Your Impact - Student Testimonials
Daniela, who is an 8th grader, has been at Westtown since pre-K. “Honestly, I couldn’t imagine myself at any other school,” she says. “The things that my teachers have taught me and the things that I have been able to learn because of how Westtown works --- I wouldn’t have gotten that anywhere else. I didn’t just get an education; I got all the other stuff you learn outside of school.” She continues, “Coming to school here, you’re not just going to school. It’s going to become your second home because you’re going to make friends with your teachers. Because your classes are smaller, this becomes a really safe environment to be in, and that’s one of the best parts because you feel comfortable everywhere you go.”
As an aspiring neurosurgeon, Daniela’s favorite classes are math and science. “I like math because it’s a challenge and I have to work really hard to get good grades and do well. I always feel like I’m learning something new and doing something; my brain is always engaged.” About her science classes she says, “I gained a lot of confidence in class discussion because it was definitely out of my comfort zone and I had to push myself… I learned a lot, and I grew a lot from that experience.”
Daniela is looking forward to Upper School, especially being able to live on dorm. “I’m excited for boarding! I think that it will be so much fun to be in high school. It will be really different… It’s so much more open, and you don’t have classes with the same people every day. There is so much more independence.”
“This is just a great school.” she says. “I’m really proud that I get to go here, and I’m really thankful that I do. You have so many opportunities, and you get to do so many cool things that not many other kids get to do. I’m thankful that I get to have this experience.”
Jair, a senior who will attend George Washington University in the fall, came to Westtown looking for a school where he could further his basketball career. “I was looking at schools that were basketball powerhouses, and obviously [Westtown] was really good… but the level of academics and the Quaker values really won me over.”
He reflects on his time at Westtown, “You can come to Westtown and be whatever you want to be. You don’t have to be a basketball player or a math person or an actor; you can chase whatever dream you want to chase and experiment, and no one is going to look at you wrong when you fail. Everyone is going to support you, and you don’t have to fit into a mold that people try to put you in.”
“The thing that I probably like most about this school academically,” he says, “is that you can pick your focus. I’m really interested in the religion and social justice classes. If something is going on right now in current events, we’ll just scrap the agenda and talk about that. I think that’s really important … to take time to care about what’s going on and focus on how it’s affecting students and the different people who experience different things with their lens in the world.”
When considering what he hopes to take from his experience at Westtown, Jair thinks about his life in Brooklyn. “I’ve always wanted to be accepting of people’s differences, but I didn’t really get a chance to practice it coming from where I’m from. There are only people that look like me and act like me. [At Westtown] I got exposed to so many different cultures and people and things that I’ve never even thought about before. It’s made me a better person. I definitely want to carry that to my adult life and take it to my hometown ... that there is more out there. We can all be different, and still we’re all humans, and we can have love for each other.”
Josh is a first grader at Westtown and has two younger brothers in Primary Circle. Josh’s favorite subject at school is science, and he enjoys experiments the most. “I like mixing stuff… you get to see reactions!” In first grade, students spend a lot of time outdoors, where they identify trees and plants and work in the Lower School garden and on the farm. Josh describes why he likes being outside: “Just a feeling that you get to be free and there aren’t any strict rules in nature. I like [Westtown] because I like seeing nature in a way that’s not polluted. I like it here because it’s free and wild, and nothing is disturbing the nature, and I can get a good look at it.”
Josh also likes working with his hands and learning by doing. He enjoys art classes and is very interested in making origami. “I really like origami. It’s mind challenging, and the different folds are tricks, and it makes your mind swirl.” Working with origami has taught him how to be resilient. When asked what it feels like to accomplish something challenging for the first time, Josh says, “It feels like a failure come to a success. When I have a failure, I try and try again until it becomes a success.”
Westtown is a big part of 5th grader Ali's family. Her older sister, Bella, is in 9th grade, and little brother Dylan is in 2nd grade. One of the things that Ali appreciates about Westtown is the connection between students and teachers. “I feel really comfortable with them, and they make sure that everything is all right… It’s just something I like about this school --- you have the ability to ask your teachers about anything.” She continues, “Everyone wants to make [the student’s] experience here better, and they want to make it comfortable for them.”
Ali has had a number of teachers in Lower School but identifies Teacher Vicki as one of her favorites. “I had her for two years, and I just have a special connection with her because she would always make sure to check in and I would tell her if anything was going roughly. She was a really great teacher.”
One of the things that makes Ali most proud from her time in Lower School was raising money for Heritage Academy in Ghana. She notes, “We got to make a video for Heritage Academy students to show them what it’s like here. We showed them sledding and what subjects we do, and then we had a bake sale to raise money. We raised $800.00!” The money the class raised will be enough to fund one student’s Heritage Academy tuition for eight years. About her experience at Westtown so far, Ali sums it up like this: “I love coming to school every day now. I feel like this is one big family.”
Wesley is a self-proclaimed techie. As an 8th grader, Wesley can spend time incorporating technology into the work he does in the classroom and is able to take specialty classes, including iExplore, a class that teaches students coding and programming.
Wesley also enjoys math and science. He says Teacher Jon Kimmel “is a great help because he knows a lot about a lot of things, and he’s really good at teaching math. Sometimes we will stay for 15 minutes before lunch discussing math problems on the board and having a competition to see who’s right.” Wesley gives all the teachers at Westtown high marks. “I would say that [Westtown] is a great place if you’re really into learning and you like getting a lot of attention from teachers. They do a really good job of meeting everyone’s needs.
Before winter break, Wesley helped coordinate one of Middle School’s service projects to help Syrian refugees get clean water. He explained, “We raised more money than we have in any years past. It feels good. We picked Syrian refugees because it’s one of the biggest things now. To encourage people [to donate], we would give them facts on Syrian refugees and the water they need every day.” In the end, Middle School students raised more than $1,000 to benefit Doctors Without Borders and the American Friends Service Committee, two organizations aiding refugees.
As he looks ahead, Wesley is looking forward to The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, a project that serves as the capstone of the 8th grade experience and incorporates learning from all of the subject areas. “We make windmills with T. Jon, and there is going to be the math and the science part, where we will make the generators, and the English part, where we read the book; it’s bringing in all of the different subjects.”
Wesley concludes by saying, “I really like Westtown! I’m glad that I’m here.”
Naomi came to Westtown during the fall of her sophomore year, and next fall she will be attending Santa Clara University in California. When reflecting back on her college admissions journey, Naomi says, “When I went to Santa Clara, the first thing that came to mind was, ‘This is just like Westtown.’ Everyone says ‘hi’ to each other, and everyone is really nice, and they were talking about how the classroom sizes are smaller, more intimate, and [the similarities] were definitely something that helped my decision.”
The role of Quakerism at Westtown sticks out as something that has had a profound impact in her life. “There is a big welcome that comes with Quakerism. I know that anyone that comes to this campus is welcome. Anyone who has something to say will be heard, and every action is supported and encouraged. There is a big sense of family and community.”
Naomi doesn’t come from a Quaker background and was curious about what going to a Quaker school might mean. “They sit in silence for 45 minutes twice a week? What does that mean? But by going to Meeting for Worship and learning all of the [Quaker] values, I really appreciate it now.” In fact, it’s one of the things that she intends to take with her to college. “I’m going to bring a piece of that Quakerism with me because I’ve grown a lot as a person since I’ve gotten here. Being open to new things and being accepting has really grown in me.”
Naomi is grateful for her time at Westtown. “Being able to go here is very important to me because I know that I’ve grown as a person and the experience you get at Westtown is like no other. This is a great place to be, a great place to be a part of athletics and to get a great education… I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Kavi, who is now in 7th grade, came to Westtown two years ago. When asked about his first impressions, Kavi reflects, “I thought it was really big so I was kind of nervous. I walked into the classroom, and everyone started introducing themselves, and I felt really comfortable. I didn’t feel strange being here. It felt after my visit that I had already started making friends.”
The community at Westtown continues to be something that Kavi appreciates. “You don’t feel like an outsider; you’re you here, and the teachers make you feel welcome.” He notes the importance of his relationships with his teachers: “I think the teachers really know who you are as a student, and then they all challenge you in that way and push you to your limits to do the best that you can do. I think they really know who you are and know what to expect from you as a student.”
Kavi also likes that what he learns isn’t restricted to the classroom. “I really like the interactive stuff. I can’t sit long listening and writing notes, so I feel like here we learn it and then we do it. We go on a field trip or do a lab, and we actually get to physically experience it rather than just reading it out of a textbook.”
As a Student Clerk, Kavi is looking forward to being a leader in the Upper School. “I’m definitely excited about the leadership and all of the opportunities for leadership ahead, like the SBPs [Student Body Presidents] and even just being the head of a club.” He is also looking forward to having more opportunities to play music --- his specialties are piano and percussion. He says also that he is looking forward to working on his acting chops in school plays.
Leo came to Westtown as a boarding student his freshman year. He reflects on his transition to Westtown: “When I got to Westtown, I found myself actively involved in a community that I care about, and that was really important to me because I wasn’t just on a list of people to graduate and then move on somewhere else; I was involved and leading things here.”
During his junior year, Leo served as a Proctor in Stone House, an experience that he remembers fondly. “I got to live back in Stone House, which is my favorite dorm on campus. It was so strange being on the other side because I had come up through Stone House and got to experience what it was like to orient myself to Westtown. To be on the other side and give back to someone else what my proctors had given to me was a good experience.”
About living on campus, Leo says, “I love living down the hall from my friends. That’s great, and I do a lot of things here I don’t think I’d do if it weren’t for boarding.”
“Westtown is a really good place to be,” he continues. “If you want to be somewhere with people you can trust, academics that will get you into college, and most importantly, a brilliant social experience, then this is the place.”
After a fulfilling almost-four years, Leo is ready for new experiences. “I’m going to work over the summer. I’m going to go to college and continue growing. Westtown’s been very good to me, and I’ve grown a lot since I’ve arrived. Now that it’s senior year, I feel like I’ve done the growing I came here to do. I love Westtown very much, but I’m ready to go somewhere where I can take the plunge again and throw myself into a situation I don’t understand, which I’m looking forward to a lot.”
Ruby’s favorite part of Westtown is the campus. “I like how there is a lot of nature in it, and we got to spend a lot of time outside.” Ruby, who is now in 3rd grade, started Westtown in Primary Circle and has an older brother in 4th grade. In addition to the campus, there are a number of things Ruby enjoys about being at Westtown -- especially the connection she has with her teachers and art class.
“My favorite part of the day is art. I like that we can get creative and that we can make no mistakes in art. We’re batiking. We have this cloth, and we put designs with hot wax on it, and then we paint it… It’s for African Dance.” African Dance is a tradition in third grade and is a culmination of the students’ studies of African history, wildlife, culture, music, and dance.
One of Ruby’s favorite teachers is T. Guenevere, who teaches music in Lower School. “I like that she is really nice and cheerful, and she gives people more than one chance to do the right thing.” She continues by saying, “I think that all of the teachers are really nice, and all of the kids are really nice, too.”
She also discussed her feelings about Meeting for Worship. “I like Meeting for Worship. I like how it’s quiet, and you get a chance to think about different stuff, and you get to share what you’re thinking.”
Questions? Contact Karl Vela, Advancement Communications Specialist at 610.399.7914 or firstname.lastname@example.org