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School News

From new LatinX art in the halls, to the victories of fall athletes and "It’s My Park Day", the Friends campus is buzzing with activity! To view more photos of campus events, visit the School's website, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.


Beloved former faculty and alumni parent Marge Gonzalez, who taught at Friends for 33 years (1969-2003) lost all of her furniture and other household belongings due to Hurricane Ian. Her house suffered significant damage. Presently, she is looking for a place to live in Florida for two months while her home is repaired. A GoFundMe page in support of Marge has been created and can be found here.

Marge’s book reviews—featured regularly here and in the School magazine—can be found on her website.


New Technologies Rolled Out

In September two significant technology changes were introduced, following more than two years of community engagement, planning and testing. Benjie Messinger-Barnes ’05, the Director of Online Learning & Education Technology, comments, “We choose technology that best supports teaching and learning practices at Friends. Although many have experienced screen fatigue over the last two years and have taken learning offline where appropriate, it’s also important to remember that leveraging the right technology, at the right time, can significantly enhance teaching and learning.”

All Middle School students transitioned from iPads to ChromeBooks. This new intuitive device offers a range of advantages including: a full keyboard for more accurate and correct typing; improved content filtering to ensure it’s used for academic purposes only; and full integration with the web-based Google Suite that has fewer clicks and makes sharing and collaboration easier. Benjie comments, “When viewed through the lens of child protection, ChromeBook is a great choice. All information is backed up and secure. The ability to tailor the overall look and feel in developmentally appropriate ways by grade is another advantage.”

Canvas, a new Learning Management System (LMS), is the digital framework for all aspects of the learning process and was rigorously tested before being chosen as the school’s next LMS in June 2021. Benjie used the next 15 months to learn the system inside and out and design approaches to help train teachers and students on how to use it. This paved the way for a successful transition in September. Benjie comments, “It’s been smooth sailing so far, but in year one, there’s a lot of learning to do. We are working closely with teachers and students to open digital doors, which will make everyone’s work more visible for greater coordination, collaboration and accountability.”


New Affordability Measures Undertaken

The School has undertaken some new initiatives in its ongoing efforts to address issues of affordability for all families, especially those who do not receive financial aid, but for whom sending a child (or children) to Friends is a very real challenge. Starting this year, all Upper School academic materials will be purchased by the School. At the end of the year textbooks and calculators will be collected and reused, while students will be able to keep their paperbacks and workbooks. Will Hopkins, Associate Head of School for Teaching and Learning, comments, “Depending on a student’s schedule, this is a savings of $150-$1,000 for families each year.”

In the effort to support the growing number of Brooklyn families, the School has also initiated a two-year pilot program for two morning bus routes in Brooklyn. There is a charge for the bus, but it is underwritten for all riders by the School, and further, those receiving tuition aid are eligible for a corresponding percentage reduction toward the cost. Sam Margles, the newly appointed Director of Financial Aid and Affordability and Assistance, comments, “The launch has been successful, and we’re excited that it will allow families in Brooklyn greater convenience and access to Friends.”

Those traveling by bus arrive by 8 AM, which is an early start for Lower School students, whose day begins at 8:25 AM. This prompted the School to make “Early Bird”, the early morning drop-off program for Lower School students, free. The uptake in the first few weeks has been strong. The Director of Extended Programs, Laura McGinley explains, “We’ve seen a noticeable increase in the number of students compared to last year. Kids love it. Playing Four Square in the Inner Courtyard is super popular while other students may read, see their friends or eat breakfast in the cafeteria.”


‘Book a Spot Bistro’ Opens to Grade 4 Critics

Led by Paula and Marcus, ‘Book A Spot’ Bistro opened to Grade 4 readers last month. Students were surveyed on genre preferences and served a selection of books tailored to their reading taste buds. Given six minutes per title to explore the cover and dip into the pages, readers were then tasked with writing review notes. Was the temperature to their liking? Did it need more seasoning? Would they like a second helping? Lower School critics then selected their favorite book from their bespoke menu, which will then become the text used to practice various reading comprehension strategies and participate in small group book talks during in-class reading station work.


Grade 6 Students Test Their Skills in Arabic Class

The Grade 6 Arabic class, students are reading the story of Ali Baba. In a recent activity, they learned to narrate the story and played a game in which they raced each other to narrate different scenes based on the pictures they were given.


Upper School Political Action Club Hosts Voter Registration Table

The Political Action Club in collaboration with the Center for Peace, Equity and Justice (CPEJ) reminded the community about the deadline to register to vote in the midterm election in New York. Community members as young as 16 were able to pre-register to vote at this time as well. The Political Action Club wanted to make this process as easy as possible for our community; they offered a voter registration table last month at pick-up on the corner of 16th and Rutherford.

Make sure you're ready to vote on November 8!


Bo Lauder Leads LatinX Art Discussion

Partnering with the The Latinx Culture Club and the Center for Peace, Equity and Justice, Head of School Bo Lauder, an avid art collector, led recently a Latinx art discussion with faculty, staff and students. Bo showcased pieces by five Latinx artists, and unveiled Amantes, a 20x30 screen print by Dominican-American artist Tiffany Alfonseca. The print will join the School’s permanent collection and will be hung in Hunter Hall or the Townhouse building. Click here to read more.


"Friends As I See It" by Russell Dukes

During the pandemic, custodian Russell Dukes discovered a passion for photography. That passion, along with his love for the Friends community, quickly led to a unique collection of photographs of the people and campus around him. Follow his work on the official Friends Instagram and under the hashtag #friendsasiseeit.


Families Participate in Annual "It's My Park Day"

On Saturday, October 15, students and their families participated in the annual "It’s My Park Day", a tradition spearheaded by the Center for Peace Equity and Justice and the Parents Association. The family event supports the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association’s (SPNA) efforts in keeping the park we enjoy each day beautiful. Participants helped mulch, plant bulbs and pick up trash. Click here to view more photos.


Friends Athletics

Congratulations to Varsity Boys Soccer. The team clinched the ACIS regular season championship, and a spot in the NYSAIS tournament, with a 3-0 victory Thursday afternoon, October 27 against Berkeley Carroll. They finish the regular season with a record of 11-1 and have outscored their opponents 40-8. Next up for the team is the ACIS tournament.

The Varsity Girls Soccer team ended their regular season with a hard fought loss to Berkeley Carroll. The team is scheduled to face Brearley in the AAIS quarter-finals.

The Varsity Girls Tennis team ended their regular season with a victory over Hewitt. They play top-seeded Spence in the quarter-final round of the AAIS tournament.

For the most up-to-date sports news and MS coverage, follow Friends Athletics at for weekly team and senior features!


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