Western High School's History

The Western Way

Western’s motto is ‘Lucem Accepimus, Lucem Demus’ meaning “We have received light; let us give light.” That motto continues to guide Western girls in pursuit of their education, career success and significance within their communities.

Western opened its doors November 1, 1844, at 100 North Paca Street, then moved to numerous rented spaces in its first half-century. Many current alumnae remember the school’s years at the corner of North Howard and West Centre Street.

Western opened in its current location at 4600 Falls Road in September 1967, and the Poly-Western complex was one of the largest high school campuses constructed in America at that time. Western is a citywide magnet school which requires certain entrance criteria to be accepted into its talented student body.

Notable alums include Henrietta Szold, founder of Hadassah, Anna Deavere Smith talented playwright and actress, Nancy Grasmick, former MD Superintendent of Schools, Jill Carter Maryland delegate, Stephanie Rawlings Blake, former Mayor of Baltimore, and the Cone sisters of the Cone Collection at Baltimore Museum of Art…and more!

Please visit Western High School to see an extraordinary portrait gallery in its front entrance hallway.

Lifting Our Voices in Song

One of our favorite traditions is singing our school song “Dear Western” together. As well, since Western graduates always describe their return to Western as coming home to the warmth of memories and sisterhood, we have adopted the song “Home” by Charlie Smalls as another favorite.
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College Bound, Ready to Soar!

She’s a Western Girl

For decades up to today, a common phrase people use is you can just tell she’s a Western girl.

A liberal arts college preparatory school, Western attracts hard-working students who meet our entrance criterion and seek rigorous academics. Their achievements uphold Western’s reputation for strong outcomes; virtually all of Western seniors head to college each year.

Drawn from neighborhoods throughout the city of Baltimore, our students have ambitious dreams for their futures.  From freshman year onward, Western High School prepares them to consider and visit their college choices and follow the steps needed for admission. 

College Bound

In recent years, Western seniors have received acceptances from over 100 different colleges and universities throughout the nation and locally, including Johns Hopkins University, Morgan State University, Harvard University, University of Maryland College Park, Spellman College, Cornell University, Towson University, UMBC and Howard University. They have received over $5 million in scholarships, grants and aid.

From Girls to Gamechangers

As students in a wholesomely competitive academic atmosphere, Westernites (as students were nicknamed since 1985) and Doves (as students are now called) learn to assume leadership roles to seek solutions to problems, to initiate and implement projects and to begin to take charge of their own lives. Such experiences are invaluable to young women in today’s society.

A Pioneer in Women’s Public Education

Founded in 1844, Western High School is a pioneer in women’s public education. Western has consistently attracted students of academic excellence. A liberal arts college preparatory school, Western substantiates its reputation for scholastic achievement by sending virtually all of its seniors to college each year.

Academic Programs

Western offers several academic programs: College Preparatory, Accelerated College Preparatory, Teacher Academy of Maryland, Biomedical Sciences, Engineering and our IT Networking Academy. America’s most prestigious universities seek Western graduates. Academic preparedness gives them the grounding to soar!


Whole Girl
Educational Approach

Western High School’s philosophy provides for the development of the whole child. The school has 12 competitive sports teams ranging from badminton to lacrosse to dance. Western sponsors clubs for all interests, from Sounds Unlimited and Western Robotic RoboDoves to our Step Team and Science Club. Through these activities, Western girls become more than friends; they become sisters.


The uniqueness of Western High School is unquestionable. Its scholarship, tradition, and spirit, which began more than 175 years ago, continues to enrich the lives of Baltimore’s future leading women.

Western High School Today

Western, founded in 1844, is a college-preparatory high school serving young women in the Baltimore area. Its strategically designed rigorous curriculum encourages advanced-level course work. This National Blue Ribbon School challenges students to be intelligent, insightful, and involved in the world around them. It fosters the development of school and community leadership among its students.

School Traditions


Red and Black


“Western, Only the Best!”


“Dear Western”



Team Name

“The Doves”

Western has four sets of traditional class colors. Each class inherits their class colors as freshmen. The colors are:

  • Purple and gold
  • Maroon and gold
  • Blue and gold
  • Black and gold

Annual Events

Big Sister, Little Sister Program

Each year, Western juniors of the new school year pick little sisters from the incoming freshmen. 

Unity Day

An joyous alumnae and student gathering in March celebrating Western’s legacy and featuring student performances and remarks.

Spring Revel

The annual outdoor spring fair featuring celebratory banners, booths and activities in the quad.


Western High School’s graduation is traditionally held on a Saturday in even years and on a Sunday in odd years, in June. This is because it shares an athletic complex (namely the football field) with its brother school, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. The girls wear white, ankle-length dresses and carry red roses during the commencement ceremony. It is also customary to release white doves, Western’s mascot.


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