CT, Education, Schools, Stamford, Uncategorized

It’s All About The Journey… Your Neighborhood School Profile: Westhill High School

Westhill High School (WHS) started construction with the vision of two separate schools: freshman and sophomores in one building and juniors and seniors in the other. The thought was to separate the four year program into two, more “intimate” settings housed in the Finch and Raynor buildings.  The plan changed and school opened in 1971 as a traditional high school with all students having classes in both buildings. Now the Westhill campus, the city’s largest high schools also features an agricultural science facility, two all-sports artificial turf stadiums, and a 35-classroom building which houses the Freshman Academy. The school colors, purple and gold, and the mascot, the Viking, were borrowed from the Minnesota Vikings, the new NFL team that season.

Four decades later Westhill High School is thriving. A student body of roughly 2,500 students and nearly 200 certified staff work tirelessly to improve the teaching and learning environment for all learners. A multitude of AP course offerings, numerous electives, a JROTC program, an agricultural science program, dozens of clubs and numerous sport offerings have Westhill High School the place to be now  and for decades to come.

There’s so much going on here:

Columbia Press Awards and The Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) which is affiliated with Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism recently awarded Westhill High School’s student-run publication, The Westword, a Silver Crown Award during the 93rd annual Scholastic Convention in the category of Hybrid Newspaper. According to CSPA, publications are judged on design, photography, concept, coverage and writing. Crown Awards demonstrate overall excellence in the entire publication.

The Westword has a history of winning CSPA awards, and has earned commendations from the American Scholastic Press Association. Though the majority of the work done on The Westword is completed after school hours, many of the articles are written by students in Westhill’s Journalism and Communications classes. “The Westword’s mission, ‘the test of good journalism is the measure of its public service,’ is something that we truly strive for at all times,” said Lauren Schechter, Editor-in-chief (print). “To be commended for that effort only encourages us to push ourselves further.”

Creative Connections, an International Cultural Education Organization, selected WHS as the “2017 USA Art Partner of the Year.” The artwork of all the WHS AVID students participating in the ArtLink International Exchange Program was recognized by a jury of educators and artists as an outstanding collection of work. According to Creative Connections, the WHS students’ artwork, which reflected the theme “TEAM Up,” was selected based the cultural insightfulness, quality and uniqueness of the work.

 

The WHS theater program, Northstar Playmakers just wrapped up their Spring Musical, Guys and Dolls.  For more information on the theater program, check their website: http://westhilltheater.org/home

Westhill is a diverse high school representing more than thirty-five distinct nationalities within it’s student body. In Westhill’s media center, flags from around the world are hung from the ceiling to representing Westhill’s diversity and welcoming environment.

Westhill is about to come to the end of an era & the begin a new chapter with Michael Rinaldi  taking over as the new Principal on July 1, 2017.  Both a Stamford native and Westhill alum, Mr. Rinaldi has been serving almost 30 years in the Stamford School system.  It was the first time in nearly two decades that the board chose a new principal for WHS. The retiring Principal, Camille Figluizzi has been at WHS since 1998.

Rinaldi decided he wanted to become an educator while still a student at Westhill.  “It changed my life,” he said, “Westhill is where I discovered my passion for this work. I would not be a teacher today if not for the fact that I had the opportunity to work with special-needs students as a teenager.”

The Vikings are set to embark on a new era, continuing to support it’s diverse population and commitment to excellence

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CT, Education, real estate, Schools, Stamford, Uncategorized

It’s All About The Journey … Your Neighborhood School Profile: Stamford High School

Stamford High School (SHS) stands majestically on Strawberry Hill Avenue and offers a rich history.  As the city’s oldest secondary school, SHS enjoys the benefits of traditions, well-known alumni, vigorous school spirit, and an ongoing commitment to academic excellence.

SHS opened in 1874 and started as a one-room high school.  In 1881, four highly educated young women comprised the first graduating class. Since then, SHS  has evolved into an expansive learning facility of approximately 150 classrooms accommodating 2,000 students.  After a few moves and growing enrollment, SHS relocated to the present site on Strawberry Hill Avenue in 1928 and was the largest high school in the state costing more than a million dollars at that time.

In 1934, an artist from Weston, James Daugherty, was commissioned by the New Deal’s Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to paint seven murals for the octagonal music auditorium at Stamford High. The PWAP was created to help keep artists off the relief roles during the Depression. Daugherty’s murals ran more than 1,000 feet around the room and depicted 200 historical figures from the fields of music, industry, film and science since the time of the Puritans, many with the faces of Stamford High staff and students who served as models. The murals took four months to complete. The paintings were removed from SHS during a 1970 renovation and discarded. Thankfully, the City of Stamford was able to recover and purchase back four murals. Two others are in the hands of private collectors. Two of the city’s murals have been restored and now are on display at the University of Connecticut’s Stamford campus and the Ferguson Library. The other two murals require expensive restoration. Replicas of the murals have been installed on Stamford High’s hallway walls and in the renovated auditorium, mementos of that important period in U.S. history.

One of Stamford High’s gems is Boyle Stadium. Home to the Stamford High Black Knights, Boyle Stadium was chosen by Gametime CT as one of the Connecticut High School Sports’ ‘Bucket List’ fields, calling it a monument of Depression-Era workmanship. Tucked away between meandering suburban Stamford streets and the glass and steel of the nearby cityscape, Gametime CT says that you feel like you’re in a colosseum rather than a high school facility, with the gorgeous rock-faced granite edifice adorned with Baroque-accented parapets that were carved by local masons under the Works Progress Administration, yet it still feels as intimate as a Rockwell painting. Everything about watching a game here just feels right.

SHS was once a football powerhouse. With a nationally renowned winning record, the Black Knights team and beautiful stadium were the envy of Connecticut. The stadium was named for Michael A. Boyle, the Black Knights’ coach from 1907 to 1938, who had 229 wins, 40 losses and 14 ties, earning him a nationwide reputation for excellence.  Stamford High has won 20 football state championships, the last in 1971 – the same year former Black Knight and N.Y. Giants great Andy Robustelli was inducted in the National Football League Hall of Fame. The playing field, which was one of the first to feature AstroTurf and was recently resurfaced with modern synthetics, bears Robustelli’s name. So does the Wall of Honor.

The stadium can fit approximately 10,000 fans, which was confirmed in 2008, when the FCIAC football championship was moved to this site. That, and Boyle’s ancient aesthetics, is the reason why the league prefers to hold all of its finals there. Boyle Stadium was the stage of the league’s — and Connecticut’s — greatest games. It’s a special place awash in memory.

SHS curriculum now includes 15 Advanced Placement (AP) classes, a number of Early College Experience (ECE) courses, and several school-to-career academics that augment regular studies. Students also gain marketing and business experience by operating two stores between class periods. Profits help support student activities, including annual trips to China by the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter. SHS features a school-based health center and a career center that offers vocational (including a work and internship program), college and scholarship resources. SHS also provides SAT preparation opportunities in both English and Math. Stamford High has 25 sports teams and more than 60 student-operated clubs.

SHS continues its strong tradition in academics, athletics, the arts, community service and leadership. The student body is more diverse than ever, enriching the environment. Approximately 90 percent of Stamford High’s graduates go on to higher education, including Ivy League schools, with the remaining majority going into the military or jobs.

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