New W Welcomes All to Athletic Center
You may have seen the new W mounted outside the Athletic Center. This was crafted by Rusty Cassway '84 (father of Sarah '17). It is a gift from the Class of 1984 in recognition of the role athletics plays in the educational experience at Westtown. It weighs a whopping 450 lbs., is 5' in diameter and is made of corten, a metal that becomes a natural rust color with age. Our deepest thanks to the Class of 1984 for this wonderful gift and to Rusty Cassway for his work and talent. Students have begun a tradition of rubbing the W for good luck as they pass!
Here is the latest on the lake and dam restoration project:
- Dredging completed by Oct 15, approximately 85% complete to date
- Step culvert being constructed - 23 of 35 concrete pours completed
- Dam completion by November 15
- Westtown Road culvert shop drawings approved by DEP- Still on track to close Westtown Road June 2016
- Highway Occupancy Permit extension submitted
- New drop box in service; old dam culvert de-commissioned
- 1 Soil deposit area backfilled and seeded (germinated)
- New dock will be installed during this project
- Additional concrete work and deck modifications at the Lake House
- Turtles and fish will most likely be returned to the Lake in the Spring
Admissions Open Houses
There are two Admissions Open Houses coming up. Encourage your friends to attend! The Open House for Middle School is Sunday October 18th at 1 p.m. The Open House for Lower and Upper School is Sunday October 25th at 1 p.m. Register here.
The Giant Takes A Road Trip
The walls in Central, the Mary Leeds Room, and the dining room will look a little different soon. The Giant, along with four other paintings, will be going out on loan for an exhibit at the Chester County Art Association in West Chester. The Art Association is honoring its founders, which included N. C. Wyeth (who painted The Giant) and George G. Whitney, Westtown’s director of fine arts from 1920 to 1956, with a special exhibit. George Whitney studied with Wyeth while teaching at Westtown, and four of Whitney’s paintings that the school owns will be included in the exhibit to show the influence of Wyeth on his work. The paintings will be on loan from October 9 until October 20.
This exhibit gives Westtown the opportunity to share its history with the greater community, particularly the rich tradition of the fine arts program at the school. Presentations by archivist Mary Brooks on “Wyeth, Whitney, and Westtown” on Saturday and Sunday (October 10 and 11) will give both the West Chester community as well as the members of the Westtown community a chance to learn more about these paintings and their histories.
News from the Westtown Fund
The 2015-2016 school year is off to a wonderful start! The campus is buzzing with activity in our classrooms and shared spaces. The new school year also means that we will be launching the Westtown Fund for the 2015-2016 school year. The school’s fiscal year coincides with the academic year and all of the money raised this year will be spent this year on exciting programmatic offerings in our curriculum, professional development opportunities for our teachers, and many of the other wonderful things that happen on campus every day.
Last year, we had the most successful Westtown Fund year in school history, raising $1,222,946 for our students and teachers. Already this year, Lower and Middle School faculty and all staff achieved 100% participation and Upper School faculty reached 99% participation.
There are two reasons that the Westtown Fund is profoundly important to the school. First, it allows us to support all of the wonderful work that happens on campus. There is no place, program, or initiative that isn’t made possible by the Westtown Fund. We want to give you the ability to support what most inspires you by designating your gift to one of seven areas: Student Programs and Services, Faculty Support, Financial Aid, Technology, Athletics, Campus Care, and the Area of Greatest Need.
Additionally, high participation from our community shows foundations and major donors that Westtown is a cause worthy of their investment. Last year, our participation played a role in receiving grants that will help grow our Project Based Learning initiatives and will provide additional professional development opportunities for our teachers.
We hope that you will consider making a gift to the Westtown Fund this year. All gifts make impact in the lives of our students. The first appeal will be in your mailboxes later this month, but if you would like to make your gift now, please visit www.westtown.edu/wfdonate. We are grateful for your support of Westtown.
Leave No Trace - An Integral Part of Sustainability Curriculum
By Wade Tomlinson, Sustainability Coordinator
I am excited and overjoyed to begin my first year at Westtown. But imagine being new at an institution and being thrust into a canoe trip with a whole host of 7th Graders! While chaperoning the canoe trip in my second week was a bit daunting, it turned out to be an extraordinary experience.
The weather was perfect and my fellow chaperones were among the most highly qualified and professional I have ever worked with on a trip like this. In preparation for and all throughout the trip I could clearly see the curricular pieces and teaching made manifest.
Expeditionary Learning is an educational philosophy born out of the Outward Bound program. It is an integral part of our Outdoor Education program. It is a philosophy that teaches students not only how to interact with nature, but also how to preserve that wild space and live sustainably within it. Teacher Chris Costa taught students why it is important to live sustainably and how to Leave No Trace.
Leave No Trace refers to an ethic promoting conservation. It is a form of being considerate for those who may follow in wilderness, but more than that, it is a deeper understanding that the wild places our culture has set aside for preservation, remain wild. There are seven principles to this ethic:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
Middle School Students at Westtown not only learn about LNT in the classroom, but they also have the opportunity to plan and practice these principles on three separate camping/canoeing experiences - one in each Middle School grade. These trips are important learning experiences for our students and they learn much more than LNT, including team building and leadership skills. At a time when other schools are cutting their outdoor programs or do not even offer them, Westtown has a long history of a well-developed outdoor curriculum.
I look forward to bringing you more updates about sustainability initiatives at Westtown, and am eager to share this exciting work with you. In the meantime, enjoy some photos of our canoe trip!
Beyond the Surface: Medical Illustration in an ever-changing world
If you haven’t seen it yet, we invite you to visit the Art Gallery and see the exhibit Beyond the Surface, Medical Illustration in an ever-changing world. The exhibit, curated by Eo Trueblood '95, features medical illustrators Lydia Gregg, Elizabeth Cook, Kaitlin Lindsay, Betsy Wiessbrod and Trueblood presenting illustrations in various mediums. The pieces will be on display until October 16th.
We asked Trueblood how this show came about, and about his own path to medical illustration.
Trueblood’s concept for this show was a simple one: feature illustrators who employ medical illustration in a different way. The illustrators are people whom Trueblood knows through the Association of Medical Illustrators, and The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine graduate program in the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine. The department was the first of its kind in the world, and was founded in 1911 by Max Brodel. Trueblood explains, “Each illustrator in the show has evolved their talents in unique ways and now occupy a niche in the field. One of the interesting things is that we all had the same foundational classes in art, anatomy and science. From that foundation we all found career paths that fit our personalities.”
Trueblood’s passion for science and illustration took hold early in life. His mom collected National Geographic magazines and he read the whole collection “at least twice.” The images, illustrations, and science he found in those pages influenced him. He grew up drawing and loving art, those interests flourished when we came to Westtown in the fall of ’92. “When I got [to Westtown] I was struck by the amount of resources given to the art department. Although my public school was excellent in many ways, there was little money given to art education. I recall doing a drawing project where we got one piece of paper and that was it. We had to bring our own pencils. When I got to Westtown not only was there a whole building dedicated to the arts, but there were shelves of supplies and types of paper that I didn't even knew existed. Combine that with excellent instruction, and I was able to grow leaps and bounds in my art skills.”
Eo Trueblood '95 earned a B.F.A. in figurative sculpture from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He went on to The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine graduate program in the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine. He now works at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Stream Studios. He currently specializes in 2D pediatric illustration for a variety of audiences.
National Merit Recognition
Congratulations to these six students who have been recognized by the nation's leading academic scholarship competitions: the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and the National Hispanic Recognition Program!
Front, L to R: Hayden Quintana, Elyse Gadra, Charlotte Ells, Miguel Montoya Delgado
Back: Leif Taranta, Nathan Mullen
First Annual Stone House/Guerster House Retreat
By Ted Freeman, Dorm Head
Whenever a new group of boys moves into Stone House at the beginning of the school year I am eager to tell them that they are joining a great legacy. Since 1917 this building has seen generations of students pass through its halls. The young men who have lived in Stone House have a very special bond with one another that continues throughout their experience at Westtown, and even into their adult lives. Stone Housers carry with them a collective sense of camaraderie that transcends the years. Rene Guerster ’56 was a Stone Houser who shared that experience and recognized the impact that it had on him throughout his life. Over the years Mr. Guerster has been a generous benefactor of the school. Last spring I learned that he intended to give a gift to the school focused on benefitting the residents of Stone House. He wanted to help shape the experience of Stone Housers and promote the sense of brotherhood that is unique to our dormitory. This was the seed that made our retreat last weekend possible. Mr Guerster’s generosity will enable us to run this trip for years to come. To honor the legacy that he will leave on this group of boys and generations to come, Stone House will soon adopt the name Guerster House. I expect that the annual Guerster House Retreat will be something every resident will cherish throughout his life.
Our retreat started early on a recent Saturday morning when we traveled to Jim Thorpe, PA. Our group consisted of 28 residents and four adult chaperones: myself, Teacher Omar Otero (dorm parent), Teacher Larry Dech (former Stone House dorm parent), and Teacher Chris Costa, Westtown’s Director of Outdoor Education. The students organized themselves by proctor groups. Our first adventure was to go on the 900-foot-long zipline that was on-site at the rafting company. As each student arrived at the bottom, the group was there to celebrate him. It was wonderful to see our trip begin with such positive energy.
Our next adventure was river rafting. We allowed students to form their own raft groups of four. We recognized that there would be some awkwardness about this, but it’s this type of discomfort that is sometimes important to lean into. After a little shuffling around, our raft groups were formed and we were given some instructions from the guides. We boarded a bus that took us to our put-in site.
Within each raft was a wide range of paddling experience. In some rafts a leader quickly took charge and organized how the group would function. In other rafts it was a different story. The best analogy I can think of is comparing rafting to running. In order for a person to run at his best, the legs and arms need to be coordinated and working in unison. Likewise, in order for a raft to go where you want, the four paddlers need to be working as a team. Here again, students needed to lean into this difficulty and figure out how best to work together. One of the highlights of the trip was watching a group of young men who had begun with great difficulty, but by the end of the trip were pros. Whether they knew it or not, they were practicing the same type of problem-solving that we often need to do in our dormitory. The end result is that the group became more cohesive and developed a bond through that difficulty. And. it was tremendous fun.
We arrived at our camp site and quickly unloaded the tents, sleeping mats and bags, and cooking gear we needed to set up for the night. Each proctor group set up its own tent, which could house up to eight students. Once tents were set, we built a fire. After students had some down time, we gathered around the campfire and took a moments to share some thoughts about the day. Many students spoke about their experience on the zipline or the rafting trip and how it challenged them in one way or another. After some brief reflections, we broke out the chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers to make s’mores. For many students in our group this was the first time that they had done anything like this before, and the idea of a s’more was quite foreign to them. More experienced campers took the opportunity to demonstrate what the perfect s’more should look like—lightly toasted and gooey on the inside. Some students preferred the flambé approach, and we had great fun discussing the merits of each.
Following s’mores, the proctors organized some activities for the group. It’s hard to describe exactly what this was, but in many ways it was the most magical time of the trip. It started with a game of kick-the-can, but it evolved into a unique bonding experience. The other adults and I were incredibly impressed not only by the leadership of our proctors, but by the amazingly positive energy and cohesion of the entire group. Chris Costa, who has led hundreds of groups on outdoor trips, remarked on how precious and unusual a thing it was.
On the last morning after breakfast, we decided to have Meeting for Worship. We chose a spot alongside a nearby brook. Several students offered beautiful ministry of gratitude for the relationships they had formed and for the opportunity to be on this trip. It was a perfect capstone to our retreat.
My hope is that the impact of our retreat will continue to resound throughout the school year. In only the few days following I have seen tighter bonds among the kids and a more collaborative mentality about our life in the dormitory. I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to have this retreat. I want to thank Rene Guerster for his generosity in making the trip possible. I hope it is in line with his vision of what it should be.
Professional Development and Curricular Development are alive and well at Westtown! This summer 35 faculty and staff participated in workshops, courses, and conferences. These experiences ranged from courses in mindfulness, to local workshops on writing and math, to regional conferences on race and diversity, to national conferences on design thinking and diversity and inclusion. The five faculty who attended the Race Institute have written about their top five take aways. We encourage you to read about their experiences, and to subscribe to the blog to get glimpse of the work of our faculty.
Thirty-five faculty also participated in our summer grant program. Highlights of this work include topics coming from last year’s curricular reviews. The Lower School and Middle school teachers worked together to ensure that all math topics are covered in a thoughtful and spiralling manner. The Upper and Middle school science teachers worked together and with Victoria Jones on the new science curriculum in the high school. Creative work went into planning both the science content and the skills students will need to develop in their science classes.
A big thanks to all of those who came out and supported our 3rd Annual Westtown FallFest! It was a wonderful day of fun, games, athletics, music and amazing sense of community. Enjoy a gallery of photos here.
Join us on Tuesday, October 14th at 8 am in the Lower School for our parenting book club. We look forward to sharing honest discussions (and laughter) about parenting. This is oepn to all Westtown families and friends.
Pendle Hill Auction
Alum in the News
Congratulations to Zach Gambill '15 who made the Kairos Society’s annual hot list of 25-and-under “50 Emerging Global Entrepreneurs to Watch.” Zach's company, Nannofood, aims to combat global malnutrition using phytoplankton as a food source. Zach says he is motivated by Nelson Mandela, who said, "It always seems impossible until it's done."
Thanks to the all of the soccer stars who played in the annual Alumni/Community Soccer Game. It was great to see everybody!
Please join us for these fun Fall alumni events:
Sunday, October 11 - Lecture by Westtown's Archivist, Mary Brooks, at the Chester County Arts Association
Wednesday, November 4 - Alumni Gathering at Sine Studios in Philadelphia
Sunday, November 8 - Parent of Alumni Beer Tasting at Victory Brewing in Kennett Square
Sunday, November 15 - Friends of Westtown Gathering in West Chester, featuring the music of Anna Spackman '08
Thursday, November 19 - "Athletics at Westtown Today" in New York City