Westridge School: Where Girls Are Unstoppable!

 

Welcome to Westridge School!

Welcome to Westridge School!

Arriving at Westridge School in Pasadena on a cloudy morning, I was immediately struck by the serene beauty of the school, which sits on a cul-de-sac on a quiet residential street. Westridge is an assemblage of a set of 17 graceful, elegant Craftsman style buildings, interspersed with mid-century modern structures. The 9.5 acre campus is filled with trees and has the feel of a small college campus, appropriately scaled for girls grades 4-12.

 

WR 1

Helen Hopper, director of admissions and Monica Menez, the school’s communications director, welcomed me graciously to the office where we talked before setting off on a campus tour. Helen has been with Westridge for 26 years and Monica joined the staff almost 10 years ago. They are both lovely. Helen is the type of administrator I immediately connected with. I trusted her invaluable experience. She’s so friendly and articulate, with knowledge of both the big picture of the school and the tiniest detail. Monica is young and fun, a role model and someone the girls can identify with.

 

Craftsman inspired!

Craftsman inspired!

Sitting in Helen’s office, I asked about the overall educational philosophy of the school, which Helen described as a “progressive, college preparatory girls education.” Westridge begins in 4th grade because, as Helen explained, “Research shows that’s the age when girls benefit from a single sex education.” Under the leadership of head of school, Elizabeth McGregor, Westridge will celebrate its Centennial next year, an amazing accomplishment.” Founded in 1913 by Mary Lowther Ranney, a noted architect and teacher who had been denied the right to vote, Ms. Ranney opened the school in her home so that girls would have the right to be fully educated. The school has based its programs on girls’ developmental stages of learning with qualities like confidence and critical thinking demonstrated by girls, for girls, forming the central tenet of the school. The rest is, quite literally, history, as the school enters its second century!

 

How cool!

How cool!

Simply put, Westridge is astounding! The breath of programs and the warmth of the school are impossible to overlook. It boasts some formidable advantages, including very robust, state-of-the-art signature science and arts programs, a college preparatory curriculum, and top-tier faculty, many who have advanced degrees.

 

Lower School classroom

Lower School classroom

In the Lower School (Grades 4-6), there are about 100 girls. The language arts curriculum is integrated to connect the study units with what the students are leaning in science and other subjects. Math, performing arts and Spanish offer immersion into these subjects with a focus on collaboration, group work and hands on learning. This style of education underscores the school’s progressive approach.

 

The Sciences Are Front and Center

The Science and Math Building

The Science and Math Building

As I walked around the campus, not really wanting to leave the quaint oasis, we entered the incredible new upper school science and math building, a 14,000 square foot, two story space where students “do science, not just study it.” (Westridge School). It is filled with chemistry labs, math classrooms, physics labs, technology and a data center to support the school’s 150 laptops. The eco-friendly quality of the building (it is a Platium LEED-certified project) allows for teaching about green technology and environmental education.

 

Girls and science go together!

Girls and science go together!

Art With Panache

Equally as impressive as the school’s science programs are its performing arts programs. In the Lower School, choral music in all three grades is emphasized, adding string instruments in 5th and 6th grades. Art, drawing, painting and mixed media are offered in all three grades and ceramics is added for 6th grade. The Performing Arts Center, a 600 seat, state-of-the-art theater is the home for numerous theatrical productions, concerts, dances and more.

 

WR3.jpg

As Helen, Monica and I crisscrossed the courtyard to reach the Lower School, Helen stopped to ask a group of girls to chat about the school for a few minutes. Eager to share their Westridge experiences, the girls told me about the ease of making friends, the great teachers and their enthusiasm for coming to school every day. The quiet of the campus is filled with girls’ laughter, a lot of pink and purple backpacks and khaki-skirted uniforms. Helen pointed out that Westridge has human development programs, student council and a full-time nurse and counselor on staff, with courses to help girls navigate the social and health issues of tween/teen years in a safe, non-threatening place. Some of these life skills courses are offered in the after-school enrichment program for grades 4-8 that is included in the tuition. Clearly, Westridge has sharp insight into what girls want and need!

 

WR 25

Lower School Spanish

Lower School Spanish

According to Helen, the main entry points for admission are 4th, 6th, 7th and 9th grades. For 6th grade, the school adds between 8-10 students and about 1/3 of the students are admitted for 7th grade (about 20 new students). Incoming students are admitted from both public and private schools. Families from the San Gabriel Valley, Los Feliz, Silverlake, Atwater Village and other areas attend Westridge. The total enrollment, 4-12 grades is 480 students, with an average class size of 14 and a student/faculty ratio of 6:1. Tution for 2012-13 is $25,550 for grades 4-6. Financial aid is an important part of the school’s mission, with approximately 1/3 of the current students receiving some financial aid. Awards range from a few hundred dollars to full tuition. Tours are ongoing by request.

 

WR 2

College matriculation

Westridge is proud that in the past six years, it has produced 22 National Merit Scholarship finalists. The Class of 2012 gained admission to Brown, U.C. campuses, University of Chicago, Claremont McKenna College, Johns Hopkins, USC, Stanford, MIT and many more.

 

Athletics field

Athletics field

Westridge School’s past has informed its present in a remarkable way. It’s impossible to miss the impact and contributions of the school’s founder and its alumna over the years. Yet, Westridge has embraced state-of-the-art science, art and technology in a truly modern way.

 

WR 17

Westridge School is the belle of the ball…and of the world!

 www.westridge.org

15 thoughts on “Westridge School: Where Girls Are Unstoppable!

  1. Thank you for visiting Westridge, and for the great write up! Westridge is a very special place and our daughter, who is going to be a Junior in the fall, has thrived there. They also have van pools for the Los Feliz area and I believe, Studio City as well.

  2. As a former (and proud!) Westridge girl, I can tell you first hand how much of a difference in my life my Westridge education meant to me. Even 30 years ago, we had opportunities for hands on exploration of arts, music, sciences, math, and languages in many ways that would not have been available at another school, and it looks as though that tradition continues. As a very shy little girl, the supportive, small class environment gave me the confidence to speak up, ask questions, and thrive, and I made lifelong friends that I dearly treasure. I know that my time there gave me the skills to continue my academic career as I proceeded to college and graduate school. So glad to see this wonderful write up of a place that gave me so many happy memories!

    • Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing your experience at Westridge. I truly enjoyed writing about the school!- Christina

  3. I have three daughters, each being very different, who continue to thrive at Westridge. I am always astounded by the quality of the educational programs. My daughters are embracing the vast array of opportunitues and are well on their way to becoming life long learners. From math, science, English, history, languages, drama and athletics – each of my girls is able to define their unique educational journey. Westridge Girls are special, they emerge noticeably more confident, articulate and aware of the role they may play in the world.

  4. Hard to believe I’ve never heard of this school, which I would recommend anyone with a girl check out now that I see how much they have to offer and what great results — 22 National Merit Scholars? Wow!

  5. Yes… They are unstoppable ! Or as we like to say on campus ,” be your best , bold , self!”
    As a part of the WR faculty … I like to say we are creating the ” problem- solvers” of the world , not the problems .

  6. Truly a gem. The kindness, care and attention they give their girls is unmatched. Outstanding staff, teachers, student opportunities……..they seem to always get it right.

  7. What an impressive school, Christina! Like some of the other commenters, I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before. It looks like a wonderful school & I will definitely keep it on my radar to suggest to people!

  8. 35 years later, I still cherish my experience and memories of Westridge.

    Among other things, the school culture and environment fostered my lifelong long love of learning & independent thinking; as well as, my deep appreciation for the equal importance of the arts & creativity, along with academics & sports. I didn’t just love Westridge; I thrived there. I received not only an excellent education, I was encouraged, nurtured and mentored; and I began relationships there, that continue to be profoundly important in my life today.

    Perhaps, most significant of all, it was at Westridge that I began to understand the value of being part of a supportive community. I will always be grateful to Seldon Edwards for articulating a vision of Westridge as “A warm and wonderful community”, and for encouraging students (and me, personally) to participate in the process of defining what that meant & developing goals toward that end. In the 35 years since I’ve graduated from high school, in every community that I have lived or worked in or served in some way, my participation is often guided by my desire to be a part of “warm and wonderful” communities.

  9. Just to add another dimension to all this well deserved praise of Westridge, my daughter graduated from there last year. What I have seen in the subsequent year is pretty astounding. Without exception, her Westridge pals have thrived at the colleges they are attending. Westridge emphasizes finding the college that is a good fit for you…not just an impressive name. For my daughter”s friends those schools include USC, Scripps, Georgetown, Allegany, MIT, George Washinton, Chapman U., UC Berkeley, Lafayette….just to name a few. These girls overall are exceptionally well prepared for college life, both academically and socially. We could not have been happier with our experience at Westridge!!!!

  10. After seeing Westridge, it’s difficult not to fall in love. It seems like the ‘Marlborough of Pasadena.’

    The theater is incredible, as is the architecture of the Math and Science buildings. With Helen Hopper at the helm of admissions, they have a really good thing going. :)

  11. As a proud Westridge graduate I appreciate the opportunities to grow and learn as an individual young woman during my 6 years at Westridge. It is the time spent with Ms. Luedtke that helped me hone my writing skills, and to this day it is my passion. My 20+ years in corpoarate marketing, and 13 years of entrepreneurship success, all without the benefits of college education, that I can attribute directly to my time at Westridge.

    It is also amazing how close I am still to many of my classmates. My “big sister” is still a very dear friend and mentor who means the world to me. Yes, I am blessed to have been educated at Westridge!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>