While Whitehaven High Optional School's driving force is academics, its purpose-driven culture has resulted in numerous victories to celebrate.
Recently, the school's band, the "Sounds of Perfection," won its third national high stepping contest in North Carolina; both the cheerleader and pompon squads won berths into national competitions – and to top it off – the school's football team won its first Division 1 state championship by defeating Maryville High School in overtime by one point on December 1.
To recognize these victories, as well as the school's academic achievements, District 3 City Councilman Harold Collins is spearheading a parade celebration planned for January 2013.
"Whitehaven High's students, coaches, teachers and principal deserve to celebrate their recent academic and extra-curricular victories in their (Whitehaven) community," said Collins.
The councilman is working with WHS principal Vincent Hunter, Sr., Ed.D., school alumni, and Whitehaven stakeholders to plan the parade that will start at a point on Elvis Presley Blvd. and end at the school, 4851 Elvis Presley. The date, time and route will be later announced.
Parade talks ensued after the school was named Tennessee's high school football champions. Supporters in Shelby County and beyond are continuously praising the football coach and team.
"The amount of notes and phone calls I'm receiving is amazing," said WHS' football coach of nine years, Rodney Saulsberry. "Compliments are pouring in from citizens in the city and county and from high school and college football coaches in states across the Southeast."
Underlying Whitehaven High's academic and non-academic successes is an intentional culture of hard work, innovation, and most importantly, purpose.
For example, the football team's hard work can convert into college scholarships for students who may not be able to score high enough for academic scholarships, or may not be able to afford college otherwise. The school's innovative "30 Plus Club" encourages students to earn a score of 30 or more on ACT exams as a way to increase scholarship potential, and its "Fortune 500 Club" challenges students to seek and apply for at least $100,000 in scholarship dollars.
The school's 2012 graduating class earned $27 million in scholarships, with 51 securing more than $100,000 each – five earned more than $1 million each. In the last two years, several students earned perfect ACT exam scores of 36 in the subject areas of math and science, a very rare achievement.
Students in the 2013 class who have been preparing to take ACT exams scheduled for this Saturday (Dec. 8), fully understand the expectations and opportunities at hand.
"Our school emphasizes academics first with high expectations in everything we do," said Dr. Hunter. "Recent academic and athletic victories prove that our students embrace that they are competing with others on local, national and international scales, and must prepare to succeed."
(Dena L. Owens is Communications Manager for Memphis City Schools.)
(For more information about Whitehaven High Optional School's academic offerings and extra-curricular activities, visit www.mcsk12.net, or call the school office at 901-416-3000.)