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Mayor John Fetterman, WT's 125th Commencement Speaker
Posted 05/29/2012 01:58PM

Author Nelson Henderson once said, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” Reflecting on Winchester Thurston’s student-driven partnership with the city of Braddock, Mayor John Fetterman recently told Head of School Gary Niels, “Not only is this one of my favorite quotes, but this is also exactly what Winchester Thurston School has done in our community.” On June 3, 2012, WT will welcome Mayor Fetterman as the 125th Commencement speaker.

For the past two years, as part of the City as Our Campus Urban Research and Design course taught by Dr. Michael Naragon, WT Upper School students have rolled up their sleeves to assist Fetterman and other community leaders in their work to renew and rebuild this distressed city south of Pittsburgh. Founded around the site of Andrew Carnegie's first steel mill, Braddock's fortunes declined in lockstep with the American steel industry. As the town's population fell from a peak of more than 20,000 to just 2,800, its buildings, infrastructure and economy crumbled.

Fetterman, a Harvard Kennedy School graduate with a Master's Degree in Public Policy, was attracted to Braddock by the town's "malignant beauty" and moved there in 2001 to work for AmeriCorps. In 2005 Fetterman became the town's mayor and has been at the forefront of a massive effort to revitalize the once prosperous town ever since. A relentless advocate for reimagining and redesigning Braddock, Mayor Fetterman's focus on creating youth-oriented programs, attracting artists and other “creative” to his community and to pursuing green urban renewal and economic development have been recognized in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Guardian, and on “The Colbert Report” and “Real Time” with Bill Maher.

Last year, on a visit to Braddock, then senior Sally Loevner became motivated and inspired by Fetterman’s vision and, for her Urban Research and Design project, galvanized her peers to begin volunteering there. Seniors in this year’s course continued the connection. Students have volunteered at 4 Kids Learning Center, a pre-school in Braddock, and worked with Heritage Community Initiatives on restoration projects, the most ambitious of which has been participating in the major overhaul of the 100-year-old community ball field, removing overgrown brush, building new bleachers, and painting. Read the May 17, 2012 Tribune Review article, Volunteers breathe new life into North Braddock ballfield

Students leading the volunteer efforts have overseen student teams doing community service throughout the year, which culminated in 40 students’ spending all of WT’s May Term week working in Braddock. In addition, the students have donated a portion of the prize money given to Winchester Thurston School last year when WT’s team won the Hometown High Q championship on KDKA.

The City Campus third grade classes have also forged a connection to Braddock as part of their study of Pittsburgh history, and developed a close relationship with children from the 4 Kids Learning Center this year, through a buddy program.

Head of School Gary Niels comments, “Last year I learned that Mayor John Fetterman had been an inspiration to our students. When I heard again this year how much our seniors had been gripped by the Mayor’s vision of renewing this distressed community, the decision to ask him to consider being our Commencement speaker became obvious. I was more than elated when he agreed.”

Watch WT students volunteering in Braddock on the Morgan Spurlock show, A Day in the Life. 

WT in the News -- links to features in local and national publications:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 25, 2015: EQT Foundation to pay for private school for two students

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 15, 2015: WPIAL Boys Class AA Track and Field Championships

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 5, 2015: WPIAL basketball playoff picture

Tribune Review, January 23, 2015: Fox Chapel native honored for maternity clothes with built-in technology

Tribune Review, January 8, 2015: Valley News Dispatch Roundup

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 8, 2015: The kids are alright: Bands storm out of the basement and garage for Teenage Takeover 2

Tribune Review, December 24, 2014: Clairton loses battle of the Bears to Winchester Thurston after late rally

Tribune Review, December 18, 2014: Trib Cup: Winchester Thurston boys basketball motivated by playoff run

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 11, 2014: Boys Soccer: Winchester Thurston, Sewickley Academy set for PIAA rematch

Tribune Review, November 10, 2014: South Fayette, other area soccer teams add to their schools' state-level success

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 9, 2014: South Fayette gets quick start in win

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 6, 2014: Inspired Winchester Thurston WPIAL champ

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 4, 2014: PIAA boys soccer: Upper St. Clair
 falls in first round

Tribune Review, November 4, 2014: Athletes of the week: Winchester Thurston's Mathieu Lebiere, Montour's Aryana Jones

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 3, 2014: Video: Boys Soccer WPIAL A Championship Sewickley Acad. vs. Winchester Thurston (Nov. 1)

Beaver Times, November 2, 2014: WPIAL soccer: Defending Class A champ Sewickley Academy handed shootout loss

PHOTOS: Sewickley Academy loses to Winchester Thurston in a shootout

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 2, 2014: Shaler's Schwartz prevails to win state cross country title

MSA.net, November 1, 2014: Winchester Thurston Unseats Sewickley Academy in Boys A Shootout

Tribune Review, November 1, 2014: Shaler's Schwartz, Vincentian's Abdalah earn PIAA cross country titles

Tribune Review, November 1, 2014, Winchester Thurston wins WPIAL Class A boys soccer title in shootout over Sewickley Academy

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 30, 2014: Boys soccer championships: Perfection on line, stingy defense on tap for familiar foes

Tribune Review, October 28, 2014: Winchester Thurston's Forsythe has split decision

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 28, 2014: Boys Soccer: East Feature Athlete - Winchester Thurston's Lucas Rosenblatt

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 27, 2014: Boys Soccer: Winchester Thurston keeps making history

Tribune Review, October 24, 2014: Riverview boys soccer falls to Winchester Thurston in WPIAL quarterfinals

The Jewish Chronicle, October 23, 2014: The lessons of German resistance find a home in Shadyside

North Hills Monthly, October 2014: Student Exchange Programs Provide Immersion into Different Cultures

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 26, 2014: Soccer Scoring Leaders

MSASports.net, September 17, 2014: MSA Sports Top Ten -- WPIAL Boys Soccer

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 16, 2014: Winchester Thurston remains perfect

Tribune Review, September 16, 2014: Serra boys soccer preps for early-season clash

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 9, 2014: Boys Soccer: Winchester Thurston off to fine start

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 26, 2014: Boys Soccer: 2014 East Season Preview

TABLE Magazine, Fall 2014: Higher Learning

Tribune Review, July 30, 2014: Steel City rowers shine at USRowing Club nationals

New Pittsburgh Courier, June 13, 2014: Jazz on the Water: Humphries boat ride raises thousands for scholarships

food-management.com, June 3, 2014: Kinder-Gardeners

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 22, 2014: Winchester Thurston pair advance

WESA, May 16, 2014: High Schoolers Build Drones To Detect Gas Leaks, Measure Air Quality

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 1, 2014: Boys Tennis: Winchester Thurston doubles teams claims WPIAL silver

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 23, 2014: Track: Several Winchester Thurston athletes shining

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 13, 2014: Rachel Carson's silence

NEXTpittsburgh, March 10, 2014: Chatham U and WT Students working on design of Oakland sites

Oakland Planning and Development Corporation (OPDC), February 19, 2014: Oakland development opportunities attract burgeoning architects, young urbanists

Oakland development opportunities attract burgeoning architects, young urbanists - See more at: http://www.opdc.org/news/oakland-potential-attracts-burgeoning-architects-young-urbanists/#sthash.mhLnwnHG.dpuf

Pittsburgh City Paper BLOGH, January 23, 2014: Local student weigh in on Hazelwood development

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 9, 2014: Winchester Thurston emerges as challenger for section title

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 10, 2013: Photo Journal: PIAA Girls Cross Country - 2013 Top A Finishers

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 10, 2013: Photo Journal: PIAA Boys Cross Country - 2013 Top A Finishers

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 10, 2013: Field Hockey: Parity likely to continue in Class AA

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 3, 2013: Field Hockey: Winchester Thurston hope to build on success

MSA Sports Network, Ocotber 29, 2013: North Allegheny & Shady Side Academy Back on Top in WPIAL Girls Field Hockey

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 29, 2013: WPIAL girls field hockey championships: North Allegheny, Shady Side slip by

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 27, 2013: Winchester Thurston looks for sweep against Shady Side Academy

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 25, 2013: Photo Journal: WPIAL A Boys Soccer Playoffs - Winchester Thurston vs. Carlynton

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 20, 2013: Field Hockey: Winchester Thurston top seed in WPIAL Class AA tournament

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 13, 2013: Field Hockey: Winchester Thurston having outstanding season

Tribune Review, October 10, 2013: Fox Chapel resident shines in goal for Winchester Thurston field hockey, lacrosse

Pop City, October 9, 2013: Students all over Pittsburgh design mobile apps at Winchester Thurston's App Lab

Tribune Review, October 8, 2013: Students provide sunshine on rainy Kane carnival day in McKeesport

Tribune Review, October 4, 2013: Winchester Thurston boys edge GCC in double OT

North Hills Monthly, October 2013: Joyful, Active Learning Environments Build 21st Century Skills

UrbanMediaToday.com, September 6, 2013: Using Hip Hop to Educate

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 29, 2013: A newsmaker you should know: Winchester Thurston's North Hills campus director is up for a challenge

Tribune Review, August 26, 2013: McCandless native gets big break with prison show

Pop City, August 7, 2013: Thinking of the city as your campus

The Jewish Chronicle, June 27, 2013: Winchester Thurston School's Hometown High Q Team

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 11, 2013: Photo journal: The Winchester Thurston girls' lacrosse team

The Jewish Chronicle, May 9, 2013: Winchester Thurston School's Hometown High Q Team

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 2, 2013: Winchester Thurston boy's tennis pair loses touch match at WPIALs

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 11, 2013: Winchester Thurston's tennis program flowers

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 29, 2013: Girls Basketball All-Section Teams

Pop City, March 27, 2013: Taking computer science outside the lab

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 14, 2013: NAACP chief to Pittsburgh youth: Principled people hold the power

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 9, 2013: Saturday Poem The Exorcism of Laura Briggs By Carrie Mannino

North Hills Monthly, March 2013: Summer Language Camps Make Learning FUN

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 4, 2013: Winchester Thurston was rooting for Vincentian; sophomore LoNero passed 600 points

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 4, 2013: 4 middle school make Science Bowl finals

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 22, 2013: WPIAL Quarterfinals Preview: Boys and Girls Playoffs

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 21, 2013: CISV International gives 11-year-old chance to experience life in other cultures

MSAsports.net, February 21, 2013: WPIAL Basketball Playoff Recaps

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 7, 2013: Northbound Trail project moving ahead at Winchester Thurston North

Pittsburghiskidsburgh.com, January 31 2013: Taking computer science outside the lab

Tribune Review, January 31, 2013: Winchester Thurston Elementary students help plan, construct outdoor learning area

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 20, 2013: The Next Page: The 14th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Writing Awards

Tribune Review, January 17, 2013: Winchester Thurston routs Geibel

North Hills Patch, January 15, 2013: Winchester Thurston North’s Student-Forged “Northbound Trail” Provides Cross-curricular Education Experience

Video: WQED's Horizons, November 6, 2012

Cerise Press, Fall/Winter 2012-12: The Music of Coping -- Bitter Acoustic by Sharon Fagan McDermott

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 25, 2012: Photo journal: Winchester Thurston soccer, in WPIAL first round upset of Seton-LaSalle

Independent School, Fall 2012: Summative Evaluation, Formative Development: A New Look at Developing (and Paying) Great Teachers by Gary J. Niels

Tribune Review, October 23, 2012: Serra Catholic to face Winchester Thurston team riding major momentum

Video: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 23, 2012: Winchester Thurston soccer upsets Seton-LaSalle 1-0 in overtime

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 23, 2012: High school highlights: Winchester Thurston pulls off Class A boys soccer upset

Tribune Review, October 17, 2012: Fox Chapel teen puts design background to good use

North Hills Monthly, October 2012: Winchester Thurston: A World of Language Learning

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 16, 2012: Field Hockey: East Feature Athlete - Winchester Thurston's Sabrina Burke

Pittsburgh Business Times, September 7, 2012: Mobile App Lab expanding reach into Pittsburgh-area high schools

    Download a PDF of the full article.

AMSTATNEWS, September 1, 2012: On Being a Statistics Educator and Loving It

Pop City, August 29, 2012: Students and STEM careers: a one-day guide to making it happen

Upper St. Clair Patch, June 18, 2012: Winchester Thurston School's Hometown High Q Team Wins Big -- Two Years in a Row

Tribune Review, May 27, 2012: Sewickley Academy pair claims 3rd st state tennis tourney

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 26, 2012: Winchester Thurston doubles team advances to PIAA boys tennis semifinals

The Patriot-News, May 20, 2012: PIAA track & field: Class AA girls' state seeds

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 18, 2012: WPIAL Girls Class AA Track and Field Championships

Tribune Review, May 17: Volunteers breathe new life into North Braddock ballfield

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 17, 2012: Winchester Thurston loses in PIAA team tournament

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 16, 2012: Winchester Thurston, Allderdice bow out of PIAA boys tennis tournaments

New Pittsburgh Courier, May 16, 2012: Winchester Thurston raises an esteemed culture

Pop City, May 16, 2012: pop star: Lynn Johnson, global photographer

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 9, 2012: Nominees for the 2012 Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater

A Day In the Life: John Fetterman, May 2012

WPXI, April 26, 2012: Go behind the scenes of Winchester Thurston's 'Avenue Q'

Global Solutions Pittsburgh, Winchester Thurston Genocide Project (Video)

Tribune Review, April 13, 2012: 'Best and brightest' young citizens honored

Pittsburgh Business Times, April 6, 2012: Pittsburgh private schools: Real-world applications key for curriculum

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 4, 2012: Three students advance in August Wilson Monologue Competition

Tribune Review, March 1, 2012: Four area schools' students learn 'There's an app for that!'

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 14, 2012: Winners selected in Shakespeare Monologue and Scene Contest

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 10, 2012: Shakespeare finalists named

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 6, 2012: Winchester Thurston girls' basketball team is a strong contender, ready for playoffs

Tribune Review, February 3, 2012: Young Achiever: Connor U.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 15, 2012: The Next Page: Two searingly honest essays from the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Writing Awards

WPXI.com, January 13, 2012: Winchester Thurston will be one of first schools to perform 'Avenue Q: School Edition'

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 9, 2012: Winchester Thurston team learns to move its feet, play defense, draw fouls, and get the ‘and 1’

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 8. 2011: 125 years: Winchester Thurston has survived the test of time

North Hills Monthly Magazine, September 2011: Winchester Thurston: Nationally Recognized Excellence in Allison Park

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 3, 2011: Winchester Thurston celebrates 125 years

Pittsburgh Today Live on CBS Pittsburgh, September 2, 2011

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 20, 2011: Performances brim with emotion at 'August in August' showcase

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 23, 2011: Newsmaker: Jared Rashford

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 29, 2011: PIAA Tennis: Winchester Thurston's Goldblum finishes second

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 29, 2011: Winchester Thurston standout's rally is short

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 28, 2011: PIAA Tennis: Winchester Thurston's Goldblum advances

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 17, 2011: Around Town: For the Girls of Steel, building robots is just the beginning

this i believe, May 18, 2011: Biking Bonds by Isaac Rudich '11

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 10, 2011: Pittsburgh high school freshman places third in national August Wilson Monologue contest

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 28, 2011: Winchester Thurston's first boys tennis squad a success

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 21, 2011: Winchester Thurston has its day in the sun

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 20, 2011: 3 win August Wilson monologue contest; NYC competition next

Pittsburgh Business Times, April 8, 2011: Private schools  innovate to meet challenges

Duquense University Newsroom, April 5, 2011: How Do You Run an AP Class Experiment in 40 Minutes? Ask Duquesne University’s School of Education and the Bayer School

SustainableCitiesCollective.com, March 6, 2011: Levi's Jeans and Braddock, PA

The Jewish Chronicle, March 3, 2011: Pittsburgh effort takes teachers, students to Poland, Israel

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 18, 2011: Student essayists still find injustices, even in a snowstorm

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 16, 2011: The Next Page: Tearing down walls, with words -- Martin Luther King Jr. Day Awards

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 13, 2011: It's all about the future at Winchester Thurston

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 6, 2011: Guitarist Daniel Marcus comes home with a heartland sound

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 16, 2010: Dr. Lane is in a position to continue district's progress (Letter to the Editor from Gary J. Niels)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 10, 2010: 2010 Post-Gazette East Xtra Boys' and Girls' Soccer All-Stars

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 25, 2010: Pittsburgh students targeting social ills

Pop City, October 6, 2010: Winchester Thurston creating a national model for urban learning

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 17, 2010: Field hockey slowly gaining a foothold in WPIAL

New York Times, September 8, 2010: Capturing the First Day of School (photo #127)

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