West Broward High School opened its doors just eight years ago. Everything still looks new, but the school has already made a name for itself.
"West Broward is definitely on the map," said Principal Teresa Hall, who points out the marching band recently finished second in a statewide competition, the cheerleaders are currently competing in a national contest, and the school's veterinary training program is the only one of its kind in Broward county.
The Home of the Bobcats has gone to the dogs, but in a good way. They have a full-scale kennel and animal hospital training center. It's an elective course in which students practice their skills on the faculty's pets.
"It's such a great opportunity because our kids really get hands-on learning," said program director Tara Terribile. "Whether they want to be prepared to become a vet assistant afterward or if they just want to determine whether or not animals is something they want to do as a career, this program gives a great pathway for that."
West Broward High has no magnet programs, but it has enough electives to feed every student's interests, from television production in a state-of-the-art studio to early childhood education. The students in the ECE program learn the art and science of teaching pre-school kids in the school's day care center. Their teacher was once in their shoes.
"It's really cool, it's a great experience," said Ashley Lacayo, a West Broward graduate. "I love this program. I discovered my passion for working with kids through this program. It prepared me for the real world, had to come back as a teacher."
The ECE program provides a stark contrast: outside the class, it's high school, with the usual sights and sounds. Inside, it's all toddlers and cuteness.
"It's great to see our kids interact with the little kids, so they see a different perspective, and they go, wow, so interesting," said Principal Hall.
Many schools these days have medical training programs. West Broward has a simulated ambulance, which allows students to experience what it's like to work inside the confined space of a rescue truck. It's part of the Emergency Medical Response elective. Students who finish it are on their way to careers as EMTs, paramedics or firefighters, and even if they don't pursue that avenue, it's always good to have the life-saving skills they learn here.
Students at West Broward still have all the traditional options, including the full range of AP and dual enrollment classes. They also have much, much more.