West Aurora High School
|West Aurora High School|
A Tradition of Excellence
|1201 W. New York St.
Aurora, Illinois, 60506
|School type||Public high school|
|School district||West Aurora Public School District 129|
|Average class size||23.3|
|Fight song||Roll On, You Blackhawks|
|Athletics conference||DuPage Valley Conference|
|Average ACT scores||20.3|
|Newspaper||Red and Blue|
West Aurora High School, or WAHS, is a public four-year high school located in Aurora, Illinois. It is part of West Aurora Public School District 129. The school is also referred to as "West," and "West High,".
High school classes were first offered in 1867 at Stone School (now defunct). The first graduating class of five students had their commencement in 1870.
From 1905 until the 1950s the high school was located in a still-extant building on Blackhawk Avenue (so named after the school's athletics mascot). This same building was Benjamin Franklin Junior High School until the 1970s, when it was sold to Aurora Christian School, which used it as their school building until 2004. The current WAHS structure was built in the early 1950s, and was dedicated in 1953 as "West Side Senior High." From 1978–1981 the building was briefly known as the "West Aurora South Campus," when two buildings existed on Aurora's west side to house the high school population. The building formerly known as the "West Aurora North Campus" now houses the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.
The present building has had multiple additions and renovations, with the major additions occurring over four phases. The first added classrooms to an existing two-story classroom wing in the early 1960s. The largest addition, to the north and east sides of the building, added the auditorium, classroom space and other amenities in 1966–1967. This addition was responsible for the creation of the building's first two courtyard spaces. The 1997–1998 addition was constructed as a two–story wing on the south end of the building, giving it a new facade, and closing a portion of New York Street. This addition included a new library, a technology center, a new cafeteria, and additional classroom space. The most recent addition was completed in time for the 2004–2005 academic year. This included a new fieldhouse, a new single–story classroom wing on the northwest corner of the building, and a new choral rehearsal space.
Today West High is a diverse school, with several academic and athletic programs available.
The school's fight song, "Roll On, You Blackhawks," dates from the 1940s, and was written by Sten Halfvarson. A plaque commemorating the composition of the song hangs in a hallway just south of the auditorium, where the opening bars of the song have also been placed into the floor tile.
A 2005 performance of the school fight song by the West Aurora High School Marching Band
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In 2008, West Aurora had an average composite ACT score of 19.3, and graduated 79.1% of its senior class. West Aurora has not made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) on the Prairie State Achievement Examination, a state test, which with the ACT, are the assessment tools used in Illinois to fulfill the federal No Child Left Behind Act. All four of the student subgroups at West Aurora failed to meet minimum expectations in reading and math, as did the school as a whole.
West Aurora, since 1997, competes in the DuPage Valley Conference. Prior to this, the school was a member of the Upstate Eight Conference. WAHS is a member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), which governs most interscholastic sports and competitive activities in the state of Illinois.
Officially, Chief Blackhawk serves as the mascot for the school. The red and blue logo of the chief is painted on the back of the school's football stadium, as of 2006, replacing the school's WA logo. Use of the "Chief" character has been controversial for its depiction of a Native American. For a time, the school strictly used the WA symbol, which appears in place of the logo of Chief Blackhawk on all official DuPage Valley Conference logos. The school also invented new characters named "WA Man" and "WA Woman" as mascots, but has recently reinstated the Chief as official mascot. Teams continued to compete as "Blackhawks" during this time.
The school sponsors interscholastic sports teams for young men and women in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, and volleyball. Young men may compete in baseball, football, and wrestling, while young women may compete in badminton, bowling, cheerleading, and softball. While not sponsored by the IHSA, the Athletic Department also sponsors a poms team for young women.
The following teams have won their respective IHSA sponsored state tournament or meet:
- Basketball (boys): State Champions (1999–2000)
- Tennis (girls): State Champions (1996–97, 97–98)
- Track & Field: State Champions (1905–06)
The 1951 Girl's Golf season saw great controversy which nearly resulted in a cancellation of the season. The issue began when a member of the team refused to wear the required uniform, which consisted of a polo shirt with the West Aurora Blackhawks logo and a pleated, knee length skirt. The aforementioned team member arrived for the first tournament at the links wearing a pair of men's golf trousers, stating that if she had worn the required skirt, she would either have to sacrifice a full force swing or her modesty. Wanting to keep his player's femininity as well as their ability strike the ball 200 yards at the same time, the coach came up with the idea of dressing his girl's in culottes. These split, pants-like skirts were designed to provide women more freedom to do activities such as gardening, cleaning, bike riding, etc. and still look like one is wearing a skirt. With the conflict resolved, the girls were able to "roll on" to a winning season.
West Aurora offers 47 clubs and activities ranging from cultural and artistic to social awareness and occupational. The entire list can be found here .
Among the activities are chapters or affiliates of these national organizations: DECA, FCCLA, Business Professionals of America (BPA), Health Occupations Students of America, and Model UN. The school's drama troupe is an official member of the International Thespian Society. Its charter lists it as troupe #2013, which has been incorporated into the official name since becoming a member. The "Theatre Troupe 2013" has performed annual musicals.
The West Aurora band program is a member of district nine in the Illinois Music Educators Association (IMEA). The Jazz Ensemble performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival on 1 September 2006, becoming only the second high school group ever invited to perform at the Festival. The band participated in festivities and performed at the 2006 Chick-fil-A Bowl.
The Blackhawks were also in the 4th of July Parade in Washington DC in 2012 and was on CBS 2 Chicago News. West was the only Illinois representative school for the state. 2012 was West Aurora's second time marching in the 4th of July parade in DC.
West Aurora has 6 Concert Bands, 6 Jazz Bands, a Pep Band (played at basketball games), and the Blackhawk Marching Band.
- Kenny Battle (class of 1984) is a former NBA player (1989–1993).
- Rich Becker (class of 1990) was a Major League Baseball outfielder (1993–2000).
- John Drury (class of 1945) was a local Chicago news anchor (WGN, WLS)
- Andrea Evans,1967 Award Winning Actress
- Ruth VanSickle Ford (class of 1915) was a commercial illustrator who became a noted art teacher.
- Phillip E. Johnson (class of 1958) is a former University of California-Berkeley law professor, noted as an AIDS denialist and the founder of the Intelligent design movement.
- Stana Katic, (class of 1996), actress
- Preston Larrison, baseball player
- Don Laz was a silver medal winning pole vaulter at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.
- Nicole Narain (did not graduate) is an actress, model, and Playmate.
- Alvin Ross (class of 1981) was an NFL running back (1987–88) for the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Randy Shilts (class of 1969) was a journalist and author (The Mayor of Castro Street, And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military).
- Jeffrey Skilling (class of 1971) was the CEO of Enron, who was convicted of crimes related to the Enron scandal.
- Tom Skilling (class of 1970) is a meteorologist who works with WGN-TV and the Chicago Tribune.
- Billy Taylor, college basketball coach
- West Aurora High School about us page; accessed 14 April 2013
- District 129 Central Administration; accessed 21 June 2009
- District 129 About Us page, with 2010 enrollment numbers; accessed 14 April 2013
- Class of 2008 school report card; accessed 21 June 2009[dead link]
- School info for WAHS; ihsa.org; accessed 21 June 2009
- Institution Summary, AdvancED, Retrieved 2012-07-11
- Muses homepage; accessed 21 June 2009
- Red and Blue homepage; accessed 21 June 2009
- EOS homepage; accessed 21 June 2009
- West Aurora High School - Aurora, Illinois - IL - School overview
- Athletic Department for WAHS; accessed 21 June 2009
- Season summaries for WAHS; ihsa.org; accessed 21 June 2009
- Oldest Rivalry; IHSA Boys Football All-Time General Records; accessed 21 June 2009
- [dead link]
- Activities Directory for WAHS; accessed 22 June 2009
- Zoglin, Richard; Bye Bye, Birdie. Hello, Rent; 15 May 2008; Time Magazine; accessed 22 June 2009
- Aurora Beacon News[dead link] story on the Jazz Ensemble's performance at the Chicago Jazz Festival.
- Moyer, Christine S; West Marching Band will play at Atlanta bowl game; 29 December 2006; The Beacon News - Aurora; accessed 22 June 2009
- Kindt, Bill; Battle jumps at challenge to run ABA Rollers team; 17 September 2006; The Beacon News–Aurora; accessed 21 June 2009
- Kenny Battle stats & bio; basketballreference.com; accessed 21 June 2009
- West Aurora: High School of the Week; 11 September 2007; Chicago Sun-Times; accessed 21 June 2009
- Rich Becker stats & bio; thebasebalcube.com; accessed 21 June 2009
- Distinguished Alumni Award history for WAHS; accessed 21 June 2009[dead link]
- West Aurora Alumni Association; West Aurora Inducts 6 Alumni into Hall of Honor; accessed 21 June 2009[dead link]
- Gire, Dann (May 16, 2011). "Aurora's Stana Katic wraps up 'Castle' season, moves on to 'Big Sur'". Chicago Daily Herald. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
- By Scott Merkin / MLB.com. "Larrison honored for experience | MLB.com: News". Mlb.mlb.com. Retrieved 2013-07-16.
- Aurora native dishes about her boyfriend's ex - Britney Spears; 1 November 2007; The Beacon News - Aurora; accessed 21 June 2009
- Alvin Ross stats & bio; databasefootball.com; accessed 21 June 2009
- Cetera, Mike; Former Enron CEO has Aurora past; 6 February 2002; The Beacon News - Aurora; accessed 21 June 2009
- Hymon, Steve (December 30, 1990). "West Aurora Interrupts Peoria Manual Streak". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
- Young, Linda (March 16, 1990). "West Aurora`s Taylor Has Big Fan In Dad". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 16, 2013.