By Natalie ’25, Mia ’25, and Li Yam ’22
The Harvard-Westlake Mission Statement reads: “Harvard-Westlake strives to be a diverse and inclusive community united by the joyful pursuit of educational excellence, living and learning with integrity, and purpose beyond ourselves.”
Experiencing Harvard-Westlake’s profound and encompassing mission has guided each and every one of our classmates throughout their middle and high school careers. In our blog post, we would like to take our readers through an absolute overview of what makes Harvard-Westlake so meaningful and inspiring to us. With this taste of Harvard-Westlake’s offerings, our incoming students will have a view into the incredible journey over the next few years.
Academics are very important to students’ daily lives. Core classes guide our education, and include Mathematics, English, Sciences, History, and World Languages. Each course has a range of levels, spanning from beginner courses all the way to college-level academia with our notable offerings of Advanced Placement courses. As requirements are completed and students have more flexibility within their schedule at the upper school, each student is able to challenge themselves in their own area of interest. In addition to our core classes, our curriculum has a boundless selection of electives. Electives span from performing and visual arts, languages, studying contemporary society, developing various skills, to extensions of our core curriculum. Notable courses include Mass Entertainment in America; Unconventional Leadership; Cinema Studies; Glass; Black Diasporas: Hip Hop and Modern America; Gender Studies: From Sappho to #MeToo. The list only continues, and our Curriculum Guide can be found on https://www.hw.com/academics/curriculum. The opportunities and difficulty won’t overwhelm you, as the course options and level progress gradually each year. Free periods allow students to meet with their welcoming teachers and review concepts, as well as prepare for upcoming tests or spend time with their friends.
In addition to the integration of free periods into each student’s schedule, there is a thirty minute break once a day for both the middle and high school. This is the time when over 100 clubs meet, and many students bond over shared interests. Some of the most popular groups are HW Venture, BLACC, and the Red Cross Club. With such passionate students, there is never a shortage of ideas for new clubs and activities within the school. Additionally, sports and arts are a huge part of Harvard-Westlake life. They give students so many opportunities to not only make friends but also to pursue interests outside of academic classrooms. Sports and arts offer amazing experiences to be involved, make new friends, and be a part of the HW community. Some of the best friendships at the school are found on a volleyball court or soccer field; in the art studio or the publications lab; in the garden or on the commons during lunch. Each activity is like a family that only grows closer as the seasons pass.
As much as academic and extracurriculars matter, so does your social life. Clubs are an amazing way to make friends who share common interests. Each student will find their place and clubs are a great way to begin that journey. It allows students to meet new people, socialize with people who have a similar interests, and enjoy being part of something that interests you. We commonly get asked, “Will my child make friends?” We always answer something similar to, “Yes, at this school there is a place for everyone. Every student will find their people, whether that is through classes, athletics, clubs, frees, or anything else they chose to get involved in.” If you enter as a 7th grader, you and all your classmates will be new as well, and connection will be created through the shared experience of being at a new school. Some of the people we met during our first years at HW are the people whom we still call our best friends today. If you enter as a 9th grader, you are joining a supportive community along with 90 or so other students who may be just as excited or nervous as you. Every single person that is part of the Harvard-Westlake community positively contributes to the school as a whole. We have no doubt your child will find their group. The Harvard-Westlake community is a positive, supportive, diverse and welcoming place. Every student is working towards a common goal: to do their best. Every teacher is working towards a common goal as well: to make their students the best people they can be. Harvard-Westlake cares about the well-being of all the students. No matter who you are, there are people who are cheering for you and supporting you. As you walk around the school you can feel the support of students and faculty radiating, hoping for you to succeed. As rigorous as school may be sometimes, you will never feel alone or out of place because there are always people who want you to be fulfilled academically, athletically, extracurricularly, and socially and be able to be your best self.
Harvard-Westlake’s community has played a major part in us growing up to become a kind, curious, and ambitious young adults. It is a balance socially and academically and every single student will find it with guidance from the school and their community. As we each take our next steps, we can confidently say we cannot wait to see what is next–whether at HW or beyond.
We believe that Harvard-Westlake is an amazing place to flourish from a teenager into an adult. We hope that we shared a helpful overview of what makes Harvard Westlake so meaningful and inspiring to us and why we chose to be a part of this community. We hope you will join us!