Continuing Our Commitment to the City
What a wonderful school year this has been. The theme, “In the City and of the City,” was a way to lift up and celebrate the decision Friends Select leadership made 50 years ago to recommit to Philadelphia by staying in Center City during a very challenging time for most cities across the country. That commitment led to the construction of our current building. Fifty years later, we have reaffirmed our promise to the city with the approval of the implementation of our strategic plan, Advance Friends Select. The Spring Fair was our culminating experience this time, and full of community joy and dunk tank splashes.
In Advance Friends Select, we commit to expanding our partnerships with institutions in the city and developing a city curriculum. We commit to strengthening student agency and our community’s cross-cultural competency skills, in keeping with our Quaker values. Much work has begun already in these areas.
As part of the school's equity and inclusion work, lower school faculty have created a gender education curriculum to facilitate a more comprehensive and inclusive understanding of gender. The pre-kindergarten teachers have begun an outdoor education curriculum that is built around monthly trips. Each year, students will experience at least three developmentally appropriate outdoor lessons that will be built upon in the following grade level. Our director of city curriculum has met with current and potential partners throughout the city and teachers in the lower school to initiate a partnership with the Barnes Foundation (K, 1st, and 3rd grade) and deepen our existing Pre-K and 4th-grade partnership with the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The All Middle School Leadership Day was both a success and a learning experience; this year’s 7th grade is planning next year’s experience, which they will facilitate as 8th graders. Student-led conferences moved into the 7th grade this year and will move into 6th grade next year. The addition of middle school student committees gave our students new opportunities for agency in our community and expanded their experience of Quaker life in a tangible way.
We formally partnered with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) so that all upper school classes have free admission and teachers can work with a museum educator to plan lessons utilizing the museum and its resources. We formalized a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Translational Medicine Lab and two schools in Dublin, Ireland. We sent 11 students and two chaperones to Frankfurt, Germany, over spring break. There is also a trip to China in June that is connected to InterSession.
Other commitments need to be acknowledged. Faculty and staff have been busy all year serving on working committees striving to fulfill our strategic goals. The Wellness Program’s film screening and panel discussion for Angst, the only Philadelphia-area stop of the White Fragility in America Tour, our new program Select Talk, the Civil Discourse Panel Series on Educational Access in the 21st Century, and the Breaking the Binary of Sexuality and Gender Norms panel contribute to our identity as a private school with a public purpose, as we invited the public to join us in these conversations. Faculty and staff participation in the Friends Select Fund was 100% for the second year in a row. More families are staying at Friends Select, and as a result, enrollment next fall is projected to be at 600. The Parent Association Auction was a huge success once again, and adding $1 million to the endowment was a community effort. How exciting!
As I reflect on my third year at Friends Select, I feel we have so many reasons to feel proud. Buttressed by this shared commitment to Advance Friends Select, I am filled with great anticipation for what’s to come for our school in Center City.