When rain delays learning

When it rains, some West Charlotte High students have to wait to get into class because the water is too high for them to walk through.

"We need more than a facelift," said Principal Timisha Barnes-Jones. "Our students and staff deserve a building reflective of the programs and learning that are happening daily."

Despite the outdated classrooms and dimly lit hallways, the school has raised its graduation rates in the last five years from 54 percent to 88 percent.

West Charlotte is on the 2017 bond package for a new 125-classroom school to replace the current school that has15 buildings, the oldest dating back to 1954. 

"Maintaining so many buildings can be tricky but we make it work," said Barnes-Jones. "We also are very creative with our spaces so we can create a 21st-century learning environment."

The school provides a variety of courses and programs to meet students' interests and academic levels. Among them: Career and Technical Education (CTE), Advanced Placement (AP), Central Piedmont Community College dual enrollment, International Baccalaureate (IB) and visual/performing arts.

"At first I was iffy about attending West Charlotte's IB program because I had heard a lot of negative things about the school, and it's not the newest school either," said senior Tajahn Wilson. "I'm glad I looked past all of that because it's been a great experience."

Tajahn works in the school's E2D (Eliminate the Digital Divide) Re-Image CLT program. E2D is a nonprofit organization started by a CMS student in 2013. Students in the program refurbish laptops that later go to CMS families.

"I've learned how to clean, inspect and switch out hard drives," said Tajahn. "It's taught me to be more social, too. I have to explain to the families receiving the equipment how to use it."

Tajahn said he would like to see his peers and teachers in a new school.

"Maybe it would help the community see the good we have here," said Tajahn.

Parent Christina Corpening, a 1987 West Charlotte graduate, is from a long line of proud West Charlotte Lions, back to her grandmother. Two of her children are graduates of the school and one is a current ninth-grader.

"I made a conscious decision to keep my children at the school," said Corpening. "West Charlotte has a family atmosphere and the faculty and staff care about student success."

Corpening said the buildings have not changed over the years to accommodate the school's new and expanding programs.

"Because these buildings have housed many students, they have seen better days," Corpening said. "We stay because my child is building relationships with her teachers and administration. I have a good relationship with the administration and take part in helping the school move forward — but our families, students and staff deserve better."