NEW CHIEF ADVANCEMENT OFFICER APPOINTED
Westtown's search for a new Chief Advancement Officer has concluded successfully with the hiring of Ellen Urbanski. Ellen was selected from an unusually strong field of candidates for the position and will begin on July 1.
Ellen brings broad and well-rounded experience in fundraising from her strong non-profit, university, and independent school background. She has served as the Assistant Vice President of Development at The George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health; as a Senior Development Officer at The National Academy of Medicine; and in multiple other roles including major gifts fundraising, annual giving, and alumni programming. Currently, Ellen is the Director of Institutional Advancement at The Episcopal Academy.
When asked what drew her to Westtown, Ellen replied, “I was instantly compelled by Westtown’s mission, and drawn to an academic program that emboldens students to be thoughtful leaders in our rapidly evolving world. I am eager to work with the entire Westtown community to expand the financial capacity for sustained excellence in teaching and learning.” Her optimism, warmth, enthusiasm, affinity for the spirit of Westtown, and proven track record in advancement impressed the many people who met her during her visits to campus. Additionally, the Search Committee describes her as a good listener and an articulate, energetic, collaborative team player “who will connect with our community and has the skillset to take Westtown’s Advancement Department to the next level.”
John Baird says, "I am confident that Ellen will expertly cultivate relationships and empower Westtown to move forward into this next era. I hope you will help me extend a warm welcome to Ellen, her husband, Doug O’Dwyer, and daughter, Hannah, as they join our community."
JOHN BAIRD'S FAREWELL PRESENTATION AT ALUMNI DAY
On Saturday, May 13, John Baird delivered his final Alumni Day speech at the Westtown Alumni Association’s Annual Meeting. In it he says, "When I started my job here I thought it was a sprint and after a while I realized it was a marathon. Now, finally, I understand that it’s a relay and I am entering the homestretch preparing to hand the baton to my successor, Tori, and a team of colleagues with joy and confidence that she is well prepared to continue this extraordinary, 'beautiful calling' in Quaker education for future generations of Westonians. Thank you!" You can read the full transcript of his farewell address here!
A NOTE FROM THE HEAD OF SCHOOL TRANSITION COMMITTEE
Since November, the Transition Committee has been carefully planning dozens of meaningful opportunities for our incoming Head of School, Tori Jueds, to get to know the school and its community members deeply. Among many highlights was her participation in the search for and selection of our new Chief Advancement Officer, Ellen Urbanski, a luncheon with Quaker leaders at the home of Susan ’68 and Peter Temple, and a Quaker decision-making workshop with Arthur Larrabee ’60. Our students and alumni were also offered opportunities to connect with Tori.
International Women’s Day
Three timelines—Westtown School’s, International Women’s Day’s, and Tori’s—intersected on stage on March 3rd when Tori gave a presentation to Middle and Upper School Students in recognition of International Women’s Day and shared her journey/achievements with the School community. She told her story through images of herself from elementary school through graduate school and into the working world, illustrating the path she took in developing the leadership skills that led her to Westtown. During Tori’s presentation, not only did parallels emerge between her experience and challenges for women, but also she marked where her own historic connections with Westtown will begin as she becomes our new Head of School.
Tori gave an impassioned address during the Westtown Alumni Association Annual Meeting on Saturday, May 13th. Despite the pouring rain, hundreds of alumni were in attendance. During her talk, Tori gave touching examples of how she witnessed the embodiment of Westtown’s mission in our students across all grades. She also demonstrated a deep understanding of how our faculty help students cultivate their natural desire to be leaders and stewards of a better world. Her wonderful articulation of the unique and enduring character of the Westtown community was a deeply affirming experience.
The Transition Committee would like to thank Tori for her enthusiasm and dedication to forming deep and meaningful connections with our community well in advance of her first official day as Westtown’s new Head of School.
On behalf of the Transition Committee,
Lisa Cromley, Middle School Faculty, and Karl Vela ’03, Advancement Communications Specialist
GREEN RESTAURANT CERTIFICATION
In March, the Westtown Dining Room became a Level 1 Certified Green Restaurant®. Westtown’s Dining Room has reduced waste by 50% (through recycling alone) and is now 100% Styrofoam free. The staff implemented 84 steps and earned 275.96 GreenPointsTM to earn this designation. (Learn more about the process here.) Westtown’s Dining Room was evaluated in six categories: energy, water, waste, food, disposables, and chemical use. This honor is thanks to Beth Pellegrino, Director of Food Services, and our committed kitchen staff who have been tireless champions of the greening of our Dining Room!
BOARD MEETING MINUTES
Throughout the year, Westtown School's Board of Trustees holds quarterly meetings on campus. These meetings are supplemented by committee and standing group meetings. The minutes from the large group meetings are posted on the school's website. Click here to read the latest minutes and access archives from previous meetings.
ONE STORY WEEK
Now in its fourth year, the Lower School's One Story Week featured the book Journey by Aaron Becker and touched on the two other books in the trilogy, Return and Quest. One Story Week is an opportunity for Lower School students to explore the themes offered in the featured book - this time movement and journeys both physical and of the imagination. Watch the video to see a snapshot of this exciting week in Lower School!
AN UNLIKELY UNION: ART & SCIENCE
Three Westtown students participated in a prestigious STEAM program at the University of Pennsylvania last summer in which students spend time with scientists at Penn who are performing cutting-edge research in network science as applied to social systems, human biology, and physical materials with the underlying goal of advances in bioengineering. During the course of the internship, the students produced artwork interpreting and capturing the intricacies of these networks in novel ways. Westtown students Nicholas Hanchak ’20, Evelyn McLear ’20, and Heidi Suh ’19 were selected for this program and their work, along with the work of 11 other artists, was displayed in Westtown’s Art Gallery this spring.
Dr. Danielle Bassett, physicist and computational neuroscience researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, conceived of this program whose outcome would be artistic and visual representations of network science. She enlisted Westtown’s Middle School art teacher Cindy Hodgson to recruit college art students to intern and to invite middle and high school students from the area to participate. Their collaboration bore the Penn Network Visualization Program.
The program was both academically and artistically challenging. Over a several-week period, art interns attended a series of lectures by a variety of scientists who are engaged in neural network science research, human biology, and bioengineering. After the lecture series, students created works that represented what they had learned about brain networks.
Westtown freshman Nick Hanchak wanted to participate because he was curious about the unusual intersection of art and science, having always been interested in both. Nick says, “There were lectures on how the brain processes creativity and curiosity through different networks, and how our brains coordinate ‘mind traffic.’ There were also lectures on geometry, graphs, and topology (which is basically how things are shaped), and again how all of that translates to networks in the brain. We we would then get together and talk about ideas for translating all of the things we heard and saw into a piece of artwork, and each person came up with a completely different idea.
Nick created interactive Plinko (yes, that game on The Price Is Right) boards to demonstrate the difference between a healthy brain network system and a brain damaged by stroke.
“I first painted the boards in shades of black and gray using a mesh sponge that had hyperbolic curves on it to symbolize the folds of the brain,” Nick explains of his project. “Then I placed pegs all over the boards and created networks of string on top of the pegs to show the different overlapping networks of the brain. On the unhealthy brain board, there is an area where these networks are interrupted. My piece is interactive, so the idea is to take a small disc and send it down through one of the openings at the top of the board and have it slide down through one of the different channels, and it's a guess as to where it comes out at the bottom.”
Nick enjoyed being part of this project and says that both the scientists and the artists he encountered were inspirational. “Artists and scientists are kindred spirits because they both are interested in observing what is in front of them.” said Cindy Hodgson. “The Network Visualization program offers an opportunity for scientists and artists to inform each other in very tangible ways. The final works of all the students demonstrate a new comprehension of network research and are unique visual representations of what they learned.”
Earth Day (and Month!) at Westtown
By Wade Tomlinson
Middle School students celebrated Earth Day this year by planting about 300 trees on campus. Some trees were planted near the lake as buffers, while others will prevent erosion behind the Meeting House.
In Teacher Bill and Teacher Josh's science classes, students learned about native vs. invasive species. They learned about compacted soil and the role of worms and organisms in the soil. From lessons on erosion and runoff to curriculum on oxygen and carbon sequestration, planting trees was not only a service opportunity but also a culminating learning event as well.
Mark Del Negro, Assistant Director of Facilities, taught and assisted students in the planting of trees. This is a huge undertaking, and our Middle School students rose to the challenge. Thank you to all who made this planting at Westtown possible.
In the Upper School, the Green Coalition – an Upper School Club that encompasses the Farm Club, the Outdoors Club, and the Environmental Stewardship student group – sought to make April a month in which sustainability and environmentalism are highlighted around campus. Many activities were sponsored including hikes through the woods, an outdoor sunset Meeting for Worship, a trip to the United Nations for talks about climate change, “No Waste Week,” the March for Science, the Climate March, and meatless meals.
Yes, that is a lot! But the need for action and awareness in sustainability is all around us. Watching students’ sophisticated efforts at enhancing our sustainable practices, and their enthusiastic participation in the care of the environment reminds me that the world really does need more Westonians.
Middle School students planting trees in celebration of Earth Day
METAL MOOSE : A STRONG SEASON
After four months of training and hard work in media development, business planning, electronics, sensor integration, programming, and robot design engineering, Westtown Robotics (The Metal Moose) began its competition season in early March.
Westtown competed at three FIRST Mid-Atlantic District events this year (Westtown, Seneca, and Montgomery), and in each event made to the level of the “Elite Eight” in alliance competition. At the event hosted by Westtown, the team welcomed over 36 teams and 2500 spectators per day in a successful competition and celebration of engineering and teamwork by teams from the tri-state area.
At the Seneca event, the Metal Moose ran the table and qualified as first-place alliance captain. At Montgomery, the team was awarded the Excellence in Engineering Award. In the words of the award, “this award celebrates an elegant and advantageous machine feature. The team that wins this award must be able to describe, as well as demonstrate, the chosen machine feature.”
The Metal Moose’s success qualified the team to compete in the FIRST Mid-Atlantic District Championship, and while there, Metal Moose Coach Steve Compton, received a call from FIRST headquarters offering the the team a slot at the World Championship. Westtown Robotics traveled to Saint Louis April 26, and competed in three days of intense competition among the world’s best. This is the third consecutive year the Metal Moose has been invited to compete at the World Championship, and the seventh in the team’s fourteen year history.
The team did great work at the World Championship. Members of the scouting team unveiled their new electronic, tablet-based, scouting system that integrated empirical (observational) data as well as API-sourced big data metrics. The system worked so well that three other teams from the division joined the method, creating a collaborative group that supported all four teams.
The four-student drive team was once again a well-oiled machine, working seamlessly together as pilot, driver, operator, and game piece/rope specialist. Competing on the floor of the America’s Dome, the Metal Moose robot was a solid contender. Chosen to join the fifth seeded alliance, the team was eliminated in the quarterfinals. The robot/team’s OPR (Offensive Power Rating) and CCWM (Contribution to Winning Margin) were in the top 10% at Champs this year, and the top 5% in the world of about 3500 teams that competed during the course of the season. Congratulations on a great season!
This year's 8th grade Big Build Changemaker Projects once again centered upon the real-world problems faced by Heritage Academy, Westtown's sister school in Ghana. Students worked in groups to design solutions to problems like access to clean water, energy, and nutrition. They talked with seniors and faculty who had been to Heritage Academy for Senior Projects to collect information about resources available in Ghana. The projects culminated in students' presenting their pitches for grant money to put their solutions into action. Teacher Megan Rose explains more about the project here.
Congratulations to Heather Suh ’17 (flute), Yiheng Xie ’18 (piano), and Ethan McLear ’18 (viola)! This trio won the top prize in the ensemble category at the Tri-County Youth Festival!
SENIOR PROJECT VIDEOS
Seniors returned from Senior Projects with fond memories and rich, unique educational experiences under their belts. Two Westtown-sponsored trip groups made videos of their experiences. The first features the Westtown en Cuba program, which was both a Senior Project and a language immersion trip for younger students. The second features the 9th consecutive Senior Project at Heritage Academy in Ghana.
NATIONAL LANGUAGE EXAM HONOREES
Congratulations to the Middle and Upper School students who earned honors, medals, and special designations on the National Language Exams! The National Language Exams are administered annually to thousands of students across the nation to assess foreign language proficiency. To view the list of students in it's entirety, click here.
Clockwise from left: Mandarin , French, Latin, and Spanish honorees
STUDENT VOICES PROJECT
Each year, Friends Journal sponsors the Student Voices Project in which students from Friends Schools submit work based on specific assignments. This year, Friends Journal’s 4th year of the project, the focus was on the President. Students wrote letters of advice and also offered book recommendations for a reading list for President Trump. Some students’ work was selected for both online and print publication by Friends Journal. To see the selected letters to Trump, click here and for a complete list of the book recommendations, visit this page. Congratulations to letter writers Zora Carroll ’20, Nawal N’Garnim ’19, Sahmara Spence Rogers ’20, Leiya Stuart ’20, Carl Wagner ’23, Kyle Witter ’23, and Daniela Uribe ’20; and to reading list contributors Zavion Allen ’23, Noah Bay ’23, Macy Black ’20, Solveig Daniels ’23, Benjamin Grear ’20, Katherine Komins ’20, Eliza Lee ’23, Zoe Malavolta ’23, Patrick O’Rourke ’23, and Grace Rhile ’23.
CAPPIES HONORS WESTTOWN STUDENTS
The Cappies is a critics and awards program for high school students - think of it as the Tonys for high school students. At the recent Cappies Awards, India Henderson ’17 was presented The Casey Feldman Memorial Scholarship. India was chosen from nominated students from 39 schools in the Greater Philadelphia Area. The scholarship is presented to a graduating Cappies student who possesses a superior work ethic, has compassion for the world around him/her, is caring, helpful and supportive of others in need, is honest, altruistic, loyal, and shows high integrity.
In addition, Cleo Kelleher '18 was given a Cappies Spirit Award. She was selected by the Westtown Arts faculty in recognition of her contributions to our production of Rent. Earlier in the evening, Daniel Scheff ’20 and Isaiah Fernandez ’20 represented Westtown as performers in the Cappies Gala opening number! Congratulations to all!
Boys’ Track & Field - Season Record: 2-2. The team placed third at Friends Schools League Championship. Sophomore Julian Klenner '19 set a new 400 meter school record at 48.44 seconds, which is also now the PAISAA record! He is on the FSL all-time track and field record list and also has the meet record for the 200 meter at 22.11 seconds.
Girls’ Track & Field - Record: 3-1 (3rd at FSL Championship). Eunice Jimenez '17 set a new javelin school record at 111 ft 1 inch!
Baseball - Record: 9-11 overall. The team had a five-game winning streak and placed second in Quaker Cup. Jon Moldoff '18 recorded 18 strikeouts in a single game.
Boys’ Lacrosse - Record: 9-8. The team partnered with HEADstrong Foundation for the second year and raised $3,500 to support the fight against cancer!
Golf - Record: 13-1-1. The foursome of Cole Berger '17, Maya Torpey '19, Jadon Weisman '19, and Henry Zuckerberg '17 set new school record with a low score of 150 combined score. They won their 4th consecutive FSL Championship!
Softball - Record: 1-10. Grand Slam by senior Maggie Cottone '17 in her last career at-bat. Scored 52 runs, shattering last year’s stats.
Girls’ Lacrosse - Record: 2-12. Maddie Barth '17 finished her career with All-League recognition and 133 career goals.
Boys’ Tennis - Record: 9-4. They were FSL Finalists for the second year.
A whopping 21 student athletes were names to the FSL All-League teams! See the complete list of All-League athletes here.
THE HAY FUND
The Hay Fund has been established by generous donors in honor of Al and Tom Hay's 79 years of teaching history at Westtown School. The fund will support a yearly gathering and celebration of Faculty and Staff who have worked at Westtown for 20 years or more.
In April, 25 senior members of Westtown School's faculty and staff were honored with a dinner at the Malvern Buttery. It was a heartwarming gathering, one which affirmed the inspirational legacy of excellent teaching at Westtown and the contributions of these "seasoned" colleagues to the fabric of the community. Tom Hay was recognized for his 38 years of extraordinary leadership and service, and his wife, Lynn, and children, Catherine and Alex, were in attendance. After dinner Tom offered wise and humorous remarks on his years growing up on the campus and experience on the faculty as well as his summers with the Facilities staff.
Thanks to Lower School parents John and Silenia Rhoads, owners of the Buttery, and to the donors who made this event possible, and congratulations to all!
If you would like to make a gift, donations can be made by mail with checks payable to Westtown School and 'The Hay Fund' in the memo line or online at westtown.edu/thehayfund.
STEVE COMPTON NAME TO MAR BOARD
Congratulations to Steve Compton, who has just been selected to serve on the board of Mid-Atlantic Robotics (MAR). MAR is the organization that both organizes and coordinates member team competitions during and off-season, and represents our region for the national FIRST organization. In addition to participating in standard board functions, Compton plans to focus on creating new ways for the organization to more fully open up opportunity and support for new teams to grow in under-served communities. He says, "Until every kid has a chance to strive in some area of their life, the work isn't complete."