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West Forsyth High School opens applications to rising 9th graders for next 3DE Leadership Academy cohort
3DE Leadership Academy
3DE Leadership Academy students at West Forsyth High School give their final presentations on a solution they have created for a real-life challenge given to them by a metro Atlanta company. Photo for the FCN.

West Forsyth High School is now accepting student applications for its 3DE Leadership Academy, a four-year program focused on teaching leadership skills through real-life work and experiences.

Applications are open for any rising ninth-grade student in Forsyth County Schools interested in the program. Once accepted, students would become part of the 3DE Leadership Academy Class of 2026 cohort.

Cohorts attend classes together through all four years of high school, taking part in cross-curricular studies while working through industry challenges present by real businesses. The program is structured similarly to other popular academic programs in the school system such as the Film Academy and Humanities Academy at Forsyth Central High School.

“The 3DE Leadership Academy at West Forsyth High School helps students unlock their leadership potential by learning in an interdisciplinary environment through the lens of real business case challenges,” a press release stated.

The 3DE program is run by Junior Achievement, a now global nonprofit organization founded in metro Atlanta more than 100 years ago. Usually focusing on helping kids succeed in financial literacy and business, the organization originally began the 3DE Academy in nearby counties before bringing it to West Forsyth last school year.

With Junior Achievement’s history and connections to the community and businesses, students in the program have the opportunity to work directly with leadership at both small and large companies. Some of these include the Arby’s Foundation, Delta, The Home Depot, The Marcus Foundation Inc., Suntrust, the Coca-Cola Foundation and many others.

These companies come to Junior Achievement with problems they are currently facing in their industry, and students in the program are tasked with coming up with possible solutions. Working in teams, they come up with an idea, find a solution and present their findings to company leaders.

Through this entire process, students also have the opportunity to work closely with these corporate leaders who can lend their experience and expertise.

Principal Karl Mercer said the rigorous curriculum in the 3DE Leadership Academy helps students to master six competencies, including critical and analytical thinking, self-direction and creativity and innovation.

Not only does it help them prepare for college and life, Mercer said it also helps to bring students together and make them feel more confident while they are still in high school.

“West Forsyth strives to build a strong foundation of relationships in order to engage all students in rigorous and relevant learning,” Mercer said. “The 3DE Leadership Academy takes our vision to the next level. I've seen first-hand tremendous growth in students' confidence after just one year in 3DE.”

Applications for the program will be open to rising ninth-grade students until March 11. They are available to fill out on the 3DE Leadership Academy page on West Forsyth’s website,

Students and their families who are interested in the program can also attend a virtual informational night to learn more about the 3DE Academy on Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. Those seeking to attend can sign up for the session through the school’s website.

Another in-person informational night will be held in the school’s auditorium on Tuesday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m.

“We are proud to offer this exciting opportunity at West Forsyth,” Mercer said.

3DE Leadership Academy
A team of students brainstorm ideas for a case project that they are working on to present to company and industry leaders as part of the 3DE Leadership Academy program at West Forsyth High School. — Photo courtesy of West Forsyth High School