Alumni News - WNS | Westside Neighborhood School

Katrina Binks (16’)

By | Alumni News

Katrina choreographs for EMIA in New York!

Katrina Binks (16’) was recently chosen to choreograph a dance piece for Earl Mosley Institute of the Arts show (EMIA) in New York. EMIA is an internationally acclaimed arts organization that is cultivated and curated to support individuals looking towards their future career as performing artists and/or citizens of our society. Next up! Katrina is performing at the Bessie Awards on August 4th, 2023 at Lincoln Center, NYC.  The New York Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies, is New York City’s premier dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field. Congratulations, Katrina!

Rhiann Sheffie (’18)

By | Alumni News

Rhiann is recognized by the LA County Poet Laureate Program!

“I just wanted to share some exciting things that are going on with me.
I currently have a single out on all streaming platforms under my stage name, poet.rhi.  It is called “wonder” and links can be found on my linktr.ee/poet.rhi (can also search “poet.rhi wonder” on spotify, apple music, amazon music, etc) link to music streaming
Also, I was recently recognized by the Los Angeles County Poet Laureate Program as an Honorable Mention recipient.  It was a very competitive pool, and the last winner is now the National Youth Poet Laureate! (attached photo)
And next week, June 14, I will be part of a performance group presenting an original group poem at the Music Center’s Love Amplified Poetry Jam https://www.musiccenter.org/tickets-free-events/tmc-arts/love-amplified-poetry-jam/.
I finished my freshman year on the President’s list at my college (4.0 both semesters), and am preparing for the upcoming Volleyball season where our team finished 3rd in our conference (Big West) last year.
I know that pursuing my dreams would never have been possible without my experiences at WNS, and the motivation and support I received to go and be a leader in my community and beyond!”


John McCovey (’21)

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John makes waves at St. John Bosco

John McCovey (‘21) is a sophomore at St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower where he is a member of the Entrepreneurship Pathway, an Ivy League inspired course study designed in collaboration with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He also serves as a Bosco Student Ambassador, became a founding member of the Black Student Union, and joined the Environmental Club. Learning about recycling at WNS led John to suggest bringing a recycling program to the school. Bosco Recycles was introduced on Earth Day 2023. There are now several new recycle bins around the 35-acre campus. The Club also planted a peach tree.

John was also recently selected to attend the Wall Street 101 summer program on the campus of Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts with fellow WNS classmate, Logan Pagani (‘21). The competitive one-week experiential opportunity is for rising high school juniors and seniors interested in global finance, investing, stocks, bonds, currencies, and commodities.

John credits Mr. McLaughlin’s Investment Club elective as the start of his interest in the world of finance and investing.

Zoe Anaya (‘20)

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Zoe Leads the Charge on Affinity Groups

Zoe Anaya (‘20) is a Junior at Marymount High School and is a Staff Writer at the school newspaper, The Anchor. She recently wrote a fantastic article titled, What Are Alliance and Affinity Groups, and Why Should You Join One? In the article she explains Marymount’s initiative to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion with the implementation of alliance and affinity groups during the school schedule in addition to the lunchtime clubs or organizations. Zoe was an active supporter and member of affinity groups while at WNS. She states in the article that, “Not only do you have the ability to help others by listening, but you also gain the perspective of others which is capital. The future depends on people who can use empathy, and if joining an alliance or affinity group could promote that at an early age, the future is already at a great start.” To read the full article, click here.


Johannes Austin (‘21)

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Johannes Reflects on WNS

Johannes Austin (‘21) is a Sophomore at St. John Bosco High School. He recently wrote in to tell us about his favorite WNS moments and we are so thrilled! His favorite WNS memory is Fitness for Fun day. It was always a blast to be outside with my Family Group (Shout out Family Group 8) and playing fun games. His favorite WNS teacher was Señora Paul. He said that ever since he joined her immersion program all the way back in the 3rd grade she has turned me into a better Spanish speaker. This took him all the way to join the Spanish 2 Honors class at his high school. Lastly, he said that the number one thing that makes him happy about being a WNS alum is the overall impact that WNS has made on his life academically and physically by striving to make him a better person everyday.


Sydney Moses (‘17)

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Sydney & The Aardvark Authors

Sydney Moses (‘17) is currently a sophomore at Beloit College in WI. Her poem, An Abridgement of the Ground Pig, was recently published in the second issue of Parakeet Magazine. Click here to check out her work! She is working towards a double major in anthropology and creative writing. Her dream is to be an English teacher so she can inspire others to love reading and writing as much as she does. She loves all animals, but the aardvark is her favorite and she is constantly inspired by them. She and her friends even run a creative writing club at school called The Aardvark Authors.

Sydney has a second poem that has been published! It’s called ‘on repeat’ and will be posted March 1st, 2023 in Turtle Way.


Marley Barrow’Bell (‘20)

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Marley Takes State Championship!

Marley Barrow’Bell (‘20) is a Junior at St. John Bosco High School. Marley is an honor student and played Offensive Line on the Varsity Football team. The team is a part of Division 1 that went on to win the CIF Football Championship, the California State Prep Football Championship, and was named the #1 ranked football team in the USA for the 2022 season. Marley will be a Senior next year and hopefully on the launch pad for some great opportunities for college. He came to WNS in the seventh grade when his mother, Tanya, joined the faculty and staff. Marley jumped into the community feet first and quickly joined the WNS flag football team along with many other activities.


Josh Hirsch (’19)

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Josh recognized for award-winning baseball season

Josh Hirsch (‘19) Josh was recently featured in the Westchester Living magazine for his award winning baseball season in the Spring.

The article, titled, Josh Hirsch, Vistamar MVP, Knows How to Move Past Mistakes, discusses his work ethic and what he enjoys most on the field. Last season, Josh pitched a no-hitter which is no small feat. A no-hitter is a rare accomplishment for a pitcher. There have only been 317 thrown in MLB history since 1876, an average of about two per year.

This goes to show you that practice really makes perfect. Not only did he pitch a no-hitter but he was named the team’s MVP, made the CIF-SS Baseball Coastal All-League First Team and was nominated for All-League MVP. He is currently Senior at Vistamar Academy and is patiently awaiting his last season on the school’s Varsity baseball team. We can’t wait to hear how things play out for Josh this season and beyond!


Zoie Brogdon (’19)

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Zoie is honored with Finer Womanhood Rising Award

Zoie Brogdon (‘19) Zoe was recently honored with the prestigious Finer Womanhood Rising Award for her equestrian accomplishments at the 2022 Zeta Phi Beta sorority Grand Boule in Philadelphia, PA. Overcoming her nerves, and speaking before more than 7,000 members of Zeta Phi Beta, friends and honored guests, Zoie took to the stage to receive her beautiful customized glass award presented to her by the esteemed International President – Valerie Hollingsworth Baker. Zoe’s family is not in any way affiliated with Zeta Phi Beta, and was sought out independently by this phenomenal organization. Click here to see Zoie’s speech.

Soon after Zoie entered her creative work into a UCLA program called the Young Black Change makers (YBC).  According to the program, Young Black Change makers are youth identifying as Black who are actively engaged in social or political change. In other words, they are civically engaged. Civic engagement can take many different forms for youth, and any activity that reflects passion and commitment to social or political change. 

The YBC was doing a search for any Black young person between ages 13 to 18 to contribute a reflection for a book called Young Black Changemakers and the Road to Racial Justice, which will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2023. This book is based on interviews with 43 Black youth who are highly civically engaged and working toward social and community change in many ways. The purpose of the book is to document these youth’s experiences and how and why Black youth become change-makers. They selected a maximum of 15 pieces of artwork and two of Zoie’s pieces were selected. Her work and name will end up in the published book! 

We are excited for Zoie to add this to her growing list of social impact projects. She is planning for her solo art exhibition in October and hopes that her WNS community will attend. Details to come! Zoie is currently a Senior at Crossroads.

Clara Etchegaray (‘14)

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Clara Graduates From Tufts!

Clara Etchegaray (‘14) recently graduated with a major in International Relations Magna Cum Laude from Tufts University. We are so proud of Clara and happy to have been a part of her educational journey!