A MESSAGE FROM THE HEAD OF SCHOOL
This is a difficult time around the world, but I am grateful for Westtown and proud to be a Westonian.
From the earliest news reports about COVID-19, before the virus spread to this country, Westonians recognized it as a shared, global health crisis. In the best and worst of times, Westonians readily understand that we are united by our common humanity, across borders and continents. Throughout this winter, our mission, values, and Quaker heritage illuminated programming in all three divisions to help students process information about the coronavirus, and practice empathy for others in the school community and beyond. Teachers, staff, and parents partnered with students to separate fact from rumor by relying on healthcare experts and trusted authorities. The entire community worked together to extend kindness to those who may have felt marginalized on account of their background, ethnicity, or country of origin.
In the weeks leading up to Spring Break, the situation reverberated across campus, throwing off course various well-laid plans and necessitating difficult decisions. But Westonians responded with kindness, patience, and flexibility. I am deeply grateful to students for their resilience and sensitivity, and to parents for their gracious support. I am proud of our faculty and staff for their positive attitude and hard work. Westtown has been well-served by our Board of Trustees, Administrative Council, and our COVID-19 Team, which met daily for weeks to monitor the situation and advise school decision-making. Alums around the world would be proud to see how today’s Westonians have been living our mission and values in this challenging time. Our school has also risen to the challenge of contributing to public health efforts. By transitioning to Westtown Distance Learning for the remainder of the spring semester in Upper School, and through at least the end of April for Middle and Lower Schools, we hope to do our part to contain the spread of COVID-19. By absorbing gracefully the loss of cherished spring gatherings, celebrations, and opportunities — from our spring sports season to Alumni Weekend to trips, concerts, and performances — we have exercised our civic responsibility in partnership with others around the world. In countless ways, community members have looked for ways to help. Lower School teachers have developed and shared resources for how to talk to young children about the coronavirus and social distancing. The school has donated 170 full protection splash goggles and 4500 pairs of nitrile gloves to Chester County Hospital. Teacher Shelagh Wilson has loaned her sewing machine to one of our Senior Class Officers, who wants to learn to sew protective masks. Three international boarding students have sent masks to our school for donation to local healthcare workers, and we have contributed some of our own from the Health Center. And of course, our creative and dedicated faculty are working to leverage technology and re-imagine curriculum and pedagogy in order to deliver distance learning. For the duration of this crisis and beyond, we are committed to thorough, transparent communication with our community. You will find a page on our website dedicated to COVID-19 information and news, which we will update accordingly. Thank you again for your understanding and your support of Westtown. Thank you for joining me in holding in the Light all those around the world who have been affected by this shared crisis. Be well.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH SYMPOSIUM
Marissa Colston, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and Karl Vela ’03, Director of Alumni Engagement, partnered to host Westtown’s first-ever Black History Month Symposium on February 21. There were sessions with students to discuss issues of social justice, intersectionality, being black at Westtown, and more. Westtown welcomed twenty-four virtual and in-person guests for twenty-one class visits, five discussion groups, a discussion with 8th graders, an Upper School affinity space, and a panel discussion assembly for the entire Upper School. The event was an enriching opportunity for current students to network with black alumni and to benefit from their reflections on their time at Westtown and experiences after graduating.
To all of our alumni and members of the Westtown community who contributed time and effort to make this inaugural event possible, we extend our sincerest gratitude! Enjoy the photo gallery here!
NOT COMING TO THE RESCUE
Every parent has been through it: a frantic call or text from a child about a forgotten something at home —a homework assignment, the lunch bag, athletic equipment— followed by a harried, impromptu trip back to school to deliver that something, to save the day, to rescue their child. But what are the larger implications of rescuing children? Does it benefit students to have their parents give them cover? What if only certain children can be saved from forgetfulness or disorganization?
Middle School Principal Nancy van Arkel and the Middle School faculty have considered the handling of forgotten items, and see opportunities to teach students about organization, responsibility, and problem-solving. They also note the fundamental inequity in parents’ ability (or inability) to rush items back to school. All of these considerations led them to enact the No Rescue policy in Middle School.
What does No Rescue mean? When a student forgets something, faculty encourage them to problem-solve on their own or with the adults at school. Parents are asked not to bring items to school (unless it is related to health and safety). Students may face demerits for being unprepared for class but, van Arkel emphasizes, “this is not meant to be punitive. It helps children take the situation seriously and to modify their behavior. It helps us track whether there is a pattern of behavior that needs to be addressed.”
When the policy was introduced to students, van Arkel says “they immediately recognized the inherent unfairness and inequity that occurs when some people have parents who can bring the forgotten item to school while others need to problem-solve the situation on their own and face consequences.”
van Arkel says that No Rescue is a growing practice among middle schools, and that there is a partnership with parents, who must also modify some of their behaviors. This policy was discussed at Parents’ Council meetings, and parents expressed their support.
So far, it’s going well. “Only a few weeks into our new No Rescue Policy, students are settling into the understanding that they are more capable of remembering their belongings than they imagined and learning from the rare instance when they forget, “ says Elizabeth Reilly, Middle School Counselor. “Overall, we are seeing students build resilience and the ability to problem-solve when necessary, skills they will benefit from throughout their lives.”
METAL MOOSE LAUNCHES WEBSITE
Team 1391, our Metal Moose robotics team has launched a new website. The team launched the site as a way to share information, team updates, links to live-streaming for competitions and more. Check out their site for more!
NATIONAL HISPANIC INSTITUTE VISIT
Mia Melendez-Ruiz ’21, Co-Head of Latino Leadership Forum and NHI Scholar, hosted a visit by Julio Cotto, Senior Vice President of National Hispanic Institute to Westtown School last week. Mr. Cotto spent time with our Latino Leadership Scholars who will be participating in their domestic and international summer programs. Since 2007, Westtown School has partnered with NHI to promote leadership, networking, and sponsoring opportunities for our students.
LUNAR NEW YEAR CELEBRATION
A big THANK YOU to Teacher Bei Zhang and our students (Team Korea, Team Vietnam, Team Thailand, and Team China!) for a wonderful meal and celebration of the Lunar New Year! Students created the menu, cooked, and provided entertainment and cultural activities. Take a moment to enjoy the photos from this fabulous event!
ADK = A-OK!
The Outdoor Education group, led by Chris Costa, Director of Outdoor Education, traveled to the beautiful High Peaks Region in New York’s Adirondack Mountains with a group of students recently. The days were full of hiking, skiing, fellowship, and fun. Leaders report that students worked remarkably well together and learned a lot about themselves, one another, and the pace and rhythm of mountain culture. This is just one experience of many offered by our Outdoor Education and Outdoor Leadership groups.
MIDDLE SCHOOL DIVERSITY CONFERENCE
Teachers Ale Navarro-Benbow (who is also the Middle School Diversity Coordinator) and Erin Salvucci took a group of 15 Middle School students to the Haverford School Diversity Conference recently. Afterward, they were able to talk with keynote speaker Dr. Javier Avila, pictured here with them.
THIRD GRADE AFRICAN DANCE
The third graders’s African Dance performance was wonderful! Third grade has a comprehensive unit on Africa in which they study geography, animal life, and cultures. They learn batik techniques in art class and then make their own dance costumes. Part of that unit is also a six-week-long on-campus residency with Jeannine Osayande and the Dunya Performing Arts Company in which kids learn not only many traditional dances but also about storytelling in the music and movements. Enjoy the whole photo gallery here!
Recently, clarinetist Jake Richards ’22 participated in the District 12 Symphonic Band Festival at Radnor High School. Under the direction of Dr. Virginia Allen, a composer, conductor, arranger, and founder of several high caliber youth ensembles in the Philadelphia area, the 125-piece ensemble performed a program put together in less than 48 hours. The ensemble represents the top high school musicians in Philadelphia, Chester, and Delaware Counties. In addition to being one of the top clarinetists in these three counties, Jake was selected from this elite group of musicians to go on to the Region 6 Symphonic Band comprised of the top musicians in five counties: Philadelphia, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks. The Region 6 Symphonic Band festival will be held at Unionville High School during March break. Join us in congratulating Jake!
Students worked hard on stage productions and performances this winter season. In case you missed seeing their talents in person, take a moment to check out the photo galleries!
Upper School musical Into the Woods
Middle School musical Peter Pan Jr.
It was a notable winter season in athletics, full of exciting team and individual performances. For the first time in Westtown history, both the girls and boys varsity basketball teams won the FSL Championships in the same year. Our coed indoor track team logged record-breaking performances by the distance medley relay team. And coed wrestling saw some of their athletes make it to Nationals. Several teams also had student-athletes named to the All-League First Team and a few Honorable Mentions. Check out the highlights below!
Coed Varsity Wrestling
Overall Record: 10-10
Finished 3rd in FSL
Successfully hosted the 2020 Pennsylvania Independent School Wrestling Tournament (PAISWT); a qualifier tournament for Nationals
- 1000 point scorers and national qualifiers: Wilson Cano ’21 and Griffin Hankin ’21
- Wilson Cano ’21 earned a bid to wrestle in the National Prep Wrestling Tournament
- Griffin Hankin ’21 finished 7th in the PAISWT
- Wilson Cano ’21 and Charlie Herlocher ’21 finished 8th in the PAISWT
FSL All League:
- Griffin Hankin ’21
- Wilson Cano ’21FSL Honorable Mention:
- Charlie Herlocher ’21
The 400 Freestyle Relay record was broken by Will Nangle ’24, Jack Nangle ’22, Julius Enarsson Enestrom ’20, and Puddy Boonkongchuen ’22. The previous record was from 1989, and was the oldest team record.
Girls Varsity Basketball
Overall Record: 12-8 Overall, 9-1 Friends League
- 2019-2020 Friends Schools League Champions, the first since 1997
- Two basketball signees for 2020, JoJo Lacey (Boston College) and Amaya Douglas (Lafayette)
Boys Varsity Basketball
Overall Record: 24-7
- Won 7th FSL championship in a row, winning 8 of the last 9 FSL titles.
- Won 3rd state championship out of last 5
- Only 3 boys basketball players since 2016 have not won a state championship
- 1,000 point scorers: TJ Berger ’20 and Noah Collier ’20
- TJ Berger set a new school record for most 3-point shots made in a single game with 11.
Coed Indoor Track
- The distance medley relay team set a new school record and qualified for the PTFCA State Indoor Track Championships at Penn State University; congrats to Aiden Morrison ’20, Eddie Siwarski ’20, Will Nagy ’21, Constantin Carls ’22 on their record-setting time of 10:38.87.
- Steph Hanchak ’21 broke the school record in the 3000 with a time of 10:51.86; she also finished 6th in the Meet of Champions
- Constatine Carls ’22 broke the school record in the 3000 meters with a time of 8:43.99; he also finished the season Ranked #14 in the state for the 3000 Meters
- Rebeca Fomich ’21 set a school record in the pole vault at 9’0’’
PEOPLE OF COLOR CONFERENCE
This year, twenty Westtown faculty and staff — including 19 faculty and staff of color plus our Head of School — traveled to Seattle for the 2019 People of Color Conference (PoCC), accompanied by four students who attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). This was by far Westtown’s largest cohort ever at these annual gatherings, run by the National Association of Independent Schools.
NAIS TEACHER DAY
On Friday February 28, we sent almost all our faculty members to the Teacher Day at the NAIS annual conference. They spent the day attending workshops, speaker sessions and meeting with other Independent School teachers. Here is a photo from the post conference social event at City Winery.
COMING BACK FOR MORE!
Recently, Melissa Graf Evans and Jon Evans ’73, hosted a party for (mostly) current Westtown faculty and administrators who have had the unique distinction of working at Westtown, leaving, and then returning to Westtown. The joyous gathering of “repeat” community members included those pictured here as well as Jon Kimmel and Betsy Swan who were part of the festivities but not the photo!
Front row: Ted Freeman, Melissa Graf-Evans, Ale Navarro-Benbow
Middle: Mich Canuso, Bedesem, LJ Scurfield, Fred Crumrine, Heather Gosse, Chris Benbow ’90
Back row: Paul Lehmann ’99, Jody Manning, Will Addis, Judy Nicholson Asselin ’71, Jon Evans ’73, Denis Asselin, Jonathan Ogle.
In the latest post on our blog, Director of College Counseling Jessica Smith offers some college prep tips for 9th and 10th graders.
Recently, two former Westtown teammates faced one another as opponents on the court. Mo Bamba ’17 of the Orlando Magic and Cam Reddish ’18 of the Atlanta Hawks faced off in Atlanta (Magic won this one!). A group of Westonians went to Atlanta for a meet-and-greet with Bamba and Reddish, and to watch the match-up live.
ALUMNI/COMMUNITY BASKETBALL GAME
It was wonderful to welcome alumni to campus for the annual Alumni/Community Basketball game. Thanks to all who joined us!
ALUMNI IN PRINT
Francis Miller ’09, Director of College Counseling at Xi’an Tie Yi High School in Shaanxi, China, authored this piece about how COVID-19 has impacted educational access and equity in China. “For perhaps the first time, all students in China — rich and poor, urban and rural — have equal access to classes with the most experienced and best-trained teachers. All it took to make it happen was an epidemic.”
Konstantin Klinger ’18 was featured in this article about the app he created to self-test for coronavirus.