The facility opened in the spring of 1967 as Jonas Henderson High School. In 1969, it was converted to New Iberia Freshman High. Ninth grade students attended this facility for their freshmen year only and then attended New Iberia Senior High for their sophomore, junior, and senior years. Eventually overcrowding at NISH became a problem, and it was decided that an additional 4-year high school was a necessity. The close of the 1998-1999 school year would also bring the close of New Iberia Freshman High. The doors of Westgate High School opened in the fall of 1999.
To the returning sophomores, it seemed not much had changed. The sign outside still read New Iberia Freshman High School. There was, however, something missing. Half of their fellow classmates had moved to New Iberia Senior High School. Instead of being the "new kid on the block," as their former classmates would be at NISH, they were now the upper classmen and role models for the incoming freshmen. The pressure would be on them to set the tone and carry the school until May 22, 2002, when they would become the first graduating class of Westgate High School.
This was not only an adjustment for the students but also for the teachers. Additional sophomore courses and elective classes had to be added to the curriculum to accommodate the new grade level. A delightful change for the teachers was the return of familiar faces.
Physical changes soon began to take place. Walls were knocked down and two major additions were made. The first major addition was the front section of the school, which houses the administration offices, the business department, the family and consumer sciences department, and the science department. The second was a state of the art gymnasium, including two basketball courts, a weight room, coaches' offices, and locker rooms.
The school continued to grow, adding a grade level each year. Junior and senior course were eventually added, along with more elective classes. By the 2001-2002 school year, the facility was well equipped to operate as a 4-year high school. In May of 2002, the first senior class of Westgate High School graduated! These students entered the school as freshmen and then proceeded to be the first in everything--first sophomore class, first junior class, first senior class, first graduating class, and the first alumni!
Westgate High School will now continue to change through enhancement. In October 2003 Westgate High School and New Iberia Senior High School received a federal Smaller Learning Communities Grant. The purpose of creating smaller learning communities is to increase personalization and student achievement. WHS and NISH have three years to complete the implementation of this grant. A leadership committee was established to create and implement the components of the grant. The committee includes administrators, counselors, and teachers.
The first evidence of change at Westgate High School was seen in the fall of 2004. The committee created a freshmen academy and a new advisory program. In order to create personalization in the freshmen academy, the freshmen students were housed in one hall for their core courses and new transition course. The committee created the F.A.M.E. (Freshmen Achievement, Motivation, and Excellence) course to make the transition from middle school to high school easier. To create personalization for all students, a new advisory program has been designed. All students have been assigned an advocate on campus based on their career choice. The advisory meets every morning, and every other week the time will be extended for "Tiger Talk." During "Tiger Talk," the advocate facilitates a lesson designed by the advisory committee, which allows the students and advocate to form a more personal relationship.
As the 2004-2005 school year began, there was a change in leadership. Mr. Richard Lewis led Westgate High School from its beginning in 1999. In April 2004, he announced his retirement to the faculty and staff. He ended his retirement announcement with the words, "We did it!" Mr. Lewis felt that the Westgate "family" took a 9th grade school and turned it into a successful 4-year high school in only a short period of time. The honors and awards Westgate High School received in its short time of existence are phenomenal. The Westgate "family" will now continue to excel under the leadership of Mr. James Gray, who was named the new principal of Westgate High School in June 2004.
As the 2005-2006 school year began, there were more changes made at Westgate High School. Ms. Hazel Roberts became the new assistant principal (replacing Ms. Linda Landry). The school was divided into five academies to better serve the students. Each academy was assigned classrooms in specific halls. The Arts and Technology Academy was given the 700, 800, and 1100 Halls. The Business and Health Academy was given the 100 and 200 Halls. The Freshman Academy was given the 300 Hall. The Human Services Academy was given the 400 and 500 Halls. The Life Skills Academy has classrooms down each hall.
(Thanks to the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 Yearbook Staffs, Website Developers, and Ms. Neely Moore for the information needed for this section.)
Modified by D'Andre Hypolite