Westside High School
Westside High School, an HISD magnet school founded in 2000, is located on its original campus near George Bush Park in Westside. Westside’s magnet program, Integrated Technology Through Career Pathways, is designed to prepare students for technologically skilled careers. From its founding onward, the school has embraced a commitment to preparing students for college and providing them personal support in their academic growth.
As a magnet school within HISD, Westside has no religious affiliation. Students’ religious convictions do not factor into admissions, and the curriculum does not include theological material. While there is no institutionalized prayer in the school, there is a daily minute of silence during which students may choose to pray. Additionally, absences due to religious holidays do not count against a student's record, though the student is still responsible for make-up work.
Location and Facilities
Westside High School is located in the neighborhood of Westside close to George Bush Park. The surrounding area is primarily residential. The school's academic facilities include separate "houses" for each subdivision of the magnet program, as well as a main high school building which includes the library. Additionally, the school has specialized facilities for some subdivisions of its magnet program, including a student-run restaurant for students in the Business and Entrepreneurship focus and a theater, a mini-theater, and a black box theater for students in the Performing and Visual Arts focus. The school's athletic facilities include two gyms, a football field, a soccer field, a tennis court, a baseball/softball diamond, and a fieldhouse with a weight room.
In order to apply for the magnet program at Westside, students must complete an online application or paper and send additional materials to the school by mail. These additional materials consist of the previous year’s final report card, the report card from the first grading period of the current year, the student’s STAAR and Stanford scores, and proof of HISD residency. Any student who lives within the HISD zone and who meets a baseline academic and behavioral standard - as determined by the student’s seventh grade scores, grades, and track record - is eligible to apply. Applications are accepted from early November to mid-December for the subsequent school year, and admitted students are notified by late March. Admission is based on the lottery system. Students who have siblings already attending the school are given priority for up to 25% of the incoming freshman class, but otherwise, all students have an equal chance of admission. Westside High School is one of Houston’s most sought-after magnet high school programs, with a 33.06% acceptance rate.
Students are not required to take an entrance examination to be eligible for admission. While neither interviews nor school visits are required for the admissions process, visits are available on select dates in November and January.
Students may also be eligible to attend Westside High School by virtue of residing in its attendance zone (see map below). However, even zoned students must apply through the lottery system if they wish to enroll in the magnet program.
Academic Tracks and Curriculum
Westside High School boasts 24 distinct AP classes and an additional 38 Pre-AP classes, as well as honors equivalents for two elective courses. These courses are open to all students who have completed the applicable prerequisites. Dual enrollment options are also provided as an alternative to AP.
Westside’s magnet program, entitled Integrated Technology Through Career Pathways, is designed to give students the skills they will need to excel in the technologically advanced world of the 21st century. Students may choose one of five focus areas: Applied Sciences & Health Professions, Media Relations, Computing Sciences & Engineering, Performing and Visual Arts, and Business & Entrepreneurship. Students in the magnet program must take four courses in their area of specialty. These courses generally satisfy other graduation requirements as well.
Students now matriculating will graduate under the new Foundation High School Program. (Students who matriculated in 2013 or before may choose to graduate under this program or the old requirements.) The Foundation High School Program’s basic requirements are as follows: four credits of English, three credits of math, three credits of science, three credits of social studies, one credit of PE, two credits of the same language other than English, one credit of fine arts, and five credits of electives, for a total of 22 credits.
Most students who graduate under the Foundation High School Program will take one or more “endorsements” in addition to the basic curricular requirements. An endorsement is essentially the high school equivalent of a college major. Students who take an endorsement must complete 26 credits, including a fourth credit each of math and science and any additional credits needed to fulfill the endorsement’s curricular requirements.
There are five possible endorsements: STEM, Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and Humanities, and Multidisciplinary. Westside offers all five.
To earn an endorsement in STEM, a student must complete a coherent sequence of courses from CTE courses within the STEM cluster, computer science, math, science, or any two of these four.
To earn an endorsement in Business and Industry, a student must complete a coherent sequence of courses from a focus area in CTE, or English electives, or technology applications, or a combination of any of these three.
To earn an endorsement in Public Services, a student must complete elective credits in JROTC or a coherent sequence of courses from the CTE focus areas in Education & Training; Government & Public Administration; Health Science; Human Services; or Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security.
To earn an endorsement in Arts and Humanities, a student must complete a coherent sequence of courses in social studies, a language other than English, two levels in two languages other than English, ASL, the fine arts, or English electives not counted under Business & Industry.
To earn an endorsement in Multidisciplinary, a student must complete a coherent sequence of four courses related to preparation for entering the workforce; or one advanced course in each of the four core areas; or four AP, IB, or dual credit courses from the core areas, economics, languages other than English, or the fine arts.
A student who qualifies for at least one endorsement also qualifies for the Distinguished Level of Achievement supplementary endorsement, which is a necessary prerequisite for in-state college admission under the top 10% rule. Students may also earn Performance Acknowledgements for noteworthy career-focused or academic achievements, including qualifying scores on AP and IB exams and the PSAT, SAT, and ACT.
Accommodations are available for students with special needs who meet the requirements for admission. If the parents already have documentation about the student’s special needs, the school will need a copy of that documentation. After receiving the documentation, the school will set up an annual ARD meeting that the parents, the student, an administrator, a core subject teacher, a special education teacher or 504 representative, and an HISD advocate will attend to discuss the specific modifications necessary for the student and to create an individualized education plan (IEP) for the student. Every teacher will receive a copy of the modifications for the student after they are set in the ARD meeting.
If the parents want to request modifications for their child, then the special education teacher will give the student’s teachers paperwork to document the student’s behavior and any modifications the teacher uses for the student. After 6 weeks of documentation, the teachers will turn in the paperwork, and the special education teacher or 504 representative will call a meeting similar to an ARD meeting. If the meeting determines that the student needs accommodation, then the school will have documentation of the student’s special needs and will follow the same procedures as above.
Westside High School offers courses in the following languages: American Sign Language, French, Spanish, German, Latin, Japanese, and Chinese. The language curriculum includes a number of AP courses: AP Latin (Virgil), AP French 4 Language, AP Spanish 4 Language, AP Chinese 4, AP Japanese 4, AP French 5 Language, and AP Spanish 5 Literature. The Spanish curriculum is noteworthy in that it includes two classes for native speakers which are designed to help students develop their proficiency in Spanish and work toward total fluency in both English and Spanish. Students in the recommended track must take at least two credits of the same foreign language in order to graduate, while students in the distinguished track must take at least three.
Westside High School offers a wide range of fine arts courses and programs, including marching band, symphonic band, wind ensemble, jazz band, instrumental ensemble, orchestra, choir, vocal ensemble, music theory, applied music, theatre arts, technical theatre, theatre production, dance, modern dance, visual arts, painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, ceramics, two-dimensional design, three-dimensional design, art history, and art and media communications. Several of the above-mentioned programs offer multiple levels of study. The following AP courses are available within the fine arts curriculum: AP Music Theory, AP Studio Art: Drawing Portfolio, AP Studio Art: Two-Dimensional Design Portfolio, AP Studio Art: Three-Dimensional Design Portfolio, and AP Art History.
Students in the fine arts programs at Westside have many opportunities to showcase their creativity. Courses relating to musical performance have at least one concert per semester. Music students may additionally compete in the relevant UIL competitions, which are required for some classes. Students in the choral program are also encouraged to audition for the Texas All-State Choir. Students in the theatre department have the opportunity to write, act in, or produce one or more of the eight plays hosted by the school each year, which include a production eligible for the UIL One-Act Play competition. Students in the dance program may audition to perform with the school’s Inertia Dance Company or the Westside Pride dance team, in addition to class performances. Students in the visual arts program have the opportunity to compete in the National Scholastic Art Competition, V.A.S.E., HISD’s art competition, and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s “Rodeo Art.”
The arts-related programs which fall under the Performing and Visual Arts portion of Westside’s magnet program are digital photography, computer animation, and technical theatre. Students in the Performing and Visual Arts magnet must choose one of these three areas and complete an introductory course and three magnet courses within the area.
As a technology magnet high school, Westside High School places an emphasis on making technology available to students. Preparations are underway for a program which would enable students to check out school-provided laptops, for use in completing their schoolwork at home as well as in the classroom. In the mean time, students have access to Apple computers on campus. Additionally, many classrooms feature SmartBoards.
As for personal technology, students are strongly encouraged to leave devices at home for safekeeping. If students do bring personal electronics to school, they may be used in accordance with the Acceptable Use Policy and the HISD Code of Student Conduct. This includes following teachers’ instructions about how technology may be used in the classroom. If a student’s use of a personal device is in flagrant violation of school policy, the school may bar that student from bringing the device to school.
Westside High School hosts chapters of the National Honor Society, the National Art Honor Society, the Math Honor Society, the Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society, the National French Honor Society, and the National Spanish Honor Society. Westside High School also hosts 30 other clubs, including academic interest groups such as the History Club and the Computer Science Club and recreational interest groups such as the Chess Club and the Rugby Club. There are also several service clubs, namely Best Buddies, Interact, and an ESL Club. Other notable clubs include Student Council, the Black Student Union, the Business Professionals Association, DECA, the Gay-Straight Alliance, HOSA - Future Health Professionals, Quiz Bowl and Science Bowl, Speech and Debate Team, and a UIL Academics Team.
Westside High School has 20 interscholastic sports programs. The following sports are offered as co-ed programs: cross country/track, swimming/water polo, and tennis. The following sports are offered for boys: basketball, baseball, football, golf, lacrosse, power lifting, soccer, and wrestling. The following sports are offered for girls: basketball, cheer, dance team (Inertia), dance team (Pride), golf, soccer, softball, volleyball, and wrestling. These activities are open to all students at Westside, provided that they meet the minimum academic standards and follow other aspects of HISD athletic policy.
There are several organizations that parents may join to become more involved with their children’s education at Westside High School. The largest is the Parent-Teacher Organization, which meets once a month on Tuesday evenings. This organization organizes parent volunteers for staff appreciation, campus beautification, Homecoming, etc., and also raises money for scholarships in a yearly campaign. Another organization, Volunteers in Public Schools, is open to any interested individuals, not just parents. This group coordinates volunteer help for a variety of staffing needs, including the library and book room, tutoring, and football ticket sales.
Parents can be more directly involved with academics by participating in the Shared Decision Making Committee, which meets once a month on Wednesday evenings. This group, which includes teachers, staff, community members, and students as well as parents, and its function is to advise the principal on major school issues such as the budget.
Parents who are invested in the athletic programs can become more involved by joining the Athletic Booster Club, which raises money for facilities and scholarships and promotes support for the Westside Wolves in the local community. The club meets once a month on Monday evenings.
Some extracurricular activities also have discrete parent booster organizations, and even in cases where there is no formal organization, parents generally have opportunities to volunteer and become more involved with their students’ extracurricular activities.
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14201 Briar Forest Dr. Houston, TX 77077-1806
*Many of the HISD schools we profile are among the most selective, popular, and coveted magnet schools in the district. For schools which rank in the top 10 in their level, we have presented the ranking alongside the data.
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