(Heel) Kicking off a New Year

The Opening of School Assembly has become a beloved tradition at Westtown. During the first week of school, students from all divisions, faculty and staff gather together for a brief Meeting for Worship and a welcome to the new year. Head of School John Baird and International Student Coordinator, Melissa Graf-Evans, share greetings in all the languages spoken by our students - this year that’s a whopping 20 languages, representing 18 countries. Our student body also boasts students from 18 states. John introduces each class and “kicks” off the year with the Student Body Presidents. The room is full of energy and, appropriately enough, the seniors make the most noise! Here’s a short look.



Coach Downey Court Dedication

It was an energetic celebration yesterday as we unveiled the newly-renovated competition gym and dedicated the Coach Downey Court! All students, faculty and staff gathered to honor Coach Downey and have an all-school pep rally. Co-Athletic Directors Mich Linder and Paul Lehmann ’99 opened the event, noting the exceptional work of the Facilities Department and thanking the Coltman Friends Foundation and the many alumni, parents and friends who have helped this project come to fruition. Captains of the fall teams introduced themselves and fall athletes were recognized, then the Student Body Presidents, Eden Rothacker and Jeremy Spiegel, led us in a robust cheer.

An amazing transformation has taken place over the past few months. Our much-beloved "competition gym" was in need of an update and thanks to the generosity of many alumni, parents, and friends, it has become a premier facility for our student-athletes and spectators to enjoy.  Our late friend, Coach Tom Downey, walked these same sidelines for many years, and now he will be forever recognized with his name prominently displayed on the court. The bones of this "old school" gym haven't changed a bit, but the upgrades to the floor, bleachers, banners, backboards, and paint scheme are something to behold.  Our students, still proudly wearing our brown and white, will look strong and bold against a gym infused with our blue accent color. Our new athletic logos are proudly displayed on the walls and court, and you can't help but get excited about the feel of this space when you enter.  We are very proud of the new look of our Coach Downey Court, and we hope that you will feel the same as you come and support our teams in the seasons and years to come.

Check out the album of photos from the event!

Left to right: Jay Farrow '75, Rob O'Driscoll '90, Charlie Coltman '90, John Baird, Barb Downey, Pat Downey, Tom Downey Jr., Paul Lehmann '99, Michele Linder

Shoemaker Visiting Lecturer Series Presents: Keith Middleton '89

Join us on Sunday, October 5 at 7:30 pm in the Barton-Test Theater for the Shoemaker Series presentation of Keith Middleton '89, longtime cast member of STOMP. You won't want to miss Keith's dynamic, high-energy percussion performance!

News from Admissions

The Admissions Office will host the first Open House of the year on Sunday, November 2, 2014. There will be tours, sample classes and panel discussions. Do you know a family who might be interested? Please invite them to register now

News from Advancement

We will be kicking off this year's Westtown Fund in the next couple of weeks. Check your mailboxes later this month for more information on our new designated format. Once you make your gift, your name will be removed from the Westtown Fund solicitation list, which means we can spend more time letting you know how your gift is making a difference! Thank you for everything you do to make the Westtown community great!


Walking the Walk

The call: Show me what democracy looks like!
The thundering response of the crowd: This is what democracy looks like!

With gusto and enthusiasm, 20 Westtown students and teachers added their voices to the breathtaking chorus of hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of New York City last Sunday – one person for every 1,000 Americans. That’s a big crowd, a really big crowd – the biggest climate march in history.

Banners were flying, and signs were everywhere.The diversity of the crowd was striking: families with young ones, students in droves, people of every age, religion, ethnicity, and culture. The tone was ebullient, positive, and determined: peaceful assembly at its best. Democracy in action.

At 12:58 the massive crowd grew utterly silent and raised hands above their heads. All that could be heard were birds singing in Central Park. Two minutes later we raised the “climate alarm”: 30 marching bands struck up, and every mouth was shouting or blowing a whistle. The roar swelled from the front of the march to the back and could be heard over a mile away. It was a stunning moment.

UN delegates in the following days took note of the March, adding urgency and momentum to the growing consensus that we must replace our addiction to coal, oil, and gas with clean alternatives. The transition will create jobs, clean our air and water, and mitigate climate change, which impacts all of us.

It was wonderful to have Westtown School represented at this historic event.

Food for Thought

Think about this: our full-time kitchen staff of 13 makes 7,590 meals and provides 4,250 pieces of snack per week. That’s 273,240 meals and 157,250 pieces of snack per school year! These numbers don’t include the kitchen’s daily snack bar operation at the Belfry, summer camp programming nor the catering department that last year alone supported 529 special events for Westtown.

The numbers are astounding, right? What’s even more impressive, though, is our kitchen staff’s dedication to providing 273,240 healthy meals to the community by sourcing a growing percentage each year of locally-grown foods, and employing sustainable dining practices.

Beth Pellegrino, Director of Food Services, Judy Asselin, Sustainability Coordinator, and Tim Mountz, Farm Manager – indeed all our kitchen staff and many students - work together on “farm-to-school” and sustainability initiatives. Greening the dining experience includes everything from Westtown co-founding with PAISBOA (PA Independent Schools Business Officers Association) a program which makes it easier for independent schools to buy local farm products from The Common Market in Philadelphia, to the increase in organic produce grown on our own farm, to the elimination of sugared drinks and single-serve condiment packages, and even to the way the students sort dishware and utensils.

In the past nine years, Westtown has tripled the amount of food purchased locally/organically and is now up to 20 percent, which includes the hundreds of pounds of produce that make a trip of only a few hundred yards from the student farm to the Dining Room. This summer alone, Teacher Tim and his Upper School student crew delivered to the kitchen 175 pounds of cucumbers, 87 pounds of squash and 35 pounds of tomatoes. And that’s above and beyond the nearly 2,000 pounds that went to 18 local families during the summer CSA. Lower School gets into the act as well. This fall, Second Graders harvested enough “Snowball” cherry tomatoes for Lower School snack, and the following week picked a crate of kale which the kitchen baked into tasty kale chips—devoured in an instant. Tim says that the farm will continue to provide produce for our kitchen as the greenhouse and the high tunnel transition from tomatoes to salad greens for winter harvesting. His mission is to “get as much greenery in the diets of these kids as possible.”

Students work in concert with Tim on the farm during classes, after school (gardening is an official “check out”), and on weekends, and they initiate programs with Judy as part of the Middle and Upper School Environmental Clubs. The Middle School Green Moose Group brought healthy, delicious fruit smoothies to the Belfry – a huge hit -- and both groups have launched an effective “Take Back the Tap” campaign to replace disposable plastic water bottle use on campus with refillable bottles. Thanks to new student initiative and energy, a Food Network club has formed this year. Club members will work with Beth, focusing on Dining Room menus, increasing the variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes offered, and other creative new ideas. Students in all divisions have become experts in sorting waste and composting. With Single Stream Recycling campus-wide, we divert a whopping 55 percent of our waste from landfills -- up from 20 percent only three years ago.

We are grateful for not only all the work that goes into feeding our community, but also for the work and energy required to feed us responsibly and healthfully.

Teacher Tim and the summer crew

I is for Innovation

We are thrilled to announce that the Lower School iLab has been completed and students are beginning projects! The iLab was created to give students a specific space for the incubation of ideas, for invention, imagination and impact. It is all about design thinking, which invites students to find and resolve problems. Design thinking combines the subjective inquiry of the humanities, the objective truth seeking of the sciences and the creative and open-ended investigation of art and engineering.

The iLab will be a place to hypothesize, investigate, build, test, fail, and rebuild, and where resources will be used wisely, creatively and with playful purpose.


Canoes, Camping and Coping

The 7th Grade recently returned from their canoe trip. The canoe trips are not only a signature program, but also the highlight of many kids’ experience in Middle School. The trips are lessons in collaboration, exploration, leadership, tent and canoe skills, and resilience. And let’s not forget: FUN!

The students and faculty canoed roughly 22 miles on the Delaware River, putting in at Dingman’s Ferry and coming out at Smithfield Beach. At Horseshoe Bend, they were joined by Principal Nancy van Arkel and John Baird, Head of School.

The students, as they always do, coped well with the traditional rain – though it only drizzled this year – and brilliantly handled the strong headwinds. They know how to overcome adversity! Highlights of this year’s trip were spotting 6 or 7 bald eagles and a beaver, shooting the rapids, and the floating Meeting for Worship. Here are some photos of their adventure.


National Merit Semi-Finalists Named

Congratulations to Abigail Kaplan, Alex Nunes, and Jerry Peng, all of whom have been named National Merit Semi-Finalists. Of the 1.4 million juniors (in 22,000 high schools) who took the PSAT last year, 16,000 seniors have been designated as Semi-Finalists on the basis of their Selection Index (the sum of their Reading, Writing, and Math scores). There is not one national cut off number; instead, National Merit (NMSQT) sets a state or cohort cut off so that Semi-Finalists are distributed geographically. Westtown currently belongs to the "national boarding school" cohort, which has the highest Selection Index cut off in the country, many points higher than the public or private schools in our area let alone in other states. That makes their scores especially noteworthy! Well done Abigail, Alex, and Jerry!

 Abigail Kaplan, Alex Nunes, and Jerry Peng


Westtown School hosted three members of Hobart Friends School's Administrative team on Tuesday, September 30: Ina Johnson, Deputy Principal, Tony Barrett, Head of Upper School, and Mary Margaret Gibson, Head of Primary Years, as well as Andrew Gibson. They have come from their school in Tasmania for a two-week tour of east coast Friends schools. Their particular interests were in student leadership, the weaving of our Quaker values throughout our program, and service learning. They toured the divisions, met with school leaders and enthusiastically joined in the all-school pep rally. We are working with them to develop cross school partnerships and teacher and student exchanges. In January we will host a Hobart Friends teacher and next summer we will send a teacher to them.

 From left: Andrew Gibson, Mary Margaret Gibson, Tom Barrett, Ina Johnson


Parents' Days

It was so exciting to see so many parents enjoying the activities of Upper School Parents' Weekend and Middle School Parents' Day.  Parents enjoyed sample  classes and had an opportunity to meet advisors and connect with other parents. Thanks to all the parents who joined us. We hope to see you again soon!


Fallfest Fun

Greased watermelon, pony rides, cotton candy, soccer and ring toss were just a few of the attractions of the 2nd Annual Westtown FallFest. Raiford field was filled with students, parents, alumni and friends and you could feel the energy and excitement of the students.  A big thank you to all who volunteered and made FallFest a day to remember! More photos here!




Emma Compton '10 - Princeton Fellow

Congratulations to Emma Compton who has been named a Princeton Fellow in Latin America. Over the past six years, Emma has worked with deaf and blind children in Cali, Colombia (during her Senior Project), taught entry level ESOL classes for immigrants in Pennsylvania (through the Westtown's partnership with La Communidad Hispana), tutored underserved youth and provided translation services for Spanish speaking communities in Connecticut while at Wesleyan University, worked with the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition in Philadelphia, and served in a community development program and a Peru Ministry of Culture funded policy project during her year in Lima, Peru.

During her appointment, she is living and working in Esperanza, Dominican Republic, with a community development and education organization called Yspaniola. Emma will work in the Dominican Republic through August 2015.


Amelia Bensch-Schaus '09 - Fulbright Scholar

Congratulations are in order for Amelia Bensch-Schaus ’09! Amelia was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Germany.





Mark your calendars!

Alumni weekend will be here once again before you know it! Please plan to join us for all the festivities May 8-10, 2015.

Who We Are


    • MonSep30 Rosh Hashanah; No LS/MS/US Classes
    • WedOct09 Yom Kippur; No US/MS/LS Classes
powered by finalsite