A New Lower School Arts Studio, Thanks to the Gilroy and Lillian P. Roberts Charitable Foundation
Friends Select School is the recipient of a grant from the Gilroy and Lillian P. Roberts Charitable Foundation to support the creation of the Parkway Building’s new lower school art studio that will inspire students in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade to further develop knowledge and appreciation for the arts and their creativity. Foundation board member and Friends Select parent Jennifer Merves Robbins P’28, ’30 was motivated to connect the school to the foundation based on the shared commitment to education, the arts, Quakerism, and the city. “This grant enables Friends Select to foster an appreciation and interest in the visual arts for generations of young learners while also celebrating the legacy of Gilroy Roberts,” she said.
The lower school art curriculum is an integral educational component to the inter-divisional academic program in preparing students for “the whole of life,” improving cognitive development and sparking curiosity by allowing students to discover, practice, improvise, and refine art-making techniques. Teacher Dan Deslaurier provides students with a lively environment that invites inquiry about visual works, speaking about art and learning how to offer opinions, and, most of all, the celebration of creativity and discovery. “Both of my sons, Jason and Nicholas, were inspired by teacher Dan and developed their appreciation and talent for art at a young age,” Jennifer explained. “I’m so pleased the grant will allow other Friends Select students to discover their own artistic talents.”
Gilroy Roberts was a sculptor who served as chief engraver of the United States Mint from 1948 until 1964, and is known for his obverse design of the Kennedy Half Dollar. A Philadelphia Quaker, several of his works are on display at the Gilroy Roberts Gallery at the Community College of Philadelphia.
In recognition of the grant from the Gilroy and Lillian P. Roberts Charitable Foundation, Dan plans to design an artist’s study focused on Gilroy Roberts for the 2022–23 school year for students in pre-K through 4th grade. Additionally, art studies in second grade will further study Gilroy Roberts to complement their curricular focus on currency, and students will visit the Gilroy Roberts Gallery at the Community College of Philadelphia as part of both their art and currency studies.
In recognition of the generosity from the Gilroy and Lillian P. Roberts Charitable Foundation, the lower school art studio will be named “The Gilroy Roberts Art Studio.” “The connections between Friends Select, the foundation, and the arts in Philadelphia are meaningful,” said Jennifer. “The naming of a space that will spark imagination and creativity in future generations of artists is a fitting tribute to Gilroy Roberts and his legacy.”