WO cares


Instructor Beth Spreitzer

This is a photo of the Food Pantry, one of West Ottawa’s many services.

Anna Anderson

   If you have ever felt like you are struggling, West Ottawa is here for you with no doubt. West Ottawa High School is a school for over 2,000 students. Each specific student in this school is supported. There are several programs at WOHS and throughout the district that have helped students to thrive. WOHS shows they truly care for each and every person at the school; the programs they have developed are WO Access, The Food Pantry, A Dress Closet, Panther Fund, and several more. If a student is failing in classes, there is help here at West Ottawa; if a student is not financially able to purchase a dress or groceries, there is help here at West Ottawa.  West Ottawa is doing all they can to help any student in need. 

WO Access

   Struggling in geometry? Need some expert help understanding those chemistry equations? WO’s got you. No worries. You’re not on your own to try to figure it out. That’s what WO Access is for. WO Access is a free tutoring program after school a few days a week. The program started in 2020, during online school and the pandemic. There are teachers and student tutors there to help anyone who needs an extra push to get up their grades. Usually, about 30-50 students go to study or get help with classes; the most busy day had 72 students. It is not only a place to get help with classes, it is also a quiet place to get wifi, a place to work on group projects and a safe environment to go to after school. All students at WOHS are welcome to attend WO Access. “While I cannot speak for ALL students, I can say that having this program around has made HUGE differences in the lives of some,” said Instructor Abigail Averill, the coordinator of the program, “I had a student who graduated last year who would not have gotten his credits on time without the program. Our mission statement is to make school success ACCESSIBLE to ALL our students.” If WO Access doesn’t show WO cares, then what does. Having a free tutoring program where students can achieve success in their classes is a huge benefit for many. “The last thing I want to mention is just the sense of togetherness that I feel this program has made. Just the fact that it exists shows how much our school community cares about our students.” 

Food Pantry

   Can drives have always been a thing, but do you know what they are actually important for? The answer is the Food Pantry, located in the North High School Building. The Food Pantry is a program that started years back. If students are insecure about food at home, they are allowed to come and get two bags of groceries once a week. Instructor Beth Spreitzer said, “One thing I really love about West Ottawa is we take care of the whole student. If you are hungry you can’t learn. We just want to make sure that every student comes to school and has a full stomach and is ready to learn.” This makes all the difference in a family’s life at home. The kind donations of other students and staff are saving people at their homes. It is so kind to have donations coming in everyday; it is not just food brought into the pantry either, there are items including shampoo, soap, tampons, toothpaste, and other essentials. The program has annual food drives that spread the word about the food pantry as well as collect more food. No student should have to be hungry at home, and WO knows that. It is amazing to see the amounts of donations that come in from the school and the variety of food to keep a student healthy. 

Panther Fund

   No stress is needed if you need a little help paying for a school event, The Panther Fund has got you. The Panther Fund is a non-profit organization. It was started years ago by some families from West Ottawa. This program is a financial aid to students throughout West Ottawa. It assists students in their academics, arts, athletics and more activities at WO. Instructor Garrett Daniels said, “P.F. has helped students pay for instrument rentals, clay for art class, team apparel for athletics, AP test fees and much more. We recently have kicked off a new program to help teach all 2nd graders at WO to swim.” The help spreads around West Ottawa. For example, in all math classes they give information about the panther fund if a student needs help buying a calculator. Another example is when a field trip comes up for a class, a student can get a Panther Fund form to still be able to go on a trip. The Panther Fund gives students the opportunity to live out the high school experiences they want without worrying about the money aspect. The program has shown WO students and family that they are here for them. “What makes the Panther Fund stand out is that PF is led and run by West Ottawa alumni. Our members walked the same hallways that current students walk today.” It is so special that West Ottawa alumni run this program because they may have been in the shoes of the students who use the Panther Fund now, and know the difference a little bit of help can make. 

Dress Closet

   Do you need a dress for Snowball but can’t afford one? That is the reason WO has a Dress Closet with a variety of styles. The Dress Closet is a program that started up for use in 2020. There were few students who knew about it until this year 2022. This year many students used the Dress Closet. The Dress Closet is a program with formal dresses for the large school events like Homecoming, Snowball, Prom and Graduation. The closet is for students who can’t afford to buy themselves a dress, but still want to dress up. They can go to the closet and pick out a dress that fits their liking, there is a large selection. This high school is giving nice dresses to students who need them. This is a life changer in a student’s life who loves dressing up but can’t afford it. West Ottawa is lucky to have a place welcome to all students that provides clothing for special school events that everyone wants to have a good memory of. Instructor Traci Howard said,  “If you know someone who might not want to ask, put them in touch with their counselor, a teacher, or Mrs. Howard.  We’ll set up a time to visit the dress closet and find the perfect dress.  We can even do some minor alterations.” The program is doing all it can for a student to find the perfect fit and feel confident at a school dance or graduation. 


   If you ever hear a student who claims West Ottawa doesn’t care about the students, remind them of the many programs we have that keep students thriving at school and at home. If you or anyone you know is in need or interested in learning more information about one of these programs, reach out to a teacher and they will be able to provide more specific information about not just these four programs, but any helpful program West Ottawa has to offer.