Parents work together to change West High School


When Linda Patterson moved into the Columbus City School district last September, she perceived the atmosphere at West High School to be “chaotic.”

And unfortunately, she said, she was “one of those parents who compared” the district to other districts and even other schools in the same district.

She wanted to do something about the perception of West High School.

“I thought, ‘I’ve got to stop and ask what can I do?’” Patterson said.

Though her plan of attack to change the atmosphere of the school was unclear, she realized, after asking around for suggestions, that teachers, students and parents need one thing.

“We can encourage them,” Patterson said.

So, Patterson revived the Parent Teacher Association at West High School, an organization that had been absent from the building for at least two years.

In August, steps were taken to form the PTA, including becoming chartered under the National Parent Teacher Association. Patterson and her group chose to become chartered rather than file as a 501c3 organization, as it was more economic.

Patterson reached out to parents and staff interested in reforming the PTA via her job as a parent consultant at West High School.

The organization, which has 28 members so far, met for the first time Oct. 13, in the school’s cafeteria, with new leaders Patterson as president, Jim McShane as vice-president, Gretchen Roberts as secretary and Wendy Thornton as treasurer.

“It takes three people to educate our children: teachers, parents and students,” Patterson said, opening the meeting.

District Superintendent Gene Harris attended the first meeting of the PTA. After being asked advice for the reformed organization by member Barbara Miller, Harris gave her tips to success.

“Don’t be discouraged,” she said. “And the most effective thing I have seen is people to people contact.”

Harris shared a story of her past at Mifflin and Briggs schools in the district and of the PTAs at those schools. Every spring at one school, the PTA sponsored Transcript Night, where juniors and their parents would examine the student’s transcripts and schedules for the next year. It was convenient for all parties involved, Harris said.

“We would take a look at their schedules, then sell the parents on PTA,” she said, laughing. “Use kids, use performances, use whatever you can to bring parents and kids together.”

Columbus City School district alumna Martha Johnson agreed personal contact with people is the best key to success.

“It’s all about building relationships,” she said. “People like that. Once you build relationships, this room will be full.”

Though Oct. 13 was the first meeting of the new organization, Patterson said the ideas for fund raisers are already flowing.

The organization already sponsored a tailgate for teachers recently. In November, the PTA also expects to have a “Fazoli’s Day,” where during a specified date and time, those who are associated with the school will get a percentage off their bill, and the organization will receive a percentage of sales.

This winter, the PTA expects to sell candy grams, which students can buy for a quarter and send to a friend. To celebrate the holiday season, the PTA also expects to have a breakfast with Santa event, with the date and location to be announced.

Columbus City School board member Gary Baker, a resident of the Westside, attended the meeting. Baker is a member of the new PTA and was selected Oct. 13 to become a delegate of the West High School PTA council. The PTA is a small force that can ultimately help with the resurgence of the Hilltop, he said.

“With the Hilltop Renaissance, we’ve seen many community organizations come about,” he said. “We can all work together to bring about the Hilltop Renaissance. Schools are definitely the foundation of it.”


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