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|Western High School|
|4600 Falls Road at West Cold Spring Lane
Baltimore, Maryland 21209
|School type||Public secondary magnet school|
|Motto||"Lucem Accepimus, Lucem Demus" (Latin)
("We have received light; let us give forth light")
|Founded||November 1, 1844|
|Sister school||Baltimore Poly|
|School district||Baltimore City Public Schools|
|Color(s)||Red and black|
|Slogan||"Western, Only the Best!"|
|Athletics conference||MPSSAA Baltimore City League|
Western High School is the oldest public all-girls high school remaining in the United States. It is the third-oldest public high school in the state of Maryland and part of the Baltimore City Public Schools. Western High was named a "National Blue Ribbon School" of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009 and a "Silver Medal High School" by the news magazine U.S. News and World Report in 2012.
The Western Female High School was founded in 1844 as one of two "twin sisters" secondary schools for young ladies in the then 15-year-old Baltimore City Public Schools system, along with the Eastern Female High School. Earlier in 1829, the first four "grammar" schools (today's elementary schools) were established by the newly organized B.C.P.S., two for boys and two for girls, one in each of the four quadrants of the smaller densely populated city that was Baltimore then. On November 1, 1844, the Western High School officially opened its doors for the first time in the old Armitage Hall located at 100 North Paca Street on the western side of downtown Baltimore, between West Fayette and Lexington Streets. In those two small rented rooms, Robert Kerr, the first principal and sole teacher, welcomed thirty-six young women. Thus began the unique legacy of Western, a pioneer in women's education, along with its companion Eastern High, in the United States. Before the two female high schools were established (as described in the literature of the day, two separate institutions were established in order not to pose an unusual hardship on the young ladies traveling distances through the town), there had been no opportunity for Baltimore girls to get an education beyond the grammar school level.
By 1896, a half-century later and several relocations later, W.F.H.S. moved to a new, more expensive building specifically constructed for the girls' high school on Lafayette and McCulloh Streets in the northwestern residential neighborhood of Upton. By this time, the girls had opportunities to take clerical courses. After several other moves, over the next seventy years, Western High finally opened in its current location at 4600 Falls Road at the northwest corner with West Cold Spring Lane (just east of the stream Jones Falls which divides the City) in September 1967, sharing a joint, huge, modern campus with the then all-male Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, the city's premier mathematics/science/technology and engineering magnet public high school, previously founded 1883. For most of its history, Western has been a citywide "magnet program", officially designated such in 1975. Students must apply and meet certain entrance criteria to be accepted into the talented student body at Western.
Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women (BLSYW), established in 2009, initially occupied the third floor of Western but moved into its own campus in the following year. The people of Western High School opposed the idea of BLSYW being housed in that building.
The current principal of Western High School is Michelle White, a Western alumna.
Western has a statewide reputation extending back almost 170 years for academic excellence. Western High offers three academic programs/curriculums: the "Accelerated College Preparatory" ("A Course"), "College Preparatory", and the "Teacher Academy". Western's most rigorous academic program is the "Advanced College Preparatory" Program, ("The 'A' Course"), which was established in 1933 by a joint agreement between Western and the then also all-female Goucher College (formerly located on the 2400 block of St. Paul Street in the Charles Village neighborhood in northern Baltimore City and relocated in the 1950s to the northeast of Towson, the county seat of suburban Baltimore County).
Within the "Accelerated College Preparatory" program, students can finish four years of high school work in grade 9-11. During their 12th-grade year they are able to pursue advanced placement or college-level courses. Students who graduate from "The 'A' Course" may enter college or university with "advanced standing". This rigorous college preparatory program allows students to take honors course in subjects in which they demonstrate strength. The classes of 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 had a 100% four-year college acceptance rate. The W.H.S.'s "Teacher Academy" offers four classes that prepare students for a career in education. Western also annually produces championship athletic teams and prize-winning performing arts students and sponsors more than 40 different type of clubs, organizations, service groups and publications. In 2012, the news magazine U.S. News and World Report ranked Western High School as 912th nationally and 44th in Maryland as a "Silver Medal High School".
Western High school's athletics program (the Doves) fields teams in soccer, cross-country, badminton, swimming, lacrosse, dance, tennis, volleyball, basketball, softball and track and field. The Western Doves girls' basketball team won the Maryland public secondary school championships in 1994 and 1995. They were runners-up in the state contests in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2010. They won 35 or more District IX Baltimore City Championships and have been to State Finals a record 14 times (the most in Maryland history). The Western track and field team are perennial champions, winning multiple city, regional and state championships. They won 29 Baltimore City Indoor/Outdoor Track Championships, 1995-2007(I) 1990-2005, 2007(O), 27 3A/4A North Regional Indoor/Outdoor Track Championships, 1995-2006(I) 1990-2004, 2006(O) and three 3A/4A Maryland State Outdoor Track Championships, 2002, 2005-2006. They were four times the 3A/4A Maryland State Outdoor Track Championship runner-ups: 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004. In 2009 outdoor track season, the Doves took citys, regionals and states, becoming the 2009 Outdoor Track State Champs.
Western has four sets of traditional class colors. Each class inherits their class colors as freshmen. The colors are:
Western High School's graduation is traditionally held on a Saturday in even years and on a Sunday in odd years, in June. This is because it shares an athletic complex (namely the football field) with its brother school, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. The girls wear white, ankle-length dresses and carry red roses during the commencement ceremony. For many years now, it has also been customary to release white doves at commencement. The dove, Western's school mascot, symbolizes the Western Lady, flying above the crowd with quiet dignity, gentility, poise, and elegance. The doves released at commencement circle over Western, then fly off, just as the graduates, having completed their Western experience, depart for college.