Communities prepare for Wilkinsburg, Westinghouse school merger

Communities prepare for Wilkinsburg, Westinghouse school merger

While Pittsburgh Public Schools staff are just about ready to welcome students back, one school is facing extra pressure this year as it merges two student bodies: Wilkinsburg and Westinghouse.

When school starts next week at Westinghouse Academy, there will be about 600 new students in the halls, with 200 new students transferring from Wilkinsburg.

Over the past year, teachers and administrators at Westinghouse have been preparing for the merger to ensure a smooth transition.

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“I think parents should know we care about their kids,” said social studies teacher Steven Sylvis. "(We have a) safe environment to learn and a world of opportunities they didn't have before.”

Teachers met on Tuesday to prepare for the first day of classes. They’ve already introduced every new student, welcoming entire grade levels to meet the teachers and get acclimated with the building.

Most parents said they welcome the change and think it will improve education. But, with a history of rivalries between the two communities, some parents said they’re concerned with the merger.

Teachers said they believe introducing students to each other at a young age will only improve community relations.

Cynthia Tolover, an eighth grade English teacher, said, “We are going to team build and, as we team build, the students go home and tell their parents about what is happening, stir the excitement and change the perception of the community itself.”

There is already heavy security at Westinghouse Academy, but Channel 11 took some parents’ concerns to administrators. School officials said they feel it’s more important to add more counselors to help with the transition as opposed to solely adding more security.