Westtown School - Review #9
About the Author:
|Years Attended Boarding School:||2010-2015|
|Sports and Activities:||I was a member of the dance team -- called the "Elements Ensemble" --, a lead dancer and choreographer for a few theater productions, and a member of the "Epiphanies" student magazine team.|
|College Enrolled:||University of Pittsburgh|
|Home Town, State:||Valley Forge, PA|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
What makes Westtown special is it's long history and its religious background. The school and it's teachers are incredibly grounded in the founding message and values of the school -- sometimes to a fault, but well meaning nonetheless.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
The best thing that happened to me were two teachers -- Erin Cook and Susan Rhodewalt. They were my freshman and junior year history teachers, respectively, and both did much to improve and broaden my loves of history, interpretation, reading, and debating. I can confidently say I left high school with more than a rudimentary knowledge of world geography, disparate cultural practices, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Women's Rights Movement. I am no longer allowed to play Jeopardy with my parents because I know too much!
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
Leave your room as often as possible. You'll make far more friends if you open your door. The easiest way to get the whole dorm floor together is to watch "Hairspray" in the lounge -- if you start with 4 people, you'll easily have everyone gathered around the TV by Queen Latifah's first appearance on screen.Make friends with the kitchen staff -- they are all lovely people, and occasionally reserve fancy desserts that you might be able to take advantage of.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
It was the place I needed to be when I was there. Whether or not I knew it or not, Westtown was the best fit for me as a student and a person. I credit a lot of who I am to the people I was able to be around.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Hang out in Central, the South Room, the Library and the Lower School playground on the weekends. At the end of the year, you can see Memorial Day fireworks from the playground, so take advantage of the prime viewing spot.And, if you're a writer, the Industrial Hall fire escape stairs is one of the best places to hash out a chapter or five.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The curriculum is challenging, broad-reaching and in-depth. As a now history major, I was very influenced by the spectrum of classes that dealt with non-western subjects (classes on the Israel/Palestine conflict, Ancient middle eastern history, World Religions, etc.), and the ability to research/write deeply on and try interpreting historical events. The homework carries that challenging bit from the classroom to home, but it was never hard to do well as long as you showed effort, interest, and applied yourself.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I was a dancer, and always have been. Being able to work at Westtown was very different from my studio training - there's significantly less structure, more focus on expression and ability than technique, and no one wears tights to class (which is amazing). I would say that the dancers, and any team that didn't ascribe to elite-sports athleticism or was a basketball team, was severely under-rated and under-appreciated. However, I felt the coaches mitigated that, as we engaged with them on a day-to-day basis.Note: Westtown has a mandatory participation in 3 seasons of athletics. It is not as bad as it sounds.
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I didn't really exist in this capacity as a student beyond the 2 productions I participated in. I always thought the performances were quite good and (outside looking in) the teachers knew their stuff.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Not my area, but people I know who ran organizations and/or participated heavily really enjoyed themselves. Our student diversity organizations have a huge presence, which I thought was excellent.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Westtown is co-ed, so the dorms are separated by gender. On the weekends and after nightly study halls, there are snacks on the main hall, and students are allowed to keep most manner of food in their rooms. Learning how to work the radiators during the winter takes some practice, and adds a nice vintage feel to the rooms. Skybeds (aka a loft with mattresses) are the greatest invention -- you get all the possible floor space and your bed is always warm because hot air rises.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
I've lived in the area for around 18 years. It's a pretty, quiet town, but there isn't much to do unless you go into West Chester (the larger, neighboring town), which is only around 10 minutes away. The school has 600 acres in it's possession, so long walks, creek fishing, and epic games of hide and go seek are always possible on the weekends.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
My graduating class very much turned into a family our final year there. We were a very small class that not many people liked ( we had a history), but we were very close in our own way. You learn to appreciate people and tolerate their worst sides in close quarters, and a blow to one person is a blow to everyone. Granted, the outside world works nothing like this, but that doesn't make the bubble any less enjoyable.
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