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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 LocalLive. Enjoy 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!
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
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!
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!
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!