What’s Recently Happened
West Side Leadership Academy happily started the 2018-2019 school year on August 13th. Over the summer some changes were underway at West Side; such as a new principal and an uprise in student enrollment. Terrance Little, previously the school principal, has been upgraded to higher status as the CAO. This school year, West Side welcomed Marcus Muhammad as the new principal. Also, occurring over the summer, West Side remodeled its cafeteria. Lively bright orange and blue replaced what was once dull.
Wirt-Emerson closed over the summer causing their students to pick between the remaining of Gary schools to continue their education. The majority of their students decided to join the Cougars at West Side this school year, causing a massive growth to the student population. West Side’s prior students and staff have welcomed all of the new students and staff with open arms, making them feel right at home.
On August 17th West Side held a football game in their home stadium. Sadly, the Cougars lost by just a few points, but took the loss as motivation to push harder for a win next time. They have Cougar pride and the student body knows the team can rally for their first official win.
What’s Coming Up?
As West Side prepares to bring in the month of September, it's time to start planning for all of the school's homecoming events. The homecoming dance is scheduled for October 6th and the football game on October 5th and is a highly valued event at West Side. Students take time to plan it properly. During this time of year, staff and students come together to work on pitching ideas and helping set things up.
The week of homecoming is when West Side holds Spirit Week. During Spirit Week, students get to dress out of uniform according to themes of the day. For example, Monday could be sports day, Tuesday could be pajama day, and so on. Also during Spirit Week, the school holds the War on Walls. This is a competition where each class, freshman through senior, chooses an elite team of students to decorate a specific hallway. Students can decorate the walls according to the theme of the homecoming dance or by creating their own theme. Each grade has only the week to complete their walls so that a team of staff members can judge it by lunch hour on that Friday.
During fifth and sixth period on that Friday all classes are dismissed to the gym for a pre-game pep rally. The pep rally is when the school amps up the football team before their big game. The pep rally is also when the homecoming court is announced and when the winners of the War on Walls are announced. This year homecoming will be a weekend to remember as the school plans to make it better than ever.
Que’Sean Mason is a very ambitious student. He has been attending school at West Side since he was a freshman, and is now entering his senior year. He is currently seventeen years old and has been living in Gary, Indiana ever since he was a child.
“High school has been a great experience so far. I chose to attend West Side because I live very close and I am fascinated by their track teams history,” Que'Sean said.
Que’Sean is an A and B honor roll student and the captain of the boys track and cross country team. In his spare time, when he isn't practicing or doing school work, he likes to work on perfecting himself and riding his dirt bike.
One change from when he first came to West Side to now includes his willingness to put himself out there.
“I’m not kept to myself anymore," Que'Sean said. "I am used to all of the people around me and we all get along very well.”
After graduation, Que’Sean plans to obtain a summer job, saving all of his funds for college. His plan is to attend Texas A&M or IUPUI for business and architecture.
“My goal is to be a train engineer and to own a passenger rail service,” he said.
Que'Sean loves technology, especially apple products and has some advice for incoming students.
“Don’t wait, because time won't wait on you. Enjoy yourselves, work, and get into some after school activities," Que'Sean said. "Although high school doesn't last forever, enjoy the time you have while you're here, because in a blink it'll all be over.”
John Williamson has been teaching at West Side for a couple of years now. Many students consider him one of the best language arts teachers in the building. Once graduating high school, Williamson believed that he would be a novelist or a lawyer, so he took Political Science and English as his majors. He eventually began teaching seventh and eighth graders. However, he has been teaching language arts to tenth graders for the last five years.
A strategy that Williamson puts to use in his class is a game of baseball, targeted to help students with their vocabulary and spelling. His version of baseball is to split the class into two teams. He calls on a student from one team and they attempt to spell a word. If they got it wrong he calls another student from that team to try and save their team. After three attempts that team is out and the other team receives a chance to spell a different word. He also likes to have his students practice the four-square technique of writing.
“The students like it and it helps them become better spellers and writers,” Williamson said.
When Williamson isn't working on student achievement, he enjoys riding his motorcycle and listening to good music.
“People always act surprised when I tell them that I own a motorcycle,” Williamson said.
He likes to travel within the Tri-State area back and forth, in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois. When he’s not riding his bike he is busy being a target shooter, spending time at the shooting ranges within the area.
When thinking about getting an education Williamson states that, “An education can help people improve and help anyone get out of whatever negative situation that they may find themselves in. It is the first step into a better life.”