Friends Academy begins 147th year with school theme of "Connection"Written by Andrea Miller
The Friends Academy community, from Play Group through to the Senior Class of 2024, united for a new school year on Tuesday, August 29 under the tenure of its new 25th Head of School Paul J. Stellato.
“We will take great interest and pride in what every student does here at Friends,” promised Mr. Stellato at a morning assembly for Upper School students. “My obligation and commitment to you is to provide the finest faculty, program, and facility that we can make possible,” he added.
Established in 1876, the school heads into its 147th year and will explore the all-school theme of “Connection” throughout this school year. “Stay true, take care, connect,” urged Upper School Principal Mark Schoeffel, who also quoted renowned Quaker educator Douglas Heath. “‘What powerful classes and schools we might have if each of us really cared for and assumed responsibility for the growth of others as well as felt everyone else was concerned for and devoted to our growth.’ That’s a long way of saying… how do we take care of each other?” asked Mr. Schoeffel.
In Middle School, students in all grades welcomed returning classmates and embraced new friends. “Highlights of our day included grade-level Meetings for Worship, mini-classes, and a school-wide scavenger hunt,” shared Middle School Principal Christine Saunders, “which connected students to the greater campus and history of Friends Academy.”
Lower School students filled classrooms and hallways with eagerness and joy as they met new classmates and teachers. At a special gathering for Kindergarten through fourth grade, students participated in a collaborative activity that helped uplift the important Quaker Testimony of Peace. “Each student painted a rock with a color that was meaningful to them,” explained Lower School Principal Dot Woo. “Once dry, and adorned with student messages, the rocks will form the foundation of our outside Lower School peace garden,” she added.
With pre-season practices behind them, Friends Academy Middle and Upper School sports teams are gearing up for a competitive season in the prestigious Section VIII league, and all practices continued into the afternoon. Friends is the only private school to compete in this public league. "As the leaves change, so too does the landscape of competition at Friends Academy, where the Fall Athletic season heralds not only a time of spirited games but also of Quaker-rooted values in action," said Director of Athletics Dr. Diana Parente. New this year, is the launch of the Middle School's 5th and 6th grade interscholastic sports season, which will feature competitive play and skill development. "Our K-12 institution embraces Quaker principles, letting the spirit of sportsmanship and unity flourish in the fields of both play and character," added Dr. Parente.
Finally, Director of Arts Andrew Geha announced the theatrical schedule for the year. “We are going to have a fantastic theater season, as we continue to experiment with devised, immersive theater which helps break down the barriers between the audience and performers,” he shared. “And… it’s going to be a return to the all-school musical as we are incredibly excited to announce Matilda as our winter musical,” he added.
Photos by Alvin Caal/Friends Academy