THE METAL MOOSE HOSTS THE MID-ATLANTIC REGION ROBOTICS COMPETITION
Each year the Westtown Robotics team hosts one of the largest events on campus. More than 1,200 competitors and nearly 3,000 spectators come to our campus for a FIRST Mid-Atlantic district competition. This is a great opportunity for the school, supports the mission of the team to be a driving force in the region, and serves to raise funds through which we support both our program and our Access and Equity outreach to underserved communities.
WE NEED YOU! Volunteers for this event are the key to feeding and caring for our visitors, and your help the past three years has been nothing short of astounding. And…it’s time to do it again. Our main event runs March 8-10 this year – we’d love to hear from you soon. If you’d like to volunteer, please sign up here!
And speaking of robots…The Good Robot Challenge returns! This year, the Metal Moose Access and Equity team has partnered with Garage Youth Center in Kennett, PA. The Garage seeks to empower youth by guiding them to build meaningful lives through leadership, personal core convictions, spirituality, homework help, and advice through the college process. They provide resources such as tutoring, mentoring, art classes, career and college counselling, and community service. Westtown Robotics has begun a tutoring partnership, has donated twenty MS Surface laptop/tablets to the Garage, and will be launching and funding a First Lego League program and competition teams in Fall 2019. Support the Garage Youth Center and the Metal Moose Access and Equity team by making a donation to Westtown Robotics 4th Annual Good Robot Challenge.
Donate a backpack: The Metal Moose hopes to outfit each student in the Kennett Garage After School Program with at least 1 folder, 2 notebooks, 1 pair of scissors, 1 pack of pencils, 1 glue/glue stick, 2 erasers, 1 pack colored pencils and 1 pencil sharpener, all within a backpack. All donations can be brought to the FIRST Robotics event on March 9th at Westtown or dropped off at Lower or Middle Schools, or the Upper School office collection box by Friday, March 8. Thank you for your support; together we CAN make a difference!
Donate funds: Checks made out to Westtown School (Good Robot Challenge in the memo line) can be dropped off at all three divisional front offices, or given to Steve Compton. You can make online donations as well.
Mid-Atlantic Robotics “combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology,… and is the ultimate Sport for the Mind. High-school student participants call it ‘the hardest fun you’ll ever have’. Under strict rules, limited resources, and an intense six-week time limit, teams of students guided by volunteer professional mentors are challenged to raise funds, design a team ‘brand,’ hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors. It’s as close to real-world engineering as a student can get.”
SENIOR PROJECTS – FOLLOW THEIR JOURNEYS
The seniors will be departing on their Senior Projects on Friday! 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 2019 has chosen an impressive variety of locations and project themes. They will engage in 25 independent projects across the globe in 10 countries and in five states around the US. Some seniors are on the school-sponsored trips to Puerto Rico, Israel/Palestine, Ghana, and to Florida for coral reef restoration. Several seniors will write about their experiences in the field on the Senior Projects Blog. Subscribe to the blog to follow along on their journeys!
TRACKING THE BIRDS
Recently, a wildlife tracking antenna was installed on the observatory at the top of the main building. This antenna is connected to Motus, an international network of antennae which are helping conservation biologists to understand migratory patterns of birds in a groundbreaking new way. The project is the result of a partnership between Westtown and Willistown Conservation Trust (WCT), a local organization that promotes land conservation, sustainable agriculture, and bird conservation. WCT provided all of the funding for the installation.
This program is tied directly to our curricula from a bird unit for first graders in which they have partnered with WCT for bird banding for many years, to Mariska Batavia’s Upper School Scientific Research students who are working with the Motus system this year. There are many more opportunities for curricular connections in data analysis, digital design, biology, conservation ecology, and beyond. This project connects our students and campus to an international group of scientists and allows us to actively work towards protecting wildlife and natural habitats. Visit www.motus.org to learn more about their tracking network and conservation initiatives.
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.
What Does Your T-Shirt Really Cost?
By Alicia Zeoli, Innovation & Technology Specialist and Erin Salvucci, 8th Grade Math Teacher (article excerpted from the Buck Institute for Education blog and edited for length.)
In elementary school, math is tangible and authentic. You count money or look at what fraction of a pizza you have left. Once students reach middle school, math loses its tangibility, moving from concrete to abstract. At the same time, it can lose its relevance in the real world. Teachers often wonder if they can make Project Based Learning (PBL) relevant in a math classroom.
Erin Salvucci is a middle school math teacher at Westtown. She has a passion for teaching social impact and equity. This summer at a Buck Institute PBL workshop, Salvucci set out to create a PBL unit that not only teaches her students about linear equations and cost analysis, but also about social and environmental impacts. Her project’s driving question was, “What does your shirt really cost?”
The process began with backwards mapping. The key knowledge and understanding 8th grade algebra students would learn had to be at the heart of this project. Students had to be able to: graph and write linear relationships given a rate of change and y-intercept; find and analyze the solution to a system of equations; analyze and defend monetary costs and profits based on their mathematical data; provide and defend social and environmental costs and impacts based on their research; and present this information graphically.
Students were challenged to create a T-shirt they could design and sell. They considered costs and profit margins, purchasing options, and the impacts (both social and environmental) of the companies they would use to make their product. They conducted interviews and Internet research. They tried to balance making a profit with the human and environmental impacts of the cheapest products: How does this impact the Earth and the people making the shirts? As part of their sustained inquiry, students were asked, “Where do your clothes come from?” Each student was asked to check the clothing label on the clothes they were wearing. Groups mapped this information and then combined the data for the classroom.
By exploring where clothes come from, a new layer was added to the project. The social impact of wages was introduced to students with Spent, a game that simulates living wage scenarios. They began to learn more about the difference between a living wage and minimum wage through videos, articles, and conversations, including: Waging a Living, Sweating for a T-shirt, and The True Cost. Students created graphs of and wrote equations for living wages and minimum wages.
They also focused on the environmental impacts of shirt production. Students were introduced to the life cycle of T-shirts through videos such as The Life Cycle of a T-shirt and Planet Money Makes a T-shirt. The class discussed the environmental impacts of dyes. Kara Mangat, a design engineer from the store Anthropologie, came to talk to students about her job engineering designs from sketch to product. She spoke about how her company chooses fabric and clothing factories, and how they build relationships with those factories and workers.
Throughout the project students were given agency to choose what type of T-shirts to design, where/how they will have them made and how they will sell them. Their business plan and shirt design are a result of their group’s voice and choice. The project required them to show cost analysis and consider overall impacts on all parties involved in their potential business. Students brainstormed ideas from the beginning and continually reviewed and edited their ideas through peer and teacher reviews. Students presented their personal ideas in a gallery walk peer review and were able to team up with peers after reviewing these ideas.
Reflection happened daily in students’ math journals. They also reflected in group discussions after watching videos, reading articles, playing learning games/simulations and learning about functional relationships between two variables.
Finally, students pitched their business plans and cost analysis to students and teachers from our school community. A grant from the school’s Innovation Fund will finance the winning project idea and allow students to compete for a $500 start-up grant. After the presentations, students reflected on the audience feedback. Those willing to put their time and energy into following through with their proposals will have the opportunity to join other groups and present new information they learned. Students who receive the grant money will present their experience to the committee that oversees the Innovation Fund.
Project leader Salvucci says, “I learned that the process is much more important than the product. The learning that happened behind the scenes in the classroom could not be summed up in their three-minute presentation. Whatever shortcomings the presentations had, students emerged from the project understanding their impact as consumers, their ability to be entrepreneurs, and the everyday implications of math skills and their important relationship to seemingly disparate disciplines.”
Honoring Dr. King
By Marissa Colston, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion
On Tuesday, January 22, 2019 Westtown School students participated in activities and discussions to honor the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For Middle and Upper school students, this was a full day of activities instead of classes that started with a hip-hop performance group called Pushed Learning. The group used dance and hip-hop music to discuss issues of mass incarceration, racial justice, and the relevancy of Dr. King’s work today. It was an energizing and engaging presentation that helped jump-start important conversations among students. Later the Middle School students were engaged in workshops led by faculty as well as the Pushed Learning group. Workshops focused on students multicultural identity and they learned more about racial identity. They also focused on better understanding racism and what it looks like today. Other workshops focused on social justice, music, and cultural appropriation.
In the Upper School, the day was co-designed by student leaders. There were workshops led by students and faculty on various topics including how to have courageous conversations across varying viewpoints to understanding the experience of a trans person to hearing from the life experience of someone who was incarcerated and racially profiled. After workshops students got to participate in affinity groups of their choice. Students and faculty engaged in groups based on race, gender, interest, family structure, sexual orientation, class background as well as others. After the groups met separately, they reconvened with the whole group to share out highlights from their discussions so that the entire community could reflect and learn from hearing about their peers experiences.
In the Lower School, Dr. King is not just lifted up on just one day, but throughout the entire winter term. All classes read books about the life of Dr. King, as well as other stories of activists and activism, the first weeks of January. They also read stories about loving with the essential questions of: who do we love and how can we show love? In the library the read-aloud story was Imagine, by Juan Felipe Herrera, a former US Poet Laureate – the first Latino Poet Laureate in the United States. We asked the question, how did Dr. King and others imagine a better, more peaceful and equitable world? And how we might we continue that work today? Third grade worked on Reader’s Theater scripts about King and the life of Marion Anderson that will be presented to the entire Lower School. Fifth graders shared posters they created in art class, around issues of social justice that they are passionate about. Grades four and five have also read and responded to Newsela articles about protests, civil rights, and activism.
Young Writer’s Workshop
On Sunday, February 10, Westtown held its first-ever Young Writers’ Workshop. This well-attended event, open to sixth through ninth graders from Westtown and surrounding schools, was spearheaded by Westtown librarians Victoria Jones and Betsy Swan. Four established authors, Ellen Abbott (Westtown Upper School English teacher), Jen Bryant, Alex London, and Westtown alumna Kat Yeh ’82, worked in small groups with students discussing the writing process, sharing ideas, and guiding the participants through creative writing activities. The afternoon concluded with a panel discussion with the authors and a lively Q & A session.
Response to the event has been overwhelmingly positive. Middle School English teacher Lisa Cromley said, “ I asked several [students] for feedback. With big smiles on their faces, they enthusiastically shared how much they enjoyed the afternoon. The authors seemed to have a wonderful time in the workshops as well as during the Q & A session. We collectively celebrated reading, writing, and being in community. I heard parents share about what a positive event it was for them and their children. I also chatted with author Alex London. He, too, was delighted by the experience.” One parent remarked, “It was great to have an event for my child who is passionate about writing. There are many STEM related events for students his age but few that focus on writing. This was a fabulous and enriching experience for my son.” Likewise, organizer Betsy Swan was pleased by the success of the workshop. “It exceeded all of my expectations. I was thrilled that so many students came from outside Westtown. [I was] happy that the librarian network in the area got excited about it and spread the word, and I loved watching the enthusiasm among the kids and the interplay of the authors as they answered kids’ questions during the panel discussion. The authors, too, seemed to think it was a terrific event!”
The following day, Kat Yeh ’82 visited English classes to share her experiences with Upper School students as well. “I always love coming back to Westtown. The kids were all so excited and curious and everything you’d expect in a Westonian.”
This inaugural Young Writer’s Workshop (more are in the planning), allowed an opportunity for budding writers to develop and sharpen their craft while learning from the experts. Thank you to the authors, to the outstanding planning team, and to all the young writers!
Ban the Baggie!
Fourth graders have been working on a yearlong project they dubbed “Trash Talk Matters,” in which they have been discussing sustainability practices, reducing waste, recycling, and the problem of trash. Their aim was to settle on a concrete action plan and a specific goal. After data gathering, research, and discussion, they refined their goal to the be reduction of single-use plastic bags in Lower School. They created slide-show presentations and brochures for different target audiences including parents, teachers, Spanish speakers, and Lower School students, both aimed at motivating the Lower School to switch to alternative to plastic bags. They began a month-long Ban-the-Baggie challenge for February, much like their No-Straw November. Teachers Hilary Simons and Shelagh Wilson say these kinds of project-based learning assignments help students understand issues more deeply, and also give them a sense of ownership and agency. They were impressed by the energy and passion the students devoted to encouraging others to change their habits and their reliance upon single-use plastics.
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. Teams present their projects and robots to multiple panels of judges that score the team on a variety of criteria. Team 3598 earned a second place award for their demonstration of core values. The judges were impressed by the team’s “overt use of the Quaker Meeting for Business model” as their central team philosophy. Team 3599 earned second place in the Robot Design category. Judges recognized the team for the design of their “efficient and fast gear box” as well as their “use of Bluetooth to transfer their code from the coding group to the robotics engineering group.” At the end of the day, Team 3598 finished in 7th place overall and team 3599 finished in 5th. Congratulations to both teams!
Lunar New Year
On Sunday, February 10, students in the International Student Organization prepared activities and an excellent meal in celebration of the Lunar New Year. Many Asian international students and domestic students of Asian descent partnered with the kitchen to develop the menu, and many students spent the day cooking traditional holiday food from their home cultures. After dinner, there were performances, dessert, and various cultural stations set up for students to visit. The celebration continued into the evening with a Sunday evening Meeting for Worship by lantern-light in the Meeting House, and queries centering on based on some of the themes of the holiday, including family, fortune, and fresh starts were considered. Check out the gallery of photos from the celebration!
Celebrations of cultures are a regular part of our Community Dinners, a longtime Westtown tradition, with observances of Diwali, Hanukkah, Hispanic Heritage Month, Caribbean Heritage, and Black History Month. We are enriched by the diversity of our community, and learn from one another over shared tables, shared food, and shared traditions.
Winter season came with some exciting record-setting performances, thrilling finishes on Coach Downey Court, great matches on the mat, and new records in the pool. Two of our winter teams finished with FSL championships and several student-athletes received All-League Honors!
Here are the team highlights from this year’s amazing winter season:
- Wrestling Team Record: 16-7
- 2019 FSL Champions
- 7th Place at States out of 20 Teams
- 7 Wrestlers with over 20 wins
- 4 Wrestlers qualified for National Preps
First Team: Griffin Hankin, Ethan Kisiel, JP Lisi, Mohammad Mustafa, Jack Shea
Honorable Mention: Eli Arauz, Jack DeVuono
- Boys team record: 5-3
- Finished 3rd in the FSL
- Cruz Buitron set new Westtown Team records in the 500 and 100 free, he set new FSL records in the 100 fly and 100 breast
First Team: Cruz Buitron, Jack Nangle
Honorable Mention: Julius Enarsson Enestrom
- Girls team record: 2-6
- Finished 6th in the FSL
Honorable Mentions: Lilly Jacobs
- Boys Basketball Team Record: 28-6
- Coach Seth Berger reached a new milestone of 250+ wins this season
- 2019 FSL Champions – 6th consecutive FSL championship
- Second place finish in PAISAA state championship
- Jalen Gaffney becomes 1,000 point scorer and finished his high school career with 2000+ points
First Team: Jalen Gaffney, TJ Berger, Noah Collier, John Bol Ajak Deng.
Honorable Mention: Jalen Warley
- Girls Basketball Team Record: 17-6
- FSL semi-finalist
First Team: JoJo Lacey. Honorable Mention: Amaya Douglas
- Rebecca Fomich sets new girls pole vault record with a vault of 8’6”
- Julian Klenner was named the 2019 Bishop Loughlin Athlete of the Meet with a 34.53s in the 300m. He also finished his indoor season with 48.16s in the 400m Julian’s time is the fastest time in Pennsylvania, and 7th fastest in the country!
Celeste Payne, Upper School science teacher, has been appointed to the Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board for a third two-year term. Teaching Tolerance and the Southern Poverty Law Center are on the leading edge of advocacy work in the field of equity, inclusion, and social justice. The advisory board has between two and three dozen educators selected from across the country. They represent a variety of disciplines and work in educational institutions from elementary school through pre-service education undergraduate institutions. Congratulations, Celeste!
Upper School Religion teacher Brian Blackmore’s excellent piece, Teaching World Religions as a Form of Diversity Education, was recently printed in the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education’s quarterly journal. You can read an online version here.
Director of College Counseling Jessica Smith explores whether Advanced Placement courses are necessary for college admission in this latest piece on our Well-Lit Path Blog.
ALUMNI COMMUNITY BASKETBALL GAME
Thanks to all the players and fans who helped to make this year’s Alumni Community Basketball game such a great event! Check out the complete gallery of photos!
Making a Difference
By Kris Batley ’81
Wherever you look on Westtown’s 600 acres, you see evidence of the Coltman family’s dedication to the school. Chuck Coltman ’60, Charlie Coltman ’90, Clayton Coltman ’92, and Joann Coltman realize the importance of building for the future and the impact that excellent facilities have on school programs and the community’s quality of life.
For over three decades, the Coltmans have supported campus projects, including the swimming pool, lighting and sound in the Barton-Test Theater, and the new facilities building. The ropes course was created in 1999, thanks to the generosity of the Coltmans, and more recently, significant renovations to the upstairs gym in the Athletic Center, known as Coach Downey Basketball Court, gained a new lease on life.
You may not know about the athletic uniforms, scoreboards, or batting cages that the family has donated, but you have probably seen Coltman Commons. Constructed in 2006 next to the Farmhouse, Coltman Commons is a four-family townhouse complex for senior faculty. Chuck Coltman firmly believes that “longevity of the faculty is the glue that holds Westtown graduates together. Without more housing, especially for faculty who become empty-nesters, the tendency would be for our faculty to leave earlier than they should – something we did not want to happen.”
The Coltmans are so passionate about philanthropy that they created not one, but two foundations to support area non-profits. The Coltman Family Foundation contributes to education, arts and culture, libraries, and human services. The Coltman Friends Foundation was established exclusively to benefit Westtown School and Delaware Valley Friends School.
Head of School Tori Jueds, says “The Coltmans are outstanding examples of alums acting as stewards and leaders of a better world. Not only have they been exceedingly generous to Westtown School through their foundations, but they are making an impact in myriad ways. It is wonderful that they also support Quaker education at Delaware Valley Friends School, Chuck and Joann’s daughter, Beth’s, alma mater. And Chuck’s work through The Society of the Cincinnati to develop an American history curriculum that draws on his experiences in the civil rights movement is inspiring.”
Westtown is very fortunate to have donors like the Coltmans, who believe in our mission and continuously seek opportunities to improve the experience for generations to come. Thank you, Chuck, Charlie, Clayton, and Joann for all that you do for Westtown!
Alumni Weekend is just around the corner!
We hope to welcome you May 10-12, 2019 for Alumni Weekend. Learn more about the weekend on the website!
Climate Change Presentation
Saturday March 30, 3-4:30 pm. Westtown Science Center Lecture Hall
On March 30, Westtown School will welcome Dr. Timothy Cadman for a climate change talk entitled “Imagining Climate Futures.” This talk will focus on global climate change and policy issues, and will include a spirited reading from Cadman’s latest book of speculative fiction, The Changes. Please join us to learn more about how climate change is affecting our planet and governments, and to be inspired to work towards positive change. This talk is open to all community members and is appropriate for Upper School students and adults.
Westtown School Presents: Arts Illuminated
Saturday, March 30 – 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Home of Margaret Humphrey ’82
This fundraiser is a celebratory evening of the arts featuring live performances by current Westtown students and alumni, a gallery of student work, and fine wine and cuisine. Swirl and sip, mix and mingle for a great cause! More information, sponsorship opportunities, and tickets here.
Get Your Spot at Summer Camp!
The word is out! Spots at Westtown’s summer camp are filling up quicker than last year! With over 300 sessions booked as of Monday, younger age groups and swim lessons are already close to being filled. Please register soon to secure your camper’s summer of fun at Westtown! Contact Brian or Nicole if you have any questions.
Swing for the Students!
On Tuesday, May 21, Westtown School will host its 15th Annual Swing for the Students Golf & Tennis Outing at Applebrook Golf Club and Westtown Stadium Courts. This wonderful event last year raised over $95,000 for Westtown School’s academic, athletic and arts programs, financial aid and other programs vital to the success of our wonderful community! The Outing is a fun-filled day of golf, tennis, cocktails, live music, dinner, live & silent auction and so much more! We hope you will come out and support us on May 21. Learn more and register here!