Germantown Academy Student Dead

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Kershaw is named for headmaster Dr. William Kershaw (1877–1915). Kershaw’s colors are navy blue and light blue and the mascot is the kangaroo. (Matt Dence)The Lower School consists of three main buildings: Leas Hall, McLean Hall (constructed in 1964), and the Abramson Lower School (constructed in 1999). Leas Hall comprises the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms, while McLean Hall contains 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classrooms. The Abramson Lower School has two 3rd grade classrooms, science rooms, and music classrooms. After the World Wars, GA was led by headmaster Donald Miller who was instrumental in the move from Germantown to the current Fort Washington campus. By the 1960s, more and more lower income minority families moved into Germantown and GA families left Germantown for the nearby suburbs. In five years, “The Miracle of Fort Washington” (a term coined by Judge Jerome O’Neill, ’28) occurred as the school moved from city to suburb. In this transition, GA coeducated, accepting girls in 1961 with the first co-ed class graduating in 1968. Germantown Academy, informally known as GA and originally known as the Union School, is the oldest nonsectarian day school in the United States. The school was founded on December 6, 1759, by a group of prominent Germantown citizens in the Green Tree Tavern on the Germantown Road. Germantown Academy enrolls students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade and is located in the Philadelphia suburb of Fort Washington, having moved from its original Germantown campus in 1965. The original campus (see Old Germantown Academy and Headmasters’ Houses) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The school shares the oldest continuous high school football rivalry with the William Penn Charter School.Truesdell is named for longtime GA teacher, Walter Truesdell. Truesdell was Phi Beta Kappa and taught Latin for thirty years. The house colors are blue and silver and the mascot is the timberwolf. (Rachel Lingten)After the Civil War, the school was in decline, with a small student body and outdated facilities. In 1877, Dr. William Kershaw was appointed headmaster. Under his leadership, the Academy gained prominence and expanded its activities with the introduction of the Inter-Academic League (1887), The Belfry Club, one of the oldest high school drama clubs in the country (1894), and The Academy Monthly (1885), one of the oldest student literary magazines still in existence. During his headmastership, GA graduated a future University of Pennsylvania president, a Supreme Court justice, and a primate of the Episcopal Church.

Students are required at minimum, five credits per year and at least four years of English, three years of Math, Science, History, two years of Language, and one year of Art. There are 567 students enrolled in the Upper School (as of the 2019-20 school year). The student to teacher ratio is currently 8:1 in the Upper School.Conduct in the upper school is governed by the Honor Code, a system where students agree to a set of rules, and where, in the case of an infraction, students are judged by an honor council consisting of teachers and peers. The upper school runs on a house system. Each student is placed into one of seven houses. These houses include, Alcott Day, Washington, Galloway, Osbourn, Kershaw, Truesdell, and Roberts. Each house is named after an important figure with a Germantown Academy connection. A student will stay with their house for all four years of upper school life. Over the course of a year, each house will meet twice a week, and for special events, they will compete against each other. These special events include The Knowledge Bowl House Olympics and The Annual Spelling Bee. Each year a house cup is crowned to the house with the most house points which are picked up throughout the year in the challenges above and in many others. The Middle School as a separate department was established in 1976. It was first led by Barbara Hitschler Serrill,’68 and then run by longtime Head of Middle School, Richard House. The first Alter Middle School was donated by Dennis and Gisela Alter and constructed in 1997. In 2011, the new Alter Middle School was constructed and opened as a part of the Building on Tradition campus campaign. There are many activities for students, such as the science fair, a play and musical, sports teams, many clubs, such as a Fandom Club, an art club, and a literary magazine. There are 275 students currently enrolled in the Middle school (as of the 2019-20 school year).Roberts is named for Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts, a member of the class of 1890. Roberts House colors are blue and orange and their mascot is the walrus. (Allison Rader)

The school found itself in the crossroads of early American history. In 1777, the Battle of Germantown was fought on the front lawn of trustee Benjamin Chew at his home Cliveden less than a mile from campus. During the American Revolution, the school served as a hospital and camp for British soldiers. Legend says that the British officers played the first game of cricket in America on the Academy’s front lawn. After the war, the school was visited by President George Washington. Washington sent his adopted step-grandson George Washington Parke Custis to the Academy during the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. The school was visited by the Marquis de Lafayette on his 1825 visit to America and hosted Fernando, the adopted son of South American liberator Simón Bolívar. In 1830, Amos Bronson Alcott, father of Louisa May Alcott, was appointed headmaster and attempts were made to co-educate the school but were quickly abandoned.
Galloway is named for early Academy trustee Joseph Galloway, a notable Philadelphia figure during the Revolution. Galloway’s house colors are black and yellow and their mascot is the Griffin. (Michael Torrey)

The house system was established in 2007 at the insistence of Headmaster Jim Connor and Upper School faculty member Ted Haynie. The seven-house system is modeled after the ancient English public school concept of joining students from different years in a common group. Each of the seven houses is named for an influential alumnus or friend of the academy. Each house consists of roughly 80 people and competes in various competitions throughout the year. The system also provides an academic and social support system for underclassmen as they have the chance to interact with upperclassmen and a variety of faculty. Each house is run by a House Head and two student prefects (one boy, one girl). Throughout the year, the houses compete in various competitions ranging from a Knowledge Bowl to a German Folk Song Singing Contest to Handball, etc. The highpoint of the house system calendar is the House Olympics which is held in early May where the different houses compete in athletic and academic competitions for a chance of the House Olympics Trophy (in parenthesis is the faculty house head for the 2017–18 school year)
The Union School was founded on the evening of December 6, 1759, at the Green Tree Tavern on Germantown Avenue. The school was founded by prominent members of the Germantown community who wished to provide a country school for their children. As some of the founders and residents of Germantown were of German descent, it was decided that the school be opened with both English and German speaking departments. The founders chose David James Dove to head the English department and Hilarius Becker of Bernheim, Germany, to head the German school. In 1761, land was given to the school by trustee Charles Bensell, and a schoolhouse with its iconic belfry was constructed.

Washington is named for President George Washington, a patron of the old school and a parent as his step-son George Washington Parke Custis attended in the 1790s. The house colors are black and silver and Washington himself serves as the house mascot. (Steven Moll)
In 1915, Dr. Kershaw retired and Dr. Samuel E. Osbourn was appointed headmaster. Under Dr. Osbourn’s leadership, the school increased in size, focused on scholarship and continued to produce some of Philadelphia’s finest citizens. Under Osbourn, GA established the eighth oldest Cum Laude Society chapter in the nation and started an endowment.Alcott Day (previously known as just Alcott until June 3, 2016) is named for former headmaster Amos Bronson Alcott, and longtime teacher Virginia Belle Day. Alcott, the father of renowned author Louisa May Alcott, believed strongly in providing girls with an education comparable to that given to boys, despite the fact that most educators of his day sought to emphasize a ‘domestic arts’ curriculum for girls. He introduced coeducational integration for a brief period starting in 1831, before leaving the academy three years later. Virginia “Jinny” Day worked tirelessly to make the academy open to all, regardless of gender, in 1963. Alcott house colors are blue and green and its house mascot is the alligator. (Peggy Bradley)The alma mater was written c. 1910 by J. Hefflestein Mason, a member of the class of 1900. Class songs originated as early as 1885 and appeared in each class’s Ye Primer. Before the current alma mater, the school had a few lesser-known “alma maters” and a school yell which was sung after 1910. Before the 1970s, the alma mater was sung along with the school hymn Our God, Our Help in Ages Past. Mason went on to write more music and perform with the Philadelphia Opera Company.Germantown Academy has notable alumni in the arts, sciences, government, sports, and business, including Bradley Cooper, Brian L. Roberts, Alvin Williams, Maddy Crippen, Fran Crippen, Teresa Crippen, and Owen J. Roberts.

According to Connor, after an initial struggle in his first year at the academy Ballay worked his way into top level academics by sophomore year. This morning Connor attended Ballay’s first period advanced placement history class to meet with students.
Germantown Academy Head of School James Connor said neither a vigil nor memorial service have been planned yet. Connor said the school plans to work with the family as the week unfolds to see what their wishes are.Ballay, of the 2600 block of Swamp Road in Furlong, was operating a 2006 Honda that collided with a 2007 Mercury Mountaineer driven by a 47-year-old female with three children in the vehicle, according to a Whitemarsh police report. Ballay was pronounced dead at the scene, the report said.

“It’s very sad
. It’s been a very long day today and the kids have been very quiet. We met with every student this morning in a community meeting and students also have counselors and teachers available to talk to,” Connor said.
The woman reported to Whitemarsh Township Police on July 29 that in 2014 at the end of her 11th-grade year at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, she and her first-year teacher Cheatle began an 18-month intimate relationship.All the charges are related to a sexual relationship Cheatle had with a female student at Germantown Academy in 2014 and 2015, where the defendant was employed as a teacher at the time.

An investigation was launched that determined through text messages, emails and other evidence that the defendant had engaged in sexual behavior with the minor student both inside and outside of Germantown Academy.Cheatle was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Deborah Lukens, who set bail at $100,000 unsecured, along with the condition that the defendant not have any contact with children other than his own. Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele and Whitemarsh Township Police Chief Christopher P. Ward on Thursday announced the arrest of Michael Cheatle, 37, of Chester Springs, on charges of institutional sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor/sexual offenses, corruption of a minor and endangering the welfare of a child. The woman, whose name was not available, and three children in her vehicle suffered minor injuries in the crash, which occurred about 4 p.m., Beaty said.Ballay, of the 2600 block of Swamp Road in Furlong, Bucks County, was driving a 2006 White Honda coupe when it collided with a 2007 Mercury Mountaineer driven by a 47-year-old woman at Sheaff Lane near Williams Road, adjacent to the school, said Whitemarsh Lt. Mike Beaty.Police this morning identified Cole Ballay as the 17-year-old Germantown Academy student who died in in a two-crash in Whitemarsh Township yesterday afternoon.My ears buzzed with the sound of a million different sources, each with a different pitch and tone. The birds sang in perfect rhythm and meter, small lungs struggling to make their songs heard. The crickets’ internal instruments echoed a sweet chirping as their tunes resonated through my propped open window. The man-made noises intruded on natures’ natural symphony. The cars sputtered along the road in each way, their engines churning out roaring acceleration, tightly wound gear shifts, and squealing horns. The distant, distinct rustle of lawn mowers vibrated the sound waves in a rough series of notes, while the clamor of men’s laughter and the playful giggling of children smoothed and sped the beat. All of the magnificence and musical masterpiece of the outside world filtered through the one partially open window of my room, and straight into my ears. Inside my room the breeze whistled, the ruffled sheets were lightly draped over my body, and the springs of my bed creaked and moaned on the wooden frame.

The Earth and all of its wonders surround the human race in a surreal land of marvel and wonder. One of the most emotionally captivating, and majestic sensations man can have is the smell, sound, and sight experienced on the first day of summer. Many times in this overbearing modern world, priorities are shuffled and senses are desensitized due to the lack of time to taken to appreciate nature. The single most tantalizing and rejuvenating experience my senses have encountered came on the first morning of the summer going into my first year of high school. The emotional frenzy which occurred on that summer morning gave me an eye opening experience that presented a new outlook on life and the world around me thus making me the optimistic person I am today.

How could one game consisting of a ball, 22 players, and a net, mean so much to me? I have no answer to this question, but whatever, it is, I will continue to do it until the end of my days. I am Cole Ballay, a young man, and I love soccer!
“Soccer player”, is how people usually label me. However, I am more than a generalized label. I am a young man who is intensely devoted and obsessed with the “beautiful game”. I can remember even as a very young child the sensations of running with the ball at my feet and the breeze whipping by my hair and ears. I am older now and those exhilarating memories will hopefully remain with me forever. With many soccer related experiences to come, I will always be mindful of these earliest impressions, and regardless of where soccer takes me in the future, they will forever remain fresh sources of inspiration.However, I must also remind myself that soccer is more than diligence. It is a sport, which I have always enjoyed. Like all games, it involves skill and strategy. This is what makes a game fun. At present, it still is. When I am out on the field, it is as though everything else drifts away. Anger, confusion, frustration, worry and all outside distractions become insignificant. The exhilarating feelings of my youth resurface from memory to present reality.

My eyelids felt glued shut. Sleep was the only thing on my mind. My trance of inner peace was soon broken however. Like water expels from a dam, my nostrils flooded with an odor, which corralled itself into my nasal passage. The origin of the smell became more evident to me, a partially propped open window to the left of my disheveled bed. Trying hard not to open my eyes, I sniffed, snuffled, and snarled until my nose was able to diagnose the eclectic summer breeze. The honeysuckle plant released a sweet and light odor, while the freshly cut grass spread a pungent, yet tangy, and fresh scent. Sludge and gasoline poured from the cars clanking by on Route 313, and lifted into the diffusing air of my bedroom. The smell was pungent, and lingered in my nasal cavity, on the tip of my pallet.
As my senses became more engulfed by nature, my body became awakened, and I rose from my fleeting slumber. Driven to the opening in my window by smell and sound, I looked to the right, and there at eye level was a portal into a new world. Standing up with as much vigor as a bull, I rushed to the opening. My head slid into the propped open space, and a scene was painted before my eyes that I will never forget. The grass seemed greener than ever before. The evergreen trees looked stronger than oxen, and their pine needles were crisp and firm. The garden was flowing with life. The textured plants were as smooth as babies’ bottoms, and the vivid flowers were in blues, reds, yellows, and oranges. The sky was a soft blue, with no clouds in sight. The scene was so clear that Heaven was almost visible. Kneeling there in shock and awe, I came to realize that this was a milestone day for me. My journey into adulthood had begun.As I advance in youth soccer, I appreciate the opportunities that I have had in the past and those future ones, which I must seek and earn. Being chosen for the Region 1, O.D.P. team, the Regional Champions, the Delco Hammerheads, and the Super Y National Camp have widened my horizons. While participating in the regional tournaments and camps, my eyes have been opened to other walks of like, other peoples, their differences from and similarities to me. These events made me realize that others are just as willing to do whatever it takes to be successful. I must continue to work hard and take advantage of opportunities that come my way to achieve my goals.

The world was no longer a black and white picture, but a vibrant and creative photograph. The emotional pandemonium which occurred on that summer morning gave me an eye opening experience that presented a new outlook on life and the world around me; thus making me the optimistic person I am today. I came to the realization that although life seems short and our lives at times seem insignificant, taking time to appreciate the world and all of its natural wonders makes you realize how big the earth is, and how many opportunities for greatness will arise throughout the course of life. If not for the smells, sounds, and sights on that morning, I may not have reflected on my life and realized the importance of optimism. A greater understanding of life’s’ deeper events is only fully acquired by taking time out and appreciating life’s smaller events. Carpe Diem!!!
For me soccer is more than a hobby or past time. It is an anti-drug; a way of making new friends; a way of expanding my views and aspects of life, and most importantly, it is the core of my being. When I think about something that I feel passionate about, one word comes to mind, soccer.

Investigators said Dirienzo-Whitehead was in bed with her 11-year-old son Matthew Whitehead inside their home on the 500 block of Privet Road in Horsham Township around 9:30 p.m. on Monday. Dirienzo-Whitehead’s husband and the boy’s father was sleeping in another room at the time.
A Montgomery County mother said she strangled her son with her husband’s belt because she didn’t want him to grow up dealing with their family’s financial difficulties, according to investigators. She was later found walking in a Jersey Shore town after driving her SUV into the ocean, police said. NBC10’s Brian Sheehan has the details.Dirienzo-Whitehead then allegedly said she strangled her son with her husband’s belt because she didn’t want the boy to grow up with financial struggles.

Horsham Police received a call from the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office. Cape May Police said they found Dirienzo-Whitehead’s empty Toyota Highlander partially submerged in the ocean just off of Beach Avenue in Cape May, New Jersey.
A Montgomery County mother said she strangled her 11-year-old son with her husband\u2019s belt because she didn\u2019t want him to grow up dealing with their family\u2019s financial difficulties, according to investigators.\u00a0

“We loved him, and we will forever mourn his loss, a devastating tragedy for our community, his family, his friends, and our world,” a school spokesperson wrote. “We will do everything in our power to carry his memory forward, to honor him as he so truly deserves, and to live our lives well as a tribute to him. Matthew is the embodiment of love, promise, and goodness, and we will never, ever forget him.”Dirienzo-Whitehead was then charged with first and third degree murder as well as possession of an instrument of crime with intent. She remains in custody in Wildwood Crest and is awaiting extradition to return to Montgomery County.

Dirienzo-Whitehead was later found walking in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, shortly after and taken into custody. A police officer said she was dressed in black tattered pajamas, had messy hair and a confused expression. She allegedly told the officer, “I know what I did.”
When the father woke up Tuesday morning, he noticed the door to the master bedroom was locked while Dirienzo-Whitehead’s black Toyota Highlander was missing from the garage. The father then forced his way into the bedroom where he found his son’s body. The father then alerted Horsham Township Police.

A Montgomery County mother said she strangled her son with her husband’s belt because she didn’t want him to grow up dealing with their family’s financial difficulties, according to investigators.Dirienzo-Whitehead was a real estate agent with an office in Horsham. Her son was a sixth grade student at Germantown Academy, which he attended since kindergarten. School officials described him as an extraordinary child with a bright smile.A responding detective noticed blood and fluids were draining from the boy’s mouth and nose. Investigators later determined the boy had been strangled.Ruth Dirienzo-Whitehead, 50, is accused of killing her son and driving to a Jersey Shore beach where investigators said she left her vehicle in the ocean before walking to a nearby town.

During an interview with investigators, Dirienzo-Whitehead said her son was upset and had been crying throughout the day on Monday due to their family’s financial difficulties, according to the criminal complaint.

Documents say she told police her son had been upset and crying on and off all day about their financial difficulties. She did not want him to grow up with these struggles, so she strangled him with her husband’s belt as he slept.
“[He] was an extraordinary child with a smile as bright as the sun… the embodiment of love, promise, and goodness, and we will never, ever forget him.”