Michael Gary Speaks
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for our new Parkway Building spaces kicked off our academic year with a great deal of excitement. It marked the culmination of the Advance Friends Select: Transformation Campaign, our strategic plan that continues to guide the decisions we are making to ensure dynamic and engaging teaching and learning are happening in our classrooms. The Parkway Building transformation shifted the student energy and excitement that accompanies such learning from the back of the school building to the front, and our new lobby has already proven to be ideal as a communal space. In addition, the recent upgrades to our rooftop athletic complex as part of this plan will further allow us to maximize the use of our building.
The Advance Friends Select: Transformation Campaign continues with construction under way to create an upper school STEAM Building at 1520 Race Street, with four floors and approximately 15,000 square feet of enhanced learning spaces and modern resources that will enrich our Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math programs. In expanding our campus to include a STEAM Building adjacent to the Race Street Meetinghouse, we are deepening our Quaker roots and values as a school, while continuing Friends Select’s commitment to Philadelphia and the vital role the city plays in educating our students.
From an educational standpoint, Friends Select students, faculty, and staff have remained focused on their collective commitment to social justice issues by celebrating diversity and becoming agents of change this year, even during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Upper school students designed and implemented a Social Justice Week encouraging critical conversations on tough issues facing our society and developing partnerships with local organizations to take meaningful action, and they have helped our efforts to become an antiracist school. Meanwhile, one of our pre-kindergarten classes called for social change in a powerful message to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who responded to our students. Indeed, students in all three divisions learned about activism and community while using our city as a campus in our surrounding neighborhoods to support their studies.
The investment of our community in the transformation of our campus and the dedication of our students, faculty, and staff to making our school and society more equitable are demonstrations of the momentum that has propelled Friends Select since my start as head of school over five years ago. I simply cannot wait for our entire community to be part of and benefit from the excellence in teaching and learning that is still to come.