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ISSUE 2 2021-2022

CELEBRATING EARTH MONTH!
April was Earth Month and the community celebrated by demonstrating their commitment to our sustainability practices!  A few highlights include:  

The Lower School is learning by living by invigorating their composting program. Lower School science teacher  Amanda Jeanne Strode and her students explore lessons about food waste, recycling, and evaluating data. You can learn more here.

Our librarians encourage all ages to celebrate Earth Month with a book!  Find one you or your child might enjoy here.

The Sustainability Committee created a calendar with environmentally focused activities for families to enjoy.

The Facilities Department continues their work to find new and environmentally-sensitive ways to keep our campus looking beautiful. They have started using electric, battery-run equipment that not only helps in the efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and air pollution, but also reduces noise pollution.

And finally, Westtown was well represented at the Growing Greener Summit for teachers and administrators on Earth Day at Tower Hill School. Organized by ADVIS, PAISBOA, and PAIS, the Growing Greener Summit had over 180 participants.

Westtown science teacher Dana Jensen and Mary Ann Boyer of Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants presented “A Carbon Footprint Challenge©: A Real-World, Solutions-Based Climate Change Project” and Westtown’s Case Study.  Boyer provided an overview of the program and background information. Jensen shared examples of student work where students collected campus greenhouse gas emissions, identified solutions and curated a plan to reduce emissions.

Senior Isabel Yuste gave a presentation about her “Sustainability Deep Dive Certification and Green Coalition Project.” Green Coalition, a student-run environmental advocacy club, connects students with the natural world around them, as well as exposing students to climate justice efforts both locally and globally. Yuste described Westtown’s student-facilitated clothing swap drive that promotes “thrifting” shopping on campus instead of promoting “fast-fashion.” (See more below.)

Westtown’s Director of Outdoor Education, Chris Henwood-Costa, presented “Connecting Students with the Natural World – Critical Step Toward Sustainability” where she focused on outdoor experiential and sensory activities, group discussion and individual reflection. Henwood-Costa sees place-based nature connection work as a critical step toward sustainability.

WESTTOWN SCHOOL RECEIVES RECOGNITION FROM COMMON MARKET
The Common Market recently presented Westtown School — our Food Services Department in particular — with a Certificate of Support. This certificate recognizes Westtown’s efforts to purchase sustainably farmed local food. Rachel Terry, National Partnerships Director at Common Market, writes, “Congratulations on a tremendous year of supporting local farms! 2021 came paired with undeniable challenges, making your innovation and dedication to getting your communities nutritious, local food all the more inspiring. Your support has also translated to deeply meaningful commitments to our supply chain partners—our sustainable family farms located throughout our region…As local food advocates, you have an enormous opportunity to strengthen the health and wealth of our communities. And your purchases contribute to a food system that works for all. We thank you for choosing to buy local with us. I’m excited to present your organization with a Certificate of Support that highlights your local procurement efforts in 2021, including: The number of regional, family farms your community helped support, the dollar amount your community invested in the local economy, and, the number of pounds of local food your community purchased.” 

As you can see on the certificate, Westtown School supported 34 local farms, invested $41,753 in the local economy, and purchased 30,132 pounds of food locally. We extend our congratulations and thanks to Beth Pellegrino and the entire Food Services team who partner with Common Market and are dedicated to nourishing the community with nutritious, locally sourced, sustainably produced foods!

ALUMS WEEKEND 2022 IS ALMOST HERE!
Each day Alums Weekend draws closer, and we are more excited than ever! Our team has been working hard to ensure that this will be the biggest celebration of Westtown alums since the 1999 Bicentennial. Visit the Alums Weekend website for the most up-to-date information about the weekend, including registration information, a tentative agenda, hotel details, contact information, and more. We cannot wait to see you all back on campus soon!! 

CELEBRATING THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF AFRICAN DANCE
This year’s African Dance performance by third graders was a very special one, as it marked the 20th anniversary of African Dance and the special partnership with Jeannine Osayande and the Dunya Performing Arts Company! This beloved tradition began twenty years ago this past March, when third-grade teachers Vicki Shelter and (at the time) Marc Dear began collaborating with Shelter’s friend and neighbor, Osayande, to teach third graders about the movements and storytelling of African dances and Capoeira, and their origins, symbolism, and impact.

The African Dance performance is a culmination of an extensive unit of study on the continent of Africa and its countries, cultures, and arts and a six-week residency of Osayande and the Dunya Performing Arts Company (DunyaPAC) during which they teach students West African dances and Capoeira. Osayande, Dunya PAC, and the drummers are professional performers whose mission is to teach children about African culture and its diaspora. 

Current third grade teachers Vicki Shelter and Kristin Hayman say that in the unit they ask students to explore the essential question: What are Africa’s gifts to the world? Students work together to study different regions of Africa learning about commodities, tourism, populations, and, importantly, they learn that the continent is made up of 54 countries with distinct cultures and languages. Shelter says that is one way they are trying to break stereotypes about Africa. They also work together to create a topographic map of the continent. In art classes, students learn batik and make their costumes for the performance. This year, in honor of the 20th anniversary, students made commemorative costumes with Teacher Kelly Nicholson, dying fabric indigo. 

For this year’s anniversary performance, Shelter and Hayman invited alums of the African Dance to share their memories. Folasade Beckett ’27 and Kayla Shaffer ’17 took the stage to recount their fond memories. As it happens, Beckett’s sister and Shaffer’s cousin were both performing that day! More community connections were celebrated on the stage as well. Kelly Yiadom, Lower and Middle School Equity and Inclusion Coordinator, and Marissa Colston, Equity and Inclusion Specialist, were classmates of DunyaPAC drummer Alex Shaw at Swarthmore. Yiadom, Colston, and Osayande performed a beautiful dance at this year’s performance, to honor that connection. Finally, the Capoeira demonstration this year was enhanced by third graders Morayo Beckett, Nico Ubiera, and Nico’s father, Antonio Ubiera, who are Capoeira practitioners as well. 

This special day was also marked by a special citation from the state. The citation reads, in part, “Now therefore the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania House of Representatives congratulates Westtown School and Jeannine Osayande & Dunya Performing Arts Company on their 20th anniversary of the program.” 

Osayande reflected, “It has been an honor to be here as part of the Dunya Performing Arts Company over the last 20 years. So much life has been lived and grounding it in the practice of the African Diaspora drum and dance with the third grade has been an incredible journey.”  

We offer our thanks and gratitude to teachers Vicki Shelter, Marc Dear, Kristin Hayman, and to Jeannine Osayande, Daryl Kwasi Burgee, Alex Shaw, and all the talented performers of Dunya Performing Arts Company who have been bringing this rite of passage to the third grade over the last two decades! 

The third graders’ performances, along with the special dances and demonstrations, were exceptional and steeped with special meaning. We encourage you to watch the performance here. You can also enjoy the entire gallery of photos here!

MLK DAY AND BLACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATIONS
Lower and Middle School students were immersed in the study of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through art, literature, and music. They gathered to honor Dr. King with poetry, special readings, and song in a special combined assembly for the two divisions. It was a powerful and moving tribute. “This student work demonstrates the culmination of our focus on the pursuit of justice, through non-violence and passive resistance, and also highlights the strength, advocacy, and intellect Black people consistently displayed during this period. Dr. King’s legacy is palpable and lives within the Westtown Lower School community even today,” writes Kelly Yiadom, Lower and Middle School Equity and Inclusion Coordination. You can see an overview of the activities in the video below.

There were a variety of Black History Month activities in all divisions, and in the Upper School, the month concluded with a wonderful Community Dinner organized by the Students of Color Association (SOCA). Enjoy the full gallery of photos here.

WORLD LANGUAGES WEEK
The World Languages Department, chaired by Bei Zhang, created a series of activities and events to promote language learning and immersion during the first-annual World Languages Week celebration at Westtown. Activities included Collection-sharing, a pep rally, a special assembly, a club period with language and cultural activities and displays, guided discussions with faculty, and the Language Olympics. Zhang says, “Some of our goals included promoting language acquisition, building cultural competency, providing students a platform to celebrate their success in their language education, and helping students envision their future career paths where they can apply their language skills and cultural knowledge.” For the special assembly, Westtown welcomed Eliza F. Al-Laham ’86. Al-Laham, who speaks Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and French, Zoomed from her residence in Mexico to share about her career in which fluency in several languages is necessary. She is currently Consul General to Guadalajara, and throughout her career has held a variety of State Department posts around the globe, including Israel, Jordan, and China. Her fascinating presentation concluded with a Q and A session with students. 

Though World Languages Week was planned by language teachers,  it was an all-hands-on-deck undertaking, as all Upper School faculty took part in facilitating events. This week-long celebration was also a unique way to assess and build language acquisition. Students made posters and cheered on their teammates in the languages they are studying, they created language and cultural activities, and teachers created special World Languages Week assignments for students. In one example, Spanish 1 teacher Samantha Godoy asked students to complete a research project on a Latinx musician or artist, which led to an interesting encounter for Kien Dang ’24, who chose to do a project on artist Rocio Navarro. “I noticed how little information I was able to get from the internet as she’s a very new artist…I was able to find Rocio’s Instagram [and] Profe Sam encouraged me to reach out to her,” says Dang. “To my surprise, she did reply! Rocio expressed a lot of excitement, as she was very eager to help with my project. I sent Navarro my questions about her life and her art. I immediately noticed that we have a lot of similarities and had an instant connection to Navarro. She often paints portraits and through these portraits she expresses her emotions. We both love using art as a form of communication and through that also explores our identities, too. I was really happy because through this project, I was able to connect with another artist that also shares the passion for art. I really have to thank Profe Sam because throughout the whole process, she encouraged me and supported me [and] the project introduced me to new vocab words that were very useful for expanding my knowledge of Spanish.” Dang displayed his painting at the cultural stations hosted mid-week, along with works from other students. Other cultural stations included Chinese fan dances, Mardi Gras mask making, a Hannibal exhibit, merengue dance lessons, and many more. 

Finally, the week concluded with the Language Olympics, a field day competition between the four languages: Chinese, French, Latin, and Spanish. There were many event stations, among them a faculty relay race, tug of peace, volleyball, tic-tac-toe relay, rock-paper-scissors race, and more. Students reveled in the friendly, sometimes rowdy competition, and in the fun and unique ways to employ the languages they are learning. Many hats off to Zhang, the World Languages teachers, and the Upper School faculty for this exciting series! You can find lots of photos of the events of the week here

MIDDLE SCHOOL PLAY
Let’s give a big round of applause for the performers, the behind-the-scenes students, and Teacher Alex Ates, Director of Theater Arts, who put on the Middle School musical, Ellsworth!! About 60 student actors and designers presented this world-premiere musical by James Bartelle and Ayla Miller about a brilliant economics professor (who happens to be a dog) and celebrating what makes you unique. Great job, Middle Schoolers!

Enjoy the whole gallery of photos from the production here. And check out the pre-production work here!

METAL MOOSE
Congratulations to The Metal Moose robotics team who made it all the way to the semifinals before losing to the eventual championship alliance in the FIRST Mid-Atlantic Hatboro-Horsham District Event competition! Their performance assured them a spot in the regional championship at Lehigh, and they were awarded the Creativity in Engineering award for their 360 degree vision targeting shooting turret! At the regional competition, they qualified for the world championship in Houston, where they will be one of 400 teams out of nearly 9,000 registered with the FRC program. The Metal Moose — essentially a rookie team this year — has had a very impressive season! Go ’Town! Go Moose!

MAPLE SUGARING SEASON
Maple sugaring on campus is a tradition that dates back to 1922 or 1923 when Albert Baily, a Botany teacher, incorporated it into his curriculum. The process of tapping the maple trees, collecting the sap, and boiling it down into syrup has continued off and on and in various forms over the last one hundred years. Back in the day, Upper School student leaders oversaw the maple sugaring and were known as “Sap Heads.” Today, the sugaring process is stewarded by Upper School Outdoor Leadership students and students in the Lower School’s Farm and Forest classes under the direction of Chris Costa, Director of Outdoor Leadership, Tim Mountz, Sustainable Agriculture Teacher, and Bruce Harrison ’81 who revived the tradition in the late 90s and has been participating in the process with current students each year since. 

In late February, eight maple trees on campus were tapped by students, including the Grandmother Maple (located across from the Admission Office), which was tapped by first graders. The flow and collection buckets were monitored over a period of about two weeks. On March 8, the boil began in the pit on Sugar Hill, located in the woods behind the Meeting House. The sugaring teams kept watch over the fire, adding sap to the evaporator pan over the span of almost 11 (wet and cold!) hours, then the final cook down was done in the steam kettle in the kitchen for about two and a half hours. The boil began with 98 gallons of sap and it produced 3.75 gallons of syrup. Student groups stopped by the boil to stoke the fire, taste the sap, and observe the production. You can enjoy the gallery of photos here!


Middle School students at the maple sugar boil. 

LUNAR NEW YEAR AND LANTERN FESTIVAL
Students who take Mandarin Chinese in Middle School and Upper School celebrated Lunar New Year and the Lantern Festival with a series of special activities. Lunar New Year activities included making dumplings from scratch, writing traditional calligraphy on the lucky red new year paper, and making paper tigers to welcome the Year of the Tiger. Upper School students celebrated the Lunar New Year with a festive Community Dinner. The delicious menu, created and prepared by students who celebrate the Lunar New Year and our kitchen team, included Vinegar-Pepper Shredded Potatoes (醋溜土豆丝), Tomato Egg Drop Soup (西红柿鸡蛋汤), Beef Bulgogi (불고기) Hanoi Spring Rolls (nem rán), Chicken Satay (สะเต๊ะ), and Mochi Ice Cream (餅アイス)!  The International Student Organization made a video of the event, which you may enjoy below! 

You can find the gallery of photos of these celebrations here!

GREEN COALITION CLOTHING SWAP
The Green Coalition, Westtown’s student-led environmental club, hosted its first-ever Clothing Swap on Friday, February 4. Three months beforehand, cardboard bins were placed on each dorm floor (a total of six bins were spread out across the school). Students spent those three months cleaning out closets, donating clothing that they may not have been wearing as often or liked anymore. All of the clothes were clean and in good-condition. Almost every bin was full after a few months, and members of Green Coalition folded and organized the clothing onto racks and couches to display to the students. When the doors opened up, everyone came into the south room and was able to take anything that they were interested in. It was a huge success and nearly all of the clothing got a new home. The remainder of the clothing will be placed into the Helpsy Bins on campus which properly recycle clothing and ensure that it does not end up in a landfill. Green Coalition plans on doing a similar event in the spring due to the great success of our first run!

PMEA DISTRICT HONORS 
Our Upper School musicians have been busy!  The following students have been standouts at a number of festivals:

  • Natalia Swaitek ’24 and Milo Salvucci ’23 were selected for the District Orchestra Festival.
  • Natalia Swaitek, Milo Salvucci, Ella Cook ’24, and Melanie Flynn ’23 were selected for the District Band Festival.
  • Jake Richards ’22 was selected for the All National Concert Band Festival as one of the top clarinetists in the country! 
  • Otto Hillegas ’24 auditioned and was accepted to the Drum Corps International Marching Band for the Spring/Summer 2022 season.
  • Both Natalia and Milo also auditioned and were accepted to both Region Orchestra and Region Band Festivals and are currently preparing for their All State auditions! 

Join us in congratulating these talented musicians!

WCU Integration Bee
Hats off to the Calculus 2 students who competed at the West Chester University Integration Bee! Alena Zhang ’24, Eric Ochis ’23, Ellen Jang ’23, Milo Salvucci ’23, Christina Wilson ’22, and Noah Fisher ’23 represented Westtown School well in the high school division. Sweeping the top three places were Ochis in first place, Salvucci in second, and Wilson ’22 took third. Congratulations to all!

WINTER SPORTS ROUNDUP

  • Wrestling is back! After a hiatus due to COVID-19 our wrestlers took to the mats for the first time since 2020. The squad was young and inexperienced, but our numbers were substantial, and we filled every weight class with wrestlers to spare. 
  • The swim teams had a record-breaking season, with our boys’ 200 medley relay team breaking the Westtown team and FSL record. The relay team is: Puddy Boonkongchuen ’22, Jack Nangle ’22, Tee Johnson ’23, and William Nangle ’24. The boys’ 200 freestyle relay team (made up of the same students) broke the Westtown record, and Paige Fisher set a new team 100 breaststroke record.
  • In Indoor Track, Will Nagy ’23 continues to run circles around the competition literally and finished 12th in the Indoor State Championship meet at Penn State.
  • For the first time in Westtown School’s history, both our girls’ and boys’ Basketball teams won both the FSL Championships and the PAISAA State Championships! Additionally, Dereck Lively II ’22 was named a McDonald’s All American and received the Morgan Wooten Player of the year award at the event. Kaylene Smikle ’22 and Dereck Lively II were named the Gatorade Players of the Year for Pennsylvania. This season also saw Kaylene Smikle, Quin Berger ’22, and Jameel Brown ’22 pass the 1000 career point milestone. Dereck Lively II passed the 1000 rebounds milestone for his career. Both teams and players gave us a memorable season. 

  • Congratulations to the winter sports Waring Award winners: Olivia Wiggins ’22 (basketball), Christina Wilson ’22 (swimming), and Melanie Flynn ’22 (climbing)! The criteria for the award reads, in part: “The Waring Award is given at the culmination of each sports season to the student-athlete(s) who have dedicated themselves day in and day out, in service of their school, teammates, and coaches. This award is intended to lift up those who constantly strive for improvement, who persevere when things are tough, and who lift up those around them with their tireless effort and positive attitude.”

  • 18 student-athletes were recognized as FSL All-League or Honorable Mentions this winter, more than any other FSL school! Congratulations to our athletes! You can view the complete list of All-League Athletes here. 

SPRING FEST AND SENIOR CAR PARADE
We are so excited to host Spring Fest on Saturday, May 21 from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m. on the Belfry Lawn!
 
Join us for some food, fellowship, and family fun! This is a carnival-like event for the entire Westtown community! There will be food trucks, games, crafts, prizes, a “pet a pup” area, tractor rides, a balloon artist, and so much more! 
 
Events like this aren’t possible without wonderful volunteers. Please consider volunteering your time and sign up here for one (or more) shifts at Spring Fest!  Thank you for your support!
 
We hope you will also join us in celebrating the college choices of the Class of 2022 at the Senior Car Parade, which will be from 4:30 – 5:00 p.m. at the end of Spring Fest!  
 
For more information about Spring Fest or volunteering, please contact Megan Schlickmann at [email protected]edu or (610) 399-7858.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE 
Each year, we invite the entire Westtown community, faculty and staff, Board of Trustees, current parents, alums, parents of alums, grandparents, and friends, to invest in the transformative experience that a Westtown education offers by making a gift to the Westtown Fund. The Westtown Fund supports the school’s daily operations, and the money is spent in its entirety in the year that it is received. Donors can designate their gifts to areas of their choice including the arts, athletics, building an anti-bias, anti-racist community, faculty support, and financial aid, among others.

Director of Annual Giving, Courtnay Tyus, parent of MJ, Class of ’30, says, “Gifts to the Westtown Fund provide resources to address Westtown’s most urgent needs. We are very fortunate to have thoughtful donors who understand the importance of annual giving and the impact of essential unrestricted income on our operating budget. Thank you to all of our Westtown Fund donors — we could not do what we do without your generous support!”


For more information about the Westtown Fund, please click
here.
 
BRING THE ARCHIVES HOME

Westtown School has proudly partnered with the Lodestone Collective to offer a special collection of textile products. Inspiration for these products came from items in Westtown School’s Archives, which holds an impressive collection of manuscripts, photographs, rare books, maps and plans, artwork and furniture, and important artifacts —  including textiles — from its earliest days. See these samples below, and visit their website to order! A portion of the proceeds of the sale of these items support Westtown School’s programs.

 

CALLING ALL ALUMS
Want to share what’s new with you? Submit a class note! You can tell us if you have moved; or, maybe, you have a new job or are enjoying your retirement. Perhaps you’ve earned a new academic degree, taken up a new hobby, gotten married, or marked a new milestone in your life. Whatever your news, we want to hear about it! And, we know your classmates would love it, too. Class Notes help keep Westonians around the world connected. Submit your note today! We are currently collecting notes for the next issue of The Westonian magazine – please make your submissions by July 1, 2022. 

Westtown School Champions
Champions!
Westtown School Champions

Our girls and boys varsity basketball teams are the 2022 PAISAA State and Friends School League (FSL) Basketball Champions! The boys’ team won their 8th consecutive title and have won 9 out of the last 10 FSL championships. The girls’ team won their 4th FSL title (1996, 1997, 2020, 2022). This is the second time both teams have won the FSL title in the same season (2020 and 2022). And the girls’ basketball won their first-ever state title in program history. This is also the first time that both boys and girls basketball teams won a state title in the same year.

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FALL 2021

December 20, 2021 

A MESSAGE FROM THE INTERIM HEAD OF SCHOOL AND THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
A few weeks ago, Interim Head of School Chris Benbow ’90 and the Board of Trustees sent a letter to the community with the results of the Institutional Equity Audit, performed by the Glasgow Group. It includes important discoveries we have made in this process and steps we are taking in response to what we have learned. If you have not read this communication, we encourage you to do so. You may find the letter in full here which contains a link to the audit.

DEDICATION FOR PAT SEAGERS
Pat Seagers, former Health Center Head Nurse, retired in 1996 after caring for Westtown students for more than 20 years. Pat was honored on October 23, when friends and family joined her on campus for a plaque dedication. The plaque was installed in the waiting room of the Health Center, which used to be Pat’s office. This plaque honors Pat’s devotion and dedication to the health and well being of generations of Westonians. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you, Pat!

 

SUSTAINABILITY COMMITTEE BACK IN ACTION
One of the pillars of our Strategic Vision is Environment Illuminated. To continue our crucial work in the area, Westtown has engaged with Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants to review our sustainability goals and vision. One of their recommendations was to reassemble the Sustainability Committee. This committee — comprising administrators, faculty, staff, and students — has been reconvened and meets monthly. At their kickoff meeting in October, they discerned their charge: 

The Sustainability Committee shall advise the school on matters related to campus-wide sustainability and environmental issues and work with faculty, staff, administration, and students to develop policies and practices that promote an equitable reduction of resource usage and create a culture of sustainability practices on campus. The Sustainability Committee shall additionally advise the school on creating educational events and addressing other issues on the campus that relate to sustainability.

The Committee’s first steps are to collect data/conduct an audit, develop an action plan, review the sustainability mission statement, and monitor progress and results. Their broad goals are to reduce the campus carbon footprint; increase awareness of environmental issues, and to enact institutional and behavioral change toward these goals. Stay tuned for updates in this and other Westtown publications. If you have any questions about the Sustainability Committee, please don’t hesitate to contact Mary Ann Boyer of Boyer Sudduth Consultants, or Carolyn Hapeman, Dean of Finance and Operations.

FROM THE ARCHIVES 

For those who want to learn more about Westtown alumnus Samuel L. Allen who attended Westtown in the 1850s and is the inventor of the Flexible Flyer sled, check out this article currently featured on the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office. It contains several references to Westtown School and includes photographs from the Archives.

SPECIAL THANKS
Although photos featured in eCollections and other school publications come from a variety of sources, we’d like to give special thanks to Nan Yiljep ’11, Sports Information Coordinator, Shannon Moriarty, Upper School Photography teacher, and students Coco Chen ’25, Wilson Kuang ’24, and Eric Li ’24, whose work you will find featured here and in many of our school galleries.

DAY OF SERVICE
On October 13, while seniors were working on college applications and juniors were sitting for the PSAT and SATs, 10th graders engaged in a day of service. Organized largely by Lara Freeman, Service Network Director and Religious Studies teacher, and 10th Grade Dean Jennifer Dorfman, service activities took place on and off campus and students could select their projects from a host of options. One group of students worked on a house with Habitat for Humanity. A large group of students took to the campus land farmed by Chester County Food Bank to help in harvesting produce. Other projects included: delivering food donations to City Team in Chester; volunteering at the Coatesville Pro-Bono Counseling Center; cleaning up the tunnel on the farm; letter writing to local, state, and national representatives about areas of passion and concern; helping the Kitchen Staff prepare lunches; hosting a Staff Thank-You Party; writing letter to children at Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital; and, finally, writing KOBs to fellow 10th graders. At the end of the day, there was a Meeting for Sharing in the Meeting House during which students reflected upon and shared responses to their service experiences. You can see more photos from the service day here, and the gallery includes photos of how 9th graders spent the day — doing team building exercises and enjoying the ropes course!

ABAR/DEI UPDATE

Faculty/Staff
Activities and events centered around our anti-bias, anti-racist (ABAR) and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work continue. Most recently, all faculty and staff engaged in professional development during our in-service day with Dr. Liza Talusan, who is serving as our DEI consultant this year. Dr. Talusan is an educator, strategic change partner, leader, writer, leadership coach and parent. With over 25 years of experience in PreK-20 education, strategic leadership, and organizational change, Liza is an engaging facilitator in conversations about diversity, anti-racism, bias, privilege, and power, and creates environments that allow for people to build skills for difficult conversations. The in-service day included the first of three workshops that Dr. Talusan will offer faculty and staff. Part one of this series, entitled Engaging in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Organizational Change, introduced tools for the “Identity-Conscious Educator.” These tools included how to get conversations started, how to use Singleton’s Courageous Conversation Protocol, and establishing clear definitions of diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice. The workshop led to productive small-group conversations. Additionally, the in-service day began with an all-employee workshop led by the Quaker Life Committee which provided ongoing education about Quakerism, and concluded with divisional workshops focused on student learning and wellbeing.

Lower/Middle School
Kelly Yiadom, Lower and Middle School Equity and Inclusion Coordinator, has provided a variety of learning opportunities for students, teachers, and parents to deepen engagement in this work. Throughout the fall, Kelly has focused on strengthening students’ knowledge of other cultures and identities, and offered opportunities and affinity groups for students to explore their own. Kelly has also met with parents to discuss her role and to encourage both alignment with Westtown’s ABAR/DEI vision and goals, and to explore how parents can support moving toward these goals. As she shared in her most recent newsletter, “I had the pleasure of speaking with parents at October’s Lower and Middle School Parents’ Council meetings. During my time with parents, I shared that an integral part of my role is supporting the Westtown Village: parents/guardians, faculty/staff, and students. I also noted how important it is to have parents aligned with our anti-racist and anti-bias (ABAR) vision and DEI focus in order for this work to be meaningful and holistically impactful. Parents posed questions and engaged in a call to action, ‘What is one goal to which you can commit that will further support ABAR/DEI work at Westtown?’ We ended our sessions with an affirmation as a reminder to take this work forward.”  You can learn more details about Kelly’s work in her most recent newsletters here and here.

Upper School
In the Upper School, activities, initiatives, affinity groups, and conversations abound. New this year was the addition of a special orientation session for 9th graders who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. At the beginning of the year, Westtown hosted the first-ever 9th Grade BIPOC Summer Camp for both 9th graders new to Westtown and those rising from our Middle School. Conceived of and designed by Dean of Access and Equity Jay Farrow, Equity and Inclusion Specialist Marissa Colston, and Upper School Diversity Coordinator Celeste Payne, this summer camp experience took place prior to the opening of school and other new student orientation activities over the course of four days and three nights. The camp comprised 20 interactive sessions that covered topics like academics, residential life, co-curriculars, and community. Older BIPOC students served as mentors and helped facilitate the sessions. Farrow says, “The purpose of camp was to present ninth grade BIPOC students with opportunities to develop a genuine sense of belonging and to build strong relationships with each other, as a cohort, and with key staff and faculty before the official start of school. We sought to introduce them to multiple areas of the Westtown School program, its intentional community, this gorgeous campus, and resources and activities in the surrounding area…There was emphasis on them finding, sharing, and sharpening their voices and them taking ownership of their Westtown experience.”

INDEPENDENT SCHOOL EQUITY & ACCESS CONFERENCE AND COLLEGE FAIR
Since 2005, Westtown has hosted the biennial access, equity, and inclusion program called the Independent School Multicultural Conference and College Fair on its campus. Westtown took the best of its in-person program to create a virtual program, and changed its name to reflect the mission of the event. The 2021 Westtown Independent School Equity & Access Conference and College Fair partnered with StriveScan to host a variety of panel presentations, student-led discussions, and a virtual college fair on Saturday, November 13, 2021. There was no charge for high school students, parents, guardians, or high school/community-based-organizations (CBOs).

The morning started with the keynote address by Dr. T. J. Snowden, Director of Admissions at Recruitment at Morehouse College, and a lively conversation facilitated by Veda Robinson, Westtown’s Upper School Principal. There were 671 participants from around the world who attended this virtual program. Some of the independent schools in attendance were the African Leadership Academy in South Africa; Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego, California;  Church Farm School in Exton, Pennsylvania; United World College — Dover in Singapore; and Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon. To listen to the 2021 program recordings, please click here.  

The program also featured panels led by Westtown alums and students. Special thanks to the young alums who hosted the “Beyond Westtown: What’s College Really Like?” session: Kavi Gandhi ’21, Anna Li ’20, Mia Melendez-Ruiz ’21, Mustafa Shabazz ’17, Lindsey Turner ’21, Enoch Wang ’20, and Jaydn Williams ’21.

The next conference is planned for the fall of 2023. We hope the 2023 Independent School Equity & Access Conference and College Fair will be in person on our campus. Please contact Dr. Marje Ireland, Clerk of the Independent School Equity & Access Conference and College Fair if you have any questions.

CLUB FAIR
An integral part of the Upper School student experience is participating in clubs and affinity groups. It’s so important in student life that club periods are built into the academic schedule. There are a host of student clubs to join and, if there’s not a club that suits as student’s particular interest, they can start their own.  This year’s Club Fair,  the opportunity for students get to learn what clubs are available to them, was held outside on a beautiful day.  There are a whopping 40 clubs this year that represent student interest in everything from visual and literary arts to politics and social activism to sports and hobbies to service and philanthropy — and myriad topics in between. These groups offer shared social time, an opportunity to develop a passion or focus on a favorite topic, and leadership opportunities for students. 

LOWER SCHOOL MASK PARADE
Masks have been created and worn as expressions of art throughout history and across cultures, from Kabuki dancers in Japan to Taino Vejigante masks at Carnival. Different cultures have different reasons and occasions for creating and wearing masks. The Chinese Dragon Dance brings good luck at New Years, the Mexican Day of the Dead festival connects ancestors on All Souls Day, while the Yoruba Masquerade in Nigeria might be worn to ensure an abundance at harvest.

In Lower School during art classes, students have been designing, creating, and animating masks for over forty years! Teacher Jeff Waring inherited the Halloween Mask Parade upon his arrival in 1991, and has worked with several visiting artists to develop themes and forms. When the school expanded in 2002, Teacher Jeanne Watson-Smith, now retired, came aboard and added her mark on the evolving art show on sneakers, and now Teacher Kelly Nicholson has  joined in the creative fun. While our parade coincides with Halloween, it is more than just a spooky surprise. Our parade presents creative interpretations from a spectrum of inspiration, from tiny bugs to imaginary aliens. It is an occasion to celebrate the diversity of our planet and the creativity within each of us.  Marvel at all the students’ creativity here!

MID-AUTUMN CELEBRATION
The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated in many Asian countries and, as students leaders in our International Student Organization (ISO) reminded us, “It is an occasion for family reunions and community unity.  There was a special dinner in the Dining Room to celebrate and the menu included mooncakes, which are an important part of the celebration in many cultures. The ISO made a video about the ways they celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival.  Check it out

Middle School students in Kaiyao Ni’s Chinese class made mooncakes in celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival, shown below.

DIWALI — CELEBRATING THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Third grader teacher Vicki Shelter writes, “Shrinidhi Venkatakrishnan and Geet Sandhu taught second and third graders about Diwali and what the holiday means to them. Shrinidhi is Hindu and Geet is a Sikh, and they explained that Diwali means light over darkness. They shared their religious stories and how they celebrate Diwali. They set up tables in the Lower School lobby filled with artifacts such as clothing, food, diyas, spices, bracelets and more, and arranged tables so that they could each teach a lesson to their classmates. At one table, students colored in a premade rangoli that Shrinidhi and Geet designed. At the other table, the lesson was how to create a rangoli with different colored sands which were in shakers. After the activities were over, Geet and Shrinidhi gave each student a diya, which is a candle that symbolizes goodness, purity, and light, and a bindi for them to wear on their forehead. The girls did a fabulous job teaching and the second and third graders loved their lessons!”

In the Upper School, a Diwali Community Dinner was hosted by the South Asian Affinity (SAA) Group with a special menu of delicious Indian foods. After the meal, students retired to the East End Student Lounge where the SAA offered engaging community sharing about the Festival of Lights and an outside celebration with sparklers! Enjoy the full gallery here

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DINNER
Just before the fall break, Upper School students enjoyed a special Community Dinner, an Indigenous Peoples/Thanksgiving Dinner “In celebration and Thanksgiving for the Land of the Original Peoples.” This was the first sit-down, family-style dinner in the Dining Room since February of 2020, and it was wonderful to break bread and give thanks together once again. Kyren Lazore ’22, his mother, and his aunt joined our kitchen team to prepare delicious traditional Indigenous recipes like haudenosaunee corn soup, frybread, roasted chestnuts, among others. You can enjoy the entire gallery of photos here!

HOW CAN WE BUILD GREENER CITIES?
In teacher Natalie Cheung’s sixth-grade science class, students
took on the role of urban planners that specialize in renewable energies. They explored the question:
How can we build greener cities? In the culminating project, students applied their knowledge by designing renewable energy plans for different cities based on their climate data, location, and population. In addition to communicating their plans in writing, students also designed ad campaigns intended to convince residents of the city to invest in and support the switch to their renewable energy plan. These kinds of real-world, hands-on projects are hallmarks of Westtown’s inquiry-driven science program.


INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL RETURNS
The annual International Festival was back in full swing this year! A celebration of the countries and cultures that make up our school community, the festival offered delicious food, memorabilia, cultural activities, and conversations about cultural heritage. New this year were “cultural stations” that were set up in Main Hall classrooms where students and adults could stop in to learn more and sample foods. Thanks to the International Student Organization student leaders, Assistant International Student Coordinator Bei Zhang, and the many students, families, and community members who participated in creating this rich and fun event! Enjoy the full gallery of photos here.


KUDOS TIMES TWO!
Double congratulations are in order for Jake Richards ’22!  Last year, Jake was named one of the top clarinetists in the state of Pennsylvania as part of the All State Music Festival. This gave him the opportunity to, alongside all of the All State clarinetists in each of the other states, to audition for the All Nationals Ensembles. Jake auditioned this fall and was accepted into the All-National Concert Band making him one of the top high school clarinet players in the country. In addition to performing with Westtown School’s Jazz Ensemble and Symphonic Band, Jake plays with the prestigious Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. In addition, earlier this year Jake was named a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist. Congratulations, Jake!

WINTER INSTRUMENTAL CONCERT
The first in-person performance since November 2019 took place in the newly renovated theater on Sunday, December 12.  The performance featured Symphonic Band, String Orchestra, and Jazz Ensemble. Students were eager to share their music with a live audience once again. The concert was also recorded, so if you’d like to see the concert, visit LocalLiveEnjoy the photo gallery, too

ANOTHER TRADITION RETURNS
The annual Holiday Community Dinner for students resumed this year! Faculty and staff replace students on the set, serve, and wash work jobs so that students can fully enjoy their celebration. Hats off to our fabulous kitchen staff as well who provided a delicious meal! Check it out

SPORTS ROUNDUP
The fall season saw the return of in-person interscholastic competition for most of our athletic teams. Our players brought energy, excitement, and enthusiasm that started in the preseason and lasted throughout the fall season. A number of our fall student-athletes were named to the FSL All-League First Team, and others received Honorable Mentions. 

Recently, seven seniors signed their National Letters of Intent to play their sports at the college level. Join us in congratulating these student-athletes!

Left to right: Zack Ouassil – Hampton University – Lacrosse; Jameel Brown – Pennsylvania State University – Basketball; Will Nagy – Amherst College – Cross Country; Carol Ulichney – Lafayette College – Volleyball; Helena Lasic – University of Pennsylvania  – Basketball; Dereck Lively II – Duke University – Basketball; Diesel Schraufnagel – Wagner College – Lacrosse 

Girls Cross Country Team
The team worked hard throughout the season, ultimately earning 3rd place in league competition (edging out George School for a coveted Patterson Cup point!) and 4th place in the FSL championship race (where George edged out our varsity team despite a valiant race and multiple PRs). In addition, the JV team won our first JV Friends School League championship title in history. In the PAISAA State Championship race at Belmont, injuries held back multiple runners on both our varsity and JV, which led to a 13th place varsity finish. The team worked incredibly hard through all kinds of weather, dedicating themselves to supporting each other and improving their fitness. Their grit and determination were inspiring to their coaches, and we are proud of their work this season.

All-League: Ella Cook ’24

Boys Cross Country Team
This team showed great strength in the Friends School League, coming in second in league competition before being edged out by Abington to place third in the league championships. In the PAISAA State Championship race at Belmont, the varsity finished in 9th on a tougher day for our team against strong competition. Many members of the team dedicated themselves to hundreds of miles of summer running, inspiring their teammates by arriving at preseason at a high level of fitness and ready to jump into speed work and perform at the top of their ability. From school record contenders to aspiring new runners and so many talented and dedicated runners in between, the team put in hours of hard work and supported each other like family throughout the season. 
All-League: Will Nagy ’22

Girls Varsity Soccer 
Following a 2020 season turned upside down by COVID, the 2021 team rostered one senior, welcomed a new coaching staff, asked an 8th-grade goalkeeper to not only play but start every game, and faced a litany of injuries. This is a very concise list of the obstacles this team faced that, frankly, would give any player a valid excuse to quit or give up. But not this team! This team showed up every day with joy and enthusiasm that was contagious. Though not reflected on the scoreboard, this team won more than they lost. No matter the obstacle they refused to surrender their joy and fighting spirit.
All-League: Lucy Smith ’26

Boys Varsity Soccer 
The team had a tremendous season! Despite a number of injuries, a challenging early schedule, and a team that hadn’t truly played together in two years, they rose  to the challenge. Going into our early Friends League games, our goal was to compete and make a run to get into the 5th seed spot. After a win at Moorestown Friends, we felt like we were in a great spot. A few wins and losses later, we found ourselves in a home game against Shipley. In one of the greatest victories in recent memory, we pulled out a 1-0 victory. The incredible journey continued with a loss in overtime to George School, but a hard-earned 3rd seed. Back to George, we went for another incredible win. The Friends League season ended with a loss in the finals. The season was an incredible journey and we are all so proud of the work that everyone put in this season.
All-League: Ryan Stewart ’22, Josiah Moore ’23, Tee Johnson ’23
Honorable Mention: Leo Salvucci ’24

Girls Varsity Field Hockey
It was a pleasure to coach our young group this fall. While it was a challenging season, it was full of tremendous growth, learning opportunities, and provided valuable experience for seasons ahead. Our team held strong to some tough competitors in our league and the Inter-Ac, while also tallying ten goals in two games versus Friends’ Central School. We are very excited for the rare opportunity of returning our entire squad next season, in which we hope to be a contender in the Friends’ School League playoffs. I commend all of our players for their resilient effort, coachability, and for never giving up.
All-League: Grace Rhile ’23

Girls Tennis
This was the best season yet for the fast-improving Westtown tennis program. For the first time in years, the team made the playoffs and lost 3-2 to the eventual winner GFS. More importantly this season, we saw incredible energy from all participants whether it be varsity, JV, development as well as the boys who joined in for the practices. We congratulate all the players for their growth, efforts, and success throughout the season. It’s been a truly gratifying year!
All-League: Alifa Teke ’24
Honorable Mention: Kapom Vettayawaikoon ’23

ALUMS/COMMUNITY BASKETBALL GAME
Thanks to all the alums and community members who came out to play (and watch!) the Alums/Community basketball game! It was especially wonderful to welcome alums back to campus for this annual tradition. 

BUILDING COMMUNITY ON CAMPUS
We have been thrilled to step back into the waters of offering a few community events on campus this fall: Friday Night Lights, Nature Walk, and Campus Dog Walk! Special thanks to Director of Event Operations Megan Schlickmann, who works tirelessly to bring events life!

Friday Night Lights
Friday Night Lights —a now-tradition that began in 2016 — was a wonderful opportunity for the community to cheer on our field hockey and soccer teams, to enjoy a variety of food trucks, and to simply be together. Enjoy the full Friday Night Lights gallery here!

Nature Walk 
On November 6, Westtown hosted a nature walk for current families and community members. The walk was led and curated by Westtown’s very own Chris Costa, Director of Outdoor Education, and Marta Willgoose Salo, Middle School faculty member and naturalist, who shared the wonders of our vast and beautiful campus. You can find more photos here! 

Dog Walk
The Campus Dog Walk was so “pup”ular last year that we brought it back again! Families and their four-legged friends strolled the campus paths that were replete with doggie cafes and treat stations. Enjoy the pups and their families here! 

BRING THE ARCHIVES HOME
Westtown School has proudly partnered with the Lodestone Collective to offer a special collection of textile products. Inspiration for these products came from items in Westtown School’s Archives, which holds an impressive collection of manuscripts, photographs, rare books, maps and plans, artwork and furniture, and important artifacts —  including textiles — from its earliest days. See these samples below, and visit their website to order! A portion of the proceeds of the sale of these items support Westtown School
’s programs.

 

COPE ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER RECEIVES LIVING BUILDING CERTIFICATION
Congratulations are in order for the Cope family, generations of whom are Westonians. Founded by James B. ’39 and Helen Cope in 1992, the Cope Environmental Center’s Environmental Education building has received Living Building certification from the International Living Future Institute. The Institute describes living buildings as “regenerative buildings that connect occupants to light, air, food, nature, and community; self-sufficient and remain within the resource limits of their site; and, create a positive impact on the human and natural systems that interact with them.” Learn more about the criteria here. Located in Centerville, Indiana, the Cope Environmental Center building is just the 29th building in the world to be granted this special and rare certification. The Cope Environmental Center and it’s Living Building Certification are the legacy of a couple who devoted their lives to environmentalism. As daughter Marianne Cope ’67 says in this piece in Richmond, Indiana’s Palladium Item, “It just brings tears to my eyes, and my parents would be just astounded and pleased.”

All of Jim’s and Helen’s children were involved in this project from the beginning: June Cope Chidester ’65, Ed Cope ’66, Trish Cope ’73, Marianne Cope ’67, and Marie Cope Nicholson ’72. Marie shares, “We are so excited about the whole project and want to spread the news!” She adds that another Westtown alum is familiar with Living Buildings as well ― Peter Doo ’71, a LEED architect who won a Living Futures Hero Award in 2016. “We spoke with Peter Doo at the very beginning [of this project] when we first learned of Living Buildings.” Once again, we share our congratulations with the Cope family on this incredible and important achievement.

CALLING ALL ALUMS!
Want to share what’s new with you? Submit a class note! You can tell us if you have moved; or, maybe, you have a new job or are enjoying your retirement. Perhaps you’ve earned a new academic degree, taken up a new hobby, gotten married, or marked a new milestone in your life. Whatever your news, we want to hear about it. And, we know your classmates would love it, too. Class Notes help keep Westonians around the world connected. Submit your note today!

ALUMS WEEKEND 2022
Each day, Alums Weekend draws closer, and we are more excited than ever! Our team has been working hard to ensure that this will be the biggest celebration of Westtown alums since the 1999 Bicentennial. While we are still working on all the details, we are eager to share our first-ever Alums Weekend Website with you:

Consider this website the Alums Weekend home base. Here you will find the most up-to-date information about the Weekend, including registration information, a tentative agenda, hotel details, contact information, and more. Although registration will not open until January 2022, we encourage you to save this link and check back often as we continue to finalize the weekend itinerary. We cannot wait to see you all back on campus next May!

College Shirt Day at Westtown
College Counseling for Juniors: The Shoulds and Coulds

The new school year is well underway. It is an exciting time for high school students especially; the new school year brings with it several rites of passage in the school setting. For juniors, that means it’s time to start thinking more deeply about their college plans, though students react differently to this stage. There are juniors who are ready to embrace the college search process while others are not there yet. Here at Westtown School, our College Counseling office is reminding our juniors that “any way you are feeling about college is completely fine.” These experts put together a list of what they think juniors in high school really should do right now and what they could do, but is less pressing.

SHOULD
Work hard in their classes!  Get back into the habit of in-person classes and assessments.

COULD
Go the extra mile in their classes and challenge themselves (within reason) to improve learning and, possibly, their grades.

SHOULD
Continue to do their activities or join some new clubs and expand their extra-curricular experiences if they did not have many last year because of the pandemic.

COULD
Take on leadership positions in chosen activities. Get more involved in existing activities. They could lead a fundraiser, plan an assembly, or sponsor or lead a service project, for example.

SHOULD
Juniors should attend at least one college visit at school this fall. College representatives are back in the practice of visiting high schools, so touch base with the college counseling office to see what colleges are scheduled to come to the school.

COULD
Attend several college visits at their school, and begin to think about colleges they want to visit in person.

SHOULD
Juniors should consider, along with their college counselors, if they need to take the SAT or the ACT this fall or winter. Testing in the fall is a good idea for those who want to be recruited athletes. (See when the PSAT is scheduled at school or locally.) All juniors should take at least one SAT or ACT this school year. Some like to try both.

COULD
Start to plan testing and do test prep (very optional).

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SUMMER 2021


CONGRATULATIONS TO THE CLASS OF 2021!

On June 12, 2021, the Class of 2021 received their diplomas in the Greenwood and joined our vast, global network of alums. You can see videos of the Commencement ceremony and student speakers, photo galleries, and learn about their college destinations on this page of our website. Take a moment to check it out! Watch the full ceremony below.

 

8th Grade Graduation

On June 9, 2021, the 8th graders were celebrated in their graduation ceremony. In a unique and meaningful update to the ceremony, as each student received their certificate, a recording of their own voice describing what they learned in Middle School accompanied them across the stage. You can watch the ceremony above and enjoy the photo gallery here. Congratulations to the Class of 2025!

5th Grade Graduation

On June 10, the 5th graders celebrated their rite of passage with a traditional Meeting for Worship. In order to maintain physical distancing, the service was held in the Athletic Center.  Each student shared a statement about their experience in Lower School, and family, friends, and faculty were invited to share in worship as well.

Congratulations to all our students who are moving on to new phases of their lives!

Still Looking for Hosts: Be Part of the Host Family Program! 
Join other local Westtown families who host boarding students from afar! We will be connecting our new international students and domestic students who live at a distance with local host families and hope you will consider this exciting opportunity!  Host families offer some home-cooked meals, enjoy cross-cultural conversations, and often develop relationships that live on well after a student’s first year at Westtown. Host families are not responsible for boarding over breaks or transporting students. You can learn more about the Host Family Program on our website. If you have questions, please contact International Student Coordinators Bei Zhang and Rose Koenig.

 

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SPRING 2021

You know the end of the school year is nigh when College Shirt Day arrives, Lower and Middle School students spill onto the fields for Spirit Days, and students appear on the South Lawn in all their finery for Dinner Dance. After this year, these celebrations seemed sweeter, infused with the joy of togetherness and the gratitude to be on this campus. We hope you enjoy these galleries of some of our year-end traditions!

College Shirt Day
In order to adhere to our COVID mitigation practices, the College Shirt Day photoshoot was held outside —and who can argue with the Greenwood field as a backdrop?! College Shirt Day is our annual celebration of the seniors’ college choices. Check out the full gallery of photos here! (Pictured below are two of our 2020-21 Student Body Presidents: Alexis Rogers and Kavi Gandhi.)

Senior Car Parade
We continued to celebrate college choices at the Senior Car Parade. Last year’s car parade — created so that there was a celebrate seniors in person during the height of the pandemic — was so much fun, we decided to do it again! See photos of the event here  and watch the parade below!

Lower School Spirit Days
This year, in order to maintain student cohorts, there were two Spirit Days for Lower School. Spirit Days are Westtown’s version of field days, full of friendly competitions that end, of course, with ice cream! Check out the Spirit Day galleries! Pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade gallery here; second and third grade gallery here, and fourth and fifth grade gallery here.

Middle School Spirit Day
Middle Schoolers divided into teams by grade for their friendly competitions which included old favorites such as the balloon toss and tug of peace. See the teams in action here!

Dinner Dance
Dinner Dance was back on the docket for seniors this year! This time, in another health and safety pivot, the event was held on campus. Megan Schlickmann, Director of Event Operations, the Senior Class Deans, and the Upper School Parents’ Council planned a splendid event for the students, and did a tremendous job of transforming one of the tents into a perfect venue for dinner and dancing! As has become tradition, students gathered on the South Lawn for photos before the event got underway. At the end of the evening, seniors walked down to the lake for sundaes at the Lake House.

Update from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion
By Marissa Colston, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion

Our ABAR work continues to be front and center at Westtown. Here are just a few examples that represent the kind of work students have been involved in this spring and throughout the school year.

Lower School students spent the year engaging in DEI/SEL (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Social Emotional Learning) lessons that focused on the themes of identity, empathy, community building, social justice, and anti-racism. In Pre-K students explored their own identity and learned about the human body. They learned about skin color, melanin, and the beautiful variations in skin tone and colors. In the second grade, students talked about bias and stereotypes and spent time discussing how to stop using stereotypes that are often formed around gender identity. In the fourth grade, when students study and learn about American history, they asked questions like Who’s telling the story? Whose voice is not being heard? These questions led them to learn more about the perspectives and stories of the Lenni Lenape, African, and European experiences.

In Middle School, a group of 6th and 7th graders represented Westtown at the Haverford Middle School Diversity Conference, sharing what they learned with classmates. 8th grade leaders spent the end of the year leading workshops for their peers. Students designed their own version of a diversity conference and delivered a series of workshops and activities over a few weeks addressing important themes like naming and addressing bias, identity, and social justice. They were supported by the Middle School Equity and Inclusion coordinator, Alejandra Navarro-Benbow, who helped them design these workshops and supported their presentation skills.

In the Upper School, the spring is a time of much activity. Student activists facilitated conversations connected to community and social justice. Prompted by students, there were campus-wide discussions around consent and sexual violence. After the conversations started on the Opinion Board and online, courageous conversations across many experiences were hosted so that students could share, listen, and learn from each other. These conversations were designed and led by trusted faculty with support from the DEI Office. Students engaged in this dialogue and left with new understandings. They also shared ideas about how to continue the dialogue as well as suggestions for changes in programming that will support more education about sexual violence and consent across the student body community.

Finally, as you may know already, earlier in the school year we launched our new ABAR website which includes an ABAR Community Blog. Every few weeks a new blog entry is posted and each post is related to a wide range of ABAR community topics, and are a sampling of the diverse community that Westtown encompasses. Check it out for yourself!

Paddle On!
A great Middle School tradition resumed this year: canoe trips! Although days trips supplanted the overnight experiences and additional protocols were in place because of our COVID mitigation practices, students and teachers alike were elated to be back on the water. Chris Costa, Director of Outdoor Education, Tom Berrian, Middle School Outdoor Education Coordinator, and a host of Middle School faculty did double duty in the canoes this year. Each grade was divided into two groups in order to maintain cohorts, so they ran two trips for each grade. Seventh and eighth graders paddled the Upper Schuylkill River and sixth graders enjoyed a day on Westtown’s lake.

With the exception of added safety measures, this constant in our education program looked much like it always has. The pre-trip training conducted by Costa and Berrian consisted of: meetings with the groups; “ground school” in which basic water and boat safety, the basics of boat movement, and paddle strokes are taught; lake sessions, which included practice maneuvering and navigating the boat on the water, and opportunities to reinforce safety protocols; and, safety sessions in which groups review outdoor education protocols and cover things like river communication, hydration, lightning drill, etc. Costa says, “For over 30 years, Middle School students have participated in an outdoor experience with a canoeing component. These trips are so valued by students and faculty that their design and delivery have been woven into the fabric of their Middle School experience for decades. Among their many benefits, these trips allow students to step out of their comfort zones, connect with themselves and their peers, and to realize the collective power of the whole. Now, more than ever, these trips are needed.”

African Dance
The annual third grade African Dance performance was outside this year, but no less amazing! Third graders have a comprehensive unit on Africa studying its countries, their cultures, economies, wildlife, art, and more. That study includes a six-week on-campus residency with Jeannine Osayande Dunya Performing Arts Company in which kids learn not only many dances but also about storytelling in the music and movements. Well done, third grade, and a special thank you to the Jeannine Osayande and Dunya Performing Arts Company, who have been partnering with Westtown for 19 years! Enjoy the gallery of photos here.

Martin Ma ’22 Wins Chester County Science Fair Award
Congratulations to Yangyue Martin Ma ’22 who won the Chester County Science Research Fair in the Computer Science Category for the cane he designed for the blind! The cane uses sensors integrated to a computational device running AI recognition software to both alert for objects and identify said objects to the user.

“The preciseness of the detection of objects on streets is extremely important for blind people, since no other references can be made for them,” says Ma describing his project. “In order to help them get familiar with the surrounding environment, I created a blind crutch that not only will alert users about obstacles, but also can identify objects with clear labels using the convolutional neural network (CNN), a neural network especially designed for image identification, to train the classifications needed…To make up for the insufficiency of the GPS module of detecting exact locations, I also created a function of detecting guideposts on streets that broadcasts the current location. After testing, the blind crutch can precisely classify objects and complete the broadcast function under different environments caused by different weather. The project took me approximately two years.”

After the Chester County win, Ma moved into the next level of competition at the Delaware Valley Science Fair, a three-state competition. At this level, he won the Computer Science Division and was awarded the Yale Science and Engineering Association Special Award, which,”recognizes the most outstanding 11th grade projects in Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics.”

Design Engineering teacher and robotics team coach Steve Compton, says, “Although he did not advance to the national competition, he plans to continue the work on this project, iterate, and improve both the hardware and the computational artificial intelligence and training of the algorithms in order to compete again next year. Martin is doing extraordinary work and I’m thrilled he has been recognized in these competitions.”

Third Grade Poetry Slam Celebrates the Harlem Renaissance
A poetry slam in third grade? Absolutely! Upon the completion of third graders’ study of the Harlem Renaissance, teachers Vicki Shelter and Kristin Hayman organized a poetry slam in which students performed the poems they wrote that celebrate what they learned. Shelter explains: “After an in-depth study of the European Renaissance, the third graders were introduced to the Great Migration in the United States and the Harlem Renaissance that followed that migration. They connected that the word renaissance means ‘rebirth’ and it celebrates a very important time in history. After understanding why the Great Migration began and its importance to the African American people, we focused on learning about its impact on American History. The students learned about different artists such as Jacob Lawrence and Aaron Douglass. They also studied the poetry of Langston Hughes, which encouraged them to have in-depth conversations about his life and the racial tensions that were occurring during his time period. The students resonated with his poems and were inspired by his writing. Lastly, we listened to and learned about some of the jazz greats that performed during this time period. The students learned that jazz is an American art form and it is special because of the solos that occur in each song or performance. They heard Cab Calloway scat and saw the Nicholas Brothers tap-dance their hearts out. They danced in the classroom as Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong sang. They learned about Dizzy Gillespie’s hard childhood and how playing the trumpet inspired him. The kids also learned that Duke Ellington, as a child, wanted to play baseball, but as he got older he learned to love the piano and leading his orchestra was his favorite thing. They watched videos of the Harlem Globetrotters entertaining and showing off their basketball skills. Their poems celebrate this time period and their love for what they learned.

“During our poetry slam, the entire third grade [formerly in separate cohorts as part of Westtown’s mitigation strategy] gathered into a tent to share their poems. They got dressed up depending on what their poem was about. We snapped our fingers after each poem was read. It was a great way to gather together our entire third-grade community. It was fun for all of us!” You can enjoy a gallery of photos from the Poetry Slam here!

Sharing Their Professional Stories: Alums Visit Chemistry Class
Teacher Rose Koenig invited alums to speak to her Chemical Bonding (Advanced) class so that students had an opportunity to learn about how and why they pursued their various careers in the sciences. Koenig welcomed:

Dr. Nahara Saballos, Class of 2011, Family Medicine Resident Physician
Katie Metzker, Class of 2010, Assistant Director for Education and Outreach Programs in Galapagos at Intercultural Outreach Initiative
Dr. Caitlin Hepps-Keeney, Class of 2010, Zoological Medicine Resident at N.C. State University
Dr. Beverly Aiyanyor, Class of 2009, Resident Physician at Boston Children’s Hospital & Resident Physician at Boston Medical Center

At the conclusion of their presentations, students had an opportunity to ask questions. You can enjoy all of their presentations below (click on the upper left side of the image to see a drop-down selection). If you’re an alum who’d like to be engaged with students in this way, contact Domi Waldron, Director of Alumni/ae/x Engagement.

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Winter 2021

Looking Ahead to 2021-22

It was recently announced that Head of School Tori Jueds will step down at the close of the 2020-2021 school year. Tori will be moving on to serve as the Director of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a nursery through grade 12 day school. We wish her well as she moves on to her next adventure! In the event that you have not seen the announcement about her departure, please see excerpts of the email to all constituents from Martha B. Bryans ’68, Clerk of the Board of Trustees, and Tori Jueds below, and you may read the entirety of this communication here

Martha B. Bryans writes: 

As the Clerk of the Board of Trustees, I write to announce that Tori Jueds will step down as Head of School at the close of the 2020-21 school year. Tori has accepted the opportunity to lead the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a Nursery through Grade 12 day school founded by progressive educator John Dewey. I would like to convey our deep gratitude for Tori’s passion for Westtown’s mission, strategic thinking, and deep commitment to respect, equity, and inclusion. We wish her the very best in this exciting new endeavor.

  Tori Jueds writes: 

Since 2017, it has been my honor and joy to serve as Westtown’s Head of School. It is bittersweet to share the news that on June 30, 2021, I will lay down my work at our wonderful school to prepare for a new career adventure… It has been an extraordinary privilege and pleasure to serve as Head of School. From the bottom of my heart, friends, thank you for the kindness and support you have given me in this role. I am proud and glad to be a Westonian.

The Board of Trustees has begun the discernment process for the timetable and search for the next Head of School, and they have invited Associate Head of School Chris Benbow ’90 to serve as Interim Head of School beginning on July 1, 2021. Chris has had a long relationship with Westtown and has served in myriad leadership roles including Upper School Principal and Dean of Students, in addition to his teaching and leadership experience at other institutions. We are fortunate that Chris, with his deep understanding of our culture, Quaker values, and mission, has agreed to serve in this capacity. “I’m sincerely grateful to be able to serve Westtown as Interim Head as we seek and transition to our community’s next long-term Head of School. I’ve been a part of the Westtown community—and this community has been a part of me—since I enrolled as a sixth grader in 1983,” reflects Chris. “I care deeply about this community, believe strongly in its aspirations, and am committed to doing my part to help us come as close as we possibly can to realizing our individual and collective potential together.”

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Get Your Garden Ready…as a Family!

Spring is in the air and that means it is time to get your garden ready!  Whether you are working with a backyard garden, a container garden, raised beds, or just want to know how to start the process, we have some helpful information for you. Recently, our in-house expert Tim Mountz, Sustainable Agriculture Teacher at Westtown School, shared his thoughts on gardening. Farmer Tim, as he is known to our students, reminds us that gardening is a great activity for the whole family AND can get kids excited to eat fruits and vegetables. So step away for the screen, grab your shovel, and let’s get to it!   

If you do not already have a garden or set area, here are some suggestions for choosing a location. 

It is best for your garden or container to be in an area that receives direct sunlight for the majority of the day.  An area close to the kitchen makes it fun and easy for transport. Remember to plant some of our aromatic friends such as lavender, rosemary, and sage. Don’t  worry if you do not have land, containers are great for smaller, portable gardens!   

When should garden prepping begin?

If you are interested in prepping for a vegetable bed, now (March/April) is a great time to start raking and weeding the area. Be sure to dig and rake to loosen all the soil below. Roots like loose soil and will grow better in this environment.  Once you clean out the area, let it soak up the sun and dry out. If you are more interested in perennials, now is the time to  cut them back. You can do the pruning and have your little one help gather the cuttings. The cuttings are a great addition to your compost, too!

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Curl Up With A Good Book

 

Winter is here and this year, more than ever, we are hunkering down at home.  When it’s cold outside, what better accompaniment is there to your favorite blanket, chair, and hot beverage than a good book?  Whether you like to read alone or gathered with your family, we have some great suggestions from our in-house experts —our librarians—at Westtown School

Lower School Suggestions from Lower School Library and Media Specialist – Heather Tannenbaum

  • Heather’s top new pick!  Author Matt de la Peña and illustrator Christian Robinson (the team behind the Newbery Medal and Caldecott Honor-winning Last Stop On Market Street) are back with Milo Imagines the World, a beautiful new picture book that celebrates the power of imagination. Every Sunday, Milo and his sister take a long train ride to visit their mother. To entertain himself on the ride, Milo watches the people around him and draws what he imagines their lives are like. Eventually he comes to realize, you can’t really know anyone just by what they look like. (All ages.)
  • Looking for something like your childhood favorite, Charlotte’s Web? Try Saving Winslow by award-winning author Sharon Creech. Louie is not great at keeping pets alive for long. So when his dad brings home a sickly mini donkey named Winslow, will Louie be able to save him? His strange new neighbor Nora is doubtful, but Louie is determined, especially because caring for Winslow makes him feel connected to his brother who is far away in the army. Will Louie be able to prove to everyone —and himself — that he and Winslow are both stronger than people expect? (Grades K and up.)

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Navigating the Holidays in 2020

The holiday season is upon us! While it is a special time of the year, the holidays can also be stressful. The year 2020 has magnified some of our normal holiday stress and brought about new challenges. We asked our in-house experts at Westtown School about different strategies we can use during the unusual holiday season of 2020. Here’s what we learned in our Coffee with the Counselors series.

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