Bellaire High School (Texas)
|Bellaire High School|
5100 Maple Street|
Bellaire, Texas 77401
|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.
In 2014 Terry Grier stated that Bellaire should reduce its enrollment to around 3,000 students.
After Chevron Corporation announced it was selling its office complex in Bellaire in 2016, HISD officials considered the idea of buying the property so a new Bellaire High School could be built there. Instead HISD decided to rebuild Bellaire High on its current site. In 2017 HISD announced plans to demolish the Gordon Elementary School/former Mandarin Immersion Magnet School campus in Bellaire so Bellaire High School's baseball practice field could be relocated there, allowing HISD to easily rebuild the high school main campus.
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."
As of 2008, 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 have accepted Bellaire high school graduates include all 2016-2017 U.S. News & World Report Top 10 Ranked National Universities: Princeton University, Harvard University, University of Chicago, Yale University, Columbia University, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University, University of Pennsylvania, and Johns Hopkins University as well as many more. As of 2008 Bellaire's yearbook, the Carillion, 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, Bellaire Fire 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.
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.
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, Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts (formerly Johnston), Long, and Pershing, All pupils zoned to Meyerland Middle, 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
- Muthu Alagappan (pioneer of basketball analytics)
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- Justin Furstenfeld (singer, songwriter)
- Janet Hsieh (Class of 1997) (television host and model based in Taiwan)
- Annalee Jefferies (stage actress)
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- Richard Linklater (director of Boyhood, Dazed and Confused)
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- Thomas Schlamme (Emmy-winning television director and producer of The West Wing)
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- Brent Spiner (actor, played Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation)
- Trey Wilson (actor, best known for films like Bull Durham and Raising Arizona)
- Marianne Williamson (author, spiritual teacher)
- Kelly Wunsch (athlete, MLB pitcher for Chicago White Sox)
- Chris Young (athlete, outfielder for Boston Red Sox)
- Cindy Yen (Taiwanese pop singer)
- John Zerwas (physician, member of Texas House of Representatives)
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