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Letter to the Community from Bo, Devan, Kirsti and Kara

Please see the letter below that will be shared with current families in this Sunday's (Dec. 2) Friends Weekly Digest (FWD).


Friends,


Last weekend we were saddened to learn of the shooting in Vermont of three Palestinian graduates of Ramallah Friends School in the West Bank while on Thanksgiving break visiting family and friends. Ramallah Friends has hosted us in years past as part of our Global Education program. Though at the writing of this letter the motive still has not been confirmed by police, this incident is clearly an example of a troubling rise in Islamophobic, anti-Arab and anti-Palestenian rhetoric and violence in recent weeks, which we as a School deplore. This comes alongside the recently elevated levels of antisemitic rhetoric and violence that continue to plague our world. We stand firm in denouncing all forms of hatred and violence, especially those based on one's identity or perceived identity. At Friends Seminary we celebrate the fact that we all hold multiple identities, and we aim to ensure that everyone can stand proudly and without fear or bias in who they are.


Drew Smith, Executive Director of the Friends Council on Education, wrote in a letter to Quaker educators last week in the wake of the shooting in Vermont:


“As we launch our students into the world, our hope is that they might grow older in a world… [and that] the gifts we help them to cultivate over the many years they are in our charge are fully expressed in their personal and professional adult lives…


This shooting happened amidst the ongoing violence in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank. As educators, we are particularly mindful of the Israeli and Palestinian children, caught in the middle of terrorist violence, or the military conflict between Israel and Hamas. Our hearts are heavy with sorrow and we yearn for peace.


The work of Friends Schools includes the embrace of the historic Peace Testimony of the Religious Society of Friends. Quaker schools have long championed the idea that our schools should be havens for students from all walks of life and all faith traditions.”


It is the last part of that final sentence that we want to emphasize today: “...our schools should be havens for students from all walks of life and all faith traditions.” It is always our goal for every student and every family to feel safe and supported and to feel like they belong at Friends Seminary—because they do.


We are one Friends community, rooted in the Quaker belief in the Inner Light—that of God in every person. Our Faith & Practice (for which updated text will be shared in the coming weeks) states, “Community is a shared experience in which we listen deeply, trusting others and ourselves to be, collectively, a working body where deep respect, empathy and love for all come to be.” We are stronger together, and we must come together in troubling times like this to support and care for one another.


To that end, we lift up the work of the Center for Peace, Equity and Justice Team as they continue to work with student groups—including the Jewish Culture Club, the Muslim Culture Club and the Upper School Diversity, Equity & Belonging Committee—to find ways to bring groups together to listen and to learn. If you, your child or your family need support in any way, please be in touch with one of us or a division head.


We hold in the Light the victims of last week’s shooting, their families and our Friends at Ramallah Friends School, as well as the people of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and those in our community with deep ties to the region.


In community,


Bo Lauder // Head of School

Devan Ganeshananthan // Associate Head of School

Kirsti Peters // Director of Diversity, Equity & Belonging

Kara Kutner // Director of the Center for Peace, Equity & Justice


Opmerkingen


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