About 200 Wilkinsburg-area teens started school at Westinghouse Academy in Homewood on Monday.
Teachers and community members lined Westinghouse's entrance, cheering, “Good morning, we’re glad you’re here. Have a good day! Have a good school year!”
They wanted to help ease the merger of Wilkinsburg and Westinghouse, they said.
Ernest Bey, a member of Wilkinsburg community group Mad Dads, which works to keep youths out of trouble, held a sign reading, “Don’t forget your past, look forward to your future.”
“We know they’re still thinking, you know, they’re the Wilkinsburg Tigers,” he said. “And we don’t want them to forget that. But now, let’s have a blended school. Westinghouse will embrace them.”
Several students were apprehensive to start in a new school, Bey said, so he advised them to embrace the change and see it as an opportunity to make new friends.
A 1973 Westinghouse graduate himself, Bey said he’s excited for the academic opportunities the Wilkinsburg students will have. The district's middle and high schools closed in May from a combination of poor academic performance and declining enrollment.
The Wilkinsburg School District, under new superintendent Linda Iverson, will pay the Pittsburgh district $8,000 per student in tuition. Wilkinsburg School District now consists of two elementary schools and approximately 500 students.
Wilkinsburg School Board President Ed Donovan said Wilkinsburg students will have more opportunities at Westinghouse, including AP and honor courses, technical education and a special education program.
"In the past, our students had to get on a bus and travel out to Monroeville to attend classes like that,” he said. “Pittsburgh has 100 times more to offer our students in terms of opportunity than we could ever offer.”
Pittsburgh Public Superintendent Anthony Hamlet said the district has also planned several autumn events to help students transition. Wilkinsburg students are now a part of Pittsburgh Public, he said, and it's his priority to offer a well-rounded, robust academic curriculum.