Strategic Plan in Action
We've been hard at work developing Westtown's new Strategic Plan, which we're calling The World Needs More Westonians. Click here to see what we've been up to and how you can help shape Westtown's direction.
News from the Advancement Office
We're halfway there! We are very excited to report that the Westtown Fund is halfway to our goal of raising $1.2 million dollars. Over a thousand of you have made gifts both large and small that have contributed to raising nearly $600,000 already this year. This puts us nearly $150,000 ahead of where we were at this point last year. Find out how your graduating class or your student's class ranks by checking out our participation charts: http://www.westtown.edu/page.cfm?p=880. Will Lower School stay in the lead? Which graduating class will reach 100% participation next? It's not too late to make your gift before the end of the calendar year. Donate today: www.westtown.edu/wfdonate. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of our students!
Service, Up Close and Personal
How do we model philanthropy? How can we provide our children with more opportunities to have hands-on experience with service? How can we help them develop a sense of responsibility for the world around them? How can we bring them closer to communities in need?
These are the kinds of questions Lower School parents Julie Gates and Maia Tolsdorf began asking themselves, and each other, a few years ago. Along with Julie’s sister Anne Gates, also a Lower School parent, they began exploring ways to answer these questions. They started in their own homes, each getting involved in local outreach efforts. About two years ago they decided they wanted to “go bigger” and, with the enthusiastic support of Lower School Principal Kristin Trueblood, began organizing service activities for Lower School kids and families.
They developed a gleaning event with Amy and Pete Flynn (also Lower School parents) of Pete’s Produce, at the farm, donating produce to the Chester County Food Bank. Last year they spearheaded the collection of new and used children’s items for Cradle to Crayons in Philadelphia. These activities were tremendous successes, so they decided to build on the passion and energy they saw in Westtown’s Lower School community. This year they formed a Westtown chapter of the Kids Care Club, which is a national organization under the auspices of the Points of Light Foundation. Their idea to harness this enthusiasm into a formal club was a good one: 30 families signed up immediately. Fifth graders Mia Gates and Mary Kate Douglas took on the leadership roles of student co-clerks.
The inaugural event for the Kids Care Club was a book drive for Chester County Family Academy. CCFA serves children in grades K- 2 whose families face financial challenges. Anne, a board member of the Chester County Family Academy in West Chester, PA, knew right away that Westtown School and CCFA would be a good match because last year she’d arranged a successful Westtown School visit day for Chester County Family Academy children during which their students were paired with Lower School students.
The book drive got all Lower School families involved, not just those in the Kids Care Club. Families donated more than 1,450 books. In late November the Kids Care Club students sorted the books, made note cards and bundled the books into groups of five to give to each of the 80 students to take home. The remaining books were donated to the Chester County Family Academy library.
But the most important part of the operation for the students was the delivery. On November 20, the Kids Care Club hosted a pajama party not only to hand deliver the bundles of books but also to get to know one another, to share activities and snacks. It was an afternoon full of laughter, new friendships and a true sense of community.
The Kids Care Club is off to roaring start and its mission echoes that of Westtown’s. “We wanted to provide a club for service leadership opportunities for kids,” says Julie, one of the founders. “It is very important to us that our kids are able to do hands-on activities where they can see, touch and feel as much as possible related to the good works they are doing. We will not be doing any money collection…instead we want the kids to [perform] a useful service that directly benefits someone. [We hope that they] understand the need and see and feel how they fulfill that need.” The club meets monthly, and all Lower School students and parents are welcome.
Principal Kristin Trueblood sees the formation of the Kids Care Club as a great example of how parents and Westtown can work in concert to provide additional service opportunities for kids outside of the classroom. “The Kids Care Club helps us not only to provide children with a robust selection of service and leadership opportunities,” she says, “but also to help them develop a sense of social responsibility. It’s our mission in action.”
Sharing the Holiday, Leading the Way
Student Clerks are Middle School leaders. Any Middle School student can join Student Clerks; there are no elections, only the desire to improve the communities of Westtown, West Chester, the United States and the world.
Student Clerks have adopted the theme of hunger, also known as food insufficiency, for the 2013-14 school year. The goal of Clerks is to help people in our local community by providing them with a larger supply of nutritious food, allowing them to feel less stressed and more secure. Additionally, Student Clerks are educating the Middle School about causes and implications of food insufficiency.
On December 13, West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta spoke to Middle School students about poverty and food insufficiency in West Chester and Chester County, and about how we can all make a difference to support our neighbors in need. Phoebe Kitson-Davis ‘77, Director of the Chester County Food Bank, will also meet with the Middle School to talk about how the Food Bank operates.
Student Clerks have already organized “food-raising” projects to benefit the West Chester Food Cupboard, an outlet of the Chester County Food Bank. The first was a bake sale where brownies and cookies were “purchased” with cans or boxes of non-perishable food, and the second was a Thanksgiving Food Drive, a spirit competition between the Middle School Brown and White teams. Students contributed food items that would be part of a Thanksgiving dinner. In these two drives alone, Westtown students gave 399 pounds of food to the local food cupboard!
The Middle School also addresses need in other parts of the world. In the two weeks before Christmas, Student Clerks sponsored Holidayz, a series of fun days with a serious purpose: by paying to dress up, dress down, purchase hot chocolate at recess and candy canes to eat in classes, students raised over $550 to supply victims of Typhoon Haiyun with food, fresh water and other necessities through Church World Service, an interdenominational organization whose relief work has been endorsed by the American Friends Service Committee.
And, says Student Body Clerk Lili Fernandez, “We’re not only supporting other communities, but we’re also contributing to making a better Westtown Middle School community.”
In spite of the snow storm, the International Festival was a big success! This festive event celebrates the rich diversity of cultures and countries represented at Westtown. There were tables representing China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Earth Services, Latino Leadership, Scandinavia, Haiti, Ghana, Great Britain, Morocco, Palestine and Brazil. The Girls’ Collection Room was filled with music, laughter and the aromas of great food. For a look at all the photos, visit the album on SmugMug.
James Duffey, Sam Duffey, Nathan Mullen, Joe Zhu and Shannon Babcock have successfully auditioned to participate in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Choral Festival of District 12 in January 9-11, 2014. About 350 of the Philadelphia, Delaware and Chester Counties best student singers audition for a spot in the 160-person District 12 Festival Chorus. The students will learn the whole program on their own, then re-audition when they arrive at the Festival for the chance to go onto the Region Festival, and then perhaps the All State Festival. Our students will participate in the District Festival rehearsing in an intensive two days of rehearsals and will perform at 2:00 on January 11 at Phoenixville Area High School. Congratulations to our talented vocalists!
Upper School Art Show
The talents of our Upper School art students are on display in the Art Gallery. Stop by to see them or visit the album on SmugMug.
The theater was busy last week with all divisions presenting their holiday concerts for parents and friends. Enjoy a sampling from the concert below:
Linda McGuire , Dean of Students, and Anastasia Zink, Assistant Dean of Students, recently presented on roommate mediation at the annual TABS (The Association of Boarding Schools) conference in Boston, Massachusetts to a packed session room. The conference brings hundreds of schools together from all over the world to focus exclusively on boarding school issues. The presentation was entitled I Need a New Roommate Right Now: How to Mediate Roommate Conflict. They explained the Westtown School designed process that dorm heads and deans currently use to mediate roommate issues and had conference participants do a mock mediation. For the last several years, if roommate issues have escalated to the point where intervention is necessary, a step-by-step process has been instituted where each roommate and their advisor meets with a mediator in a neutral location, prepared to discuss three things each enjoys about living with one another and three things they wish would change. The primary ground rule is no personal attacks are permitted. The resulting mediation allows for honesty, vulnerability and intentional follow-up and is designed to support both roommates as they navigate the challenges of living together. The presentation was very well received and the attendees really appreciated walking away with steps in hand to employ this system at their own schools.
Westtown Accompanist on PBS
On Friday evening January 3, 2014, the Bucks County Choral Society, soloists and Elizabeth Manus, Westtown School's accompanist, will be featured on a 10-15 minute segment of the program, "First Friday Arts" on public television. Excerpts from a concert entitled "Songs of Faith, Courage, and Consolation: A History of the African- American Spiritual" will be presented. Music Director, Thomas Lloyd, along with soloist Lourin Plant will be interviewed about this music and its place in history. Please check your local TV listings for specific time and channel. To find out more, please see http://www.buckschoral.org/blog/
On Wednesday, December 11th, parents and friends of Westtown joined our Sustainable Agriculture Educator & Farm Manager, Tim Mountz to learn ways to help navigate the world of organics. It was a fantastic event, and we're hoping to offer more informational events like this for the adults in the community. In the meantime, here are a couple of tips and resources from Tim:
- Remember eating real food no matter how they are produced is still better then prepared packaged foods.
- Shop at farmers’ markets: you get the story, your dollars stay in your community and you eat great seasonal food
- Local grass feed beef and great people: http://www.buckrunfarm.com/index.html
- A new farm that does all kinds of meat and is a great place to go for dinner http://wyebrookfarm.com
- Great local chicken http://www.bellandevans.com
- Another great local chicken producer http://www.eberlypoultry.com
Annual Alumni/Community Soccer Game
6:30 pm Boys' Varsity vs. Sussex Academy