hat would nineteenth century Quaker founders of Germantown Friends School think of the school today? Might they see evidence of the core principles of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship alive at GFS today?
As classes change, students spill through the Front Hall; there is laughter, chaos, book bags scattered about, stories told on the fly, a high five to a friend or teacher. Cacophony. Making their way across the Common these Quaker time travelers would find the physical Meeting House nearly unaltered from its original design. Sitting in Meeting they would experience familiar, eternal stillness. In that stillness they would find peace, that small voice within
that connects us to one another and to the Divine. They would hear student voices that are intelligent, bold, insightful, wise, searching and full of youthful optimism and pessimism.
The school’s physical landscape has grown tremendously, encompassing a full range of architectural styles from the Quaker vernacular of the Meeting House to the LEED sustainable Wade Science Center. The campus buildings represent the aspirations of more than five generations who have invested in Quaker education. We draw families from over forty zip codes. I think they would be astonished that the living power of Quaker values, through Quaker education, has never been more welcoming, encompassing, diverse and vital.
Walking through the classrooms they would see students who are excited about learning, and teachers who are passionate scholars, thoroughly versed in their subject matter. Our teachers bring their whole selves to the classroom, as steadfast stewards and interpreters of core Quaker values. Our students are ambitious academics, creative artists, and hard-driving athletes who are fully engaged in the school community through clubs and activities. They would see our students building bridges of understanding and trust among their classmates, with institutions and neighbors in Germantown and in the world. Teamwork is the key: with science lab partners, on the basketball court, in Choir and Chorus, web partnered learning with Global Online Academy, in the Community Action Committee, in honing linguistic skills, preparing for Classics Day, leadership in Student Advisory Council and Mock Trial and through their investment strategies in Philanthropic Trust. Early Quakers would see that Germantown Friends School alumni excel in their professions as Nobel prize winners, college professors, social workers, physicians, teachers, classical and rock musicians, webmasters, writers, artists and entrepreneurs. “Life altering” is how alumni describe their experience of GFS.
Quakers often quote the words of Kahlil Gibran, “Work is Love Made Visible.” At the end of the day our work together at Germantown Friends School, with students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni, is filled with love. Love of the mind, love of the spirit and love of the world.
Interim Head of Upper School