Whitney M. Young Gifted & Talented Leadership Academy

Whitney M. Young Gifted & Talented Leadership Academy (also known as Whitney Young Gifted Education Campus, Whitney Young High School or Whitney Young School) is a selective-enrollment public school in Cleveland, in the U.S. state of Ohio, notable as the city's first public gifted and talented school.. Named after Whitney M. Young Jr., a prominent civil rights leader, the school is located in Cleveland's Lee-Harvard neighborhood.

Whitney M. Young Gifted & Talented Leadership Academy
17900 Harvard Avenue

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Coordinates41°26′57″N 81°33′10″W
School typeCoeducational high school Public, National Blue Ribbon School
MottoAspire, Achieve, Apply[1]
School districtCleveland Metropolitan School District
SuperintendentMr. Eric Gordon
School code062323
CEEB code365-772
PrincipalMrs. Karen M. Byron-Johnson
Academic SuperintendentMrs. Rojeana Howell-Curtis
Average class size17
Student to teacher ratio20:1
Color(s)Black and Gold         
SloganWhitney Young is distinctively excellent.
Athletics conferenceSenate League[2]
Team nameWarriors[1]
RivalJohn Hay, John F. Kennedy and The Cleveland School of the arts
AccreditationOhio Department of Education
NewspaperThe Whitney Word
Communities servedGreater Cleveland
Feeder schoolsAll Greater Cleveland Schools
School Hours8:00 - 2:30
Head CounselorMrs. Kristie Lewis
MissionThe mission of Whitney Young is to provide an excellent education to gifted and talented students from diverse backgrounds. This is accomplished through an accelerated program that emphasizes leadership, self-motivation, independent thought, and intellectual curiosity.[1]
Graduation Rate97%
WebsiteOfficial Site

Whitney Young is less than a half-mile from John F. Kennedy High School. Located in the city's southeast corner, it is less than a half-mile from the Cleveland - Warrensville Heights and Cleveland - Shaker Heights borders. During the 2008-2009 school year Whitney Young served 16% of CMSD gifted students.

The school has scored among the top high schools in the state of Ohio. In May 2009, Whitney Young was featured on Channel 3 News in Cleveland for begin just one of four Cleveland schools to have a 100% graduation rate.[3] That same year, the school was ranked among the top high schools in the United States by U.S. News and World Report.[4] On August 27, 2010 Whitney Young became the first and only Cleveland school to receive the state's highest rating of Excellent with Distinction.[5] Whitney Young is currently listed on Ohio's Schools of Promise List, it has been on the list for 9 consecutive school years, starting in school year 2001-2002. Whitney Young has been listed as an Ohio School of Promise more than any other school in the state.[6]


In 2007 Whitney Young became one of two middle schools in Cleveland to take part in the Rotsky Foundation.[7] This program allows selected eighth grade students to participate in a mentoring program, and receive a scholarship in their senior year to any college/university. The students will remain in the program until they complete high school, regardless if they remain in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District or not.

Whitney Young's 2008-2009 school year was a dedication to Reginald Lamont Dudley Jr., a 13-year-old (Whitney Young Eighth Grader) who was murdered October 4, 2008 in his home.

In December 2011, the State of Ohio Department of Education released the first ever ranking of all Ohio schools. Whitney Young ranked third in CMSD and 180th in the state.

Name changes

The school building that is now home to Whitney Young was opened in 1951 as Hoban Dominican High School, an all-girls Catholic School. In 1971 the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (formally Cleveland Municipal School District) brought the school from the Cleveland Diocese. When the Cleveland Municipal School District first opened Whitney Young in 1971 (a few months after the death of Whitney Young, who died March 11, 1971), it was an all-girls school.[8]

  • 1973-1974 School year—school opened as Whitney M. Young Junior High School
  • 2003-2004 School year—name changed to Whitney M. Young School
  • 2008-2009 School year—name changed to Whitney M. Young High School
  • 2010-2011 School year—name changed to Whitney M. Young Gifted & Talented Leadership Academy

Grade-level changes

In the 2003-2004 school year the Cleveland Municipal School District begin adding one additional grade level to Whitney Young until reaching grade 12. Whitney Young's first high school graduating class was the Class of 2007 with former principal Alisa McKinnie. In June 2009 Whitney Young held its first eighth grade promotion (Class of 2013) since it added secondary courses to the school in 2003.

  • 1973-1974 School year—school opened with grades 7-8
  • 2003-2004 School year— changed to grades 6-9
  • 2004-2005 School year— changed to grades 6-10
  • 2005-2006 School year— changed to grades 6-11
  • 2006-2007 School year— changed to grades 6-12
  • 2010-2011 School year— changed to grades 2-12

Cleveland Schools Transformation Plan 2010

The Transformation Plan that was announced on Tuesday, January 5, 2010 categorized Whitney Young as a Growth School.[9] This plan called for major changes throughout the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.[10] Growth Schools are schools that are showing the strongest absolute academic performance or strong improvement trends. These schools will be provided the autonomy and support they need to continue to improve student outcomes, with a strong expectation for continued growth.[11] This plan also called to close Gracemount School, which is less than two miles from Whitney Young. Gracemount served gifted students in grades K-8, but ranked in Academic Emergency. With Gracemount closing, their students in grades 2-8 labeled gifted will be sent to Whitney Young effective the 2010-2011 school year. As part of the Transformation Whitney Young would begin serving grades 2-12 effective the 2010-2011 school year.[10]

CMSD hosted a Transformation Community Meeting for Whitney Young on Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at John F. Kennedy High School. Parents, staff, community members and students were welcome and encouraged to attend the meeting. Whitney Young's Principal Karen Byron-Johnson informed parents about the district's plans for Whitney Young in the coming weeks and school year.[12]

CMSD Board voted on the plan on March 9, 2010 and approved it.


Whitney Young consistently ranks in the top of the state in terms of test scores and attendance rate. The school offers numerous Honors and Advanced Placement courses for students in grades 7-12 and Gifted & Talented courses for students in grades 2-6. Advanced Placement is offered for Physics, English, European History, Environmental Science, Statistics and Calculus. Honors courses are as followed Algebra, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, World History, American History, American Government, Street law, Spanish, Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry, English, Creative Writing, Poetry, and French. As of the 2010-2011 School Year Whitney Young only offers Physical Education, Health, Band, Choir, Art, Drawing & Painting, African-American History, Senior Seminar and OGT Math & OGT Science as regular course work. The school requires all high school students to take academic electives, honors and Advanced Placement courses.


Whitney Young currently is composed of two buildings, the 'Main Building' (High School) and the 'Annex' connected by a tunnel.

Main Building

The Main Building is the front building of the school. The Office, Principal's Office, Cafeteria, Gymnasium, high school/ main Media Center, high school/ main Computer Lab and Auditorium are all located within the Main Building. All visitors must enter in this building before proceeding to the Annex or anywhere throughout the school.

High school

All high school students classes are located in the Main Building, known as the "High School". Some high school students take an art class in the Annex, this however is the only time high schoolers are in the annex. High School students switch classes just as every other high school, all classes are 50 minutes including lunch periods.

Tunnel and Annex

The tunnel is an extended brick wall walkway between the Main Building and the Annex. The tunnel contains lockers for Junior High students. The Annex is the back building of Whitney Young, it contains The Assistant Principal's Office, Grades 2-8 Media Center and Grades 2-8 Computer Lab. All rooms in this building is distinguished with an "A" at the end (EX: Room 208A, Room 303A, 214A)


All Elementary students classes are in the "Annex". There is one class per grade level for students in grades 2-5. Students remain in these classes all day, with the exception for Breakfast, Lunch, Physical Education and Music classes which are located in the high school.

Junior High/ Middle School

All Junior High students classes are also located in the Annex. There are typically two-three classes per grade level for students in grades 6-8. Students switch classes throughout the day (with 50 minute periods) and remain in the Annex with the exceptions of Foreign Language Classes, Lunch, Breakfast, Gym, Music, and Band which are located in the high school.

2010 State Report Card

On August 27, 2010, Ohio Department of Education released the 2009-2010 school year report cards for both schools and districts across The State of Ohio. Cleveland Metropolitan School District's CEO Eugene Sanders held a press conference at Whitney Young to announce that the district as a whole has received a rating of Continuous Improvement (C average) on the state report card (up from the previous year D average).[13] The press conference also revealed that Whitney Young was rated Excellent with Distinction, the highest rating possible to receive[14] (the first and only Cleveland school to receive this rating).[5] Whitney Young's principal Karen Byron-Johnson spoke briefly about how she and her students reached their goal in such a low performing district. While CEO Eugene Sanders was quoted saying "You can go to Shaker Heights, Solon, Beachwood, you can go to any other school in the state, and none of them have performed better than Whitney Young students.[15]

Effective Leadership Academy

Effective Leadership Academy, also known as ELA, is a non-profit 501(3)c organization that was founded in 2008 by Flo Brett. ELA works with Northeast Ohio schools to provide a dynamic, results-based youth leadership program for students in grades six through twelve. The ELA's mission is to help young people turn their potential into performance by developing their most valuable asset – themselves. This innovative, "inside out" self-development process focuses on three critical elements: personal leadership, healthy behaviors, and interpersonal skills.[16] During the 2010-2011 school year WMY teamed up with Effective Leadership Academy and Cleveland Leadership Center to deliver a leadership training program to 30 WMY seniors from the Class of 2011. Their once a week senior seminar, delivered by ELA focuses on leadership and character-building skills. The ELA program returned to WMY during the 2011-12 school year to work with 15 seniors from the Class of 2012, the group met twice a week for fifty minutes each session.


On Thursday, November 11, 2010 two freshman students were forced by other students into the trunk of a car which drove around the school parking lot. One boy was injured attempting to escape he was treated and released from Hospital. Four students from the school were arrested and charged with felonious assault, abduction and hazing. Cleveland Metropolitan School District Humanware Division sent crisis counselors along with members of the CMSD Anti-Bullying Team to counsel students and remind them of their rights and responsibilities.[15][17]

Extracurricular activities

Students playing on Whitney Young sports are commonly referred to as Lady Warriors (girls) and Warriors (boys). Whitney Young offers few sports compared to other high schools in Cleveland. Whitney Young is classified in the city's extramural division (until conclusion of 2011-2012 school year). Effective the 2012-2013 school year Whitney Young sports were moved in the Senate League. Whitney Young currently offers:

High school

Middle school


  • After School Tutoring


  • Whitney Young also offers Special Olympics track, basketball and bowling for students in special education classes.

In October 2009 the high school Lady Warriors Volleyball team won their fourth consecutive championship game, going undefeated for three consecutive years; with Coach Paul Baker. The middle school Lady Warriors Volleyball team came in second place; with Coach Debra White.[18]

On February 11, 2010 and February 10, 2011 Whitney Young boys' high-school basketball team lost the championship game against Ginn Academy at John Adams. March 4, 2010 Whitney Young girls' high-school basketball team lose the championship game against Cleveland School of the Arts at John F. Kennedy.

Honors and awards

Awards/ Honors
AwardNumber of AwardsYear
"Blue Ribbon Honors School of Excellence".[19]11998
Ohio's Top Middle Schools List62006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012
Ohio's Top High Schools List72005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012
America's Best High Schools[4][20]52008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Cleveland Cavaliers Head of the Class (English Teacher Debra White)12010
Ohio School of Promise.[21]102001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
State Report Card Rating of "Effective"[22][23]62003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
State Report Card Rating of "Excellent[24]22009, 2012
State Report Card Rating of "Excellent with Distinction"[25]22010, 2011
Cleveland Bar Association Mock Trial12012
Power of the Pen Writing Symposium22012
Stop The Hate Writing Contest Semi-Finalist Award Winner through The Maltz Museum12012
Original Song Writing Series through The Maltz Museum Roots of American Music12013


SeasonSportNumber of ChampionshipsYear
FallChess32008, 2009, 2010
High School Volleyball42006, 2007, 2008, 2009
WinterHigh School Basketball, Boys'22006, 2007
Middle School Basketball, Boys'32006, 2007, 2008
SpringHigh School Basketball, Girls62006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012
Track32009, 2010, 2012

See also


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