Meet Victoria East, West: First in an ongoing series examining 2 new high schools

Dec. 19, 2009 at 6:19 a.m.
Updated Dec. 20, 2009 at 6:20 a.m.

MHS band

MHS band

Editor's Note: This is the first in a continuing series taking a look at Victoria school district's two new high schools, which will open in August.

As the two new high schools near completion, many parents and students are wondering what sports and activities the schools will have.

Will they both have dance and drill teams? Will the schools be the same?

Yes, says Superintendent Bob Moore.

From sports to fine arts and clubs, both Victoria East and Victoria West high schools will be identical to what Memorial High School has now, said Jay Lester, fine arts director.

"Just imagine it being two new high schools with all programs being equal and the same," Lester said.

Equity Among Schools

Both high schools will have their own tennis courts, a running track, and practice baseball, softball and football and soccer fields, a practice gym and a main gym.

The main gyms will be about four floors high, and seat 1,022 people, while the practice gyms will seat 333 people, said Ron Leach, chief operations officer.

The East Titans and West Warriors will, however, share the current Memorial stadium football field at the Senior Campus for games, as well as the natatorium and the Fine Arts Center.

Both high schools also will have their own dance and drill teams, band, choir and cheerleaders, Lester said.

Orchestra, which is currently offered to elementary students after school at Victoria College, will be offered in middle schools starting next school year, the fine arts director said.

"We had a program that ceased to exist about 20 years ago," Lester said. "That was one of the things they wanted to bring back, which is a string program."

The after-school orchestra program will continue for elementary students, Lester said.

In 2013, both high schools will have orchestras, he said, once the elementary and middle school orchestra students move into high school.

MHS does not currently have an orchestra program.

In addition, East and West will offer dance courses at levels 1, 2, 3 and 4.

The dance classes, which will count as a fine arts credits, will teach various types of dance, such as jazz, tap, classical and modern, Lester said.

"We have students that might want to enroll and learn jazz or tap, but may not want to be on the dance and drill team," Lester said. "There will be instruction available."

The schools will not only be equitable in activities, but also socioeconomically and ethnically, Moore said.

"Part of equity is to have the same services and programs for kids, as well as having a pretty similar breakdown of low socioeconomic students, as well as minority make-up of students," Moore said.

The board will revisit the East and West high school boundary lines every two years to make sure the schools remain about the same size, he said.

According to the boundary maps on VISD's Web site, students who attend Harold Cade and Patti Welder middle schools will feed into Victoria West, and those who attend Howell and Crain middle schools will attend Victoria East.

The Advanced Learning Center

The Advanced Learning Center, to be located where the current MHS Senior Campus is, will house upper level courses.

Possible classes include AP calculus, AP chemistry, AP physics, AP biology, AP computer science and a fourth-year foreign language.

Instead of having only a handful of students at East and West in an upper level course, students from both high schools can take those courses together at the learning center.

"Typically, at some high schools there may be four or five kids that might need some advanced physics or foreign language, but there's not enough kids to offer the program," Moore said. "By offering the program in one location, it allows students from different locations ... to attend."

High school students who are home schooled, attend private high schools, or are enrolled in other area districts may also enroll in the A.L.C. courses, Moore said.

Registration for fall classes begins in January, Moore said. What courses are offered at the A.L.C. will be based on what courses the students request to take during registration, Moore said.

"We'll be in the process of looking at what are the needs for our students, what are the advanced programs that are required," Moore said. "Then we'll be putting those in place."

To avoid traveling back and forth from their main campuses to the center, students will take more than one class at the center, Moore said.

"We'll have a bus service from two high schools to the Advanced Learning Center," Moore said. "They won't take just a single course. They'll take at least two courses while they're there."

The Special Events Center

The Special Events Center will feature the football stadium, track, practice baseball field, practice softball field, the Advanced Learning Center, the Victoria Aquatic Center and the Fine Arts Center, Leach said.

The aquatic center, or natatorium, will have an Olympic-sized swimming pool with low diving boards. It will seat 643 people, Leach said.

Both high school swimming teams will share the pool.

"In the pool, the bulkheads can be moved so we'll be able to have three different events going on at the same time, " Leach said.

The Fine Arts Center, a 1,500-seat auditorium, will be used for larger productions.

Both East and West will have their own smaller auditoriums of 500 seats at their campuses to be used on a daily basis and for smaller productions, Moore said.

The Fine Arts Center will be ready by next fall.

"There's really no large facility that seats 1,500 people," Moore said. "It will also be available for community use."

Smaller High Schools

The current Memorial High School, grades 9 to 12, has about 3,500 students, Moore said.

When Victoria East and Victoria West open up, that number will shrink to between 1,900 to 1,975 students per high school.

Both of the new high schools were built for about 2,000 students, Moore said.

"Research shows that smaller schools get better results, higher parent satisfaction," he said.

Having two smaller high schools will increase student involvement, which is a good thing, the superintendent said.

"That gives more opportunities for the kids to be involved," Moore said. "We'll now have twice the teams, twice the kids. That's what is real exciting."



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