|Westbury High School|
11911 Chimney Rock Houston, TX 77035
|School district||Houston Independent School District|
|Communities served||Westbury, Fondren Southwest, Willowbend, Willow Meadows, Westwood, HISD portion (Harris County) of Missouri City|
Westbury High School is a secondary school located in Brays Oaks, of Southwest Houston, Texas, near the Westbury neighborhood. It has grades 9 through 12, and is part of the Houston Independent School District. As of 2015 the principal is Susan Monaghan.
Westbury High School opened its doors for the first time in the fall of 1961. The three-story building with its main entrance facing Gasmer Street housed the administrative offices, classrooms, a cafeteria, an auditorium, library and a gym. The grounds were bare; no trees or grass greeted the first classes on opening day. To the right of the building, at the corner of Chimney Rock Road and Gasmer Street, stood "The Company Store", a hardware store.
Westbury's 1961 enrollment consisted of 813 students - seniors, juniors, sophomores coming from Bellaire, Lamar, and San Jacinto High Schools, and freshmen coming from Meyerland Jr High School. After the first year, there would not be a freshman class until the late 1970s. Of that first year's class, 58 seniors received their diplomas in the Westbury High School auditorium.
Shading the school was the water tower that served the Westbury neighborhood. Mary Beth Kulp and Donna Harkness, the editors of the first yearbook, imagined the water tower as a silent citadel watching over the students, teachers, and administrators as they busied themselves with the task of transferring from one generation to the next the culture of the western world. They imagined the water tower thinking as it looked down on the school. "I, the majestic water tower beside it, hear its name and feel a part of it." The metaphor of the water tower as citadel became the title of Westbury's yearbook. The students became the "Westbury Rebels".
W. I. "Jim" Burns was Westbury's first principal. A lieutenant colonel in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Burns had taught chemistry at San Jacinto and Lamar High Schools and had opened Bellaire High School as assistant principal. The principal of Bellaire, Harland Andrews, complained that all of his good teachers wanted to transfer to Westbury so they could work under Burns. Many of the first staff members did, indeed, follow Burns from Bellaire High School. Among them were Westbury's first assistant principal, Kenneth Gupton, and the dean, Rivers Lodge. Lodge became assistant principal in 1970.
There were 73 teachers in first year. The curriculum included the academic courses--math, science, English and foreign language; the fine arts--music and art, speech, drama, journalism, home economics; the commercial subjects--typing, business machines, and business law; the industrial arts--mechanical drawing--architectural drawing, woodshop and metal shop; drivers education, physical education and the National Defense Cadet Corps.
In the early 1960s Westbury had no air conditioning, just fans. Temporary classroom buildings were brought in. As the years passed, trees were planted; the grass grew, and Westbury's student body flourished. Air conditioning was installed in the late 1960s and in the early 1970s, a three-story classroom wing was added to the east side of the school building to accommodate the growth.
The "Company Store" was purchased by the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and was converted to the Oceanography/Living Resource Center to provide oceanography education and biological material for the district's science classes. Later the oceanography was phased out and it became the Living Resource Center (known as the "Frog Farm" around Westbury). LeRoy Hardy, the center's director, was one of the original science teachers at Westbury.
W.L. Burns died of a heart attack in the summer of 1966. John Brandstetter served as the interim principal until Kenneth Gupton was appointed principal in 1967. In memory of Burns, Westbury established the W.L. Burns Award to honor academic excellence. Each May the students deemed best by each department are honored in an impressive formal assembly. Award winners receive the distinctive W.L. Burns Award trophy, modeled from the permanent trophy situated in the foyer outside the auditorium. The symbolism of the trophy "darkness into light...ignorance into learning..." and the noble words of its inscription, "Esse quam videre," meaning "to be, rather than to seem" emphasize the essence of Westbury academic achievement.
On May 18, 2001, the main education building was declared unsafe; renovation crews discovered that the concrete, intended to measure at 3,000 pounds per square inch, instead measured at 1,400 to 2,000 pounds per square inch. The district did not permit students to retrieve their belongings. The district tested the other schools built between 1956 and 1965 and did not discover structural problems. A new campus for Westbury was completed in the fall of 2004. Westbury collaborated (as have many other schools) with Brown University to set up a magnet program Coalition of Essential Schools.
On February 9, 2006, a 15-year-old girl was sexually assaulted in a second floor school restroom facility. The suspect escaped detection and left the campus before administrators realized that a sexual assault had happened. When the suspect was identified, it was revealed that he was already incarcerated for an unrelated incident. Ronald Walker pleaded guilty and received 45 years of prison for this and other sexual assault crimes.
In 2006, Charles Rotramel, executive director of the nonprofit program Youth Advocates, stated in a Houston Chronicle article that Lee High School, Westbury High School, and Sharpstown High School have suffered from the actions of youth criminal gangs.
On November 28, 2006, a 16-year-old 9th grade boy named Julian Ruiz died from two gunshot wounds in the torso while walking to Westbury; he died at the 5400 block of Dryad as a result of a drive-by shooting. A tan or gold 1990s Mercury Cougar used as a getaway car for the shooters was discovered in Stafford on November 30. The two 17-year-old suspects in the shooting were identified as Augustin Miguel Marquez and Aldo Aguilar Ramirez. In a response to the incident, district and school officials said that the incident had occurred outside of the school property, and had no bearing on the safety of the students inside.
A 2007 Johns Hopkins University/Associated Press study referred to Westbury as a "dropout factory" where at least 40% of the entering freshman class does not make it to their senior year. During that year 41% of high-school-age children zoned to Westbury chose to attend a different Houston ISD school.
The district named the Rita Woodward Environmental Nature Park on February 14, 2008.
In 2010 HISD acquired two apartment complexes in poor condition in order to expand Westbury.
In 2013, the school decided to change its spoilers team names from the Westbury Rebels, to the Westbury Huskies.
Area residents believed that HISD wanted to acquire two more apartment complexes to further expand Westbury, and HISD officials told area residents that they planned to acquire the Westbury Manor Apartments. By 2014 they discovered that the 2012 bond did not specify purchasing additional complexes; residents started an online petition to ask HISD to acquire those complexes. In January 2015 HISD board members rejected acquiring the Westbury Manor Apartments.
In April 2015 an HISD spokesperson stated that the district was investigating an incident where a substitute teacher was asked to pass all of his/her students with grades of 80 or above. An HISD report stated that Catchings was responsible for the order, and the district reassigned him while the district's director of high schools, Justin Fuentes, temporarily took Catchings's position. The HISD board fired Catchings, who planned to file an appeal. Catchings was replaced by Susan Monaghan, who had been the principal of Pin Oak Middle School.
 Many neighborhoods in southwest Houston, including almost all of Westbury, Post Oak Manor, Marilyn Estates, Willowbend, most of Willow Meadows, Glenshire, Parkwest, Maplewood South, about half of Westwood, and parts of Fondren Southwest, are zoned to Westbury High School. The Harris County portion of the city of Missouri City is also zoned to Westbury High School.
In 1970 Westwood, along with some other White communities, was rezoned from Westbury to Madison High School because of a court ruling. By 1990, Westbury was about 50% Black, 25% White, 15% Hispanic, and 10% Asian while Madison was 1% White. In 1992 an attendance boundary shift occurred but Westwood was still in the Madison zone. The Westwood community advocated for a rezoning to Westbury, and after the community gave a presentation to the HISD board, the board unanimously rezoned the community to Westbury.
As of 2006 many middle and upper class residents of the Westbury attendance zone do not send their children to Westbury; usually they send their children to Bellaire High School, Lamar High School, or private schools.
In April 2014 the HISD school board decided to rename remaining sports team names of Confederate and Native American mascots due to cultural insensitivity. Each school submitted its main choices to the HISD administration. The first mascot choice for the Westbury students was the "Huskies", replacing the "Rebels". The previous mascot was the "Rebels".
In 2009 its graduation rate was 67.4%. In 2012 it increased to 82.8%.
As of 2015, the standard mode of dress (school uniform) for Westbury High School students is as follows:
Shirts: Solid colored polo styled shirts only. (Freshmen-White, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors will wear Light Grey or Royal Blue).
Pants: Khaki Slacks, or Blue Jeans (No Cargo Pants, leggings, or tights).
The standard dress was first established by principal Ivy Levingston. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, the dress code was intended to prevent "gang-affiliated colors" from being a presence in the school.
The Texas Education Agency specified that the parents and/or guardians of students zoned to a school with uniforms may apply for a waiver to opt out of the uniform policy so their children do not have to wear the uniform; parents must specify "bona fide" reasons, such as religious reasons or philosophical objections.
Elementary schools that feed into Westbury include: Anderson, Elrod, Foerster, Gross, Parker, Bell (partial), Kolter (partial), Milne (partial), Red (partial), Shearn (partial), Valley West (partial),