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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.

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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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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.

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"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.

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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.

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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.

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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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GFS Virtual Film Festival A Draw for Students from Across the Globe

Philadelphia Youth Film Festival

Created and managed by Upper School students, the GFS Philadelphia Youth Film Festival went virtual this year.

Even a global pandemic couldn’t dampen the excitement surrounding Germantown Friends School’s fourth annual Philadelphia Youth Film Festival (PHYFF), which took place on Saturday, February 27, 2021. Created and managed by Upper School students at GFS, the festival went virtual this year, but the program still maintained its core essence: workshops led by experts in the field, an awards ceremony, and a keynote speaker—this year, award-winning documentarian Dawn Porter.

As with the past three years, the festival is free and open to high school filmmakers anywhere in the world; this year’s 200 submissions, entered in four categories, came from 11 countries, including India, Iran, Ukraine, Spain, and Bangladesh, every continent, and 13 states. Student leaders saw an opportunity to connect even more interested students and pivoted to a virtual format, affording greater access for young filmmakers and awardees from outside of Philadelphia to Zoom in for the program.

Porter, whose work has appeared on HBO, PBS, Discovery, and Netflix, applauded the student organizers for overcoming obstacles and carrying out their festival mission with ingenuity and perseverance, and noted that “a lot of filmmaking is problem solving.” Porter also shared insights from her personal journey, and offered advice on how to create strong documentaries: put yourself in new environments, think about things you never thought of before, and “take advantage of listening.” She asked students to consider why they wanted to be creators, and shared her own inspiration for making documentaries: her “interest in people’s stories, those of hardship and [of] becoming leaders.” 

“You are not just an observer, but a participant,” she explained. “Give your subject the opportunity to reveal. Excavate the story from the person.”

Porter, who is currently directing and executive producing an Apple TV documentary series with Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry that focuses on mental illness and mental well-being, previously directed John Lewis: Good Trouble for CNN Films, which explores late Congressman John Lewis’ pivotal role in the Civil Rights movement and his decades of political and social activism.

During the filming of another documentary, The Way I See It—about photojournalist Pete Souza, who served as Chief Official White House Photographer for President Barack Obama—Porter discovered that the story ended up being about more than beautiful photography; it brought to light the most important characteristic of being a president: empathy. “Give your subject the opportunity to reveal,” she explained. 

Porter shared why making films about people of color is so important to her and to others. “There are more stories [out there] about people I want to see who look like me. So I did it myself. Every time we show someone unrepresented, it is an opportunity for our minds to grow.”

After this inspiring session with Porter, attendees listened to a panel of award-winning producers, directors, and writers, including Effie T. Brown, Elegance Bratton, and André Robert Lee, and participated in workshops with experts in the filmmaking field: Victor C. Reyes, Frauke Levin, Alex Favin, Kathy Van Cleve, Emory Van Cleve, Paul Bastian, Jacob Mazer, Carole Adrienne Murphy, and Glenn Holstein. 

Student co-leader Noah Eisenstein ’21, shared, “My favorite thing about PHYFF is how many incredible young filmmakers are there and enthusiastic about participating in the workshops. I feel like I'm around the next generation of great filmmakers. When they're all winning Oscars in a few years, I'll remember that I was talking and networking with them at PHYFF, when we were all in high school.”

In addition to co-leaders Eisenstein and Sean Park ’21, PHYFF’s creative and production team also included: Caleb Ash ’22, Neil Bennett ’22, Simon Donovan ’23, Ben Fryer ’23, Graham Kohn ’24, Jacob Morse ’22, Otis Harrison ’22, Martina Kiewek ’22, Robert May ’21, Grace Raufer ’22, Harlem Rogers ’22, Sequoyah Sudler ’21, Taddy Wang ’23, Fengyu Yang ’23, and faculty advisors Sarah Kappel, Kate Garrity, and André Robert Lee. The group began planning the festival last spring.

“As someone who has done work with the PHYFF for three years, my favorite part is connecting with diverse groups of individuals who are also interested in film, whether they are professional filmmakers, beginners, film enthusiasts, or those who just want to learn more about film and its unifying effect on a community,” said Park. “And I cannot wait to see how much PHYFF continues to grow in the future.”

Philadelphia Youth Film Festival