff. To honor Hmong culture, references to Hmong history and culture are imbedded throughout the school, including in the selection of interior materials, finishes and lighting. The hallways and expansive wall spaces will also exhibit Hmong artwork, artifacts and traditional style clothing. In addition to the high school’s new educational features, the building includes a multi-purpose resource center that will be open to both students and the greater community once complete. This center will feature a student-run café to offer valuable firsthand entrepreneurial experiences as well as a museum dedicated to Hmong history and culture. Additional green space and play areas for scholars and the community are also under construction.
“Over many years, something truly special has been building at HAPA. It has been happening quietly, humbly, with tremendous purpose and intention,” said Handal. “As we look to the future, we know the partnership of others will be what drives us forever forward. As HAPA continues to grow and flourish, we are extending an invitation to our community to join us on this journey.”
HAPA opened its doors in 2004 to local Hmong American children who were struggling to succeed in public schools and to families who felt that their traditions, language, and values would support a culture of achievement. What modestly began as a K-5 school serving 200 students is today one of Milwaukee’s highest performing schools, serving nearly 1,800 K4-12 students. Data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction shows that despite 95 percent of students qualifying as economically disadvantaged, HAPA’s academic performance, when compared to all schools in Wisconsin, exceeds expectations.