Friends Academy welcomes 117 new studentsWritten by Andrea Miller
Watch our First Day of School video and discover what it means to be a part of the FA community.
On Tuesday, Sept. 3, Friends Academy welcomed 117 new students and 76 new families to the FA community. Following a welcome reception for all new families, plus an additional reception for new families of color, students began their first day with high fives from the Varsity Football team, fist pumps, handshakes and warm welcomes from faculty and staff.
Throughout the day on Tuesday, the entire body of 720 students participated in a series of orientation activities designed to welcome brand-new students, transition those from younger divisions, and kick off the 2019-20 year.
Convocation, an event for the entire school held at both the start and end of the school year, introduced both new students and faculty, and featured Upper School student speakers and Head of School Andrea Kelly, who shared the importance of this year's school theme – Integrity.
As Assistant Head of School & Director of Academic Affairs Jen Halliday explained, the first day was designed intentionally. "We wanted to set up the first week of school as a thoughtful transition for all students and adults that puts an appropriate focus on relationships and classroom culture, before diving into the curricular work."
Planning for the first week was an all-school effort and one that ladders back to the school's recently launched Strategic Plan, "Realizing the Promise Within" and the goal of Balance and Well-Being. The Quaker Practice through Engagement Team (QPCE), (which comprises Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Health & Wellness, Service Learning, and Quaker Practice) partnered with the Admissions Office and Student Life Deans from all three divisions in designing this new start to the school year.
"We wanted to be mindful of beginning connections," shared Director of Student Affairs Ron Baskind. "The start of the year establishes important social connections between peers and with adults. It's also a way for students to know who their go-to people are when they have needs. We think all kids need go-to people," added Baskind.
In addition to acclimating to the campus by learning new routes and spaces, students learned names and about each other through icebreakers in outside spaces, connected with adults, and were able to discuss what they see as their challenges for the year. The senior class used the afternoon to delve into important anti-bias training with Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Camille Edwards. Lower schoolers deconstructed Meeting for Worship – what it is, why we have it, what are things we can do in it, and what are the expectations.
"It was a great illustration of what we do best," stated Baskind. "Everyone took a risk at trying a new thing, and with feedback, we'll be able to offer an even better transition next year. It was such a great first step."