As co-clerks of the Board of Trustee's Transition Committee for Tori Jueds, we are pleased to share the following video. While there will be many opportunities meet and connect in the future, this video gives the Westtown community a chance to learn a little more about Tori and to see why the Board was so excited to appoint her as the next Head of School.
Our task as co-clerks has been to craft a transition plan for Tori so that she can learn about Westtown and the Westtown community can learn about her. To that end, we have formed a strong committee of nine members representing all constituents of the school. We have developed a detailed plan for Tori's presence on campus and engagement with members of the school community. Her first event on campus was on January 2, 2017 when she spent the day with faculty and staff during their professional development day. She visited campus last weekend and attended Westtown Monthly Meeting, met with the Westtown Alumni Association Board, and enjoyed the Shoemaker Lecture. Several more on-campus visits are in the works, including during Alumni Day weekend.
Tori will officially begin her duties as Head of School on July 1, 2017. In the meantime, we will continue to support Tori in her transition and celebrate the long and successful service of John Baird. We hope you enjoy the video and welcome ideas about how Tori can best learn about the school that we know and love so well.
Martha Brown Bryans '68, Co-Clerk
Jake Dresden '62, Co-Clerk
WOMEN'S MARCH ON WASHINGTON
Continuing a long tradition of supporting student activism, Westtown provided three buses for 150 students, some faculty, and parents and alumni to attend the Women's March on Washington on January 22, 2017. The Westtown participants were welcomed to Washington by the Friends Committee on National Legislation, who provided both a meeting place and a banner for the march, which now hangs on the west end porch.
On Saturday night at Malvern Prep, the boys varsity basketball team bested Episcopal Academy 64-49 in the PAISAA State Championship final! This is the second consecutive state championship for this team. Congratulations to our student athletes, and to the enthusiastic Westtown fans who have packed the stands all season. Go 'TOWN!
Enjoy this gallery of photos of the season's final boys' and girls' games.
PLEASE JOIN US IN THANKING JOHN BAIRD
In recognition of and gratitude for his passionate leadership at Westtown and his successful efforts to lift up environmental sustainability as a core value in the school’s teaching, buildings, campus and operations, the Board of Trustees announces a fundraising initiative in honor of John by encouraging gifts to The John W. Baird Environmental Sustainability Fund.
John’s passion for sustainability education and action has played a pivotal role in shaping Westtown’s sustainability initiatives for more than a decade. He has engaged the full community in advancing a culture of sustainability at Westtown. The impact is visible in campus operations, policies, and land use planning and management. Above all, sustainability themes are embedded school-wide in the pre-K-12 curriculum.
About the Fund
The John W. Baird Environmental Sustainability Fund was established in 2008 by a handful of donors with the purpose of environmental stewardship, and in support of John’s vision for the school. The charter states that the Fund will be used at the discretion of the Head of School for projects related to the environmental sustainability of Westtown School, as well as program-related initiatives.
The existing Fund will be endowed to continue the advancement of environmental awareness and to support priority projects on Westtown’s campus. The endowed portion will be determined by a spending policy established by the Board of Trustees and will, in essence, allow John Baird’s legacy and commitment to sustainability to live on in perpetuity. Gifts to this Fund after its endowment will continue to support new initiatives on campus.
Your support of The John W. Baird Environmental Sustainability Fund will allow the school not only to honor John’s tenure, but also to advance our strong commitment to and vision for a sustainable world.
How You Can Participate
Online: You can make a gift online here.
By mail: Please make checks payable to Westtown School. Indicate ‘JBESF’ in the memo line. Mail to 975 Westtown Road, West Chester, PA 19382, Attn: Advancement Office.
Stock transfer: If you wish to make a gift of stock, please email Becky Bernstein or call her at 610-399-7839.
The seniors are departing on their Senior Projects today and tomorrow. Senior Projects give students the opportunity to create an independent experience, away from the familiar classroom setting, with a focus on inquiry and personal growth. They must research, design, implement, and accomplish a project independently or they may choose to participate in a school-sponsored trip.
The Class of 2017 has chosen an impressive variety of locations and project themes. They will engage in projects across the globe in 17 countries and in states around America. Along with four school-led projects to Israel/Palestine, Greece, Cuba and Ghana, students will complete 49 independent projects. Some of the seniors will be writing about their experiences in the field on the Senior Projects Blog. Subscribe to the blog to follow along on their journeys!
The Westtown en Cuba group are on their way!
DESIGN THINKING MEETS ENGLISH CLASS
Sixth grade English teacher Lisa Cromley knew that she wanted to integrate design thinking (DT) into her curriculum. DT uses imagination, logic, and reasoning to design solutions to real-world problems. Westtown teachers have been using DT principles for several years, but using DT projects in English and literature studies has not been as common.
Cromley also knew she would focus on the experiences of refugees. She decided to create a DT project using the book A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park, a fictionalized true story about a Sudanese refugee.
Meanwhile, Alicia Zeoli, Pre-K-12 Innovation and Technology Specialist, was accepted to Google’s Certified Innovator program, which requires creating a yearlong innovation project. She, too, wanted to focus on the refugee experience and design thinking in her project. She, along with her partner at another school, set about creating a resource for teachers who wanted to use design thinking principles to teach about the refugee crisis. They created Build a Welcome, where teachers can share curricula, projects, and outcomes.
When Cromley and Zeoli realized that their projects dovetailed, they collaborated to create a joint project around A Long Walk to Water and the experience of Syrian refugees. Their curriculum included using the Global Read Aloud concept (the book is read aloud so students experience the book together), assigning non-fiction articles about the Syrian refugee crisis, challenging students to discern a problem to solve, and then designing, prototyping, and presenting solutions. Important elements in DT are empathy and beginning with “how might we” questions. For this project, students considered How might we improve the migration experience of refugees?
In order to design an improved experience for refugees, students had to approach the material in a more personal way. Cromley says, “The empathy piece really got to shine because we made a list of the refugee’s needs as we encountered them in the book, then when Alicia did the brainstorming with them, she asked, ‘Which of these needs can you design for?’”
Students worked in small groups thinking about hydration, safety, climate, and the terrain as they designed. One group designed “SCOGGles” - glasses with GPS capabilities. Another group designed a backpack with a built-in blanket and a float for getting across water. Each group also presented their projects. Zeoli created videos of the students pitching their designs and posted the curriculum she and Cromley wrote on the website she created for her Google Innovator program.
Cromley admits that it took her some time to see how DT could be used in her classes. “It’s easy to see how DT applies to math and science, but through this project I finally got how it applies to English. It’s presentation skills, collaborating in a group, writing about your ideas, it’s problem solving, and critical thinking. It was very exciting to see it all come together.”
BUILDING EMPATHY WITH GINGERBREAD
Teachers in Lower School approach teaching empathy in a variety of ways, and recently teachers used design thinking principles - which include empathy - to create a lesson in empathy. Alicia Zeoli, one of Westtown Technology Integration Specialists and Google-Certified Innovator, documented Kindergarten teachers Nicole Vonhamme and Sam Baxendale’s Gingerbread project with videos. Click here to read Zeoli’s piece about the project and to see the videos.
PEOPLE OF COLOR CONFERENCE (POCC)/STUDENT DIVERSITY LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE (SLDC)
Seven faculty, led by Marissa Colston, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and five upper school students recently attended the People of Color Conference and Student Diversity Leadership Conference in Atlanta, GA. Colston says that all were inspired and energized by the speakers, the carefully designed workshops, and the affinity group spaces the conference offered. “This year’s conference was all about the power of love igniting change,” says Colston. Brian Stevenson, author of bestselling book Just Mercy, challenged attendees to “get proximate” to where change is needed, impressing the need to get close to those who are marginalized to make real change. He spoke of the need to change narratives we might have around race and begin to undo the stereotypes that are so deeply imbedded in the culture. “We were also inspired by the poetry of 15-year-old Royce Mann who talked about his own white privilege and the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and standing up as an ally for any kind of injustice,” she said.
Not only did the students come away from the conference inspired to act and help change the narrative about race, but also they emerged with new insights about themselves and a deeper understanding of their own experiences. “I felt like the multi-racial affinity group for me was an amazing space because there were so many people that had the exact same problems and the same experiences that I have had,” says Joe Seyedroudbari ’19. For Lilly Fernandez ’18, the experience helped her feel empowered. “There are so many opportunities in our society to be the change in our ever-changing world. I have never known my place in what is happening around me. I just felt like a bystander, but now I am one of the 1600 activists that came out of SDLC. I am the white, Spanish, Cuban, cis woman ready to stand up for my beliefs and what is right to make the world a place where I am proud to be an American...The time for action is now and we are the now.”
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of these conferences is the opportunity for students to feel safe in expressing themselves on a topic that is sensitive, complex, and often contentious. “The love and support from everyone at the conference even when we were discussing very controversial and sensitive topics was unreal,” notes Ashley-Elizabeth Ochefu ‘19.
The closing ceremony offered the opportunity to hear Congressman John Lewis, Hank Aaron, and Christine King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s sister, speak, which Colston remarks was a humbling and encouraging experience for the teachers and alike. “They all shared a similar message of standing in love in the face of injustice and making good trouble for a better world.”
THE METAL MOOSE HOSTS MID-ATLANTIC REGION ROBOTICS COMPETITION
Westtown will host its second Mid-Atlantic Robotics Competition March 10-12. 2017. Last year's event saw over 1000 competitors and 3500 spectators flood into the Field House to engage in the finest tech competition around. Westtown’s Metal Moose Team 1391 won that event, by the way!
Proceeds from the this year's competition will benefit the robotics program as well as their "Good Robot" global outreach program, which last year donated 155 backpacks, two full years of school supplies, and $3000 to Yspaniola, a community development organization working with Batey Libertad families in the Dominican Republic. All are welcome to join us for this spectacular event. If you would like to volunteer your time or support the team, please contact Steve Compton.
The Upper School Theater Department staged an amazing production of RENT in early February! Under the direction of Will Addis, Department Chair, the musical soared. Thank you to all the hardworking and talented students and faculty: actors, stage managers, sound technicians, set designers and builders, makeup artists, costumers, and musicians! If you missed it, check out the gallery of photos from the show.
The Independent Seminar course in Upper School represents one area in which students are at the center of their own education. Students engage in individual research and in-depth exploration of areas of passion such as app development, writing a novel, filmmaking, empowering women in rural India, a sociological study in racism, creating a field guide to flora and fauna of Westtown, and painting - among many others. Ainsley Bruton's Independent Seminar in mural painting culminated in this piece (below) which now hangs in the lower level of the library. To learn more about these projects, visit (and subscrsibe to) the Independent Seminar Blog on which students document their projects as they unfold.
MIDDLE SCHOOL ROBOTICS
In early December, the Middle School robotics teams competed in the FIRST Lego League Robotics regional qualifier. Each team spent three months engineering their robots, programming missions, and completing an in-depth research project. Team 3598 completed the day in 9th place and was recognized by the judges for their “excellent use of sensors and impressive team collaboration.” Team 3599 completed the day in 5th place and was commended for "running a student-centered team” as well as “being flexible and respectful with the judges and their competitors.” Team 3599’s finish earned them a promotion to the regional championship in Philadelphia in February. Congratulations to both teams!
FOOD IS LOVE
What better way to celebrate culture than through food? Our amazing kitchen staff, under the guidance of Food Services Director Beth Pellegrino, works with students to provide menus and meals for special occasions and sometimes just because! From Thanksgiving to celebrations of Divali, Hanukkah, the Lunar New Year, and Black History Month to dinners made by Westtown families, food features prominently in community and residential life and is an expression of our diverse backgrounds. Here are a few photos of recent food celebrations in the Dining Room, and here's a link to a gallery of photos taken at the Lunar New Year Celebration (prepared by our International Student Organization).
Lily DeLone '17 and Gillian Kay '17 capture preparation for kitchen staffer Charmayne Brown's Caribbean dinner, sponsored by SOCA in celebration of Black History Month.
What a tremendous season it’s been in athletics! From record-breaking swims to state championships, our student athletes have been shining! Here are just a few highlights from winter sports:
Coach Farrow Hits 400 Victory Mark
Jay Farrow '75, Head Coach of the wrestling team, brought home his 400th victory as a coach at Westtown. A strong 60-12 win over West-Mont Christian Academy in early December put Farrow at the 400 mark. Farrow is quiet and humble about reaching this landmark win and is eager to lift up past and present wrestlers for helping the program reach this milestone. For Farrow, it’s never been about simply winning; he is as committed to his wrestlers’ off-the-mat lives as he is to their careers on it. “I hope my wrestlers will be confident, courageous, and have the mental and physical toughness to deal with adversity.” His recipe for success includes nurturing confidence and character in conjunction with technical skill building.
This is not the only significant achievement in Farrow’s 30-year coaching career. Westtown Wrestling has won 20 of its 22 Friends Schools League Championship titles under coach Farrow’s leadership. With a dual meet record of 400-94-1, Farrow is also the most winning coach in Westtown School history. Under his leadership, Westtown Wrestling took home 17 Delaware Independent School Conference (DISC) Championships as well. In 1992, the Daily Local News named him Coach of the Year and in 2013, he was named PAISAA Coach of the Year.
Girls & Boys Swimming
- Girls - 5-1 League record
- Julia Pavlov - League champion in the 50 Free
- Girls 200 Medley (Lilly Jacobs, Sarah Murray, Stephanie Graziani, Julia Pavlov) - League champions
- Cruz Buitron -Broke Westtown pool records in the 100 breast and 200 free
Broke pool record at George School in the 200 IM and 100 breast
Teams records in 100 fly, 200 IM, 100 breast, and 200 free
- Julian Klenner - Team, League, and pool records (at George school) - 50 & 100 Freestyle
- Boys 200 Medley Relay (Julian Klenner, Cruz Buitron, Troy Larsen, Ryan O'Donnell) - Pool & League records
- Boys 200 Free Relay (Julian Klenner, Cruz Buitron, Troy Larsen, Ryan O'Donnell) - Pool & League records
- Finished 12-11, best overall record in the last 10 years
- Enjoyed a late-season 6-game winning streak that included two come-from-behind victories against our rival, Moorestown Friends School
- Earned the 3rd seed in the FSL playoffs for the first time in 10 years
- Lost to Shipley in FSL semi-finals and fell to Notre Dame in the first round of the PAISSA tournament
- Season record: 32-2
- Won both games in the Westtown Tournament
- Won both games in the FSL-Maple Challenge
- Won both games in the Kobe Bryant classics
- Max Prep national ranking: #9
- Won bracket at the Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament
- Won the City of Palms signature series
- Played on ESPN and won at the Hoops Hall Classics
- Went undefeated in FSL play and won the FSL title
- Won second straight PAISAA State Championship
- Seniors Mo Bamba and Brandon Randolph scored over 1,000 points for their careers
- Mo Bamba selected for both the McDonald's All-American game and the Jordan Brand Classics. He was also nominated for the Naismith high school basketball player of the year award.
Religiously Dedicated, An Uncommon Approach
Margaret Haviland, Assistant Head of School for Program, Jennifer O'Brien, Religion Department Head, and Kevin Eppler, religion teacher and Assistant Dean of Students, penned a piece about Westtown's approach to teaching religion. This article was featured in the Winter 2017 issue of the NAIS's Independent School Magazine. You can find this online feature here.
SEED Seminars for Westtown Parents and Friends
SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) seminars include personal reflection and testimony, listening to others’ voices, and learning experientially and collectively. Through this, SEED equips us to connect our lives to one another and to society at large by acknowledging systems of oppression, power, and privilege—and challenges participants to push for change.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Sessions run from 6:00-9:00 and dinner will be provided. They will be led by teachers Shelagh Wilson, Vicki Shelter, Marissa Colston. If interested, please email Shelagh Wilson by March 8, 2017.
Gallery Exhibit April 25 - May 19, 2017
Master and Protege: The watercolors of Sarah Yeoman and John Baird
John Baird took his very first watercolor class from Sarah Yeoman (parent of alumni Wyatt ‘10 and Ian ‘12 Pace) over 15 years ago and has been painting ever since. The gallery exhibit will feature both John and Sarah’s watercolors. There will be a reception in the gallery at 2:30 p.m. on Alumni Day, Saturday, May 13th.
Celebrate Spring with The Tamagawa Taiko Drummers
Tuesday, April 11 at 7:00pm
Under the direction of Isaburoh Hanayagi (father of Haruki Koyama '04), these talented young performers return to Westtown for an incredibly dynamic and moving performance as part of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Philadelphia. Free and open to the public.
Boston Friends of Westtown Gathering
Thursday, April 13 at 6:00pm
At the Home of Gail Coleman (FF) and Hardin Coleman (FF/Former Trustee)
Join Head of School, John Baird, for an update on the school, and meet other Westonians in the Boston area.
Grandparents and Special Friends' Day
Friday, April 21
Ask students, parents and alumni what sets the Westtown experience apart and they’ll say, "Community." Grandparents and Special Friends are an integral part of our community, and this special day is not to be missed. Register here to be sure to receive all the latest news.
Celina Tio '88 Shoemaker Lecture
Sunday, April 23 at 7:30pm
Celina Tio '88, Iron Chef, Chef Magazine's Chef of the Year, and the James Beard Foundation's "Best Chef: Midwest" will join us to tell her story. Bring your appetite for inspiration as she shares stories from her days at Westtown to her latest achievements.
Friday May 12-Sunday, May 14
Reconnect with your friends and the school. Attend a symposium in the Science Center, canoe on the lake, or participate in a children's book reading and craft. Incoming Head of School, Tori Jueds, and retiring faculty member, Tom Hay '69, will host a Tea on Saturday afternoon, and there will be a watercolor show including the works of John Baird. There is something for everyone!
13th Annual "Swing for the Students" Golf & Tennis Outing
Tuesday, May 23
Join us at at Applebrook Golf Club and Radnor Hunt Club Tennis Courts. This wonderful event last year raised over $86,000 for Westtown School's academic, athletic and arts programs, financial aid and other programs.
Connect with other Westonians!
Check out our great mobile alumni app called "EverTrue." Search our alumni directory by name, class year, college, company, etc. and map other alumni near you!