The long (lazy?) days of summer are almost over and a new school year begins. As with every new beginning it affords us the opportunity to both look forward with excitement to new opportunities and new challenges and also take a moment for a little reflection.
In this first of my regular updates to you, I would like to extend my congratulations to the graduating class of 2012. Although I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting them, their successes have ensured their place in the Westwood annals. With over $1 million in scholarships awarded, they could choose the university that best suited their individual needs: Brianna (University of Tulsa); William (Lewis and Clark College); Dayton (Southwestern University); Thuy (Southwestern Methodist University); Taylor (University of Dallas) and Melody (Marymount Manhattan College) set the standards that I am confident our new Grade 12 class will strive to exceed.
Over the summer break we took the opportunity to extend our facilities by occupying another section of our building. Herculean efforts to construct new classrooms, a new gym, new theater storage and new locker spaces have virtually doubled the size of our high school. But our growth was not limited to simply physical space. I would like to welcome three new additions to the high school teaching staff: Jan (Coach) Cottle (Athletics Director & Math), Shaun Dalrymple (English & Philosophy) and Santina Ippolito (Spanish) are already “old hands” and are totally involved in the life of the school. I am sure you will welcome them to the Westwood Family when you meet them. Growth continued with our new Grade 9 class. Saying goodbye to six students from Grade 12, we said hello to 18 students into Grade 9. In particular, we extend greetings to four new members of our school: Benjamin Cottle, Brooke Cottle, Jake Inman and Mia Dorszewski (our exchange student from Manheim, Germany). The welcome they have received from their fellow students is inspiring and a credit to the Westwood ethos. On a personal note, the welcome I too have received has been heartwarming and I would like to thank you for your good wishes and support.
School officially started on Wednesday with the Glee signature tune “Don’t Stop Believing”. I cannot remember a time in my long history in education when students danced into the first meeting of a new school year. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, the students’ desire to be here and not only enhance their education but build their high school is palpable and laudable. I am truly excited to be part of such a team. The three days of this first week have been concerned with meeting the subject teachers, setting up laptops, understanding plagiarism, researching Extended Essay topics and other “nuts and bolts” matters prior to formal classes which begin on Monday.
Thursday evening was my first experience of the Westwood Potluck. I spent much of my youth in a small village in Wiltshire, England where everybody knew everybody and I believed those Halcyon days to be a dim memory. The eclectic mix of students, alums, parents and teachers at the potluck reminded me of those days when the extended family would get together simply to enjoy each other’s company. Add to that an impressive array of food and you can understand why it was such an idyllic evening. Thank you to all who made it possible.
Friday saw our students meet in preparation for their upcoming trips. Grades 10, 11 and 12 will enjoy the majesty of the Grand Canyon while Grade 9 will experience the mysteries of the Texas coast. Both will be life-changing experiences and I look forward to their pictures and tales of derring-do when they return.
As a conclusion to this first newsletter I would like to refer to my hero, Churchill. He once said “personally I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught”. I believe that this year our students will be both ready to learn and love being taught. I shall do my best to make it so