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End-of-Year Joy Flourished at GFS this Spring

Middle School Division Director Keino Terrell once quipped: “No one does end-of-year quite like GFS.”

And it’s true—the last month of school on the Germantown Friends School campus is a busy and joyful time. Starting in early May, it’s a lively five weeks until the year wraps up with graduation and moving-up ceremonies across the divisions. At GFS, which is home to students ranging from three to 18 years old, there is a lot to do and so much to celebrate. 

Around every corner, you’ll find groups practicing songs, putting the finishing touches on art projects, and boarding school buses for field trips. Of course, many students are also studying diligently for exams, and preparing final projects. Although there is much academic work to be done, the end of the year atmosphere is abuzz with social energy. It’s a special time, as students and their families, faculty, and staff honor their collective and individual achievements, and reflect on the past nine months.

"To me, May is magical here—we are almost stubborn in our intentions to honor those who call this their community," Terrell reflected. "I have witnessed teachers share the most memorable moments with students to end the year. I also see how we celebrate every member of our teaching faculty who has strengthened this community with their gifts."

End-of-year traditions kicked off in the first week of May, with Unity Day and All-School Meeting for Worship. A few weeks later came Poley Fest, a three-day festival featuring student works in filmmaking, theatre, playwriting, choreography, and improv comedy. This coincided with Alumni Weekend 2024, when over 400 guests visited campus for tours, Meeting for Worship, mini-courses, class reunion parties, and other community events.  


Soon after, students of all ages welcomed their families to the All-School Art Show, which turned the campus into a giant exhibition space. The arts were also on full display all throughout the entire month of May with many performances, such as the annual Spring Choral Concert, A Cappella Final Concert, World Percussion Night, Upper School Coffeehouse, Kindergarten performances, and Lower School plays.


Student clubs and affinity groups took advantage of the warm weather with fundraisers and social events. The Black Student Union and Asian Students Association held a joint barbecue and boba tea fundraiser, Sistahs invited Saddiq’s water ice for a fundraiser, and MENA, the Middle Eastern North African Affinity club, and the GFS choir both held bake sales. 


Spring brings special field trips for many GFS classes; some much-anticipated excursions this year were the Lee Forest Black '04 Eighth Grade Camping Trip (an annual favorite), the seventh grade trip to Dorney Park, and the fifth grade trip to New York City to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park. 

Middle and Upper School students got the chance to have fun together at school socials and dances. Mid-May brought the sixth and seventh grade Spring Social and the Eighth Grade Semi-Formal; the Friday before Memorial Day, eleventh and twelfth grade students got all dressed up for prom, which was held at the Fitler Club in Center City.


Another GFS tradition is the annual David E. Stokes, Jr. ’69 Senior Athlete Celebration, which takes place each May to laud senior student-athletes and their individual and collective achievements. Each year, a GFS alumni is featured as the special guest speaker; this year, we welcomed Jessica Gray ’07, Co-Director of Player Engagement for the Detroit Lions. She shared reflections on her time as a student athlete at GFS, as well as key lessons she’s taken with her through life, like “expand the margins,” “community matters,” and “win the transition.” 

As May drew to a close, some activities took on a note of finality, like the last assemblies and Meetings for Worship for each division, with especially emotional reflections shared at each Meeting. The Upper School Parent Show added some levity, with irreverent acts starring parents and families. There were plenty of opportunities for students to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, like Fourth Grade Olympics and Lower School Community Day; ninth, tenth and eleventh graders also enjoyed their last day of school frolicking at Fields.

The most formalized end-of-year rites of passage were the graduation and moving-up ceremonies. Under the tent on the Common, the GFS senior class celebrated graduation during the Senior Commencement Ceremony, held on the Common on June 1, 2024 (to view the livestream recording of graduation, head here). The following week brought fifth and eighth grade moving-up ceremonies, as well as the Early Childhood Bead Ceremony. 

As we say goodbye to the 2024-25 school year, we want to thank our whole community, including students, families, faculty and staff. To hear reflections on this year from GFS Head of School Dana Weeks and the Division Directors, check out our end-of-year video.