Harvard-Westlake School review by Columbia University student: Harvard-Westlake School: A diverse student body of athletes and actors, poets and physicists, historians and humanitarians, writers and musicians, linguists and leaders, all of whom are united by their raw intellectual abilities, strong curiosities, and fervent ambitions. Offering 19 AP courses and dozens of honors selections, program strengths include science, English, history/social studies, journalism and performing arts. Students are competitive, but only to the extent of pushing themselves. Strong writing and critical thinking skills are honed in a traditional college preparatory styled education that is recognized as the best in the Western United States, and perhaps the entire country. Exams are administered regularly, but students are developed beyond mere test takers to become strong analytic thinkers. Faculty is incredible accessible and office visits are encouraged, though perhaps unnecessarily because students love to visit them anyway, even if only to chat. Classroom conversations are exciting, teachers are engaging and tend to integrate students' comments with lecture. The work load is considerable and students who wish to succeed will need to commit at least 45 minutes per subject per night to studying. Busywork ends in the 10th grade, but students are still expected to study and review course materials each night even if there is no formal assignment given. The program sharpens not only mental capacity, but it forces students to manage their time, make mature decisions, and develop a solid work ethic. It is largely a consequence of this amalgam that students who graduate from "HW" or "ach-dubb" are among the most successful in their respective colleges, with many if not most attending Ivy League or similarly prestigious and rigorous institutions.
Athletics are spectacular, basketball, volleyball and water polo are extremely successful and recruited. Athletes in these programs go onto top schools. Performing arts is perhaps the best of any school in the country. The student newspaper, the Chronicle, is consistently ranked among the top 5 in the United States among high schools. Editors of the paper (like myself) are almost guaranteed admission to their university of choice. Peer Support is an incredibly popular light-hearted organization that meets Monday nights in small groups to provide the opportunity to make new friends, vent frustrations, and generally discuss the highs and lows of adolescence. Leadership positions can be considered prestigious.
Amazing facilities that rival that of many colleges. Very safe, great neighborhood, students have free periods to do what thy wish and off campus privileges emerge in the later years. Students are generally wealthy but are not discriminatory in anyway. House parties emerge in the 10th grade but there is little interaction between grades until junior year. Semi-formals are fun and the after parties are legendary. Everyone looks forward to Ring Ceremony and Prom in the senior year. Though the life of a Wolverine can be stressful at times because of the heavy workload and extra curricular commitments, it is through the common experiences of late nights studying and at extra curricular activities that Harvard-Westlakers bond and develop long lasting and fond memories of their wonderful years in high school.
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