Westtown School - Review #37
About the Author:
|College Enrolled||Franklin & Marshall, University of Delaware|
|Home Town, State||Franconia, NH|
|Years Attended Boarding School||3|
|Activities During Boarding School||Varsity swim team, Photography club, Westtown Model Railroad Society (president senior year), Model airplane club, Amateur radio,|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
I am old Westtown. My mother graduated Westtown in 1936, and her two sisters (my aunts) graduated about the same time. I graduated Westtown in 1960. I sent both my sons there, Christopher (the older) graduated in 2000, Jonathan (the younger) graduated in 2006. I still go back for reunions every five years. I mention all this as a way to saying that I loved the place. My recollections are a little bit dated but Westtown has a very strong institutional memory and I am sure it hasn't changed all that much over the years. Dorm life was great, kinda like doing a sleepover with friends every night. My best and oldest friends are friends I made at Westtown better than 50 years ago. Living on dorm gets you to know your fellow students on a very deep level that lasts a lifetime. A lot of stuff they taught at Westtown has served me well over the years. The concept of sense of the meeting (discussion continues until all Friends present come to agreement) served me well as an officer in the Air Force. Fred Swan's physics worked well in my career in electrical engineering. Al Hay's history courses and his weekly current events lectures were absolutely first class. American Friends Service Committee work weekends in Philadelphia were instructive and eye opening. All in all, Westtown is the finest high school education available.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
Best thing was the good life long friends I made at Westtown. It's been 55 years and I still keep up with them. And I came away from Westtown with an abiding belief in the goodness of other people. It is still with me, I don't believe that people are out to get me, I believe that people want to do the right thing, and mostly succeed at it. Westtown had a lot to do with this belief.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
Well, if I had a chance to do Westtown over again. First off, I would bring a bicycle first year. I would make sure to sign up for chemistry early. I didn't get into Colonel's chemistry course back then and I missed it. Be religious about doing homework. Spend more time hanging out with girls.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Westtown was kind to everyone. No mean girls (or boys) picking on everyone. The faculty were mostly believing Friends who went to meeting with us twice a week. I came from an nonreligious family and I liked the religious atmosphere at Westtown.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Get into as many different things as you can. Classes, plays, sports, everything.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Academics are solid. Excellent teachers. Math courses that prepared me to take calculus freshman year. Great English courses, Shakespeare, Melville, Jane Austen, Great science courses, physics, chemistry, biology. Good French (my French speaking Grandmother approved)
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Soccer (even back in 1960 the Friends considered American football too violent for a Friends school), Swimming (my sport), tennis, baseball, basketball, wrestling, field hockey, Sports ("Checkout") was mandatory every afternoon.
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
Strong theatre program. Did a Shakespeare play every spring (I had a small part in Merchant of Venice one year), a Senior play, a Faculty play, and others. Did a great production of Brigadoon one year. The music department used to be Master Bernie Hutton (he is dead now) and offered instrumental lessons, orchestra, no band.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Student government, Work program, American Friends Service Committee, physics club, photography club, model railroad club, Brown and White (the newspaper), PPO (the literary magazine) robot club, Used to be, everyone signed up for some extracurricular activity every weekday evening after dinner. Canoeing and fishing on Westtown Lake. Sledding down to the Lake in winter. Friends meeting.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
The Westtown dorms are on the second and third floor of the old main building. The building runs east-west which means the dorm room windows face either south facing (preferred) or north facing (cool but chilly actually) Second floor is preferred over third floor. One big bathroom ("The tower") for each dorm floor. At years end there is a lottery for next year's dorm rooms, both your and your roommate draw a number. Junior year my roommate got lucky and drew number one, so we got second floor, south side, corner room.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Surrounding area was deep Pennsylvania farm country, apple orchards and corn fields back in 1960. Since then the Philadelphia suburbs have crept out and surrounded the school with housing developments. Fortunately the Westtown grounds are big, and you cannot see the suburbanization from the main campus. The nearest town is West Chester, a large town/very small city within biking distance. The center of town is where Gay Street crosses High Street. West Chester is fairly yuppified by now, lots of cool restaurants and stuff your folks will like. Used to have pretty good shopping, hardware, tools, photography supplies, books, records and stuff. Dunno how that works today.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
The best part of the social life was half the students were girls, smart, cute, fun to be with. Back in the day Westtown ran two or three formal dances, a lot more informal dances every school year. And you could take a girl to the varsity games every weekend, and the plays, the movies, or canoeing on the Lake.
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