Dr. Stephen Brown Takes Over as East High School Principal
DECA Students Raise Money for Home of the Sparrow
East High School DECA students collected just over $2,000 dollars and much-needed supplies for Home of the Sparrow on November 14. The West Chester-based non-profit organization is dedicated to ending homelessness for women and children in Chester County. Students set up a drive-through procedure which made it easy for members of the community to drop off their donations. The East High School Marching Band also treated community members to a socially distanced performance.Donation boxes are set up at Glen Acres Elementary School, Exton Elementary School, and East High School until November 24th.
East High School Junior Wins Golf Championship
Congratulations to East High School's Victoria Kim! Kim, a junior, won the PIAA Class AAA girls' state golf championship at the Heritage Hills Golf Course in York earlier this week. Yesterday, teachers at East gathered in front of the school at the end of the day and surprised Victoria with congratulatory messages. East High School golf coach Todd Lorback describes Victoria as "modest and humble." He added, "we are immensely proud of her!"
Read more about Victoria's big win.
East Students Perform at District 12 Orchestra Festival
Nicole Topka (left,) Julia Martin, Josh Cuozzo, John Foley
Congratulations to East High School's Josh Cuozzo, John Foley, Julia Martin, and Nicole Topka, who performed in the District 12 Orchestra Festival at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center on January 31 and February 1.
Led by Mr. Joseph Caminiti, Symphony Director from West Chester University, District 12 Orchestra is comprised of the highest-level musicians from high schools in Chester and Delaware County.
The student musicians study under the musical leadership of Mr. Timothy Celfo at East High School.
According to Mr Celfo, Josh Cuozzo, John Foley, and Julia Martin advanced to the Regional Orchestra Festival, which takes place this March at Neshaminy High School. The Regional Orchestra Festival features the top student musicians from Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Bucks County. After regionals, students may audition to be part of the All-State Orchestra, All-Eastern, and Nationals.
2019 WCASD Senior Walk
On Tuesday, May 28, 2019, the Class of 2019 took one final walk through the hallways of their elementary and middle schools in celebration of their graduation from the West Chester Area School District. There were smiles and hugs, cheers and tears, time spent reminiscing and reflections on the future.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it also took a village to put together our Senior Walk Highlights video! Thank you to all of the teachers, staff, administrators, students, and parents who submitted videos and photos.
Congratulations to the Class of 2019!
East Student Organizes Operation Gratitude Fundraiser
East student and fundraiser organizer, Lia Fourakis, would like to thank everyone for supporting our veterans and current troops by donating items to the Coatesville Veterans Affairs or by contributing through the online Operation Gratitude Fundraiser. With your help, over $270 was raised and we amassed many donations from the needs list for the VA.
East Staff Holds "Pink Day" Celebration
Faculty at East High School recently raised $1,100 as part of a 'Pink Day' celebration. Staff members generously made a monetary donation and were encouraged to wear the color pink to celebrate the last chemotherapy treatment for the wife of social studies teacher Chuck Lindsay. The money raised was given to the Chester County-based cancer charity, Unite for Her. The organization is currently supporting the family of an East ninth grade student whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Unite for HER was founded in 2009. The organization helps bridge the gap between the medical and wellness community by giving women access to therapies that they would typically pay out of pocket for such as acupuncture, yoga, massage therapy, nutrition talks, and counseling sessions.
The organization has grown from helping 24 women through one hospital affiliation to helping nearly 1200 women and partnering with a total of 36 cancer centers and hospitals.
For more information, please visit www.uniteforher.org.
East HS Students Advance to State National History Day Competition
Four students from East High School will represent their school at the state National History Day Competition in Carlisle, Pennsylvania next month. Joseph Delaney, Mathew Iozzi, Sanketh Raju, and Abhirami Suresh advanced after competing in the 30th Annual National History Day Southeastern Regional Competition, held on March 29 at the Chester County Historical Society.
The theme of this year's competition is Triumph and Tragedy in History. Iozzi and Suresh received first place in the group documentary category for I Can See Clearly Now: the Media's Unprecedented Influence on the Vietnam War. Delaney and Raju received second place in the group website category for The Rise and Fall of Commercial Supersonic Aircraft.
Each year, more than half a million middle and high school students across the country participate in the National History Day contest. The Chester County Historical Society coordinates the contest for Chester and Delaware counties.
National History Day is a non-profit education organization based in College Park, Maryland. The organization offers programs throughout the year that encourage students worldwide to conduct original research on historical topics that interest them.
East High School's Sue Cornelius named PIAA 2019 Region I Athletic Director of the Year
East High School Athletic Director Sue Cornelius
West Chester East High School athletic director, Sue Cornelius has been named the 2019 Region I Athletic Director of the Year by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. Ms. Cornelius is a graduate of West Chester East High School, West Chester University, and Immaculata University. In 2009, she earned the Certified Athletic Administrator designation from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.
Ms. Cornelius has been with the West Chester Area School District for 33 years. She began her career as a health and physical educator at Stetson Middle School. From 1979-2004, she coached field hockey, lacrosse, basketball, softball, and volleyball at the high school and middle school levels. In 2004, she became East High School's athletic director.
"I've loved sports my whole life," said Cornelius. "I was going to play field hockey and lacrosse at West Chester, but I dislocated my knee, so I went into coaching."
In addition to her role as East's athletic director, Ms. Cornelius has spent the past six years serving on the PIAA District I Committee. She has also held the title of PIAA District I Girls Lacrosse Chairperson for the last ten years, as well as the PIAA District I girls Lacrosse Tabulator for the previous three years.
Throughout her professional career, Ms. Cornelius's passion has been to provide the best academic and athletic opportunities for student-athletes.
"I enjoy kids. I like to see them experience success when they work hard to get there. It means a lot to me," said Cornelius.
East HS Students Attend DECA State Career Development Conference
Students from East High School made a big showing at the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) State Career Development Conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
151 DECA students took part in various competitions at the conference in late February, including role-playing, sales presentations, job interviews, and business and marketing plans. They also attended career and leadership workshops.
Fifty-two students from the East DECA chapter received recognition at the conference. Thirty-six students won medals for high test score or high role play, 28 students qualified to attend the international conference in Orlando, eight additional students placed as finalists, and three freshmen took home trophies in "state only" events.
Freshman, Jake Coombe, took home triple medallions and the 2nd place trophy in logistics.
Sophomore Lizzie Guan was elected for state office next year. She will attend a summer leadership training for this position.
East DECA co-advisors, Carol Lill and Christy Rutherford said the students were wonderful ambassadors and proudly represented their school.
EastHigh School DECA is the largest chapter in Pennsylvania. DECA's mission is to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in high school and college for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management in high schools and colleges around the world. Globally, the High School Division includes 200,000 members in 3,500 schools. The Collegiate Division includes over 15,000 members in 275 colleges and universities.
East High School students who participated in this year's conference are: Eric Bechtel, Jessica Becker, Sean Brennan, Julianna Buitron, Aidan Clark, Jake Coombe, Mary Cate Coyle, Tyler Daley, Kristin Eland, Margaux Flemming, Nicole Fredericks, Kayla Fusaro, Nikita Gandhi, Saundra Godshall, Lizzie Guan, Amber Hawkins, Sean Heard, Emma Herman, Hannah Herman, Mallie Holman, Caidyn Hurley, Madelyn Kelijikian, Kiernan Kropinski, Niko Levin, Danielle Lewis, Kunal Maheshwari, Emily McGlinchey, Samantha McHugh, Shruti Meenakshi, Brendan Merten, Maya Moktan, Kathryn Palmer, Graham Pease, JP Perucki, Samantha Phillips, Lexi Plaisted, John Pimley, Cole Riccione, James Schaffer, Michaela Schiele, Paige Smethurst, Jonathan Stafford, Ryan Stafford, Timmy Sullivan, Donovan Tate, Matt Treon, Krystin Usilton, Olivia Usilton, Abbey Vandergast, Rebecca Vengal, Shira Vora, Lindsey Wassell.
Girls and Boys Basketball Clinic Helps Chester County Food Bank
Members of West Chester East Boys and Girls basketball teams spent the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service sharing their skills with West Chester Area School District students in grades 3 - 8 at a basketball clinic held at the West Chester YMCA. The event was free to participants, but they were encouraged to bring canned goods that were donated to the Chester County Food Bank.
During the two-hour clinic, high school players worked with 70 children on a variety of basketball skills ranging from dribbling to shooting to agility and footwork. West Chester East Basketball head coaches Tom Durant and Erin Listrani and assistant coaches Caroline DeAngelo and Kevan Garvin also lent their expertise.
"In the midst of their intense seasons, our players and coaches took the time to help these young ballers learn some new skills and had fun while doing so," said Kelly Richardson,co-coordinator of the MLK Day basketball clinic. "There were plenty of smiling faces on the court, both young and older, and the energy level was awesome!"
Richardson added that while the day centered around basketball, the nearly 400 food items that were collected for the Chester County Food Bank serve as a reminder of the generosity of the West Chester community.
The Chester County Food Bank partners with more than 120 agencies in the county to provide food to those in need.
East High School Students Advance to National History Day Finals
Abhirami Suresha, Mathew Iozzi, and Sarah Guan
Success at National History Day's state competition in Carlisle, Pennsylvania means advancement to the national competition for three students from East High School. 11th-grader Sarah Guan won first place for her individual documentary, United in Diversity: The European Union's Quest for Continental Peace. 10th-graders Mathew Iozzi and Abhirami Suresh received second place for their group documentary, The India-Pakistan Conflict: Tensions Over Land & Power.
Guan, Iozzi, and Suresh will join a team of students from Fugett Middle School at the national contest June 10-14 at the University of Maryland, College Park. 8th-graders Liam Aylsworth, Jake Coombe, Chase Latyak, and Tommy Scheuer won 1st place in the state competition in the Junior Group Documentary category with their film entitled "The Space Race: From Competitive Fight to Cooperative Flight." 8th-grader Alison Alexis essay "The Comics Code: Conflict and Compromise," took second place in the Junior Paper category.
Each year, more than half a million middle and high school students across the country participate in National History Day. The Chester County Historical Society is the coordinator of the local contest in Chester and Delaware Counties.
A different theme for the contest is chosen every year. According to the National History Day website, the theme is based on the broad application to world, national, or state history and its relevance to ancient history or to the more recent past. This year's theme is Conflict and Compromise in History.
East Freshmen Receive Noted Award
East Freshmen Alice McNaull (left) and Anna Tran receive Founders Award from the Emergency Aid of Pennsylvania
East High School freshmen, Anna McNaull and Alice Tran, recently received the Founders Award from the Emergency Aid of Pennsylvania (EA). The award was handed out at a reception at Cabrini College on April 29.
Young women in 9th-grade who demonstrate leadership and foster good citizenship through school and community activities are eligible for the award. Through the EA, McNaull and Tran will have the opportunity to attend seminars and continue service hours with trips to local women’s shelters and Cradles to Crayons during the next three years. They will also become candidates for EA scholarships in their senior year. Approximately 200 Founders Award winners from Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs have received four-year college scholarships through the EA since 1984.
The annual Founders Award Program was established in 1956 as a tribute to the eight Philadelphia women who founded the EA in 1914. Over 1,200 young women have received the Founders Award.
The efforts of the EA were initially directed at providing relief to those suffering abroad from the hardships of World War I. EA continued through the 1920’s and the Depression-era delivering help wherever there was a great need. During World War II, EA secured and sent relief supplies to the Allies.
Today the dedicated women of the EA continue to give their time, talent, and financial resources to accomplish the organization's mission of making a significant difference in the lives of women and children throughout the Philadelphia area.
Student's Make-A-Wish Dream Comes True
Maria Colón (10) recently fulfilled her dream of recording her own song, thanks in part to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A link to Maria's interview about her battle with cancer, and the process of recording her original song, is provided below, as well as a link to her song, "Recover" on YouTube.
CBS News article: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2018/04/27/make-a-wish-maria-colon/
Maria's song, "Recover": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5HaKcz_aVg
Boys and Girls Basketball Teams Raise Money for Unite For Her
East High School's girls and boys basketball teams came together to raise slightly over $1,000 for Unite for Her.
The students raised the money through t-shirt sales, a bake sale, a 50/50 raffle and a half-court shootout at the February 3rd Pink Game fundraiser.
Unite for Her, which is based in West Chester, is a grassroots effort that began in 2009. The organization helps bridge the gap between the medical and wellness community by giving women access to therapies that they would typically pay out of pocket for such as acupuncture, yoga, massage therapy, nutrition talks, and counseling sessions.
The organization gives women access to wellness therapies by giving them a $2,000 passport to spend on such therapies. Every recipient has a full year to utilize the passport.
For more information, please visit www.uniteforher.org.
East HS BSU Wins Black History Knowledge Bowl
Members of the East, Henderson, and Rustin Black Student Unions
Super Bowl LII wasn't the only bowl garnering attention in West Chester. East High School's Black Student Union were the victors of the 2018 Black History Knowledge Bowl. This year's competition was held at East on February 2 and also included BSU members from Henderson and Rustin High Schools.
Students district-wide worked together and created a detailed study guide to prepare for the competition. Categories included general knowledge, inventions, music, and sports.
"All of the participants did a phenomenal job," said Rustin BSU co-advisor and Spanish teacher Marya Graham. "We all learned some pretty interesting facts!"
Rustin placed second in the competition and Henderson came in third.
East HS Dedicates Gymnasium in Honor of Long-time District Employee
Jack "Shug" Byrne left an indelible mark on the West Chester Area School District, having spent more than 40 years as a teacher, coach, and athletic director. He's been described as a friend, idol, and mentor whose leadership and vision helped firmly establish WCASD athletics in the community and as a well-recognized competitor in the Ches-Mont League, District I, and Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. With that in mind, it is fitting that the district dedicated the gymnasium at East High School in Byrne's honor.
Alumni, community members, district staff, and Byrne's family were in attendance for the dedication ceremony which took place on January 25, 2018, before the boys varsity basketball game between East and Henderson. Superintendent Dr. Jim Scanlon, East Principal Dr. Kevin Fagan, and WCASD Athletic Directors Sue Cornelius (East), Ken McCormick (Henderson), and Chris Lunardi (Rustin) all took a brief moment to address the crowd and reflect upon their relationships with Byrne.
"I knew Jack since I was a student at East High School (’79)," said Cornelius. "When you reminisce about East, Jack is one of the names that is mentioned most often. He taught us to always give our best effort and to learn from every experience whether good or bad.”
His career began in 1964 as an educator and coach at Henderson High School. A decade later, Byrne became the first football coach at East High School, building a successful football program. In 1987 he was named athletic director and faced challenging times as the Ches-Mont League moved from 12 schools to four. Under Byrne's leadership, the Ches-Mont league remained competitive, as schools were continually vying for district and state championships. East captured four state titles during Byrne's tenure as athletic director. He retired in 2003, but remained active in the district, serving as interim athletic director at East, Henderson, and Rustin. When Rustin High School opened its doors in 2006, Byrne developed the school's athletic program.
"I got to know Jack when I started out in the Rustin Athletic Department," said Lunardi. "His wisdom, kindness, and unwavering support helped me through some tough times during the early years at Rustin. I will forever cherish the ten years I got to share with him."
Ken McCormick said Byrne was given the nickname "Shug" by his physical education teacher when he was a young student in Philadelphia.
"Jack's teacher used to call all of the boys "Shug." The name stuck with him." said McCormick.
"Everyone in their life can think back to the person who guided them along the pathways of life," added McCormick. "Jack was the one for me. Instead of my education being guided by “no child left behind” or “race to the top” I was guided by Shug Byrne and his true belief in me to succeed in life.
Dr. Kevin Fagan said naming the gym in Byrne's honor is a testament to the legacy he leaves behind.
"We are proud to call Jack a Viking," said Fagan.
Byrne was inducted into several local Hall of Fames – Ches-Mont League, Killinger and Chester County. He passed away March 8, 2017.
WCASD High School Students Attend DVCEE's Annual Conference
A group of students from East, Henderson, and Rustin High Schools attended the Delaware Valley Consortium for Excellence & Equity's 12th Annual High School Student Leadership Institute on November 30, 2017. The one-day forum, held at the University of Pennsylvania, was designed to help teach students about how to effectively address personal challenges in school and life, as well as to empower them to make sound and success producing decisions about their futures.
Students participated in breakout sessions, heard from motivational speakers and networked with leaders from other area high schools. Dr. Koreem Bell (Henderson), Miss Marya Graham (Rustin), and Mrs. Erica Moreno-Davis (East) chaperoned the trip.
The keynote speaker was Carlos Ojeda Jr., a youth development expert who focuses on empowering students to succeed by teaching them that their voice is their power. He is the founder of CoolSpeak: The Youth Engagement Company. CoolSpeak provides youth motivational speakers, programs, and events designed to engage, educate, and empower young people.
The Delaware Valley Consortium for Excellence & Equity is a collaborative association of 36 school districts located throughout Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and northern Delaware, as well as several intermediate units, and the PA State Education Association.
East and Stetson Students Participate in TasteBuds Philadelphia
East High School freshman Grayson Norbury has a passion for cooking, and that passion has led her to TasteBuds, a unique signature event run by Best Buddies International. Best Buddies is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that pairs volunteers with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities to form lasting friendships and provide employment and leadership development opportunities.
This year marked the first year for TasteBuds Philadelphia, which was held on November 7th at Sugar House Casino. The event matched talented chefs from the Greater Philadelphia region with a "buddy" from various Best Buddies chapters in the area who served as "sous chefs" for the evening. Attendees had the opportunity to sample the chefs' creations. Grayson was paired with Chef Ryan Bloome from Terrain in Glen Mills.
Their dish? “Flatbread pizza with a soft, whipped cheese, wilted kale, and squash." said Bloome.
Grayson and Chef Bloom met this past Monday at Terrain to prep for the event. It was the second meeting between the pair, and Grayson’s eyes lit up with excitement as Bloom led her to the kitchen. Within moments of coming up with a game plan, Grayson began to move around the kitchen and prepare the ingredients with the concentration, confidence, and ease of a seasoned chef well beyond her 15 years.
Grayson, who was diagnosed with autism when she was 18 months old, has been baking since kindergarten. "It started with simple, store bought cookies that you just slice and bake," said Grayson's mom, Carrie Norbury. "She loves to bake. It has become very routine for her. Grayson is a routine girl, so we bake every day after school."
Grayson's favorite recipe is chocolate chip cookies, but she also loves to make cakes and cupcakes. Her red velvet cupcakes were a fan favorite at Stetson Middle School where her baked goods were offered on the school's coffee cart.
"Nothing made your day more than Grayson's red velvet cupcakes," said Stetson Middle School Special Education teacher Patti Smith.
Smith spent three years as Grayson's teacher, and when she learned about TasteBuds, she knew she had to get Grayson involved.
"I can't think of anyone more appropriate for TasteBuds than Grayson," said Smith. "She is such an individual. She has so many strengths. She loves cooking; she loves her family; she loves adventure. She is quite an amazing young lady with no fear."
In addition to her love of cooking, Carrie Norbury said her daughter has an adventurous spirit.
"She is very physical. She loves to swim and climb. She repelled down a waterfall in Costa Rica. She is artistic and very creative. She has an incredible patience for the things that she is interested in. She is still working on her communication pieces and can't always tell us what she is thinking, but we really get a glimpse of what is happening inside her by watching her create in various ways. It’s really neat to see through that window.”
Chef Bloome enjoyed working with Grayson. His father has taught special education for the last 20 years, and Bloome said he was raised to be an advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. When he first met Grayson, he was struck by her love for cooking.
"This (TasteBuds) is the perfect event for her to do. She’s comfortable in the kitchen, which is great."
Mrs. Norbury acknowledges that Grayson has her challenges and is always appreciative when people are patient with her.
"She’s not the easiest person to get to know. She has a hard time socially and with communication. She’s a sweetheart, and she's a really neat kid, but it does take some patience to get to know her.”
“I hope that she is always a happy and well-adjusted person," Mrs. Norbury added. "I feel that in our situation, in our family, a diagnosis of autism has been less traumatic because she’s a happy kid. She has her challenges and her struggles, but she is happy, and she does well. It is my hope that she can be independent and always surrounded by people who love and care for her and that she just continues to enjoy life.”
Stetson Middle School student Emma Dredge was also at Tuesday night’s event. Emma was nominated for Best Buddies Champion of the Year for 2017. The 12-year-old is an officer of the Stetson Middle School Best Buddies Chapter and the youngest person to be nominated for Champion of the Year. With a strong dedication to raising money for Best Buddies, Emma was recognized as one of the top fundraisers for the organization.
Emma first learned about Best Buddies through Annie Seagraves, her 5th-grade art teacher at Penn Wood Elementary School. She loves being involved with Best Buddies.
“It makes me happy to see them laugh and have fun,” said Dredge. “Sometimes it is difficult for people with disabilities to make friends, but when you look at them, you know what’s in their heart. They care for everyone. They might be shy at first, but just talk to them and interact with them.”
Emma’s mother, Jennifer Dredge, was glowing with pride over her daughter's accomplishments.
“I’m so proud of her. She has such a passion for wanting to help others, despite having health problems of her own,” said Dredge.
Dredge said Emma suffers from extreme allergies and autoimmune issues, and as a result, they make regular trips to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for treatment.
“She constantly thinks of others and puts their needs before her own.”
Emma’s generous spirit is infectious. Her older sister Jenna joined the Best Buddies chapter at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh where she is currently enrolled. In addition, plans are in the works to start a chapter at Rustin High School where Jennifer Dredge’s other daughter, Kayla is a freshman. There are five Best Buddies chapters in the West Chester Area School District – East High School, Henderson High School, Fugett Middle School, Peirce Middle School, and Stetson Middle School.
“I have always taught my daughters the importance of community service,” said Dredge.
The money raised through TasteBuds will help sustain the 55 eastern Pennsylvania Best Buddies chapters in addition to supporting the development of the organization’s new Citizens Program that matches adults with disabilities in one to one friendships with community volunteers.
“The Citizens Program is so important because these kids need support once they graduate,” said Jennifer Dredge.
To learn more about Best Buddies, log on to www.bestbuddies.org.
East HS Named National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence
EHS Student Wins National Constitution Center Writing Contest
The Whiskey Rebellion tested George Washington as president and the sovereignty of the Constitution. It was also the subject of an award-winning short story written by West Chester East High School senior Danny Coyle.
Coyle won first place in the National Constitution Center's 2017 Coalition of Freedom Short Story Contest for his submission, The American Experiment. The contest offered the opportunity for 11th-grade students from across Pennsylvania to write short stories exploring civic virtues embodied and demonstrated by the founding fathers during the drafting and ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
According to a statement from the National Constitution Center, Coyle's piece about the Whiskey Rebellion "was selected among submissions from students across the state for its insightful exploration of civic virtue and high quality of the writing."
In addition to receiving a $10,000 prize, Danny's short story, along with other contest winners’ stories, was adapted and performed during a program at the National Constitution Center on July 17 by Historic Philadelphia’s Once Upon a Nation Storytellers.
Coyle, who is a part of East High School's gifted program, was prompted to enter the contest by his gifted resource teacher, Christine Bland.
“I encourage my students to extend their learning, including participating in academic competitions. Danny is an academically talented student who is very interested in history, economics, and political science. He is also a strong writer. I encouraged him to enter the contest because I felt it aligned with his strengths and interests.”
Coyle is about to enter his senior year at East High School and plans on majoring in economics or finance in the future.
“I was very intrigued by this contest because I love history and writing,” said Coyle. “I also took an online college course on the constitution this past year, so this contest really peaked my interest. I worked really hard researching my subject. I tried to pick a topic that was really unique - something that not a lot of people would have heard about or choose. I thought the Whiskey Rebellion was perfect because it was a true test of the new government's powers. Plus it happened here in Pennsylvania.”
Coyle, whose favorite president is Ronald Reagan, plans to invest his prize money.
The National Constitution Center received a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to fund the awards for the winning submissions, which will be published as part of the We the People exhibition. The stories will also be performed at Once Upon A Nation Storytelling Benches throughout Philadelphia's Historic District.
For more information, please contact Ms. Jennifer Neill, Digital Communications Coordinator at 484-266-1171 or email@example.com.
Kendra Werner Celebrates 25 Years of Musicals
Kendra Werner poses with some of the cast members from Grease
As the saying - goes if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life. West Chester East High School Choral Director Kendra Werner is a testament to those words. Werner, who has been a music teacher in the West Chester Area School District for 30 years, directed her 25th musical this year, which was Grease.
Werner's role with the district began in an unofficial capacity in 1985 as a student teacher under East's then choral director H. Ray Hunsicker. While student teaching, Werner assisted Hunsicker as his accompanist and helped out with the musicals. When Werner graduated from West Chester University in 1987 with her master's degree, Hunsicker recommended her for a permanent position with the district. At first, Werner taught choral music part time at Peirce Middle School and gave instrumental lessons at Fugett Middle School. The next year her teaching duties expanded to include instruction at East Bradford Elementary School and then in her third year she landed a full-time position. Werner has been the choral director at East for the last 15 years. In addition to directing the choir and the school's musicals, she teaches general music, music technology, and music theory.
The first musical Werner directed at East was The Pajama Game in 1991. Other productions included West Side Story, Hello Dolly, The Music Man, Guys and Dolls, and Bye Bye Birdie to name a few.
For Werner, picking a favorite show is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. "One of my all time favorites is probably Once On This Island," said Werner. "It's a beautiful love story between a poor, young island girl and a rich, young island boy. Their lives collide one night when the boy is injured in a car accident during a storm. The girl nurses him back to health, and they fall in love. However, because of their differences, their families don't want them to be together. It is ultimately a story about accepting one another for who we are and being a common people. It's a story that can be applied in any scenario."
"The night of the final performance was amazing," added Werner, her eyes filling with tears. "I looked out at the audience, and there was not a dry eye in the house. I went home that night and fell asleep with tissues pressed to my face. That show made a huge impact."
Another of Werner's favorite shows that made a big impact was Hairspray. The show is set in the early 1960's in Baltimore, Maryland, and centers around Tracy Turnblad - a quirky, plus-sized, teenage girl who embraces stardom after landing a spot on a local television dance show. Tracy uses her newfound fame and influence to advocate for racial integration on the show. Werner said it is another show where the theme centers around acceptance.
"The year we performed Hairspray we did a lot at East to try and build an inclusive school community and build a better culture all across the board and not have subdivisions. The show really brought such a different climate to East. I have a thick stack of emails and letters from people commending us for our choice that year and the job that we did. It was a major accomplishment."
Directing school musicals is a labor of love for Werner. "When we are rehearsing for the musical, the hours are long," said Werner. "On those days, I come to school when it's dark, and I leave when it's dark. But it's a good time. To see where the kids were on audition day to opening night is just amazing."
Each year's musical is just as exciting as the last. Werner said the makeup and chemistry of every cast are different and the kids always surprise her.
"The young lady who played 'Motormouth Maybelle' in our production of Hairspray was unbelievable," said Werner. "It was her first time on stage. She cried when she sang her big number 'I Know Where I've Been.' I looked over at her father, and he was wiping tears from his eyes. It's moments like those that make all the hours worth it."
Musical productions take a lot of work and Werner has a team of dedicated professionals that help her. Choreographer Rose Dowlin has been by Werner's side for most of Werner's tenure. Dowlin has been teaching dance in West Chester for the last 30 years and is currently with The Rock School West on Paoli Pike.
"Kendra is very sweet and caring," said Dowlin. "You can tell she really cares about the kids as people and not just what they do in her classroom or on the stage. We get along really well and work well together. She does her thing, and I do mine, and together we help the kids put on a great performance."
Werner, along with Dowlin and current theater director John McGraw from Downingtown Area School District, work together seamlessly to help the students at East perform the best shows possible, but the productions are not without their challenges.
"Paying the bills and getting enough volunteers to help out are probably the biggest challenges we face," said Werner. The theater department is self-supported, so we have to hold fundraisers to get the things we need to put on the shows. It's all worth it though."
Werner passionately shares her love of music and musical theater with her students, an opinion shared amongst many of her colleagues. “Kendra enthusiastically works with her students to perfect music repertoire for a choral concert, or to refine the staging and performance of musical numbers for theater productions,” said David Ehrhart, Supervisor of World Language, Fine Arts, and Career Educations for the West Chester Area School District. “She works diligently with her students to polish and perfect all performances, and students respectfully strive for excellence in all that they do. I am extremely proud of the work that Kendra does with her students; she and her students consistently perform with a very high level of poise and confidence.”
When asked if there was anything else she could see herself doing with her life, Werner responded "No, there really isn't. I feel very blessed and fortunate that I always knew that I wanted to be a music teacher. No matter where you go, there are good days and bad days. There is stress; there is joy. There are highs and lows. You just have to believe in yourself."
The East High School Theater Department performs three theatrical productions each year – the Fall play, the Spring musical, and Spring one-act plays. Werner said her team has not yet decided what the Spring Musical will be for the upcoming school year.
For more information, please contact Ms. Jennifer Neill, Digital Communications Coordinator, West Chester Area School District at 484-266-1170 or firstname.lastname@example.org
East Students Support Fugett's Tutoring Program
Mr. Arthur Zadrozny, East NHS program advisor, Ms. Marnie Mojzes, director of Fugett tutoring program, Alex Carr, NHS President for 2017-18, Carley Castura, 1st Vice Pres. And Danny Lewis, Secretary, (Left to Right).
East High School National Honor Society officers recently presented a check for $1,000 to Fugett Middle School in support of its after-school tutoring program. For the last several years, the East NHS has supported Fugett's program, providing student volunteers to work with middle school students who need help after school with their academics. These NHS tutors not only help with student’s academic classes, but also provide help with note-taking and study skills. This past year some 80 students from East HS provided almost 200 hours of tutoring services after school as part of this program.
The Fugett After School tutoring program is designed to help students who need additional support with mastering the academic requirements of middle school. Students are able to work one-on-one with a student tutor from East High School on Tuesday and Thursday throughout most of the school year.
The East HS NHS has provided a gift of $1,000 in each of the past two school years to help cover the cost of staff to supervise this program and to provide busing for students who would have no other way of getting home.
The Fugett Tutoring Program is directed by Ms. Marnie Mojzes. The East NHS Program Adviser is Mr. Arthur Zadrozny.
For more information please contact Ms. Jennifer Neill, Digital Communications Coordinator at 484-266-1170 or email@example.com.
East Students Win Philadelphia Diamond Challenge Pitch Competition
East High School students Michel Bentley and Sravya Basvapatri recently won first place in the Philadelphia Diamond Challenge Pitch Competition for high school entrepreneurs. This dynamic duo created SteerSecure, a steering wheel cover that helps prevents car accidents caused by drowsy driving. In addition to winning $1,000, they also advance to the next level of competition at the University of Delaware to compete with young entrepreneurs around the world.