Bellaire High School (Bellaire, Texas)
|Bellaire High School|
|Bellaire, Texas, USA|
|School district||Houston Independent School District|
|Color(s)||Red & White|
|Newspaper||Three Penny Press|
The high school serves the incorporated city of Bellaire and the Houston community of Meyerland, as well as other Houston neighborhoods. It has a racially and socioeconomically diverse student body.
In the mid-to-late 1980s families began moving into Bellaire and Meyerland. They would tear down many older houses and build new ones. This gave Bellaire High School a population of wealthier students. At the same time apartments formerly housing White singles began to house low income immigrants. Bellaire added Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs to encourage White parents to send their children to Bellaire. Parents strove to get their children into the classes. Mimi Swartz of the Texas Monthly said "But these outstanding academic programs created, over time, a school within a school, in which the smartest kids with the most advantages took the IB and AP tracks, while everyone else was relegated to classes that, for various reasons--discipline problems, less talented teachers, lower standards--just weren't as good."
In September 1991 Bellaire was one of 32 HISD schools that had capped enrollments; in other words the school was filled to capacity and excess students had to attend other schools.
By the 2000s Bellaire placed on the lists of the top performing high schools in the United States. Athletic and academic programs won national and international awards. Many graduates headed for prestigious American universities. At the same time, disciplinary infractions increased. Swartz said "The case could be made that the school has triumphed despite being under enormous social pressures. But success has not come without pain." From the 1999-2000 school year to the 2003-2004 school year, the total number of disciplinary actions increased from 441 to 1,082 and the number of in-school suspensions increased from 336 to 855. In February 2006, a stabbing involving two male freshmen occurred in a school stairwell. The victim survived the stabbing while the perpetrator was arrested and prosecuted.
During the same year Todd Spivak of the Houston Press reported about the magazine's feature "These Kids Go to the Best Public High School in Houston." Spivak said that Bellaire High School had "strong, consistent leadership and a diverse student population" but that it received a lower rating due to a "surprisingly high dropout rate." Spivak said that the survey indicated that Bellaire graduated two thirds of its students. Dr. Robert Sanborn, president and CEO of the Children at Risk organization, said that at Bellaire an achievement gap existed between the top-performing students and the lowest-performing students.
In 2007 13 percent of high school-aged children zoned to Bellaire chose to attend a different Houston ISD school.
In 2010 Magnet Schools of America, a nonprofit, released a report recommending that Bellaire's magnet program be abolished, due to overcrowding of the school.
Academic and athletic programs
Mimi Swartz of Texas Monthly said in 2006 that Bellaire was "arguably the city's best public school" and "prestigious." Lynwood Abram of the Houston Chronicle said in 2006 that Bellaire is "academically acclaimed". Jason Spencer of the Houston Chronicle said that the current principal and formal principal said that Bellaire has "reputation for academic excellence" because, in the words of former principal Hilbert Bludau, "Parents felt ownership of that school." Cathy Mincberg, an HISD trustee, said in 1993 that "There isn't a private school in Houston that can beat Bellaire High School."
Each year the school has about thirty National Merit Scholars. In 2005 it had 40 National Merit Scholars. Of 3,400 students, 323 were AP Scholars in 2005. Colleges and universities which accepted Bellaire high school graduates included Columbia University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton University, Stanford University, and Yale University. Programs which won national and international awards included baseball, debate, orchestra, and science programs. As of 2008 Bellaire's yearbook, the Carillon, frequently wins high school yearbook awards. The school typically has the highest SAT scores in the district. In 2005 the average score was almost 1200. Bludau said that some parents tried to use political connections to ensure that their children entered Bellaire.
With over 20,000 high schools in the United States, the school ranked number 80, 86, 112, 109th, 100th, 439th, and 1,721st in Newsweek's 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012, and 2013 respectively, lists of the top high schools. The Challenge Index ranks schools by the number of AP and IB tests taken by students at a school in 2002 divided by the number of graduating seniors. 323 students at Bellaire High School in the 2004–2005 academic year earned the designation of AP Scholar by the College Board in recognition of their achievement on the college-level Advanced Placement Program Exams.
Bellaire also has a wide variety of music, and fine arts programs. The debate team has a long history of success, with at least one (and usually many) national qualifiers every year since 1957. In 2008 and 2009, Bellaire won first place in the National Public Policy Forum Debate and in 2010, Bellaire won first place in the National Congressional Debate Tournament. The Bellaire Theatre Department won 1st place at the state UIL One-Act Play Competition in 2004.
Bellaire led the Houston Independent School District in number of National Merit Program Finalists.
The Bellaire economics challenge team won first place at the 2004 National Economics Challenge in the West Region.
Bellaire High School is denoted as a Magnet school for foreign languages, offering a wide array of languages taught from Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Hindi, Japanese, Hebrew, Italian, and Latin. All languages are available at the IB level; and AP courses are taught in Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, and Latin.
In 2005, over 900 students tested for a space in the Magnet program; Bellaire had only 150 available spots. In the 2004–2005 school year, the TAKS passing percentages for all Magnet students in reading, math, science, and social studies were 100%, 99%, 96%, and 100% respectively.
Bellaire High School has Advanced Placement and IB Diploma Programme (International Baccalaureate) programs. Bellaire High School has been an IB World School since September 1979. In the last examination session, students completed the following exams (in both standard and higher levels): Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, English A1, French B, Geography, German B, Hindi B, Italian B, Latin, Mandarin B, Mathematics, Music, Physics, Psychology, Russian B, Spanish Ab., Spanish B, Theory of Knowledge, and Visual Arts. In the 2005–2006 school year, there were 24 students who successfully received their IB Diplomas.
In the spring BHS hosts an open house for incoming students. Previously the open house emphasized the school's difficulty. In 2013 it was changed to a "jamboree" format that emphasized the school's social life.
According to an October 2004 Whatkidscando.org report called "Students as Allies in Improving Their High Schools," in many of Houston ISD's top high schools, including Bellaire, over one half of students are enrolled in high-level courses. According to the surveys given by the organization, many of the students at the schools cited academic pressure issues. 82 percent stated that they do not miss school during illnesses, stating that the makeup work would be too difficult.
In 2006 Mimi Swartz said in Texas Monthly that the school was socially stratified. She said because drugs were "plentiful" in Meyerland, one community zoned to Bellaire, the drug culture among students "would surprise no one. Drugs were everywhere, as socially segmented and niche marketed--bars (Xanax) for the rich kids, weed for the gang bangers, meth for the goths--as the designer sneakers and expensive handbags the students coveted."
Location and campus
Bellaire High School is located within the city of Bellaire, an enclave of the southwest area of Houston. Bellaire City Hall, the Bellaire Police Station, and the Bellaire water tower are nearby. Several parks and playgrounds are in proximity.
A new wing was recently added to the school, made possible through government grants. the wing is to include mostly science based classes. with a special lab that cost nearly $300,000 designed specifically for the biology department.
For the 2011-12 school year:
- African American: 18.9%
- Hispanic: 39.1%
- White: 25.7%
- American Indian: 0.3%
- Asian: 14.1%
- Pacific Islander: 0.1%
- Two or More Races: 1.9%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 44.4%
Mimi Swartz of Texas Monthly said "in the halls you see whites, blacks, Hispanics, and East and Central Asians." Bellaire also has disparate income gaps between students from wealthier families and students from poorer families.
Many students in other parts of Houston ISD transfer to Bellaire to escape home schools that do not have good academic performance, causing the attendance figures of those schools to suffer.
Clubs and organizations
There are somewhere around 90 (and growing) clubs at Bellaire High School. The clubs include Academic Challenge Team, Academic Decathlon, African American Association, American Field Service Club, American Red Cross, Amnesty International, Anime Club, Antares, Arabic Club, Art Club, Avid Readers Society, Bellaire Astronomy Club, Bellaire Badminton Club, Bellaire Chess Club, Bellaire Film Society, Bellaire Interfaith Club, Bellaire Color Guard and Marching Band, Bellaire International Students Association (BISA), Bellaire LULAC Youth, Bellaire Korean Club, Bellaire MS-150 Club, Bellaire Men's Lacrosse, Bellaire Mock Trial, Bellaire Sewing Arts Club, Bellaire Thai Club, Bellaire Women's Lacrosse, Best Buddies, Birdkeepers, Booster Club, Business Professionals of America (BPA), Cancer Awareness Club, Chinese Chess Club, Chinese Honor Society, Chinese Language Club, Christian Student Union (CSU), DECA, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), Feed Houston, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Filipino–American Student Association, Foreign Film Club, French National Honor Society, National FFA Organization, Gay Straight Alliance, German Club, German National Honor Society, Go Club, Habitat for Humanity, Hebrew Club, Hindi National Honor Society, Hindu Student Council, Interact, Investors Business Daily, Italian Club, Japanese Club, Japanese National Honor Society, Jewish Student Union, Junior Achievement, Junior Classical League (JCL), Kid's Way, Knitting and Crochet Club, Latin Language Club, Leo Club, Literature Club, Live Music Club, Magic Club, Math Club, Math Masters (formed by David and Brian), Model United Nations Club, Music Uniting Societies Everywhere (MUSE), Muslim Student Association, Name That Book, National Honor Society, Odyssey of the Mind, Origami Club, Photography Club, Photoshop Club, Poetry Club, Quidditch Club, Reach Out, Ritmo Latino, Robotics Club, Russian Club, S2S Club, Science Bowl Team, Science Connection, Science Fair Club, Slavic Honor Society, Societa’ Onoraria Italica Giuseppe Tornatore Chapter, SOS Club, Spanish Club, Spanish National Honor Society, Students To Foreign Universities Bellaire Integration of Listening and Language, Student Government, Students for Environmental Awareness & Animal Rights Knowledge (SEA-ARK), Table Tennis Club, Tai Chi Club, Texas Association of Future Educators (TAFE), Ultimate Frisbee Club, UNICEF Club, Vietnamese Student Association, West Asian Student Association (WASA), Yoga Club, Young Democrats, and Young Republicans.
All pupils in the city of Bellaire are zoned to Bellaire High School. Several parts of Houston that are around the city of Bellaire, including Meyerland, Braesmont, parts of Braeswood Place that are west of Stella Link and parts that are south of South Braeswood (including the subdivisions of Ayrshire and Braes Terrace), Linkwood, Knollwood Village, Woodshire, Woodside, Westridge, Maplewood, Maplewood North, about half of Westwood, Flack Estates, and a small portion of Willow Meadows, are zoned to Bellaire High School. A small portion of Southside Place is zoned to Bellaire High School.
Houston ISD provides school buses for students who live more than two miles away from the school or who have major obstacles between their houses and the school. Students are eligible if they are zoned to Bellaire or are in the Bellaire magnet program. A METRO bus stop (Maple at South Rice) is located at the school's entrance. Bus line 33 (Post Oak Crosstown) stops at Maple at South Rice.
Elementary schools that feed into Bellaire include:
Middle schools that feed into Bellaire include parts of Cullen, Fondren, Johnston, Long, Pershing, and Ryan. All pupils zoned to Johnston, Long, and Pershing Middle Schools may apply to Pin Oak Middle School's regular program; therefore Pin Oak also feeds into Bellaire High School.
Many pupils who are in the Vanguard program and attend middle school at Lanier or T.H. Rogers choose to go to Bellaire High School. Some students who are enrolled in private schools in the 8th grade choose to go to Bellaire for high school.
Feeding from private schools
- John Carter (member of the United States Congress)
- Bubba Crosby (athlete, Major League Baseball)
- José Cruz, Jr. (athlete, Gold Glove outfielder for the Houston Astros)
- Jeff DaVanon (athlete, Major League Baseball)
- Justin Furstenfeld (singer, song writer)
- Annalee Jefferies (stage actress)
- Chuck Knoblauch (athlete, former MLB All-Star second baseman)
- Richard Linklater (director of Dazed and Confused)
- Jai Lucas (former basketball player, University of Texas)
- John Lucas III (athlete, National Basketball Association)
- Cole Mohr (model, named top ten male model by Forbes in 2009)
- Emeka Okafor (athlete, Washington Wizards center; 2005 NBA Rookie of the Year (Charlotte Bobcats))
- Cindy Pickett (actress)
- Dennis Quaid (actor, best known for his roles in feature films like Inner Space, The Right Stuff, and The Big Easy)
- Randy Quaid (actor, best known for his quirky roles in oddball comedy films like Kingpins and Independence Day)
- Thomas Schlamme (Emmy winning television director and producer of The West Wing)
- Mike Sowell, sports historian and journalist
- Brent Spiner (actor, played Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation)
- Trey Wilson (actor)
- Chris Young (athlete, Arizona Diamondbacks)
- Cindy Yen (Chinese Pop Singer)
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