Archivist Mary Brooks Authors Westtown Sampler Book

A new book about Westtown’s well-known sampler collection is now available. Threads of Useful Learning: Westtown School Samplers, by Westtown School archivist Mary Uhl Brooks, is a thorough and engaging look at the needlework produced by Westtown students from 1799 until 1843 as part of the useful education and spiritual formation envisioned by Quakers for their children. This needlework – including several types of samplers such as darning, extract, marking, and medallion, along with embroidered celestial and terrestrial silk globes believed to have been made only at Westtown – serves as material evidence of the educational and spiritual roots of the school.  Fully illustrated with pieces from Westtown School’s own extensive textile collection as well as others in museums and private collections, the book discusses this important schoolgirl needlework and the education, religious beliefs, and lives of the teachers and girls who created it. A list of all currently-known Westtown-made samplers and globes is included, along with illustrations of samplers not made at Westtown but in the school’s collection. The book (softcover, 346 pages) is available in the online school store.

News From the Westtown Fund

The first Westtown Fund appeal of the school year is off to a strong start! So far this year, we have already raised 559,470.00, (45 percent) towards our goal of $1,252,000 for the school year. Thank you to everyone who has already made their gift to this year’s campaign. You can make your gift online at In order to be processed in this calendar year, online gifts must be made in your time zone by 11:59 pm on December 31st; mailed gifts must be postmarked prior to January 1, 2016.

A special thank you to everyone who helped kick off the giving season by participating in Giving Tuesday. This year, we raised $66,504 from 147 donations on that day for financial aid, faculty salaries and professional development, and much more. If you want to keep track of how this year’s Westtown Fund campaign is doing, visit Updates are posted every week. Thank you for your support of Westtown!



Hour of Code

The week of December 7-11 was Computer Science week, a week that focuses on the importance of teaching students coding skills. This is highlighted through a worldwide event called the "Hour of Code."  As a way to bring attention for the need to code, Westtown technology staff and teachers set up an "Hour of Code Selfie Booth" in Lower and Middle Schools, where students could take their picture “with” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg or programming supporter President Obama.

One hour is clearly not enough to teach students coding, however it is a starting point and a conversation piece about the importance of K-12 Computer Science programs in schools. There are many misconceptions about Computer Science education highlighted in this article. Computer programming isn't something extra, but at the core of what students should be learning.

The Hour of Code took place at varying times over the week in each division using a variety of age-appropriate programming languages. In the Lower School, Primary Circle used The Foos, 2nd grade used Lightbot, and 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade used various programs of Code.Org, such as Star Wars with Javascript.

In Middle School, coding is already incorporated into the math curriculum. Students learn about grids, positive and negative numbers, operators, conditional statements, and the art of testing their coding and iterating when it doesn't work. For the Hour of Code, the Middle School Science classes got involved and used some of the coding activities on such as creating a Star Wars game using Java programming.  In 8th grade, students have a coding class called iExplore. They are currently engaged in a "Hack-a-thon" where they can choose one of the following programming projects: design an app using MIT's app inventor, take an online course in Java, learn to program an Arduino, or create a game using MIT's Scratch.

For the Intro to Programming and Computer Sciences classes in Upper School, every day is a coding day.  In addition, students in Physics and Biology classes also participated in the Hour of Code, each class choosing a coding project from the website.

This is the second year that Westtown has participated in the Hour of Code, and will continue do so. But more importantly, students are given opportunities for learning how to code throughout the year.

A New Tradition: Echo Hill

By Wade Tomlinson, Director of Sustainability

A new tradition is beginning at Westtown. For many years, 5th Graders have attended camp with team building in mind. This year the 5th grade went to Echo Hill Outdoor School. Echo Hill has Quaker connections and the values taught are those that are in line with both Westtown’s Outdoor Education and our sustainability goals.

In addition to having what one student called, “a chance of a lifetime to be with my friends and learn cool things,” students face challenges and are set up for success in an outdoor setting. They practice real world problem-solving skills and are placed in leadership and decision-making situations that foster creativity and self-confidence.

The 5th graders studied the Chesapeake Bay watershed on land and in boats. Their learning included an appreciation of the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay as well as concrete learning such as: testing water quality, trawling for fish and crabs, collecting plankton, and sifting through a bottom sample.

Students embarked on an incredible adventure. What do you remember about your schooling? Chances are it was your field trips, your teachers, and your experiences. It may not have been a single class or a lecture. Experiences such as the one the 5th Graders experienced at Echo Hill are among those that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Students lived in nature and got a taste for rustic living.

Nutrition was also a focal point of the experience. Students were presented with balanced meals that were prepared “Eastern Shore Style.” Part of the Leave No Trace curriculum is the encouragement to take only what you can eat and to limit waste.

As a camp with Quaker connections, a unique highlight of the camp experience includes a Meeting For Worship while outside on a night hike. Learning to be contemplative and reflective are lifelong skills that Westtown fosters in its students.

The trip to Echo Hill for the 5th grade represents the start of a new tradition and we hope it is one that we continue long into the future.

Click here to see a gallery of photos from the 5th grade's trip! 

People of Color Conference/Student Diversity Leadership Conference

The 28th Annual People of Color Conference (PoCC) and 22nd Annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) were energy-filled and inspiring conferences for Westtown’s cohort: students Leo Petit ‘16, Asha Wiltshire ‘16, Sophie Xi ‘17, India Henderson ‘17, Gabe Anthony-Kemp ‘17, and Auria Zhang ‘18, and faculty members Marissa Colston, Stephanie Tucker, Joseph Daniels, Monica Ruiz-Melendez, and Celeste Payne. Over 4,000 adults and students from independent schools across the country came to Tampa to learn, connect, and rejuvenate their spirits around the theme of Art, Science, Soul and the Equity Imperative.

The PoCC conference sessions for adult educators included a presentation by Westtown teachers Monica Ruiz-Melendez  and Celeste Payne entitled Explorations, Pathways, and Opportunities: A Journey and Case Study of Diversity and Inclusion at Westtown School.

Marissa Colston, Director of Diversity and Inclusion writes, “We were inspired by speakers like Gyasi Ross a Blackfoot Indian author, storyteller, lawyer, and social justice activist. We learned about bias and how to retrain our brains to make unbiased decisions with Mahzarian Banaji. Banaji created the implicit bias test and recently wrote the book Blind Spot, Hidden Biases of Good People. We were amazed by the poet, Sarah Kay as her spoken word performance validated our myriad diverse life experiences.

“All participants from Westtown had the chance to be among affinity spaces in their racial groups, an important goal of the conference, giving attendees a chance to recharge and reconnect with important parts of their identity.” The PoCC and SDLC conferences begin and end together and on the final day they came together in racial-gender affinity groups. In these intergenerational groups they shared their experiences, gave advice, and supported one another through deep listening. This session was followed by a student-led meeting in school groups. As a school group, the Westtown team planned how they will share their learnings with our community.


Middle School Diversity conference

Marissa Colston, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and John Fernandez, Middle School Spanish teacher, took eight Middle School students to the “Stand Up Speak Out” diversity conference in Alexandria, VA hosted by St. Stephen’s St. Agnes School. Four 8th grade students (Lena Henderson, Lilly Jacobs, Isabelle Perez, Isaiah Fernandez) and four 7th graders (Mia Melendez, Jocie Resnik, Sofie Marino, Jonathan Kornegay) made up Westtown’s student team of representatives. Colston reports, “The students had an amazing time learning how to be upstanders in their community during the conference.” About 150 middle school students from 16 schools were lead by older student facilitators and created their own Public Service Announcements summarizing what they think is most important to being an upstander. Students will share what they learned with their middle school peers throughout the remainder of the school year. The Westtown cohort also had the opportunity to stay at William Penn House, a Quaker center in Washington, DC.

Lower School Lego Robotics

Seven second graders joined Westtown's Junior First Lego League this fall.  According to League guidelines, their model needed one moving part and at least one simple machine. Their designs had to be original without following building instructions. Lower School had two teams: the "Recyclers" and "Trash Smashers." Students learned that items that could not be recycled could be burned to generate electricity and that food waste should be composted. They wrote their own lines in preparation for making a video to share with the entire Lower School at gathering. They were proud of their accomplishments! 

Second Graders Make A Mark(er) On Sustainability at Westtown

After years of pressure on the Crayola Company to find a way to recycle all their used markers, they have launched the Crayola ColorCycle initiative, in which schools across the United States and Canada collect and return markers for recycling and repurposing. Crayola has also provided incentives by footing the bill to ship collected markers back their factory.

Heeding the call of this eco-friendly project, Westtown 2nd graders will be collecting used and depleted markers, boxing them up, and shipping them to the Crayola Company. They have decorated boxes that will be placed in all divisions, and marker collection will continue throughout the remainder of the year. Lower School students take on many projects designed to leave our world a little better than the way we found it. Recycling markers is but one way that they learn that we can all find a way to do our part.

Lower School Food Drive

Thanks to the generosity of our students, parents, and community, the Lower School food drive raised 404 lbs. of food for the Chester County Food Bank!

PMEA Singers

Rachel Blackman ‘16, Jessica Scott ‘17, and Troy Larsen ‘18  auditioned and were selected to participate in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Choral Festival District 12 on February 4th, 5th, and 6th. They will be re-auditioned when they arrive to see if they qualify to go on to the Regional Festival. There is one more audition to qualify for the PMEA State conference. Congratulations to these talented singers! 

International Festival

The International Festival has become a beloved annual celebration, and this year there were 22 tables full of artifacts, foods, and information showcasing the many cultures that make up our community. Please enjoy the photo gallery of this wonderful event!

African Dance

The third grade study of Africa encompasses history, geography, animal life, and culture. For the past 16 years, their study of Africa has also included a several week on-campus residency with professional African dancers and musicians. Students learn how African music and dance tell stories, and they learn the language of the drums. The children work with the dancers to choreograph a performance for their parents and Lower School classmates. In art, children make their own batik cloth for their African Dance dance costumes. Enjoy this gallery of photos from this year’s African Dance performance!


Let the Music Play!

The holidays mean music at Westtown and our singers and musicians gave wonderful performances. Below are galleries of photos of the Holiday Concerts.

Upper School Revels Concert - click here

Middle School Holiday Concert - click here

Lower School Holiday Concert - click here

Sports Roundup

Winter sports are well underway! Here are a few early-season highlights and sports news items:

  • The Girls’ Varsity basketball team is 3-3 and playing well as the team battles through several injured players. So far they are undefeated in the Friends Schools League, beating Germantown Friends School - a team they haven’t beaten for eight years.
  • The Boys’ Varsity basketball team has had their best-ever start to a season. They’re currently 9-0 and recently took home the Bullis School Tournament Championship.
  • Congratulations are in order for freshman swimmer Cruz Buitron broke the school record in the 100 butterfly with 54.82 (breaking an 11-year-old record) and 500 free with a 5:05.91 (breaking an 8-year-old record)!
  • Wrestling is off to a strong 2-0 start with some great individual results at early tournaments.
  • Freshman Sara Oswald ended the soccer season scoring 17 goals and breaking the freshman-scoring record held originally by Emily Sands ‘16. Congrats to Sara! 


Gender Identity Session For Parents

Erin Cross will give a parent presentation to Westtown Parents on Tuesday, January 12th from 7 - 9 pm in the Lower School Gathering Room. She will lead an interactive session about the basics of gender identity and the ‘ages and stages’ of gender development, in addition to having time for your questions. Erin has worked at Penn’s LGBT Center for more than a decade and earned her Ph.D. at Penn’s Graduate School of Education, where she currently teaches.

Save the date for Swing for the Students!

On Tuesday, May 24, Westtown is hosting its 12th Annual Swing for the Students
Golf & Tennis Outing at Applebrook Golf Club. This is a wonderful event and a
great opportunity to play an exclusive course consistently ranked as one of the “Best in State” by Golf Digest. Lunch, golf, dinner, auction and award presentation will be held at Applebrook and tennis will be held at Westtown’s own beautiful stadium courts. 
If you have any questions or to learn more about the many opportunities for you to support Westtown’s Outing, please contact Megan Schlickmann by email or call (610) 399-7858. Proceeds from our Golf & Tennis Outing directly benefit Westtown students.


Friends of Westtown Events

November was a very engaging month! The Alumni Office held Friends of Westtown events in Philadelphia, New York City, West Chester, and Seoul, South Korea. Young Alumni gathered in West Chester for the 2nd Annual Post-Thanksgiving Party, and parents of alumni enjoyed a wonderful event at Victory Brewing in Kennett Square, thanks to current parent (and Victory founder/owner) Bill Covaleski.

View a collection of photos from November's alumni events:

  • Friends of Westtown Gathering with Anna Spackman '08
  • Young Alumni Post-Thanksgiving Party in West Chester
  • Friends of Westtown Gathering with Anna Spackman '08
  • "Athletics at Westtown" Friends of Westtown Gathering in NYC
  • Friends of Westtown Gathering in Seoul

Don't miss the Alumni/Community Basketball Game on Saturday, January 9th!

5:00pm - Girls Varsity vs. St. Andrews
6:15pm - Alumni, Parents, Faculty & Staff
7:30pm - Boys Varsity vs. Phelps School

Don't miss this opportunity to see our varsity teams and alumni, parents, faculty & staff in action!  


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