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Welcome to G.A.D

G.A.D at Heritage High School

The Game Art and Design Academy (G.A.D) started in 2013 and is one of 15 Career Academies in the Wake County Public School System affiliated with the National Academy Foundation (NAF).


G.A.D Academy provides students with a rigorous academic curriculum, while exposing them to the varied career paths and opportunities available in the interactive media/entertainment industry. Students engage in a rigorous, project-based learning curriculum focused on providing transferable skills (hard technical skills and soft skills) and exposure to the dynamic interactive media/entertainment field.



The Heritage High School Game Art and Design Academy (G.A.A.D) will provide pathways for students who are aiming for digital, technical, or artistic careers by offering experiences that will allow them to compete in the global career market.



By building strong partnerships with businesses in the industry, the Game Art and Design Academy (G.A.A.D) students will collaborate and create content that is interactive and engaging.  Students will learn the soft skills and technical skills needed to make them competitive in an ever-changing industry.


The HHS G.A.D Academy program has continued to grow in size and evolve in scope over the last two years, growing in popularity amongst students across Wake County, our local community, and nationally.  May of 2017 will see the successful graduation of the first cohort of G.A.D Academy students.  The overwhelming majority of these students will continue their education at post-secondary institutions.


Click HERE to learn more about information related to Game Art and Design as a Career


The NAF Model

Heritage High School's Game Art and Design Academy seeks to provide authentic learning experiences for all students by following the guidelines and criteria for career academies put forth by the National Academy Foundation (NAF) . While the NAF Academy model inspires students and teachers to greater success, the Academies are bridges between corporate America and local communities. The NAF model works by bringing business people into the public schools and introducing youth to the world of business. Through the Academies, educators and business people are partners for investing in and developing America's youth.

The NAF Model: NAF Academies operate either within existing public high schools or as separate high schools. Organized as small learning communities,  students remain together throughout their high school years with a core group of specially trained teachers. The NAF model provides an environment for these teachers to develop interdisciplinary activities that make learning relevant and capture the interest of students. Through real-world, hands-on experiences, each Academy exposes its students for a career in a specific industry; finance, hospitality and tourism, information technology and interactive media/entertainment (game art and design). Specialized NAF courses are jointly designed by educators and industry specialists to supplement and enrich the traditional school curriculum. Rigorous academic learning is combined with real world work experience and career training which are too often lacking for most of today's high school graduates but critical for doing well in college and in careers. The NAF model works by bringing business people into the public schools and inviting young people from all communities into a culture of success.


Students complete internships, during which time they receive hands-on exposure, professional supervision, and practical work experience. This allows students to begin the process of building a resume while "trying on" their future professional roles. Students are selected for these industry-specific placements on the basis of interviews and their fulfillment of coursework requirements.

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