Westtown's Science Center Awarded LEED Gold Certificate
The United States Green Building Council has awarded our new Science Center a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold Certification. Of the nearly 3,200 LEED registered and certified school projects nationwide currently, only about a third achieve LEED Gold status.
The building, designed by SMP Architects in Philadelphia, boasts a host of green design features, such as butterfly roof that directs water to a cistern, daylight harvesting and low voltage DC lighting, solar hot water, and geothermal heating and cooling, among many others. Apart from providing space for study and research, the building itself is a teaching tool for students.
The accolades for the science building don’t stop there. It was awarded the PA Green Building of the Year, the Forever Green award from the US Green Building Council, Central PA, and the GC LEED Green Award from the Keystone Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), Inc., a national trade organization.
The Science Center supports Westtown’s high academic standards as well as our highly ambitious sustainability mission. It houses a dedicated ecology lab, a design lab, and an independent research lab, all still uncommon in schools. The science curriculum has grown along with the building. There are more opportunities for independent research, advanced courses, and new Design and Engineering courses.
Campus-wide sustainability efforts in energy generation, conservation, health, safety, curriculum, and program have earned Westtown the Green Ribbon School award from the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. EPA, the Green Schools Alliance, and the Delaware Valley Green Building Council and have also recognized Westtown for outstanding leadership in greening campus operations. Just last week, the EPA ranked Westtown six on the Top 30 K-12 Schools list which represents the largest green power users among K-12 school partners within the Green Power Partnership.
This certification is one more step toward our goal of becoming a carbon neutral campus.
News from the Westtown Fund
We are pleased to share that the positive momentum reported for the Westtown Fund in the last edition of eCollections has continued. As of February 1, we crossed the 75 percent mark in our fundraising goal for the year. Thank you to everyone who has made a donation to the Westtown Fund already; money raised this year is spent this year, so your donation is already at work!
Our goal in each eCollections is to explore specific designations to demonstrate how your gift immediately makes a difference. This month, we focus on Campus Care. Westtown’s 600 acres have long captured the imaginations and spirits of those who spend time here. Few schools have the land to teach students organic farming, a lake for canoeing and exploring aquatic habitats, or a ropes course for learning leadership and team-building skills. We sat down with Christine Henwood-Costa, Outdoor Education Coordinator at Westtown, to discuss the vision for Westtown’s outdoor education program and to more fully understand how students utilize the campus.
In a short period of time, Chris has greatly increased opportunities for students to use the campus. She employs our Action-Based Education by helping kids develop real-world skills. This fall, Chris taught fourth grade students about canoeing, tracking, building shelter, and navigation during their unit on Native Americans. In Middle School, she expanded the canoe trips to include more leadership training and more opportunities to learn technical skills, like building fires. In Upper School, she takes students to the farthest reaches of the campus to track animals and helps them navigate the plant and animal life they find. She wants her students to develop a spirit of exploration and to gain a better understanding of the world that they inhabit.
Chris hopes to continue to build on the outdoor education curriculum for all students, but particularly those students involved in the Outdoor Leadership Co-Curricular program. She is looking for opportunities to take what the students learn on campus, skills like shelter and primitive fire building, animal tracking, navigation, and forging, to the larger natural world. Gifts in support of Campus Care will help expand this program and ensure that our campus remains a vibrant and thriving educational resource for our students.
News from the Committee on Trustees
The Committee on Trustees welcomes the suggestion of individuals to be considered for Board committees and task forces and for future Board of Trustees service. Please use this form to share information about people (including you) who have the potential to bring time, talent, treasure, and ties (networks to Westtown’s many constituencies) to the Board. The Committee on Trustees has the responsibility of balancing and strengthening the Board while fulfilling Westtown’s commitment to representation of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Quakers as well as Friends from other yearly meetings.
Bob Roche, Parent of Alumni, Clerk, Committee on Trustees
Jon Evans ‘73, Clerk, Board of Trustees
Martha Bryans ‘68, Assistant Clerk, Board of Trustees
News from Communications
We hope you enjoy the winter Westonian, which should be in your mailboxes by now. We’re very excited about this issue, which features a wonderful article by Rachel Clarke ’86 and the Annual Report. Be sure to check out the additional features on our website, which include videos and photo galleries. We’d love to hear your feedback, so email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay connected! Keep up with news and the daily life of the school on our social media networks. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vimeo by searching @westtownschool. We also have Facebook pages for Alumni, Athletics, Robotics, and Performing Arts.
And that’s not all! Our teachers and staff are experts in their fields and they’re blogging about everything from raising teens to second language acquisition. Subscribe to the Well-Lit Path blog for tips and advice.
Honoring a Legacy
Each year we honor the legacy of Dr. King with a day of special activities. This year, we observed the day by delving more deeply into issues of identity, community, and peaceful activism. In light of recent events in our nation, these conversations were more significant and urgent. Each division tailored age-appropriate lessons for students around these themes.
In Lower School, students studied peaceful protests. They discussed how Dr. King was able to influence the thinking and actions of people to react to injustices, unfair laws, and inequality by helping them dissent in peaceful ways. Discussions included how Quakers have strongly articulated injustices throughout their history. “I Can Change the World with My Hands,” was the ultimate message for Lower Schoolers, and their service project reflected just that. They assembled 208 breakfast bags for the Chester County Family Academy.
Middle School students (and their parents, too) screened the movie Selma. They reflected on the movie as well as Langston Hughes Poem, “A Dream Deferred” and John Lewis’ essay, “Reflections on a Dream Deferred.” They discussed these readings and considered questions like What connections can be found between Hughes’ poem, Dr. King’s ‘Dream’ speech, and Lewis’ essay?, How does this relate to the American Dream?, and Who has been left out of the dream?
Seeing the Worlds We Come From: Individuality and Community was the title of the program for Upper School students. A special evening program in the Meeting House featured students and a teacher sharing their stories of origin. The next day began with the Silent Movement, led by People of Color Conference leadership students.
Later, students and faculty gathered in the theater for a powerful presentation by Haider Hamza, an Iraqi photojournalist. Hamza has spent the better part of his life in war time and at a young age began telling stories with his camera. His mission now is to humanize war, to bring to life the stories of soldiers and civilians alike. His images and stories were enthralling, thought-provoking, and sometimes even shocking. His messages about the futility of war and the necessity to understand the worlds we come from in any human interaction were especially poignant. A robust question-and-answer period ensued, and he stayed after the close of the presentation to speak with students individually.
The program concluded with the Worlds We Come From photo project in which students, faculty, and staff submitted photos of their worlds along with captions. Boards with the photos were displayed in Central so that we may all know one another better. Enjoy the gallery of photos from this project below.
These last months in our nation have made it clear that the relevance of King’s messages and life’s work has not faded in the 47 years since his passing. At Westtown, we place his pursuit of social justice, human dignity, and action at the heart of our education. We celebrate his legacy on this holiday and live it throughout the year.
Students at the Unitarian Church in West Chester for the MLK Day of Service
This is our "Worlds We Come From" photo gallery.
A Project Is Born
How do we remediate the drainage/runoff problem from the Athletic Center parking lot? How do we stall erosion near the lake? How do we preserve the habitats of our amphibian population on campus?
These might seem like broad, unrelated questions meant for adults, but they are, in fact, questions that were posed by our Lower School students in one of the iLab projects currently underway.
While exploring the campus near the lake, fifth grade students learned about the habitats of campus amphibians and brainstormed how the water from the erosion problem might be captured to benefit these animals. Part of the design thinking process is looking for problems that need a solution.
Students then began to generate many ideas, including creating a vernal pool. Vernal pools are temporary pools of water that provide habitats for distinctive plant and animal life. The students interviewed a landscape architect about the feasibility of this idea and learned that the eroded site by the lake would be an excellent area for a vernal pool and rain garden. A project was born.
For Sue McLaughlin, Lower School Science teacher, this project not only supports the science curricula in different grades, but also provides a real opportunity for students to use design thinking skills. Third graders compare the habitats of ponds and vernal pools; fourth graders study the watershed; fifth graders investigate terrestrial ecosystems.
Fifth graders also have taken the lead on vernal pool proposals. They worked in groups to come up with various remediation plans, created prototypes of their proposals, and presented them to Mark Del Negro, Grounds Supervisor. He gave feedback and noted that many of the solutions could be put into place. Fifth graders have researched cost analysis, land management, and are about to learn how to research and write grants. Stay tuned for more on this project as they’ll continue to work throughout the year.
This is but one of the design thinking projects that keep the iLab abuzz. Students use the space to delve deeply and authentically into problems and solutions. They explore and experiment with ideas, they try and fail, and they find answers that are tangible and applicable. It’s what design thinking is all about: discovery, empathy, experimentation, and production.
Do Well and Do Good
There are traditional ways to learn about business, and there’s Westtown’s way, which is to offer a class like Business and Society – an advanced applied religion course. Why tackle the subject in this way? Co-teachers Jay Coen Gilbert, Westtown parent and founder/CEO of B-Lab, and Kevin Eppler, Religion Department Chair, believe business has immense power to be a source for good and that there are humanitarian opportunities within the business community. The course combines classic spiritual and business readings with field trips, guest lecturers, and opportunities to explore ethical norms in the real world of business.
Recently, Teachers Jay and Kevin took the 16 students in this course to New York City to visit three leading voices in social entrepreneurship/responsible business. They stopped in Yonkers at the Greyston bakery, a for-profit bakery whose products are featured in Ben And Jerry's Ice Cream. The Greyston Bakery has an open hiring policy and provides housing, healthcare, and day care to its employees. Warby Parky, their second stop, is a well-known and hip eyewear manufacture that practices a one-for-one business model, providing eyewear to communities around the globe that are deprived of both glasses and eyewear as well as jobs. Lastly, they stopped an Echoing Green, an impact investment company who funds up-and-coming, innovative, and socially responsible entrepreneurs. Kevin notes that it’s these experiences that help show our students that businesses that do well can also do good.
After a string of 66 consecutive Friends Schools League dual meet wins by Westtown Varsity Wrestling, the team was upended by Friends Central (33-39) recently in a hard-fought meet at FCS. We honor and celebrate this remarkable run in the Friends Schools League, which began 10 years ago on February 4, 2005! This accomplishment is a testament to the dedication of the coaches and to the tenacious players who have gone through the program over the past decade. The team looks forward to getting healthy for another championship run leading up to playoffs in February.
Congratulations to wrestler Luke Neal '15 who just earned his 100th career win! Neal's win in the 60-9 loss to Delaware Independent School Conference (DISC) foe Sanford School was the highly-anticipated and shining moment for Westtown (3-5, 1-2 DISC) in the event.145 lb. Neal, still recovering from illness, jumped out to an 11-2 lead in his match, but found himself clinging to a rather precarious 13-9 lead before his home fans as time expired. Neal began wrestling in 8th grade and his success in high school for his team figured prominently in Westtown School's run of 10 consecutive FSL and 7 DISC titles.This season, Neal is the lone senior on a young, but promising Westtown Wrestling team. Alex Becker '11 currently holds the Westtown Wrestling record for most wins at 113.
The Girls Varsity Basketball team has a lot of be excited about this season. They enter their final two regular season games with a record of 4-4 in the Friends League and 9-10 overall. Friday at 4 pm they will face rivals Germantown Friends in the 4 seed/5 seed play-in game of the Friends League Championships. Led by sisters Naomi and Eunice Jimenez, with the help of newcomer Dagny Davidsdottir, the Moose have recorded key wins this season against Moorestown Friends, St. Andrews, and George School.
The Boys Varsity Basketball team has gone on another January run, with its record going from 17-6 to 19-7, and 7-0 in the Friends Schools League. The team will have a home court game in the first round of the FSL Playoffs on February 10th, and the victory over Friends Central last Friday made it the #1 seed.
The Boys' JV Basketball won the Friends Schools League JV Basketball Tournament recently with a win in the final game against Shipley. Congratulations!
Led by senior captain Anne Katherine Burns, the girls swim team end the dual meet season with an overall record of 7-4 (4-1 in the FSL). As they head into the playoffs, the girls are gaining momentum with help from juniors Alyce Faye Eichelberger, and Jamie Murphy-Soika, sophomore Stephanie Graziani-Neuberger, and freshman Sarah Murray. This weekend they head to St. Andrews to compete in the DISC championship, a meet in which the girls finished second during the '13-'14 season. Next weekend (2/14) the squad hopes to defend their title at the FSL championship meet at Swarthmore College.
Senior captains Michael Liu and Dire Ezeh led the boys swim team to finish the season with an overall record of 6-5 (4-2 in the FSL). This small group of boys have come together this season with help from juniors Alexander Le Febvre and Evan Asbury, sophomore Josh Shenot, and freshmen Troy Larsen and Nick Sokoll. The boys hope to stay competitive as they travel to St. Andrews and Swarthmore College for the DISC and FSL championship meet.
The January Spirit Day celebrated winter athletes and school spirit! Check out the gallery on Smugmug for more photos!
Lower School Parent Gathering - Wednesday, February 11th at 8:15 a.m., Lower School Gathering Room - The Lower School Parent Council clerks invite all Lower School parents to join us for a morning gathering. Judy Asselin, our Sustainability Coordinator, and her team will be there to discuss Children as Changemakers - How Westtown Fosters Self-Confidence and Leadership Skills in our Students. We hope you can join us to learn more on this topic and to hear about upcoming events.
2015 Westtown School Auction: Giving the World More Westonians
Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 6:00PM
Westtown School Science Center
Purchase tickets at www.westtown.edu/auction
Alumni/Community Basketball Game
What a great night of basketball! Thanks to everyone who came back to play in and to watch the alumni/community basketball game on January 10th!
Young Alumni Gathering in Philadelphia
Sunday, Feburary 8 from 2:00-5:00pm @ Smokin' Betty's
Gather with young alumni from George School, Westtown School, and Wilmington Friends School for a fun afternoon of cash bar cocktails, conversation, and light bites. This event is open to all Westtown Alumni Classes '99 -'14. Feel free to bring a friend, Westonian or otherwise!
Andrew Renzi '03 Shoemaker on Sunday, February 22
Join Andrew as he discusses the 2014 documentary "Fishtail" (that he worked on with Tylee Abbott '03) and his upcoming film "Franny," starring Richard Gere and Dakota Fanning.
Boston Friends of Westtown Gathering on Thursday, February 26th
Miranda Loud '88 and Ken McLean '82 will join John Baird at Joe's American Bar & Grill on Newbury Street at 6:00pm to discuss their involvement with Nature Stage and Landry's Bicycles, and their desire to pursue purpose driven careers.
New Parent of Alumni Program
We are thrilled to announce a new program designed to keep parents of alumni connected with Westtown and with each other. We have started talking to local parents of alumni and are piloting the program with two events this school year:
Sunday, February 22
6:30pm Parent of Alumni Coffee and Dessert in the South Room
7:30pm Shoemaker Lecture with Andrew Renzi '03 about his career as a filmmaker
Sunday, April 12
4:00-6:00pm Cocktail Reception at the home of Ellen Gilbert '76 and Tom Gilbert '76
Many thanks to Maria Archer, Anne Roche, and Bryn Smythe for organizing the April 12th reception! To RSVP for both the February 22nd dessert and the April 12th reception, please contact the Alumni Office.
Please join members of Teacher Anne Wood's family for her memorial service in the Westtown Meeting House on Saturday, April 18th at 2:00pm, followed by a reception in the Boys Collecting Room.
Stay up-to-date on alumni news! Like the Westtown Alumni Facebook page.