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Westhill High School Highlights

Westhill High School
2018-2019 Highlights
Art Department Highlights:
  • Ceramic students competed against 25 other schools at the 32nd annual Feats of Clay held at OCC.
  • Art students entered artwork in the Scholastic Art Competition winning 14 awards. 1 Gold, 6 Silver Key, and 7 Honorable Mention.
  • 12 Art Students took a field trip to the Storm King Art Center funded by a Westhill Educational Foundation Grant.
  • Students from the Art Department created four portraits of children from the Rohinga Tribe in Myanmar as part of the Memory Project.

Business/Computer Highlights:
  • Advanced Web Design classes designed the summer reading websites for WPS, CRS, OHMS, and WHS.  These are live websites that are links off of our school website.
  • Business Communications students completed a “Senior Spotlight” project where the class interviewed each member of the senior class and compiled a slideshow for display.
  • New classes for the 2019/20 school year:
    • Sports & Entertainment Marketing
    • Sports Law returns
    • OCC Business Math
    • Fundamentals of Coding

English Department Highlights: 
  • ELA students in all courses worked to develop a new awareness of important societal issues, by engaging in several PBL activities during the year.  The finished student work ranged from poster projects, creative documentaries, full-length presentations and Ted talks that fostered innovative and inquisitive thinking to produce authentic learning. 
  • Through reading and composing a variety of texts, students gained knowledge of rhetorical principles, and the ability to draw on those concepts as observers, readers, writers and citizens.
  •  Beginning the new year with discussions concerning a shared summer reading helped to situate an environment that encouraged collaborative group reflection, which added to the positivity project goals.
  • Students in ELA grades 9-12 hosted their first author visit in over 12 years. Author Brendan Kiely spoke in assemblies for 9-10th graders and for 11-12th graders.He spoke about his books All American Boys (co-wrote with Jason Reynolds) and his newest title, Tradition. Mr. Kiely also met with a select group of students for a writer’s luncheon and a creative writing workshop that same day.

LOTE Highlights:
  • Spanish students used virtual reality glasses to experience Tours of Machu Picchu and Barcelona with Karen Fenner, Librarian.
  • La Cocina Mexicana – Students cooked tortillas frescas, made salsa and authentic hot chocolate.
  • Spanish students completed a project-based learning activity regarding a travel agency.
  • Peer Tutoring Program continued this year, which offers students an opportunity to work with upperclass students in their development of language skills.
  • Spanish IV students used Virtual Reality glasses to visit historic sites in Spain.
  • Spanish AP students created Virtual Reality Tours to share the places they “visited” for their final project, with their classmates.
  • Mrs. Maglente taught Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata dancing lessons.
  • Students in Spanish 1 recently completed a diamond poem with shopping and gift items.
  • Earlier this year Spanish 1 students completed posters on healthful habits.
  • Spanish 2 students completed slide show presentations, which explained what they were like as children, and showed real-life photos of their youth.
  • All students enjoyed practicing grammar and vocab through kahoot, quizlet live, and jeopardy.
  • French students participated in an authentic French cheese tasting.
  • In addition, French students held a “Top Chef Français” competition where students prepared French cuisine at home, and demonstrated how they prepared their dishes during school.A tasting and judging portion of the competition followed this, and winners were then announced.
  • One of our French students hosted a student at the beginning of the year and then went and spent eight week in Belgium.

Math Department Highlights:
  • Co-taught Algebra and Resource teachers created a PBL Pizza Project where students solved a problem of planning a pizza party in mixed ability groups. They had to write equations and solve a linear system before the formal lesson. They also had to create a formal presentation of their findings both in Google Docs and in printed form.
  • Algebra I teachers introduced the topic of exponents using an inquiry activity based on creating exponent rules. Students discovered the rules with partners then presented their findings to each other.They also discovered how NASA uses parabolic maneuvers to simulate zero gravity in the training of astronauts. Students watched a video showing how the C-9 uses a parabolic flight pattern and then students analyzed quadratic functions, wrote quadratic equations and solved various “real world” problems by drawing conclusions based on the given information. They investigated real world population data and used the data to write Exponential Growth & Decay equations for two countries. Students worked in mixed ability groups to research, write equations and create graphs for the two countries and then displayed their findings on posted paper.
  • They also worked hard to incorporate more differentiated instruction and differentiated activities, some of which made use of the new small group instruction space next door and the workspace in the hallway outside our classroom.
  • They found many opportunities for student-centered activities, including lots of small group collaboration time using the new moveable tables and chairs. We also tried to have students solving problems and displaying solutions on the many whiteboard surfaces in our room (this was definitely a favorite for the students and teachers and allowed all students of all abilities to actively participate and show what they know).
  • In the past, Geometry students were given the formulas and equations in the specific chapters.  This year we took a more problem-based approach.  Overall we believe the students had a better understanding of the concepts.  We incorporated a Problem-Based Learning activity in every chapter. We began the year by immersing the students in partner open-ended problem solving activities.
  • Teachers created a hands-on problem-based activity to determine what side lengths could create a triangle with the help of the Technology Department.
  • Students worked on a “Bubble Wrap” activity.This project is based on future renovations at Westhill High School.  The students are told that the teacher needs to move all the items from her room and protect them during construction.  The students work in groups of 3 or 4 to determine how much bubble wrap will be need to cover specific items in the classroom.   They also need to research the cost of the bubble wrap based on their measurements.  At the end, the students need to submit a detailed report, which includes diagrams, sources used for pricing, measurements and answers. 
  • Teachers worked on fun and interesting ways to incorporate the Positivity Project into all classes and not just homeroom.

Music Department Highlights:
  • Westhill was named as a NAMM Foundation Best Community for Music Education in the Nation for 2019.
  • Music Students selected to instrumental and vocal honor groups including:
    • NAfME All-East Festival
    • NYSSMA Conference All-State
    • NYSSMA Area All-State
    • Junior and Senior High All-County Ensembles
    • Central Winds Honors Chorus and Wind Ensemble
    • Symphoria Youth Orchestra, Greater Syracuse Youth Honors Wind Ensemble, Allegro Youth Wind Ensemble
  • 68 students performed more than 1200 hours of musical service through their participation in the Tri-M National Honor Society for Music.
  • Five separate grade 7-12 Bands Sweep Gold ratings at NYSSMA Major Ensemble Evaluations.
  • 138 WHS Chorus members traveled to the Smoky Mountain Music Festival in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in April. The groups not only competed but also hiked to the top of the highest point east of the Mississippi, rode the insanely fast roller coasters of Dollywood and were immersed in smoky mountain music and culture.  All five choirs receive Superior ratings, two won first place, three won second place and 14 students were recognized from outstanding individual performances.An amazingly successful trip!
  • Music theory class collaborated with Mrs. Colaluca and her 3rd and 4th grade choirs at Cherry Road to write a Positivity Project themed song. The 4th grade class wrote lyrics; the Music Theory students composed the music and produced the backing track; and the 3rd grade students recorded the vocals for the final recording.  The final project included a music video highlighting the process.

Science Department Highlights: 
  • Health classes started a Nutrition PBL unit, as well as a totally revamped drug PBL this year.
  • OCC biology students went to OCC to perform the PCR and gel electrophoresis labs to determine the presence or absence of a gene insertion.
  • Environmental Science students took a field trip to Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, where they learned about the history and integral role that the refuge plays as a migration stop over, as well as the role of wetlands and the organisms that live there.
  • Environmental Science classes took a field trip on Cornell University’s Floating Classroom research vessel on Cayuga Lake to learn and perform procedures with research equipment for lake water sample collection and analysis.
  • Physics students completed a high-tech update to a standard experiment.They used a (donated) fiberoptic spectrometer to analyze the spectra of various gases.Students achieved much better results with the digital spectrum data than they ever did by observing spectra “by eye”, which they also completed.
  • Chemistry students took STEM field trips to Lockheed Martin and National Grid.Both trips introduced chemistry students to careers and opportunities offered by local businesses that relate to science.
  • Chemistry students visited Cherry Road and taught a chemistry concept through a laboratory process to fourth graders.
  • Honors Chemistry students created and submitted a Mole drawing of the element Tin to the ACS for their 150 years of the periodic table. Their drawing was accepted and is a part of the periodic table of moles in Washington DC at the ACS.
  • Mrs. Cornell obtained a Westhill Educational Foundation Grant for 3-D equipment. The equipment will be introduced into the science and hopefully math curriculum in the fall of 2019. The equipment will provide a learning experience that will help students visualize the science being discussed in the classroom and understand complex structures and abstract concepts.
  • Living Environment teacher continued to implement the NYSSLS into biology content using storylines.
  • Living Environment classes used more technology to gain student understanding that includes pear deck and quizziz.
  • Students attended a field trip to the Salmon River Fish Hatchery for all sections of Living Environment students.

Social Studies Department Highlights:
  • Social Studies teachers organized the 2018 food drive to benefit the St. Lucy’s Food Pantry for the 30th year. Students donated non-perishable food items in December and brought them to the Pantry to restock their shelves. This was a great connection to the character traits discussed in the Positivity Project. 
  • AP US History students read about the impact of an invention that transformed society and then chose to research a nineteenth century inventor and invention that did the same. Their written work, presentations and visuals had to prove the importance of the invention on the nineteenth and early twentieth century, but also to show its impact on the current society. 
  • Students in both AP and Regents level United States History read a tremendous amount of primary and secondary text to prepare them for the assessments and to become knowledgeable American citizens, laying the foundations for good civic participation.  Overall historical thinking skills and ability to connect the past to current situations in the United States helps with the ability to be an informed and engaged voter. 
  • Teachers continue to put more technology into their lessons through the use of more Power Point presentations and video streaming and short videos and continue to transition to Google Classroom.  They also utilize “Remind” to communicate more effectively with students about assignments and due dates.
  • AP Government curriculum was reworked to align with new standards, guidelines and exams. 
  • Global 9 teachers adapted to the new Global Regents, with a focus on changing the curriculum to meet the demands of the new assessment and building activities that would enhance those skills. Curriculum was modeled on stimulus-based multiple choice, constructed response questions and enduring issues essays. Honors classes were focused on the new test from the beginning of the year. They were able to incorporate many historical thinking skills into day-to-day activities. Honors students completed several Socratic seminars, formal debates, games and projects. Also, meditation was incorporated into Honors classes when students were feeling particularly anxious.  
  • This year was eventful in AP World History classes.  Google Classroom, an online professional organization for AP World History teachers, and was fully integrated.   This allowed for much better communication, creativity, flexibility, and clarity for assignments, and projects.
  • In AP World History classes, literacy was the basis and emphasis for the course. Students read “History of the World in Six Glasses” (by Standage) and Jared Diamond’s “Worst Mistake in Human History” and a significant excerpt from Guns, Germs, and Steel, “Southernization” by Lynda Shaffer, and Heroes and Villains: Genghis Khan, which students needed to reference in their essays for each unit.   Students also completed 30 consecutive days of writing, in which we began each class with 5 to 10 minutes of writing.  While it was an initial adjustment, the students’ writing improvement was distinct and impactful as we approached the AP Exam.  This approach was so successful that we are introducing and incorporating it to all classes in the fall for the 2019-2020 school year.   
  • Global 10R and AP both did a gallery walk of Human Rights, which was created several years ago.  Students participated in an exciting trading game for the Indian Ocean Trade Routes and the Neolithic Revolution.These interactive and competitive simulations were a hit with the students. 
  • The Photos and Poetry Inquiry that we created for World War I was especially effective and creative for the students.  The students liked the project because it was both inquiry-based and exciting to see the short presentations in class. 
  • Government classes used different activities to help the students understand the principles of America’s government.
  • Economics continued to use a stock market PBL, and three separate inquiries to help students learn through “doing”.

Technology Department Highlights:
  • Project Lead The Way End of Course Assessment Results:
  • Design and Drawing for Production 
    • 20% of the students scored an 8 or 9.
    • 23% of the students were eligible for college credit.
  • Computer Science Principles
    • 5 students took the course for AP college credit.
  • Digital Electronics
    • 5 students scored an 8 or 9 on the PLTW End of Course assessment.
    • 71% of the students were eligible for college credit.
  • Principles of Engineering
    • 46% of the students were eligible for college credit.
    • 2 students scored an 8 or 9 on the PLTW End of Course assessment.
  • Computer Integrated Manufacturing
    • 1 student scored a 9 on the PLTW End of Course assessment.
  • The technology department received two grants from the Westhill Educational Foundation:
  • $1600 for a electrathon race car motor
  • $6000 for 16 VexIQ Super Kits for the OHMS technology program
  • The WHS Production Systems class produced 20 beds for the Sleep In Heavenly Peace organization.

Club and Extracurricular Highlights:
  • During the fall term, the Literary Magazine was awarded 3rd place from the American Scholastic Press Association for its publication “Under Construction.” The magazine is a collaborative effort and student run/edited on a yearly basis. Congratulations for all of those who submitted work, and to the students who helped bring the magazine to fruition. This year’s magazine, “Profiles” represents the amazing creativity of the Westhill student body.
  • Students in the Shakespeare Club memorized and presented monologues and soliloquies to a panel of judges for the opportunity to represent WHS at the CNY Shakespeare competition at Syracuse Stage.
  • Students in Academic Decathlon finished in 2nd place at the state competition.  Out of all of the participants at the state competition, one Westhill student was awarded the Trevor Cook award for his commitment and leadership to the team, and another was selected to deliver her speech at the awards ceremony.
  • Students from several classes developed and refined individual and group inquiry projects, which they presented to their peers and the Westhill community at the Scholar Showcase, an annual student research conference.
  • A new club for the English Department got its start this year: the Westhill ProjectLIT chapter. ProjectLIT is a national campaign amongst students and teachers to get really great books into young people’s hands, to identify and address the existence of book deserts, and to increase the representation of diverse voices and experiences in the curriculum. The Westhill ProjectLIT chapter is working in conjunction with other local groups under the larger @CuseLIT umbrella so that our students and teachers can collaborate across school districts.
  • Two students were awarded FBLA Scholarships in the amount of $500.00 each.
  • FBLA took a field trip to New York City.Twenty students, advisors and chaperones toured Macy’s and learned about their marketing concepts and trends and toured Madison Square Garden while learning about the management of this type of venue.
  • Members ofFBLA assisted Character Ed with “Frosty Night” event.
  • FBLA continued to sell snack items at the School Store under the supervision of advisors. The treasurer counted, recorded, and deposited money raised. 
  • FBLA fundraising supported donations to the following community service organizations: St. Lucy’s Holiday Gift Drive and Westhill Family Food basket donation at Thanksgiving.
  • Math Team teachers coached two teams of Mathletes this year for a total of 11 students.  The students scored really well in the four math meet competitions and had a great showing at the end of the season County Meet.  Our two seniors were great leaders and top scorers, and we are sad to see them move on. We are excited that we have a group of veteran problem-solvers who will return next year but are hoping to recruit some underclassmen to carry on after this core group graduates!
  • The VEX Robotics team had another successful year competing in the Northern New York State Championships at OCC.
  • Character Ed collected hats, mittens, and socks for local refugees, which were donated to Community Care of Syracuse.Members of club also met and passed out those supplies at the center.
  • Character Ed sponsored and organized Penny Wars with proceeds donated to Leukemia Lymphoma Society.
  • Character Ed held a Halloween party in the fall for children in the Westhill community.
  • Students in Character Ed volunteered at Gigi’s Playhouse and Ronald McDonald House.
  • Members of Character Ed also volunteered, consistently, at Walberta Park and Cherry Road schools.
  • Character Ed also hosted “Frosty Night”.Students decorated and set up, ran games, passed out food, etc.
  • Character Ed had a group run in the Paint Westvale Purple (PWP) race.
  • Students in Character Ed worked at the Rescue Mission distributing meals.
  • Character Ed also made sandwiches for the homeless at “Sandwich Saturday”.
  • ECOS members attended Climate Change Summit at SU with ECOS Group.
  • Members of ECOS had an Eco-Friendly craft table at the Halloween and Frosty Night events.
  • ECO friendly winter scrubs for the holidays were made and sold by members of the club.
  • Outdoor picnic tables were purchased by ECOS for students to utilize during lunch.
  • This was the second year of the Physics Club.Interested students met (usually on Fridays during IA) to discuss projects that theywere interested in pursuing and current topics of interest in the field.   One multi-year project we started was to build a laser device capable of grabbing and manipulating microscopic objects.  Such devices are often used in biophysics to dissect cells and are called “optical tweezers”.
  • Future Teacher’s Club membership has grown to 30 students in only two years. Students shadowed a Westhill Faculty member for an entire day. The hands-on experience in the classroom provided students with a window into the behind-the-scenes work required to be an effective teacher.
  • This was the second year of the Physics Club.Interested students met (usually on Fridays during IA) to discuss projects that they were interested in pursuing and current topics of interest in the field.   One multi-year project we started was to build a laser device capable of grabbing and manipulating microscopic objects.  Such devices are often used in biophysics to dissect cells and are called “optical tweezers”.
  • Future Teacher’s Club membership has grown to 30 students in only two years. Students shadowed a Westhill Faculty member for an entire day. The hands-on experience in the classroom provided students with a window into the behind-the-scenes work required to be an effective teacher.
  • Future Teacher’s Club members traveled to Cortland College in December to learn the course work involved in obtaining their teaching degree.
  • Students in the Future Teacher’s Club were also involved in community service work. They evaluated essay entries for charity donations associated with the Paint Westvale Purple Race.
  • Future Teacher’s Club members raised money to buy bedding for four beds built by Mr. Maniccia’s woodworking class to support the Sleep in Heavenly Peace project.

Art Club:
  • Art Club produced t-shirts for District events including the High School Bonfire, OHMS Moving Up Day and for Cherry Road School.

Mock Trial:
  • The Mock Trial team was very competitive this year.They made it to the regional quarterfinals, where they lost to F-M, who would go on to win the State title. 

Athletic Highlights:
  • Boys’ Soccer team won the Class B Section 3 Championship, Regional Championship vs. Oneonta, and went on to become Class B State Champs. [1st since 1992]
  • Boys’ Cross Country team won the Class C Section 3 Championship and finished 2nd overall in NYSPHSAA Class C State Championship.
  • Boys’ Golf team became OHSL League Champions.
  • Girls’ Volleyball won the OHSL League Championship and went on to become Class B Section 3 Champions, Sub-Regional Champs over Section 6 Alden, Regional champs over Section 5 Wayne HS, NYSPHSAA State Tournament Class B Champs over Owego.
  • Girls’ Indoor Track team won OHSL Liberty League Championship and went on to become Section 3 Champions.
  • Boys’ Basketball achieved OHSL Liberty League Championship and lost the Section 3 Semi-Finals to Lowville ina close game, 63-60.
  • Girls’ Basketball team won OSHL Liberty League Championship, won Semi-Finals vs. VVS 61-36 and lost in the Sectional Finals 54-50.
  • Boys’ Tennis won 2nd place in the Class B Sectionals.
  • Girls’ Lacrosse team lost in Sectional Semi-Finals to South Jeff 13-6.
  • Boys’ Lacrosse team lost in Sectional Semi-Finals to CBA 13-12 in a extremely competitive overtime game.
  • Baseball was a #7 seed and lost to South Jeff in the Section 3 Semi-Finals 5-2.
  • Girls’ Track team became Class B Section Champs, with two athletes advancing to States.
  • Boys’ Track team placed 3rd in Class B Sectionals.

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