Student Voices

Western Middle School

Robin Kencel|February 9, 2021

Western Middle School (WMS) is a highly-ranked school serving students grades 6-8. Students grow as learners and citizens in a welcoming, nurturing, and academically challenging environment. Feeder schools include Glenville, Hamilton Avenue, and New Lebanon elementary schools as well as a part of Parkway. However, the beauty of WMS is that it’s a magnet school, meaning students from anywhere in Greenwich can apply to attend.

AVID


WMS boasts the AVID Schoolwide program, also the theme of the magnet school. Mr. Gordon Beinstein, the principal of WMS and the 2019 Connecticut Principal of the Year, says that “The idea is that we teach kids the executive functioning skills they need to be successful. We teach them the game of school, so to speak. And AVID does that purposefully. So, you learn how to take notes, you learn how to keep a binder. You learn how to use your planner. You learn how to time manage.”

All students are taught a variety of strategies to help each individual find what works best for them. Not only this, but the AVID Schoolwide also fosters a college-going atmosphere. Students are exposed to information about colleges and careers, often presented with opportunities to explore colleges and careers of their choice. The success of AVID is corroborated by WMS’s high standardized test scores and growth rates. More importantly, the skills help each child succeed not only in middle school but as they move onto high school and beyond.

Community & Diversity


WMS has a diverse student body, with about 50% minority students. One way the school celebrates the different cultures of students is with its annual International Night. This fun event invites families to share food, culture, and conversation while watching incredible student performances. Mr. Beinstein greatly values the diversity at WMS. He says that “I think that really helps us stand out. It makes the teachers better because they’re teaching to a wide range of learners”

Teachers and students foster community within the classroom and there are many opportunities outside of the school day for teachers, students, and families to come together, like the annual holiday dinner. WMS also values serving others through events and fundraisers that assist those in need, such as an annual event benefiting St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

Charles, who graduated from WMS in 2019, shared that “Western’s community is certainly a defining feature that highlights the school. With so much diversity and school spirit, the community definitely made my middle school experience one I’ll never forget.”

Extracurriculars


There are a multitude of excellent extracurricular opportunities open to all students. WMS is home to a nationally-ranked Quiz Bowl team. Quiz Bowl is an academic competition that tests students’ knowledge in a variety of topics. In recent years, the team has competed and ranked extraordinarily well at local and regional competitions. This has qualified them for the National Academic Quiz Tournament for several years in a row, giving the team the chance to travel and compete against teams from across the country of similarly high-caliber. There is also a debate team that enables students to practice their speech and argument skills in regional competitions.

Another beloved club at WMS is the Theater Club. Each year, students across grades come together to rehearse and perform a spectacular musical. This is done with the help of the Set Design Club for students who want to contribute to the musical through their artistic talent.

WMS offers many team sports, including field hockey, volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, and track and field. Throughout the year, intramural sports are also available after school for students to practice and have some fun without participating on a team. The Unified Sports and Western Buddies programs bring together students with and without disabilities for sports and fun activities to cultivate friendships. These are just a few highlights; many other activities exist for students to explore their interests and passions. Please note that most clubs and sports are on pause during the pandemic, but will hopefully return soon.

Academics


Students generally take core classes in English, math, social studies, and science. As with the other schools in the Greenwich Public School district, there are special education services, classes for English Language Learners, and Advanced Learning Program classes. Additionally, students may take either French or Spanish as a world language course. Students may elect to take band, orchestra, and/or chorus and might otherwise take courses in art, family and consumer sciences, general music, or technology.  As mentioned before, AVID strategies are frequently incorporated into the curriculums. There is also an emphasis on project-based learning.

One of the most remarkable aspects of WMS is its outstanding faculty and their excellent teaching methods. During my time at WMS, my teachers were extremely dedicated to their students and subject areas. They have high expectations for students and provide the support and encouragement needed for each student to achieve their goals.

When asked about WMS, students are quick to compliment the faculty. Anna, an 8th-grade student, appreciates “the dedicated teachers and how they create a friendly learning environment.” Ingrid, a 7th-grade student, shared that WMS is special because “they have a super respectful staff and they are all so sweet and kind. They show you how to get ready for the real world.” Another current student shared a story about when a teacher recommended her for a particular class, saying that it “made me happy that she talked to me personally”.

Lilly, who graduated from the school in 2019, says that “all the teachers and admin are always eager to help their students. It makes it a really great place to go to school, even when it’s not a good day or you’re just not yourself.” Charles, quoted earlier, shared that his favorite thing about WMS is “the unique approaches that many teachers incorporate into their teaching. Throughout my time at WMS, there were so many creative projects and activities that I look back on even to this day.”

With many academic and extracurricular opportunities, engaging curriculum, supportive teachers, and a welcoming atmosphere, the students at Western Middle School all have the chance to thrive.

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