Westchester Academy for International Studies

A Spring Branch ISD application-based charter school, Westchester Academy for International Studies originally opened in 1967 as Westchester High School to accommodate a surge in enrollment for Memorial High School.  Westchester opened with eighteen hundred students and grew to four thousand in seven years, prompting the opening of Stratford High School near Westchester.  In 1985, Westchester High School was closed and its students transferred to Stratford and Memorial due to a decrease in enrollment.  After the completion of a large renovation project, the school reopened in 2001 as Westchester Academy for International Studies.  Westchester now supports sixth through twelfth grade students and provides the International Baccalaureate Diploma for its high school students.  Westchester is currently developing a certified Middle Years IB Program.

Westchester Academy for International Studies

901 Yorkchester, Houston, TX 77079                                                  Ms. Jennifer Collier, Director

713-251-1800                                                                                  Ms. Andrea Andrews, Registrar

WAIS.SpringBranchISD.com

Religious Affiliation

As a public school, Westchester has no religious affiliation.  According to Spring Branch Independent School District’s policy, every school has a moment of silence each day during which students can pray silently to themselves if they so choose.  Also, absences because of religious holidays do not count toward the student’s total number of absences.  However, the student is still responsible for the makeup work.

Location and Facilities

Located at the corner of Yorkchester Drive and Patchester Drive, Westchester’s 8-acre lot contains its main campus, multiple support buildings, and two parking lots.  Westchester’s athletic facilities include a baseball field, football field (surrounded by a track), two soccer fields, four tennis courts, and a gym.

Admissions

Students and parents must complete and submit an application, which includes Assurances and a Family-School Commitment Form, along with the student’s most recent report card and transcript (applicants for tenth to twelfth grade) to Westchester Academy.  The student must also be a resident of Spring Branch ISD and demonstrate proof to that fact.  Some applicants will be asked to participate in an interview with some of Westchester’s faculty.  Eligible applicants are then enrolled on a space available basis.  If there are more applicants than available spaces, then the eligible applicants will be entered into a lottery.  Siblings of current Westchester students will be offered enrollment before the lottery takes place.  In the event there are more eligible siblings than available spaces, a lottery will take place.

Academic Tracks and Curriculum

Westchester only provides an advanced curriculum via International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.  Students are expected to take part in the IB program in full or by taking specific subjects as part of the program.  As the IB program continues to develop, the school will offer more IB courses in place of AP courses.  Students may also earn college credit through SBISD’s Early College program by taking courses at Houston Community College.

In order to graduate with a Recommended Diploma, students must complete 26 credits; one credit is equivalent to one year of study: English (4), Social Studies (3), Economics (.5),Math (4), Science (4), Foreign Language (2), Physical Education (1), Speech (1.5), Fine Art (1), and Electives (5.5).  A Distinguished Diploma requires one more year of a foreign language.

In order to graduate with an International Baccalaureate Diploma, students are required to complete six subjects, three “Higher Level” and three “Standard Level” courses.  These subjects include: first language, second language, math, science, social science, and an IB elective.  Students must also complete 150 hours of CAS (community, action, and service), a 4,000-word research essay, and a capstone course titled “Theory of Knowledge.”

Special Needs

As a district, public charter school, Westchester does not have the same state required services as a comprehensive neighborhood public school.  While Westchester will admit students with learning differences, students are expected to meet the school’s curriculum requirements.  The admission, review, dismiss (ARD) committee and Westchester faculty will be the deciding body as to whether or not a position at Westchester is appropriate for the applicant with learning differences.  Students who do not and cannot meet the expectations of the school are assisted in a return to their home school.

Foreign Languages

Westchester offers students a number of foreign languages, which is required by the IB Program.  Students may take AP and IB courses in Spanish Literature and Language, German, and French.  Students may also take an IB course in Italian.  Students attending Westchester from District elementary school Dual Language programs will continue SBISD’s Dual Language Secondary Program.  If an applicant to seventh or eighth grade has not previously earned a credit in a foreign language, then the student will not be allowed to take a foreign language course until the student’s ninth grade year unless they are a native speaker and test accordingly.

Arts

Westchester students may take IB courses in Music, Theater Arts, and Visual Arts.  Students may also participate in Choir.

Technology

Westchester provides several technology courses: Web Mastery, Robotics, Design Cycle, Computers, Animation, Programming, Multimedia, and Digital Communications.

Extracurricular Activities

Westchester hosts a number of clubs and organizations for its students:  dance, Model United Nations, chess, comedy, aquatics, knitting, National Honor Society, student council, and service organizations.  Students are expected to participate in at least one club while attending Westchester.

Athletics

Westchester does not support any interscholastic sports at the University Interscholastic League (UIL) level, but the school does host a number of sports clubs.  Students may participate in the Spartan Lacrosse Club (boys), Meatheads Weightlifting Club, Middle School Soccer Club, and the Tennis Club.  Westchester students may participate in the UIL sports programs at their home (zoned) schools.

Parent Involvement

Every parent signs a Family-School Commitment Form to facilitate smooth interaction with WAIS faculty and staff. Parents may join the PTA to become more involved or volunteer as mentors.

Westchester Academy for International Studies Fast Facts

Overview
School Type Public, Charter, Coeducational
Religious Affiliation None
Uniforms Dress Code Only
Date Founded 1967
Endowment N/A
Grades Served 6 – 12
Enrollment 977
     Grade 12 143
     Grade 11 145
     Grade 10 149
     Grade 9 154
     Grade 8 135
     Grade 7 134
     Grade 6 142
Student to Teacher Ratio 13:1
Faculty with Advanced Degrees 83/50%
Minorities in Student Body 73%
Curriculum
Academic Tracks Offered IB, AP, Pre-AP
Advanced Placement Courses Offered 14
Languages Offered Spanish, German, French, Italian
Calendar (Semester / Trimester / Other) Semester
Interscholastic Sports Programs 0
Graduating Seniors
National Merit Semi-Finalists 2012 (#/%) 1/<1%
Average SAT Scores (Class of 2012) 1559
     Mathematics 519
     Critical Reading 538
     Writing 502
% Students Admitted to 4 Year University 80%
Public School Stats
Gifted and Talented Students 14%
Free & Reduced Lunch 53%
AYP (2012) Met AYP
TEA Accountability (2010-2011) Exemplary

 

Excerpted from General Academic’s publication, “Houston Private & Select Public Schools: Survey, Analysis, and Research, 3rd Edition.”

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  1. Pingback: An Expat’s Guide to Houston’s International Schools

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