Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
This fall, Mackenzie Hora, the daughter of Pat and Traci Hora, will be a trailblazer for girls at Highland High School.
As she enters her senior year, she will become the first girl from Highland to enroll in the Kirkwood Architecture, Construction and Engineering Academy.
“I grew up on a farm my whole life, so working with my hands has been a big part of my life,” Hora said. “When I heard about this, I thought it was maybe something I could get hands-on with something.
“I know of a couple guys who have done it. I thought it was pretty cool to know I was the first girl from Highland doing it.”
She said that working outside the classroom suits her.
“I don’t really like being in a classroom that much, even though I tend to do good in school,” she said. “I want to be out doing stuff with my hands, so this seemed like a good opportunity.”
Hora said that a while back, the National Guard came to the school to help students with some career guidance.
“I saw a landscape architect, and that really drew me because I love to see my work come to life,” she said. “I’m taking a horticulture class right now, and I love being with the plants and seeing how they grow.
“Combining those two together would help me enjoy what I’m doing and not have to suffer through every single day.”
Having grown up on a farm, she has had to do a lot of hands-on work, which she enjoys.
“My dad sends me to fix something, and when I get it done, I feel accomplished, like yeah, that was all me,” she said.
School counselor Derick Ball, knowing Hora’s skills and interests, talked to her about Kirkwood’s ACE Academy.
“He had me talk to some Washington girls who actually took it,” she said. “They told me that the instructor will adjust the course to what you want to do, and he will go out of his way to find you internships and job shadows. That really made me say, ‘OK, I really want to do this.’”
She is especially interested in architecture and computer-aided design (CAD).
“To get the CAD design, you have to know the other stuff first,” Hora said. “This course talks to you about that.
“One of my classes, we’ll learn about HVAC systems, which of course, I don’t need to know that. I talked to the Washington girls and they said, ‘You think you don’t need it, but it’s helpful.’”
Most of all, she’s looking forward to finding her path and believes the ACE Academy will help her with that quest.
“I’m struggling with knowing what I really want to do, so having someone help guide me would really help me,” Hora said. “Every person I’ve talked to said they don’t regret taking it.”