• School History


    In September 1953 Wichita High School West opened, the culmination of a drive begun in 1925 when the West Wichita Community Council started campaigning for a high school west of the Arkansas River. Twenty years elapsed before plans for a vocational-technical school started. Development of these plans resulted in an academic school now classified as a comprehensive high school by the North Central Association.

    The one-story, intercom equipped, multi-wing building designed by architects Glen H. Thomas and A.B. Harris served as the prototype for the later construction of Wichita High Schools South and Southeast. The building was regarded as adequate for the long-range needs of the community; but by the third year of operation it was necessary to add 25 classrooms, and by 1971 the building was surrounded by 24 portable units. The first year, the student body totaled 1,035 students - by 1959 there were 1,907. The rapid growth made it impossible to practice the original concept of having each department housed in its own wing. The faculty doubled and the enrollment more than doubled. A new library media center was added in 1976 and the existing library was renovated. In 1979 Wichita High School Northwest opened, which caused the enrollment at West to decrease.

    At its inception, only 22 percent of the graduates went on to college. Therefore, the curriculum reflected an emphasis on vocational preparation. In the large homemaking department, the students studied food preparation, family budgeting, child care and family relations, so they were prepared to enter home and family life. The business education department offered courses in stenography, secretarial training, retail selling and business, and the industrial education department offered printing, mechanical drawing, general metals, woodworking, auto mechanics, electricity and other trades.

    The first graduating class erected a memorial to the Pioneers of the West. The class of 1956 planned its own commencement with student speakers, a practice since adopted by other schools in the city. In 1969 a group of art students and their instructor created a sculptured relief mural in fired clay, 20 feet long and 15 feet high, outside the school office. The cast bronze-effect mural illustrates mathematics, art, music, drama, social studies, science, industrial arts, language arts, home economics and business curricular areas.

    Lockers were replaced in 1981. In 1988 and 1989 alterations were made to the cafeteria and several classrooms.

    In the fall of 1988, all ninth graders were moved to high schools. The enrollment has leveled to an average of 1,500 students.

    From A History of Wichita Public School Buildings, c 1997