You know the end of the school year is nigh when College Shirt Day arrives, Lower and Middle School students spill onto the fields for Spirit Days, and students appear on the South Lawn in all their finery for Dinner Dance. After this year, these celebrations seemed sweeter, infused with the joy of togetherness and the gratitude to be on this campus. We hope you enjoy these galleries of some of our year-end traditions!
College Shirt Day
In order to adhere to our COVID mitigation practices, the College Shirt Day photoshoot was held outside —and who can argue with the Greenwood field as a backdrop?! College Shirt Day is our annual celebration of the seniors’ college choices. Check out the full gallery of photos here! (Pictured below are two of our 2020-21 Student Body Presidents: Alexis Rogers and Kavi Gandhi.)
Senior Car Parade
We continued to celebrate college choices at the Senior Car Parade. Last year’s car parade — created so that there was a celebrate seniors in person during the height of the pandemic — was so much fun, we decided to do it again! See photos of the event here and watch the parade below!
Lower School Spirit Days
This year, in order to maintain student cohorts, there were two Spirit Days for Lower School. Spirit Days are Westtown’s version of field days, full of friendly competitions that end, of course, with ice cream! Check out the Spirit Day galleries! Pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade gallery here; second and third grade gallery here, and fourth and fifth grade gallery here.
Middle School Spirit Day
Middle Schoolers divided into teams by grade for their friendly competitions which included old favorites such as the balloon toss and tug of peace. See the teams in action here!
Dinner Dance was back on the docket for seniors this year! This time, in another health and safety pivot, the event was held on campus. Megan Schlickmann, Director of Event Operations, the Senior Class Deans, and the Upper School Parents’ Council planned a splendid event for the students, and did a tremendous job of transforming one of the tents into a perfect venue for dinner and dancing! As has become tradition, students gathered on the South Lawn for photos before the event got underway. At the end of the evening, seniors walked down to the lake for sundaes at the Lake House.
Update from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion
By Marissa Colston, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion
Our ABAR work continues to be front and center at Westtown. Here are just a few examples that represent the kind of work students have been involved in this spring and throughout the school year.
Lower School students spent the year engaging in DEI/SEL (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Social Emotional Learning) lessons that focused on the themes of identity, empathy, community building, social justice, and anti-racism. In Pre-K students explored their own identity and learned about the human body. They learned about skin color, melanin, and the beautiful variations in skin tone and colors. In the second grade, students talked about bias and stereotypes and spent time discussing how to stop using stereotypes that are often formed around gender identity. In the fourth grade, when students study and learn about American history, they asked questions like Who’s telling the story? Whose voice is not being heard? These questions led them to learn more about the perspectives and stories of the Lenni Lenape, African, and European experiences.
In Middle School, a group of 6th and 7th graders represented Westtown at the Haverford Middle School Diversity Conference, sharing what they learned with classmates. 8th grade leaders spent the end of the year leading workshops for their peers. Students designed their own version of a diversity conference and delivered a series of workshops and activities over a few weeks addressing important themes like naming and addressing bias, identity, and social justice. They were supported by the Middle School Equity and Inclusion coordinator, Alejandra Navarro-Benbow, who helped them design these workshops and supported their presentation skills.
In the Upper School, the spring is a time of much activity. Student activists facilitated conversations connected to community and social justice. Prompted by students, there were campus-wide discussions around consent and sexual violence. After the conversations started on the Opinion Board and online, courageous conversations across many experiences were hosted so that students could share, listen, and learn from each other. These conversations were designed and led by trusted faculty with support from the DEI Office. Students engaged in this dialogue and left with new understandings. They also shared ideas about how to continue the dialogue as well as suggestions for changes in programming that will support more education about sexual violence and consent across the student body community.
Finally, as you may know already, earlier in the school year we launched our new ABAR website which includes an ABAR Community Blog. Every few weeks a new blog entry is posted and each post is related to a wide range of ABAR community topics, and are a sampling of the diverse community that Westtown encompasses. Check it out for yourself!
A great Middle School tradition resumed this year: canoe trips! Although days trips supplanted the overnight experiences and additional protocols were in place because of our COVID mitigation practices, students and teachers alike were elated to be back on the water. Chris Costa, Director of Outdoor Education, Tom Berrian, Middle School Outdoor Education Coordinator, and a host of Middle School faculty did double duty in the canoes this year. Each grade was divided into two groups in order to maintain cohorts, so they ran two trips for each grade. Seventh and eighth graders paddled the Upper Schuylkill River and sixth graders enjoyed a day on Westtown’s lake.
With the exception of added safety measures, this constant in our education program looked much like it always has. The pre-trip training conducted by Costa and Berrian consisted of: meetings with the groups; “ground school” in which basic water and boat safety, the basics of boat movement, and paddle strokes are taught; lake sessions, which included practice maneuvering and navigating the boat on the water, and opportunities to reinforce safety protocols; and, safety sessions in which groups review outdoor education protocols and cover things like river communication, hydration, lightning drill, etc. Costa says, “For over 30 years, Middle School students have participated in an outdoor experience with a canoeing component. These trips are so valued by students and faculty that their design and delivery have been woven into the fabric of their Middle School experience for decades. Among their many benefits, these trips allow students to step out of their comfort zones, connect with themselves and their peers, and to realize the collective power of the whole. Now, more than ever, these trips are needed.”
The annual third grade African Dance performance was outside this year, but no less amazing! Third graders have a comprehensive unit on Africa studying its countries, their cultures, economies, wildlife, art, and more. That study includes a six-week on-campus residency with Jeannine Osayande Dunya Performing Arts Company in which kids learn not only many dances but also about storytelling in the music and movements. Well done, third grade, and a special thank you to the Jeannine Osayande and Dunya Performing Arts Company, who have been partnering with Westtown for 19 years! Enjoy the gallery of photos here.
Martin Ma ’22 Wins Chester County Science Fair Award
Congratulations to Yangyue Martin Ma ’22 who won the Chester County Science Research Fair in the Computer Science Category for the cane he designed for the blind! The cane uses sensors integrated to a computational device running AI recognition software to both alert for objects and identify said objects to the user.
“The preciseness of the detection of objects on streets is extremely important for blind people, since no other references can be made for them,” says Ma describing his project. “In order to help them get familiar with the surrounding environment, I created a blind crutch that not only will alert users about obstacles, but also can identify objects with clear labels using the convolutional neural network (CNN), a neural network especially designed for image identification, to train the classifications needed…To make up for the insufficiency of the GPS module of detecting exact locations, I also created a function of detecting guideposts on streets that broadcasts the current location. After testing, the blind crutch can precisely classify objects and complete the broadcast function under different environments caused by different weather. The project took me approximately two years.”
After the Chester County win, Ma moved into the next level of competition at the Delaware Valley Science Fair, a three-state competition. At this level, he won the Computer Science Division and was awarded the Yale Science and Engineering Association Special Award, which,”recognizes the most outstanding 11th grade projects in Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics.”
Design Engineering teacher and robotics team coach Steve Compton, says, “Although he did not advance to the national competition, he plans to continue the work on this project, iterate, and improve both the hardware and the computational artificial intelligence and training of the algorithms in order to compete again next year. Martin is doing extraordinary work and I’m thrilled he has been recognized in these competitions.”
Third Grade Poetry Slam Celebrates the Harlem Renaissance
A poetry slam in third grade? Absolutely! Upon the completion of third graders’ study of the Harlem Renaissance, teachers Vicki Shelter and Kristin Hayman organized a poetry slam in which students performed the poems they wrote that celebrate what they learned. Shelter explains: “After an in-depth study of the European Renaissance, the third graders were introduced to the Great Migration in the United States and the Harlem Renaissance that followed that migration. They connected that the word renaissance means ‘rebirth’ and it celebrates a very important time in history. After understanding why the Great Migration began and its importance to the African American people, we focused on learning about its impact on American History. The students learned about different artists such as Jacob Lawrence and Aaron Douglass. They also studied the poetry of Langston Hughes, which encouraged them to have in-depth conversations about his life and the racial tensions that were occurring during his time period. The students resonated with his poems and were inspired by his writing. Lastly, we listened to and learned about some of the jazz greats that performed during this time period. The students learned that jazz is an American art form and it is special because of the solos that occur in each song or performance. They heard Cab Calloway scat and saw the Nicholas Brothers tap-dance their hearts out. They danced in the classroom as Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong sang. They learned about Dizzy Gillespie’s hard childhood and how playing the trumpet inspired him. The kids also learned that Duke Ellington, as a child, wanted to play baseball, but as he got older he learned to love the piano and leading his orchestra was his favorite thing. They watched videos of the Harlem Globetrotters entertaining and showing off their basketball skills. Their poems celebrate this time period and their love for what they learned.
“During our poetry slam, the entire third grade [formerly in separate cohorts as part of Westtown’s mitigation strategy] gathered into a tent to share their poems. They got dressed up depending on what their poem was about. We snapped our fingers after each poem was read. It was a great way to gather together our entire third-grade community. It was fun for all of us!” You can enjoy a gallery of photos from the Poetry Slam here!
Sharing Their Professional Stories: Alums Visit Chemistry Class
Teacher Rose Koenig invited alums to speak to her Chemical Bonding (Advanced) class so that students had an opportunity to learn about how and why they pursued their various careers in the sciences. Koenig welcomed:
Dr. Nahara Saballos, Class of 2011, Family Medicine Resident Physician
Katie Metzker, Class of 2010, Assistant Director for Education and Outreach Programs in Galapagos at Intercultural Outreach Initiative
Dr. Caitlin Hepps-Keeney, Class of 2010, Zoological Medicine Resident at N.C. State University
Dr. Beverly Aiyanyor, Class of 2009, Resident Physician at Boston Children’s Hospital & Resident Physician at Boston Medical Center
At the conclusion of their presentations, students had an opportunity to ask questions. You can enjoy all of their presentations below (click on the upper left side of the image to see a drop-down selection). If you’re an alum who’d like to be engaged with students in this way, contact Domi Waldron, Director of Alumni/ae/x Engagement.
Carbon Footprint Challenge
Students in the Environmental Science 1 classes partnered with environmental consultants Boyer Sudduth, the firm with whom Westtown is working to forward our Strategic Vision’s Environment Illuminated and sustainability mission, to take on the Carbon Footprint Challenge. Boyer Sudduth describes the project as such: “The Carbon Footprint Challenge, a project-based learning opportunity, engages students to capture and analyze data on campus greenhouse gas emissions from energy, transportation, and waste. Students will use real-world data to better understand how their campus contributes to climate change and inspire them to take action. With the resulting data, students identify solutions to reduce emissions and save resources, culminating in a climate action plan.”
The students formed three groups that each undertook a specific category to research: Waste Sector, Transportation Sector, and Facilities/Energy Use Sector. At the end of the year, these groups gave presentations on their findings and proposed solutions for Westtown to consider and adopt. Teacher Dana Jensen says that the students’ work was outstanding and showcases the kind of topics covered in this course. She says that this project, “provided a real-world collaborative experience to analyze data and define SMART solutions to reduce Westtown’s environmental impact. It aligns perfectly with the curriculum of [this class] because it highlights the physics of energy use, climate change, and renewable energy sources.”
We encourage you to have a look at the student presentations below. (Click on the image to see a dropdown selection of videos.)
Deep Dive Certificate Program: Capstone Presentations
The Deep Dive Certificate Program offers opportunities for students to do just that: dive deep in a particular subject area. Currently, there are five Deep Dive Certificates: Social Entrepreneurship; Data-Driven Change; Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice; and Sustainability Leadership. Students can elect to enroll in a Deep Dive in their junior year and spend two years involved in research, projects, and experiential learning in their chosen area. These are intensive scholarly experiences that encourage students to design their own course of study, make cross-disciplinary connections, actively engage in their topic, and hone their research and presentation skills. At the end of each year, seniors present their Deep Dive projects. We invite you to watch the presentations of this year’s Deep Dive Certificate awardees — they demonstrate well the multidisciplinary, experiential, deep learning this program promotes.
In this year of hybrid teaching, the performing and visual arts faculty got creative (as one might expect!) and provided a host of engaging projects that were suited to both students on campus and those learning from home. We encourage you to browse the Arts Showcase page of our website to see students’ wonderful work — everything from short films to dance to sculpture to painting — including opportunities for musical performances, see below.
Can’t Stop the Music!
Choral and instrumental music faculty in all divisions wanted their students to have the experience of performing, and for families to be able enjoy the fruits of students’ work over the spring semester. So this year, instead of in-person concerts, videos were made of performances to share with families. Here is a sample of some of the performances, and you can see all the performances on our website!
Our spring sports student-athletes and coaches worked hard to overcome many challenges and navigated ever-changing health guidelines to make their spring seasons happen this year and provide their players with some form of competition. Our Athletic Department staff and administrators also leaned in with support and assistance to make this spring season a reality for our students. We were able to celebrate six seniors who joined the growing lists of Westtown student-athletes who have signed their National Letters of Intent to play at the collegiate level.
-Mack Moore (Soccer) – Dickinson College
-Ny’Mire Little (Basketball) – University of Albany
-Sophia Linder (Rugby) – West Point United States Military Academy
-Ewen Donald (Baseball) – Skidmore College
-Suraj Sharma (Lacrosse) – Eastern University
-Mathias Zawoiski (Lacrosse) – Haverford College
The following are some highlights from the fun and memorable spring sports season!
Boys’ Varsity Baseball:
–Won 4-2 vs. Episcopal Academy in the first game of the season.
–Went 5-2 in the regular season for league play and made the FSL Semifinals for the 3rd straight year.
–Won the final game of the season in the Comeback Classic vs. Shipley by a score of 3-0.
–Two athletes were named 1st Team All-League Players: Ewen Donald ’21 and Jake Diaz ’22;
–One Honorable Mention player: Taj Donald ’23.
–Junior catcher and captain Jake Diaz ’22 led the team in 7 offensive categories (avg., OBP, SLG, OPS,
doubles, triples, walks), threw out 11 runners, and only allowed six passed balls in 86 innings.
Boys’ Varsity Tennis:
–Qualified for the FSL playoffs as the 4th seed.
–Had a 4-3 record in FSL play.
-Ben Soland ’22 and CJ Pitcher ’23 placed 2nd in the FSL Invitational for Doubles.
-Ben Shaman ’22 made the All-League Team.
Spring Field Hockey:
This year’s team, led by senior co-captains Amanda Lucas and Remy Knopping, was a young team with a ton of potential. The team also played this spring vs. Shipley in a two-game series, splitting 1-1. Won 3-0 at home and lost 4-1 on the road.
-Goals were scored by: Freshman Elsa Gilbert ’24 (2), Sophomore Annie Lynn ’23 (1), and Sophomore
Sophia Bradley ’23 (1).
Huge shoutout and congratulations to these fantastic Class of 2021 seniors:
-Mya Troshinsky, defender
-Amanda Lucas, defender
-Remy Knopping, forward
–The team finished the season with a winning record of 5-4 and made it to the playoffs!
–Freshman pitcher, Lucia Sanchez ’24, struck out 109 batters in nine games, averaging 12 Ks per game!
–The team also scored more runs than runs earned against for the season.
Boys’ Varsity Lacrosse:
This year was the first time Westtown lacrosse hosted a semi-final game in the FSL and the first time they played for a championship since 2014!
-Mike Tayloe ’21 set a new ground ball record with 5.5 Ground Balls Per Game (GBPG).
-Ian McKinley ’23 set a new “caused turnover” record, with 2.27 Caused Turnovers (CTO) per game. He also
finished with a 3.1 GBPG.
-Oneniotekowa Maracle ’21 finished the season with 3.7 Points Per Game (PPG) and 2.7 Goals Per Game (GPG).
-Xander Maxwell ’23 finished the season with 3.8 PPG and 2.1 Assists Per Game (APG)
Girls’ Varsity Lacrosse:
–The girls played and defeated Friends Central twice.
–They competed for the 2021 Quaker Cup.
-Arden Jansen ’24 made 1st team All-League.
-Sophie Jones ’25 was All-League Honorable Mention.
–Captain James Bradley ’22 had a break-out season resulting in being team medalist every match, culminating
in a second-place finish in the FSL Championship Tournament.
–The future is bright for this team as freshmen Parker Hayter ’24 and Dylan Precious ’24 and sophomore
Inan Ramdas ’23 showed significant improvement.
–Parker and Inan both finished in the top half of the field in the FSL Tourney.
–Senior Captain Lauren Monahan ’21 consistently finished in the top four scores in matches, and
Jackson Smedley shot a career-low vs. Friends Central and will return next year.
Boys’ and Girls’ Varsity Track and Field:
Our girls’ and boys’ track and field teams had several athletes achieve season best (SB) this year and place in the FSL finals that took place at Germantown Friends. We highlight just a few of the many standout achievements from this year’s teams.
Avery Elliott ’24: FSL Performance
–1st place 100H 15.57
–1st place 300H 47.76
–1st place High Jump 5’2″
Athletes with Season Best and FSL Results:
Stephanie Hanchak ’21
–6th place 1600m 5:35.92 SB
–2nd place 3200 12:21.12
Santi Benbow ’23
–3rd place 400m 53.17
–6th place Javelin 117’5″ SB
Will Nagy ’22
–2nd place 800m 1:57.11
–SB for 800m: 1:56.85
Kavi Gandhi ’21
–SB for 3200m: 10:40.0
Eric Ochis ’23
–6th place Discus 80’3″ SB
FSL Championship Relays:
–2nd place Boys 4×400 relay
–4th place Boys 4×800 relay
Will Nagy and Avery Elliot made 1st Team All-League.
Congratulations to Lower School music teacher Lulu Cossich, who is one of this year’s recipients of the Eastman Diversity Award, of Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester! This award is given to “Eastman community members who push the community and field forward” and Lulu’s award is in recognition of her work for racial justice in the field of music education. Join us in congratulating Lulu!
Be Part of the Host Family Program!
Join other local Westtown families who host boarding students from afar! We will be connecting our new international students and domestic students who live at a distance with local host families and hope you will consider this exciting opportunity! Host families offer some home-cooked meals, enjoy cross-cultural conversations, and often develop relationships that live on well after a student’s first year at Westtown. Host families are not responsible for boarding over breaks or transporting students. You can learn more about the Host Family Program on our website. If you have questions, please contact International Student Coordinators Bei Zhang and Rose Koenig.
Being Good Neighbors
Over the last several years, employees at Westtown have supported the St. Agnes Day Room, a local organization that provides “hospitality to those in need in a caring and welcoming environment where we seek to serve anyone who comes to us in need of assistance.” Four times a year, the adult community at Westtown and our Food Services staff provide lunch for local community members through the St. Agnes Day Room. In the first lunch of 2021, our Food Service staff made 120 grab-and-go salads for the lunch, and colleagues contributed $800 to cover the cost of burgers, fries, and cookies from Lorenzo’s Steaks. As always, the volunteers at St. Agnes were overwhelmed by the generosity! Barbara Kirby, who runs the Day Room, wrote to Betsy Swan, coordinator of Westtown’s efforts, “You and all of our friends at Westtown School are a great blessing for our community!” Thank you to all who have supported St. Agnes Day Room! July 29 is the next time Westtown will contribute lunch for the Day Room. Anyone who wants to join the effort should get in touch with Betsy Swan!
Gear Up for Summer!
Don’t forget that you can get your Westtown gear at any time at our online store. There is something for everyone in the family, great gift ideas, and options for personalization. GO ’TOWN!
Virtual Alums Weekend 2021
Thank you to everyone who joined us during Virtual Alums Weekend! For four days, hundreds of Westonians from all over the world connected to virtual events, gathered with classmates and friends, celebrated the strength of our community, and so much more! Thank you for making our second Virtual Alums Weekend an overwhelming success.
If you were unable to join us, you can view a recording of the virtual Alumni Association Annual Meeting here.
For those of you who were unable to attend this year’s event, we hope to see you next spring for Alums Weekend 2022, which will feature in-person and virtual events.
We will continue to provide fun and meaningful opportunities for you to engage with our vibrant community throughout the year. You can access upcoming events and all other content and recordings at: https://www.westtown.edu/alums/.