Stories From Rustin
Karisma Jaini is standing at a crossroads. The Rustin High School senior will be graduating in roughly two months and is trying to decide where life will take her next - Virginia Commonwealth University or the University of Richmond. One thing that she will take with her no matter where she goes? The fact that she is a published author at the age of 18.
Karisma's essay, titled "To You, Women, I Am Eternally Grateful" is featured in A Teenager's Guide to Feminism (Pear Shaped Press, December 2020).
The collection of essays, poems, and stories "is aimed at helping today's youth navigate the necessary but sometimes controversial topics surrounding what it means to be a feminist or a woman in modern society."
While brief, Karisma's essay is rich with emotion, focused on her father's illness, heartbreak, self-harm, and the women who brought her back from those dark places.
"In a lot of my pieces prior (to this one,) I touched upon some of the things that had happened to me in the past," said Karisma. "This piece is a turning point in my writing where I started using writing to heal the traumatic things that happened in my past."
Karisma's observations of the world around her and a warped view of beauty perpetuated by Western culture led her down a slippery slope.
"I went through a really bad period of self-harm," said Karisma. "I was so sad all the time. I was ashamed of myself. It's important to talk about (self-harm) because I think it's something that a lot of people go through but kind of shift around. It's a hard topic to talk about, but writing is a way of forgiveness. I forgave myself."
"Growing up being brown and ambiguously raced in predominantly white spaces...so much of my experience is centered around that. I don't want that aspect of my writing to ever be forgotten," continued Karisma.
Karisma's insight into life at such a young age is remarkable.
"I looked at happiness as this thing that I could never attain versus when I started living to the point where I was like 'alright, what can I do to make every single day bearable?'"
"Happiness isn't a destination. It's having something to look forward to when you wake up in the morning. Make every day bearable. Talk to one person you know who loves you. Verify your existence and keep going."
And, that's what Karisma will do, keep going. She plans on majoring in environmental science next fall, all while continuing to write.
A Teenager's Guide to Feminisim is available on Amazon and through other booksellers.
16-year-old's Christmas light display helps animals in need in West Chester
Gavin Snyder, a sophomore at Rustin High School in West Chester, Pennsylvania is a little more than your typical 16-year-old with his passion for animals, decorating, and charity.
Rustin High School Senior Art Showcase
The annual Rustin Art Slam may have interrupted by COVID-19, but that doesn't stop the students from celebrating their works of art. We obviously can't celebrate with them in person this year, but teacher Lisa Bryan put together this video of their work to share with the community.
"Some of these students have worked through multiple classes and spent all four years in our department, " said Bryan. "We miss them dearly!"
Congratulations to all of our senior artists!
Rustin Orchestra Students Learn From Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra
Members of the Rustin High School Orchestra recently had the opportunity to work side by side with members of the world-famous Philadelphia Orchestra.
The young string students spent part of their school day collaborating with the quartet, learning new rehearsal skills and techniques to advance not only their own performance abilities but the orchestra as a whole. They also gained valuable insight into pursuing a career in music.
The quartet, featuring violinists Daniel Han, Yayoi Numazawa, violist David Nicastro, and cellist Priscilla Lee also performed for the group and shared their personal journies to becoming professional musicians.
Students agreed that one of the biggest takeaways from the workshop was the importance of listening to each other during their performances to produce the best sound.
"Especially when you are playing with a soloist, just listen as much as possible for what the soloist is doing," offered David Nicastro, who has played with the Philadelphia Orchestra for the last 25 years. "It's basically a form of multitasking. You have to do what's on your page, but at the same time, pay attention to what is happening up front and then support that in the most musical way that you can."
"I thought that was really helpful advice to hear," said 11th-grader Ryan Murnane, who was the featured soloist on one of the selections the orchestra performed during the workshop. Ryan has played the bass since third grade.
The Rustin Orchestra performed a couple of pieces for their guests that they have been working on since February. Many of the students were surprised to learn that the Philadelphia Orchestra performs a new program weekly, with only three practice sessions and a dress rehearsal prior to the performance.
"We have multiple months to prepare. I can't imagine putting on a concert in just one week," said concertmaster Nicholas Hsieh, a junior.
All four of the professional musicians stressed the importance of practicing at home.
Hsieh, who has played the violin since the age of five, said he practices, on average, an hour a day.
Liz Shafman, Rustin's orchestra director, said the professional musicians really made an impact on her students. She plans on taking her students to Kimmel Center soon to watch the Orchestra rehearse.
"The workshop provided the Rustin Orchestra students with an opportunity to make connections and apply their musical knowledge at an advanced and professional level," said Shafman. "It left us all feeling inspired and ready to expand on the music we create every day in the classroom."
The Philadelphia Orchestra Master Class was made possible thanks to a grant from the West Chester Area Education Foundation.
Rustin HS Hosts 2nd Annual BSU Knowledge Bowl
The Bayard Rustin Black Student Union hosted the 2nd annual African American History Knowledge Bowl at Rustin High School on Wednesday, February 19, 2020. The Knowledge Bowl was designed to challenge and expose the students of the West Chester Area School District to the many achievements and lasting contributions of African Americans to American history and culture.
Two teams of six students from Rustin and Henderson High Schools prepared for the competition by studying historical and cultural information. After two rounds of exciting and close competition, Rustin was victorious with a final score of 44 to 43. Participants were presented with certificates highlighting the experience.
The event was organized by Henderson BSU advisors, Shirley A. Wilson and Dr. Korey Bell, along with Rustin advisors, Paul Chambers and Marya Graham. The advisors hope to grow the event to include more students and schools in this celebration of African American heritage.
Rustin Students Perform at District 12 Orchestra Festival
Jack McDougall (Front left,) Katie Kelly, Nicholas Hsieh, Ms. Shafman, Matthew Ferguson (back left,) Ryan Murnane, Hinrich Paetzmann
Congratulations to Rustin High School's Nicholas Hsieh, Katie Kelly, Jack McDougall, Hinrich Paetzmann, Ryan Murnane, Matthew Ferguson, 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 Rustin students rank among the highest in their instrument sections.
"They represented Rustin in a mature manner and with the highest caliber of music on their individual instruments. It was a pleasure to sponsor these students over the weekend. The weekend ended with a phenomenal concert that included music by Khatchaturian, Borodin, and Saint-Saens," said Ms. Liz Shafman, orchestra director Rustin High School and Peirce Middle School.
According to Ms. Shafman, Hsieh, Murnane, and Ferguson will advance 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.
Rustin High School Senior Shines at Young Composers Workshop
Life for Rustin High School senior, Christopher Palmer is pretty typical for someone his age. He goes to school, spends time with friends, and dreams of his future, but he possesses a talent that is atypical for the average teenager. Palmer spends a great deal of his time analyzing the works of the great composers and writing his own musical masterpieces.
The 17-year-old recently participated in the Young Composers Workshop at the Brandywine River Museum of Art.
Palmer was accepted into the workshop last spring along with three other aspiring composers ranging in age from 13 to 17. The workshop is the creation of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania native and award-winning pianist and composer, Jennifer Nicole Campbell.
"I loved going to museums as a kid and always loved the connection between art and music," says Campbell. "I really wanted to help out young composers, because they don't have many opportunities to have their works performed. And, I thought to do it at the Brandywine River Museum of Art would be great."
Campbell challenged the young composers to write an original piece of music based on artwork at the museum.
"At the start of the workshop, I did a tour with all of them," says Campbell. "As we were going through the museum, it was interesting to see how quickly some of them were able to figure out which painting they wanted to choose and how they were able to talk about the form of their piece very quickly. It's amazing."
For Palmer, the process took a little longer. He didn't find inspiration until he visited the museum a second time and saw a book featuring the artwork of N.C. Wyeth in the gift shop. In particular, a series of paintings depicting the life and death of King Arthur caught his attention. He had found his muse.
Palmer describes the composing process as "a series of sporadic work, leisurely work, and no work at all." He wrote the first movement, based on the overture to George Frideric Handel's Messiah, in a matter of hours. The third movement was completed on the same day.
The second movement took several days to finish. Palmer drew inspiration yet again from Handel, specifically Suite no. 2 from Water Music.
The fourth movement, a double fugue inspired by the Kyrie movement from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem, proved to be the biggest challenge.
"That one was hard. I'd write, erase, cry. Write, erase, cry. Eventually, I got it to the point that I liked it. That one took at least three days."
Once he finished the fourth movement, the fifth, which drew influence from the Lacrimosa movement from Mozart’s Requiem, was completed in a matter of hours.
Palmer says that as a composer, you progress as you work and that it is a "gradual learning process." He receives a lot of feedback from his parents.
"I think both of their opinions are the most valuable that I can get because they are the audience. They are biased, obviously, but I like to think they listen to it honestly and try to decide if they really like it or not."
The workshop culminated in August with a performance of all the works by the young composers.
"Christopher's piece came across very well," says Campbell. "The people that performed in the quartet loved it. It was thoughtfully written, considering I don't think he had written for a string quartet before and he wasn't familiar with how to write string parts. The balance between all the instruments was super. You could envision the whole story. He really brought the story to life through music."
"He really understands musical form. He's far ahead in his ability to analyze music and create something unique using old, traditional structures in a sense," added Campbell.
Palmer's love of music developed at an early age. He credits music teacher, Mr. Jim Morrison from Starkweather Elementary School, with sparking his interest.
"I started composing music in fourth-grade when Mr. Morrison introduced us to Noteflight, an online music notation program," says Palmer.
"I wasn't a good enough musician back then to write with pen and paper. With Noteflight, I could playback and hear what I was writing. Mr. Morrison's class really encouraged composition, among other things. It was just one unit, but it was a unit that stuck with me."
Palmer says he didn't start seriously composing music until he was in seventh-grade at Stetson Middle School.
"It was then I considered it a discipline of mine."
The young musician and composer says all of the music teachers in the West Chester Area School District have been wonderful.
"Mr. Kelley named me 'Outstanding Musician of the Year' when I was at Stetson."
Palmer also plays the piano, sings baritone in the choir, and plays the French horn in the wind ensemble, and mellophone in the marching band at Rustin High School. He has taken Music Theory I and II at Rustin and is enrolled this year in AP Music Theory. He also studies composition and piano at the Bryn Mawr Conservatory of Music under Mr. Andrew Desiderio and Mr. Marcantonio Barone, respectively. In addition, he studies vocal performance at the Kim Russell Voice Studio in West Chester.
Palmer hopes to major in music composition in college.
"I wouldn't last as a performance major," he jokes. "I'm too lazy!"
Palmer is applying to Penn State University, West Chester University, and Westminster Choir College. He is also considering applying to The Julliard School and The Curtis Institute of Music.
If music doesn't pan out, Palmer has a back-up plan - computer science. He is passionate about blockchain technology, the record-keeping technology behind bitcoin. He actively writes blog posts on Steemit, a social media platform that rewards users with cryptocurrency for their content.
See a video of the world premiere of "King Arthur" string quarter by Christopher Palmer - https://bit.ly/2kQcxdK
Visit Christopher Palmer's blog - https://bit.ly/2kQUyUE
Rustin Graduates Spotlight Human Trafficking in Chester County
Rustin High School Walk Her Home Club with Susan Ingram (seated left)
Human trafficking is not the type of crime that the residents of Chester County tend to focus their attention on. For most people, their knowledge of it is limited to Hollywood creations like Taken, starring Liam Neeson. Or, they believe it only happens outside of the United States and that victims are foreign-born individuals with no money. Delve a little deeper, however, into this often hidden crime, and you will find that it exists in every state - and, not just in urban areas, but right here in idyllic Chester County.
For recent Rustin High School graduates Anna Hagenbuch and Lena Harnish, the mere thought that girls boys their age and even younger are victims of this horrific violation of human rights forced led them to action. Together, the two of them launched the Walk Her Home Club this year at Rustin to raise awareness about human trafficking and funds to support survivors.
Hagenbuch first learned about human trafficking as part of an eleventh grade English project. While researching the topic, she interviewed representatives from the Chester County Anti-Trafficking Coalition. It was through the coalition that Hagenbuch met Susan Ingram, the president of Walk Her Home. Ingram founded the Chester County-based organization in 2017 with the mission of raising awareness of the factors that drive demand for trafficking and support the restoration of victim-survivors of sexual exploitation.
Ingram expressed to Hagenbuch that the organization needed volunteers to help with their first ever 5K walk. A percentage of the proceeds from the event would be given to organizations that work to end human trafficking and support survivors. That was all Hagenbuch needed to hear. She partnered with Harnish and they recruited other students to help with the event. The group quickly realized they could do more and they decided to form a Walk Her Home Club.
"We clearly had an interest here at Rustin," said Hagenbuch. "Students are really happy to help out our community. Mainly what Walk Her Home does is raise money for other organizations, so the part that we are affecting is the restoration of survivors."
"The most shocking thing I learned was that it is happening here," said Harnish. "When most people think about human trafficking, they think about other countries. There are 25 hubs in our county alone."
The club organized an outdoor movie night on May 25 at Rustin and raised about $3,000 that was given to the National Trafficking Sheltered Alliance, one of the various organizations Walk Her Home partners with.
What does human trafficking look like?
Human trafficking is defined as using force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. According to the Department of Homeland Security, it can happen in any community, and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality.
"I offer a quote from Alan Borowsky, assistant District Attorney from Delaware County," says Susan Ingram.
"A girl or boy living in a million dollar home is just as likely to be a trafficking victim as a child in the inner city."
How does one become a victim?
According to Ingram, there are many different ways in which someone is pulled into human trafficking, one of which plays off their vulnerabilities.
"We have all gone through those years of doubt, lack of confidence, questioning and needing affirmation," says Ingram. "That is what a trafficker exploits. A trafficker is not a stereotypical evil guy that you see depicted in the movies. It could be a 21-year-old young man who recognizes he could lure in a 12, 14, or 16-year-old girl by giving her a lot of attention, proclaim love and tell her that he understands her better than anyone else. He grooms her and builds her up until she is attached and bonded to him. Then he talks about financial concerns and worries, and all he needs her to do is this 'one thing.' He tries to convince her that if she really loves him, she would do it."
"Human trafficking is literally the fastest growing criminal enterprise," continues Ingram. "It is surpassing drugs in terms of sales and revenues. A trafficker can make $100,000 - $200,000 a year off of one girl."
"It really is very telling and revealing about the type of men that are purchasing girls, boys, and women. It goes across every single demographic area of this country. And, the victims are skewing younger and younger."
Ingram says she launched Walk Her Home with the purpose to raise funds to support safe houses across the country and restore the survivors of human trafficking.
How does restoration work?
"The first thing people need to know is that the average life span for someone being trafficked is seven years," says Ingram. "There is malnutrition, a lack of health care, physical abuse, emotional trauma, drug addiction. Twelve to 24 months is the length of a typical program. There are emotional therapies and proper health care; we help to get them off drugs, give them job training and life skills. Then they move to semi-independent housing and get a job."
"The trouble is, prostituted women are often jailed, not the buyers. One woman was arrested 51 times before getting help. Their records need to be expunged in order for them to get a job. So, we are now developing this national network of best practices. How do we best rehabilitate them?"
What can the average person do to help?
"We need the public to be the boots on the ground," says Ingram. "It is not our job to determine if there is criminal activity going on, but it is our responsibility to report it if we see something suspicious. You cannot look away. If you choose to look away, you are potentially putting your children at risk."
Ingram is working with Hagenbuch and Harnish to help start Walk Her Home Clubs in high schools across the country.
"When Anna came to me, I had no clue in my mind that Walk Her Home would move into high schools. What she and Lena have started is the prototype for launching these clubs in high schools, not just in Chester County, but beyond these boundaries. It brings tears to my eyes watching kids care about this and sharing it with other kids. That's how we are going to work towards eradicating human trafficking."
Hagenbuch will attend Marist College in New York this fall, majoring in pre-medicine. She plans to start a Walk Her Home club at the college.
"Stop keeping your nose down," says Hagenbuch. "Look at people, look for the signs."
Harnish plans to obtain her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Pittsburgh and wants to be a neonatal intensive care unit nurse. She too plans to start a Walk Her Home Club.
"Right here, right now, it is our concern," says Harnish. "It (human trafficking) runs rampant, but you don't see it."
Although Hagenbuch and Harnish have graduated from Rustin, both say Walk Her Home will continue next year under the leadership of senior Hope Geissler, and Harnish's sister, sophomore Susanna Harnish.
For more information on Walk Her Home, visit www.walkherhome.org. If you or someone you know, is a victim of human trafficking call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
Rustin Assistant Principal Recognized for his Work in Fight Against Domestic Violence
Dr. Chris Lunardi
Dr. Chris Lunardi, assistant principal at Bayard Rustin High School, received the 2019 Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence Excellence in Male Leadership Award for his work supporting the growth and development of the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County’s Coaching Boys Into Men Program.
The award ceremony, held at Citizen’s Bank Park on June 11th, kicked off the Phillies’ game with Lunardi throwing an impressive first pitch to Phillies’ Manager, Gabe Kapler, as his family looked on. “It was an amazing and humbling experience to be able to step on the field at Citizen’s Bank Park alongside so many incredible advocates. The work that the folks at PCADV and DVCCC are doing is crucial, necessary, and deserving of recognition,” Lunardi said of the evening.
Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) is an educational program which trains the coaches of high school athletic teams to have regular conversations with their athletes about several important issues, based around the program’s basic tenants of respect, integrity, and nonviolence. The Domestic Violence Center of Chester County is proud to have their CBIM Advisory Board Member recognized for his work with this program.
In the spring of 2017, Dr. Chris Lunardi was the first Athletic Director in Chester County to begin implementation of the CBIM curriculum with his coaches and athletes. Since then, the program has been implemented in multiple high school athletic departments throughout Chester County. Of the program, Dr. Lunardi added, “I am so glad that Amelia Rayburn, Joe Henson, and the team at DVCCC were able to bring Coaching Boys Into Men to Chester County and thankful that Coach Matt Taglang and Coach Shaz Brown brought it to our student-athletes at Rustin. They blazed a trail that other coaches at Rustin and throughout Chester County have been able to follow. Our coaches understand that these values can and should be taught within the context of the aggressive, physical, and competitive culture of interscholastic athletics. I look forward to continuing to see the impact this program has on our communities.”
Since the initial 2017 implementation, teams across Chester County have seen an increase in their athletes’ awareness of what constitutes abusive behavior friendships and relationships, as well as the skills to intervene when they see violence or disrespect occurring in their schools or communities. If your school or athletic organization would like to get involved with DVCCC’s CBIM program, contact them today: (610) 431-3546.
Slain Rustin High School Graduate Lives on Through Memorial Scholarships
Marissa Orlando (left,) Michelle Roberson, Miyah Thomas-Mazyck, superintendent Dr. Jim Scanlon
Two Rustin High School seniors received scholarships this year in memory of Bianca Roberson, whose life was tragically cut short after her graduation from the school in 2017. Miyah Thomas-Mazyck received the Rustin High School Bianca Roberson Memorial Scholarship. Marissa Orlando was awarded the Bianca Roberson Memorial Scholarship through the Bianca Nikol Merge with Mercy Foundation. Bianca's mother, Michelle Roberson, was on hand at the Rustin High School senior assembly on May 31 to present the scholarships.
The Bianca Nikol Merge with Mercy Foundation was created by Roberson to give her a new purpose in life after the death of her daughter due to a senseless act of gun violence. Roberson also lost her son Mykel Rowley in 2013. The foundation's mission is to raise awareness about the impact of gun violence, providing emotional support, educational assistance, advocacy, and ongoing outreach initiatives. The organization also holds fundraisers to be able to offer scholarships to Rustin seniors attending college and youths who want to attend summer camps.
"I was a mom to two wonderful children, and now they are both gone. I didn't know what else to do. I feel as though the world today is out of whack and Merge with Mercy came about because we should be able to merge with other human beings without feeling that we could lose our lives just by coming into contact with another human being," said Roberson.
The scholarships are awarded to the Rustin High School students who share many of Bianca's qualities; specifically, students who have successfully overcome personal challenges to find academic growth and responsibility, as well as display a positive, friendly, and upbeat attitude and loyalty to their friends.
Students had to write an essay describing the challenges they had overcome during their high school academic career.
"Bianca lost her brother to muscular dystrophy when she entered 9th grade. Mykel was her best friend, and when she lost him, she really didn't know what to do, but she persevered. She figured it out and made it through," said Roberson.
Roberson would like to see common sense gun laws put into place so that no other parent has to suffer the same heartache. "How many more kids do we need to bury? How many more mothers or fathers will stand over the coffin of their young child?"
"They were the loves of my lives. They both had hearts of gold. They were pure. It's a void. It's the biggest void in my life. I miss them so much. I ache so badly inside. They both would've made such a big impact on this world. Bianca wanted to be an FBI agent. She wanted to take care of this world and make it a better place. She wanted to help to try and get rid of bad people, but bad people took her out before she had the chance to do what she wanted to do."
The Merge with Mercy 2nd Annual "Walk for Me" 2.5k walk to end gun violence will be held on Sunday, August 4, 2019, from 8:00 am - 2:00 pm at East Goshen Township Park. For more information, visit www.mergewithmercy.org.
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!
Rustin Science Olympiad Team Advances to National Competition
Front row (left to right) – Aidan Dempsey, Yonatan Sklansky, Aravind Kavuturu, Anya Koyner, Jacob Klanica, Andrew Welter
Middle row (left to right) – Cassandra Hung, Emily Houck, Patti Curtis, Eirlys Barbara, Cindy Le
Back row (left to right) – Ryan Apostolico, Aidan Lefebvre, Ryan Hoffmann, Nick Gentile, Kim Le
*Not pictured – Dean Jones, Dilan Kuders, Nathan Podgurski, Birju Patel, Molly Wade
Rustin High School's Science Olympiad Team has once again earned the opportunity to compete in the National Science Olympiad Tournament. The 35th annual Science Olympiad National Tournament will be held May 29-June 1 at Cornell University. Rustin is one of 60 high schools across the country to advance to the national competition.
Science Olympiad is an organization that focuses on enhancing student education in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Competitions are hosted each year, beginning at the local level and advancing to the national competition. There are 23 team events featured at each competition with topics that include astronomy, the planet, invasive species, wind power, air trajectory, and chemistry.
For Rustin, the road to nationals included a 3rd-place finish at regionals, medaling in 17 of the 23 events, and a 2nd-place finish at states, medaling in 16 of the 23 events.
According to head coach, Jaime Suarez, winning truly takes a team effort, and the upperclassmen go out of their way to work with the underclassmen to strengthen the team.
"Individually, students can medal in their events, but in order for the team to do well, all 23 events have to do well. We can't just have one person be the most amazing anatomy person, for example, because that's not enough. We need to have a whole group that is amazing."
While many members of the team pursue a science major in college, not all do. According to Suarez, no matter what their focus is in college, Science Olympiad prepares them for higher education.
"A lot of the things that they come away with is less about science, and more about studying independently which no matter what they study in college is so helpful," added Suarez.
For many of the students, the bonds the form from working so closely together are unbreakable.
"It's more of a family than a club," said senior Aidan Dempsey. "We worked hard all year to earn this. Pennsylvania is one of the most competitive states in the nation. Mr. Suarez makes sure we're teaching the freshman how to build and run devices well, which is what keeps us competitive each year. We're ecstatic to make it to nationals after losing last year and very thankful, Mr. Suarez is our coach."
Mr. Suarez, who has taught physics for the West Chester Area School District for the past ten years, first became involved with Science Olympiad as a seventh-grader and continued it throughout middle school, high school, and college. Chemistry teacher Tanna Whitton also serves as an advisor the team.
The Rustin Science Olympiad Team was founded in 2006. The year marks the fifth national appearance for the team.
Rustin Teacher Awarded for Excellence in Teaching
Rustin High School technology education teacher Theodore Harrison was recently selected to receive Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union's (FMFCU) Delaware County Excellence in Teaching Award. FMCU bestows the award on educators they deem to be outstanding and innovative, who have made a positive impact through their work, dedication, and disposition.
Mr. Harrison has been with the West Chester Area School District (WCASD) for the past 11 years. He received his bachelor's degree in technology education from Millersville University. When the district first hired Mr. Harrison, he split his time between Fugett Middle School and Rustin High School.
Harrison, a graduate of East High School, says his middle school technology education teachers at Fugett and East, inspired him to become a teacher. He has also served the Goshen Fire Company for the last 20 years as a volunteer firefighter and runs the Goshen County Fair.
"Ted Harrison is a consummate professional who is dedicated foremost to his students," says Dr. Paul Joyce, WCASD supervisor of science, health and physical education, family and consumer Science, and technology education.
"He provides students with an atmosphere of professionalism as they engage in skill development in the areas of literacy, numeracy, and STEM. He is innovative and creative, always moving education forward into the future. WCASD is very fortunate to have such a well established and respected teacher providing leadership for our technology education department."
Recipients of the award will receive a $500 cash grant, commemorative plaque, and $1,000 grant for their school.
"After discussing it with my students and Rustin principal, Dr. Marano, we are going to use the grant money to purchase a drum sander," says Mr. Harrison. "This machine will cut down on the time students spend sanding large flat parts, especially ones that can be used in our CNC Router and or Laser Engraver."
Mr. Harrison, along with the other 17 outstanding educators from across the area, will be honored at FMFCU's annual Partners in Education Celebration at the Drexelbrook Catering & Special Events Center in Drexel Hill on May 2.
2019 Rustin High School Speaking Contest
Capri Mancini (left), Jenna Walls, Aubrey Eason
Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 Rustin High School Speaking Contest. The contest, which is one of the West Chester Area School District's longest standing traditions, highlights students' public speaking skills. The first contest was held at West Chester High School nearly 100 years ago. Civil Rights activist, Bayard Rustin, for whom Rustin High School is named after, won the competition in 1931.
To prepare for the contest, each of the eleven competitors worked with a faculty member who coached them on their selections. The students performed before a live audience consisting of students, teachers, parents, and community members on April 26. They were judged on their audience awareness, projection, inflection, diction, pacing, and movement. There is no amplification system used.
This year's first place winner was senior Capri Mancini who recited an excerpt from David McCullough’s Wellesley High School commencement address. Second place went to sophomore Jenna Walls who talked about the need to set boundaries as described by Sarah Smith. Junior Aubrey Eason won third place with a selection from fellow Rustin student, Kim Le's speech, entitled “Reaching Out to Save Lives: Destigmatizing Mental Health Disorders in America’s Youth Through the Lens of a High School Student.
Last year's winner, 2018 graduate Caroline Franco returned from her freshman year at Northeastern University to host this year's event.
Rustin Musicians Hone Their Craft with the Help of the US Army Field Band
Rustin High School students recently had a unique opportunity to perform for the US Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors. The musical group brought their "Greatest Generation" show to Rustin on March 13 for a special community performance. The next day they returned to the school to work with the students.
Members of Rustin's jazz band and choir performed some of their musical selections and received valuable feedback from the seasoned performers.
"What is your concept of section balance? What does that mean to you? How do we balance all of the parts of a section?" asked Staff Sergeant Zachary Steele who plays lead trombone for the Jazz Ambassadors.
"Everybody should listen to the lead player," one student replied.
Staff Sergeant Steele went on to explain how the entire section must work together to support the lead player.
"My argument is, the second player, you are going to feel like you're playing louder than the lead player. The third player, you can probably play as loud as you want - it's never going to be a problem. It's all going to make the lead player's job easier. It's kind of weird if you think of it that way, but acoustically, it works."
Master Sergeant Liesl Whitaker plays lead trumpet for the Jazz Ambassadors. She joined the Army Blues in 2000 and is the first woman to win a lead position in a premier U.S. military jazz ensemble. Master Sergeant Whitaker joined the U.S. Army Field Band in 2012 and is one of two women currently serving in the Jazz Ambassadors. She listened intently as the young musicians performed and then talked to them about their placement in the group.
"The reason I'm asking where the players are is that you want to keep everyone in a line so when you're switching parts, you want to make sure you're keeping that line," said Master Sergeant Whitaker.
Next to director Mike Shoremount's band room, Ann Ellis's choral students were learning from Sergeant First Class Randy Wright, the vocalist for the Jazz Ambassadors. They were shocked to learn that Sergeant Wright doesn't read music and he learns everything by ear.
"You don't read music?" one student asked in disbelief.
"No, but I highly recommend learning," laughed Sergeant Wright. "I'm in the process of refining my skills."
The students performed Bridge Over Troubled Water and Valentine for Sergeant Wright. He joined in on their performance and offered some advice afterward.
"How do you teach a kid to be loose with their performance?" Mrs. Ellis asked. "I'm Miss Exact. That's my problem!"
"Well, I guess there's that fine line between reading the notes on the page and depending on the context, maybe we need to do exactly what's on the page. There's no improvisation if you're performing Rachmaninoff. But, to be looser with stuff, that comes from improvisation," said Sergeant Wright.
Wright then sat down at the piano and proceeded to riff off of Valentine's chord progression. The students' mouths dropped when he transitioned and played several bars from Your Song by Elton John before transitioning back to Valentine.
"That's getting loose with it, right? You're just doing your thing," said Sergeant Wright.
The Jazz Ambassadors is the United States Army’s premier big band. The 19-member ensemble, formed in 1969, has received great acclaim both at home and abroad performing America’s original art form, jazz.
3rd Annual Spike the Rock Tournament
For the third year in a row, students at Bayard Rustin High School participated in the Spike the Rock Volleyball Tournament to support Bringing Hope Home, a local cancer charity.
Rob Durbano, Rustin Health & Physical Education teacher was in charge of the event and said the students far exceeded fundraising expectations.
"Last year, we raised $3,600. This year, through raffles, donations, and crowdfunding, students raised $13,036. We annihilated it this year!"
Twenty-eight teams battled it out for bragging rights and the opportunity to call themselves Spike the Rock Champions. As in past years, the teams received support from Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders and mascot Swoop. Eagles offensive tackle, Lane Johnson also lent a hand, serving as a line judge.
"I loved it. This was really something to see. Seeing the energy in the community and the eyes of the students - it was a lot of fun!" said Johnson.
Not only was the gymnasium at Rustin filled with infectious and philanthropic energy, but the event provided one student with the opportunity to deliver his “promposal.” With the help of the Eagles cheerleaders, Swoop and fellow classmates, Ethan Mullin asked Lily Seagraves if she would go to prom with him.
“She said ‘Yes’,” Durbano screamed into the microphone. A chorus of cheers from the audience followed the announcement.
Bringing Hope Home is a non-profit organization that provides financial and emotional support to local families dealing with cancer. The organization provides a one-time grant to pay essential household bills. For more information, visit bringhopehome.org.
For more information, visit bringhopehome.org.
Rustin High School Students Help Cultivate Global Kindness
Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated that "every artist was first an amateur." While that may be true for students in Ms. Bryan's Studio Art 1 class at Rustin High School, these young artists were recently challenged with a project that successfully pushed the boundaries of their artistic abilities.
The Memory Project is a charitable nonprofit organization that invites art teachers, art students, and solo artists to help cultivate global kindness by creating portraits for children around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as violence, war, extreme poverty, neglect, and loss of parents. Ms. Bryan first worked with the Memory Project years ago when her students created portraits of children from the Peoples Republic of Congo. When she learned that this year's Memory Project involved children living in the United States she knew she had to be involved again.
"We do a lot of equity work with students and teachers in our district, and I felt that this was a great way to talk about those subjects in the high school classroom and also allow the students the opportunity to do something small about it," says Ms. Bryan. "I talked to them about how opportunity gaps exist everywhere, including in Chester County and explained what that meant. Every student was excited to be a part of the project."
Ms. Bryan showed her students videos of children receiving their portraits from previous Memory Projects. She said they were shocked at the living conditions of the recipients, but at the same time, they were delighted to see the positive reactions on the faces of the children, clearly moved by their portraits.
The students creating the portraits know very little about the recipients. The Memory Project takes every precaution to protect the identities of the children. Each student in Ms. Bryan's class received a picture of their subject, with their name, age, and favorite color. Armed with limited information, the students, in grades 9-12, got to work.
"It took them three weeks to complete the portraits," says Ms. Bryan "They had a real sense of commitment to ensure they did their best. They wanted the portraits to look like the child they chose.
When the portraits are delivered, each one will include a photograph of the young Rustin artist who created it. Representatives from the Memory Project will be on hand to film the children receiving their portraits. Ms. Bryan says she will share the video with her students when she receives it at the start of the next school year. While the project was a challenge for the Studio Art 1 students, it was a rewarding one.
"This project was a way for me to show them how one can learn how to communicate through an understanding of the fine arts. It taught them that art is personal, has meaning and is inherently connected to the greater society."
ELD Students Celebrate Diversity and Tradition
Diversity and tradition were the focus of presentations delivered by English Language Development (ELD) students at Rustin High School. Fellow students, teachers, administrators, and other Rustin employees were the audience for the digital presentations entitled "About Me and My Homeland." Students practiced their skills in all four language domains (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) and gained experience with various presentation programs. They shared traditional, homemade food with their guests, and answered questions about their homeland and culture. "About Me and My Homeland" is an excellent example of how the staff and students at Rustin High School and the West Chester Area School District value student diversity.
Members of Rustin's Art Honor Society Help Spread Some Holiday Cheer
Members of the Rustin High School Art Honor Society helped spread some holiday cheer at the West Chester QVC Christmas Parade through their annual Art of Giving. For the past three years, students have created an original work of art or prints of their work to donate to spectators at the parade.
"Each piece is made into a holiday card that can be cut apart and framed," said Rustin art teacher, Lisa Bryan. "Each card is signed by the artist and gift-wrapped. The students met at the parade and handed out bags of cards at random."
This year Rustin junior, Mara Connell created a special colored pencil and pen illustration for the Master of Ceremonies, 6 ABC's Adam Joseph. Joseph proudly tweeted about his new artwork!
World-Renowned Jazz Artist to Perform at Rustin High School
The Jon Faddis Quartet is scheduled to perform at Rustin High School on November 16 at 7:00 pm. Faddis, a world-renowned jazz trumpeter and protégé of the late Dizzy Gillespie, will also spend some time prior to the evening's performance mentoring Rustin jazz band students.
"I have been a fan of Mr. Faddis for years and have always played recordings of him for my students and talked about his incredible talent. The Rustin Band Boosters and I are thrilled to be able to bring Mr. Faddis not only to perform for the West Chester community but also to work with our students. Mr. Faddis a trumpet player of incredible talent and unbelievable range. He is also a direct link to American and Jazz History." said Mike Shoremount, director of bands at Rustin High School.
Shoremount added that Faddis has performed for heads of State and US presidents in addition to performing alongside countless numbers of jazz legends.
The concert is open to the general public. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.
Rustin High School Receives Historical Marker from Westtown Historical Commission
Erica Reilly (left), Chair of the Westtown Township Historical Society, Rustin principal Dr. Mike Marano, David Walter, Westtown Township Historical Society, Robert Pingar, Westtown Township Manager display the Commission's historical marker at Rustin High School.
Students at Rustin High School may not know much about the piece of land that their sits upon, but thanks to the Westtown Township Historical Commission, they soon will. Members of the commission recently presented Rustin principal, Dr. Michael Marano, with a historical marker that details this history of the land. The marker will hang in the lobby of the school.
Rustin High School, located at 1100 Shiloh Road in West Chester, was originally Maple Shade Farm. Marshall Jones, Sr., purchased the farm in 1913. Jones Sr., along with his son and grandson, also named Marshall, operated the farm which provided milk and produce to the region according to the Historical Commission.
"Whenever there is a large development going on of historic property, which Rustin was, we came up with the idea to put up signs so that people know what used to be there," said Historical Commission member David Walter. "I thought maybe the students here at Rustin should have a sign in the lobby too so that they know what used to be here. This sign is a replica of what is going to be installed along the walking trail in Rustin Walk which was also part of Maple Shade Farm."
Erica Reilly, the chair of the Westtown Township Historical Commission said the developer of Rustin Walk, NV Homes, pledged $3,000 towards the historical marker that will be located in the housing development.
The Westtown Township Historical Commission was created in March of 2013 with a mission to foster a community appreciation of the rich and varied history of the Township. The Historical Commission educates residents about lands, buildings, and sites of historic, architectural, archaeological, or cultural significance and the people who worked, farmed, and lived in Westtown Township.
Memorial Bench Installed at Rustin HS in Honor of Bianca Roberson
A grieving mother wants to see that her daughter’s name is not forgotten. Recently Michelle Roberson donated a memorial bench to West Chester’s Bayard Rustin High School in memory of her teenage daughter, Bianca Roberson, who was killed during a road rage shooting last June, just days after she graduated from the school. Click here to read the Daily Local News article.
Rustin Senior Receives Girl Scout Gold Award
Congratulations to Rustin High School senior, Jocelyn Licwinko, who recently earned the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award. The award recognizes a commitment to excellence as one develops the skills and values to meet present and future challenges in life.
To earn the award, a Girl Scout Senior or Girl Scout Ambassador must design and carry out a project that fulfills a need within the community, creates change, and is sustainable. The project must be completed with a suggested minimum of 80 hours of work. Only about 5 percent of eligible girls earn the prestigious Gold Award.
For her project, Licwinko worked with Rustin Band Director Michael Shoremount to devise a way to keep track of the musical pieces that have been performed over the years by Rustin's various instrumental music groups. The idea was to help Shoremount avoid repeat performances and duplicate purchases of sheet music, as well as improve the musicality of the bands based on previous performances.
Licwinko assembled a team to assist her, and together they painstakingly sifted through every piece of music purchased since the school opened in 2006 and separated them by instrument. All of the music was categorized, boxed, and labeled. Licwinko documented all of the information on an Excel spreadsheet for easy reference.
Licwinko will be attending the University of Alabama in the fall as a Fine Arts major. She feels that the planning, communication, and execution of the project will continue to help her grow as a member of her community. She plans on participating in philanthropic programs in Tuscaloosa.
Girl Scouts of the USA is 1.8 million girls strong. Its focus is to meet the needs of all girls (ages 5-17) from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Today’s Girl Scouts not only enjoy camping and crafts, but they also explore STEM programs, develop life skills, promote entrepreneurship, while fostering positive self-identity, diversity, good citizenship, leadership, and teamwork. Licwinko is a member of Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania (GSEP). GSEP is the council for nine counties and has a membership of close to 40,000 girls.
Rustin High School Senior to Attend Prestigious Art School
Much like her paintings that come to life with each stroke of her paintbrush, Grace Mox sees her future starting to take shape. The Rustin High School senior recently won an Excellence in Art Award at the Chester County High School Art Show and will attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in the fall.
After Mox received her acceptance to PAFA, she was given the opportunity by school officials in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, to enter a "Challenge Portfolio" for the chance to win one of the school's two coveted Maguire Scholarships. Mox was one of ten students invited to participate in the challenge. PAFA's arrangement with The University of Pennsylvania enables students to take liberal arts classes at Penn, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from two of Philadelphia's most prestigious higher learning institutions. Founded in 1805, PAFA is the oldest art museum and school in the United States.
"In 22 years of teaching, I've only had two students asked to participate in this prestigious competition, both from Rustin," said Lisa Bryan, Mox's art teacher at Rustin.
Mox recently received the good news that she won the Challenge Portfolio and Maguire Scholarship, which covers tuition in full based on artistic merit.
The soon-to-be Rustin graduate enrolled at the high school for her senior year after being homeschooled. Her homeschool experience was the source of inspiration for the two pieces she submitted for the Challenge Portfolio.
Her first piece titled "School Bus" was based on American artist Jane Dickson's "Laundromat."
"The piece inspired me by how she (Dickson) used bright yellow and green; how the woman is facing away from the viewer; and how Dickson chose to paint a mundane activity in the normal routine of this woman," said Mox.
"Since I wanted to paint a self-portrait, I chose to portray a regular activity in my own life that also shared that same vibrant yellow as Dickson’s piece. I also wanted my self-portrait to be different from a straight-on view of my face, so I found the figure’s position very interesting. Taking a bus is a monotonous part of my school day now, but before September, I had never ridden on one or gone to a physical school. It was that simple and overlooked act of stepping up the bus steps on the first day of school this year that brought so many new opportunities and friends my way."
Mox's second Challenge Portfolio submission "Refrigerator Reflection" paid tribute to her childhood.
"The canvas is just a couple inches off of the exact real-life proportions of my refrigerator. I didn't add or subtract any magnets or papers for the piece, just rearranged the existing ones a little. Some of these items are older than I am and some are very recent."
"We all have a collection of magnets that make up our experiences: some we intentionally put on our refrigerators, some are given as gifts to us, some are forced on us, some we made by ourselves, some we made with others. I can't wait to buy my own refrigerator and put my own magnets on it. I might miss the old ones, I may be happy that they're gone, but either way, I'll have them focalized in this piece so I can remember all of it – the good and the bad, the joyful and the painful."
The Challenge Portfolio indeed proved to be a challenge for Mox who said it was well worth it.
"I couldn't think of good ideas for the assignments until five days before it was due," said Mox. "I painted for more than fifty hours to finish the paintings while still having school a couple of those days!"
Rustin ELD Teacher Named a Hero by the National Liberty Museum
Mrs. Christina Salazar
Students who move to the West Chester Area School District from other countries find themselves faced with the challenge of navigating a completely new way of life. Fitting into a new culture and country can be scary, but teachers like Rustin High School's Christina Salazar help to make that transition easier, and she has been recognized for her efforts by the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia. Salazar was named a 2018 "Teacher as Hero" winner and was one of 11 teachers honored at a ceremony at the museum on May 5th.
Salazar is an English Language Development teacher who has worked with students from more than 30 countries around the world. She works with students and their families to tackle everything from accessing legal documents to mastering public transportation - and everything in between. Salazar also goes to extreme lengths to help her students find their way through the complicated college application process, guiding them academically along the way.
According to the National Liberty Museum, Salazar was selected as a 2018 "Teacher as Hero" because of her compassion and commitment to her students and their families.
Rustin HS Nat'l Art Honor Society Students Help Senior Citizens Create Masterpieces
A group of students from Rustin High School's National Art Honor Society recently spent the afternoon with a group of senior citizens at West Chester Area Senior Center to share their artistic talents. The students worked with the group to help them created their own masterpieces. The afternoon was such a success that the center is already asking for another Paint with a Twist session! The National Art Honor Society is designed for high school students in grades 9-12. The society was created in 1978 by the National Art Education Association and strives to aid members in attaining the highest standards in art scholarship, character, and service, and to bring art education to the attention of schools and communities.
Rustin Senior Designs Thank You Card for Unite for HER
Unite for HER thank you card designed by Celia Armstrong
Student commitment to charity runs deep throughout the West Chester Area School District. For some students, that commitment reflects a more personal connection. Such is the case for Rustin High School senior Celia Armstrong, who recently designed a thank you card for Unite for HER.
Armstrong first learned about Unite for HER in 2014 when the Rustin Girls Tennis team hosted a "pink match" to raise funds and awareness for the Chester County-based organization. Five weeks after the event, her mother was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Armed with the knowledge she had learned about Unite for HER during the fundraiser, Armstrong was able to help her mother secure funding through the organization for therapies, such as acupuncture and massage, to help ease some of the side effects from her cancer treatments.
Armstrong was so taken with the organization that she helped jump-start the Student Unite for HER Ambassadors program at Rustin High School under the guidance of Unite for HER's founder Sue Wheldon. Alongside her peers, Armstrong works to raise money for the charity and shares her story at Unite for HER events, including the Pink Invitational, Harvest, and Bloom.
With the organization's annual Bloom event approaching, Armstrong and her family, who owns a printing company, wanted to find a way to contribute to the event, so they decided to create a thank you card.
"We wanted to create something beautiful that would capture the essence of the day while conveying a message of gratitude," said Armstrong. "This piece carries a dual purpose as a thank you from Unite for HER but also a set of thank you cards that may be used by the recipient. They are printed on a beautiful cotton Italian paper which reflects the texture of my original watercolor. My mother handled the art direction, my aunt handled the graphic design, and my father facilitated the printing. It was truly a collaborative project."
The family donated 400 card sets that were given to attendees at the Unite for HER Bloom fashion show on Sunday, April 22 at Merion Golf Club.
The soon-to-be Rustin graduate will be attending Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design to study Interior Architecture and Design. She has always had a love of art.
"I developed an interest in art early in my life through painting and drawing, but it was not until high school that fully pursued my interest in drawing and taking art classes. I’ve taken five art classes at Rustin and art history which helped me create my portfolio for college. My interest in art blossomed when I started taking drawing classes my junior of high school. During freshman and sophomore year I took photography classes that helped me with design principles to prepare me for my future in interior design. Collectively, each of these art classes that I have taken has allowed me to create a sophisticated portfolio that I will carry with me to college."
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.
Rustin Students Attend Thornbury Township's Local Government Day
Seniors at Rustin High School had the opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of local government when they attended Thornbury Township's Local Government Day with their Government & Economics class.
Students mingled with local leaders including State Senator Tom Killion, Delaware County Councilman Michael Culp, State Representative Christopher Quinn, Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland, Chairman of the Thornbury Township Board of Supervisors Jim Raith, Vice Chairman Jim Kelly, Supervisor Sheri Perkins, and others.
Rustin High School senior Anthony Avella serves as Junior Supervisor for Thornbury Township and spoke to his peers about the experience.
"Joining this program taught me a lot about getting involved in the local community, how local government works, and how important it is. Being a voter on the local level is important. Your vote matters a lot because it affects you directly. A lot of people don't vote locally, but it is arguably as important as voting on the national level."
Students also showed off their knowledge of government with a quiz. The winners received a prize bag.
The day was a culmination of Local Government Week (April 16-20) designated by the Pennsylvania Legislature. The week is designed to honor the dedication of local officials and encourages citizens to learn how local government functions and affects residents and businesses within their community.
Rustin Senior Sings Her Heart Out
Rustin High School senior Emily Damasco has big plans for her future, and a big voice to support them. Damasco, a mezzo-soprano, was recently named a finalist in the 2018 National YoungArts Competition hosted by the National YoungArts Foundation. The competition is the culmination of National YoungArts Week, which was held this past January in Miami, Florida.
According to their website, The National YoungArts Foundation was established in 1981 with the purpose of identifying and nurturing the most accomplished young artists. Students from across the county apply for the competition, which features ten different disciplines: Cinematic Arts, Classical Music, Dance, Design Arts, Jazz Music, Singer-Songwriters, Theater, Visual Arts, Voice, and Writing. The application process is intense. There are 10-thousand applicants per artistic discipline; seven are selected per discipline to participate in National YoungArts Week. Once chosen, the young artists spend a week in Miami working on their craft alongside distinguished master artists. At the end of the week, the young artists perform for a master artists panel and fellow attendees. In addition to receiving training and mentoring, finalists are awarded up to $10,000 in prize money. Damasco was named a finalist in Classical Voice.
Damasco, who has performed in countless recitals, said the competition was a unique experience.
"It was amazing. It brought me to a different realm. I cried at the end of my performance. I was so mesmerized by being on that stage. This is what I want to do. I want to perform."
The young opera singer has applied to Curtis Institute of Music, Julliard School of Music, Mannes School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and Temple University. Her first choice is Curtis. She has auditions lined up at all five schools.
Damasco began taking voice lessons at an early age. At the age of 8 she performed in La Boheme with the Atlantic Coast Opera Festival as a soloist with the children’s chorus. She said her ability to sing was passed on by her grandmother who also sang opera.
"It skips a generation. My great-great-grandmother passed it down to my grandmother, and she passed it down to me. I hope that one day, I will pass it along to my granddaughter. My grandmother attended Julliard. Unfortunately, she got homesick and left, but she continued to sing."
Damasco credits her music teachers at the West Chester Area School District with helping to develop her craft, including Linda Mangold at Penn Wood Elementary and Ann Ellis at Rustin High School. She studies privately with opera star Elizabeth De Trejo in New York City, whom she met at the Sherrill Milnes Teen Voice Program at the Savannah Voice Festival in Georgia in the summer of her 10th-grade year.
"It was fate that I met Elizabeth," said Damasco "She is the most amazing person. If I hadn't met her, I don't think I would be where I am today. The song she gave me to work on at the Savannah Voice Festival is the song I performed at the National YoungArts Competition in Miami. We've been working on it since then."
Despite her intense drive and dedication to opera, Damasco remains your average high school senior who enjoys spending time with friends and is dealing with a case of "senioritis." Before she embarks on the college journey she hopes will end center stage at the Metropolitan Opera, she will be featured in the role of Adelaide in Rustin High School's upcoming performances of 'Guys & Dolls' March 8-10.
To view Damasco’s performance at the National YoungArts Competition go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdcC_4HI6qg.
Rustin BSU Completes in 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.
BSU Students from Henderson & Rustin Reach Community Through MLK Day of Service
Black Student Union (BSU) students from Rustin and Henderson High Schools spent Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day honoring the slain civil rights leader with a Day of Service at St. Paul's Baptist Church (SPBC).
Each January, SPBC celebrates and honors the legacy of Dr. King by sponsoring the county-wide Day of Service, which includes community outreach and service projects throughout the greater West Chester Area and beyond. SPBC collaborates with local churches, community agencies, civic organizations, and school districts to make a positive influence in the community.
The students assembled 100 hygiene kits and care packages that were distributed to the Salvation Army of West Chester, Chester County Food Cupboard, Gaudenzia House, and Safe Harbor.
This year marks the 14th annual SPBC MLK Day of Service.
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.
Rustin Science Olympiad Team Competes in Minnesota and Wisconsin
Congratulations go out to the Rustin Science Olympiad team on their recent competitions in Minnesota and Wisconsin! The varsity team finished in 1st place overall out of 58 teams. Junior Varsity finished in 10th place out of 60 teams. Rustin was also the recipient of the Spirit Award which recognizes students for being polite, respectful, professional, and for helping their competitors. Teams are nominated for the Spirit Award by event supervisors, and the tournament director said Rustin won by the largest margin the tournament has had in the last 11 years.
Rustin High School Hosts Business Leaders Breakfast
West Chester area business leaders recently got a first-hand glimpse into student life at Rustin High School when student leaders and school administrators hosted a breakfast on Wednesday, November 29th.
Superintendent Dr. Jim Scanlon provided an update on student academic achievement touting an increase in average SAT and ACT test scores that are consistently higher than state and national averages. The tests are used to measure college readiness.
Scanlon also talked about ways that the school district and the business community can expand partnerships to continue to prepare students for success once they graduate. The district offers students unique opportunities to learn about the workplace through its Career Exploration Program. Area businesses are a key component of the program and help to make the critical link between the skills students are learning in school and the importance of this knowledge and skill acquisition to future career success.
Rustin High School Principal Dr. Michael Marano spent time talking about the dedication the student body has to the surrounding community. The school has over 40 clubs that focus on community service.
"We have students that are passionate about community service - whether it's supporting childhood cancer research or protecting the environment," said Marano. "To see the impact that our students make in the community is inspiring to us on a daily basis."
Guests were treated to a complimentary breakfast prepared by students in Karen Weaver's Culinary Arts class and were entertained by Rustin's string quartet. The morning concluded with student-led tours of the school.
Rustin HS Golden Knights Marching Band Performs at National Championship
Rustin High School Golden Knights Marching Band Performs at BOA Rustin High School Golden Knights Marching Band with Blue Devils Drumline
Congratulations to the Rustin High School Golden Knights Marching Band on their recent appearance at the Bands of America (BOA) Grand National Championships in Westfield, Indiana. The band competed against 100 other marching bands from across the country in the preliminary round on Friday, November 10, 2017. Although the group did not advance to the semifinal round, band director Mike Shoremount said he was ecstatic over what the group accomplished.
"This is incredible for a first-year band making this unbelievable jump to the largest and most renowned high school marching band competition," said Shoremount. "This was a life-changing experience for all involved."
Following the preliminary competition, band members attended the Percussive Arts Society International Convention at the Indianapolis Convention Center and had the opportunity to meet members of the Drum Corp International 2017 World Champion Blue Devils Drumline.
At the conclusion of the convention, students returned to Lucas Oil Stadium to watch the BOA finals before returning home to West Chester.
The Golden Knights Marching Band appearance at the BOA Grand National Championship comes on the heels of their 7th USBands Pennsylvania State Championship which was held on October 28, 2017, at Lincoln University.
The competition style is geared toward a drum corps style performance, with music being most important, followed by all types of simultaneous demands placed on the performers.
"Individual field music, ensemble music, visual performance, the overall effect, percussion, and color guard," said Shoremount. " Band members are not simply marching and playing any longer. They are playing extremely difficult music while running and performing ballet moves!"
Shoremount said the band, led by drum majors Olivia McLucas and Andrew Whitig, performed exceptionally well at the BOA Grand National Championship.
"We have all grown so much from being able to compete at this high of a level," added Shoremount.
Rustin High School Golden Knights Marching Band Drum Majors Olivia McLucas and Andrew Whitig celebrate their 7th state championship.
Rustin HS Alumna Publishes Children's Book and Donates Copies to WCASD
Asia Grant proudly displays a copy of Poncho the Llama Asia Grant and the WCASD School Board
As a 10th grader at Rustin High School, Asia Grant never thought that a class assignment would have led to her becoming a published author by the age of 22, nor that the subject matter of her story would be so apropos in today's society.
In 2011, Rustin English teacher Sarah Gallagher challenged Grant's honors English class to write a children's book based on an existing word, and its origin. Grant said she was wearing a poncho that day and that's how Poncho the Llama was born.
Poncho the Llama is about a technicolor llama born in a village in Peru filled with llama whose fur is white. After being shunned for looking different, Poncho leaves his home questioning why he does not fit in. On his travels, Poncho encounters a stranger who tells him that his colorful fur is beautiful and that he should celebrate his differences. The two begin a journey together, meeting other colorful animals along the way, leading Poncho down a path of self-discovery and ultimately acceptance.
The overall theme of diversity and acceptance is timely.
"The topics that are troubling today - racism, discrimination, segregation - are very hard things to discuss without feeling guilty or angry or needing to blame someone else. I feel like the opportunity to speak about these things through a children's book creates a level field for everyone to be able to explain their feelings and understand another person's point of view," said Grant.
Despite children being her target audience, Grant said the story strikes a chord with adults due to its message of acceptance, empathy, and self-discovery.
The idea to publish Poncho the Llama was planted in Grant's mind in 2011 when West Chester Area School District Superintendent Jim Scanlon read her assignment and asked to take it home to share with his young children. He later urged her to publish the book.
"I don't think Dr. Scanlon realized how much his suggestion meant to me," said Grant. "That experience and his words stuck with me. There are some of the most motivating and supportive people in the West Chester Area School District. This district helped shape the person I've become, and I wanted to give back."
Grant is giving back. She had donated a copy of Poncho the Llama to each of the district's ten elementary school libraries.
Grant, a 2017 graduate of Penn State University and Schreyer Honors College, now works as a Digital Consultant for IBM in Manhattan. Her work ethic and drive are enviable; her energy is infectious. This past May, Grant completed her senior thesis, published Poncho the Llama and then graduated with honors from PSU.
Grant said she doesn’t quite fit the mold of ‘corporate America’ and thrives on creativity and self-expression. While proud of all of her academic achievements, Grant said she is most proud of publishing the book.
"I came up with the original idea. I had to structure a schedule around it, find an illustrator, budget for an illustrator, publish the book and handle the marketing. The whole process was very much self-initiated, so it gives me a greater sense of pride and accomplishment," said Grant.
The book's illustrator is Carolyn Balch, who Grant first met in 3rd grade when the two attended Penn Wood Elementary School together. The pair remained friends throughout their years in the West Chester Area School District, so it made perfect sense for them to work together. Balch is currently studying graphic design at Virginia Commonwealth University.
"Plus, Carolyn grew up on a llama farm," added Grant.
"If you notice the illustrations in the book, no one has a face. That was intentional," said Grant. "The whole point of Poncho is to teach empathy. I believe empathy is something that is not seen but is heard. I wanted kids to be able to read the book and not look at the character's faces for how to feel, but rather listen to the words within the context of the story to be able to understand what Poncho was going through, yet at the same time understand what the villagers felt. I hope that Poncho's story will help people have the patience and acceptance to say 'I hear what you are saying, but let's try to look at it again in order to have a more holistic and accepting environment.'"
Grant already has plans for a follow-up book, which focuses on what occurred in the village after Poncho left. Poncho the Llama is available on Amazon and through www.ponchothellamabook.com.
Rustin Boys' Cross-Country Team Partners with the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County
Rustin’s Boys’ Cross-Country team signed the CBIM pledge on October 3, 2017, and was presented with a certificate of appreciation from DVCCC.
The West Chester Rustin Boys’ Cross-Country team is the second to partner with the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County (DVCCC) to continue growing the Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) program. Coach Matt Taglang is dedicated to the program’s mission, which is aimed at promoting and teaching respectful behavior and preventing abuse, harassment, and sexual assault. Rustin’s support of CBIM continues to grow, modeling respect, integrity, and nonviolence throughout their school and community.
Coach Taglang and his team made time each week to complete the discussions covered in CBIM, sharing thoughts, questions, and concerns with one another. The conversation topics range from accountability for our actions to modeling respect and equality. When speaking with Taglang about CBIM he said, “This program has provided a platform for me as a coach to impact these young men’s lives in a way beyond training them as athletes. The CBIM curriculum has opened the door to conversations that help guide these student-athletes toward becoming the kind of people who will make responsible decisions in the future.”
The program coordinator, Amelia Rayburn, believes that CBIM is an extremely vital program for our area’s youth, “The idea is that athletes are poised, as leaders in their schools, to influence their peers to stand up against disrespectful behaviors and to change the culture of acceptance and complacence.” With the program’s mission, we should expect to see these positive changes ripple out into the community. “I look forward to bringing this program to more of our schools,” Rayburn added.
West Chester East High School has also partnered with CBIM this fall, incorporating the program into their Football season. DVCCC will present the team with their certificate of appreciation on October 20, 2017, during their home game against Downingtown West.
The Mission of the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County is to provide intervention, programs, outreach, and advocacy to prevent, reduce and remedy domestic violence in Chester County. The Domestic Violence Center of Chester County provides emergency safe house/shelter at a confidential address; long-term housing; 24-hour telephone hotlines (including toll-free and TTY numbers) for information, referral and support; counseling; children’s services; and legal services. In addition to a confidential site, the Center has outreach offices in Oxford, Kennett Square, Phoenixville, and Coatesville. In the fiscal year of 2015/2016 direct services were provided to over three thousand Chester County survivors of abuse and their dependent children. For more information call the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County at 610.431.3546. To contact the 24-hour domestic violence hotline, call 1-888-711-6270. All services are free and confidential.
Incoming Rustin Student Wins Holocaust Arts Competition
From left to right - Sarah Jewett, Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Grace McCabe, Peter Stolzer, Stetson Middle School
Incoming Rustin High School student Grace McCabe recently took top honors at a writing competition by focusing on a little-known aspect of the Holocaust - the Lebensborn program.
“I feel it is so important to know about the Holocaust because we need to make sure it never happens again,” said McCabe. “Innocent people were treated horribly just because of who they were. We all need to celebrate our differences and accept others for who they are.”
McCabe won first place in the 7th/8th-grade prose writing category in the Mordechai Anielewicz Creative Arts Competition, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's Jewish Community Relations Council. Her story entitled, “Lebensborn Redemption” fell under the theme of Experiences of Children. In 1935, faced with a declining birthrate in Germany, Heinrich Himmler, a leading member of the Nazi party, created the Lebensborn program to further the Aryan race by whatever means possible. Young children with Aryan features were kidnapped from families living in German-occupied areas. After they had been “Germanized,” the children were placed with pre-approved German couples who would raise them as their own. As part of the program, German women deemed “racially pure” were also encouraged to reproduce with SS officers to create a "super-race."
McCabe entered the competition after learning about it in her 8th-grade accelerated English class at Stetson Middle School.
“When brainstorming topics, I decided to think outside the box, said McCabe. “I wanted to shed light on an aspect of the Holocaust that people might not have known about, so I wrote about the Lebensborn program. I read about the program in a book called “Someone Named Eva." I was fascinated by the story and thought it would make a good topic for the essay contest. I worked really hard on the essay with my teacher, Mr. Stolzer, and I was very proud to accept the award. I especially felt honored because there were Holocaust survivors in attendance who were very emotional in recalling details of the ordeal most of us could never imagine.”
McCabe received a $100 gift card to Barnes and Noble and a certificate that was handed out at an awards ceremony at the Moore College of Art and Design on June 5th.
"I was ecstatic about Grace's award, but I would have been proud of her effort had she finished in 100th place," said Stetson English teacher Peter Stolzer. "She earnestly and persistently labored through hours of drafts and revisions, conducting painstaking research along the way, to craft a short story true to history and worthy of the topic."
The Mordechai Anielewicz Creative Arts Competition is an annual event designed to encourage all Philadelphia-area middle school and high school students to learn about and reflect upon the history of the Holocaust. According to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, students are invited to submit Holocaust themes and lessons through essays, poems, short works of fiction, two-and three-dimensional as well as multimedia works of art, original songs, musical compositions, and dance. The contest is named in memory of a young Jewish leader who led a revolt against the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto.
McCabe has enjoyed writing since she was a little girl and plans to continue to develop her writing skills on a personal and academic scale. She intends on entering the Mordechai Anielewicz Creative Arts Competition again next year.
For more information, please contact Ms. Jennifer Neill, Digital Communications Coordinator, at 484-266-1171 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bianca Roberson Scholarship Fund
A scholarship fund is being established to honor the memory of 2017 Rustin High School graduate Bianca Roberson. The WCASD school board approved the scholarship at their July meeting. Calling her death "a senseless act of violence," Superintendent Jim Scanlon held a moment of silence at the start of the meeting.
"There is nothing we can do to bring her back but to honor her memory," said School Board President Chris McCune.
Roberson was killed in June during a road rage incident with another motorist on the Route 100 Bypass. She was weeks away from heading to Florida to attend Jacksonville University.
The Roberson family and a school committee will work together to establish criteria that recipients must meet in order to qualify for the scholarship. Checks can be made out to WCASD and mailed to Dr. Michael Marano, Rustin High School 1100 Shiloh Road, West Chester, PA 19382
For more information, please contact Ms. Jennifer Neill, Digital Communications Coordinator, at 484-266-1171 or email@example.com.
Rustin Boys Track Team Partners with DVCCC
Rustin Boys Track and Field Team
The West Chester Rustin Boys Track and Field Team partnered with the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County (DVCCC) this spring to bring the Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) program to Rustin High School. Rustin Head Coach Shaz Brown and DVCCC’s Amelia Rayburn spearheaded the effort, which is aimed at promoting and teaching respectful behavior and prevention of relationship abuse, harassment, and sexual assault. Coach Brown and the track team volunteered to be the first Rustin team to partner with the DVCCC and incorporate the CBIM program into their interscholastic competition season.
Coach Brown and the team of over 75 boys allocated time prior to practice on a regular basis each week to complete the program over the course of the 10-week regular season. According to Coach Brown, “The team really bought into the program, thanks to the leadership of our veteran guys. They took it very seriously and got a lot out of it. I’m really proud of the way the guys responded to CBIM.” According to Rustin Athletic Director Chris Lunardi, this program is the first of its kind at Rustin: “I couldn’t be prouder of Coach Brown and our track team for volunteering to try the CBIM program. The spring track season is extremely hectic, and for those guys to be willing to spend time each week to go through the program is very impressive. The track team is a shining example of what high school athletics should be.” According to Lunardi, Rustin plans to try to incorporate the CBIM program with other teams and programs in the future.
The Mission of the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County is to provide intervention, programs, outreach and advocacy to prevent, reduce and remedy domestic violence in Chester County. The Domestic Violence Center of Chester County provides emergency safe house/shelter at a confidential address; long-term housing; 24-hour telephone hotlines (including toll-free and TTY numbers) for information, referral and support; counseling; children’s services; and legal services. All services are free and confidential. For more information call 610-431-3546 or visit www.dvccc.com.
CBIM first launched in 2001 as a national public service announcement campaign in partnership with the Advertising Council. The television, radio, print, and online ads leveraged over $123 million in donated media and catalyzed grassroots efforts in communities across the country. CBIM has since grown from a broad awareness and action campaign into a comprehensive violence prevention curriculum for coaches and their athletes.
For more information, please contact Rustin Athletic Director, Christopher Lunardi 484-266-4340 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
RHS Hockey Team Wins State & National Championship
Congratulations to the Rustin High School hockey team on winning its fourth straight state championship and the USA Hockey High School National Championship!
Click on the links for more.
Rustin Student Selected to Perform in National Honors Choir
Rustin High School junior Emily Damasco recently returned to West Chester after performing with the National Honors Choir from November 10-13 in Texas.
Damasco, a soprano, was selected to sing in the 2016 National Association for Music Educators’ National Honors Choir after completing several successful auditions at the local, regional, and state level this past spring.
“Emily was one of the top twenty sopranos to go to the Pennsylvania District level, one of the top ten sopranos to move on to Regionals, and one of the top six sopranos to go to States,” said Ann Ellis, the Director of Choirs, Keyboards, and Music Theory at Rustin High School. “She also scored very high at the State level, and as a result was selected to be a part of the National Honors Choir.”
Approximately 350 students from nearly every state in the nation were selected to sing in the National Honors Choir and perform in a special concert, which was held at the Gaylord Texan Hotel and Conference Center in Grapevine, Texas.
“Being selected to sing in the National Honors Choir meant the world to me,” said Damasco, who began singing when she was six years old. “I worked very hard to accomplish this goal. Auditioning in Districts all the way through to Nationals took discipline and dedication, and it was worth every minute.”
To prepare for the concert, Damasco and the other students who were selected participated in numerous rehearsals and workshops over the course of three days. “I learned the value of music and harmony during the rehearsals with Dr. Anton Armstrong, our guest conductor, and was able to work with and learn from many other talented musicians,” Damasco said.
“I am incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication that Emily has given to the choral art, working daily to improve not only her own gift, but encouraging others to sing to the best of their ability as well,” said Ellis.
“I am also extremely proud of Emily on this outstanding, once in a lifetime accomplishment,” said David Ehrhart, Supervisor of Fine Arts, World Languages, and Career Education in the West Chester Area School District. “She is very deserving of this opportunity.”
When asked what she liked most about her experience with the National Honors Choir, Damasco shared she enjoyed singing the selected songs, and also enjoyed interacting with the very talented people who shared similar interests in music.
Damasco plans to attend college and is currently looking at schools that include The Curtis Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and Indiana University Bloomington. She would like to become a professional opera singer or solo performer when she graduates.
“I enjoy singing and want people to be able to connect with the music as much as I do,” said Damasco. “Music is a very important part of my life, and I hope my music has an effect on people now and in the future.”
For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator, West Chester Area School District at 484-266-1170 or email@example.com.
Rustin High School Raises Money For Injured Senior
More than $9,000 was raised at a recent fundraiser to help injured Rustin High School senior Madeline Duffy, who was partially paralyzed following a car accident last November.
Students and the community came together on February 24th to help out the Duffy family. The family is dealing with mounting medical bills as a result of the accident.
With generous donations from area businesses and individuals, students designed and built an 18-hole miniature golf course on the first floor of Rustin High School. The greens fee was $5 per person. All proceeds from the event went to the non-profit organization Help Hope Live, which in turn gave the money to the Duffy Family.
"The best part of the evening for me was seeing Maddie's mom smile at the support for her daughter," said David Richard, a Rustin teacher who organized the event. "By the end of the night, she was relaxed and joking. It is little respites that keep one going at difficult times."
Madeline Duffy is currently undergoing extensive rehabilitation and hopes to complete her senior year at Rustin.
A fundraising page has been set up on helphopelive.org on Madeline's behalf. Please click on the link below for more information or to make a donation.
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.
Rustin Student Competes in Int'l Triathlon, Finishes 20th in the World
Rustin High School senior Brandon Hontz competed in the International Triathlon Union World Championship Grand Final in Cozumel, Mexico, on September 15.
Hontz’s race consisted of 750 meters of swimming (.46 of a mile), 20 kilometers of biking (12.4 miles), and 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) of running. He finished twentieth overall in the world and was the third U.S. finisher, earning a medal with a time of 1 hour, 2 minutes, and 20 seconds. He competed in the male 16-19 year-old age bracket.
In addition to competing internationally, Hontz competes locally as a member of Rustin High School’s Cross Country and Outdoor Track and Field Teams. He qualified for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (PIAA) State Championships for cross country in the fall of 2015 and the 1600 meter race in the spring of 2016. He was unable to participate in the cross country championship because he was competing in the U.S. Triathlon National Championships, however, he competed in the 1600 meter race and finished thirteenth.
Hontz is applying to Pennsylvania State University, University of Florida, University of Maryland, Georgia Tech University, Virginia Tech University, and Drexel University and plans to major in engineering.
For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator for the West Chester Area School District, at 484-266-1170 or email@example.com.
Rustin's Marching Band Performs National Anthem at Phillies Game
Rustin High School’s Marching Band was invited to perform the National Anthem at the Philadelphia Phillies versus Chicago White Sox baseball game on September 21. Fifty students traveled from Rustin High School to Citizens Bank Park to participate in the once in a lifetime experience, performing in front of a crowd of nearly 22,000 fans that included West Chester Area School District parents, siblings, and staff. The students, under the direction of Michael Shoremount, the Director of Bands at Rustin High School, earned a hearty ovation from the crowd as well as players from both teams following their performance. The Phillies went on to win with a final score of 8-3.
For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator, West Chester Area School District at 484-266-1170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rustin Grad Earns Spot at U.S. Physics Team Training Camp
The training camp is coordinated annually to find students who will be selected to serve on the U.S. Physics Traveling Team and ultimately compete in the International Physics Olympiad. However, the road to the Olympiad isn’t an easy equation.
The selection process for the U.S. Physics Traveling team began in January with the administration of a qualifying exam. The top 400 (approximately) scorers were then invited to take another exam, the U.S.A. Physics Olympiad, and those who scored highest were invited to attend the U.S. Physics Team Training Camp at the University of Maryland. Roberson was one of only three students from Pennsylvania selected to participate in the camp.
Twenty-three high school students from across the nation reported to camp in June and participated in ten days of non-stop physics lectures, exams, practice labs, and individual mystery labs. “The hardest part of camp was a five-hour exam that was given in a testing environment that simulated the theoretical portion of the International Physics Olympiad,” said Roberson. Students were given cards that they could raise to indicate that they would like food, needed to use the bathroom, or had a question – similar to the procedures followed in the international competition.
When camp ended, five students were selected to participate on the United States Physics Traveling Team. While Roberson was not one of them, there were no hard feelings among those not selected for the traveling team. “All in all, new friendships were forged, great physics were accomplished, and we even signed each other’s physics textbooks at the end in lieu of yearbooks,” said Roberson. “Having the chance to be surrounded by great young minds with a common love of physics was an experience I will always treasure.”
The U.S. Physics Traveling Team competed against students who hailed from countries across the world in the International Physics Olympiad, which was held in July. The competition tested students’ ability to tackle theoretical and experimental physics tasks in a large variety of subjects, which ranged from classical mechanics to thermodynamics, electromagnetism, optics, special relativity, and modern quantum mechanics. Members of the U.S. Physics Traveling Team went on to earn two gold medals and three silver medals at the Olympiad.
Roberson is grateful for the entire experience, and especially appreciative of his mentors. “While I worked hard to earn the opportunity to participate on the U.S. Physics Team, I also received an incredible amount of support from my teachers, Mr. Byrd and Mr. Suarez,” said Roberson. “Beginning in ninth grade, they nurtured my enthusiasm for physics and helped me get to where I am today.”
In his spare time, Roberson enjoys reading and playing the ukulele, violin, and electric bass. He’s also an avid chess player. While a student at Rustin, he was named a National Merit Finalist and U.S. Presidential Scholar Candidate, and also won numerous medals as a member of the school’s Science Olympiad Team, where he first started working with his mentors Mr. Byrd and Mr. Suarez. Roberson was named Salutatorian of his graduating class and plans to attend California Institute of Technology this fall.
For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator, West Chester Area School District at 484-266-1170 or email@example.com.
WCASD Grad Receives 20K Scholarship from Local Cancer Foundation
Patrick Durant, a 2016 graduate of Rustin High School, has been named the recipient of the Team CMMD Foundation’s $20,000 Karen Baker Scholarship Award. Durant plans to attend Gettysburg College in the fall.
Thirty-two seniors from the West Chester Area School District and the Downingtown Area School District applied for the 2016 Karen Baker Scholarship Award. One student was chosen from each district to receive the scholarship, which will be awarded in increments of $5,000 per academic year for four consecutive years and is contingent upon the recipient maintaining a 3.0 grade point average or better.
In addition, the Team CMMD Foundation granted a $500 Karen Baker Book Award to Brandon Madonna, a 2016 graduate of Henderson High School who plans to attend St. Joseph’s University in the fall. The Team CMMD Foundation granted a $500 Karen Baker Book Award to a 2016 graduate of the Downingtown Area School District (DASD) as well.
The organization also donated $1,000 in the name of a graduating DASD senior to the Cure4Cam Foundation, a local childhood cancer foundation that seeks to raise community awareness of and support for the development of new and more humane therapies for childhood cancer.
Based in Exton, the Team CMMD Foundation is a non-profit organization that was formed in 2013 to provide financial assistance, scholarships, and meals to families with cancer. The organization hosts dedication runs honoring those fighting cancer and supports community outreach projects. In 2015, the Foundation established the Karen Baker Scholarship in honor of Baker, a working mother of two who is currently fighting leiomyosarcoma, a rare form of soft-tissue cancer. To learn more about the Team CMMD Foundation, visit teamcmmd.org.
RHS Students Compete in the National Science Olympiad Tournament
For the second year in a row, Rustin High School’s Science Olympiad Team earned an opportunity to compete in the National Science Olympiad Tournament – and the students have a lot to be proud of. The team placed thirteenth overall in the nation and medaled in the top 6 of 3 out of the 23 events. This marks the best finish the team has had since it was established in 2007.
More than 5,000 students, educators, and parents from all 50 states traveled to the 32nd Annual Science Olympiad National Tournament, which was held at the University of Wisconsin-Stout from May 20 to 21. Rustin was one of only two teams from Pennsylvania that traveled to Wisconsin and participated in the tournament. On the path to competing at the national level, Rustin’s Science Olympiad Team placed second in the State Competition, earning medals in 18 of the 23 events and a trip to the National Tournament.
Recognized as one of the nation’s most prestigious science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, the National Science Olympiad Tournament brought together 120 middle school and high school teams who had advanced from state-level competitions held earlier in the spring. Rigorous hands-on and lab events, led by experts from government agencies, top universities, and Science Olympiad state chapters, covered topics in physics, epidemiology, astronomy, chemistry, meteorology, and engineering. Click here to view the tournament schedule.
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Science Olympiad is a national middle and high school team competition in which students compete in events pertaining to various scientific disciplines with the goal of enhancing student education in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. There are more than 7,500 student teams in all 50 states. Learn more about the 2016 National Science Olympiad Tournament by clicking here.
Teachers James “Greg” Byrd and Jaime Suarez advise Rustin High School’s Science Olympiad Team. To view prior news featuring Rustin High School’s winning Science Olympiad Team, please click here.
Rustin’s Science Olympiad Team Headed to National Competition
For the second year in a row, Rustin High School’s Science Olympiad Team has earned the chance to compete in the National Science Olympiad Tournament. Rustin is one of only two teams from Pennsylvania that will travel to the University of Wisconsin-Stout from May 19-21 to participate in the tournament.
Science Olympiad is a national middle and high school team competition in which students compete in events pertaining to various scientific disciplines with the goal of enhancing student education in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. There are more than 7,500 teams in all 50 states. Competitions are hosted each year beginning at the local level and advance all the way to national competition. There are 23 team events featured at each competition and they cover topics that include: anatomy, astronomy, cell biology, chemistry, epidemiology, invasive species, and wind power, among others. Competitions are like academic track meets – schools are allowed to bring 15 students from their team to compete in the 23 team events that are coordinated.
Rustin High School’s Science Olympiad Team has 33 members. Earlier this year, the team placed first at the Regional Tournament, earning medals in 17 of the 23 events and a trip to the State Competition. To prepare for the State Competition, the team competed in seven invitational tournaments, traveling from Boston to Houston and numerous cities in-between. Rustin placed second in the State Competition earning medals in 18 of the 23 events and a trip to the National Competition.
When preparing for competitions, students spend hundreds of hours after school studying and practicing. “Team members can often be found in my classroom or Mr. Suarez’s classroom at least three times a week after school,” said Greg Byrd, co-advisor to the Rustin High School Science Olympiad Team. “Several students are here every day. It seems like the question I get asked most often is, ‘How late can we stay?’”
However, students find great value in the time they put in to preparing for competition. “I spend so much time doing work for the Science Olympiad because I love it,” said Grace O’Malley, a sophomore at Rustin who is a member of the school’s team. “There's an incredible feeling of accomplishment when it comes time for competition, and you know that the countless hours you put in paid off.”
In addition to finding value in preparing for competition, students genuinely enjoy spending time with one another. “I love our team. We work together, we compete together, and we win and lose together,” added O’Malley. “I've made some of my best friends through Science Olympiad, and I can confidently say that joining the team was one of the best decisions I've ever made.”
Rustin's Science Olympiad Team Brings Home the Gold
Albert Einstein once said, “The important thing is to never stop questioning.” In the field of science, questioning, experimenting, and testing hypotheses are all keys to success. Founded in 2006, Rustin High School’s Science Olympiad Team has certainly unlocked the door to success by placing first out of 34 teams in this month’s Southeastern PA Regional Competition.
Science Olympiad is an organization that focuses on enhancing student education in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Competitions are hosted each year, beginning at the local level and advancing to national competition. There are 23 team events featured at each competition with topics that include; astronomy, the planet, invasive species, wind power, air trajectory, and chemistry.
At this year’s regional competition, Rustin medaled in 17 of the 23 events. Greg Byrd, co-coach of Rustin’s Science Olympiad Team, said, “We have to be good in all events. Historically, we have been good in building events. This year we have been particularly good in chemistry lab, cell biology, fossils, and wright stuff.” With hard work and dedication, this team has been able to thrive.
When preparing for the competitions, all 33 members meet at least twice a week for two hours at a time. However, many team members are found studying and practicing more than double this amount of time. “I get to work with some of the best kids on the planet,” added Byrd. “They are smart, funny, silly, committed and just really interesting folks. When you watch a kid work for hours on an event and then succeed in a competition, it is just a great feeling.”
Not only does the team work hard to accomplish great things, they form friendships and bonds with another as well. Following Rustin’s win at regionals, the Science Olympiad Team celebrated with a science fiction movie marathon at a teammate’s house. “This is truly a team,” said Byrd. “They work hard, play well with others, they’re considerate, and they’re helpful.”
May the Rustin High School Science Olympiad Team continue to question, as Albert Einstein would say, as they prepare for states in April and hopefully reach their goal of competing in nationals.
This article was prepared by Elyse Kistler, intern in the West Chester Area School District’s Communications Office. For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator, West Chester Area School District at 484-266-1170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Front Row: Jeff Cohn, Lillian Kim, Grace O'Malley, Sam Licwink, Faith Brown, Keerthana Senthil, Morgan Wade, and Laura Klang
Back Row: Dr. Lawrence DiPaolo, Jr. (Neumann University Vice President for Academic Affairs), Mr. Byrd, Dan Moon, Matthew Chan, Andrew Nguyen, Austin Antonacci, Nathaniel Kinzly, Raza Sheikh, David Franco, Daniel Kamowski, Dr. Rosalie M. Mirenda (Neumann University President), Annie Page, Milan Roberson, Philip Saroka, Ruben Verhagen, and Mr. Suarez
Rustin Marching Band Performs at Citrus Bowl Parade & Disney World
In addition to celebrating the New Year and adding a little extra magic to the happiest place on earth, the Rustin High School Marching Band performed live at both the Florida Citrus Bowl Parade and Magic Kingdom this past December. With all members in attendance, Rustin’s Marching Band played in the Citrus Bowl Parade for their second time in the past five years. The Citrus Bowl Parade features 8 to 12 high school, community, and college bands to represent the two football teams playing in the Citrus Bowl. This year, the University of Michigan and University of Florida played in the Citrus Bowl.
Mike Shoremount, Rustin High School Marching Band Director, received an invitation to apply for the parade performance in September of 2014. The band immediately began creating and submitting videos of their field and parade performances. They were excited to learn they had been accepted to play, and even more excited when they learned that they would be leading the Citrus Bowl Parade.
Multiple fundraising efforts took place in an effort to help offset the cost of travelling to Florida. Students volunteered their time to help at events such as Rustin’s marching band competition, indoor competition, and Jazz festival, as well as sold discount coupons and various gift cards. The Rustin Band Boosters also played a big role in financially supporting the band members.
In preparation for the big performances, band members put a lot of time and effort into memorizing and learning the new repertoire. “I probably spent an average of five hours a week practicing Stars and Stripes Forever in the weeks leading up to the trip,” said Ruben Verhagen, a junior and brass captain. Haley Bostic, a senior drum major, noted, “I worked with students during their lunches and study halls, trying to learn and memorize the music. There was a lot of time spent in and out of school in order to learn the march.”
The Rustin Marching Band also performed at Disney World while they were in Florida. This called for new repertoire and videos for submission. Luckily, the band members were able to perform familiar repertoire – songs that were performed at the West Chester Old Fashioned Christmas Parade. As drum major, Bostic had a unique challenge she had to overcome; “I had to become familiar with conducting the band backwards, something I have never done, and it was quite the physical experience.”
Despite the hard work and nerves leading up to the performances, the band did a phenomenal job and really enjoyed their time in Florida. As the trip came to a close, band members had created stronger friendships, took even more pride in their musicianship, and were genuinely thankful for the experience and opportunity provided to them.
“The students had a once in a lifetime experience performing in front of an international live and television audience for the Citrus Bowl Parade, in addition to the more than 80,000 spectators at the Magic Kingdom,” said Shoremount. “The students have really become a family over the course of the season, and it was an incredible opportunity for them to travel with their friends, perform their very best, and have fun in the Disney parks.”
When asked if she would go on this trip again, Bostic said, “Of course! There’s no doubt about it. Music takes us to places that we can’t even begin to describe. If given the opportunity to take this trip again, I would sign up in a heartbeat. For me, it truly was the opportunity of a lifetime. I was with my fellow peers who have the same love of music that I do. I was doing what I love and live for with fellow students, my peers, my friends, my band. I was doing what I love with my family.”
This article was prepared by Elyse Kistler, intern in the West Chester Area School District’s Communications Office. For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator, West Chester Area School District at 484-266-1170 or email@example.com.
Rustin Holds Ceremony, Unveils Plaque Honoring Civil Rights Activist
Bayard Rustin High School recently held a special ceremony and unveiled a new plaque that honors the life and legacy of civil rights activist and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Bayard Rustin, after whom the school is named.
Students, teachers, staff, and community members attended the event, which was held in the school’s main lobby on December 9. The ceremony began with the Concert Choir’s performance of the alma mater, and was followed by welcoming remarks provided by principal Mike Marano.
Student leaders from the Black Student Union, Gay Straight Alliance, and Student Council spoke next, describing what Bayard Rustin means to them while sharing courageous personal stories with those in attendance. The school’s librarian, Shirley LeClerc, presented a rare audio recording of Bayard Rustin singing, which was followed by a performance of Swing Low Sweet Chariot by the Rustin Concert Choir. Superintendent Jim Scanlon provided closing remarks and led the unveiling of the plaque to those in attendance.
“I hope that the speakers’ messages of inspiration as well as the new plaque helps to spread awareness of Bayard Rustin and the vital importance that all citizens take action to address social injustice whenever and wherever it is encountered,” said Chris Reyna, a social studies teacher at the high School who coordinated the event.
The following message is engraved on the plaque, which is prominently located in the school’s main lobby:
“Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all. As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights. An advisor to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he promoted nonviolent resistance, participated in in one of the first Freedom Rides, organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and fought tirelessly for marginalized communities at home and abroad. Mr. Rustin was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama on November 20, 2013, in recognition of his lifelong commitment to human rights.”
Rustin High School Hosts US Bands Marching Band Competition
On Saturday, October 24, Rustin High School held their 4th annual US Bands Marching Band Competition. Featuring 15 marching bands from across the region, each high school brought something unique to the field to the delight of those in attendance. The dedication and hard-work of each band and color guard member came to life as they took to the field.
This competition is not only a day for performing and creating music, but also a day for meeting new people from surrounding high schools and sharing a common passion. The following bands participated in the competition: Henderson High School, Saucon Valley High School, Abington High School, Souderton Area High School, Emmaus High School, Easton Area High School, Nazareth Area High School, Central Bucks South High School, Quakertown High School, North Penn High School, Hempfield High School, Susquehanna Township High School, Daniel Boone High School, Absegami High School, and Rustin High School.
“Marching band requires commitment and dedication of its members, careful instruction and design of its staff, and resources beyond measure from dedicated parents and families who support and help their students to achieve at levels above and beyond their imagination,” said David Ehrhart, Supervisor of World Languages, Fine Arts, and Career Education for the West Chester Area School District.
Both Henderson and Rustin High Schools won first place in their respective divisions, receiving awards for Best Music, Best Visual, Best Overall Effect, Best Color Guard, and Best Percussion.
When speaking with drum majors from the Rustin High School Marching Band, it’s easy to recognize just how passionate the student performers and instrumentalists really are. Junior Madeline Kozak and senior Haley Bostic shared what it’s like performing and being a part of the Rustin High School Marching Band.
“I was going to quit music all together in 8th grade,” said Kozak, “but my music teacher encouraged me to continue playing, and it meant a lot to me.” Kozak currently plays violin and marches clarinet. She also enjoys the color guard and drum major experience. “This is my first year as drum major and performing with the color guard. It keeps me busy, and as I help others I also learn myself. I set my struggles aside for practices because it will affect the band.”
Bostic touched on her similar experience as drum major, saying, “I was a drum major last year and it teaches me responsibility, growth, maturity, and selflessness. The band always comes first.” Playing alto saxophone and marching tenor saxophone, Bostic enjoys her many musical experiences and says, “I definitely want to continue playing music after high school. I wake up to music, go to bed with music, and I hear music all day. Music is everything.”
This article was prepared by Elyse Kistler, intern in the WCASD Communications Office.
Rustin Student Presented with Widener University Leadership Award
Rustin High School senior Nicolette Pagliei was recently presented with the 2014-15 Widener University High School Leadership Award.
WCAU-TV NBC10 and the Widener University High School Leadership Award Committee selected Pagliei to receive the award, which recognizes high school students in good academic standing who exhibit strong leadership skills, academic excellence, and exceptional character. Recipients of the award have stood up for what’s right, found ways to address what’s wrong, and made a difference in a significant way within their school community.
Pagliei, who is captain of the cheerleading team and a member of Student Council, is the first student at Rustin High School to be presented with the Widener University Leadership Award. To recognize her for being a recipient of the award, Pagliei was invited to join other recipients from across the region at a special leadership conference held at Widener University, She was also invited to a prestigious awards ceremony held at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. And, should she choose to enroll at Widener University, Pagliei will be awarded a $20,000 scholarship over four years.
“Nicolette has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities throughout her time here,” said Mike Marano, principal of Rustin High School. “She is a young lady of substance, determination, and personal courage, and she brings spirit and energy to the school. Nicolette’s positive presence sets an outstanding example for her classmates.”
For more information, please contact Ms. Tracey Dukert, Digital Communications Coordinator, West Chester Area School District at 484-266-1170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.