STEAM Day Success!
On Sunday, April 24th, we welcomed over 80 young innovators and their families to campus for Westtown’s inaugural STEAM Day.
It was an afternoon of hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math activities for 2nd through 5th graders from the surrounding area. As the young guests walked the halls of Westtown’s state-of-the-art Science Center with lab coats on and notebooks in hand, they had the opportunity to explore and learn about DNA extraction, programming, electrical circuitry, cryptography, elements of robotics, and much more. Special thanks to the planning team of Ellen Songle, Alicia Zeoli, and Anne Burns, and to the many faculty and staff who shared their expertise and Sunday afternoon with us.
Take a moment to enjoy photos of the day as well as this video!
A guinness world record is in the bag
This year, fourth graders wanted to do a project that helped our planet. They decided to join the Plastic Bag Challenge to bring awareness to our community about single-use plastics, partnering with Bring Your Own Bag Delaware (BYOB), an environmental education group. The fourth grade began their Plastic Bag Challenge just before spring break, enlisting the help of the Westtown community. Collection boxes were placed in all divisions. They set a goal of 6,000 and by the end of April, Lower School had collected 6,163 bags. Delaware’s Sierra Club and the BYOB group organized an event to collect the bags.
Lower School teachers Hilary Simons and Andy Fetzer, along with other Westtown participants, took the bags to Wilmington, DE for the event. Westtown’s contingent of volunteers was largest at the event held on April 23rd. The schools, organizations, and individuals collected over 52,000 bags, 30,872 of which were formed into a giant ball. This ball, weighing in at a whopping 340 pounds, set a Guinness World Record! Lower School placed first for elementary private schools and third among all participating schools. Their creative recycling bins placed first in the “Monster Division.” Congratulations, 4th graders!
Eco week and Earth day
The Green Coalition, Westtown’s student-led environmental group, organized a month’s worth of activities in celebration of Earth Month, Eco Week (which they dubbed “No Waste Week”), and Earth Day. Their activities included, among many others:
- Field Trip to Covanta waste-to-energy plant in Plymouth Meeting
- Presentation about waste to Upper School students and faculty
- No Waste Week campaign in the Dining Room, including an all-vegan dinner
- Eco-themed weekend activities such as a rock gym trip and fire circle
- Off-campus hike to Valley Forge
- Organic farm work
- Ropes Course
- Viewing of Chasing Ice, a documentary about climate change
- Sunrise Meeting For Worship
- Attended the United Nations Assembly on climate change
In spite of this success, the Green Coalition will not be resting on its laurels! They have many plans for the remainder of the year. Hats off to this tenacious and effective group of students who remind us to pay attention to our habits.
DRUMMERS AND DREAMERS
For several years, Lower School has celebrated One Story Week in which one book sets a theme and curriculum and activities reflect ideas in the book. This year, Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle was the selected book. Drum Dream Girl is the story about a girl in Cuba who, desperate to make music with the drums, questions the rule that only boys can be drummers. The book is about dreamers, shattering stereotypes, and standing up to do what one is passionate about - beating your own drum.
The week’s activities included a Google Hangout session with Drum Dream Girl illustrator Rafael Lopez, another Hangout session with a parrot rescue center, making toys for the rescue parrots (which were then delivered to the Rhode Island center by Lower School Principal Kristin Trueblood), salsa dancing lessons, t-shirt decorating, and more. Here’s a look at the week:
Music to their ears
One of our Service Network groups has been engaged in a special project at Barclay Friends, a local Quaker retirement community. Barclay Friends is the recipient of a $10,000 grant which has allowed them to incorporate a Music and Memory Program for residents who suffer from dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease.
Lauren Earle ‘05 leads the Music and Memory Program, a national program but the first of its kind at Barclay Friends. She says that the goal of the program is to test whether they can reduce the amount of psychotropic medications required as a result of listening to favored music. Families of the residents have suggested music that is loaded to iPods. Eight Westtown students meet with the residents weekly to listen to the music together. They review the selections and the residents determine what they like and what they don’t. Music that is not favored is replaced and the process starts again, reviewing the new music.
“When we're paired with a resident, the first thing we do is fill out a music preference sheet. This lets us know what their favorite genres, artists, and bands are,” says junior Alyssa Rowshan describing the process. “After that, we go through a sample playlist with music from the 1920s-1940s (think Frank Sinatra). This is normally where we truly can tell what style of music the resident prefers. It's difficult for the residents to recall their favorite styles of music while filling out the preference sheet, but once we begin to play the sample songs, it is not out of the norm for a resident to start singing along or tapping their feet. Once we've completely filled out the music preference sheet and gone through the sample playlist with the resident, we begin to compile a custom playlist for the resident based on their favorite styles of music.”
For those with severe dementia, our students - with the help of Barclay employees - record reactions to the music such as head and foot movements, or other signs of positive reaction to the music.
Dylan Gray ‘16 witnesses the effects of the music. “They gain a sense of memory for sure. When they hear a song from their past, their face just lights up with joy. One woman sang the word to nearly every song we played, however she forgot many simple facts about her life. This just shows how powerful music is in life.” For Alyssa, the experience has brought service close. “Before I began working with the residents, I have to admit, I was very anxious. I was scared that I was not qualified to do this. Once I began working with Ellen, however, I felt an instant connection because we're both from West Chester and love The Sound of Music. I felt so gratified when we finished Ellen's playlist for her. I've never been able to help someone so directly before. It's truly been an incredible experience.” Junior Sarah Rebl echoes that the benefits of the service time at Barclay Friends are hers, too. She loves to sing and to hear stories from the residents about when they were growing up. “It isn’t hard to love being there.”
Mitch Bernstein, Westtown’s Service Network Coordinator, says that the effect this project has has had on both our students and the Barclay residents is powerful, and is a tremendous example for our students of the power of service.
White privilege conference
A group of students and several teachers from multiple divisions recently attended the 17th Annual White Privilege Conference in Philadelphia. The mission of the WPC is to “empower and equip individuals to work for equity and justice through self and social transformation” through a collaborative, challenging experience. This year’s conference theme was “Let Freedom Ring: Re-Imagining Equity and Justice in the United States” calling attendees “to work for equity and justice by addressing the material realities, extreme poverty, and lack of economic opportunities facing people of color in Philadelphia and around the nation.” They were charged “to become community activists that examine unjust laws, unequal schools, poverty and marginalization.”
Student workshops focused on topics like: Connecting Adult Allies in the struggle for Equity and Justice; I’m a Good Person! Isn’t That Enough?; Hip Hop and White Privilege; Our Minds, Their Messages; and Decentering Whiteness and Building Multiracial Community, among many others. The sessions for faculty centered on diversity and inclusion in curriculum, on building anti-racist classrooms, and on racial literacy.
Our students and teachers returned from the conference energized to continue deep and challenging conversations on campus. Tara Feldman ‘17 says she enjoyed the conference because it provided a platform for discussions about racism in which a white person could be beneficial. She says, “I enjoyed hearing the different perspectives of people from all over - from Chicago to North Philly to schools similar to ours like Germantown Friends. I was grateful to hear so much healthy conversation around how people could take responsibility for their actions while still being helpful.” Marion Dear, fifth grade teacher, reflects on the conference and how she will apply what she has learned in the classroom on the faculty blog.
Director of Diversity and Inclusion Marissa Colston, who also attended the conference, will provide opportunities and avenues for continued conversation about these important topics for all in our community. These conference and workshop opportunities are just one of the ways that Westtown actively works to foster social justice and empower students to be agents of change.
Nina Wei, Nell Herrick, Tara Feldman, and Hannah Zuckerberg
Friends Journal Student voices project
For the last several years, Friends Journal, a publication that serves the Quaker community, has sponsored the Student Voices Project. For this project, students at Friends Schools are asked to submit written work in response to various queries and entries are chosen from among them. This year, the queries pertained to aspects of community building. Reflections from the following students were selected: Sophie Adler, Reena Bradley, Carolina Castilho, Tony Chen, Jack DeVuono, Franklin Grear, Natalie Neumann, Heidi Suh. All of their essays were insightful and powerful. We encourage you to read them on Friends Journal's website.
Last weekend, the seniors staged The Mad Woman of Chaillot for the Senior Play. The excellent production was directed by alumna Marcia Hepps '73. Thanks to all the seniors, the costume and makeup crew, sound and light technicians, stage managers, and all who contributed to the show! See below for a link to the gallery of photos.
click here for the photo gallery
Congratulations to senior Dagny Davidsdottir who has committed to play basketball for Niagara University! Dagny is pictured here (center) with her host family siblings Troy and Sage Larsen, college counselor Carrie Brodsky, Athletics Co-Director Mich Linder, Head of School John Baird, and Head Coach Carrie Timmins.
Jumping Over the Record
Congratulations to Naomi Jimenez ‘16 who broke the school record for the high jump setting a new record of 5 feet 5 inches. Her record-breaking jump also placed her first for the high jump at the Warrior Invitational. Congratulations, Naomi!
Each year the National Field Hockey Coaches Association recognizes a National Academic Squad for high school student-athletes. Seniors who have achieved high academic standing and have demonstrated significant contributions to their high school field hockey team are eligible. This year, nine seniors have been selected to the NFHCA National Academic Squad:
Congratulations to these outstanding scholar athletes!
Pictured, from left: Claire Murphy, Julia Richards, Amanda Covaleski, Katie DeLuca, Sammie Pavlov
College Bound Athletes
Congratulations to these seniors who will go on to participate in collegiate athletics next year!
Front Row, from left: Ian Davies (soccer), Sammie Pavlov (field hockey), Claire Murphy (field hockey),Katie DeLuca (field hockey), Hannah Roman, (field hockey), Maddie Roberts (soccer)
2nd Row: Alyce-Faye Eichelberger (swimming), Julia Richards (field hockey), Marissa Antinori (soccer), Emily Sands (soccer), Lily Magliente (track), Jair Bolden (basketball)
Back Row: Dagny Davidsdottir (basketball), Dylan Gray (soccer), Naomi Jimenez (basketball)
Junior Maddie Barth’s 100th lacrosse goal was her third of a five-goal game against DCC on April 23rd. She scored three consecutive goals in a row in the first half - at minutes 1, 3 and 4 respectively. She has 24 total goals this season and averaged 3.4 a game with a season high of eight goals coming earlier in the year in a big win against Perkiomen. Join us in congratulating Maddie on this achievement!
swing for the students!
Join us on Tuesday, May 24 for Westtown's 12th Annual Swing for the Students at Applebrook Golf Club. It is going to be a great day and an exciting evening to support Westtown. Not able to make the daytime activities? No worries, we hope you will join us for cocktails and dinner. It promises to be a fun evening with parents and friends of Westtown in a beautiful atmosphere with fabulous food. Register here for dinner or tennis (Golf is sold out!).
ALUMNI WEEKEND 2016
Alumni Weekend is only a week away! Along with the usual activities, we will recognize two amazing faculty members who have dedicated themselves to Westtown. Play in the Alumni Baseball Game and commemorate the retirement of Coach Bob Corbett's number. See the Alumni Art Show in honor of Caroline Loose (who is retiring in June after teaching for 41 years). Hear our Keynote Speaker, Celina Tio '88, help us celebrate the end of the lake renovation project, and listen to faculty and students in a symposium. There is so much to do, so wear your sneakers and pace yourself!
To register for Alumni Weekend, please click here.