A view of Westerly High School at dawn, courtesy of Chris Walsh via the Ocean House You Tube page

A view of Westerly High School at dawn, courtesy of Chris Walsh via the Ocean House You Tube page

Despite teaching and learning during a global pandemic, the Westerly High School faculty and staff have continued to provide amazing opportunities for students. Beginning with Class of 2021, students will begin receiving endorsements on their high school diplomas. At a recent School Committee meeting, the credentials and endorsements were shared by Principal Michael Hobin and Assistant Principal Kevin Cronin.

The Commissioner’s Seal Council Designation certifies that a student is proficient in standards aligned to high school expectations in English Language Arts and mathematics, as confirmed by external evidence. The external evidence includes such things as Advanced Placement test scores and SAT scores. The measure by the Department of Education sets a target of 75% of a graduating class to meet this standard. The school is making gains toward this goal.

The Seal of Biliteracy Council Designation certifies that a student has demonstrated skill in the use of the English language and one or more other world languages. Currently at WHS, 35 students are tracking to achieve this designation. This number mimics those schools around the state of Rhode Island with twice the population of students. Credit for this accomplishment should be given to the teachers and the students who begin teaching and learning languages in the elementary schools and strengthening the reading and speaking aspects in middle and high school.

The Pathway Endorsement Council Designation certifies that a student has accomplished deep learning in a chosen area of interest and is prepared for employment or further education in a career path. The staff at Westerly High School has done a comprehensive review of the program of studies and identified 25 pathways for students to explore. To earn this endorsement on the diploma, a student must pass three courses in the subject area with a grade of B- or better, successfully present an aligned senior project, and complete eight hours of work-based learning in the field. Community partners are currently being sought to help our students satisfy this component.

RIDE-certified career and technical education programs have doubled in the past two years at Westerly High School. Over the course of four years, students can participate in art design, construction, cosmetology, criminal justice, culinary, information technology, medical pathways, pathways for early college high school in manufacturing, and software design. With each of these programs, students earn industry credentials to prepare them for post-high school ,college or careers.

Thanks to our faculty credentials, Westerly High School students also have access to 15 college-credit-bearing courses. The teacher of the program is vetted by the local college or university and serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, Roger Williams University, or the Community College of Rhode Island. Upon successful completion of the class, students earn college credits to be used at that particular school or transferred to a school of their choice. The Advanced Placement program has achieved several gains in the past few years by expanding to 21 offerings. Each student who achieves a 3 or higher on the advanced placement test in the spring will earn three college credits to be transferred to a school of their choice.

On-campus extracurricular activity is abundant in Bulldog Nation. Our athletic programs compete with the toughest of teams throughout Rhode Island and Southeastern Connecticut. Participants with the Rhode Island Interscholastic League, we offer a variety of sports programs for both boys and girls to include soccer, tennis, gymnastics, track and field, football, volleyball, golf, wrestling, and cheerleading. Throughout the year we have extracurricular clubs, activities, and honor societies as well as volunteering opportunities.

Ranked 8th in Rhode Island by U.S. News and World Reports, Westerly High School continues to offer incredible opportunities for every kid to be successful after high school. Until that time, it is GREAT to be a Bulldog!

Mark Garceau is the superintendent of schools in Westerly.

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