As we head into our last 14 days / 9.5 school days of the fall semester, we wanted to make sure you have all the information surrounding the next two weeks. As we had last year for the time at WHS, we will have a Quiet/Dead Week beginning on Wednesday, December 12th. Final Exams will start on Tuesday, December 18th.
Final Exam Schedule
3rd Period Final: 8:50-10:50am
Required Homeroom (2nd Period): 10:55-11:15am
7th Period Final: 11:20-2:00pm
6th Period Final: 8:50-10:50am
Required Homeroom (2nd Period): 10:55-11:15am
5th Period Final: 11:20-1:20pm
1st Period Final: 8:50-10:50am
Required Homeroom (2nd Period): 10:55-11:15am
4th Period Final: 11:20-1:20pm
2nd Period Final: 8:50-10:50am
8th Period Final: 10:55-12:55pm
Finals Bus Schedule
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday:
Buses will arrive at 1:20 and 4pm, departing 10 minutes after arrival.
Buses will arrive at 12:55pm and depart 10 minutes later.
Final Exam Exemptions
A student may be exempt from a final exam in a first semester course if they meet the following criteria as verified by the teacher (a-e) and bookkeeper (f):
Westlake High School Student Handbook Page 34 of 114
(a) has a cumulative semester grade of 88 or better by 8:00 AM on the Monday of the week preceding exam week, called the exemption snapshot date (December 10, 2018); AND
(b) is not in Loss of Credit status in the course, that is, has no more than nine (9) absences from the class coded X- (excluding X-CV), U- , A- , E-IS, or EAE, for the semester; AND
(c) has no more than three (3) unexcused tardies in the class coded as T-; AND
(d) has not been removed from school for disciplinary reasons through outof-school suspension or DAEP placement; AND
(e) is present and accounted for during homeroom period on every day of exams; AND
(f) has met all financial and material obligations for the campus (for example, participation fees, textbooks, parking tickets, iPads, and Loss of Credit).
All students may exempt from at most 2 exams in the Fall semester.
Please note that all exemptions require a student to be present during the homeroom period on all exam days.
We hope this helps as everyone plans out the last few weeks of the fall semester. Have a wonderful weekend.
When we returned to campus on Monday, one could recognize that most of our students and staff had clearly established a new routine over the Thanksgiving Break. Whether it was sleeping in, napping, staying up late, changing one's diet or exercise routine, we have been a little fatigued this week. One can tell how sleepy a campus can be from what is not said, by the level of noise in the halls, and the yawns. Teenagers are always tired so the change in body language and lack of noise are the keys. Everyone loved the week off, but it's hard to get back into the routine when it's a little cold in the morning and even the car seats are cold.
On Tuesday morning, we took the Senior Panoramic Picture. As I have mentioned over the years, this is truly a magical day for our Seniors. Every day students walk in the hallway by the Counseling Center and the Commons and see the Senior Composites. Students know that one day they will be forever a part of CHAP history by being on the wall. It's a moment of clarity for our seniors: this is our last year. This is real. We are on way to the next phase of our life. Kids sometimes ask great questions. "Mr Ramsey, why do we take the senior picture after spring break so it only hangs on the wall for a few months with the actual seniors on campus?" And sometimes adults do not have quality answers. So we decided to take the picture in the first semester as a way to have their picture visible for a longer period of time. This movement did not change the nostalgic conversations down the parking lot hill between our kids. It actually may have been great timing as our students may have begun reflecting on their experience a little sooner and the level of senioritis is not as severe as in March. This is a tremendous group of seniors, and their conversations were just a little more optimistic and genuine without the eventual cynicism that can impact seniors all over the US in their last few weeks of high school.
This month in our TEACHER FEATURE we are visiting with one of our new teachers on campus, Lisa Taylor.
Lisa is an engineering and AP Physics teacher that came to us from Huntington Beach, California, where she previously taught AP Physics. Ms. Taylor has been teaching for 8 years, and says she does it because she loves the kids. She hopes to inspire students to pursue careers in science and engineering in college, and says she measures her success based on how many kids she can inspire to pursue careers in those fields. Based on conversations with students in her class, it appears Ms. Taylor is meeting her goal.
As part of their civil engineering unit students were working in groups to design and build towers that can resist earthquakes. In previous lessons they individually built models and prototypes of towers, and as a class tested each design to determine what design features were best for allowing the building to resist vibrations and shift the resonance frequency of the tower out of earthquake range. Students then selected the most effective design features when creating their final tower. Throughout the process of building their tower, they test their designs intermittently and make changes as necessary. The ultimate goal is to design a tower that is most effective at resisting the vibrations caused by earthquakes.
One group said that they were designing dampers on their tower to improve structural stability, and ensure that their tower vibrates out of the 1-2 Hertz range. Group members were Deuce Smoot. Grant Yeakey & Emre Latiffes. They said they conducted several tests of their tower on a shaker table, and were choosing damper designs that maximize structural stability in earthquake scenarios.
In addition to teaching advanced academics Ms. Taylor also serves as one of our Cheerleading coaches. She was a cheerleader herself in high school and college. She has always enjoyed the excitement around football and cheer. As a cheer coach, Ms. Taylor can connect with students, and it allows her to be part of building and participating in school spirit. In her own words Ms. Taylor says “I want to be a part of their high school experience, and see them have fun and enjoy themselves.” We want to thank Ms. Taylor for bringing some fun and joy to our campus.
When we return on Monday, we will be working towards a quick finish to the first semester. Our students and staff will be working and deciding on semester exam exemptions. We will only have 11 school days until the beginning of semester exams. Here we go............
“Thanks for your service.” The week started with our Veterans Day Assembly. Monday morning began with our Student Council leading our annual assembly honoring our veterans. With the help of the WHS band, choir, and orchestra, our students led one of the finest traditions for our student body.
Our speaker was Mr. Dean Phillips who is a veteran of the US Army while also being a substitute teacher for our campus for nearly twenty years. Mr. Phillips, who served two combat tours in Vietnam, did a fine job.
Photo by WHS Senior, Will Rhodes
We also shared a story from our Virtual Vietnam Memorial, which has over 1800 videos created by WHS students honoring the servicemen and women who gave their lives in Vietnam.
One of the coolest aspects of our assembly is when we play the songs of the armed services and request students and staff to stand if their parents or grandparents or any relative served in that armed service branch. We appreciate all our groups making this a special event for our community.
In the fall of 2011, our campus was the pilot program for the introduction for the 1:1 technology initiative. As one of the two administrators tasked with this initiative, I can say that this has been a process that has always included feedback from all stakeholders-students, staff and parents. During this past week, our staff and parents received a survey from the Digital Learning Task Force. We hope you can find the time to complete this survey:
CLICK HERE TO BEGIN SURVEY
Feedback is crucial for any organization, and we hope the DLTF receives an ample amount of direct feedback. Our students will be receiving their survey the week after Thanksgiving Break.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful day for many reasons. It is special for I believe it is the one holiday that can be deeply personalized for each family. Everyone has their own traditions and activities that are simply part of the day.
Since my father was in the Air Force, we moved around a lot. For those who had parents in the military, this day could take on many variations based on a number of different circumstances: how far away from family, how long in the new assignment, living on or off the base, stage of military career, and if dad would be home for the day. After getting to spend back-to-back Thanksgivings with family in Montgomery, we found ourselves in southern Illinois at Scott Air Force Base. We would be spending the day alone due to various circumstances. After helping with the preparation for the meal, my mom and I took our dog for a walk. It was very cold with skies filled with gray. We were walking along, and my mom asked me what I was thankful for on that day. I do not remember what all I said, but I do remember my mom taking the time to tell me all the reasons she was proud of me. This yearly exchange became our tradition that would last until she passed away. We spent our last Thanksgiving traveling to many homes in November of 2001 as we knew she would pass soon. My mom was clever and crafty enough not to have that thankful and proud exchange until we arrived back to her home late that evening after celebrating Thanksgiving at least six times with her friends. That night was a little different as she not only told me what she was currently proud of me for, but she went on to detail the things she knew she would be proud of me for as I grew as a husband, possible future father, and educator since she would not be around the next year.
Traditions are fun for they can be passed down from generation to generation. While my girls may not look forward or listen to my “proud list” for each kid, they all do glowingly and joyfully express their gratitude for Grandma Mary whom they never met. Have a wonderful break, and take care of each other over the next week.
Over the years, I have written about the excitement and joy derived from watching our students compete, perform, and create life-long memories. Whether it’s on a field, stage, diamond, track, trail, gym, robotics field, it is a pleasure to watch our students compete with the help and guidance of our coaches, directors, and sponsors.
With nearly 90% of our students involved in extracurricular activities, there are numerous opportunities nightly it seems. There also is the downside of some of these seasons - they end for our seniors. Over the last few weeks, our marching band, tennis, volleyball and cross country teams experienced the end of their seasons. The abruptness and jolting end can be highly difficult on our seniors no matter the measure of success. When I was coaching at WHS, we had many ends that happened in a state championship game or the first round of the playoffs, and they were all challenging and sad.
Only one team may experience a championship - so a disappointment ensues for thousands of kids every year. As I have observed over the years, a strong hug and a few simple words go a long way between our kids, parents and staff. This is truly a time where kids may not remember the words...but they will always remember how they felt in that moment. As we celebrate our seniors involved with football, Hyline, band, cheer and Tech Crew this evening, we hope everyone has a fantastic, if not, Chaptastic night.
For those of you who love the cold weather, we hope you enjoy the brisk and chilly air. For those who detest the weather being below 70* like me, here are my thoughts:
On a final note, do you ever wonder what teachers do on Early Release Days? Early Release Days provide opportunities for our staff to collaborate and engage in rotations to enhance their teaching and to gain more insight into our children. To give you an idea, teachers were able to choose from a variety of sessions this past Tuesday, 11/6, including:
Of particular interest to many was the presentation by our Guidance Counselor, Lisa Arronge, on The Teenage Brain. Who wouldn't be fascinated by that?! Be sure to check out the TED Talk by Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, one of the world's leading researchers into adolescent neurology, who explains the mysterious workings of the adolescent brain.
Here are resources shared by our Educational Technologists during Early Release Day you may also find helpful:
At Westlake High School, we have two Educational Technologists. Lisa Johnson and Chris Hanson are two of the finest Educational Technologists in this wonderful state. Lisa and Chris work with our staff daily in many areas. On October 31st, they took our sophomores through a single period called Base Camp which our freshmen completed earlier this fall. Each grade level receives a customized set of activities.
This Halloween, our Ed Techs had an App-tacular time with Sophomores. All sophomores visited the iPad Base Camp during their World History or WHAP class. The intent of the Base Camp was two-fold:
600+ sophomores visited our base camp yesterday. Their favorite stations were Google Keep, Screen Time, Clips, and Toontastic and we received lots of great feedback from them:
We would like to wish our Girls’ Cross Country Team luck as they compete at Old Settler’s Park. If you would like to see some of our athletes who represent our community at the finest levels, come on out at 8:30 am to support the team as they run for state for the first time in our history.
The CHAP Band will be competing for state at 9 am on Monday morning at the Alamodome. The band has an outstanding show which will be up against some of the premiere programs in Texas. State band takes place every other year, and the band has reached this competition every time since 1998. Good luck to these outstanding groups of students, coaches and directors.
As a final request, today is Donation Day for the Eanes Educational Foundation. EEF funds 16 full time positions at WHS. Sixteen is a rather significant number...these teachers impact around 2,000 students a day. We hope you will take the time to donate today for every dollar makes a direct impact. DONATE HERE
Have a wonderful weekend. We hope you are designing some great plans for the Thanksgiving Break. As one of our seniors pointed out earlier this week, we get nine days instead of just five for a break. And that is awesome…….
As you know, we have been on a water boil notice since early Monday morning. We would like to thank our students and staff for making this week at WHS as close to a normal week as possible. We can easily and confidently report that there has been minimal interruption to our days this week in regards to instructional time and all of our extracurricular and club activities. Our Maintenance and Operations Dept did a fantastic job of making sure we had supplies daily! We would like to thank our parents for sending water with their students and for making lunches for their kids when possible.
We continue to allow our students to pick up water bottles throughout the day as needed. We have water bottle stations in the Chap Court, the Commons and NGC Cafeteria. Students have been very grateful for the freedom to pick up water at their discretion. We only have a few rules: one per student, please recycle, and drink the water you take. We did have to address the rumor that if our students drank all the water, that we would cancel school.
With the water boil notice in effect, concessions at our events will be impacted. As an example, we will have bottled water, canned drinks, and sports drinks available at our football games on Thursday and Friday evenings but no ice or fountain drink service. Our normal food service should be OK but may be modified as the evenings progress. Thanks for your patience and understanding.
We hope everyone has a tremendous weekend. The weather should be absolutely gorgeous with sunny skies and highs in the 70s and low 80s. We look forward to a No Homework evening next week on October 31st and also towards the beginning of November.
Today marks the end of the first quarter of the 18-19 school year. It has been a busy week and quarter for our students and staff. We believe we have had a strong first quarter due to some outstanding senior leadership on campus. We have had some significant gains in our staff with a skilled group of new teachers who are small in number but have had a positive impact at WHS. I was talking to a group of senior boys yesterday who were amazed how quick the year is going, and they mentioned how Thanksgiving break is perfect this year-it’s exactly halfway in the second quarter and that is pretty cool.
Last week, our sophomores and juniors took the PSAT on Wednesday during a shortened week that also included the second week of ACL and several games with Lake Travis - Tennis, Volleyball and Football - all in one day. It was a busy week but a highly successful week on campus and in these events. The ability of our students and staff to remain focused during a week like this one serves our students well as they enter college and post-university life and they learn how to manage, prioritize, and even enjoy all that we know life can bring our way.
As part of our mission to help our students find their passions, we encourage our teachers to engage with our community. We do this through our Mentorship program, Clinicals and CERT programs through HST, Incubator and Accelerator programs, and many volunteering opportunities. Our teachers have even begun taking field trips such as our astronomy classes venturing to Fort Davis and the McDonald Observatory.
Here is an opportunity some our students had recently:
Last week a group of Norman Morgan’s Robotics students got the opportunity to visit UT Austin’s Nanotechnology research facility at the J.J. Pickle Research Center. This facility is one of only sixteen facilities like it in the United States where cutting edge research on design and fabrication of microchips occurs. This was truly a day of learning...
We hope you have a fabulous weekend. On a positive note, the sun may make a rare appearance this Sunday. Hopefully you can find some time to get outside and enjoy a fall day of sun and cooler temperatures.
We would like to remind you to make a donation to EEF. As a group was listening to Dr. Leonard's State of the District today, it was quite impressive to visit with parents about such a large donation which all goes to funding staff positions including teachers, nurses, and librarians.
We hope you have a wonderful three-day weekend. This weekend always hits at a perfect time. Everyone is into the flow of the new year. The routine is established, and our habits for the year have been established. We are half way to Thanksgiving Break and nearing the end of the 1st Quarter.
We hope everyone can slow down this weekend and get some true quality time with their loved ones. One cannot predict when the best memories will be made with family and friends, but one must be present with family and friends for any memory to occur. Make some time even during a busy ACL, Texas-OU weekend, and activity-filled three days with your closest ones.
As my mom used to say often, “we don’t remember days, we remember special moments.”
Every year we host an amazing College Fair for our Juniors and Seniors. This year it was a marvelous event with great planning by our Counseling Department and PTO. Our Juniors usually spend the most time visiting representatives as the future college experience becomes a little more concrete. Juniors can be thrilled with thoughts of independence, leaving home and beginning a new life. This also can cause the first true anxiousness and discomfort about these same thoughts. Our Seniors seem to peruse and gleefully meander between the schools they have on their personal list. Some you see, are set with their choices as the application process is on-going and time-consuming. The College Fair is also a time that our teachers and counselors see a surge in requests for recommendation letters. This may be a good time to have a quick check-in about college plans with your Junior or Senior as you may gain insight into your child’s plans since they can change sporadically.
Last week, we were fortunate to open the grand walkway between the library spaces. This has been a desire for me personally as I arrived in February of 2002. This was significantly the most poorly designed area for traffic flow at WHS. This doorway was actually closed at one time to any student traffic until we opened it up in the spring of 2012. After the opening of the door, I had been reportedly told that “an opening simply cannot be done.” Even though a larger passage looked physically feasible with the current design, the answer was always no. The list of reasons was exhausting and even illogical at times. Perseverance is a mighty trait to have when the goal is to make our students’ lives a little better. With the help of our Campus Leadership Team and forward thinking by Maintenance & Operations (M&O), including Jeremy Trimble and Brian Bolek, we were able to get this completed after many years! The look on our students' and staff faces as they were passing through the first few times was priceless. These little things in our daily lives are our response to meeting student needs especially when they can minimize frustration and allow more time between classes.
We had nearly a 33% jump in our sales for our Homecoming Dance this year. Thanks to Student Council for this wonderful memory for our kids.
We hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.
Homecoming is always a little special at Westlake High School. Even with extremely busy schedules, this day and weekend have a special feel and excitement. Our students and staff always take pride in this school and community, but this weekend seems to bring everyone together a little closer.
Upon returning to Westlake High School from WRMS, I made a commitment to brand our campus with reminders of this wonderful community.
New wall graphics throughout our campus
It was amazing to see how many students attended our Pep Rally while also representing their class with the color selected for their specific class. We welcomed our alumni and parents to the Pep Rally with a reserved section right in the middle of our Juniors and Seniors. We have had a wonderful day as veteran faculty members like myself have reminisced about some of our past greats like Toody Byrd, Ebbie Neptune, John Matysek, Mark Hurst, and Scott Gardner (the list goes on and on……). We will be honoring Coach Al Bennett this evening before our volleyball with the naming of the court after him.
Homecoming Pep Rally 2018
While we think of the past, we are also invigorated by our current students and staff who continue to make this campus the best in Texas through their own innovations and creativity. As we all get busy with an array of events this weekend in town, we hope everyone takes a moment to reflect on this special place that is truly the “Pride of the Hills”.
Steve Ramsey: WHS Principal Blog
Principal's Weekly Reflections