"At Friends Academy, our exceptional college preparatory program, rooted in inclusive humanities and innovative sciences, springs to life through rigorous discourse and dynamic inquiry. As our students learn to ask more meaningful questions, we dare them to look beyond themselves."
–Mark Schoeffel, Upper School Principal
Upper School (Grades 9-12)
Friends Academy students step fully into their potential as they enter the Upper School. Students consider and prepare for their futures as they inquire, reflect, and engage.
We believe each student has inherent goodness and that greater truth can be found when we seek deeper awareness in ourselves. Throughout the journey of a Friends Academy education, students become active listeners who are increasingly responsible for their learning and their world. Each Upper School student is empowered by the adage “Let your Life Speak,” spurring graduates to lead purposeful lives of excellence, integrity, equality, and service.
Academic and social support every step of the way
All Upper School faculty have a direct role in formal advising. In Advisory, students share ideas and express their interests and concerns in an environment with a supportive adult and other students.
The student's advisor facilitates communication between the student and others in the school community and provides academic and social guidance. Students learn to communicate effectively with others, form networks, and self-advocate, as they develop independence and ownership of their learning.
Our Quaker Approach in Upper School
Our Quaker school is a community of ongoing inquiry and reflection. Students are encouraged to be seekers, deepening individual and collective awareness. As we cultivate curiosity and they explore diverse thoughts and perspectives, our students become active questioners responsible for their learning. Students begin to see possibilities and approach challenges as opportunities, resisting singular answers as they recognize complexity; they start taking risks and trying new approaches to explore their evolving questions and interests. As learning happens when students actively construct ideas and test approaches, Friends students collaborate and interact directly with relevant materials to uncover new ways of thinking about issues of importance for their lives.
Our students learn to think and re-think, write and re-write. Through individual conferences and group workshops, students develop and refine their individual voices. By formulating and defending well-honed arguments, our students make deeper meaning of what they learn and why it matters. Our students cultivate a variety of writing and analytical skills – literary, rhetorical, and personal – while also developing the visual literacy necessary to be savvy consumers of modern media.
The English Department has deliberately chosen to balance our reading of foundational works with contemporary ones, as we strive to better live our Quaker values of equality and diversity. We encourage students to appreciate literature as a record of human thought and spirit through the ages, as well as understand it as a source of pleasure. We want students to emerge from our program with clearer perspectives about conflicting ideas in both the past and today’s world.
The Friends Academy History department champions historical inquiry and the way historians themselves study history, forging a curriculum that is global in scope, inclusive in content and culturally responsive in practice.
At Friends Academy, students engage in the work of historians, marshalling evidence-based arguments in their written and oral work, delving into thoughtful research papers and discussions, and reflecting critically on learning experiences. Students wrestle with competing interpretations of the past, exploring primary sources from a spectrum of historical voices and developing skills in articulating their own critical conclusions.
We employ the Harkness Method, enabling students to engage with others in meaningful discussions, guided by principles of civil discourse. Students bring their diversity in thought, perspective, and experience to reflective conversations on topics that matter.
This student-centered, inquiry-based approach is anchored by dynamic and global curriculum, preparing our students for enlightened, active citizenship in the world beyond the classroom.
In the Upper School program, students become fluent in the language of Mathematics, communicating their thinking clearly and using a variety of strategies and techniques to approach problems authentically. They learn to see problems in multiple ways, and to evaluate and use many different techniques to approach problems flexibly.
Students increase their awareness of problem solving, promoting their appreciation of different applications, and providing a solid foundation for further study in mathematics. Our curriculum provides relevant, multidimensional learning experiences with special emphasis on the processes of mathematics. Because we focus on fluency and understanding process, math students at FA have more agency over their own journey towards understanding. We also foster a growth mindset in our students, and encourage them to seek out challenge at every level, from Algebra 1 to Multivariable Calculus, and everything in between.
Our Upper School Science program seeks to stimulate curiosity, promote collaboration, and inspire careful investigation. Students learn to embrace science as a deeply creative and essential discipline for their lives, knowing that as citizens and as human beings, their decisions and awareness will shape the future of our planet.
Through a deep understanding of scientific principles, students practice critical thinking as they become informed, knowledgeable citizens. Our graduates engage the world with curiosity, embracing complexity and applying the fundamentals of science, as they think clearly and analytically.
Students explore and analyze ethical issues in science and technology through experimental observation. By testing ideas and asking open-ended questions, students develop scientific explanations based on evidence. The program integrates the higher-level mathematics of applied concepts and laws. Students also hone their scientific literacy and writing through journal reflections, research notebooks, and lab reports.
Mastery of technology in the Upper School is developed through Computer Science and Digital Arts classes, and a wide array of interdisciplinary project work which incorporates research, information literacy, and digital citizenship.
In Computer Science classes students develop and deepen their understanding of computer systems and coding to hone problem-solving skills, learn about logical operations, appreciate attention to detail, and the value of iteration and learning from failure. Students apply their skills in Robotics and Engineering classes and through participation in coding and other competitions.
World Languages & Cultures
Our world is a global village where both communication and cultural understanding are increasingly important. The World Languages and Cultures Department helps students build proficiency in a second language – Mandarin, French, Spanish, and Latin – and to help build cultural understanding and further world language proficiency, we arrange cultural trips and exchange programs for Upper School students in Spain, France, and China.
Learning about a variety of foreign communities deepens self-awareness while promoting greater empathy and international understanding. As a Quaker school, we educate students beyond their intellects; students' moral, emotional, and social growth takes place when they move beyond the self to try to understand others.
The breadth and depth of cultural studies within Mandarin, French, and Spanish courses at Friends Academy elevates a student's linguistic proficiency. Chinese students learn about the diversity of Chinese ethnic groups; French students learn about many of the countries and territories where French is spoken; Spanish students develop a broader appreciation of global interconnectedness and cultural differentiation.
Every year, our language students receive gold medals in the National Spanish, French, and Latin Exams. Our Chinese students also perform in the top percentiles of the Youth Chinese Test, an international standardized test of Chinese language proficiency.
Global competence at Friends Academy is rooted in the understanding that 'the peoples of the world are one people, enriched by individual differences and united by a common bond of humanity. Diversity in this world community is its greatest strength; understanding and respect are its greatest gifts.'
Interdisciplinary Studies courses develop in students the sensitivity and skills needed to become strong leaders, generous humanitarians, and true citizens of the world. These courses offer unique, project-based, interdisciplinary, and real-world opportunities that allow students to delve thoroughly into research and experiential learning, developing their knowledge around an essential question.
Through engagement with professionals in their fields, students offer unique, innovative, and research-based solutions to real-world challenges.
Courses include Entrepreneurial Global Studies, Solutions in Medicine, Bloomberg Terminals, Financial Literacy, and International Relations.
The Arts is where our students develop creative thinking, discover their passions, sharpen their skills, and learn to express their own unique voices. We offer comprehensive courses of study in ceramics, drawing, painting, digital design and illustration, motion arts, photography, vocal and instrumental music, theater, and dance.
In the Dolan Center, student-artists work in purpose-built spaces, developing photos in our darkroom, exhibiting in our gallery, or performing in our state-of-the-art theater. Every student’s artistic journey is unique, and at Friends Academy, we are uniquely fortunate to have the faculty and facilities to support, guide, and honor each student’s artistic development.
Upper School students enjoy an engaging and energizing Physical Education program.
JV and Varsity sports count as physical education credit during regular sports seasons (fall, winter, spring).
Students that do not partake in sports have the choice of a diverse change of physical education electives:
- Weight Training
- Sport Education
The Kumar Wang Library is the central hub of Friends Academy. The building hosts five classrooms along with event spaces, private study areas, and social areas. On any given day, most students use the library for some purpose whether that includes studying, relaxing, or group work.
The Upper School library program provides students with access to a diverse range of digital and print resources. Upper School students have access to the Kumar Wang Library holdings. Academic databases like JSTOR, ProQuest, and Academic Search Complete provide an immense opportunity for students to access high-quality, relevant information. A complete list of Upper School digital resources can be found at the Upper School Library LibGuide.
By graduation, our students develop advanced research skills to prepare them for postsecondary education. Students can break down research questions into keywords and limiters, use advanced search techniques in academic databases, and conduct literature reviews all while staying organized. Students also practice media literacy by learning how to read and evaluate news sources for accuracy and reliability.
Beyond the extensive book collection, many other items are available for checkout including Chromebooks, board games, headphones, and art supplies.
All of our classes are largely experiential. Students are constantly engaged in the process of creating art – whether that is composing music, creating works of visual art, theatrical scenes, or choreography. There is a strong emphasis on developing skills and techniques. We provide context by introducing related history, literature, and critical analysis.
Our students study the root causes of any given problem to understand its origins, and more importantly, why it persists today.
The Upper School gathers weekly as a community for Meeting for Worship in the Meeting House to center, reflect, and share thoughtful and relevant messages for the community.
Our athletes compete at an exceptional level in Section VIII of Nassau County Public High School Athletic Association, home of one of the most competitive sports programs in the county.
Upper School students have the opportunity to take an Entrepreneurial Studies course, developed by the renowned Korda Institute. In the course, students are given real problems from local businesses. Students then collaborate, research, analyze data, and present solutions to the business owner.
Health & Well-Being
Upper School Health & Well-Being centers around a semester-long course in ninth grade, and a trimester-long course in eleventh grade. Each course is interactive and student-centered, and is designed to assist students in learning about contemporary and critical health issues. This learning is then contextualized and applied as they explore their own personal health habits and goals. These courses cover topics that students can take with them long after they leave Friends Academy.
In addition to the curricular component, Upper School students' health and well-being is supported and prioritized by student advisors, grade-level Student Life Deans, school psychologists, and learning specialists.
Meeting for Worship/Quaker Practice
Our school cherishes the chance to gather each week in Quaker Meeting for Worship to share space, voice, and time together and to reflect, both in silence and in listening, upon our own inner voices and those we are privileged to hear as students share their thoughts. Through Meeting for Worship, students develop lifelong skills, such as empathy, active listening, critical thinking, public speaking, and the ability to use silence as a powerful tool for discernment.
Upper School TASQUE (Teachers and Students for Quaker Education) clerks our weekly Meetings for Worship and plans occasional alternative Meetings for Worship such as Meetings for Singing, Mindfulness, Worship Sharing, and Business. These additional Meetings provide dynamic opportunities for students and faculty to come together around their personal passions and share their thoughts in a safe and structured space that supports personal growth.
Quaker practices are infused within the culture, experiences, and programs of our school, as we honor the lights and lives of each of our students in the school community as they each search to live with more honesty, compassion, integrity, courage, and commitment to justice and truth.
Students learn to discover the needs of others and refine their commitment to using their talents and skills to address these needs as they engage in concrete service projects in our community.
Throughout each student’s four-year experience in Health & Well-Being and advisory, we intentionally embed co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities for our young people to identify and understand needs like hunger, affordable housing and health care, and education, and to discover ways to support community wellbeing and emergent needs in their own communities and the world.
Ninth-grade advisories partner with local organizations to build experience-based, deeper understandings of community needs. Tenth-grade students participate in a two-day overnight Youth Service Opportunity Project in New York City, working in a shelter and in soup kitchens and food pantries that support people experiencing homelessness. Through Grades 11 and 12, students work to develop a deeper commitment to an area of human need that culminates in an individually designed senior service project in the spring before graduation.
Our after-school programs offer opportunities to work with service organizations both on and off campus. Friends Academy’s Service Learning Program maintains partnerships with important organizations like Glen Cove Men's Shelter, Interreligious and Human Needs Council, and the Glen Cove Boys’ and Girls’ Club. Through these partnerships, Upper School students have the opportunity to understand the impacts certain systems have had on the well-being of their neighbors.
The W.A.T.C.H. (We Are The Community Helpers) committee keeps a list of volunteer opportunities and provides support for students to actively pursue these. By giving time and energy to others, the student-run committee empowers its members to recognize the reciprocal nature of service and supports others in broadening others’ understanding of the importance of service.
Independent Service Project
The Independent Service Project (ISP) gives graduating seniors an opportunity to explore how their personal passions could have a real difference on the world around them. The ISP is a graduation requirement for seniors and takes place over 2-3 weeks in the summer.
Each senior designs a project that is reviewed by an ISP committee composed of faculty and students. The student also chooses a sponsor to work with on the project. Finding an outside sponsor is encouraged; a faculty advisor then acts as a liaison between the sponsor and the school.
Upon completion of the project, the student gives a presentation to the seniors and the ISP committee. The ISP committee rates the project as satisfactory or unsatisfactory, and this rating goes on the student’s official transcript. The student must earn a grade of satisfactory to fulfill the graduation requirement.