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SUMMER 2019

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE CLASS OF 2019!

On Saturday, June 8, the Class of 2019 received their diplomas in the Greenwood and became our newest alumni. We have made a special page on the website where you can find videos of graduation and individual speeches, photo galleries, awards, and college destinations. Please enjoy the Class of 2019 page!

Enjoy the Photo Gallery 

8th GRADE GRADUATION

On Wednesday June 5, eighth graders were celebrated in their graduation ceremony in the Barton-Test Theater. Each student was individually recognized by teachers. Two essayists were selected to read their work: Catherine LeFebvre and Sebelah Sheriff. Enjoy the gallery of photos from the closing ceremony! Congratulations!

5th GRADE GRADUATION

On June 6, Lower School students and families gathered in the Meeting House for the Fifth Grade Graduation. One by one, each fifth grader stood and spoke of their Lower School experience, then Meeting for Worship followed. Congratulations to the Class of 2026!

 

Join the Westtown Community Group on LinkedIn! Stay up-to-date on alumni news!  Like the Westtown Alumni Facebook page.

 

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SPRING 2019

NEW LOWER SCHOOL PRINCIPAL APPOINTED

We are thrilled to share that Karyn Payton has been appointed Lower School Principal at Westtown School! She will assume her duties on July 1. Karyn came to Westtown three years ago, initially teaching first grade, in which capacity she was elevated to Master Teacher, broadening the social studies curriculum to include more diverse voices. Most recently she has served as the Lower School Learning Specialist, notably managing the design and implementation of the new Lower School learning support system.

Karyn earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Temple University and a master’s degree in education and human development from The George Washington University, both with highest honors, and holds a certification in early childhood education from Widener University. Karyn has completed the Friends Council on Education’s Institute for Engaging Leadership in Friends School. Her time before and outside Westtown has included teaching language arts at Delaware Valley Friends School; training teacher interns in the Delaware Valley Friends School Adolescent Literacy Program; teaching first and second grade at the The School in Rose Valley during which she collaborated to create curricula; and, teaching at Friends Select School – of which she is a graduate. A lifelong Quaker and member of Chester Monthly Meeting, Karyn has also coordinated educational programs at Pendle Hill.  In her personal statement of philosophy, Karyn speaks of Quaker practices as key influences and inspirations, including holding issues or ideas in the Light, discerning in collaboration with others and in her own quiet time, and leading with intention. She identifies listening and seeking as particularly important practices, calling them “cornerstones of successful teaching and leadership.” Head of School Tori Jueds noted, “With the wisdom and experience of a rich career in elementary education, demonstrated commitment to Quaker-influenced practices in both teaching and leading, and natural warmth and humor, Karyn stood out among a strong pool of candidates. She garnered enthusiastic, resounding, and unified support from our community as well as the search committee, and I am thrilled for our students and our school that she has accepted the position.” Please join us in congratulating Karyn on her new role!

NEWS IN DIVERSITY, EQUITY, INCLUSION, AND ACCESS

As you know, on July 1, Jay Farrow will begin a new role as the inaugural Dean of Access and Equity. Jay’s developing portfolio will include work with Admissions as we seek to diversify our student body, and with Advancement as we work to shore up robust sources of financial aid and full access funding, as well as connecting with alumni/ae/x of color. Jay will partner with Marissa Colston, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, on various school initiatives.

We are introducing new Diversity Coordinator roles among faculty and staff. Bekka Schultz, Lower School science teacher, has been doing a wonderful job piloting this work in their division, and will continue as Lower School Diversity Coordinator next year. Position announcements for internal applications from Upper and Middle School faculty members for Diversity Coordinator positions in those divisions have been posted. In the coming months, a position announcement for Staff Diversity Coordinator will be made. These coordinators will partner with Marissa as well as division principals and department heads to further our work in DEI school-wide.

Finally, two committee structures will support this work. The Multicultural Board has been re-framed as a committee of the school and Board of Trustees called the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Board. The DEI Advisory Board will be co-clerked by Jay and Marissa, and will include trustees and adjunct members drawn from our alumni and parent communities. In keeping with its new name, it will serve an advisory function and will convene 2-4 times a year on Board weekends. At the same time, we are convening a new standing committee of faculty and staff to pursue and support initiatives in our school community, called the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. The DEI Committee will also be co-clerked by Jay and Marissa, and its inaugural membership will be the staff and faculty members who have up until now been serving on the Multicultural Board, as well as the staff and divisional Diversity Coordinators. Members will serve three-year terms on the DEI Committee, and new members will be appointed by means of an open, transparent process to be developed by the co-clerks.

SEEKING TRUTH

Throughout this school year, a professional development cohort of teachers, staff, and administrators has been exploring the history of Westtown School by looking through a new lens: specifically, conducting an assessment of the school’s history with regard to race. The cohort’s stated aim is to “bring together teachers dedicated to creating racially just and equitable classroom spaces as well as a just, equitable, and restorative curriculum at Westtown School. Our work will involve undertaking an honest appraisal of our school’s history, especially with regard to race; owning and taking responsibility for that history; and using that history to frame a more equitable future for students, teachers, and all community members. This work will amount to truth-telling, reconciliation, and restoration…” The cohort’s undertaking is inspired by the American Truth and Reconciliation (ATR) movement, but, as the group notes, “…will proceed in a way that is true to Westtown’s values, mission, and Quaker history, and serves Westtown’s unique population and culture.”

During her Alumni Day address, Head of School Tori Jueds introduced this project to the community:

Throughout our history, from 1799 to date, countless Westonians have felt seen and valued at our school — but we need to recognize that many have not. You will remember that Westtown did not admit African-American students until 1945. Some of you may have read the excellent action research and oral histories collected by Teacher Pat McPherson…If you have, you will have read that only five of the seven black women enrolled at Westtown in the 1950s survived “great isolation” in order to graduate. One Westtown alumna of color wrote in an essay in Pat’s collection that “social isolation defined our experience”; another commented, “I don’t think the teachers had any conception of the problems I was going through except to criticize me academically.” Another was made to feel “that black was ugly in [the] white world” of Westtown.

These are just a few of many deeply painful observations to be made about our history. And yet, they are truths — Westonian truths — and as such, acknowledging them frankly is a critical part of our work. Seeking out and honoring that of God requires clarity. If we fail to be clear-eyed with regard to our shortcomings, we risk falling short again and again. Our Quaker calling remains Westtown’s most potent means of seeking healing, peace, and a better world. And it requires us to hold in the Light those who have felt that that of God in them went unsought and unseen at our school. It requires us to look at our individual and collective shortcomings, and to ask our history:  What gift do you have to give me? What can I learn from you?

Marissa Colston, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and Kevin Eppler, Class Dean and religion  teacher, are leading the charge of seeking truth, truth-telling, and authentic restorative justice. The goals and outcomes include: a scholarly examination of Westtown’s history; assessments of curricula in all divisions; building community and making recommendations about community discussions; recommending guest speakers who are active in social and racial justice; and, discerning ways to present their findings and act upon them. Colston and Eppler acknowledge that even after a year of meeting with the cohort, this deeply important work has only just begun. It will continue in a variety of ways, some yet to be determined. If you have questions, concerns, or would like to share your experience at Westtown, please be in touch with Marissa Colston and/or Kevin Eppler.

HERITAGE SPEAKERS PROGRAM

Westtown’s Lower School is seeing a growing number of heritage Spanish speakers. A heritage speaker is someone whose heritage is Hispanic –there are Spanish speakers in their home, so they might be fluent or proficient in Spanish, or they might simply be immersed in the cultural aspects of their heritage, or both. In the Lower School, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity in Spanish instruction, which is not split into levels as it is in Middle or Upper Schools. For heritage speakers, the Lower School Spanish classes might move too slowly or be too basic. Parents of heritage speakers were concerned both about language loss, and about making sure their children become bilaterate as well as bilingual.

The question for Lower School teachers, then, was how best to support these students in their language progression. Lower School Spanish teacher Amy Liermann along with Innovation Specialist Oscar Sosa, implemented the Heritage Speaker Project this year in close partnership with parents of the heritage speakers. In this pilot year, Liermann and Sosa concentrated on fourth grade which has three heritage speakers. They began supplementing Spanish education in a variety of ways for these students. One such way is  through “lunch buddies” in which heritage speakers from the Upper School who are involved in the Latinx Leadership Club have lunch with the students once a week, speaking Spanish and talking about their cultures and cultural identity.

A book club was also formed for the three students. Liermann and the students come in early one morning a week to discuss the book they are reading. Liermann, Sosa, and Lynn Clements, Lower School librarian, were careful to choose authentic novels and short stories; ones that were written in Spanish, not translations from English. Liermann notes that culture is embedded in language, and translations often lose those cultural nuances. In addition to these discussions, Liermann uses the books to select spelling words, highlight vocabulary, and note patterns in grammar. In these sessions, she is able to continually assess students’ progress in reading, writing, spelling, and grammar. She notes, “These students bond over their common language and have a safe community to learn in the target language, and when they stumble over words, they help each other. It’s been rewarding to see them develop this small community, this affinity group.”

Field trips were incorporated into this project as well. Westtown has long partnered with La Comunidad Hispana (LCH) in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, as a service destination and a beneficiary of winter clothing drives. Liermann and Sosa took the group on a mini-field trip in which they could learn from the director (in Spanish) about the services provided by LCH and to deliver the items collected by the Lower School. Next year, these students will coordinate and lead the drive themselves.

Integration of Spanish into other academic areas has bolstered learning and practice as well. The fourth grade teachers have encouraged these students to read their news assignments in Spanish, as well as complete some of their projects in Spanish. In just one example: when the fourth graders were to research plastic pollution, produce an educational brochure, and make a presentation about it, the heritage speakers completed their work in Spanish; their presentation to the Lower School was also in Spanish.

Liermann, who teaches “immersion-style,” explains that having heritage speakers in Spanish classes with new learners is beneficial to all in the class. Lessons are contextualized so students are not just learning Spanish, but also about the 22 Spanish speaking countries. The heritage speakers enhance both the immersion aspect and information about vocabulary and dialects that differ from country to country. Each student brings her own expertise which allows her to be teacher as well as learner, and allows authentic peer-to-peer learning.

Liermann, Sosa, and the parents were happy with this pilot year, although consideration of and conversations about what more supports can be offered is ongoing. There are plans to continue with these current students as they move into fifth grade, and to explore expanding into other grades. The challenge is time; the work for these students and Liermann is, with the exception of integrated academic assignments, outside the classroom. Liermann and Sosa are committed, though, to enhancing the experience and instruction of these students.

Amy Liermann and the heritage speaker group deliver clothing to La Comunidad Hispana 

 

3D BOOKS FOR THE BLIND

Innovation & Technology Specialist Alicia Zeoli and Lower School Librarian Lynn Clements are members of Build a Better Book, a project that encourages students to design and fabricate inclusive media. The program identified a need for blind and visually impaired students to have not only books in braille, but also in 3D for tactile illustrations. Zeoli and Clements enlisted Middle School visual art teacher Cindy Hodgson to bring her ideas to this program. Hodgson integrated 3D books into her 7th grade 3D modeling unit. It was Hodgson’s idea to have the students create three-part stories based on the topics identified by the Royer-Greaves School (RGS) for the Blind in Paoli, with whom these Westtown teachers had partnered. RGS indicated that they needed life-cycle books (insects, animals, plants)  and how-to books (how to do everyday things such as brush your teeth or make a sandwich) for children at their school. Westtown students worked in groups to create the tactile books and to test the books by using a blindfold to see if they could understand what the objects illustrated. Zeoli and Hodgson also included lessons in braille, which was included with the tactile illustrations, and students participated in make the braille text as well. The end result was an impressive, clever selection of 3D books! They were recently delivered to the RGS, where they are already in use. Design Thinking is at work in this kind of project –it encourages empathy and provides a useful solution to a real-world problem. To learn more about the details of this project, we encourage you to read Alicia Zeoli’s blog.

  

THE CHAIRMAN’S AWARD

In March, the Metal Moose robotics team competed at a district competition, and while they finished in the top three with the robot, a more important success took place: The Metal Moose was awarded the Chairman’s Award – one that only eight teams in the region receive each year! In the words of the award criteria: The Chairman’s Award is the most prestigious award at FIRST, it honors the team that best represents a model for other teams to emulate and best embodies the mission of FIRST. It was created to keep the central focus of FIRST Robotics Competition on the ultimate goal of transforming the culture in ways that will inspire greater levels of respect and honor for science and technology, as well as encouraging more of today’s youth to become science and technology leaders.

Faculty advisor Steve Compton says, “The most important work we do in the realm of Chairman’s is in supporting underserved communities of young people through partnerships with development organizations. Through our annual Good Robot Challenge and our new Access and Equity team, the Metal Moose has created opportunities for 158 batey children in the Dominican Republic to have sufficient school supplies for the first time, supported university tuition for a student from a DR batey, funded African water projects and youth development, and created a growing partnership with the Kennett Youth Garage.”  Working at the Garage with underserved middle school students, the Metal Moose team donated 20 MS surface laptops, ran a weekly tutoring program, and have generated funding to offer week-long summer Lego League robotics camps with the students for the next two summers. The Westtown students who work in these programs give selflessly of themselves, and their hard work and dedication to service was noted in the award presentation.

 

PHILLIES ALL-STAR

Kavi Gandhi ’21 was recently honored by the Phillies at the All-Star Student Night! Kavi was one of only five students to receive this honor for “going above and beyond in their communities.” Teacher Mitch Bernstein (who nominated him) got to enjoy the game and ceremony as well! Join us in congratulating Kavi!

 

PRINCETON PRIZE IN RACE RELATIONS

Congratulations to Zora Carroll ’21, recipient of the prestigious Princeton Prize in Race Relations! The Princeton Prize in Race Relations “recognizes and rewards high school students who have had a significant positive effect on race relations in their schools or communities through their volunteer efforts.”

MAPPING AFRICA

Working in small groups, third graders created a 3D topographic map of Africa. People often refer to the continent of Africa, but not the 55 specific countries that make up the continent. The aim of this project was to learn about the individual countries, and to dispel stereotypes about the continent as a whole. Teachers Vicki Shelter and Marc Dear divided the continent into six regions, and the students into six groups. Each group was given puzzle pieces that made up their region. These groups determined who was going to research each country within their region. They researched natural resources, land forms, bodies of water, populations, religions, and cities. After researching, the students built an enlarged version of their region. They learned to build on scale and to build economy symbols for things such as, mining, oil, coffee, and cacao. The creation of this 3D map brought together all of the geography lessons that third grade learned over the year.

 

NATIONAL CHINESE HONOR SOCIETY – WESTTOWN SCHOOL CHAPTER

The National Chinese Honor Society’s objective is to acknowledge the superior achievement of secondary school students studying Chinese as a second language. Like other honor societies, the National Chinese Honor Society not only recognizes high scholastic achievement but also good character, leadership, and service. National Chinese Honor Society members should exemplify all these standards. The Society’s goal is to promote enthusiasm for Chinese language and culture learning, commitment to advanced study, and greater cross-cultural understanding.

Teacher Bei Zhang says, “After reviewing examining the national standards set forth and discussing the many qualifications of gifted students, the Westtown School chapter of National Chinese Honor Society was pleased to induct 10 new members into the society and renew five students’ membership earlier this spring.” Congratulations to all!

 

THINK. CARE. ACT.

The seventh grade Think, Care, Act (TCA) Fair was an inspiring example of the commitment our students have to creating a better world. The TCA Fair was held in the Belfry, where students presented their projects to each other, faculty and staff, and parents. Collectively, these students spent over 400 volunteer hours in our local community. One student banked his voice with VocalID as a way to give another child their own authentic and realistic voice while another used recycled paper to make sheets embedded with seeds of bee-loving plants to support our pollinators. Whether working in animal shelters, schools, faith communities, or food banks, our Middle School students made a difference in the lives of others. This project, introduced by seventh grade English teacher Abby Lausch, is now in its fourth year. Well done, seventh grade!

WESTTOWN IN THE WORLD

Where did Upper School students go this year during Senior Projects and school-sponsored trips? Where DIDN’T they go might be a better questions. The seniors embarked on 25 independent projects spread out across ten countries and five states. Many seniors joined school-sponsored trips that went to: Florida, for coral reef restoration; Ghana, for teaching and service; Israel/Palestine for exploration of culture, religion, and conflict; Italy, for Latin and study of the Classics; and, Puerto Rico, for language immersion and service. Both independent projects and group trips afford our students rich, unusual, and  life-changing learning experiences.

SPORTS ROUNDUP

This spring season brought with it a lot of excitement, record-breaking performances, and a renewed display of school spirit by our student body, parents, and community! Below are just some of the highlights of what was a memorable spring season.

Our 2019 Spring teams produced 18 FSL All-League Recipients! Congratulations to;

  • Maya Torpey – Golf
  • Fritz Gessl- Golf
  • Javi Albacar Obeso – Golf
  • Cate Cappuccio – Girls Lacrosse
  • Julian Klenner – Track & Field
  • Thomas Inggs – Track & Field
  • Jalen Jones – Track & Field
  • Dylan Tyler – Track & Field
  • Sarah Eddy – Track & Field
  • Makayla Tucker – Track & Field
  • Cianan Gamble – Baseball
  • Dylan Grim – Baseball
  • Ewen Donald – Baseball
  • Taj Donald – Baseball
  • John Graff – Boys Tennis
  • Harold Jensen – Boys Tennis
  • Jaxon Hendrickson – Boys Lacrosse
  • Harrison Williams – Boys Lacrosse

 

The spring season’s Waring Award Recipients were Sophie Yager and Mathias Zawoiski. These two amazing student-athletes displayed the qualities that embodied what it means to be a member of a Westtown Athletics team both on and off their playing courts and fields.

Our varsity baseball team (12-8 record) made the FSL Championship game for the first time since 1997! They were runners up in the championship, but it was a season to celebrate! Please join us in congratulating the team on a great 2018-2019 season.

 

Our boys track and  field team repeated as FSL Champions for the second consecutive year. This season will go down as one of the most exciting track seasons with multiple new school records. In the PAISAA State Tournament, our Boys’ 4x800m relay team finished in third place. Makayla Tucker finished in third place in the triple jump during the PAISAA tournament and she set a new school record in the triple jump.  Rebeca Fomich was a record setter in the pole vault. Julian Klenner provided another amazing performance in the PAISAA tournament with a first-place finish in the boys 200m and 400m races. Julian ends his Westtown career in style this season by breaking the school record for the 100m, 200m, and 400m races. He also ran anchor on the record-breaking 4x100m relay team. The 4x100m team, which also includes Jalen Jones, Alex Reichard, and Quin Berger, broke the previous record set in 2009. Dylan Tyler also joined the record-breaking performances this season by setting a new school record in the triple jump.

From left: Dylan Tyler ’19, Makayla Tucker ’21, Julian Klenner ’19, Rebeca Fomich ’21, Quin Berger ’22 Not Pictured: Jalen Jones ’19, Alex Reichard ’19

Please join us in congratulating all our spring teams and coaches for a such a memorable 2018-2019 spring season. Lets’ Go ‘Town!

Celeste Payne was recently awarded the first-ever Ida B. Wells “Champion of Truth” Award from the Families for Multicultural Community (FMC) group! Of the honor she said, “It continues to be a privilege to partner with FMC in support of students and to make Westtown a more equitable and inclusive community. To have any association with Ida B. Wells is an honor.” Congratulations, Celeste!

 

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Sports are a passion for the Giangiulio family. Tom Giangiulio is a founding member of our Athletics Advisory Council and Graham Giangiulio ’14 returned to Westtown this year as one of the boys varsity baseball coaches.

At Westtown, the Giangiulios have supported the creation of baseball dugouts and offered their Phillies box for bid during our auction and weekend student and coaching events. Recently, they made a lead pledge to the upcoming Oak Lane project, which will add two new artificial turf fields, a clubhouse, and related facilities to enhance our student experience, athletics program, and community events, and to increase auxiliary revenue.

Co-Director of Athletics Paul Lehmann ’99 says, “Tom Giangiulio is the ultimate gentleman. The projects that he and his family have chosen to support have had and will continue to have a tremendous impact on our athletics program and our student athletes. The Giangiulios have been incredibly kind and generous, and I am truly grateful for their ongoing encouragement and involvement.”

Graham is an entrepreneur who has been giving back to communities in need since his college days. Through his company, Manners Maketh Clothing Co., Graham provides free haircuts, dress clothes for job interviews, and monetary donations to the Coalition for the Homeless in Orlando, Florida.

Westtown has always held a special place in Graham’s heart. “It played a major role in molding me into the man I am today by providing me with tools to excel both in college and in my adult life. Westtown is the faculty and staff who truly care about the wellbeing of their students. Westtown is a cohort of students who learn to be deep critical thinkers and accepting of all people. Westtown is the memories we make with lifelong friends. Westtown is more than just a school, it’s a community. Thank you, Westtown School, and thank you, dad, for allowing me to be a part of such an amazing community. They say home is where the heart is, so my heart must belong to Westtown.”

Tom adds, “Although most of my capital support has been placed through the athletics area of Westtown, I certainly view athletics as only one aspect of the overall academic and social mission of the school. Core values such as honor, integrity, trust, and respect are developed as well as the encouragement of athletes to compete with fairness, excellence, and passion in every game and sporting event. In effect, student athletes are not measured solely by their accomplishments on the field of play but ultimately by the magnitude of their character. Westtown School, with its familial atmosphere, creates a stable and durable permanence in the hearts and minds of all those who enter its doors. My family is proud to have that connection in our lives.

Westtown is likewise extremely proud and very fortunate to have the Giangiulio family as members of our community. We appreciate their generosity and thoughtful engagement. Thank you Giangiulios, for all that you do!

Keep up with news and everyday life at Westtown School on our social media! You can find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter or Instagram!

 

ALUMNI WEEKEND 2019!

Alumni Weekend was a truly wonderful celebration of the Westtown community. The entire campus was buzzing with excitement as alumni celebrated reunions and old friendships, visited classes and former teachers, attended informational symposium presentations, went canoeing on the lake, and many other meaningful activities too numerous to mention. Thank you all who came home to visit and to all who helped make the weekend a success! Enjoy the photo galleries!

For more alumni news, join the Westtown Community Group on LinkedIn and “like” the Westtown Alumni Facebook page.

alumni_community_bball_2019
WINTER 2019

THE METAL MOOSE HOSTS THE MID-ATLANTIC REGION ROBOTICS COMPETITION

Each year the Westtown Robotics team hosts one of the largest events on campus. More than 1,200 competitors and nearly 3,000 spectators come to our campus for a FIRST Mid-Atlantic district competition. This is a great opportunity for the school, supports the mission of the team to be a driving force in the region, and serves to raise funds through which we support both our program and our Access and Equity outreach to underserved communities.

WE NEED YOU! Volunteers for this event are the key to feeding and caring for our visitors, and your help the past three years has been nothing short of astounding. And…it’s time to do it again. Our main event runs March 8-10 this year – we’d love to hear from you soon. If you’d like to volunteer, please sign up here!

And speaking of robots…The Good Robot Challenge returns! This year, the Metal Moose Access and Equity team has partnered with Garage Youth Center in Kennett, PA. The Garage seeks to empower youth by guiding them to build meaningful lives through leadership, personal core convictions, spirituality, homework help, and advice through the college process. They provide resources such as tutoring, mentoring, art classes, career and college counselling, and community service. Westtown Robotics has begun a tutoring partnership, has donated twenty MS Surface laptop/tablets to the Garage, and will be launching and funding a First Lego League program and competition teams in Fall 2019. Support the Garage Youth Center and the Metal Moose Access and Equity team by making a donation to Westtown Robotics 4th Annual Good Robot Challenge.

Donate a backpack: The Metal Moose hopes to outfit each student in the Kennett Garage After School Program with at least 1 folder, 2 notebooks, 1 pair of scissors, 1 pack of pencils, 1 glue/glue stick, 2 erasers, 1 pack colored pencils and 1 pencil sharpener, all within a backpack. All donations can be brought to the FIRST Robotics event on March 9th at Westtown or dropped off at Lower or Middle Schools, or the Upper School office collection box by Friday, March 8. Thank you for your support; together we CAN make a difference!

Donate funds: Checks made out to Westtown School (Good Robot Challenge in the memo line) can be dropped off at all three divisional front offices, or given to Steve Compton. You can make online donations as well.

Mid-Atlantic Robotics “combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology,… and is the ultimate Sport for the Mind. High-school student participants call it ‘the hardest fun you’ll ever have’. Under strict rules, limited resources, and an intense six-week time limit, teams of students guided by volunteer professional mentors are challenged to raise funds, design a team ‘brand,’ hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors. It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get.”

SENIOR PROJECTS – FOLLOW THEIR JOURNEYS

The seniors will be departing on their Senior Projects on Friday! Senior Projects give students the opportunity to create an independent experience, away from the familiar classroom setting, with a focus on inquiry and personal growth. They must research, design, implement, and accomplish a project independently or they may choose to participate in a school-sponsored trip.

The Class of 2019 has chosen an impressive variety of locations and project themes. They will engage in 25 independent projects across the globe in 10 countries and in five states around the US. Some seniors are on the school-sponsored trips to Puerto Rico, Israel/Palestine, Ghana, and to Florida for coral reef restoration. Several seniors will write about their experiences in the field on the Senior Projects Blog. Subscribe to the blog to follow along on their journeys!

TRACKING THE BIRDS

Recently, a wildlife tracking antenna was installed on the observatory at the top of the main building. This antenna is connected to Motus, an international network of antennae which are helping conservation biologists to understand migratory patterns of birds in a groundbreaking new way. The project is the result of a partnership between Westtown and Willistown Conservation Trust (WCT), a local organization that promotes land conservation, sustainable agriculture, and bird conservation. WCT provided all of the funding for the installation.

This program is tied directly to our curricula from a bird unit for first graders in which they have partnered with WCT for bird banding for many years, to Mariska Batavia’s Upper School Scientific Research students who are working with the Motus system this year. There are many more opportunities for curricular connections in data analysis, digital design, biology, conservation ecology, and beyond. This project connects our students and campus to an international group of scientists and allows us to actively work towards protecting wildlife and natural habitats. Visit www.motus.org to learn more about their tracking network and conservation initiatives.

BOARD MEETING MINUTES

Throughout the year, Westtown School’s Board of Trustees holds quarterly meetings on campus. These meetings are supplemented by committee and standing group meetings. The minutes from the large group meetings are posted on the school’s website. Click here to read the latest minutes and access archives from previous meetings.

What Does Your T-Shirt Really Cost?

By Alicia Zeoli, Innovation & Technology Specialist and Erin Salvucci, 8th Grade Math Teacher (article excerpted from the Buck Institute for Education blog and edited for length.)

In elementary school, math is tangible and authentic. You count money or look at what fraction of a pizza you have left. Once students reach middle school, math loses its tangibility, moving from concrete to abstract. At the same time, it can lose its relevance in the real world. Teachers often wonder if they can make Project Based Learning (PBL) relevant in a math classroom.

Erin Salvucci is a middle school math teacher at Westtown. She has a passion for teaching social impact and equity. This summer at a Buck Institute PBL workshop, Salvucci set out to create a PBL unit that not only teaches her students about linear equations and cost analysis, but also about social and environmental impacts. Her project’s driving question was, “What does your shirt really cost?”

The process began with backwards mapping. The key knowledge and understanding 8th grade algebra students would learn had to be at the heart of this project. Students had to be able to: graph and write linear relationships given a rate of change and y-intercept; find and analyze the solution to a system of equations; analyze and defend monetary costs and profits based on their mathematical data; provide and defend social and environmental costs and impacts based on their research; and present this information graphically.

Students were challenged to create a T-shirt they could design and sell. They considered costs and profit margins, purchasing options, and the impacts (both social and environmental) of the companies they would use to make their product. They conducted interviews and Internet research. They tried to balance making a profit with the human and environmental impacts of the cheapest products: How does this impact the Earth and the people making the shirts? As part of their sustained inquiry, students were asked, “Where do your clothes come from?” Each student was asked to check the clothing label on the clothes they were wearing. Groups mapped this information and then combined the data for the classroom.

By exploring where clothes come from, a new layer was added to the project. The social impact of wages was introduced to students with Spent, a game that simulates living wage scenarios. They began to learn more about the difference between a living wage and minimum wage through videos, articles, and conversations, including: Waging a Living, Sweating for a T-shirt, and The True Cost. Students created graphs of and wrote equations for living wages and minimum wages.

They also focused on the environmental impacts of shirt production. Students were introduced to the life cycle of T-shirts through videos such as The Life Cycle of a T-shirt and Planet Money Makes a T-shirt. The class discussed the environmental impacts of dyes. Kara Mangat, a design engineer from the store Anthropologie, came to talk to students about her job engineering designs from sketch to product. She spoke about how her company chooses fabric and clothing factories, and how they build relationships with those factories and workers.

Throughout the project students were given agency to choose what type of T-shirts to design, where/how they will have them made and how they will sell them. Their business plan and shirt design are a result of their group’s voice and choice. The project required them to show cost analysis and consider overall impacts on all parties involved in their potential business. Students brainstormed ideas from the beginning and continually reviewed and edited their ideas through peer and teacher reviews. Students presented their personal ideas in a gallery walk peer review and were able to team up with peers after reviewing these ideas.

Reflection happened daily in students’ math journals. They also reflected in group discussions after watching videos, reading articles, playing learning games/simulations and learning about functional relationships between two variables.

Finally, students pitched their business plans and cost analysis to students and teachers from our school community. A grant from the school’s Innovation Fund will finance the winning project idea and allow students to compete for a $500 start-up grant. After the presentations, students reflected on the audience feedback. Those willing to put their time and energy into following through with their proposals will have the opportunity to join other groups and present new information they learned. Students who receive the grant money will present their experience to the committee that oversees the Innovation Fund.

Project leader Salvucci says, “I learned that the process is much more important than the product. The learning that happened behind the scenes in the classroom could not be summed up in their three-minute presentation. Whatever shortcomings the presentations had, students emerged from the project understanding their impact as consumers, their ability to be entrepreneurs, and the everyday implications of math skills and their important relationship to seemingly disparate disciplines.”

Honoring Dr. King

By Marissa Colston, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion

On Tuesday, January 22, 2019 Westtown School students participated in activities and discussions to honor the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For Middle and Upper school students, this was a full day of activities instead of classes that started with a hip-hop performance group called Pushed Learning. The group used dance and hip-hop music to discuss issues of mass incarceration, racial justice, and the relevancy of Dr. King’s work today. It was an energizing and engaging presentation that helped jump-start important conversations among students. Later the Middle School students were engaged in workshops led by faculty as well as the Pushed Learning group. Workshops focused on students multicultural identity and they learned more about racial identity. They also focused on better understanding racism and what it looks like today. Other workshops focused on social justice, music, and cultural appropriation.

In the Upper School, the day was co-designed by student leaders. There were workshops led by students and faculty on various topics including how to have courageous conversations across varying viewpoints to understanding the experience of a trans person to hearing from the life experience of someone who was incarcerated and racially profiled. After workshops students got to participate in affinity groups of their choice. Students and faculty engaged in groups based on race, gender, interest, family structure, sexual orientation, class background as well as others. After the groups met separately, they reconvened with the whole group to share out highlights from their discussions so that the entire community could reflect and learn from hearing about their peers experiences.

In the Lower School, Dr. King is not just lifted up on just one day, but throughout the entire winter term. All classes read books about the life of Dr. King, as well as other stories of activists and activism, the first weeks of January. They also read stories about loving with the essential questions of: who do we love and how can we show love? In the library the read-aloud story was Imagine, by Juan Felipe Herrera, a former US Poet Laureate – the first Latino Poet Laureate in the United States. We asked the question, how did Dr. King and others imagine a better, more peaceful and equitable world? And how we might we continue that work today? Third grade worked on Reader’s Theater scripts about King and the life of Marion Anderson that will be presented to the entire Lower School. Fifth graders shared posters they created in art class, around issues of social justice that they are passionate about. Grades four and five have also read and responded to Newsela articles about protests, civil rights, and activism.

Young Writer’s Workshop

On Sunday, February 10, Westtown held its first-ever Young Writers’ Workshop. This well-attended event, open to sixth through ninth graders from Westtown and surrounding schools, was spearheaded by Westtown librarians Victoria Jones and Betsy Swan. Four established authors, Ellen Abbott (Westtown Upper School English teacher), Jen Bryant, Alex London, and Westtown alumna Kat Yeh ’82, worked in small groups with students discussing the writing process, sharing ideas, and guiding the participants through creative writing activities. The afternoon concluded with a panel discussion with the authors and a lively Q & A session.

Response to the event has been overwhelmingly positive. Middle School English teacher Lisa Cromley said, “ I asked several [students] for feedback. With big smiles on their faces, they enthusiastically shared how much they enjoyed the afternoon. The authors seemed to have a wonderful time in the workshops as well as during the Q & A session. We collectively celebrated reading, writing, and being in community. I heard parents share about what a positive event it was for them and their children. I also chatted with author Alex London. He, too, was delighted by the experience.” One parent remarked, “It was great to have an event for my child who is passionate about writing. There are many STEM related events for students his age but few that focus on writing. This was a fabulous and enriching experience for my son.” Likewise, organizer Betsy Swan was pleased by the success of the workshop. “It exceeded all of my expectations. I was thrilled that so many students came from outside Westtown. [I was] happy that the librarian network in the area got excited about it and spread the word, and I loved watching the enthusiasm among the kids and the interplay of the authors as they answered kids’ questions during the panel discussion. The authors, too, seemed to think it was a terrific event!”

The following day, Kat Yeh ’82 visited English classes to share her experiences with Upper School students as well. “I always love coming back to Westtown. The kids were all so excited and curious and everything you’d expect in a Westonian.”

This inaugural Young Writer’s Workshop (more are in the planning), allowed an opportunity for budding writers to develop and sharpen their craft while learning from the experts. Thank you to the authors, to the outstanding planning team, and to all the young writers!

Ban the Baggie!

Fourth graders have been working on a yearlong project they dubbed “Trash Talk Matters,” in which they have been discussing sustainability practices, reducing waste, recycling, and the problem of trash. Their aim was to settle on a concrete action plan and a specific goal. After data gathering, research, and discussion, they refined their goal to the be reduction of single-use plastic bags in Lower School. They created slide-show presentations and brochures for different target audiences including parents, teachers, Spanish speakers, and Lower School students, both aimed at motivating the Lower School to switch to alternative to plastic bags. They began a month-long Ban-the-Baggie challenge for February, much like their No-Straw November. Teachers Hilary Simons and Shelagh Wilson say these kinds of project-based learning assignments help students understand issues more deeply, and also give them a sense of ownership and agency. They were impressed by the energy and passion the students devoted to encouraging others to change their habits and their reliance upon single-use plastics.

Middle Moose

In early December, the Middle School robotics teams competed in the FIRST Lego League Robotics regional qualifier. Each team spent three months engineering their robots, programming missions, and completing an in-depth research project. Teams present their projects and robots to multiple panels of judges that score the team on a variety of criteria. Team 3598 earned a second place award for their demonstration of core values. The judges were impressed by the team’s “overt use of the Quaker Meeting for Business model” as their central team philosophy. Team 3599 earned second place in the Robot Design category. Judges recognized the team for the design of their “efficient and fast gear box” as well as their “use of Bluetooth to transfer their code from the coding group to the robotics engineering group.” At the end of the day, Team 3598 finished in 7th place overall and team 3599 finished in 5th. Congratulations to both teams!

Lunar New Year

On Sunday, February 10, students in the International Student Organization prepared activities and an excellent meal in celebration of the Lunar New Year. Many Asian international students and domestic students of Asian descent partnered with the kitchen to develop the menu, and many students spent the day cooking traditional holiday food from their home cultures. After dinner, there were performances, dessert, and various cultural stations set up for students to visit. The celebration continued into the evening with a Sunday evening Meeting for Worship by lantern-light in the Meeting House, and queries centering on based on some of the themes of the holiday, including family, fortune, and fresh starts were considered. Check out the gallery of photos from the celebration!

Celebrations of cultures are a regular part of our Community Dinners, a longtime Westtown tradition, with observances of Diwali, Hanukkah, Hispanic Heritage Month, Caribbean Heritage, and Black History Month. We are enriched by the diversity of our community, and learn from one another over shared tables, shared food, and shared traditions.

Sports Roundup

Winter season came with some exciting record-setting performances, thrilling finishes on Coach Downey Court, great matches on the mat, and new records in the pool. Two of our winter teams finished with FSL championships and several student-athletes received All-League Honors!

Here are the team highlights from this year’s amazing winter season:

Wrestling

  • Wrestling Team Record: 16-7
  • 2019 FSL Champions
  • 7th Place at States out of 20 Teams
  • 7 Wrestlers with over 20 wins
  • 4 Wrestlers qualified for National Preps

 

All-League:

First Team: Griffin Hankin, Ethan Kisiel, JP Lisi, Mohammad Mustafa, Jack Shea

Honorable Mention: Eli Arauz, Jack DeVuono

Boys Swimming

  • Boys team record: 5-3
  • Finished 3rd in the FSL
  • Cruz Buitron set new Westtown Team records in the 500 and 100 free, he set new FSL records in the 100 fly and 100 breast

 

All-League:

First Team: Cruz Buitron, Jack Nangle

Honorable Mention: Julius Enarsson Enestrom

Girls Swimming

  • Girls team record: 2-6
  • Finished 6th in the FSL

 

All-League:

Honorable Mentions: Lilly Jacobs

Boys Basketball

  • Boys Basketball Team Record: 28-6
  • Coach Seth Berger reached a new milestone of 250+ wins this season
  • 2019 FSL Champions – 6th consecutive FSL championship
  • Second place finish in PAISAA state championship
  • Jalen Gaffney becomes 1,000 point scorer and finished his high school career with 2000+ points

 

All-League:

First Team: Jalen Gaffney, TJ Berger, Noah Collier, John Bol Ajak Deng.

Honorable Mention: Jalen Warley

Girls Basketball

  • Girls Basketball Team Record: 17-6
  • FSL semi-finalist

 

All-League:

First Team: JoJo Lacey. Honorable Mention: Amaya Douglas

Indoor Track

  • Rebecca Fomich sets new girls pole vault record with a vault of 8’6”
  • Julian Klenner was named the 2019 Bishop Loughlin Athlete of the Meet with a 34.53s in the 300m. He also finished his indoor season with 48.16s in the 400m Julian’s time is the fastest time in Pennsylvania, and 7th fastest in the country!

 

Celeste Payne, Upper School science teacher, has been appointed to the Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board for a third two-year term. Teaching Tolerance and the Southern Poverty Law Center are on the leading edge of advocacy work in the field of equity, inclusion, and social justice. The advisory board has between two and three dozen educators selected from across the country. They represent a variety of disciplines and work in educational institutions from elementary school through pre-service education undergraduate institutions. Congratulations, Celeste!

Upper School Religion teacher Brian Blackmore’s excellent piece, Teaching World Religions as a Form of Diversity Education, was recently printed in the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education’s quarterly journal. You can read an online version here.

Director of College Counseling Jessica Smith explores whether Advanced Placement courses are necessary for college admission in this latest piece on our Well-Lit Path Blog.

ALUMNI COMMUNITY BASKETBALL GAME

Thanks to all the players and fans who helped to make this year’s Alumni Community Basketball game such a great event! Check out the complete gallery of photos!

Making a Difference

By Kris Batley ’81

Wherever you look on Westtown’s 600 acres, you see evidence of the Coltman family’s dedication to the school. Chuck Coltman ’60, Charlie Coltman ’90, Clayton Coltman ’92, and Joann Coltman realize the importance of building for the future and the impact that excellent facilities have on school programs and the community’s quality of life.

For over three decades, the Coltmans have supported campus projects, including the swimming pool, lighting and sound in the Barton-Test Theater, and the new facilities building. The ropes course was created in 1999, thanks to the generosity of the Coltmans, and more recently, significant renovations to the upstairs gym in the Athletic Center, known as Coach Downey Basketball Court, gained a new lease on life.

You may not know about the athletic uniforms, scoreboards, or batting cages that the family has donated, but you have probably seen Coltman Commons. Constructed in 2006 next to the Farmhouse, Coltman Commons is a four-family townhouse complex for senior faculty. Chuck Coltman firmly believes that “longevity of the faculty is the glue that holds Westtown graduates together. Without more housing, especially for faculty who become empty-nesters, the tendency would be for our faculty to leave earlier than they should – something we did not want to happen.”

The Coltmans are so passionate about philanthropy that they created not one, but two foundations to support area non-profits. The Coltman Family Foundation contributes to education, arts and culture, libraries, and human services. The Coltman Friends Foundation was established exclusively to benefit Westtown School and Delaware Valley Friends School.

Head of School Tori Jueds, says “The Coltmans are outstanding examples of alums acting as stewards and leaders of a better world. Not only have they been exceedingly generous to Westtown School through their foundations, but they are making an impact in myriad ways. It is wonderful that they also support Quaker education at Delaware Valley Friends School, Chuck and Joann’s daughter, Beth’s, alma mater. And Chuck’s work through The Society of the Cincinnati to develop an American history curriculum that draws on his experiences in the civil rights movement is inspiring.”

Westtown is very fortunate to have donors like the Coltmans, who believe in our mission and continuously seek opportunities to improve the experience for generations to come. Thank you, Chuck, Charlie, Clayton, and Joann for all that you do for Westtown!

Alumni Weekend is just around the corner!

We hope to welcome you May 10-12, 2019 for Alumni Weekend. Learn more about the weekend on the website!

Climate Change Presentation

Saturday March 30, 3-4:30 pm. Westtown Science Center Lecture Hall

On March 30, Westtown School will welcome Dr. Timothy Cadman for a climate change talk entitled “Imagining Climate Futures.” This talk will focus on global climate change and policy issues, and will include a spirited reading from Cadman’s latest book of speculative fiction, The Changes. Please join us to learn more about how climate change is affecting our planet and governments, and to be inspired to work towards positive change. This talk is open to all community members and is appropriate for Upper School students and adults.

Westtown School Presents: Arts Illuminated

Saturday, March 30 – 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Home of Margaret Humphrey ’82

This fundraiser is a celebratory evening of the arts featuring live performances by current Westtown students and alumni, a gallery of student work, and fine wine and cuisine. Swirl and sip, mix and mingle for a great cause! More information, sponsorship opportunities, and tickets here.

Get Your Spot at Summer Camp!

The word is out! Spots at Westtown’s summer camp are filling up quicker than last year! With over 300 sessions booked as of Monday, younger age groups and swim lessons are already close to being filled. Please register soon to secure your camper’s summer of fun at Westtown! Contact Brian or Nicole if you have any questions.

Swing for the Students!

On Tuesday, May 21, Westtown School will host its 15th Annual Swing for the Students Golf & Tennis Outing at Applebrook Golf Club and Westtown Stadium Courts. This wonderful event last year raised over $95,000 for Westtown School’s academic, athletic and arts programs, financial aid and other programs vital to the success of our wonderful community! The Outing is a fun-filled day of golf, tennis, cocktails, live music, dinner, live & silent auction and so much more! We hope you will come out and support us on May 21. Learn more and register here!

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