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Merrill F. West was a native of Laurel, Iowa who moved to Tracy in 1936 to farm produce crops and walnuts.  Mr. West served as a TUSD board member for eleven years (1954-1965), four of which as president. He also served on the County Board of Education in the 1950's. Mr. West stated his vision for education as, “The important goal, as I see it, is to give all our children an equal opportunity for a quality education with maximum efficiency of the taxpayers’ dollar.”

The campus stretches over 51 acres and supports more than 3,000 students. West High opened its doors in 1993 under the leadership of Bob Palous. Both the school colors (blue and gold) and mascot (the wolf) were voted on by the first year students. Our students are known as the Wolf Pack. Mr. Palous served as principal for three years before leaving the school. The second principal, Herman Calad, met the challenge of bringing WHS into the 20th century while facing ever-shrinking budgets and increasing pressure to produce high standardized test scores. Mr. Calad served with distinction for twelve years before retiring. To this day, through the leadership of its principal Zachary Boswell, WHS continues to uphold Mr. West's vision of giving all students an equal opportunity to a quality education.


Since its opening, West High became a Digital High School (1998) and has been recognized as a Distinguished California High School (2003). The Space and Engineering Academy has been awarded the Golden Bell Award (2002). The Art department was recognized as an Exemplary Program (2002-03). The Advanced Placement program has produced 102 AP scholars. Recently, administrators, teachers, and support staff at West High have been actively involved in assuring that all content area assessments align with state and local standards and frameworks. To this end, West High employs a variety of assessments to evaluate student progress and performance (STAR, CAHSEE, End-of-Course Exams, and District assessments). Core content areas are ensuring course outlines; curriculum and textbooks are aligned with California standards. During the last two textbook adoption cycles (math and ELA), only publishers whose material met the California high school standards were considered. Assessments in these areas followed the curriculum, therefore, testing the standards. Non-core content areas are aligned with the California frameworks. Additionally, peer analysis and evaluation is utilized in the English, art and social science departments as students review and submit individual and group projects.



Special Academic Programs

To meet the needs of the diverse and growing student population, West High has incorporated various academic programs. The goal is to provide students opportunity to explore their academics interest while maintaining academic rigor.

For students that choose to pursue their interest in the sciences, the Space and Engineering Academy (SEA) was established. Academy students follow a detailed four-year plan of Academy courses, traditional courses, and electives.  These four-year plans, or Pathways, are focused on broad career interest groups.  Students who complete a pathway will meet or exceed graduation requirements and college entrance requirements, and be well on their way to their chosen career.

When Academy students complete their four years at West High, they also have the opportunity to earn a special Academy Graduate Certification, by completing an Academy pathway and a portfolio.  Top Academy students can also graduate with honors.  Special recognition and a real sense of accomplishment accompany both awards.

At the heart of an Academy student's four-year plan are special Academy Science and English courses that integrate space, engineering and technology themes.  In these courses, students develop valuable communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills as they learn core concepts.

Academy students also learn through special co-curricular programs.  For example, at the University of the Pacific, students take Saturday seminars from Engineering professors and participate in a U.O.P. Freshman Engineering course project.  At the Challenger Center, students simulate a mission to the Moon.  And at local business and industry, students shadow professionals at their work sites as they perform their duties.

Academy students stand out, just by being Academy students.  But there are some Academy students who stand a little taller than the rest.

Gifted middle school students can explore space & engineering themes during short summer program courses.  Students work in teams on small-scale robotics or rocketry projects modeled after Principles of Engineering projects.


West High School also offers fourteen courses for Advanced Placement (AP) during the junior and senior year.  The AP program gives students the opportunity to pursue college-level studies while still in high school and to receive advanced placement, credit, or both, in college.  By challenging and stimulating students, the AP program provides access to quality education, accelerates learning, rewards achievement, and enhances both high school and college programs.  West High School offers AP courses in English language and literature, Spanish language and literature, French language and literature, U.S. History, Government, Psychology, Studio Art, Calculus, Statistics, Computer Programming, Physics, and Advanced Biology. 

Advanced Placement Teachers participate in Eighth Grade Night at the feeder schools in order to inform prospective AP students of their options. Also, students who take Algebra in the eighth grade at one of West High School’s feeder school may receive high school credit for the course.

Advancement Via Individual Determination(AVID) focuses on students that are “middle of the road.” These students come from families that haven’t had members attend college. The goal of the AVID program is to provide academic assistance, through tutoring and academic guidance, for those identified students who desire to go to college. The students are placed in academically rigorous classes and are paired up with a tutor. For one period of the school day, the students work in their study groups with their tutors. As a new academic program, AVID is continuing to expand. Beginning the ’04-’05 school year, the AVID program will be including 9th, 10th and 11th grade students.
The Success program is a school-within-a-school for at-risk students. Success students are typically under achieving students whose academic issues are beginning to develop disciplinary issues. The program helps students develop positive academic discipline to be able to handle the rigor of a comprehensive high school. Students typically enter into the Success program as freshman and remain in the program for two years. Since the program is based on voluntary placement, students are able to exit the program if they desire. However, under normal circumstances, students remain in the Success program for two years.

Academically, Success students are required to complete the same academically rigorous classes as other students. However, Success students remain with the same teacher for four periods a day and the class size is limited to 20 students. The teacher is assisted by a para-educator, giving the instructor additional opportunity to work directly with each student.

West High also has designated classes to assist students with special learning needs. These special needs students are assessed upon entering the school and placed in appropriate programs such as Special Day Classes (SDC) and Resource Classes (RSP), and Severely Handicapped classes (SH).

Once identified, frequent follow-up assessments of students occur. The special education staff monitors the development of students in special classes. Tests are administered annually to determine the designated services that the students need. Meetings are held with parents, students, teachers, administrators, counselors and other designated stakeholders to assess and develop Individual Education Plans (IEP). The IEPs are evaluated on a regular basis.


 Parent Groups and Communications

West High School engages families by understanding the community it serves and is fortunate to have parents who have helped to contribute to the culture and richness of all West High’s history.  Tracy’s population tends to be educated and holds an intrinsic belief in the value of education.  Because so many of the committees and parent groups are decision making bodies (e.g. School Site Council, Digital High School Committee, Home Field Advantage, Band Boosters, Senior Parents Group), parents are involved stakeholders.  Large groups of parents attend AP Night, LEP awards, District Visual and Performing Arts shows and Principal’s Forum.  There is also a high level of public support as evidenced by parent volunteers on various district committees (Gateway to Tomorrow, WASC).

West High offers a variety of activities to allow families and community members to contribute to the success of our school.  Parents are invited to scheduled events and to individual conferences regarding their students.  Several parents and community members contribute to our SPIRIT Program each year by serving as group leaders for different ethnicities.  Students are selected to serve on a committee that meets with the Principal on a monthly basis to discuss issues and concerns and to seek solutions (Principal’s Forum).

Believing that open communication is the key for maintaining a collaborative approach, parents may use Parent Connect an online information resource, anywhere or anytime they have Internet access.  Parents are provided with a list of teacher voicemail numbers and e-mail addresses and the email system is widely used.  The Principal’s Newsletter, a quarterly publication, informs parents about school issues, calendar of events and important community services and resources.  An automated attendance phone dialer alerts parents to potential attendance problems.  Each academic department of the Space and Engineering Academy has established web sites to offer parents another avenue for school, student information. Individual faculty member web pages offer parents information about course syllabus and instructor contact information. The school maintains its web site allowing parents with addition information about important upcoming events on campus.



Student Activities and Athletics

Since its beginning West High has worked hard to build a culture where students can grow and find new things to be involved in. The ESLR’s were specifically developed to help student become life long learners.  These are posted in every class and teachers are encouraged to include the ESLR’s in their lesson plans when appropriate. An extensive and successful athletic program gives students the opportunity to play team sports as well as individual sports like golf, swimming and tennis, in which they will be able to participate well into adulthood.  There are a myriad of other activities, which include drama, journalism, leadership, music, art, Mock Trial, Academic Decathlon, and numerous clubs which celebrate diversity such as Black Student Union, Asian Club, Afghan Club, MeCHA, Muslim Club, PULSE (the Christian Club), Friends (help with Special Olympics) and Club Unity which promotes tolerance of different lifestyles.  Other clubs such as C.F.S., S Club and Key Club are involved in many service activities, which give students a sense of community that is designed to carry over into their adult life. 

Character Counts, a district wide program that was introduced three years ago, is an ongoing project in the school to make sure the six pillars, citizenship, caring, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, and fairness, are infused in the classroom and practiced outside of the class.  Our athletic teams are also involved with the program Pursuing Victory with Honor, which promotes good sportsmanship. Also our leadership class began Pride Chain in the SJAA athletic league.  Before each major sport competition the leadership students meet in the center of the field and exchange spirit sticks, helping to promote friendship and good will among the schools.  They also get together on a quarterly basis to deal with concerns and share ideas with one another. By having these programs in the school, it helps young people develop the necessary values that they will use as adults.  The principal is also involved with our students in a program called SPIRIT.  At the beginning of the year, he meets with a cross section of the student body and they brainstorm the problems that the students see as issues on campus.  On the second day they meet, the students work at coming up with solutions to the problems and deciding who is responsible for seeing that the problems get handled properly.  Monthly, the principal meets with representatives of SPIRIT to monitor how the issues are being taken care of and to deal with unforeseen problems.  This has been a successful exercise and has given many students the opportunity to become involved and connected with their school in a positive way. The staff also nominates Students of the Month, an award given to students who exemplify the best in West High students; they are given a certificate, a letter from the principal is sent to the parents and their picture hangs in the office for the month.

West High belongs to the Tri-City Athletic League (TCAL).