Prestigious may become a common word to describe Mesa’s Westwood High School — to the delight of students and their families.
The farthest west high school with the oldest buildings in the Mesa Unified School District was accepted this week as only one of eight campuses in Arizona to be an International Baccalaureate World School, beginning in August.
The school was given approval by the International Baccalaureate Organization in Geneva after a three-year application process that included training teachers and developing curriculum.
"I think we could see we needed something to bring people back to Westwood as a magnet program," said Tina Wright, who helped investigate the program that daughter Aubrey, 16, is considering.
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, created in 1968 and slowly gaining in interest in the southwestern United States, offers a demanding junior- and senior-year curriculum that includes state academic standards as well as an international view of world history and philosophy. Students also must take music courses, write a 4,000-word essay and commit to community service.
Jackie Jackson, 16, is one of 25 sophomores enrolled in a preparatory class for the new program.
"I want to understand why things are the way they are," Jackson said, adding that she wants to study international, as well as American, versions of history.
Gregg Good, the school’s program coordinator, said he hopes Westwood becomes better known for its rigorous academics, especially in the wake of the school’s team taking second in the Arizona Academic Decathlon. He said the program could take 300 students, but will likely begin with 55, and move to 100 in the next couple of years.
School board member Lynn Burnham’s 15-year-old son, Austin, plans to attend.
"It will bring some students from outside boundaries who will see Westwood is a good school to go to," Burnham said.