WUSD trustees: Westwood High School is alive and well

It has been rumored that Westwood High School may be closing. The truth is Westwood High School is alive and well and moving ahead. On June 8, Westwood High School graduated the Class of 2018. It was the 104th graduating class and there are plans for many more.

There are a variety of new and exciting changes coming to Westwood High School for the 2018/19 school year and beyond. The school district recently received a positive budget approval from the Lassen County Office of Education. In one year, the district was able to turn around a negative financial projection into a positive one. With the help of teachers and staff, salaries will remain at the same level for the next year, health benefits were limited and some positions were reduced or eliminated. Among the position changes, the full-time principal and part-time superintendent jobs have been combined into one position. The new superintendent/principal, Michael Altenburg, was selected from an outstanding field of candidates. Altenburg comes to Westwood from the Fort Sage/Herlong School District. He has numerous years of experience as a high school principal and recently as superintendent/principal.

The cuts that were made will not significantly affect the school’s programs. In fact, the teachers, staff and community have worked hard to make the future of Westwood’s schools as bright as possible. At the high school level, we will offer electives that will prepare students for careers and/or higher education in computer technology, business and finance, welding and woodwork, ag science/FFA, forestry/ agriculture (new greenhouse) and digital art and design. These career technical education electives or pathways allow students to receive critical knowledge, experience and certifications for their future endeavors. In the core academic classes, almost all courses will count for four-year colleges and universities (A-G) and community colleges (regular high school diploma). Students will have the opportunity to take classes for college credit as well as on-line classes from Lassen Community College. Sports and extra-curricular activities will continue to play a vital role in the high school program. Cassie Anderson and Malinda Duerksen will be returning as teachers. Cecilia Allin, our former elementary teacher, will be teaching English, business and drama. Louise Biggs will be teaching social science. Jon Foy will be instructing physical education. Josie Gibbs and Eileen Heisig will supervise the on-line classes and Molly Barber will be teaching the graphic arts classes.

The middle school program will continue to build on the success it is currently experiencing. Additional electives will be provided, more writing will be integrated into science and social studies and the physical education program has been expanded. All three teachers, Foy, Gibbs and Biggs will be returning to their positions to provide excellent continuity for the students.

The elementary program will continue to be supported by instructional assistants; each class will have significant time scheduled in the media center for computer use and instruction; and intervention will be provided to identify students that need additional support. The elementary teachers are Jane Medici, Amy Bruns, Rebecca Nelson, and Eileen Heisig. Our special education program will continue with Barbara Murphy and Tanya Timmins.

Our student numbers look positive for the future. The enrollment in the middle school remains stable and there are more students entering ninth grade than exited as seniors. Overall, the outlook for Westwood High School and Westwood Unified School District is very positive and we are confident that it will continue to be a center for learning and activities for our students, a hub for parent and adult activities for the community and a source of pride for our town. We have definitely appreciated all the support from our community and hope that you will remain partners with us as we move forward.