WESTTOWN SCHOOL RECEIVES $500,000 GRANT FROM PEDA!
Westtown has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority. The PEDA Board of Trustees met on October 22, 2014, awarding 27 grants from an applicant pool of 184 organizations. Westtown School is the only independent school to be awarded a grant. “It was a highly competitive applicant pool and recipients had to have stellar applications and a great idea,” said Katherine Heatherington Confer of PEDA’s External Affairs Department.
That “great idea” is a significant redesign and upgrade of the steam system that is used to heat the historic 1887 main building as well as other campus buildings. The funds will help Westtown convert the central steam plant to a high-efficiency hot water condensing boiler system. This conversion will reduce energy use by 28 percent. Additionally, LED lighting upgrades in Lower and Middle Schools and the Athletic Center will reduce electricity use by 50 percent in these areas. These are important steps toward Westtown’s goal of becoming a carbon neutral campus.
A longtime leader in sustainability, Westtown has been recognized by the US Department of Education as a Green Ribbon School, the EPA as a Green Power Partner, the PA Department of Education Pathways to Green Schools program, and the Green Schools Alliance (a national organization of 3,000 schools). Westtown has presented at NAIS, ABOA, The Tri-State Symposium on Sustainability, The Friends Environmental Educators Network (FEEN), Chester County Citizens for Climate Protection (4CP), and BLUER (West Chester Borough Leaders United for Emissions Reduction). Westtown has inspired other schools to initiate broad-based sustainability efforts, including gardening programs, conservation efforts, renewable energy generation, and Education for Sustainability throughout the curriculum. Westtown’s Sustainability Coordinator currently serves on the steering group of the PAISBOA Sustainability Affinity Group.
News from Admissions
The Open House on November 2nd was a big success, with 139 families touring, sampling classes, and talking with students and faculty. The Open House has generated some buzz and we're seeing new applications and requests for visits. Thanks to all who helped make this event a success, including the 48 students who served as greeters, panelists, and tour guides!
News from Advancement
Mark your calendars for Tuesday, December 2, in celebration of this year's #GivingTuesday! #GivingTuesday is a national day of giving, following on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Our goal this year is to raise 179 gifts of any size from donors who didn't make a gift last year. If you did make a gift last year, we hope that your family will consider a gift again this year. All gifts can be made at www.westtown.edu/wfdonate. By making a gift, you will join 100 percent of trustees and 99 percent of faculty and staff in supporting this year's campaign for our students.
News from Communications
We are putting the finishing touches on the fall Westonian! It’s a packed issue with Commencement speeches, the annual report, a cover story by Westtown alumna Rachel Clarke '86, a report from the Westtown Alumni Association, class notes, and much more. Expect arrival in your mailboxes in December and be sure to check the website for the Westonian web features.
Creating a world where every child masters empathy – that is the mission of Ashoka’s Start Empathy program. Ashoka is a global network of social entrepreneurs whose vision is to enable “an Everyone a Changemaker TM world: one that responds quickly and effectively to social challenges; one where each individual has the freedom, confidence, and societal support to address any social problem and drive change.”
Ashoka has invited Westtown to be part of their network of Changemaker organizations. “We are inspired and encouraged by your commitment to cultivating empathy in your students, as well as your aspiration to ensure all children become changemakers,” noted the Ashoka team. We are thrilled by this designation, which affirms the very heart of our mission - to inspire leaders and stewards of a better world. Our thanks go to Karabi Bhattacharyya Acharya '82, who works in Ashoka's global office, for her help with the nomination process.
Westtown is one of only seven pre-K through 12 schools, is the only boarding school and is the only Quaker school in the Changemaker School network in the United States.
The partnership with Ashoka is already paying off. Senior Zach Gambill was accepted to the Catapult Incubator, run by Ashoka’s Youth Venture Program. The Catapult Incubator is a program for high school students that offers a comprehensive business curriculum, mentorship, and connection to thought leaders in technology, venture capital, and social entrepreneurship. He’ll attend weekend workshops and seminars at the University of Pennsylvania through March.
Zach’s project was a perfect match for the Catapult Incubator. As part of his Independent Seminar class, Zach says he is “pursuing the creation of a business that uses phytoplankton to feed people in malnourished countries at a very low cost while also maximizing nutrition potential.” He’s also enrolled in the Applied Scientific Research course in which he tackles the technical portion of his project – learning the nutritional value and growth factors of phytoplankton. Zach will attend seminars at the Catapult Incubator and explore partnerships in launching his business, NannoFood.
Giving a student the opportunity to combine research, technology, and business to solve a pressing world problem is what being a Changemaker School is all about. Examples at Westtown of students as changemakers abound, from the second grade study of the coral reefs that culminated in a fundraiser to help save them, to the Middle School’s “Take Back the Tap” initiative that reduces the use of bottled water on campus. Westtown’s Action-Based Education puts students in the center of their learning, encourages exploration and discovery, and emphasizes real-world problem-solving. It also reflects our deep commitment to service and, yes, fostering empathy in our students.
The week leading up to Halloween marked the beginning of the sixth grade’s unit on archaeology. Not only did they celebrate International Archaeology Month in the dining room, where they ate foods like lasagna and fruit trifle that were layered in strata, but the sixth graders also began an exciting project: the Mystery Cemetery.
The Mystery Cemetery was, above all, an exercise in critical thinking. Students were required to make careful observations of a simulated burial ground which had been set up in the classroom, and their goal was to draw logical conclusions about the gender, age and social status of plastic skeletons. Each skeleton had an array of grave goods (for example, 3- and 4-inch screws were daggers and spears, and washers were ornaments). Students had to first determine and use pieces of hard evidence, and then identify and correlate attributes in order to sort the burials into logical categories.
Variables such as size of the skeletons, different kinds of “tombs” and “headstones,” and the directions in which different burials faced all factored into the final conclusions the students drew. They worked together to develop and test hypotheses, and most of them were able to successfully “solve” the mysteries of the Mystery Cemetery. And as they prepared to begin their real dig at an historic trash midden on the Westtown campus, they experienced firsthand the frustrations and realities of actual archaeologists for whom artifacts uncovered in an excavation are only the beginning of the story!
Not Your Average Field Trips
When we adults think of our own elementary school field trips, we probably think of trips to the zoo or tours of a crayon factory. They seemed more like an escape from school rather than a part of school. In Lower School, however, field trips are purposeful adventures designed to be extensions of the classroom, and to provide opportunities for students to be independent, resourceful and resilient.
Field trips take students to destinations near and far. In first grade, kids have a series of field trips right here on campus to learn about the kind of behind-the-scenes work adults do to make the school run well. It’s part of their unit on community, in which they discover the myriad important roles that make up any healthy community. They visit the kitchen, the farm, the Head of School’s office, the Facilities Department, and more. All Lower Schoolers have field trips to our own lake, frog pond, and arboretum to study animal and plant life. Second graders visit the aquarium to do primary source research for their unit on oceans. During their study of immigration, fourth graders visit Ellis Island to learn about how it would have felt to first arrive in America, and attend a naturalization ceremony. These are but a few examples of the rich and varied excursions available to students.
As the students age, their trips become more sophisticated. Also in fourth grade, students travel to Cape Henlopen in Delaware where they spend two days seining in the bay and studying sea life. They have Meeting for Worship under the stars on the beach, and write reflections in their journals. By fifth grade, students are ready for their three-day trek to Camp Mason in New Jersey. They learn orienteering, engage in team-building exercises, take nature walks, and climb a rock wall – often the highlight. They live together in bunkhouses, and have a spirited “Golden Spoon” contest to see which group ends up with the least amount of food waste after each meal.
All of these trips are fun, for sure, but they are something more: intentional opportunities to collaborate, lead, and synthesize learning. What’s more, field trips in Lower School prepare kids for the canoe trips in Middle School and for Senior Projects, the ultimate field trip.
Last Sunday Westtown hosted Philadelphia area Latin teachers and their students for the "Living Latin and Greek Conference." In partnership with the Paideia Institute, the World Languages department planned an afternoon of fun and learning. Students engaged in break-out sessions of spoken Latin and Greek, which has been an emerging focus of our curriculum at Westtown. Jason Pedicone, the director and co-founder of the Paideia Institute, offered a presentation on meter in Greek and Latin poetry. Participants were next introduced to the history and significance of Greek folk dancing by local dance instructor Phil Voutsakis. Phil then led the entire group in several variations of Greek dancing, which concluded in a resounding "OPA!"
Following the dancing, there was a round-table discussion with Professor Ralph Rosen from the University of Pennsylvania. He engaged students in conversation about the value of an education in the Classics. Many of our Westtown students were eager participants in this discussion, and it was thrilling to hear them reflecting on their own passions and pursuits. Finally, attendees shared a wonderful Romanesque meal prepared by our own T. John Fernandez complete with olives, cheeses, breads, and cured ham. We are thrilled that Westtown's continuing relationship with Paideia was able to bring such a robust and enthusiastic program to our school. Events like this, coupled with the exciting trip to Paideia in Rome this spring, are creating wonderful opportunities for students to engage with the ancient world in fun and meaningful ways.
Upper School staged a powerful production of Our Town last weekend. The performances were moving, made more so by the intimate stage seating. Congratulations to all who bring a play to the stage: actors, set designers, stage managers, costumers, makeup artists, sound and lighting technicians, and, of course, Teacher Nick Malakhow, director!
Fall Season Roundup
It’s been an exciting fall season on the fields and courts! The Varsity Field Hockey team bested Shipley 1-2 in the FSL semi-finals. They demonstrated amazing skill and heart in the Friends Schools League final versus ANC, but ANC scored with no time left in OT to win 2-1 in this nail-biter of a game. Post season play continued with a 2-0 win over Penn Charter in the PAISAA tourney.
Boys soccer beat Moorestown Friends 4-2 in the FSL semi-final to advance to the final. Although they played hard against Shipley today in the championship game, they lost 4-1.
Cross Country had a successful season. The boys placed second and the girls placed fourth in the FSL. Our runners consistently show stamina and grace throughout the season, and several had personal bests.
Volleyball, girls’ soccer and girls’ tennis all had strong seasons with young teams that show great promise for next year. We’re so proud of all our athletes!
Winter sports are coming! Watch a teaser...
Click here to learn more
Lower School Halloween Parade
It's a grand tradition in Lower School: the artful approach to Halloween! Students make masks that mirror what they're studying in the classroom, and their work is celebrated at the Halloween Parade. More photos here!
Our faculty are experts on kids, homework, and all kinds of things, and they're passing along their advice in our "Well-Lit Path" blog series. Read some of their blogs and consider reposting and subscribing!
We have lots of opportunities for you to get out and about with the Westtown Community:
November 14: Moose Crew Meeting at 8:15 am in the Athletic Center - Parents from all divisions are invited to join our Crew and help build pride and enthusiasm for Westtown Athletics.
November 17-21: Westtown Book Fair - Check a few off your Holiday List by shopping at the Chester County Book Fair from The Chester County Book Company will donate 18 percent of sales back to the Lower School Library. Open to all!
November 21: Join parents, faculty and staff for a cup of coffee after drop off or before heading out for Thanksgiving break. Stop by the Belfry anytime between 8:00 am and 11:00 am.
Saturday, November 15th, from 9:00 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Westtown Athletics and the College Counseling Office are excited to offer College Recruiting in the 21st Century, a seminar on the college recruiting process, at Westtown School.
This workshop is for 8th-11th grade students (and their parents) who are interested in playing college athletics and would like to learn more about the athletic recruiting process. While the event is open to the public, members of the Westtown community can attend for FREE and must register in advance. If you register for this program, you are asked to attend it in its entirety. To register please click here. Questions? Contact Paul Lehmann or Carrie Brodsky.
Be Sure to Save the Date for the Holiday Concerts:
Sunday, December 14 - Upper School Revels Concert
Thursday, December 18 - Middle School Holiday Concert
December 19 - Lower School Holiday Concert
Keith Middleton '89
On Sunday, October 5th Keith Middleton '89 gave a very spirited and inspirational presentation for 2014's last Shoemaker Lecture. Check out our website to learn more and see the music video from Keith's new album, Transitions, that he shared with the school during his presentation.
David Hartsough '58
Join us Tuesday, December 2nd from 2:00-3:00pm in the Barton-Test Theater, when David Hartsough '58 will share stories about his life as a peacemaker and builder of nonviolent movements. David will talk about his book Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist. www.Peaceworkersus.org
Staying Connected Has Never Been So Easy!
Westtown’s alumni community is now in the palm of your hand, thanks to a new mobile app powered by EverTrue. Map other Westonians near you, search the alumni database by name, class year, college, or company, and connect to Westtown’s Facebook, Twitter, and Vimeo feeds to get information about school and alumni events.
Want to network with other Westonians? Join the Westtown Community Group on LinkedIn!
Stay up-to-date on alumni news! Like the Westtown Alumni Facebook page.
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.