|School district||Westford Public Schools|
|Color(s)||Maroon and grey|
Westford Academy is the public high school for the town of Westford, Massachusetts, United States. It was incorporated in 1792 and is one of the oldest public high schools in the United States. Westford Academy is consistently ranked as one of the best schools in the Boston area. In 2020 Boston Magazine ranked WA as #14 on their list of "Best Public High Schools in Boston".
Westford Academy (WA) was founded as a private school in 1792, " for children 'of any nation, age, or sex.'" As long as students could read the Bible and pay the required 9 shillings a term both boys are girls were allowed to attend.
WA became a public school in 1928 after a town meeting vote on April 30, 1928 when "[t]he residents of Westford agreed to purchase the “Westford Academy” from the Trustees of the Academy."
There have been four Westford Academy buildings:
- First Westford Academy building (1794-1896) on Boston Road. This building currently serves as the Westford Museum.
- Second Westford Academy Building (1897-1995) on Main Street. This building is now the Roudenbush Community Center.
- Third Westford Academy Building (1956- 1972) on Depot Road. This building is now the Abbot School.
- Fourth Westford Academy Building (1973 to present) on Patten Road.
In October 2019 Westford celebrated the 225th anniversary of Westford Academy.
Westford Academy follows a rigorous college preparatory program. Students at WA are required to take courses in English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education, Computer Literacy, and Foreign Language in order to graduate. Courses are offered at the Advanced Placement, Honors, College Prep, and Foundations level.
In the 2019-2020 school year 475 WA students took a total of 951 AP Exams with 96.6% of students earning a passing score of a 3 or above.
Westford Academy does not officially calculate class rank, however a valedictorian and a salutatorian are named every year at graduation.
The vast majority of students pursue post-secondary education after leaving WA. Between 2017-2020, on average, 97.25% of students planned on attending either a 4-year or 2-year college.
Awards and recognition
Westford Academy is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
On October 9, 2008 Westford Academy was honored as a Blue Ribbon School. "The No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools Program is an award that honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools that are either academically superior, or that have demonstrated dramatic gains in student achievement... satisfying the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria for being 'in the top 10 percent of all schools on state assessment scores in both reading (language arts or English) and mathematics, regardless of their demographics.'"
In 2014 four WA students won, "the title 'Best in Nation' in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge... [the] app... helps children learn chemistry using a 3D simulator... [and] creates 3D simulations of equipment, different chemicals and reactions that occur in chemistry experiments, such as simulating flame tests and adding together chemicals in a beaker... Westford Academy received a $20,000 grant accumulated from winnings of both the regional and national competition to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs in school.."
Westford Academy participates in the DCL (Dual County League) which is part of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) and offers a number of athletic opportunities for students. Westford Academy Girls Varsity Ice Hockey team also allows girls from the Littleton High School to join the team. Westford also teams up with Littleton for their Crew Team.
Sports teams include Cheerleading, Soccer, Golf, Field Hockey, Football, Swimming & Diving, Basketball, Ice Hockey, Gymnastics, Alpine Skiing, Indoor Track, Wrestling, Nordic Skiing, Women's Ice Hockey, Track and Field, Lacrosse, Tennis, Softball, Baseball, Fencing, Crew, and Volleyball.
Westford Academy Girls Soccer (WAGS) is one of the best athletic teams at WA. In 2017 the Westford Academy Girls Soccer team made it to the Division 1 state championship game losing in double overtime to Wachusett, 2-1. In 2020 the team defeated rival Concord-Carlisle to advance to the DCL championship losing in the final against Newton South 2-0.
Swim & Dive
Both the Girls and Boys Swimming and Diving teams are highly competitive. As the Boston Globe reported, "the Grey Ghosts have strung together six consecutive undefeated seasons, winning eight of the last nine MIAA Division 1 titles... [the Boys] hoisted the Division 1 trophy in 2015 and have finished in the top six every year since 2011."
In 2017 the WA Girls Basketball team won both DCL title and the Division 1 Central title, "unfortunately for the Ghosts, the run came to an end in the state semifinal, with eventual state champ Springfield Central downing Westford by the final of 61-45." The following year the Girls Basketball team once again made it to the Division 1 Central finals, losing to Wachusett 54-47.
On January 27, 2018 both the Girls and Boys basketball teams were invited to play at the Good Sports TD Garden Invitational. "Each member of the Westford Academy boys and girls basketball teams dealt with the excitement of playing in the home of the Boston Celtics... The boys fell to Algonquin, 71-53, while the WA girls lost a heartbreaker to Wachusett, 45-41."
The WA Nordic Ski team, "perennially finishes in the top half of the Mass. Bay West League and [from 2013-2017] both the boys’ and girls’ programs have finished in the top 10 at the state team championships."
In 2020 the boys Alpine Ski team won the Mass Bay West League title.
In 2021, freshman gymnast Maggie Murphy was named the Dual County League Gymnast of the Year.
In 2015 the Softball team entered the North Division 1 softball tournament as the 19th seed. "Westford advanced to the final after defeating No. 5 seed Revere, 4-2" but ultimately lost in the final to Methuen.
Between 1956 and 1958 Westford Academy's mascot was the Black Knights. "The 1959 yearbook specifically stated that WA teams would no longer use the symbol after the 1958 season... The familiar Grey Ghost — and associated maroon and gray colors — were adopted and applied starting in 1959... This change was related to new, differently colored uniforms. Research suggests the ghost was inspired by the title of a popular TV series at the time, 'The Gray Ghost'".
In recent years there has been some controversy about the mascot. "The original Grey Ghost was Colonel John Mosby, a Confederate officer who led a partisan cavalry unit known as Mosby's Rangers during the Civil War. Mosby was fiercely loyal to Virginia, but also disliked slavery, becoming involved in politics after the war, eventually becoming the U.S. Ambassador to Hong Kong in the Ulysses S. Grant administration. His exploits were turned into a television show in the late 1950s that was apparently popular with Westford Academy students of the time, who chose Mosby's nickname as the replacement nickname during a contest to replace the school's former one: the Black Knights."
In 2020 a WA alumni started a Change.org petition to Replace the Grey Ghost mascot that received over 500 signatures. The Westford community remains divided over the issue of whether or not to change the mascot.
Westford Academy offers a number of clubs and extracurriculars including: A World of Difference (ADL program), Anime Club, Asian Culture Club, Beyond Words (literary magazine), Book Club, Chess Club, Cirrus Outdoor Adventure Club, Colorguard, Dance Club, Entrepreneurship Club, Equestrian Club, French Club, German Club, Ghostwriter (Student Newspaper), Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA), HOSA, Human Rights Club, International Club, Investment Club, Jazz Band, Jewish Student Union (JSU), Junior State of America (JSA), Latin Club, Marching Band, Math Team, Mock Trial, Model UN, Museum Club, Outing Club, Programming Club, SADD & Herren Project, Science Team, Ski Club, Smash Club, Spanish Club, Speech and Debate Team, Troubadors, WA Acapella, WA Friends/Best Buddies, and Women in STEM.
Westford Academy Theater Arts (WATA) puts on four main stage and four black box productions each year. Guest directors have included Dr. Luke Jorgensen, a professor at Boston College, and Larry Sousa, an acclaimed director and choreographer. WATA has won eight state championships (2008, 2010-2015, 2019) at the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild's annual play festival. Since 2009 WATA has entered the Theater at the Mount Youth Awards at Mount Wachusett Community College, which celebrate excellence excellence and achievement in high school musical theatre. In 2013 WATA's production of Evita won for "Best Overall Production" and in 2017 WATA's production of Spring Awakening won Best Musical.
The Westford Academy chapter of the DECA Business Club is the #1 Largest Club in MA. The club is open to all WA students, grades 9-12, who are enrolled in at least one business class for each school year of their participation. As the WA Ghostwriter reported in 2020, "For over ten years, WA DECA has had significant successes at both district, state and international level conventions. WA has the biggest DECA chapter in MA with over 400 members, providing a strong presence at the state competition as they competed in 30 events and have 39 qualifiers for ICDC, DECA’s international conference (USA and Canada), where competitors who achieved top 5 in their events at states compete on the international level."
Westford Academy has a FIRST Robotics Competition team called the "Stormgears". In 2019, the Stormgears won the Safety Award at the New England District Competition at Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School and finished in 18th place in all of Massachusetts.
The WA High School Quiz Team competed in WGBH's prestigious High School Quiz Show in 2014, 2019, and 2021. In 2019 WA lost in the Qualifying Round to multi-year champion Andover with a score of 175 to Andover's 625. In 2021 the WA team lost in the Qualifying Round with a score of 800 to AMSA's 940.
In 2004, Westford Academy math teacher Rosemarie Pumo pled guilty to distributing heroin to her students and was incarcerated at MCI-Framingham. Two years later, "Stony Brook middle school teacher... Jessica Palkes faced charges of heroin possession. She pleaded not guilty at the time, but the incident prompted Westford town officials to call for drug testing of newly hired teachers -- a program that is currently in place."
In January 2020, a student executing the outlet challenge, a viral internet challenge which emerged over the TikTok social media platform, led to a building evacuation after smoke was noticed leaving power outlets.
- James Arciero (class of 1993), American state legislator serving in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
- Loammi Baldwin, Jr., American civil engineer.
- Pat Bradley (class of 1969), LPGA Hall of Fame Golfer.
- Sarah Carter Edgarton Mayo, writer and editor.
- Pamela Gay (class of 1992), astronomer and podcaster.
- Ellen Swallow Richards, chemist, home economist, and first female student and instructor at MIT.
- Aaron Stanford (class of 1996), actor.
- Nettie Maria Stevens (class of 1880), early American geneticist and researcher.
- Aubrey Webber (class of 2003) and Laser Webber (class of 2006), The Doubleclicks.
- "Archives of Westford Academy". Westford Academy. Archived from the original on 2016-08-14. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
- "Westford Academy: MCAS Tests of Spring 2011 Percent of Students at Each Performance Level for Westford Academy". Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 2011-09-15. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
- George Adams (1853). "Education in Massachusetts: Incorporated Academies". Massachusetts Register. Boston: Printed by Damrell and Moore.
- "The Best Public High Schools in Greater Boston".
- "Westford Academy". July 18, 2016.
- "October 2019 Musings". October 31, 2019.
- "Westford Academy 2020-2021 School Profile" (PDF).
- Swanson, Debbie (October 16, 2008). "Westford Academy earns top honors".
- "Westford Academy (U.S. News)".
- O’Donnell, Lindsey (April 1, 2014). "Westford students' App wins Verizon's 'Best in Nation'".
- Liuzza, Michael (September 4, 2018). "Westford girls soccer returns talent, experience from historic 2017 season".
- "Girls Soccer: Newton South claims Dual County League Large Cup". November 10, 2020.
- Lin, Andrew (February 12, 2021). "It's not perfect, but Westford Academy teams continue dominance in the pool during virtual season".
- Liuzza, Michael (December 1, 2017). "Can Westford girls repeat trip to finals?".
- Martin, Renzhofer (March 13, 2018). "Wachusett defeats Westford in Division 1 Central final".
- Renzhofer, Martin (January 30, 2018). "Westford players cherish memory of playing in TD Garden".
- Sylvia, Andrew (June 1, 2016). "Westford Academy's Annual Patriots Basketball Game Draws Hundreds".
- Wright, P.J. (February 22, 2017). "Westford Academy Nordic ski team goes the distance".
- "Westford Academy boys capture Mass Bay West title". February 14, 2020.
- Ventura, Danny (April 14, 2021). "Boston Herald girls gymnastics all-scholastics and league All-Stars".
- Renzhofer, Martin (June 15, 2015). "Controversy mars Westford Academy tournament loss".
- Diamond, Nick (June 11, 2019). "Dust settles: Lincoln-Sudbury baseball walks off with thrilling playoff win over Westford".
- "Featured Artifact of the Week The Westford Academy Black Knight". September 25, 2019.
- Sylvia, Andrew (December 5, 2013). "How Did The Grey Ghosts Get Their Name?".
- Patil, Anushka (October 7, 2020). "Community looks deeper into Grey Ghost's roots".
- "ALPHABETICAL LISTING OF STUDENT CLUB/ACTIVITIES".
- "Local high school musicals honored during TAMY Awards". May 21, 2013.
- "LIST OF WINNERS 2016 – 2017 TAMY AWARDS" (PDF).
- Bhat, Unnati (March 8, 2020). "WA prevails at State DECA tournament".
- Khan, Mohammed (March 13, 2019). "Ghost Robotics sees success".
- Fisher, Jenna (February 3, 2021). "Westford Academy To Compete On GBH's High School Quiz Show".
- "High School Quiz Show | Andover vs. Westford Academy (1003)". February 19, 2019.
- "AMSA vs. Westford | Qualifying Round | High School Quiz Show". May 15, 2021.
- "WESTFORD ACADEMY HEROIN CASE". Lowell Sun. 2005-04-01. Retrieved 2021-06-06.
- "Bill calls for drug screening for public school students". August 14, 2015.
- Corbett, Kelly (29 January 2020). "The Viral 'Outlet Challenge' Has Already Caused a Fire at a Massachusetts School, So Let's Stop This Now". House Beautiful. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
- Massachusetts Board of Education; George A. Walton (1877), "Report on Academies: Westford Academy", Annual Report...1875–76, Boston – via Internet Archive
- Simmons, Carrie (2007-09-07). "History of Westford Academy". Westford Eagle. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2009-05-24.