West Johnston High School

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West Johnston High School
West Johnston High School.jpg
5935 Raleigh Road
Benson, NC, Johnston 27504
Motto "On the Prowl with Excellence!"
Established 2002
Founder Dr. Patricia Harris
Principal Mrs. Paula Coates
Faculty 166
Grades 9-12
Color(s) Teal and White          
Fight song Go Northwestern! Go!
Mascot Wildcat
Nickname WJHS, West

West Johnston High School or WJHS is located in Benson, North Carolina. It is part of Johnston County School district and was established in the 2002-2003 school year to address crowding problems in other local high schools.


The first graduating class of West Johnston was in 2004, and the first class to graduate after full-four year completion was in 2006. Dr. Patricia Harris led the school for its first 4 years and worked to build the school's reputation as one of the top high schools in the state.[1] In 2006-2007, Brookie Honeycutt took over as principal. Now in 2011, Paula Coates has taken the place of the new principal.

Marching band[edit]

The marching band program at West is directed by Philip Franklin. The band has performed in many local, regional and national events including the Bands of America Grand Nationals many times. In 2007 the marching band placed 15 of approximately 90 other competing bands from across the country. The band was also chosen to represent the state by marching in the 2005 Inaugural Parade honoring President George W. Bush. In November 2008 the band also participated in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade where they were the first to use props.This 2012-2013 school year, the band has been invited by the Lord Mayer herself and the director of the whole shindig to perform in London's New Years Day parade.

On March 23, 2010, police arrested Mitchell Lance Britt, former band director at West Johnston High School for 3 counts of felony sexual offense involving a student and one count sexually exploiting a minor. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been asked to assist because several incidents have been accused of happening on band trips in other states. Mr. Britt is suspected of having sexual relations with multiple students in his home. Federal agents have said they found videos of Britt and another student, that are sexual in nature involving nudity. Mr. Britt resigned in November 2009 and was living in Pennsylvania looking for other school jobs at the time of his arrest.[2]

Mr. Britt pleaded guilty to sex crimes charges involving 2 students in April 2012. He pleaded guilty under an Alford plea, in which a defendant maintains his innocence but admits it is in his best interest to enter a plea because there is sufficient evidence that could find him guilty. He received 45 days in jail.[3]

The WJHS marching band is an academic/extra curricular course offered at the high school and is available in the fall semester. The program's motto states that "With hard work and dedication, anything is possible".

Music from the New World for a New Era (2002)[edit]

The first marching band group was established in the fall of 2002 when the high school opened. The head director at the time was M. Lance Britt and colorguard instructor was Matthew T. Spoonemore who also served as the school's Art instructor. The Percussion Instructor was Scott Thomas. The majority of members at this time came from other schools, such as South Johnston High School, contributing varying amounts of experience to the organization. The first class defined the standards by which the program would operate by and excel. The marching band competed in its first Bands of America Regional Competition in New York.

Following years (2003-2007)[edit]

In the next few years, the group performed the following shows:

  • H2O: The Properties of Water(2003)
    • Placed 10th at the Johnston City Regional in Tennessee
    • This was director David S. Duffy's first year at West Johnston
    • Undefeated in NC
  • A Rock, A River, A Tree (Based upon On the Pulse of the Morning[4] by Maya Angelou)(2004)
  • All the World's a Stage (Based on the writings of William Shakespeare)(2005)
    • First full graduating class from WJHS
    • 7th in the Florida Regional
    • 21st at Grand Nationals
    • Undefeated in NC
  • Declaration (Based on the Declaration of Independence)(2006)
    • 3A Champions, 4th overall in the Towson, Maryland Regional
    • Performed in the Exhibition show at the Fort Mill, SC Regional
    • 17th in semi-finals at Grand Nationals
    • One loss in NC, due to a time penalty
  • The Martian Chronicles (based upon the book by Ray Bradbury) (2007)
    • Entire music selection based upon Amin Bhatia’s Interstellar Suite
    • 3A Champions at the Towson regional
    • Placed 15th at Grand Nationals. (Note: This was the last time WJHS band performed in the RCA Dome, due to demolition.)
    • Garrett Griffin's first year working as an assistant-director at West

The Inner Compass (2008)[edit]

The Inner Compass was a show based on an individual's decisions made based on their inner compass. The drill depicted many images of compasses pointing west (a play on the high school's name). All the music for this show was composed from the Broadway Musical/movie West Side Story. During this season, West traveled to Maryland to compete in the Towson Regional, where they were awarded Grand Champion.[5] Rather than traveling to Grand Nationals after an undefeated season, the band traveled to NYC in November to perform in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,[6] where they performed their show Boogie Wonderland to the music of Earth, Wind & Fire.

Winter Guard[edit]

The Winter guard at WJHS is another extracurricular activity. They have performed in many local, regional, and national competitions, with both WGI and AIA. The winter guard is split into varsity and junior varsity. The varsity guard has been in the Scholastic World Class division of Winter guard since 2010, and therefore is commonly known within the school as the "World Guard". For a similar reason, the junior varsity group is commonly known as the "A Guard".

Both of these groups have performed excellent shows.[7][8] In 2008, the Open guard placed 2nd and the A guard placed 7th at the Atlantic Power Regional.[9] The Open guard went on to compete in the WGI World Championships, placing 6th in finals.[10]

Also, in 2009, Wind was formed. Wind (West Independent) is composed of West Johnston alumni and friends. At the 2009 WGI World Championships in Dayton, Ohio, they placed 9th in finals with a score of 87.4 [11]

On April 10, 2010, the Open Guard was named 2010 WGI World Championships Scholastic Open Class Champions with a score of 97.05 and was awarded the Gold Medal.[12] The Guard's program ("Crossing Over") utilized an 8 ft high metal beam stretched from back right corner to front left corner that one member of the group walked upon for a large portion of the program.[13] This is West Johnston's second WGI medal—in 2004, the Guard (then in A Class) scored 95.6 in the Scholastic A Class Finals and was awarded the Silver medal.[14]

Fine Arts Department[edit]

West Johnston High School offers Fine Arts courses in the following areas: art design, modern dance, band (marching and ensemble performance), choral groups, and theatre classes.

As of 2010, the Fine Arts Department of West Johnston has performed several musicals as well as straight plays.

In 2009 West Johnston was inducted into the North Carolina Theatre Capital Awards, showcasing high school musical theatre excellence. For the 2010 musical "Guys and Dolls" was nominated for several awards including:



Lead Actor-Elgin Giles

Best Musical

Featured Performer-Kelsie Jayne


Musical Direction


Supporting Actor-Jordan Clifton

West Johnston High School has an outstanding dance department that has won several dance awards locally and nationally. Richard Patten, a former Juilliard student, is the dance department's artistic director.

The award-winning Chorale Ensembles, headed by Sarah Phelps, present many concerts throughout the year and were selected to represent North Carolina in the Festival Of The States 2008 in Washington D.C.

As with almost any involved show or musical, the sets contribute greatly to any performance put on at West Johnston High School. Arron Foster and Holley Waddell led the visual art classes and directed the Art Club. Between Mr. Foster and Mrs. Waddell, the following classes were taught: Art I, Art II, Art III, Art IV, and AP Studio Art. The AP Studio Art students concentrate in either 2D or 3D pieces for their portfolios. Aside from the art design courses offered, the Art Club is a significant part of the department. The Art Club heads the production of the sets for the Winter Fine Arts show and spring musical each year, along with various other murals and pieces in collaboration with other clubs. Other major projects from the visual arts department include creating an animal out of recycled materials for the annual NC State Fair and putting on Art Shows. For the 2011-2012 school year, Megan Parlow directed the department and taught all of the classes. Currently, Frank Kreacic is teaching the art design courses at West Johnston.

West Johnston High School offers Fine Arts courses in the following areas: art design, modern dance, band (marching and ensemble performance), choral groups, and theatre classes.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°31′22″N 78°32′15″W / 35.5229°N 78.5376°W / 35.5229; -78.5376