From team sport victories, student articles, and more 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.
Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit
On Friday, January 27, the School returned to the Golden Unicorn in Chinatown to celebrate Lunar New Year with more than 300 guests attending. The Lunar New Year Committee, with the help of many US volunteers, created an evening full of joy, laughter, good fortune, pops of red—and lots of noise! Director of Special Events, Ashley Shaw comments, “I am grateful to be part of this work that lifts the Asian community and the diverse contributions they bring to Friends. May we strive to be like the Rabbit—conveying kindness and patience in the year ahead.” One highlight of the evening was the Lion Dance performed by the Wing Hong Yip Dragon Style Kung Fu. This group has performed at the School’s Lunar New Year celebrations since 1996.
Amid the joy, Head of School Bo Lauder took a few minutes to honor and remember the late Lilian Lee, the wife of the first Asian-American student to graduate from Friends, Henry Lee ’43 (1924-1995). Together, and now with the support of their family, they created one of the largest named endowed funds at Friends Seminary. The Henry Lee ’43 Memorial Scholarship Fund provides financial aid for Asian-American students. Their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren attended the celebration. All proceeds from the evening will increase the corpus of the Henry Lee ’43 Endowed Scholarship Fund.
Click here to view more photos from the event.
Beyond the Casual Fist Bump: Passion and Purpose at Friends Seminary
By Maahiya ’25
(This article was originally published in "The Insight," the Upper School Newspaper)
Pictured above (left to right) Kei Styles, Mike Miller and Russell Dukes
We are all driven by something: a passion or belief that we may have observed and replicated from the actions of a family member, or one that stems from an event that occurred in our lives. As students at Friends Seminary, we are surrounded by peers and teachers who are passionate about what they do, and we reap the benefits of this enthusiasm daily. However, another aspect of our school is just as important, involving people just as driven as our faculty and students: the security and custodial staff. We often start our days with a cheerful “Good morning!” fist bump from Kei, and greet Russell and Mike in the hallways and entrances throughout the day, but this is often the extent of our interactions. We rarely learn about the passions that drive these essential members of our community or hear the stories behind them. Through interviews with each of these security and custodial staff members, I had the opportunity to explore their interests and motivations.
Kei Styles has been working as a crossing guard at Friends for four years. Kei is passionate about helping others and he loves to motivate people: “I like putting smiles on people’s faces,” he said. He attributes this passion to his mother, who he called “the most giving, most lovable person you could find.” Kei uses everybody he meets as a life lesson and believes that “we could learn a lot from everybody.” Kei is also interested in team sports, a hobby he discovered early from his parents. “Once they showed me, I took it from there,” he said with a laugh. “You have to be a team player,” he said, and it’s easy here at Friends because everybody’s just friendly.”
Mike Miller has worked as a custodian at Friends for 24 years. On a faculty enrichment trip to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Mike discovered his love for flowers and gardening. “We headed over there for the day and that’s why I fell in love with the flowers.” In addition to his interest in gardening and flora, Mike is passionate about serving his community and is an active member of his church, where he was selected as a deacon last year. While serving his community and his church, Mike tries to reach out to people who are struggling or are less fortunate. “I have a past, and if my past can encourage them to get themselves on the right track, I don’t mind sharing my experiences,” he said. When asked if his interests correlate with what he does at Friends day to day, Mike responded, “Yes, yes. I love people. I love the communication that we have here . . . In a church you have a congregation and here we call it a community.” Mike is also passionate about singing, and he has led “Silent Night” in the Winter Assembly for the past five years. He credits Joanna Pickett, a former member of the faculty, as the person who helped him with his singing. Additionally, “Bob Rosen, he gave me the opportunity to sing with the Meetinghouse Band; Robin Hoffman, rest her soul, invited me to join along with the Christmas sing-along,” Mike said. As for the future, Mike is planning on retiring soon, and he wants to spend more time on gardening and helping his church ministry. He also plans on “making hospital visits to the sick and shut-in, carrying the communion to those that aren’t able to get to church.” Additionally, Mike looks forward to staying active and visiting his 16 grandchildren, concluding that “by the time I split a little bit [of time] here, and a little bit there, that would take up a good portion.”
Russell Dukes is another essential member of our community, entering his 23rd year at Friends as a part of the custodial staff. He said that his first passion was basketball, but “as of right now, I think my passion is to work with young people with sports and try to use it to help them accomplish their goals in life.” He is currently working with an organization called Future Star Production, which hosts various events for his community, such as Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas toy giveaways, and a community block gathering to provide school supplies to local children. “So with that, I do the basketball tournaments, so I’m working with them, as of now, a couple times a year,” Russell said. He also said that the diversity and positivity at Friends plays a large part in motivating him, as well as “the message that we try to put out when it comes to helping, caring, and doing things in the community.” Russell is currently working with the youth, using the medium of sports to “put a message out of how we are more alike than not alike as human beings... I find sports to be one of the things that brings people together from all walks of life,” he said. Russell is motivated by observing the events that take place in other communities and around the world that make him “want to do more” and to be “a part of the solution.”
These three short interviews demonstrate the value of getting to know the people around us and learning the stories and interests that drive them. We walk through our days interacting with countless people, yet we may know little about them. With a few questions, and maybe five minutes of conversation, stories of purpose, ambition, and aspiration can be revealed. These stories change the way we perceive the people and the world around us, but they are so often overlooked. Students are pushed to ask “why” when talking about history, literature, or mathematics, but most of us fail to ask these simple yet significant questions in our day to day lives. We see our own world everyday; tomorrow let’s try to see into someone else's.
Lower School School students bring SEL Work to Life
At the beginning of the academic year Friends partnered with the International Foundation for Social and Emotional Learning (IFSEL), for programming around self-care, happiness, inspiring care for others, compassion and resilience. In Mirtha Martinez and Lauren Graham’s Kindergarten class, students gather and sit together in a circle everyday for their morning meeting. Using cards listed with different emotions, each student selects a card to express how they are feeling, then everyone takes turns to explain their mood for the day. Some memorable quotes shared include, “I’m feeling silly because I’m going to be silly at extended day” and “I’m feeling confused because sometimes when I build my Legos, they don’t fit!”
In Katherine Hurewitz and Justine Engel-Snow’s Grade 1 class, students start the day with a morning meeting and daily check-in. This routine is a way for students to express how they are feeling before class work begins. It offers a chance for students and teachers to know how others are feeling and find a way to improve the day for those who may not be at their best on any given day. Using different weather images, students pick one image that best describes how they are feeling, some examples include, “I picked lightning because I’m lightning quick!” “I picked sunshine because I love the summer” and “I picked snow, because I like skiing.” In the classroom students also have jars labeled with different feelings. They can take little sticks, marked with their names and place them into the jar that describes how they are feeling throughout the day.
In the Grade 3 and Grade 4 classes of Jessica Contreras and Andrew Fox, students have been learning about identity. In this unit, explored the concept of inner vs outer identity, personal boundaries and comparing a Fixed Mindset versus a Growth Mindset.
Andrew shares, “Students are learning how to find a midpoint between being passive and too aggressive, the midpoint being their assertive voice. Using a traffic light, students point to which color corresponds with their personal boundaries.” Students are also learning to use their vocabulary to express themselves beyond the usual “mad, glad or sad” through a lesson using a Pictionary of Emotions. To explore common and different interests, students are using a Venn Diagram. Jessica shares, “Students are learning what interests they share in common, as well as getting to learn more about their partners.”
Knit One For Operation Gratitude
Guided by the Upper School Service Committee, students and teachers participated in a knit-a-thon to make scarves for Operation Gratitude. Community members of all abilities helped one another create scarves for the project. In the end, the Upper School contributed more than 30 scarves to care packages for service members and first responders.
Day of Concern
On January 25, Upper School students, faculty and staff participated in Friends’ annual Day of Concern, which provided “An Exploration of Gender on the Path to Equity.” The annual Day of Concern, spearheaded by the Center for Peace, Equity and Justice (CPEJ), aims to examine a wealth of issues affecting society from various perspectives with the hope of encouraging more thoughtful and empathetic solutions. The Upper School dedicated the day to examining areas on both community, local, and national levels through a series of workshops facilitated by outside thought leaders and Friends students and faculty.
The morning panel, “An Exploration of Gender on the Path to Equity” featured Will Hopkins, Kaleo Grant, Anita Dolce Vita, Janah Boccio, and Masha Zabala. Co-Clerks of the Upper School’s Diversity, Equity and Belonging Committee, Ruby ’23 and Indy ’24, served as discussion moderators, and asked a series of questions in regards to gender constructs and their limitations. From skirts in school to boyish haircuts to the impact of stop and frisk, the group reflected on and unpacked a range of complex feelings of first realizing their own gender.
The day continued with various class meetings and guided discussions with advisories and concluded with Meeting for Worship.
Between the sessions, the Day of Concern team hosted a number of affinity groups and breakout workshops facilitated by thought leaders, mentors, faculty and staff.
MLK Jr. Day Food for Friends
The Center for Peace, Equity and Justice and the Parents Association Service Committee invited students and their parents or caregivers to the annual MLK Day service event, Food for Friends. The Friends community gathered together in the cafeteria after school to pack 200 lunches for City Harvest.
Upper Schoolers Engage in International Dialogue With Peer Schools
Friends Seminary is one of 22 schools that are Leading Partner Schools of the GEBG Global Student Dialogues program and are helping to design and shape the curriculum. This program provides students the opportunity for intercultural dialogue and connects thousands of students with their peers from schools across North America and more than 25 countries around the world. These dialogues have addressed topics of global significance such as climate change and gender equality, topics related to global current events such as the ongoing war in Ukraine, and various UN Sustainable Development Goals in order to develop student intercultural communication and perspective-taking. Students engage in conversations in small groups, sharing their experiences and thoughts on the topic and practicing essential skills related to respectful civil discourse—students report that the two skills they most practice in this program are listening for understanding and listening with empathy.
Maya ’24 and Aidan ’23 have been selected to be members of the GEBG Global Student Dialogues program Student Advisory Council. Throughout this school year, they join student leaders from these select schools in monthly summits during which they collaborate to discuss how to further develop these major dialogue events through meaningfully selected topics and student-driven breakout sessions. Kara Kutner, Director of the Center for Peace, Equity and Justice, participates in a similar adult forum, the Educator Advisory Council, during which leading educators in the field of global education develop curricular materials that will help thousands of students become more engaged global citizens.
Friends Athletics: The Week in Review
Girls Varsity Basketball kicked off the week hosting Marymount on Monday afternoon. It was a great matchup with the Owls and Lions. The Owls took an early lead in the first quarter and with a one point margin at half time it was anyone’s game. The Lions broke open the lead in the third quarter. The Owls battled back within three points but that wasn’t enough to hold off the Lions in the fourth quarter. Marymount snuck away with a win (32-37). Packer was the second test of the week and it was another nail biter for the Owls. Friends played a tough game but missed several free throws at the line and Packer squeaked out a victory over Friends (38-34). It was time to turn it around on Friday as the Owls traveled uptown to face the Brearley Beavers. Friends played a tough four quarters and it was their time to shine. The Owls entered the weekend with a (40-34) win over the Beavers!
On Monday, Boys JV Basketball headed to Dwight to play the Lions on their home court. It was an exciting game right from the start with both teams battling for points. Jason ‘26 was hot from the three point line which helped the Owls stay within one point by halftime. Friends pulled away with the lead in the third quarter and held the Lions to two points. The Owls took home the “W” (55-37). Friends hosted Berkeley Carroll for another exciting game Wednesday afternoon. Akash ’26 hit a thrilling half court shot at the end of the second quarter and the Owls pulled away their second win of the week. The Owls lost a tough one on Friday afternoon to Columbia Prep but they are still holding on to second place in the ACIS league.
Boys Varsity Basketball started off the week with a tough loss against The Dwight Lions, a competitive ACIS opponent, (28-58). The Owls bounced back on Wednesday against Berkeley Carroll. It was an intense matchup with both teams battling back and forth to take the lead. Tensions were high in the fourth quarter but it was the three-point shot at the buzzer from Lucas ‘23 that made all the news! What a way to win! Friday afternoon, the Owls traveled across town to face Avenues. It was a great matchup that could have been anyone’s game. This was the second game of the week that came down to the buzzer but it didn’t go in the Owls favor this time. Avenues won with the final basket at the end of the fourth quarter (48-46).
The Varsity Swim team traveled to the Stony Brook School for a non-league meet on Thursday where the Owls faced their most challenging opponent yet. The boys team took first place in three events and the girls team walked away with six second place finishes. It was a quick turnaround for the Owls on Friday when they swam against Berkeley Carroll. The boys team went victorious and pulled to 5-0 in league competition and the girls team took four first place finishes.
Indoor Track finished their season on Wednesday at Ivy Meet #5 at Ocean Breeze in Staten Island. The team put great effort into improving their individual events throughout the season. Congratulations to the team, especially seniors, Julian ‘23 and Ahron ‘23 for all of their hard work and dedication to the program.
For the most up-to-date sports news and MS coverage, follow Friends Athletics at www.instagram.com/friendsathletics for weekly team and senior features!