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
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
By Rachel Reynolds, Middle School English Teacher, Germantown Friends School
If adolescence is marked by a quality of unknowing — of curiosity and uncertainty, a sense that anything might be possible — then to be an adolescent during the COVID-19 pandemic has been to experience this sensation writ large. Thrown into an ephemeral landscape of blue-lit boxes, straddling the world of home and school without preparation or prior experience to rely on, middle schoolers (like the rest of us) suddenly found themselves everywhere and nowhere at once in spring of 2020, meeting people who otherwise would never have set foot inside their houses within the confines of their bedrooms and sharing meals in their kitchens with people they couldn’t touch. While as an adult, I still exercised some control over my days — I had lessons to prepare, meals to cook for my child, reading up to do on the latest in virus information — I was struck by how haunted students seemed by the sudden disappearance of school as a physical site and community. If school opened and closed with their computers, then was it even really happening? With the floor dropped out below them, the task for me as their teacher became to answer that question in the affirmative, and then to prove it.
Once the initial whirlwind of shifting to remote instruction subsided, we had the opportunity at my school to hunker down with our teaching teams (shout-out to Chelsea Koehler and Sara Primo) and to work with a mentor from Global Online Academy (GOA). As my colleagues and I considered what questions we wanted to bring to our mentor, we kept going back to paper, to proof: We wanted our students to come out of their eighth grade year with evidence that it had really happened; we wanted them to hold their own accumulation, to offer a counterbalance to so much existing in the elusive space of the internet. And we wanted to continue to keep our school’s Quaker roots at the forefront. We decided we needed a notebook.
I brought this nascent notebook idea to our GOA coach, who helped develop it into sections: prompts, cool words, and questions. From there, we added another section — writing territories — and embraced the idea that we could use these notebooks to center the idea that you don’t have to know what you have to say in order to write. Instead, you can write to think, writing can be a tool to process and move towards clarity. In a time riddled with uncertainty, and standing on the already shaky ground of early teenage-dom, it felt like a balm we could offer our students was a fierce embrace of unknowing and a commitment to introspection and a steady practice of curiosity. With that, Writing for Thinking notebooks were born.
“WFT notebooks are one of my favorite parts of 8th grade English. It gives you a place to dump your thoughts and ideas in whatever (hopefully a bit organized) way you want. It is nice to have a space that is purely your mind without much interruption. My personal favorite section was the Writing Territories section. I loved seeing all the lists of responses to the prompts and to look back on what was on my mind. Also I loved decorating mine and making it my own.” — R.C. (8th grade student)
On one hand, the prompts section of our Writing for Thinking notebooks — or, WFT notebooks, as we’ve come to affectionately call them — is a space to prepare for the class to come. It’s a sneak peek of where we’re headed and an invitation to get your head into that space. While the above prompts were part of a unit on the personal essay and generated material that was thinned and narrowed into the world of one piece, what exists in student notebooks is also a record of themselves in this moment. If they open to that page, what they’ll find is a reflection of their interior as it existed on a certain morning this past fall. The lists they’d write today would overlap, but they wouldn’t mirror the original exactly; and in this way, the list becomes a pin on the map of their journey through this year.