WES: Blue and Gold and Green

Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970, just months after people first looked down on our precious blue home from the moon. Celebrated again this past weekend, the day is a reminder of our obligation to preserve a healthy planet for our children.

Our efforts to turn WES green are surging. The elementary STEM classes are among those leading the way, developing the ideas for a sustainability garden on and around the new Discovery Playground. Grade 2 researched ideas for the Bird Sanctuary Garden, Grade 3 worked on content for the Pollinator Garden, Grade 4 focused on the Rain Garden, and Grade 5 was engaged with plans for the garden of plants native to the area. In addition, I am proud that our Grade 4 Energy Saver Plan is now featured on the MyGreenMontgomery website.

The faculty also has a Sustainability Committee that has been educating teachers in how to bring environmental stewardship into classrooms and in improving our recycling of materials all around the school. Additionally, this past week the community participated in our Earth Day Pledge Tree on the second floor landing, adding paper leaves with hand-written commitments to sustainability.

Our facilities team and trustees have also been critical. Last summer, we replaced many of our windows to burn fewer fossil fuels on heating and cooling. Then, during the 2023 spring break, we replaced the fluorescent fixtures in our classrooms, common spaces, hallways, and offices with hundreds of LED lights, trimming back our carbon footprint and brightening each day.

This summer, our effort to make the campus more energy efficient will be even more affirmative and far-reaching. Taking advantage of a sunny and open campus, we will install solar panels on our rooftops to generate clean electricity for WES and the wider community.

Our work to make WES more green is always aligned with our mission and values. Teaching children to steward the planet involves a great deal of science and social studies, and it makes them more compassionate and responsible citizens. This is another example of our Episcopal values at work.


Danny Vogelman
Head of School

Science Fair: Truly a PROCESS of Discovery

This Friday, our Grade 6 Dragons will participate in yet another example of dynamic, hands-on learning in the form of the Science Fair. Standing beside their project boards, answering questions posed by judges—made up of parents, teachers, Grade 8 students, and even WES alumni—is only a small part of this experience.

Preparing each WES student for the science fair truly begins in our Early Childhood program, where our youngest dragons are introduced to the scientific method, start experiencing “data,” and begin building skills in public speaking. It continues into elementary as students work with scientific equipment and develop an understanding of what a hypothesis is and how it can be tested.

Science teacher Mehdi Elkassem makes sure that every one of his Grade 6 science students uses the fair experience to learn deeply and broadly, developing the understanding that science is a process. After they have developed their questions, hypotheses, variables, background research, and procedures, students conduct their experiment and collect data. Next, they make a practice presentation to their class that guides the creation of their classic “science fair project board,” which they then present in a second round, with other students acting as “judges.” Additionally, Mr. Elkassem asks the students to consider, after they have run their experiments, what additional research their findings suggest. The scientific process should not be a dead end but should open new doors to learning and fascination.

Only then, after two rounds of confidence-building practice, do the students bring their ideas and presentations to tomorrow’s Science Fair, where it is common for families and students in the elementary grades to watch, looking ahead and cheering on the young scientists. Each of these steps teaches students how to think clearly, how to synthesize data, how to write and speak clearly, and how to present their ideas to others. By the time each student presents at the fair itself, they have built a record of thinking broadly, clearly, and publicly.

WES ultimately chooses six of our Grade 6 Dragons to present their science fair projects at the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal Schools Association (MAESA) Fair, where we are proud to say that, last year, WES students swept the top three spots!

However, I am proud of each student. The Science Fair demands hard work and courage, but it also encourages creativity and curiosity. These are qualities our students will need in every subject and situation far into their bright futures!

Danny Vogelman
Head of School