GREENSBORO, N.C. — Students from Western Guilford High School are upset about declining enrollment numbers at their school.
They say IB programs at other area High Schools are attracting Western-district students to enroll elsewhere.
Thursday, Western students took a bus together to the Guilford County School Board meeting to voice their concerns.
A group of student leaders at Western has made a list of changes they’d like to see soon.
“The general perception of Western is that it’s a scary and awful school, but when I came to Western I found that’s not true at all,” said Student Body President Elizabeth Grady.
Principal Pete Kashubara said enrollment has steadily declined since he took over as head of the school three years ago. 306 students chose to go to other schools last year. About 150 left for Grimsley High Schoool’s IB Program.
“I think that whether it be an IB program or some type of AP academy, Western needs some kind of academic support,” Grady explained.
She said they are calling for academic equality among schools in the Guilford County system so that Western can once again be perceived as a desirable school to attend.
“We realize that times are tough. The money’s gotta go throughout the entire county. But you don’t want to wait until everything falls apart to fix it,” Western’s PTSO Co-Preisdent Sheri Bergen told FOX8.
Things are definitely starting to fall apart at Western. The gym ceiling is peeling back. The weight room has tattered equipment and walls that appear moldy.
Coaches and teachers have poured their own money into making as many improvements for upkeep as possible. For example, Bergen said, the tennis couch paid and re-painted the tennis courts himself last year.
Athletic boosters are struggling to afford simple seating at the baseball and softball fields. There are no permanent stands; just a handful of makeshift benches for parents or supporters to watch the games.
Students are calling for the school board to consider Title IX in the improvements, saying there is a distinct difference between the girls’ and boys’ sporting facilities.
In addition, students and parents with disabilities can barely access the sporting fields because of steep staircases and little-to-no wheelchair access.
“It’s like a pond on the soccer field,” added another student, referring to consistent flooding at the sporting fields and gym.
“The gym holds about 600 students. We have nearly 1,300. Between athletes and visitors, we just can’t fit. We have to go to Guilford College to play rival games,” Assistant Principal Jade Nix told FOX8.
Despite the much-needed improvements, test scores have steadily increased at Western. End of Course passing scores have increased from sixty to eighty percent.
Last year, students earned $8 million in awards and scholarships. The school represents students from more than 60 different nations.
Athletes like Senior Kedesh Edwards are considering multiple scholarships for college.
“It just shows even though we don’t have the best athletic facilities at Western, we use what we have. Imagine if we get the funding we need to help Western? How much better we would be able to do,” said Edwards.
Edwards and Grady are perfectly aware the changes they are pushing for will likely come long after their graduations this May. It’s still worth it, they said.
“To see the school grow and change, become better and more diverse over the years, it would be a great honor to come back and see,” said Grady.