Westtown School - Review #27
About the Author:
|College Enrolled||Kenyon College|
|Home Town, State||West Chester, PA|
|Years Attended Boarding School||4|
|Activities During Boarding School||Activities: Tour Guide for the Office of Admissions, Field hockey team (4 years), Lacrosse team (3 years), Member of Robotics ClubLeadership: Student prefect (1 year), Class Officer (2 years), Student Council (2 years)|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
First and foremost, Westtown is a strong and united community. This aspect of the school was invaluable for my high school experience. By this I mean that, in the best way possible, there is complete accountability for every student, reflected in the encouraging nature of the faculty and staff and the countless opportunities for students to share their interests and talents.Secondly, another unique aspect of Westtown is the Work Program. Every student is required to participate in this aspect of school activity, thereby strengthening the community and ensuring communal participation. By means of this program, every student preforms one "job" per trimester. These tasks include setting the tables for meals in the dining room, preforming light cleaning in the classrooms and lending a hand at the community garden. This aspect of Westtown makes students feel actively involved in their own community. For me, it made me feel that I was giving back in a meaningful and productive way.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
Firstly, I learned to read and write very well. These strengths served me extremely well in college where I needed to be able to read long books and articles in a short amount of time and think quickly and critically. I am so thankful that Westtown endowed me with those strengths. In terms of achievement, I was able to achieve at a very high level in high school thanks to my dedicated teachers who made sure that I was always keeping up with school work and that I was constantly engaged. My good grades in high school enabled me to get into my first-choice college which jump-started me on a wonderful career.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I would say to perspective boarding school students that you should get involved in your school in as many ways as you possibly can, especially when you first arrive at school. Even though joining clubs and groups may seem intimidating, they will help you to make lasting friendships and great connections.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
I think I appreciate Westtown most for what it has done to shape me as a person. My education there has formed me into a caring, driven, sharp individual and I will forever be greatful for that.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
The belfry always serves up really great after-school food and Ernie's chocolate chip cookies in the dining room are not to be missed! I would say that on your visit to campus you should see the top of campus but also walk down to the tennis courts and the lake to get a full view of what the surrounding area is like. The "lookout post" in the big tree before you reach the tennis courts is personally one of my favorite places on campus to visit.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I liked that Westtown was a place where every student was encouraged to think critically and constructively. We were taught to think "outside of the box" while still maintaining a certain level of organization and thoughtfulness. The layout of all the main classrooms reflects the academic philosophy of Westtown. All classrooms are equipped with a large table and students sit around the perimeter, facing the teacher. This allows for open discussion and allows every member of the class to see every other member. The teacher is not situated at a distance from the students, but rather they are part of the class and they inhabit an equal, albeit leading, role. Academics at Westtown also maintain a very global view of the world and our place in it, allowing students to "think big" and consider others from different backgrounds. This is reflected in the English program, which makes it a point to read a substantial number of "non-US" authors, the World Religions program, the History program and of course the Language program.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
At Westtown I participated in field hockey, lacrosse, swimming and the non-competitive "winter running" program. Most of all, I liked the "required" element of the sports program because it led me to try sports which I never would have dared to play. I never would have considered lacrosse before Westtown, but I ended up loving the game and continued to play throughout my high school career. The sports requirement made for a more diverse groups of players, and the range of ability on the teams was refreshing.
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I liked that the Drama department allowed for a range of involvement. By that I mean that although I was not a "serious" actress who was interested in pursuing theatre after high school, I was able to participate meaningfully in the department. My freshman year I took a course called "Acting and Improv" which was a brilliant introduction to the department and mostly consisted of improv games and scene-writing. My senior year I also participated in the senior play which is open to anyone who wishes to be involved.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
In all, I liked the flexibility of the extracurricular activities at Westtown. For example, I joined the robotics team my sophomore year even though I had no experience or interest in engineering. I did so because I was able to participate as the team's writer and press liaison. I drafted grant proposals, wrote local newspaper articles and handled the paperwork for the team. I loved that role because of its flexibility and its unique contribution to the team.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Most of all, I liked that the dorm parents and faculty families that lived with us "on dorm" were actively involved in our lives, both personally and academically. I knew that at all times I could rely on these individuals for anything that I needed and they proved to be helpful and supportive. They never felt like harsh authority figures, but instead I came to see them as older siblings who I wanted to emulate and who I respected. The dorm and room selection process is very fair and runs smoothly. Returning students get to pick their roommates and there is a lottery system for picking rooms which hardly ever incites controversy. The room setups are fantastic and the skybeds were my favorite aspect of the rooms. The furniture is nice (dark wood) and I felt more comfortable there than in any college dorm room I had!
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
What I liked most about Westtown dining was the dietary flexibility. If you are vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian or have any type of dietary restriction, Westtown will take care of you! Community dinner is also a positive aspect of the program: once a week students are required to come to dinner in the dining room. A nicer, bigger meal is served and students eat with their friends, faculty and community members.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Westtown is located in a suburb of Philadelphia, so that means that it is not very close to big shopping areas or city-like places but it is a short car ride to downtown West Chester and only about an hour drive to Philadelphia. You can find pretty much everything you need within a ten mile radius (by car) but not much is accessible on foot.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
I liked that, as a result of the size, I knew pretty much everyone at the school. Even if I didn't know everyone well, I knew generally who they were friends with, what they liked and how they liked to spend their time. There are also a lot of ways to "mix it up" socially. Prefect groups, advisor groups, classes, clubs and sports are just a few examples. Students are highly encouraged to reach outside of their friend groups to others who they do not know as well.
|7:00 AM||Breakfast in dining room|
|8:15 AM||First class|
|9:00 AM||Second class|
|10:30 AM||Third class|
|12:30 AM||Fourth class|
|1:15 PM||Fifth class|
|2:30 PM||Study Hall|
|10:00 AM||Breakfast in the dining room|
|11:00 AM||An hour of homework in my room|
|12:00 AM||Hang out with friends outside (frisbee, etc)|
|1:00 PM||Lunch in dining room|
|2:00 PM||Walk to Pete's produce with friends (30-35 min walk across x-country course)|
|6:00 PM||Order take-out and eat with friends on dorm while we watch a movie on a computer|
|8:00 PM||Go with friends on a weekend van trip to King of Prussia mall|
|11:00 PM||Back to Westtown--in our rooms by 11|
|12:00 PM||Lights out!|
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Learning about a school from its website and social media pages is useful as you decide which school to choose. So is hearing what the school's alumni say about their alma mater.
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