Western High School alumnae association endorses graduation policy, denounces recent senior behavior
I was forwarded a letter (below) that was sent by the Western High School's alumnae association endorsing the schools' practice of not allowing students to walk across the stage and receive their diploma if they didn't seek an acceptance at a four-year-university.
One student and her parents revealed the little-known fact in a story I wrote a couple of weeks ago about making a "last-ditch effort" to obtain an acceptance letter from Coppin State University, when her acceptance and commitment to Anne Arundel Community College wasn't good enough. (This story came on the heels of another story about the school revealing that several students' college acceptances, some to Ivy League schools, had been compromised because the school didn't send documents.)
The graduation requirement sparked a heated debate among Western alum and throughout the district about whether it was fair, and whether Western--the only college-preparatory school in the city to have such a rule--should continue it. Western's Principal Alisha Trusty said she would not enforce the policy this year, and would engage the community in a discussion about whether it should be suspended.
According to the letter below, Western's alumnae association thinks it should stand. They also address the recent negative media attention that Western has received after a series of dangerous senior pranks led Trusty to cancel two senior traditions.
The full letter is below:
A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM WHSAA PRESIDENT AIMEE AYERS
On behalf of the Western High School Alumnae Association, Inc. (WHSAA, Inc.), I write this letter with a sense of disbelief. Recently, Western High School has been highlighted in the media for negative reasons which stand to impact our academic standards.
In addition to being known as the country's oldest all-girl public high school, Western High School is also known for providing an excellent education.
In its 166 years of existence, young ladies have elected to attend the school because of its reputation for academic excellence. Similarly, parents made the decision to send their daughters to Western because of its strong academic program.
It is true that the expectations and requirements of Western High School students are more rigorous than those of some Baltimore City high schools. Every young lady, as well as their parent or guardian, was made aware of the school's expectations and requirements when they chose to enroll into Western High School.
Each year a copy of the student handbook is given to every student with the academic and behavioral standards. Parents are made aware of the standards through the handbook, website, newsletter, class parent nights, and PTA meetings. Just as the Maryland State Board of Education has requirements for earning a Maryland State Diploma - Western High School has clearly articulated its requirements as well.
After four academically challenging years at Western High School every young lady should EXPECT to PROUDLY walk across the stage knowing she EARNED her Western High School diploma.
In addition to earning a Western High School diploma, every young lady should be accepted into a four year college upon graduation. As a college preparatory school, one should expect this or the question should be asked "Has the school met its mission?" An integral part of the mission of WHSAA, Inc. is "to foster and preserve the high academic, social, economic, and professional standards associated with the school since its inception in 1844."
We must support the school as they take steps to ensure that every young lady meets the mission of the school by being accepted to at least one four year college or university. No one is requiring students to attend a four year college after graduation, but the acceptance is an important confirmation that we have met our goal as a college preparatory school. We want every lady to be able to make informed choices about their career after high school.
Western High School prides itself on being "Only the Best". The school's mascot is the Dove, which symbolizes the essence of a Western lady. Doves fly above the crowd with quiet dignity, gentility, uniqueness, poise, and elegance. Any behavior that demonstrates anything otherwise is unacceptable.
Students, parents, and staff members should understand that there is no place for unseemly behavior in our school. Anything that could possibly endanger the safety of others is definitely not acceptable in any educational environment.
Western High School's purpose is to produce well-rounded young ladies that are academically and socially prepared for the world. We will not support any student activities that do not demonstrate the qualities of our mascot.
Western High School Alumnae Association, Inc. is supportive of Western High School and will do anything to preserve our legacy.
"Lucem Accepimus, Lucem Demus"
We have received light; let us give forth light
President of Western High School Alumnae Association, Inc.