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explore our CAMPUS

What's cool about our campus is that it's spread out over seven acres in Philadelphia's historic neighborhood of Germantown. The buildings are an eclectic mix of old and new, a unique look and feel more consistent with a college campus. With three gyms, three auditoriums, a student center, numerous open, green spaces and nine classroom buildings, it's a place worthy of adoration and exploration. The Meetinghouse, at the center of it all, provides a beautiful and spiritual focal point.

1. Main Building 2. Meetinghouse 3. Sharpless 4. Hargroves 5. Wade Science Center 6. Alumni Building 7. Admissions 8. Living Graveyard 9. Dead Graveyard 10. Loeb Performing Arts Center 11. Smith Gym 12. Cary Building 13. Friends Free Library 14. Field House 15. Scattergood Gym

we have deep roots in this place

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The Pillars of A

Quaker Education

At GFS, students and teachers gather in Meeting for Worship once each week. This is a time for shared, silent contemplation. Anyone who feels moved to speak may rise and do so. It is a simple formula, and can be a remarkably powerful experience.In these days of constant connectivity, the ability and opportunity to sit in silence have special value. Meeting for Worship is a cornerstone of the GFS culture that many come to cherish throughout their lives.

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speak the truth

We strive to deal fairly, equally and honestly with everyone. We aim to do as we say, reflecting our beliefs in our actions. even when it is inconvenient or challenging, we stand by our convictions, striving to lead lives of integrity.

Shine Together

We are all blessed with remarkable gifts. We are equally qualified to seek truth and to hear the voice of God. Every person deserves equal respect. For these reasons, we work against prejudice and discrimination and for equality.

stay connected

"Alone we can do little; together we can do so much."* We know there is strength in cooperation and wisdom to be found when many perspectives come together. We believe in the power of community.*
The words of Helen Keller.

keep it simple

In every way we can, we try to minimize the distractions that can draw our attention from the important things in life. This means not becoming overwhelmed by the busyness of daily routine. It means seeking balance. It means embracing simplicity.

care for all

This planet we inhabit, the talents we've been given, the community of which we are a part- all hold remarkable value. We must be responsible, imaginative and proactive in protecting these gifts and caring for the world and people around us. We must exercise good stewardship.

promote peace

We believe each life is precious and unique. We stand against war and violence and work to eliminate their root causes, including ignorance, racism, hatred and oppression. We are committed to creating peace.

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Beloved GFS Science Teacher, John Boles (1926-2018)

Beloved GFS Science Teacher, John Boles (1926-2018)

John Boles, a beloved science teacher at GFS from 1962-72, died peacefully on September 17, 2018. Steve Rasmussen '70 and Daphne Smith Stone '70, who remained close to John, and were with him at the end, have written a celebration of John's life to share with our community.

We share sad news with the GFS community. John Boles, a beloved science teacher at GFS from 1962-72, died peacefully on September 17, 2018. He had been in hospice care for over a year. Steve Rasmussen '70 and Daphne Smith Stone '70, who remained close to John, and were with him at the end, have written a celebration of John's life to share with our community (see below). Please hold John, and his partner Ruth, and all who cared for him, in the Light.

From Steve Rasmussen '70 and Daphne Smith Stone '70:

John Boles (1926–2018)

"... discerning ecologist, inspired educator, and a great human being." —Euell Gibbons


Surrounded by friends and former students, his loving partner Ruth Paine, and his wonderful caregivers, John Boles passed away at age 92 on the afternoon of Monday, September 17, 2018, in his own way and on his own terms. He was relieved, after a difficult year of health setbacks and over 450 days on hospice, to be "on his journey." After a morning of music and laughter animated by John's dry humor, he asked those present to meditate with him. When through, he sang Ruth the Bing Crosby song, "We're on our way (to Apalachicola)"—Ruth taught there for six years—changing the words to "I'm on my way ..." and adding at the end, with his mischievous smile, "I'll see you in Florida." Finally, in a cheerful and strong voice, he announced, "John's going away laughing, joking, and singing." And then, with peace and grace, looking as handsome as ever, he did.

Over his last weekend, John welcomed calls from more than 60 former students, friends, and family members who wanted to say goodbye. He delighted in each. He wanted all he cared for to know that he would die as he lived, with reverence, humility, and a loving spirit.

Born in 1926, John grew up in Oakland, California, and was the second oldest of five children, with siblings Mary Jane, Roger, and twins Dick and Dan. Dick and Dan survive John. John loved the wild outdoors, sports, horseback riding, music, and scouting. Yosemite was an annual pilgrimage destination for the Boles family during his childhood and remained a special spot for him over his entire life. John's undergraduate years were spent at Berkeley and the University of Texas, where he met his wife Chris. Their courtship was interrupted by WWII and John's service as a Hospital Corpsman. After the war, John returned to Berkeley to finish his Bachelor of Science degree.

John and Chris married in 1950 and moved to New York where John continued his education at Cornell, earning a Master's degree in ornithology and ecology. While in New York, their son John E. Boles was born in 1952. After Cornell, the young family moved to Princeton. When Johnny was three, John and Chris began an exhaustive search for a community of faith that their family could join. They found that community in the Society of Friends and joined the Stony Brook Friends Meeting in 1955. For the rest of their lives, both John and Chris held fast to the Quaker ideal of "plain living," making significant contributions to Friends communities on both coasts.

In 1962, John joined the faculty of Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia where he taught high school biology until 1972, except for one year at the Athenian School in California. John was a beloved teacher—approachable, fun, caring, and inspirational. Chris taught drama and dance at GFS and Johnny was a member of the class of '71. For idealistic teenagers at GFS searching for authenticity in the tumultuous 1960s, John and Chris were exemplars of honest, open, and supportive adults. Their home was a haven for young people who were welcomed as members of the Boles family. Like their students, they were staunch opponents of the Vietnam War and champions of peace. Until the day he died, John counted many of his former students among his closest friends.

In 1969, when GFS students sought more autonomy and independence in guiding their own educational program, John joined with them to create one of the nation's first experiential high school courses in ecology and environmental justice—Study of Survival (SOS). He brought his students together with leading environmental voices of the period, like Paul Ehrlich, Rachel Carson, and Euell Gibbons. On field trips, he shared his love for the outdoors with students and exposed them to different outlooks on management of public and private lands.

In 1971, Gibbons dedicated the third printing of Stalking the Good Life: My Love Affair with Nature as follows:
This book is dedicated to the lively, joyous, and joy-giving group of teenagers who are the enthusiastic members of the ecology class in the Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, and to their teacher, John Boles, competent naturalist, discerning ecologist, inspired educator, and a great human being.

Creating and teaching SOS was the highlight of John's teaching career. While he loved teaching biology, teaching SOS was the expression of his soul, his commitment to the natural world, and his desire to make his students' lives better as caring stewards of our planet.

After GFS, John and Chris returned to the West Coast where John stayed active in the environmental movement. John came to know and love environmental activist David Brower. John was the Production Editor for Brower's Friends of the Earth newsletter in San Francisco. That job ended when a health crisis called the family back to Princeton as caregivers for both of Chris's parents until they died. The need to care for John's mother brought them back to Oakland and California yet again.

In 1989 John and Chris moved to Santa Rosa, California, and in 2004 moved into Friends House, a Quaker retirement community there. They suffered a tragic loss in 2001 when Johnny drowned in a swimming accident on the California coast. John and Johnny were best friends, sharing many happy camping and backpacking experiences across the continent. John grieved Johnny's loss for the rest of his life. In 2006 Chris became ill with Alzheimer's disease and died in 2009.

After Johnny and Chris's deaths, John found new happiness in a loving relationship with fellow Friends House resident, Ruth Hyde Paine. Ruth and John enjoyed nine wonderful years together, traveling, sharing, and caring for their friends, contributing to and leading the Friends House community. Ruth, who, like John, had a long career as a teacher and leader in Quaker schools—even teaching for two years at GFS—was John's soulmate, constantly at his side as his rock of support when his health failed in his final year. Their lives together were full of song, laughter, empathy, friendship, and social mission.

A celebration of John's life will be held at Friends House sometime in the coming year. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in John Boles’s name to Restore Hetch Hetchy, the organization working to restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley in John’s beloved Yosemite National Park, or to Germantown Friends School.