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Westtown’s Upper School cancels spring sports season

Earlier this week, Westtown School announced that its Upper School will engage in distance learning for the remainder of the semester, and that middle and lower schools will be in distance learning through at least the end of April because of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the Westtown Upper School 2020 spring athletics season has been cancelled.

Tori Jueds, Head of School at Westtown, said, “This is deeply disappointing to all of us, because we love being in community, but our civic responsibility is clear. While our middle and lower schools are day programs drawing from the local community, our upper school is a single, amazing community with a broadly diverse population. Students come to Westtown Upper School from near and far, and the majority spend at least two if not all four years boarding with us.”

Westtown School has students from 18 countries and 19 states, which include many different races, religions and ethnicities, as well as more than 30 languages.

Paul Lehmann and Mich Canuso-Bedesem, Co-Directors of Athletics at Westtown, said, “Notifying our coaches and players that our 2020 spring sports season would be canceled, has proven to be one of the most difficult tasks of our tenure and undoubtedly the right decision during this unpredictable time.

“Our coaches and players were devastated by this news, and so were we. The time, effort, and passion that each team and individual has dedicated to preparing for this spring season has been inspiring, and we couldn’t be more proud of our coaches and student athletes. The loss of the season, particularly for our seniors, is enormous and there will be much processing in the days and weeks ahead.

“However, the decision for us not to return to campus as an Upper School was done to preserve the health and safety of the greater community, and is the right one at this time. That said, it doesn’t make the reality that we’ve now lost an entire season any less difficult.”

Jueds referred to the need for social distancing.

“It is clear that social distancing is going to be necessary for far longer than many people, including public officials, have yet acknowledged,” said Jueds. “We set our course and made our announcement on March 16 because the way forward was already clear, and we wanted to provide clarity and certainty for our Upper School population, so that our international students and long-distance American boarders could make plans to travel home or to trusted friends and family, so that our beloved senior class could begin to process this sad news, and so that we could all adjust to what is needed for the spring.”

Both Jueds and the Westtown co-Directors of Athletics reiterated the need for sacrifice and resilience in the face of the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic.

“As Head of School, I am very proud that our community has responded to this decision with love and compassion for all those affected around the world by COVID-19, and with an understanding that we must all sometimes make sacrifices for the greater good,” said Jueds.

“If nothing else, sports teach us resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity,” said Lehmann (a 1999 Westown grad) and Canuso-Bedesem. “It is our time to live these lessons and model for our greater community how we move forward and come through this challenge stronger than when it began. The work that was put into preparing for this season has continued to establish a culture of excellence for our athletic programs, and we see an incredible foundation that has been built for next year and beyond.”

Westtown boys’ lacrosse head coach Carl Starkey said, “Westtown boys’ lacrosse is in full support of taking a distance learning approach to our season in stride with our greater community – we all need to learn to adjust in these times. That’s what sport teaches us – adjust and adapt.

“We are not viewing this as a cancelled season. We see our season as encompassing all parts of preparation from the moment our student-athletes step on campus. The games serve as our spotlight to display all of the preparation that has occurred but it only constitutes a very small fraction of our season. So, for those 16 hours of previously scheduled games – we will adjust.” 



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