West Valley High School (Alaska)

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West Valley High School
Established 1975
Type Public Secondary
Principal Shaun Kraska
Students 920
Grades 9–12
Location Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
Colors Red & Gold
Mascot Wolfpack
Yearbook 'Aurora'
Website West Valley High School website
West Valley High School Fairbanks Alaska.jpg

West Valley High School is a public high school in Fairbanks, Alaska (USA), and part of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. Located near the University of Alaska Fairbanks and serving the western part of the Fairbanks area, it had an enrollment of roughly 920 as of December 6, 2013. West Valley's mascot is the Wolfpack, and its school colors are red and gold. West Valley High School is highly regarded as a school that possesses one of the most rigorous educational experiences that can be found anywhere in the state of Alaska. Teachers, students, and administrators have received a myriad of awards that have confirmed West Valley's position as a prideful and genuine educationally advanced institution.

History[edit]

Originally scheduled to open at the beginning of the school year in 1976, construction delays caused the school to open after the school year had already started. To make up for the lost time mandatory school days were put in place for Saturday for three months. It was built to accommodate 750 students but the 1976-77 school year saw over 1000 students. In 1994, the nearby Hutchison Career Center started to house additional high school classes during the school day. A major renovation of the school was completed in 2000, roughly doubling the amount of classroom space to serve up to 1300 students.[1]

The current principal of West Valley is Shaun Kraska, who replaced West Valley's longest-serving principal, Marianne Carlson- who had been a gym teacher for several years prior- in 2007. At the school's inception it come to be known as "Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood" after long time school administrator Bill Rodgers. Mrs. Kraska came to West Valley as an English teacher in 1994, and was also a vice principal before taking over as principal. There is a glass cage with three stuffed wolves, completed c. 1977, in West Valley's main commons. It is known as the "wolf cage" and is one way the school greets its students and visitors.

Building and grounds[edit]

West Valley is located next to the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. The grounds include a football field and track, a soccer field, a baseball field, and other recreational areas. The building has two floors and is divided into three main sections, one of which houses most of the classrooms, one the administrative offices and library, and one the gymnasium and other special-use rooms. The tennis team practices at the courts across from Lathrop though.

Academics[edit]

There are eight academic departments at West Valley: Vocational Education, Health and Physical Education, Fine Arts, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and World Languages. An appointed teacher chairs each department. Students are required to take a number of classes in most departments in order to graduate. Academics are at the very core of West Valley's mission and West Valley consistently places among the ranks of schools in the state.

Graduation requirements[edit]

Students at West Valley are required to obtain:

  • 4 credits in English/Language Arts
  • 3 credits in Mathematics
  • 3 credits in Science
  • 2.5 credits in Social Studies
  • 1.5 credits in P.E. (can be waived with school sports)
  • 0.5 credit in Health
  • 8.0 credits in general electives

A credit equals 1 year of courses (2 semesters) Students must have a total of 22.5 credits to graduate It is highly recommended that students take at least two years of a foreign language. Languages offered are French, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and American Sign Language.

Language Programs[edit]

The school offers French, Spanish, and American Sign Language. The German program was discontinued in 2010 but may return. The school also regularly sends participants to both regional and state level Language Declamation contests. The regionals are held locally, and the state competition usually takes place in Anchorage. West Valley often is home to many state champions in this program, including 2009 state champions Robert Stolzberg and Andrew Bishop.

Ignition[edit]

Ignition is a comprehensive and highly inclusive day for incoming freshmen. On the first day of school for students K-8, only freshmen come to school at all district high schools. On this day, upper classmen mentors play fun and educational games with freshmen to help them get acclimated to the high school environment.

AP Academics[edit]

West Valley offers a number of Advanced Placement Courses These are college-level alternatives to, or enhancements of, standard high school courses. In 2011-12 West Valley offers the following AP courses:

Art History - Art Portfolio - Biology - Calculus AB & BC - Chemistry - Computer Science - English Language & Composition - English Literature - Government - Physics - Spanish - U.S. History

Extracurriculars[edit]

Music[edit]

West Valley offers a variety of music electives, including Jazz Band, Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Concert Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Mixed and Concert Choirs, and Steel Drums. Many individuals and groups compete in the All-state Music Festival and Statewide Solo & Small Ensemble Competition held every spring. In 2008 one West Valley orchestra member received first chair awards at the All-state Music Festival.[2] Also in 2008, West Valley boasted a vocal solo, string quartet, and the flute half of a clarinet flute duet receiving command performance at Solo & Small Ensemble.[3]

Theatre[edit]

Under the guidance of a theatre teacher who graduated from West Valley herself, this school's program has flourished. Up to 70 students are involved at any given time in the school's 3 annual performances, Children's Theatre outreach program, and Thespian Troupe #628. Students take on roles as actors, directors, and technical support. As the sole remaining school with a full-fledged Theatre program in the FNSBSD, WVHS consistently proves its talents onstage and in the wings.

Sports[edit]

West Valley offers all standard high school sports, including swimming, baseball, basketball, cross-country running and skiing, football, Gymnastics, hockey, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, wrestling, rifle and volleyball. The West Valley girls' cross-country running team won the 2005, 2006, and 2009 state championships. They have competed in Nike Team Nationals in 2005 and 2006. In the 2005 season they earned 15th place Nike Team Nationals and in 2006 were ranked ninth in the nation. Gymnastics team has taken the Regional Championships for 2007, 2008, and 2009. Other recent state championships include the 2005 state title earned by the women's cross-country skiing team, the 2005 state title earned by the women's track-and-field program, and the 2003 state title earned by the school's wrestling team. West Valley's wrestling program (over the years) also has the most state titles compared to any other sport and also boasts the most individual state champions. The school also regularly sends participants to both regionals and state. West Valley wrestling created an Alaskan Dynasty by winning the state championships 5 years in a row from 1987 to 1991, and posting a duel match record of 176-1-1 under Coach Dave Toney and Tom Ritchie who placed more of an emphasis on "promoting self pride to create better citizens".

Student Government/Council[edit]

West Valley has a student body council as well as a council for each class. Each student government has an advisor and five officers. There are often opportunities for members to also become involved in AASG (the Alaska Association of Student Governments), and serve on both the regional board of Fairbanks Student Councils, as well as on the state board.

Academic Decathlon[edit]

West Valley has competed in the United States Academic Decathlon since 1986. Its Academic Decathlon team has won 10 state championships, most recently in February 2013. It competed at the national finals in Hawaii in April 2007 and achieved Alaska's best national performance ever.[1]

Newspaper[edit]

West Valley's newspaper was founded in 2005 and is named The Howler. It puts out two to three issues per semester. A previous school newspaper named The Blizzard was published intermittently up to the late 1990s.

Yearbook[edit]

The yearbook, called the Aurora, is published by Walsworth and comes out in May. Yearbook is a yearlong class and extracurricular activity.

Airband[edit]

Airband is a class competition where the different classes and a team composed of staff are given eight minutes to dance and lip sync to pre-recorded songs. Airband is one of the most popular events of the year and occurs in the spring semester.

Mock Trial[edit]

Mock Trial is a student led organization with a coach that gets students involved by having them compete with other students in real legal issues. West Valley students compete with others from all across the state and each have positions in this virtual trial. The witnesses, judge, prosecutors and defending attorneys etc. are all students. Each year, the Mock Trial Club gets a new case to study and analyze and then goes on to compete in a regional and state competition.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ School Report Card for the 2004-2005 School Year.
  2. ^ http://www.asaa.org/sportsactivities/music/pdf/2008AllStateFirstChairAwards.pdf 2008 All State First Chair Awards
  3. ^ http://www.asaa.org/sportsactivities/music/pdf/SEWebAnnouncement.pdf ASAA music web announcement

Coordinates: 64°51′05″N 147°49′29″W / 64.85139°N 147.82472°W / 64.85139; -147.82472