Archive

ShareThis Page
Wilkinsburg students visit future home at Westinghouse | TribLIVE.com
News

Wilkinsburg students visit future home at Westinghouse

PTRWILKINSBURG7040216
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Westinghouse Academy sophomore Robert Montgomery, 15, of Lincoln, greets students from Wilkinsburg area schools as they arrive for a tour of Westinghouse Academy in Homewood on Friday, April 1, 2016. Montogomery is a part of the planning team to make Wilkinsburg area students feel welcome at the school ahead of their transfer in the upcoming school year. 'We want to make the Wilkinsburg kids feel welcome, make Westinghouse feel like home now,' he said.
PTRWILKINSBURG2040216
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Wilkinsburg High School ninth graders Vanessa Ifill, left, Keith Thompson, center, and Darius Brown, right, look out to a crowd of people greeting their arrival at Westinghouse Academy in Homewood on Friday, April 1, 2016. The students got a tour and a day of activities there ahead of their transfer there next year.
PTRWILKINSBURG3040216
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Gabriel Gray, 32, cheers on the arrival of busloads of students from Wilkinsburg area schools outside of her alma mater of Westinghouse Academy in her neighborhood of Homewood on Friday, April 1, 2016. Gray, a truck driver, drove in from Dayton, Ohio that morning to be there to greet the students who will transition to the school next school year, she said.
PTRWILKINSBURG1040216
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Students from Wilkinsburg area schools stand outside of Westinghouse Academy in Homewood to get a tour of the school on Friday, April 1, 2016. The students got a tour and a day of activities there ahead of their transfer there next year.
PTRWILKINSBURG5040216
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
'Welcome to the 'House,'' reads the sign of Westinghouse Academy alumn Franklin Duck (rear), 65, of Robinson, as he cheers on the arrival of busloads of students from Wilkinsburg area schools outside of their alma mater in Homewood on Friday, April 1, 2016. Fellow alumni Gabriel Gray (right), 32, of Homewood, joined teachers and school officials, community members, police, Westinghouse students and Mad Dads to greet Wilkinsburg students on the school steps for their visit.
PTRWILKINSBURG4040216
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Students from Wilkinsburg area schools stand outside of Westinghouse Academy in Homewood to get a tour of the school on Friday, April 1, 2016. The students got a tour and a day of activities there ahead of their transfer there next year.
PTRWILKINSBURG6040216
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Wilkinsburg High School seventh grader Brenya Jones (far right), and eight grader Desire Beasley (second from right), take in the scene as a crowd greets them from the steps outside of Westinghouse Academy in Homewood on Friday, April 1, 2016. The students got a tour and a day of activities there ahead of their transfer there next year.
PTRWILKINSBURG8040216
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Aniya Cutlaw claps with her fellow students from Wilkinsburg area schools as they listen to an assembly welcoming transitioning Wilkinsburg students to Westinghouse Academy at the school in Homewood on Friday, April 1, 2016.
PTRWILKINSBURG9040216
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Kelly Elementary sixth grade teacher Jennifer Harding, 35, does an icebreaker exercise with student Austin Jones, 12, of Wilkinsburg, as they make their way through a day of tours and activities meant to welcome transitioning Wilkinsburg students to Westinghouse Academy in Homewood on Friday, April 1, 2016.
PTRWILKINSBURG10040216
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Kelly Elementary sixth graders Tyshawn McCollum (left), 12, of Wilkinsburg, and Brenden Mullen, 12, of Oakland, talk with Charles Morris as they work on a math worksheet during their tour of Westinghouse Academy in Homewood on Friday, April 1, 2016. Along with other Wilkinsburg area students, the two will be transitioning to the Homewood high school at the beginning of next school year, when Morris will be working as a guidance counselor with the mission to help the students transition successfully.
PTRWILKINSBURG11040216
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Photos of Westinghouse Academy alumni line the hallway walls as Wilkinsburg High School students get a tour of the school in Homewood on Friday, April 1, 2016. The Wilkinsburg students got a tour and a day of activities there ahead of their transfer to the school next year.
PTRWILKINSBURG12040216
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Wilkinsburg High School seventh graders Naomi Williams (left), 13, and Amerie Matthews, 12, both of Wilkinsburg, work on making a science project with Westinghouse High School teacher Kelly Hribar, 31, in her classroom at the Homewood school on Friday, April 1, 2016. Wilkinsburg area school students got a tour of Westinghouse ahead of their transition to the high school next year after Wilkinsburg High School closes.
PTRWILKINSBURG13040216
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Wilkinsburg area school students climb the stairs at Westinghouse Academy in Homewood during a tour of the school on Friday, April 1, 2016. The students went through a day in the school ahead of their transfer there next year.

Wide-eyed and slightly nervous, Demar White on Friday walked alongside his fellow Wilkinsburg High School students up the front steps of Westinghouse Academy — the school in Pittsburgh’s Homewood section they will attend beginning next academic year.

They walked past a drum line and a cheering crowd of teachers, staff members, Pittsburgh Public School administrators and community members.

“It will probably be better than what I expected,” said White, 15, a rising junior. “It will be something new.”

He and more than 100 other Wilkinsburg students walked through the school’s ornate iron gates and inside for a daylong orientation and tour.

Standing to the side was Franklin Duck, who graduated from Westinghouse in 1969 and is a member of its alumni association. He held a cardboard sign that read, “Welcome to the ‘House.’ ”

“It’s tremendous to be able to see the school evolve,” said Duck, 65, of Robinson. “There was a time when it looked like we wouldn’t make it. Now the possibilities are really tremendous.”

About 220 Wilkinsburg students will join nearly 500 students at Westinghouse, a 99-year-old school that once had a student body that exceeded 1,500. Over the years, it has produced professional athletes, authors and even jazz greats such as Erroll Garner and Billy Strayhorn.

About 96 percent of Westinghouse students and 93 percent of Wilkinsburg students are black.

Wilkinsburg will pay Pittsburgh Public Schools $8,000 per student the first year and $9,600 each year after that, according to a partnership agreement.

Westinghouse largely serves students from Pittsburgh’s East Hills, East Liberty, Highland Park, Homewood, Larimer, Lincoln-Lemington and North Point Breeze neighborhoods.

Linda Lane, superintendent of Pittsburgh Public schools, said there is a commitment from both sides to the new partnership.

“Our top priority is making this work well,” she said. “Getting this right is important.”

Wilkinsburg has struggled with declining enrollment as the community’s population shrinks and students increasingly transfer to charter schools. The district, which in 2013 was put on a financial watch list by the state Department of Education, has had to cut back dramatically on courses, extracurricular activities and staff.

Pittsburgh Public offers a wider array of classes, vocational training programs, clubs and activities, said Wilkinsburg Superintendent Dan Matsook.

“We just didn’t have the resources to offer everything they do,” Matsook said. “We’re not seeing this as an ending. We’re seeing this as a new and exciting beginning for our kids.”

Both Wilkinsburg and Westinghouse have struggled academically.

In 2014-15, no Wilkinsburg High School students achieved proficiency in algebra or biology on state tests; 85 percent tested below basic in biology; and 40 percent tested below basic in algebra. They improved in English, from 13 percent scoring proficient or advanced in 2013-14 to 26 percent in 2014-15. At Westinghouse, 2 percent achieved proficiency in science, 18 percent in math and 34 percent in reading in 2014-15.

Westinghouse Principal LouAnn Zwieryznski acknowledged there have been issues, but she anticipates improvements at the expanding school.

“Our goal is to change the story at Westinghouse,” Zwieryznski said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for two schools to come together and make this the highest achieving African-American school in the state. It’s not for other people to write our story. It’s up to us to write our story.”

Westinghouse senior Tyler Beatty will graduate in June but volunteered Friday to welcome Wilkinsburg students to what soon will be his alma mater.

“It’s important to see a community come together and get along,” said Beatty, 18.

Eighth-grader Keyshawn Hodge said he looks forward to spending the next four years with the new arrivals.

“It’s a good thing that is going to happen,” said Hodge, 13, a Westinghouse student council representative. “It’s a big step in the right direction.”

For Wilkinsburg junior Akeva Lewis, Friday was her first step down the hallways of the high school her mother attended and where she will spend her senior year.

“So far, it’s good,” said Lewis, 18. “It’s better than our school. I know that.”

Jason Cato is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7936 or [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.