Principal Szcinski of West Orange Foresees A Robust System For 21 st Century Secondary Education
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
It was fortuitous that I literally ran into the Principal of West Orange High School, Douglas Szcinski,
during the groundbreaking ceremony of the new relief high school. So, I requested for an interview, hoping to get a better understanding of a very important part of our community in Orange County. My scheduled appointment was at 9:00 am. There was a guard at the school entrance, requesting for my ID, upon my arrival. This is definitely a phenomenon that did not exist when I was a high school student back in Ohio decades ago nor for my daughter when she attended high school back in Illinois years ago. Two well poised (perhaps reflecting the “Warrior Pride” I’ve heard so much about in the community) female students in the front receptionist desk notified the Principal of my arrival.
During our 40 minute chat, I’ve come to realize that one needs to have a great deal of patience, ability to juggle, adapt, and bring consensus from diverse population groups, in order to be a principal at West Orange High School. Mr. Douglas Szcinski, in his unassuming manner, carried out his duties as the Principal of West Orange High School smoothly while giving much credits to his team of exceptional faculty and staff for meeting the demand of this ever growing institution in Central Florida region.
West Orange High serves primarily the city of Winter Garden, bordered on the West by Lake County, the South by Osceola County, the East by the City of Ocoee, and the North by the City of Apopka. Based on the current 2015-2016 enrollment figures, West Orange High School has the largest student enrollment (4100 students) and large number of parent volunteers in Orange County Public Schools. With the Vision of: Graduate all students with the skills to be life-long learners and the Mission of: Personalize education for individual student success, Principal Szcinski and his team foresee diverse programs for a diverse student population groups (overall student population at West Orange High School : 51% White, 15% Black, 24% Hispanic, 5% Asian and other. ) from Exceptional Student Education program, Advanced Placement courses program, to CTE (Career and Technical Education) department and Agriculture Education, Dual Enrollment program (enabling some student to graduate from high school with sufficient number of college credits to obtain an associate degree upon graduation, if so desire), and Economically Disadvantaged program. Online courses via Florida Virtual School or SAT prep via Khan Academy are also available to students for flexibility or accessibility. Instructional extension opportunities are also provided before and after school for the core subjects and state assessment. West Orange High School schedule includes a 25-minute block for students’ remediation and/or enrichment groups. The school further provides students with opportunities for discovery and growth from 11 different athletic sports, band, chorus, dance, drama, and visual arts. Teachers are also supported to become proficient and to focus on best research-based instructional practices.
I was quite pleasantly surprised to find out about the agriculture program (apparently with animals on campus) and the wide assortment of CTE programs available to students: architectural drafting, printing management, broadcasting journalism, cooking & related culinary arts, child development, business/office automation/technology, entrepreneurship, computer systems networking & telecom/Cisco Academy, finance: accounting technology/technical & bookkeeping. For the well being of Americans’ health, better appreciation for plants, agriculture, and animals are definitely needed. In light of my recent experience posted, it’d be great if more young Americans would realize the importance of remineralizing of our soil/earth (one of the main contributing factors for magnesium deficiency is due to much reduced mineral contents in our soil.). I was amazed to find out about the wide range of clubs and organizations available to students at West Orange and could not help myself in suggesting possibilities in recycling or renewable/solar/sunshine club.
Since Principal Szcinski’s arrival about three years ago, there has been significant increase (+9.2%) in the school’s graduation rate to above 91% in 2014. Regardless how many of its future graduates will go on to universities or colleges (because studies have shown that much of this may be determined by the socioeconomic background of the student’s family), we can be certain of the fact that West Orange High School is providing a very robust system in giving students opportunities to discover, succeed, and be prepared for life after high school.
Certain reader was requesting for the source of data provided. So allow me to share the source of some of the data presented above.
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Thank you for writing such a great article about Principal Szcinski and West Orange High School! Our son is a Junior at WOHS, so we’ve been blessed to be Warriors for 3 years now. We cannot speak highly enough of West Orange High School, Principal Szcinski, or the amazing teachers & staff at that school!
Our son is in the AFJROTC program at West Orange, and not only does the AFJROTC have its own amazing Drill Team & Color Guard, but they also offer many extracurricular activities such as Cyber-Patriots (where the students learn how to identify & prevent cybercrimes) to Rocket Club (where the students learn how to build a model rocket, launch it, observe the results and rebuild it even better for another launch.
There are just sooooo many reasons why West Orange High School is THE BEST high school in Orange County; but if I had to pick the single biggest thing that separates WOHS from any other school, it would be the WARRIOR PRIDE that all of the students, parents, teachers, and staff feel. You see, West Orange High School isn’t just a high school—it’s a family.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for acknowledging our awesome principal. And thank you for the great article you wrote.
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