Science Center Opens with Fanfare and Press

Only ten months after breaking ground, the Science Center opened to students on Janaury 6. Welcome receptions were held for both Middle and Upper School students so they could explore the building and celebrate the grand new spaces for their scientific inquiry, research and study. The joy and wonder was evident in their faces; just take a look! Local media picked up the stories with both the Daily Local and covering the story. You can learn more about this project here. We hope you'll make plans to join us for the Grand Opening celebration on April 12, 2014, 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Westtown Gets EPA Stamp of Approval

Westtown School is this month’s featured school in the Environmental Protection Agency’s online newsletter, Green Power Partnership. Westtown, ranked in the Partnership’s top ten K-12 schools nationwide for being a leader in the use of sustainable power, now uses green power for 100% of its electrical needs.

The EPA article, based on an interview with Westtown Sustainability Coordinator Judy Asselin, highlights the school’s commitment to green initiatives as part of a broader environmental strategy. Since 2007, Westtown has engaged in aggressive conservation efforts that have resulted in cutting emissions from electricity, heating and cooling by 65%, well ahead of its initial timetable. As a result, the school is now fast-tracking future goals for reaching carbon-neutrality in heating systems as well as in its use of electricity.

“The health and welfare of our students and of the broader world they inhabit is our highest priority,” Asselin says. “Buying green power demonstrates that commitment perfectly.”

Consistent with the emphasis on sustainability, Westtown’s Board of Trustees has also adopted a policy requiring all future construction projects to meet LEED standards. The most recent addition to the campus is a $13 million Science Center with geothermal heating and cooling, rainwater harvesting and solar hot water.

The new Science Center, which opened January 6, will house the Westtown Science Institute, or WSI, scheduled to launch in summer 2014. Courses designed for students of all ages will offer opportunities to dig deep into the sciences, with a special focus on engineering. “Sustainable Energy Exploration: Wind, Water, and Solar Solutions,” a class for high school students, will make use of Westtown’s existing 44kW solar array, the new solar hot water system in the Science Center, and eight geothermal systems in campus facilities and homes as tools for learning.

There's an App for That

The Westtown App is here! This free iPhone and iPad app is now available in the iTunes App store! To learn more about what it can do, visit the information page on the website, or go to the App Store and download it now. For now, the app is only compatible with iOS-based devices.

Register Now for Summer Sessions!

Summer Sessions at Westtown School offer weekly enrichment day camps with exciting morning activities and afternoon day camps. We have over 100 co-educational programs in arts, academics, athletics and outdoor education for children in grades Pre-K – 12, as well as for adults. Our programs consist of hands-on discovery driven activities in a creative, supportive, and inclusive environment. Classes are also available for high school credit. Full-day and half-day weekly enrollment is available. Our flexible schedule allows you to create and customize your child's camp experience. For more information, visit our website: or email

Westtown Science Institute: Summer Programming

The Westtown Science Institute (WSI) offers three-week immersive courses for grades 3-12. These courses focus primarily on the themes of environment, technology and digital tools, and are centered in collaborative design thinking and problem solving. WSI lets kids do science in a new way, one that inspires innovative thinking and making. Courses use Westtown School's beautiful 600 acres campus and its new state-of -the-art $13M Science Center as laboratories. All courses are taught by experienced teachers dedicated to integrative learning and nurturing a love of science investigation in students. For more information visit  For questions, email

The Tour Ends, but We’re Just Getting Started

Over the last months, the ‘Town Talks have brought Westtown up and down the east coast and, just last week, out to California and Colorado. Members of the administration and the Board of Trustees met with alumni, parents, friends of the school, faculty and staff in ten locations. Read the reflections of one participant here.

News from Advancement

As we enter the second half of the school year, we also enter the last few months of this year’s Westtown Fund campaign. By now, you have received letters and e-mails or have seen Facebook messages encouraging you to donate to this year’s campaign. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our fantastic start. We have raised over 60% of our financial goal for the year and we are ahead in participation for both current parents and parents of alumni, but we still need your help. A high rate of participation in the Westtown Fund inspires others to contribute, including foundations and corporations and reflects our deep appreciation for Westtown. Our faculty, staff, and trustees led the way this year by achieving 100 percent participation. We hope that we can count on our valued community to help us reach our $1.2 million and 30 percent community-wide participation goal (which includes, alumni, grandparents, parents of alumni, and current parents) for the year. Whether you give a little or give a lot, we hope you will donate to the Westtown Fund at a level that is meaningful to your family. The Westtown experience is not possible without you. Please join us in giving today:

Middle School Students Take the Wheel at Parent Conferences

Parent conferences on the calendar February 7 – so what else is new? It turns out that in Middle School, there actually is something new, and it comes from the students themselves.

Traditionally, parents and teachers meet to discuss the child and her progress. But for the first time at Westtown, Middle School students will not only be present at these conferences but they will also be leading the discussion.

Students in grades 6, 7 and 8 have been working with their advisors since the beginning of January to prepare for the conferences, collecting representative pieces of work and reflecting on their learning. What are students and faculty saying about this initiative?


Nancy van Arkel, Middle School Principal
Westtown is all about learning – whether it’s helping our students understand how they learn or guiding them as they put that learning into action. How better to do this than by putting the student at the center of our conferences? By working closely with advisors to prepare for conferences, students learn more about how they learn, get to practice their presentation skills, and really take ownership of putting their goals into action.

In other schools, some parents have found that they miss the private teacher/advisor connection that is formed in a traditional conference. Fortunately, our student-led conferences have the potential to enhance the strong, open connection between parents and advisors that began last fall with phone conversations and in-person conferences.

Abby Lausch, 7th Grade Dean and English Teacher
Before I came to Westtown, I taught in a middle school in Tuxedo Park, NY, and we had student-led conferences there. One of the things about them that was so positive was that if concerns were expressed, having everyone in the room together led to real dialogue and a clearer picture about what works and doesn’t work. Another thing is that students – especially ones at this age – tend to say very little when parents ask them about school. Parents find it really enlightening when they have the chance to hear their children explain the curriculum, the work they’ve done and how they learn. Middle School is where we as teachers begin to encourage students to take ownership of their learning, and these student-led conferences give them another opportunity to do that. And the metacognitive process of reflecting on their learning empowers students in new and exciting ways.

L J Scurfield, 8th Grade Latin and History Teacher
Students have been thinking hard about strengths and weaknesses in each of their subjects. We’ve asked them to put together a portfolio of four pieces of work, three they’re proud of and that show things they do well, and one that shows an area where they can improve. We also asked them to think about their personal learning style and how they can utilize it – capitalize on it – to work on things that are challenging for them. Another thing we’ve asked them to do is look at what they accomplished in the first semester and what their goals are for the spring…what’s left to work on. And in 8th grade, there’s another horizon, the transition to Upper School, so we’re helping them begin to think about what they want out of their high school education.

Patrick Culcasi, 8th Grade Student
We’ve been preparing by going through recent grades, looking at what we do well and what we need to work on. Some students in my class are putting together a Power Point to guide the discussions with their parents, but I have a good sense of what I want to say and how I want the conference to go. And T. Jon [Kimmel] will be there to help if I need it. Going into high school next year, one of the things I want to work on is to be more consistent in understanding my math homework – that’s one of my tangible goals. Am I looking forward to the conference? I guess so. I’ve worked hard getting ready for it.


Arman Khan, 6th Grade Student, and Mary George, Parent
(Arman will be away on February 7, so his conference has already taken place.)
Mary: It was so helpful to hear it from Arman’s perspective. At home, sometimes all I see is a glowing iPad, so I liked hearing him talk about what he’s working on and how he interacts with his teachers about his learning. It was nice to have the advisor there too, because it led to a very well-rounded discussion. Now I don’t have to go home and ask him what his teacher meant by a particular comment!
Arman: I really liked having the chance to give my own perspective about school. It was much smoother for all of us to be there.

Living Language

Building on a long tradition of immersion exchanges, the World Languages Department has been busy enhancing existing programs and developing new opportunities for students to experience language and cultural exchange. Monica Ruiz-Melendez, Department Chair, is excited about all the offerings for students, but is particularly enthusiastic about the new partnership with The Paideia Institute in Rome, which will host Westtown Latin students next year. Here are just a few examples of what's happening in World Languages: 

    • The first Living Latin Senior Project/Experiential Opportunity for Latin in Rome, Italy in will be offered in the spring of 2015. Teacher Ted Freeman will be leading the group.

    • The first Senior Project/Experiential Opportunity for Chinese is happening this spring! A group lead by Teachers Huei-Jiuan Chen-Jaros and Anny Ewing will be visiting Mainland China. Students will have language immersion lessons, cultural activities and visit high schools.

    • Barcelona and Martinique exchanges are offered once again this spring and we will host Spanish and Martiniquaise students to campus in April.

    • Westtown hosted its first ever Optimized Immersion with TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling)session in January. Close to 30 teachers from 15 different schools in PA, NJ, MD, DE participated. Saturday, Jan 25th, Westtown hosted a TPRS for Mandarin workshop, at which there were fifteen participants from 7 schools. Six language teachers from Westtown were involved in the two workshops. Anny Ewing was the coordinator
You can learn more about World Languages at Westtown here

Reflecting on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy

In celebration of Dr. King's legacy, all three divisions had special activities and programs on January 17. In Lower School, the focus was on taking action. Students collected, sorted and bagged food into hand-decorated snack bags (about 150 of them!) for the Chester County Family Academy. In Middle School, students reflected on peacemakers. While they researched and developed presentations on peacemakers - from Dr. King to Pope Francis and Malala Yousafzai, they gathered quotes and wrote them on outlines of their hands. Together they made these hands into a tree in the lobby. 

In the Upper School, the PoCC '13 (People of Color Conference) leadership students along with Pat MacPherson, Diversity Coordinator, created a program based on storytelling and reflection. In an evening program the night before the celebration, faculty gave personal testimonies to the legacy of Dr. King. On Friday morning, students screened the film Prep School Negro, which was followed by a discussion period with Andre Robert Lee, director of the film. The program then turned to Leaving and Returning Home: Students' Stories; Upper School students read their powerful essays about identity. Watch clips of their presentations here. Thank you to presenters Jamie Murphy-Soika who read Zoe Laky's story "Asian Face, American Girl"; Caroline Sullivan, "Naked"; Jamal Tulimat, "Hope Dies Last"; Sam Duffey, "I Wonder"; and Dire Ezeh, "The First Son of the First Son." Thank you to the PoCC leadership students who helped plan and realize this special day of celebration: Kai Cervera, Dire Ezeh, Julia Furey-Bastian, Zhou Li, Jerece Loper and Caroline Tien.

Running Toward Victory

Stuart Tweedie has qualified for the State Indoor Track and Field Championship in the 55 meter dash and 200 meter dash. The championship meet will be held at Penn State University on March 1st. This past Saturday, at Glen Mills School, Stuart also qualified for the Meet of Champions (MOC) in the 200m dash being held at Lehigh University on February 22nd. Stuart has the potential to qualify in other events for the MOC in the coming weeks. Join us in congratulating Stuart for his efforts this season!

Senior Games

Both Girls' Varsity Basketball and the Swim Team honored seniors in their last home competitions. 


Lunar New Year Dinner

International students celebrated the arrival of the Year of the Horse in grand fashion, by hosting the Lunar New Year Dinner. For the festive occasion, they planned the menu, cooked and prepared the dishes, decorated the Dining Room, selected the music and entertained us with a dragon dance. Delicious dishes from Korea, China, Vietnam and Thailand were on the menu, enough to serve 42 tables, 20 guests from Middle School, including our Chinese exchange students, 29 student and adult visitors from China and all Upper School students and faculty. We hear 330 bowls of soup were made! It was a fabulous evening of food, fun and fellowship. See more photos of the event here.

Westtown Science Institute Director Named Stanford University "FabLearn" Fellow 

It’s not always easy to get Stanford University’s attention, but Steve Compton just did. Compton, Director of the Westtown
Science Institute, has been selected from a global cohort of educators by Stanford University as one of ten “Stanford FabLearn Fellows” for 2014, the inaugural year for this fellowship.

The Transformative Learning Technologies Lab at Stanford University,
with support from the Cyberlearning Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF), selected ten Fellows. Each FabLearn Fellow will be a pioneer in open source curriculum for Makerspaces and FabLabs all over the world. Each will also collect data to inform research about the “makers” culture and digital fabrication in education.

The data collected by the FabLearn Fellows will impact a research project underway at the National Science Foundation. The project aims to learn about

  • generating open-source curricular materials  well-adapted for Makerspaces and FabLabs in educational settings
  • how teachers adapt their own curriculum in the face of new ‘making’ technologies and what challenges teachers face with adopting project-based, constructionist, digital fabrication activities in the classroom
  • re-evaluating traditional assessment
  • professional development
  • parent/community involvement in programs

“It's an honor to be chosen as one of the ten Stanford Fellows,” says Compton. “Working with Stanford and the NSF in leading the creation of data-driven, scalable and accessible design thinking and engineering curricula is an exciting opportunity, and testimony to the forward-thinking work we are doing here at Westtown School in the sciences. Our new state-of-the-art teaching environment, our exceptional science instruction and faculty, our new design and engineering laboratory, and our commitment to the Westtown Science Institute (WSI) all play important  roles as Westtown enriches STEM education for its students and expands its impact far beyond our walls.”

Parents, grandparents, alumni and friends, be sure to put these fun and exciting events on your calendars! 

Science Day at Westtown
Date Saturday, April 12th
12:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Families, friends and all are welcome to come enjoy a day of science, fun, food and festivities at Westtown's new Science Center!  Open to the public.

Westtown Grandparents' & Grandfriends' Day
Friday, April 25th
8:00 am - 11:30am

2014 Splash & Dash benefitting Chester County Food Bank & Westtown School
Sunday, April 27th
12:00 pm Registration Opens

At our 3rd Annual Splash & Dash benefitting Chester County Food Bank and Westtown School, there will be something for everyone: a 5K Cross Country Run/Walk, a Student Triathalon or a Kiddie Sprint. Open to the public. Learn more:

10th Annual Westtown Golf & Tennis Outing
Monday, May 19th
12:30pm Shotgun Start and 2:30pm Tennis Round Robin
Location: White Manor Country Club Malvern, PA

Join us for a day of fun on the course or courts followed
by cocktails and dinner. Learn more:


Annual Alumni/Community Basketball Game

Thanks to all who came out for the annual Alumni/Community Basketball Game on Saturday, January 11th!  The alumni teams were well matched, and the Boy's Varsity game against Rise Academy was a nail bitter.  Varsity won the game amid plenty of banging on the radiators!

Falling in Love...with Stories
While you were at Westtown, did you fall in love with dance? with justice? with your best friend? The Upper School Assembly Committee is collecting your stories of learning to love people, ideas, or pastimes to share with current students. If you have a story to share, please send them - as video, love letter, a few jotted memories or a compilation of images - to

Alumni Weekend 2014

Watch your mail this Spring for the 2014 Alumni Weekend invitation!  Alumni who graduated in the class years ending in 4s and 9s will celebrate their reunions from Friday, May 9-Sunday, May 11, 2014, but everyone is encouraged to attend! 

Interested in helping plan your reunion? Please contact the Alumni Office at or (610) 399-7941.

    • MonSep30 Rosh Hashanah; No LS/MS/US Classes
    • WedOct09 Yom Kippur; No US/MS/LS Classes
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