West Orange High School (Winter Garden, Florida)
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|West Orange High School|
|1625 South Beulah Road,
Winter Garden, FL
Exceeding Expectations through Academic Excellence,Together We all Succeed
|School district||Orange County Public Schools|
|Color(s)||Orange and Blue|
|Website||Official web site|
Completed in 1975 at a cost of 6.5 million dollars, West Orange High was formed as a consolidation of two over-crowded high schools within western Orange County: Lakeview High School and Ocoee High School. Ocoee High School has since been rebuilt and reinstated due to overcrowding in West Orange and Apopka High School. The Lakeview High School site became Lakeview Junior High School. In recent times, Lakeview has undergone a campus expansion and renovation as Lakeview Middle School. The first classes were held at Lakeview High School in September 1975. The first principal of the school was Lester Dabbs. Upon completion of the new facility, classes began onsite in January 1976.
Many of the teachers that first year transferred from Lakeview, Ocoee, and Evans High Schools. Some of the individuals comprising the faculty included: Raymond Tripp, Jan Pratt, James Creech, Fred Savage, Maxine Lee, Harold Cooper, Ellen Harmeling, Ms. Galbraith, Ms. Eckinroth, Mr. Webb, Mr. Fortson, Ms. McMillan, Trina Lummus, Coach Keneipp, Mrs. Brinson and Rod Reeves.
The original West Orange High School building design was extremely modernistic for its time. In fact, the WOHS main building was an award-winning design for the architectural firm. Apopka High School was the only school in existence with the same exact building format. West Orange appeared virtually identical to its sister school, both in the original pristine white paint scheme. The school name's facade on the side of the gym and the front entrance were trimmed in cypress wood. Gymnasium accent columns, as well as the round front entrance planters, were trimmed in red brick.
All academic classrooms were housed within an innovative floorplan design, with each of the three circular wings arranged and interconnected in the shape of a triangle. New to Central Florida high schools at the time, all classrooms and common areas were located within one contiguous building complex so that the weather did not affect the school day. The lunchroom "commons," as well as the library media center and auditorium, were designed to be located centrally within the complex. The band room, gym, and industrial arts wings, as well as the science building, were located along the periphery of the complex.
Designed in the aftermath of the 1973 energy crisis, the architectural design also called for a minimum of windows to maximize energy efficiency, as the building was 100% air-conditioned. Large portions of the building were also designed with removable partitions to allow for easy re-configuration as classroom size changed. Also contemporary with the 1970s, nearly all floors were carpeted and many of the interior walls were either covered with carpet or high-grade vinyl wall texturing. In recent years, however, the building interior has been modified, removing most of the carpeting on the walls and floors.
The school opened with a population of nearly 1800 students for the 1975-1976 school year. As a result of the rapid growth brought on by the earlier opening of the Magic Kingdom and the more recent opening of Epcot, the school was at or past maximum capacity at about 2200 students by the 1977-1978 school year. As a side note, many of the palm trees and additional landscaping elements near the front entrance portico were donated by a foundation associated with Disney. Despite uniqueness of building design, the size of the community student body was already at the bursting point.
A science wing was added to the original structure, being both the first and last major addition to the school main building.
One of the school's earlier principals, Raymond Screws, was assassinated in his own office by being gunned down by a co-worker, Assistant Principal Roosevelt Holloman, who had been accused of misconduct on December 12, 1977. The football field, Raymond Screws Field, is named in his honor.
Ocoee High School opened in 2005 and nearly half of West Orange's student body was sent to the new school, along with some West Orange teachers. Ocoee's first principal, Michael Armbruster, is both an alumnus and a former principal of West Orange.
In April 2006, WOHS held a gala to celebrate 30 years with performances by the drama and choir departments and the marching band and ensemble. Graduates shared fond memories of their high school days, and the school honored six teachers and staff members who had been at the school since it first opened its doors: Pat Moran, Karen Whidden, Maxine Lee, Fred Savage (retired), Gay Annis, and Rick Stotler (retired).
In 2006, additional property at the corner of Warrior and Beulah Road was purchased to expand the campus.
On October 10, 2009, teacher Jarrold Gabriel threatened to shoot the principal of the school and a student. He said that they had 13 days to live and also threatened his ex-wife. He was arrested and was suspended.
On December 4, 2013, a shooting occurred on campus. One student was shot three times but survived. The shooter fled the school but was captured two hours later.
As of the 2016-2017 school year 4285 students are registered for classes at WOHS 
Original site architect
The original West Orange High School building was designed by architect Eoghan Newman Kelley of Sanford. His school designs include the original Lake Brantley High School, Apopka High School, and a number of high schools in Seminole County and Pasco County, Florida. Lake Howell High School in Seminole County, and Land'O Lakes, Hudson High School, and Zephyrhills High School in Pasco County are among his designs.
Kelley's designs were based in part on a trend of the early 1970s called the Open School Concept. The outer school building was composed of large, simple geometric shapes with no windows, and the interior of each module was so laid out that it had few permanent walls; instead, movable walls abounded and very few of the classrooms had any doors. This was supposedly done to facilitate free movement between the rooms and other resources (such as the libraries) in each module. As the first few years were to make clear, the "no-doors" concept proved problematic, with teachers complaining constantly about noise from other rooms and halls. At Lake Brantley, eventually all the gaps were boarded up and each classroom got a door. At West Orange, the open school concept was retained to a large extent to maintain the original aesthetic vision.
Among the school designs in Orange, Seminole, and Pasco Counties, there were a number of common design themes. These almost invariably included a rectangular front entrance portico and a circular drive for easier locating of school buses during dismissal at the end of the school day. The library was often an open, sunken design located in the center of the complex. Commons areas were spacious, had high ceilings, yet were inviting through the usage of carpeting on the floors and walls. Lockers were in colorful yellows, blues, and reds. The bandroom walls were fully carpeted to dampen sound. Support columns usage and recessed door openings were both architecturally functional and stylistic.
Kelley also stated that he had designed each school to be a fallout shelter if ever needed. (There was controversy as to whether these buildings were sturdy enough for this, no exterior windows notwithstanding. They contained no steel reinforcement in the outer cinder-block walls, and engineers doubt that they could have withstood a hurricane stronger than Category 2 or even a tornado, let alone a nuclear weapon.) Kelley was awarded the contract to design the Educational Plaza schools and several others in Seminole County, as well as other schools in Florida, primarily in Pasco County.
Within just six years, serious flaws in construction and material quality at Lake Brantley High School began to appear, and massive roof leaks appeared in many different places. Two major repair and refurbishing projects were undertaken in 1980 and 1985, but eventually the school board had had enough, and plans were unveiled in 1996 to demolish the school and rebuild it from the ground up. By 1979, Seminole County had given up on Eoghan Kelley. By 1996, five of the 15 schools he designed in Seminole County were demolished. The other 10 have been semi-gutted and re-modeled, but the exterior of Forrest City Elementary, Altamonte Elementary, Lake Orienta Elementary, Winter Springs Elementary, Sable Point Elementary, and a private school down the street from the Lake Brantley High School Forrest Lake Academy are clearly still Kelley School designs. Only a few fragments remain of the others: the gymnasium of Lake Howell High School, and a partial addition to the original Teague Middle School. His Pasco County, Flagler County, Volushia County, Sarasota County, Columbia County, and Alachua County schools are still standing. It is believed that both West Orange and Apopka High School were victims of the Kelley School issues.
West Orange supports a wide range of academic and sports pursuits, including athletic, vocational, career and college preparatory classes. The career guide is available online.
Advanced Placement courses available at West Orange High School are: AP Art 2-D Portfolio, AP Art 3-D Portfolio, AP Art History, AP Human Geography, AP United States History, AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP European History, AP World History, AP Macroeconomics, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, AP Calculus, AP Statistics, AP English Language, AP English Literature, AP Spanish Language, AP Spanish Literature, AP Latin, and AP Music Theory.
West Orange High School, borrowing heavily upon a strong program foundation at Lakeview and a smaller program at Ocoee High School, has had a 30-year tradition of a prominent band program within Orange County. The program was founded with the insight and stewardship of Harold Cooper, and was expanded upon by the longtime dedication of David Laniewski. The WOHS band continues this proud music and marching tradition under the capable baton of Kenneth Boyd.
The West Orange Warrior Band has appeared at many local and national venues, including the Magic Kingdom, Tangerine (Citrus) Bowl, the Orlando Christmas Parade, and the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. For being a shelter during the hurricane seasons during 2004, West Orange High School band was given the opportunity to march in the Hollywood Christmas Parade in 2004, and the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2002, 2007 and 2015. On November 25, 1992, the West Orange High School Band also had the honor of opening the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and has also marched in the 2010 Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade. On December 30, 2008, the West Orange Warrior Band participated in the 2008 Florida Citrus Bowl Parade, the event was aired nationally on ABC on New Year's Day 2009. In 2013 the band marched in the Annual Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington D.C. In addition, the band has performed at the Midwest Clinic, the College Band Directors National Association/National Band Association's Southeast Regional Conference and will be performing at the 2017 FMEA President's Conference. The band program was also recently named a Blue Ribbon Program of Excellence by the National Band Association.
The WOHS choral and theatre departments consistently win outstanding ratings at district and state festivals. The Advanced Choirs, under the direction of Jeff Redding, won 1st place, 2nd place, and Outstanding Director Awards in 2005 at a competition in Verona, Italy. The theatre department is known for its many awards, from its year-to-year 1st place holding in the District Thespian competition, to the honor of being named the best play in 7 states at the South Eastern Theatre Conference with Mark Medoff's "Children of a Lesser God." They have also been asked on several occasions to perform at the Fringe Festival held in Edinburgh, Scotland, known as the "largest arts festival in the world" according to the website: www.edfringe.com.
In 2010 West Orange took an original play entitled INDEPENDENCE Pop. 301, written by K.W. Rush, to the Florida Theatre Conference. The play took 1st place, while Tyrone Speller and Brooke Morris took Best Actor and Best Actress in the State of Florida. During the 2011-2012 school year, K.W Rush wrote another original one-act, Victorian Silence. The show won All-Star Cast, along with many other awards. During the 2012-2013 school year, he wrote Mississippi Woods, which won multiple awards at FTC. In 2014, their play won at FTC, and Districts. They also won best tech at both of these competitions.
In addition to the arts, the school is proud of its outstanding student leadership organizations. The Student Council / Leadership Class, led by Pete Abatiello, has won many awards and recognitions in the past twenty years. Currently the student council serves the Florida Association of Student Councils District 3 as President and Parliamentarian for the Southern Association of Student Councils. The National Honor Society, under the direction of Linda Tesauro, is one of the most rigorous societies in the state. The organization requires a 3.8 GPA for induction and 40 hours of community service a year to maintain membership and graduate in a white gown. The WOHS NHS is the Florida Chapter Treasurer. In addition to the student council, each class is represented by its own set of class officers. The junior class of 2006-07 started the first active class council.
West Orange offers several outstanding co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. The school also has very active Peer and Renaissance classes. Students may join a myriad of other clubs on campus ranging from the FCA to GSA. Students can also start their own clubs after meeting school requirements.
An aerospace science program (Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps), led by Lt Colonel Stephen Sanger, is offered at West Orange High School, offering more in-depth activities only available to cadets within the corps, such as Kitty Hawk Air Society, Drill Team, Rocket Club, Aim High, and an Honor Guard (which is nationally ranked for its drill team and color guard) under the supervision of SMSgt Jeff Lewis.
Their first national recognition was not until 2008-2009, when they were ranked among the top schools of the nation. In May 2013 the Honor Guard came home with multiple trophies, including a 3rd place color guard trophy, by the command of Savannah Perry. This was the first of its kind in West Orange history (in previous years, the color guard had only won 4th and 5th-place trophies). The drill team also won highly ranked trophies by the command of Rhea McFarland. These two commanders brought their teams to victory and the whole Honor Guard to Masters Level.
West Orange sports include at least 30 teams in at least 18 different sports.
An artificial turf field was installed for football at a cost of approximately $500,000.  The West Orange Foundation, Inc was established to help the school fund this and other projects. Construction for the field was completed in 2006.
With rampant growth in western Orange County, taxpayers and alumni have suggested that the original, unique school main building be incorporated as an integral portion of the new campus. New campus structures are under construction immediately adjacent to the WOHS main building.
The original building footprint was not needed for new building construction, but was slated only as parking and a retention pond. It was suggested that both of these items could have been easily located to other portions of the campus. With ample property, there was no good reason given for why the current school plant must be demolished. In fact, it cost more to demolish the original structure than to allow it to remain.
Program under-designed, the capacity for the new West Orange campus is only 2,776 students. Project opening enrollment later as of August 2008 was expected to be in excess of 2,600 students. Only four years from now in 2012, enrollment at West Orange High School is projected to be a staggering 3,400 students.
With existing building capacity scheduled to be demolished by the Orange County School Board, it is not known how the school system is anticipating in dealing with an estimated surplus of 600 students at West Orange High School.
West Orange Relief High School, originally scheduled to be completed by 2012, is already being contemplated by the OCPS to have its construction delayed. This most-recent relief school to West Orange High School is scheduled to be built a few miles away, off Winter Garden Vineland Road.
Although citing pre-existing determinations, the "independent" review commissioned by the Orange County School Board approximately two years ago considered the thirty-two-year-old facility still well within its useful lifetime. In fact, the original WOHS plant has a higher building score and remains in better condition than many elementary, middle, and high schools in Central Florida. Although citing no specifics, it is strongly suspected that water issues were a factor in the school board decision. Many of these issues may have been exacerbated by the intense 2004-2005 hurricane seasons, but ideally these issues should have been avoided with proper re-sealing of the roof as was needed. Even as satellite maps show to date in 2008, incredibly only 35% of the roof has been properly resealed. The school is structurally sound; it is not too late for abatement issues to be properly addressed.
As of January 2008, the Orange County School Board has not made final plans regarding the Ninth Grade Center, located nearly a mile away. It can be argued that it makes more sense to have the Ninth Grade Center demolished instead of the original WOHS buildings. The Ninth Grade Center has no architectural value. It is too distant to have students walk to between classes. Because of its proximity to the YMCA facility, the Ninth Grade Center easily lends itself to extracurricular activities, to be transformed into tennis courts, baseball fields, or stadium parking.
As precedent, the Orange County School Board recently reconsidered the site plan at Apopka High School and allowed both the gymnasium and the science building to remain on campus. Skanska will be issuing bids for the renovation of these two buildings. The Apopka High School campus is undergoing similar revisions as the West Orange campus. The architectural firm of Schenkel-Shultz simply redesigned the site plan to allow for parking elsewhere on the AHS campus. This, in spite of the fact that the Apopka High School site is much more concise. The WOHS site has ample property and is not constrained by site limitations. Total campus property totals 61 acres (250,000 m2). There is plenty of room for all existing and new construction. The school property is large enough for all student parking to be located immediately adjacent to both the pre-existing and new construction.
Alumni consider it incredible that two thirty-two-year-old school plants had not received painting, sealing, and normal roofing maintenance. It is ironic that the Lakeview High School main building is approximately 81 years old and remains in full-service, undergoing numerous renovations and a recent complete overhaul, to preserve the historic structure. New construction was added to site. Both the main building and the new contemporary buildings co-exist in harmony.
Retention of the original site could have helped in transition and absorb the shock of 3,400 students projected to be on campus in 2012, as well as save Orange County taxpayers millions of dollars in new construction costs.
Other suggested uses of the main WOHS main building complex proposed continued usage as a hurricane relief center, use as an interim facility to avoid dreaded double sessions at local schools, usage as a regional Orange County convention facility dedicated to in-house teaching and planning conferences, to All-County Band practices and rehearsals, or designated as a regional Performance Arts and Sciences center. As with Apopka High School, the gymnasium and science building could be utilized as adjunct facilities to the nearby West Orange YMCA.
As of December 2009, the original school facility had been razed. Construction on the student parking lot was in progress.
As of December 2009, the Science Building has been retained on campus and presumably is under renovation.
An overhead panoramic shot from helicopter is available. The current monthly construction update is available online.
West Orange High School's principals have included:
Lester Dabbs (1975–1976) Raymond Screws (1976–1977) Ray Aldridge (1977–1978) Anthony Krapf (1978–1984) Joe Worsham (1984–1991) Sara Jane Turner (1991–1996) Gary Preisser (1996–2000) Mike Armbruster (2000–2005) Daniel Buckman (2005–2007) Edward Jones (interim 2007) James Larsen (2007–2013) Douglas Szcinski (2013–2016) William Floyd (2016–2017) Principal Kobayakawa (2017–Present)
- Cori Yarckin '00 - American actress and singer
- Sammie '05 - R&B artist
- Nolan Fontana '09 - baseball player
- Mason Williams '10 - baseball player
- Austin Gomber '11 - baseball player
- "Couple 1st homecoming king, queen with Down syndrome to win title in Fla.". WFTV TV. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
- "West Orange High School Zone." Orange County Public Schools Department of Pupil Assignment. January 7, 2017. Retrieved on April 22, 2017.
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- Ryzewski, Steven (July 2, 2014). "Local baseball players ink big league contracts". West Orange Times and Observer. Retrieved January 25, 2016.