Class Sizes at West

Olivia Jiang

West High is the oldest public high school in Utah. West had approximately 1500 students when it first opened in 1890, and the size of West’s student body continues to change each year. Exactly how many students do we have this year, and how large is the amount compared to past years?

West has gained students every year since it opened. West only had 1500 students when it first opened; although that doesn’t seem like much, it is actually more than double the number of students enrolled in most public high schools. This year, West has nearly 2700 students, gaining, on average, nine students a year.

West is one of the few high schools that enrolls middle school students. In a report conducted by Public School Reviews, in the past two years, West has enrolled about 200 ELPers, 750 freshmen, 600 sophomores, 650 juniors, and 600 seniors. In recent years, the number of middle schoolers at West has declined, but our total number of students has increased. I asked our principal and executive principal about the declining number of middle schoolers. They told me that West currently enrolls about 150 ELPers, only 75% of the number enrolled in a typical year.

Where are the students that have left West going? An article in Reading Rockets by the U.S. Department of Education stated that some students only attend a school because it offers something unique, such as an advanced curriculum, convenient transportation, or special extracurriculars. So, it’s possible that middle school students come to West because of the ELP program and then transfer to different schools when the program ends. This might be why the number of freshmen enrolled at West is slightly declining. As for the ELPers, West has a lot of competition with other schools, such as Wasatch and Clayton. Maybe these other schools have become more popular over the past few years.

Additionally, students may change schools to be with friends. After elementary school, groups of students may decide to attend middle school at West. And, after one student moves to a different school for high school, the whole group of friends may transfer with them.

Not only do the number of students in each grade vary: the number of students in each class also change. There are some significant differences between class enrollments. One 1B Spanish class has only four students. In comparison, my art class includes almost thirty students. In the future, if two classes of the same level take place at the same time, it would be beneficial to make sure they don’t have very different numbers of students.