Birmingham City Schools

Wenonah High School

Students: 661

Teachers: 52

Education Report Card 2017-2018: D (64)

Failing Schools List: 2019; 2018; 2017.

Wenonah High School is situated in the Graselli neighborhood of Birmingham. The city broke ground for a new facility for Wenonah High School in 2005, and the new school building was opened in 2008. The new space includes a media center, a 750-seat auditorium and a technical wing with electronic classrooms and labs. The new school also includes a culinary section that houses the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism, one of the Birmingham City Schools’ seven specialty tracks. The other BSC academies are engineering; health sciences; business and finance; urban educators; architecture and information technology. The school’s Bell-Culpepper football stadium, completed in 2007, seats 4,500. In 2012, a field training facility was completed. The girls basketball team has won consecutive state championships from 2014 to 2017 and were runners-up in 2018. The boys basketball team won state championships from 2011 through 2013.

Dr. Wille Goldsmith, the school’s principal, has served in that capacity since 2018. Before heading up Wenonah High School, Goldsmith was principal at Green Acres Middle School. While at Green Acres, he received an award for principal of the year from the Alabama Association of Middle School Principals, in 2017. The principal who proceeded Goldsmith at Wenonoah served for one year before becoming the principal at another BSC middle school. Before that, Regina Carr-Hope was principal at Wenonah for 14 years, from 2003 to 2017.

According to Alabama State Department of Education’s enrollment reports and Education Report Card information, the student population at Wenonah has declined each year over the past five school years. In 2017-18 there were 683 students — 161 in ninth grade; 174 in 10th grade; 163 in 11th grade and 185 in 12th grade. In 2016-17, education report card data reported 738 students; in 2015-16, 766; and in 2013-14 the enrollment was at 785 students. Ten years earlier, during the 2003-04 school year, the average daily student body, based on attendance rolls, counted 1,042 students. At that time, the school also employed almost exactly the same number of teachers as are on staff currently — 53 in 2003-04 and 52 now. From 1995 to 1999, the average enrollment was 1,116 students.

There are seven private schools within three miles of Wenonah High School. Three of those schools — Spring Valley School, Restoration Academy and Central Park Christian Schools — accept high school age students. Spring Valley School and Central Park Christian School are both participating non-public schools in the Alabama Educational Scholarship Program under the Alabama Accountability Act. *

Academically, Wenonah High School faces challenges. According to the Education Report Card for 2017-2018, proficiency in core areas is low. Just 12.6% of the students scored proficient in reading, only 5% scored proficient in math, and 12.6% scored proficient in science. According to the ERC, three quarters of students earn their diploma within four years after entering ninth grade, however, only 31% of those students met at least one of the state’s ERC criteria for college or career readiness. For the third consecutive year, Wenonah High School has been placed on the failing schools list.

Neighborhood Demographics: Wenonah High School and Jones Valley Middle School are located in the same ZIP code. According to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey Estimates for 2013-17, the neighborhood is 98.9 percent black or African American. The median income is $32,627 and the median age is 41. Eighteen percent of the population (856) are school-aged, falling between 5 and 19 years old. Eighty-seven  percent of the population has attained a high school diploma or higher in terms of education. Twenty-six percent of the population in the ZIP code live below the poverty level.

*That scholarship program allows tax credit for donations given to pay for scholarships to students from failing schools. The students must also meet low-income requirements to qualify for the scholarships.

The demographic section of this story has been corrected to indicate that Jones Valley is a middle school.