The Evolution of WHS

The+Evolution+of+WHS

Haddy W. Dardir and Nathan Hsiao

Westlake High School has gone through many significant phases to become the prestigious public school it is today. Demon spirit has adorned the material of the school for decades, but that spirit has pushed the students, staff, and architects of WHS to changes in rules, design, technology, and behavior. With changes such as no food in classrooms, the restricted freedom of students, and the creation of a new building being ingrained in the minds of many, the Green and White favored a more detailed account on the changes WHS have been through. A few months ago, the Green and White was able to interview Mr. Bobby Bowles, English teacher and coach, and Mrs. Carolyn Maciag, science teacher, in order to gain a greater understanding of how Westlake High School has changed in the past couple of decades.

Mr. Bobby Bowles (not to be confused with his father, Bill Bowles) graduated from Westlake High School in 2011, and has been a staff member for two years. Mrs. Maciag taught at Westlake High School from 1986-1996, then returned in 2007. She graduated from the school in 1980, but only attended from 77’-80’ because of the freshman class being part of the old junior high school, which consisted of grades 7-9.

Mr. (Bobby) Bowles: To me, I think the biggest thing that has changed is the building itself. I went to high school at the old Westlake High School, and coming back, to me, is a bit of a change. But it’s one that has been a pretty nice change as well. The accommodations that Westlake offers its students and staff are above and beyond what is normal for a school. Coming back as a teacher provided me quite the experience because I was able to go from being my teacher’s inferior and student to being coworkers and peers with them. And it was quite the change I had a really fun time participating in, and it was a great experience for me moving forward.

-The old school in 2013, courtesy of an article published 18 days before its demolition.

One thing that probably comes to mind are the ways the student body has changed, such as behavior and the way students talk to one another. Many kids have done irresponsible and preposterous actions in the past, but the G&W asked Mr. Bowles and Mrs. Maciag to further elaborate on this question. 

Mrs. Maciag: I think kids teased and respected one another throughout my time at the High School. However, in the 80s, there were a lot of nicknames, some good, some bad, with some being “beautiful body boy.” I don’t want to say too many others. Also, I don’t like cyberbullying and how kids put stuff about each other on social media now. Thankfully, we didn’t have that when we grew up. Regardless, I think kids called each other names today and in the 80s. Also, my girlfriend and I were called “the clones.” 

-Mrs. Maciag appears in the yearbook of her senior year, with her maiden name being Patrick.

Mr. (Bobby) Bowles: I don’t think that there’s any real difference between students today and students when I was here. I think in general society changes, and with that, kids are gonna change as well. But at the end of the day, kids will be kids, and kids are just gonna have fun. I personally don’t notice any major differences, but from an adult perspective now, I just look back and wonder if I was doing some of the immature things that I see, and I’m sure I was!

Mrs. Maciag went into further detail on this matter.

Mrs. Maciag: I think you guys, in some ways, get away with a lot more stuff than we could, like how you guys get away with a lot of tardies. If you showed up late to class and there was a test, you automatically got a zero. However, one thing I want you to understand is that the kids at WHS have always been well-behaved. Sometimes, I think there’s more talking back to adults now than we were allowed. We got the paddle when I was in school, and if anyone talked back during class, the teacher would throw whatever was in their hand at the student. Today, there’s kids that use foul words, and if you did something like that when I was in school, the consequences were severe.

An integral part of Westlake High School’s environment is the academic competitiveness, which brings about the question of whether it was always the same, or if it boosted in more recent generations. 

Mr. (Bobby) Bowles: I think it has, and I also think that most high schools have gotten more competitive. I don’t think the academics have changed or gotten better or worse, but now, I think there’s a greater push for academics, and more and more kids are trying to better their ACT scores or their GPA so that they can get into the elite schools. So, I think in general school is getting more competitive because students are starting to see there’s more of a value in education. 

 

Mrs. Maciag: I don’t know. Yes and no. I think grades are more inflated now than when I went to school. There were not as many honors classes, very minimal, and we had AP European History and AP Bio, which were very different than they are today. We didn’t add more honors classes until the mid-80s. However, kids have always been competitive. NHS has also been around for a long time. 

The development of smartphones a little over ten years ago has drastically changed the world and how people communicate, socialize, and, in some extreme cases, behave. With this thought in mind, we wondered if teachers have noticed any changes in the way kids behave, since smartphones dominate most of their lives now, and if they changed Westlake High School as a whole.

Mr. (Bobby) Bowles: I think it has, and sometimes I just get a little frustrated when I see it because even though cell phones were around when I was in school, they weren’t as prominent as they are today, and it’s troubling when kids can’t go more than a class period without them. Even as an adult, and a teacher, we’re guilty of it as well, and it is a societal thing, but I do think that the phone and our reliance on it has somewhat hindered our ability to hold a conversation, hold our attention, and do some of the basic human functions that are necessary.

Mrs. Maciag: I think it’s good because you have instant information at your fingertips, but it’s also a major distraction. Sometimes there’s less face to face interaction, and parents constantly know where you are. I actually feel bad for you guys because you have less privacy now.

As mentioned previously, the school has passed many board-approved rules and regulations in recent years that are thought by many to be too stringent and controlling. What do teachers who were former students make of them?

Mr. (Bobby) Bowles: That’s hard to say, because from a teaching and coaching standpoint compared to a student standpoint, you see different things. Personally, when I was a student, I wasn’t breaking any of the rules or doing anything like that, but I do think that there’s kind of a growing tendency to hold kids accountable, and I think that’s a good thing because if kids are doing what they’re not supposed to be doing, then they should be held accountable.

Many young fashion icons are seen embellishing the hallways and classrooms of Westlake High School. However, many others wear only simple clothes that are comfortable enough to get them through the day and snooze during a lecture. Which raises the question: A couple of decades ago, were the warming sweatshirts, t-shirts, and hoodies we see on many students today adorning students back then as well? 

Mrs. Maciag: Even if you looked at my senior yearbook from 1979-80’, kids still wore jeans, t-shirts, and sweaters like they do now. For difference though, I would say girls never wore leggings unless it was under their dresses. Tube socks were common, and you were only allowed to wear shorts during the last few weeks of school because it was hot. For gym class, you had to wear your uniform from junior high (middle school) with green shorts and a green and white striped t-shirt throughout high school too. In the 80s, we had a more preppy look with polo shirts and pop collars. From junior high up until my senior year, bell-bottoms and hip-huggers were common until it switched to jeans. In the late 80s, they got rid of the gym uniform, and skirts were longer in the 90s. Also, in the late 80s, girls wore stirrup pants, which were like leggings with a strap around your foot.

-The honorable mention page of Mrs. Maciag’s yearbook, clearly showing a couple of the fashion trends that dominated her time. 

Aside from behavior and talking nicely to one another, unfundamental language has poured through the mouths of WHS students for years. This is proved in the senior issue, in which “worst slang” is a common superlative. Whether it’s from internet trends, widespread memes, or some eccentricity exclusive to the school, we wondered how slang has changed over the years.

Mrs. Maciag: We’ve just had different slang terms. A lot of your slang terms seem to be acronyms from social media, like “LOL.” We would say “you need to take a chill pill” and “no duh.” Maybe we would call someone good looking a “hunk.” Before social media came out, a lot of these slang terms spilled into the decades following the 80s up until now. We also had three different categories: “nerds”, “jocks”, and “burnouts.” Nerds were bookworms, jocks were sport kids, and burnouts were the sketchy kids. We also called band kids “bandos.” In the 80s, we would also say “gag me with a spoon”, and ask “what’s the lowdown?” for what’s going on. Kids saying “like” and “you know” with pretty much everything also started in the 90s. 

Innovations, such as the previously-mentioned smartphone, make for a smarter, easier world. Technology has become a very significant component of the school’s teaching environment, with innovations such as mechanical pencils, computers, and chromebooks being widespread in every classroom. Back then, what new innovations did kids use to their educational advantages?

Mrs. Maciag: We didn’t have mechanical pencils or chromebooks. However, from sophomore to senior year, we were allowed to use calculators, which were new in the late 70s, and it was regarded as a small computer used by the space program. No backpacks, we would just carry our books, and some people would have book bags. Most kids didn’t get backpacks until college. There were no phones in school, plain and simple. We didn’t even have corded phones in the classrooms. Our computers were not window machines, and they only displayed text. We also used typewriters. Windows and Apple didn’t become popular until the late 80s. Also, Windows computers weren’t in the school until the late 80s. 

-The mathematics and computing section of Mrs. Maciag’s senior yearbook.

Taking advantage of the moment, Mrs. Maciag decided to speak further on how Westlake High School has changed.

Mrs. Maciag: (The clickiness of Westlake High School has been going on for a while.) (In the old Westlake High School, there were “open” classrooms that only had 3 walls, so if the things in a classroom didn’t interest a student, they could listen to talking in the next class.) (I think Westlake has gotten a lot more diverse than when I was in school.)

In general, the past is something all of us always think about. Whether it’s significant events that happened in your past, nostalgia from a place or thing that reminds you of the past, or just plain curiosity about what the past was like, the spirit of the past is something that’s in all of us. The next time you see the “Go Demons!” motto, dress up for spirit week, or yell your heart out during a spirit rally, let all the reminiscences and comments of Mr. Bowles and Mrs. Maciag sink in, and remind you that all great schools undergo great progress.