top of page

School News

Alumni Parent Happy Hour with Bo

On Friday, December 3, 2021 a group of Friends Seminary Parents who are also alumni joined Head of School Bo Lauder and members of the advancement team for happy hour at the National Arts Club.

Top (left to right)

1. Head of School Bo Lauder and Marc Rachman ’82

2. Adam Owett '75, Oliver Freundlich '91, Michael Mudho, Associate Director of Advancement for Alumni Relations and Ashley Shaw, Assistant Director of Special Events

Bottom (left to right)

3. Andrea & Marc Rachman '82, Krista & Matthew Annenberg '83 and Sarah Paul '78

4. Schuyler Allen-Kalb '86 and Alex Tart ’88


Upper School Presents Kafka's The Trial

In December, Upper School students presented The Trial at the Vineyard Theatre. Directed by Steve Borowka and based on the novel by Kafka, it tells the story of Joseph K., who is arrested and prosecuted by an unknown authority for a crime that is never revealed to him or the reader. Head of the Performing Arts and the director of the play, Steve Borowka comments, “We set out to perform a socially relevant play. The fact that you can get arrested and not know why, through a lense of absurdity, resonates.”

One challenge was not having enough parts for everyone who auditioned. But because the work is in the public domain, Steve used original source material to write in new characters to suit the abilities of students and increased the cast to 24 from 14. Steve comments, “Performing this play was a total joy. Some of our students had never done a live show and they were super excited. I hope the audience enjoyed it!” This was the first live Fall Play since 2019.

This spring Middle and Upper School students will present Pippin. The book for the musical was written by Roger Hirson ’43. To view more photos from the performance, click here.


Day of Service

On Saturday, December 11, 2021 CPEJ Service Learning & Civic Engagement Associate, Annah Heckman ’15 led volunteers to help deliver almost 6,000 pounds of produce. One in four residents of the Bronx are food insecure, despite being home to one of the largest produce markets in the world. Mott Haven Fridge Network rescues perfectly good produce from that very facility and redistributes it to community fridges in the area. Annah says, ‘‘I’m thankful for Naledi Semela ’06, Director of Equitable Practices and Social Impact at the Browning School, for introducing Friends Seminary to the Mott Haven Fridge Network and for our students and volunteers for their service. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Mott Haven Fridge Network.’’


Remembering Robin Hoffmann

The Friends community is grieving the passing of Robin Hoffmann who passed in December 2021. Robin, the mother of two Friends alumni, Griffin ’09 and Max ’14, had worked for Friends since 1990 and introduced countless children and families to the School. During her long tenure as Director of Extended Programs, she created cornerstone programs like Friends After Three and Summer Friends. Head of School Bo Lauder says, “Robin was one of the strongest, yet most compassionate people I’ve ever known. Anyone who knew Robin knew she lived life bravely and with gusto. She was an inspiration to all of us, and her passing is a loss to the entire community, especially her sons and family. We hold them all in the Light.”


Proceeds from Annual Benefit to Advance Two Initiatives

Every year the annual benefit raises critical funds to support special initiatives and Better Together: Benefit 2022 to be held on March 3, 2022 is no exception. Gifts made through the Paddle Raise will establish an endowed fund for ancillary aid in memory of Robin Hoffman. Funds will provide financial assistance for students beyond the cost of tuition.

Proceeds from the Contemporary Art Sale will be allocated to financial aid for the children of practicing artists, in recognition of the important influence artists have played at Friends and the commitment to making Friends affordable for all families. The Contemporary Art Preview will be held at David Zwirner (525 West 19th Street) on Tues, Feb. 15, 2022 and Wed, Feb. 16, 2022 from 10 am to 6 pm. Proof of vaccination, ID and masks are required. For more information about the art preview, click here. For more information on how you can attend this year’s Benefit virtually, click here.


Sharing Teaching Practices

Middle and Upper School English Teacher Maria Fahey, who has taught at Friends for more than 30 years, is on sabbatical during the spring semester. Maria’s scholarly work, supported by Friends, has often been sparked by her work in the classroom. Maria comments, “When you teach kids how to read a metaphor, you have to think about it in the most fundamental and philosophical way.” Her classes on Shakespeare are legendary among generations of Friends students. While teaching at Friends, Maria earned her doctorate and published several books.

During this sabbatical Maria will further explore ways to teach literature and to think about doing so in schools beyond Friends. Maria explains, “I look forward to sharing practices I have developed at Friends with teachers at schools with fewer resources. I am eager to learn from them as well.” As a means of testing out some of her ideas, Maria will lead a class on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, via Zoom, for teachers at the Taktse School in India, where she visited in 2016.

When asked about the relevance of Shakespeare, Maria replies, “Reading a Shakespeare play demands the most of students’ imaginations. A Shakespeare play contains all the clues needed to visualize a scene, but students need to spot those clues and bring the scenes and characters to life for themselves. Shakespeare compels us to wrestle with humanity and the world in all its complexity, which is as difficult as it is refreshing for students who live in a world where public discourse increasingly flattens human and social conflict to soundbites and cliché. Shakespeare lays out the problems, but never gives us easy answers: he trusts us to think for ourselves, and he outsmarts us at every turn.”


US Student Publishes Scholarly Work

Christel Johnson, Chair of the World Languages Department is delighted to announce that an excerpt from a paper titled, Roman Elegy and Modern Media: From Catullus to the Gilmore Girls, written and presented by Riya ’22 at the 2021 Latin Colloquium, has been published in the peer reviewed online journal, Sententia Antiquae.

Christel cites the Latin Colloquium, introduced in 2007, as an important way to elevate students’ scholarly work. She explains, “It is modeled on the colloquiums that I participated in as a graduate and undergrad. Students share and engage in conversation about their work. It’s a high pressure environment that prepares them for defensive scholarship.” Students who present exceptional work are encouraged to try to get published, another important learning opportunity.

Riya’s paper, which compares the ancient to the contemporary, represents a shift that makes Classics more accessible and highlights its continued relevance. Christel comments, “I am so proud of Riya. I hope she maintains her enthusiasm, sense of humor and determination to speak her mind. She speaks up for others and the changing world of Classics needs people who can speak the truth.”


Lights, Camera, Action!

Middle students in Shayna Strype’s Grade 6 Drama Class are working on a video production of The Phantom Tollbooth, a play based on the children’s fantasy adventure novel, by Norton Juster. The class is learning how to utilize a green screen backdrop to make characters and scenes appear to take place in far-off or perilous locations—when in fact the footage was shot in the Great Room on campus. Once shooting is completed, students will learn how to edit the footage in Procreate, an iPad program.


bottom of page