Building and Strengthening Neighborhoods and People

Western High School Named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School

Congratulations to Western High School, which was one of two high schools in the state named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School!

The news was announced on December 18. Six schools received the designation, and Western was the only Baltimore City school on the list. The honor is given to schools with demonstrated academic excellence and/or a record of progress.

The six Blue Ribbon schools will participate on Maryland’s behalf in the national Blue Ribbon competition later this year.

Western High School is just one of many quality public schools within the Greater Homewood area. Click here to read a statement by Western’s principal Eleanor Matthews about the Blue Ribbon honor. U.S. News and World Report also listed Western among America’s best high schools in the magazine’s 2008 rankings, as were two other Greater Homewood schools: Baltimore City College and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Click here to read more about the rankings.


COACH Celebrates First Semester in Baltimore

2008-2009 COACH volunteers (l to r) Tasmim Anwar, Catherine Coleman, Paul Hsiao, and Faraz Khalik

Long before you attend your first class, just getting into college these days is hard work: selecting where to apply, taking the SAT, writing essays, searching for financial aid, and finally deciding on the school that’s right for you. This fall, GHCC is giving twelfth-graders at three north central Baltimore public high schools some extra help along the way.

The College Opportunity and Career Help (COACH) program is working at Western High School, Baltimore City College, and Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School. COACH matches seniors at Baltimore City public high schools with volunteer mentors who are undergraduates at Johns Hopkins University. Mentors meet with their students each week throughout the school year to help them through the college application and career planning process.

With the first semester of COACH in Baltimore complete, evaluations from our students and volunteers are showing that the program is making a difference:

  • “I love my COACH advisor. She is very helpful and relatable and understanding.” —Marissa, Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School
  • “The sense of security [of] knowing someone who has been through the process is very helpful and talking to the coaches is very reassuring.” –Darren, Baltimore City College
  • “It’s nice to know there is someone who cares about my education as much as I do.” —Shawna, Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School
  • “I definitely would want to return to COACH next year and continue with it every year I spend at Hopkins.” —Amy, COACH volunteer
  • “It is a great program and I wish every high school student was able to use this program.” —Neikita, Western High School

The COACH program was created in 1999 by two Harvard professors as a way to encourage college access for public high school students in Boston. This is the first year that COACH has been licensed by the Education Resources Institute to operate outside of Massachusetts, and it’s being led in Baltimore by GHCC staffer Frankie Gamber, who was a COACH volunteer during her senior year of college in 2002-2003.