FSS Community News

Fall Service

Third grade classes led the Trick or Treat for UNICEF project in conjunction with a classroom lesson on the global impact these donations have on other children. In small groups, third grade students educated other lower school classrooms on the cause and handed out donation boxes. With their leadership, Friends Select raised $1,702.65.

Helping Hands, the Upper School student service club, collected donations of adult-sized coats, new and gently-used for Coat Day, an event organized  by Our Closet and JFCS (Jewish Family Community Services). For several years, Coat Day has brought in hundreds of shoppers looking for winter coats for themselves and for their families; this year, the event distributed 820 winter coats- almost 400 more than last year’s total. In an email to Michael Gary that was shared with the internal community, Anisha Sinha, program director of Our Closet, wrote: 

“As with everything else in the Our Closet world, the success of Coat Day was due largely to the fabulous cadre of volunteers who came out to support the event. We had more than 80 volunteers help us set up the space and distribute coats, spending 336 hours volunteering with us. Our volunteers on Saturday ranged from FSS lower school students and their families up through adults. On Sunday, our efforts were spearheaded by the high school students in FSS’s Helping Hands Club. Our Closet has worked with a number of student groups over the years, and I cannot express how floored I was by your students. They were enthusiastic, they took initiative, and most importantly, they created a welcoming and dignified space for the many vulnerable Philadelphians that came through the school’s doors yesterday. The students truly embodied and embraced the mission of Our Closet – it was remarkable to watch from my vantage point. In fact, I have had a few of our regular Our Closet volunteers reach out this morning to share how inspired and impressed they were with your students. Part of what makes Our Closet so special is that there is a place for everyone, at any age, to get involved – it was wonderful to see that in action.”

Fourth grade students organized and led the Socktober initiative this October with a goal of collecting 600 new pairs of socks for the homeless. Thanks to prominent signage, large collection boxes, and spreading the word, the fourth graders received ample support and were able to donate 605 pairs of socks. Included in their donations were hand-crafted notes with positive messages. Read more about Socktober here.

Student Achievements

In early December, Mandarin students Eli Luchak ’18, Lydia Shaw ’18, Andrew Raine ’20, and Philip Raine ’20 won third place in the One-Belt-One-Road Capstone Projects Showcase at the University of Pennsylvania. They competed with other Mandarin students—some at the AP level—from seven peer schools. 

Maia Weintraub ’21 placed 6th out of 223 competitors from all around the country and world in the U21 (Junior) Women's Foil fencing event at the North American Cup in Kansas City. The top eight finalists received medals. She spent the weekend of December 2nd and 3rd in Tauber, Germany competing for the United States in the Tauberbischofsheim Individual Women's Foil Cadet (U17) European Cup. She finished 7th in an international field of 222 foilists from all over the world. In the grinding 2-day competition, Maia fought her way to position herself among the top eight finalists by defeating Germany (twice), Romania, France and Singapore.

This holiday season, Harry Dozor '22 is performing with the Philly Pops as a member of the Philadelphia Boys Choir.

Tenth grade student Christine Fang attended the competitive HWeek program, held at Harvard University from November 10th to 19th. She spent a full week on Harvard's campus experiencing what it is like to be an undergraduate, including attending academic classes and seminars.

Friends Select hosted the Race Institute for Educators on Thursday, November 2 through Saturday, November 4. This three day intensive institute brings educators from across the country together to discuss and grow their racial identities. Friends Select students served as panelists to share their experiences regarding race and identity in the classroom. Friends Select faculty Naté Hall, Ian Lockey, and Lisa White-Jones participated in the institute. Upper school students Karytho Aslan ’18, Kaylyn Binder ’18, Amaia Collins ’18, Xander McCall ’19, and DeSean Smith ’18 served as panelists.

Diana Epstein ’18, Olivia Chiaravalli ’18, and Naté Hall attended the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, where they participated in a leadership development program for young women. 

Seniors Philip Sieg, Richard Chen, Yunyi Anderson and Matthew Mark-Ockerbloom were named Commended Students in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program. They placed among the top 50,000 scorers of more than 1.6 million students who took the 2016 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test last October.

Eli Luchak '18 received third place in Philly Young Playwrights' annual playwriting competition for his play, Dirtbike.

Sara Kelley '20 recently did some extra work for M. Night Shyamalan's upcoming film Glass.

Faculty News

For the second year in a row, choral teacher Dan Schwartz was nominated for a Grammy award with The Crossing choir ensemble for Best Choral Performance.

Abbi Smith is a newly elected member of the Pennsylvania State Academic Coaches Association and is currently being interviewed for one of their upcoming publications. The interview will be posted to the Friends Select webpage and Facebook when it is public!

Anne Thomforde Thomas performed in the Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, a fundraiser to fix broken instruments owned by the Philadelphia School District. 

Harmony (After Matisse), a drawing by Zoe Zurad (ASP) is being featured in a show at Cerulean Arts Gallery from November 29 to December 24. The exhibition's title is A Starling in Shadow, curated by painter Bill Scott, a Class of 1974 graduate of Friends Select School. Zoe says, “This is the first gallery exhibition I am being featured in since I graduated from PAFA. I'm really excited!”

In November, Jim Miller, Rory Miller ’21, and Lewis Shaw ’21 attended the opening of and participated in textile artist Sonya Clark’s Unraveling, at PAFA. This performance art invited visitors to work with the artist to unravel a confederate battle flag, slowly deconstructing it thread by thread over the course of an afternoon.

Michael Gary was honored by A Better Chance at a special reception in October at Girard College. Hosted by Sandra E. Timmons, President of A Better Chance, the event celebrated Michael and his contributions to the thousands of students he has helped in his past work at the Phillips Exeter Academy, the Peddie School, Pomfret School and, now, Friends Select. Michael is an alumnus of A Better Chance and a long-time champion of equity and excellence in education.

A Better Chance provides access to rigorous and prestigious educational opportunities for academically talented students of color in grades 6-12. Their mission is increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color who are capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society.

Naté Hall, Desiree Harmon, and Fred Kogan presented at ADVIS’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Conference.

Yan Huang shares, “This October, a delegation from China Changsha visited our school.The delegation has six Chinese officials and educators who came to Philadelphia.The mission of the trip is to study the K-12 Chinese language education in the United States.The program associate, Larry MacGabhann from Citizen Diplomacy International reached out to Chris Singler because we provide Mandarin from PK-12. During the meeting, the delegation met Mandarin III students during their double block. They talked to each other in Mandarin and got to know each other. The conversation went very smooth and the delegation was impressed by the students' language skills. They also gave each student a book to reward their hard work.”

After meeting with the students, the delegation met with three Mandarin teachers - Faye Wei, Li Hsueh Tsai, and Yan—and also the language director, Anne Wentling, about our school's Mandarin program and future exchange program plans.

At the end of September, Deneen Young spoke at a national running conference and was interviewed on local radio. Deneen also worked with the Parent Association and Hand Bags 4 Peace to plan a successful Empowerment Through Self-Defense Education event, in October. Approximately 25 Friends Select parents and students attended!

Donna Romero attended the Broadway Teachers Workshop in July. She attended four Broadway shows and numerous lectures and workshops with a number of theater professional, including playwright Terrence McNally and original Hamilton cast member Sasha Hutchings.

Other Cool News

Television sports journalist Andrea Kremer ’76 was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. An Emmy award-winning reporter, Andrea is the NFL Network’s Chief Correspondent for Health and Safety and is also a correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. She is known for her sideline reporting of Sunday Night Football and the Super Bowl; coverage of the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials; and reporting of other major NCAA, Major League Baseball and NBA sporting events. 

As a student at Friends Select, she was a member of the Cum Laude honor society and the school newspaper, The Falcon. She has returned to the school several times to speak to students about her career and passion for sports and journalism. Andrea was celebrated by Friends Select School as the 2013 Distinguished Alumni/ae Award Recipient, an honor given each year to an alumna or alumnus who has displayed distinctive achievement in a chosen field or endeavor and has made significant contributions to public service and community. Most recently, she returned to Friends Select to speak at the 2016 installation ceremony of Michael Gary.

Friends Select hosted nine students and two teachers as part of a cultural exchange with Phorms Schule Frankfurt through Cultural Diplomacy International. Frankfurt, Germany, and Philadelphia are recognized as Sister Cities by City Hall.