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!
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.
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.
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.