Many of us may remember the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. A few of us may have even memorized all or part of this poem. This poem was one of the most widely read and discussed poems in classrooms for multiple decades in our country.
The Road Not Taken
BY ROBERT FROST
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The poem has been widely interpreted as a life lesson about taking the less traveled path. Take the different path. Take an original path in your life and that may make all the difference. It spoke to a rebellious path. It resonated with teenagers of many generations for its allowance of individual freedom and choice. The poem has also been interpreted that no matter the path one takes you may miss out and regret taking either path. That there are always experiences missed when a choice or path is selected.
As we are in the midst of the 8th-9th transition, class selection for our returning students, and final university decisions, this is a continual conversation:
What is the path I should take (student) or help my kid choose (parent)? As we have conversations with our students and parents, we ask a lot of questions about the path or paths you have taken as a parent. We talk to our students about the path and paths we selected. Stories and personal narratives on choices seem to be the best way to help make these decisions. When one tells his or her own story, there are always major choices to be discussed as a family. When talking to our children, our experiences as a family can be very different but also impactful.
Over the three day weekend, it may be a fantastic time to talk to your kids about how you have arrived to this spot in your personal and professional life. Kids sometimes assume your life has been a clean, smooth route:
While we know we have all had so many choices and paths,
day after day,
year after year,
Kids also assume our paths are finished and done. This may be a good time to mention new paths you may see yourself heading down as you continue to grow.
Have a delightful weekend.
How did it become February so quickly? The year is cruising along very rapidly. In the life cycle of our campus, we have entered a very interesting stretch of time. Two major things are happening with our students:
1. Seniors are becoming aware of college and university selections, and
2. Juniors, sophomores, and freshmen are all involved with course selection.
Below are some pictures from our Elective Fair this week to showcase different opportunities for WHS students as they consider courses for next year:
This time period can cause a general angst, elation, anger, concern, joy, sadness, and exhilaration, depending on what year you are in at WHS and what is happening in the world of decision making.
Our seniors are beginning to decide where they may spend their next four years, while our other students are deciding on how best to put themselves in the best position to make this decision when they are seniors. Tough stuff. Then you throw in all the information about college - there are always a ton of articles about the importance or non importance about college selection and its impact on success
This is also the time period when I get asked the same question repeatedly, especially after visiting Hill Country, West Ridge and our own PTO, with our College Admission presentation: how do I help make sure my kid (son or daughter) makes the correct choice on classes or college admission? After having these conversations over the years, I always advise parents to ask these questions to their child:
1. How can I help you make these decisions?
2. How can I assist you in finding your path at WHS?
3. How can I help you select the right college for you?
Research still shows that parents have the second greatest influence on their kids outside of their friends. I recently read a study where the numbers were 51% friends, while parents were at 49% - that's a pretty close race for influence. I believe the key word is influence. As our kids grow into adults, we become more of influencers than autocratic decision makers for them.
We hope you can find the time to talk to your students about all these decisions. Listen. Advise. Listen. Counsel. Listen. Recommend. Listen. Suggest. You have raised some magnificent children: trust yourself as you listen to their thoughts.
Some of yall may have recognized the title of these thoughts from the Smashing Pumpkins. For those of us who were growing up as well during this time, remember the power of two lines from this group:
what I choose is my choice,
what I choose is my voice.
As always, we are here to support y'all during these days. We hope you have a wonderful weekend.
On our campus, we attempt to offer as many opportunities as we can for our students to work with mentors and coaches in their anticipated fields of study in college and possible career paths. We create the ability to do this through our Mentorship class, Incubator and Accelerator programs, Robotics, and our Health Science Technology classes, to list a few.
We had the opportunity to host TraumaRama on Tuesday at Westlake High School. It was a day for students to learn and experience Stop the Bleed training, a Distracted Driving simulation, Q&A with a medical professional panel and more. The Eastern Association of Surgeons of Trauma, or EAST, was holding its 2019 conference in Austin and chose Westlake as its outreach community. Approximately 80 trauma surgeons spent the day with our students discussing topics that are important to teenagers and safety.
We would like to thank Dr. Carlos Brown for bringing this opportunity to the attention of our nurse, Holly Hubbell, who helped to coordinate this event with Katie Bryant and Diane Dealy that reached well over 300 students. This idea of bringing in professionals from a certain area of expertise to our campuses for our students will be evaluated for more opportunities due to this success.
We hope you and your family are off to a fabulous 2019. Mr. Ryan and I held our annual Senior Parent meeting on Wednesday for the Class of 2019. This evening is designed to have easy access for parents to learn about some important dates and events, a little about graduation, Project Graduation, and interact with our graduation supplier, Balfour. To the parents of seniors, this is a small milestone on the way to the May 30th graduation date! Our seniors are down to their final 18 weeks in the Eanes ISD system for a total of 85 days.
We like our community to get to know our staff and see the great things we are doing here at WHS. Here's another Teacher Feature for a glimpse into some pretty cool stuff.
Mobile Technology: Small changes that have a big impact on instruction.
Teacher Feature - Chris Peters Algebra I
Chris Peters is our new Algebra I teacher at Westlake High School. She came to us from Corpus Christi ISD. She has been teaching mathematics for over 30 years...and is still lovin’ it.
Mrs. Peters has embraced the technology available to teachers and students in Eanes ISD, and has utilized it in ways that have enhanced teaching and learning in the classroom. She has used the Notability app on the iPad and AppleTV to transform her device into a mobile presentation system. She can present information and work out math problems “on the board” anywhere in the room. This freedom allows her to walk around the room while lecturing and interact one-on-one with students. She can also hand her device to students in the class, and they can work out problems “on the board” for their peers from the comfort of their desk. Students can use Notability and the iPad’s split screen feature to take notes while Mrs. Peters lectures, and have a calculator open on the device at the same time for solving problems and graphing functions.
This simple yet innovative use of our district technology simplifies student workflow, and gives Mrs. Peters the flexibility to work one-on-one with students while she lectures. Additionally, her use of Google Classroom to distribute and collect classwork and materials improves workflow efficiency in the classroom. This makes it easier for students to spend more time and energy on their learning, and less time looking for that paper from yesterday’s class. It is simple yet effective strategies like these that show us how responsible use of technology can lower anxiety and improve efficiency of people not only in the school setting, but in the workplace as well. We are fortunate to have access to these tools in Eanes ISD, and the positive impacts of their presence can be felt throughout our campus.
Mrs. Peters wishes to make all teachers’ teaching lives easier--she will be happy to have you come and visit a class--or sit together and talk strategies to make students’ and teacher’s lives better and easier.
Have a wonderful three day weekend!
Every once in a while, it is good to take on a new challenge. We want to inform you of the challenge that is happening on our campus next week and invite our parents and staff to participate as well.
Phone Challenge Week
One of the major hopes of this challenge is to encourage conversations between adults and students about technology use. This challenge reminds me of one I used with some of my students while teaching at Austin High School. While I was teaching Government, World History and Health, we decided to challenge our students to give up caffeine and sugary food items for a week. While this started as students only in my health classes, it spread throughout these classes with other classes and then to parents. When the parents got involved with the limiting of caffeine and sugary products, the family discussions and competition was intense. Sometimes a common experience can lead to brilliant family time. Feel free to take on both challenges, but I would not suggest them in the same week........
Cell phones are an ever-present reality. This coming week we want to focus on and provide strategies for students to self-manage their personal device usage. Each day we have one strategy to challenge them.
We encourage parents and guardians to try the challenges with your students that day - they are a great way to springboard conversation around supporting your teenager with setting healthy personal digital habits and managing boundaries.
It should also be noted that this is not intended to be a “tech detox”, it is a way to be mindful of our device usage and personal habits and find a peaceful way to coexist with them. The “goal is to help kids regulate themselves, learn how to manage their emotions, and set boundaries for themselves.” You can read more about the original challenge here.
If you are interested in knowing more about these challenges, check out the Bored and Brilliant podcast, Manoush Zomorodi’s book Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self, and her TED Talk.
Have a wonderful weekend!
We all have a conceived idea or notion of what the holidays should be like as a family. Through our collective experience, there is a certain expectation of grandeur and pageantry associated with this break. This has been shaped by movies, songs, poems and family history. As we all know, the romanticized version of the holidays may or may not happen.
The good news is that we have data to help us all through the holidays as we attempt to make memories with our kids.
Our economics teacher, Mrs. McConnell, had a panel of college freshmen come visit her classroom on Monday for a panel discussion of life in college. Each class had 5-6 college freshmen from various schools. The questions ranged from transitioning to a college campus, the interactions with professors, advice for your first semester, and advice for your last semester at WHS. There also was a time for questions. Here's the good news: Your kids value the time they spend with you! In the advice portion of the questioning about the last months at WHS, parents came up in every group. Each group mentioned appreciating your parents and home cooked meals.
As we head towards a long break, the message may be that our kids do like being with their parents and family. They may not verbalize it, but the adults in their lives do matter.
Enjoy the time with your family, and as the seniors were told, you may be on a college campus in less than 6 months so appreciate the time and meals - evidently we have a lot of solid cooks/chefs in our family homes!
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…….
Steve Ramsey: WHS Principal Blog
Principal's Weekly Reflections