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West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

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(He/him) Carter is a sophomore at West High and this is his first year on staff. He is a reporter. In his free time, he likes to get into arguments about extremely unimportant things such as whether the...

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The beginning of Best of West

Best of West founder Kara Thomas discusses how and why she formed the club.
The+Best+of+West+logo+connected+by+hearts+made+of+string.+
Vera Tanas
The Best of West logo connected by hearts made of string.

Best of West, West High’s peer-to-peer tutoring club, was founded three years ago by Kara Thomas, who graduated in 2023. “Originally, Barnhouse came to me and had this idea that she’d been thinking about for multiple years, and she thought that I’d be the person to make it happen,” Thomas said.

West High’s culture often deals with overachievement, and students may often have trouble asking for help. Thomas started Best of West to combat that.

 “It’s really easy to feel like you’re the only one who’s kind of confused, even though oftentimes, everyone is in the same place. We just don’t want to talk about it. So I wanted to create a welcoming environment that people come in and get help,” Thomas said.

The tutors are the backbone of the club, and through them, the club itself has become well known. “It has kind of a reputation, people want to be part of it; they ask me ‘Can I come in and tutor, would you let me.’” Kerri Barhouse, the teacher sponsor of Best of West, said.

Additionally, specific students have gotten used to working with specific tutors. 

“Hearing the feedback from the teachers saying, ‘Students that were failing the classes are going up to the As and Bs,’ that was really cool, just knowing that we made such a difference,”

— Kara Thomas

“We also have kids that come in, and they only want a certain person…if [they] aren’t here, then [they] don’t want to work with anybody,” said Barnhouse.

The first year Thomas started the club, she designed its website and focused on spreading the word. Academic focus time, or AFT, didn’t exist at this time, so students were just asked to come in whenever they could. 

Thomas’s favorite memories from the club include seeing the positive impact it had in the West community. 

“Hearing the feedback from the teachers saying, ‘Students that were failing the classes are going up to the As and Bs,’ that was really cool, just knowing that we made such a difference,” said Thomas. 

Students interested in participating in Best of West next year can visit their website and fill out their tutor form. 

 

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Vera Tanas
Vera Tanas, Copy Editor
(she/her) Vera Tanas is a junior, and this is her second year on staff. She is the copy editor and art editor for the West Side Story website. Outside of journalism, Vera enjoys playing soccer, listening to music, working on art projects and spending time outdoors.
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