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School News

The following are just a few headlines and highlights from Friends Seminary over the past month. Follow us on social media for up-to-date Friends news! and/or


Friends Seminary Updated Mask-Wearing Policy

We are happy to report that Friends Seminary’s campus became mask-optional on Tuesday, March 8. Students and employees will have the ability to choose whether or not to wear a mask based on their own comfort level or, in the case of students, guidance from their parents or guardians.


Annual Benefit Raises 400,000 for Robin Hoffmann Fund for Equitable Education

Better Together: Friends Benefit 2022 lived up to its name. For those at the Lighthouse as well as those viewing from home, the evening was full of memorable moments that reminded everyone of the joys of Community at Friends Seminary. All participants helped advance the School’s Quaker mission by establishing two new endowed funds.

Generous donors contributed more than $400,000 to the Robin Hoffmann Fund for Equitable Education, which will provide financial assistance for other costs such as testing, equipment and trips. This will enable students receiving financial aid to engage fully in all aspects of school life. Robin felt strongly about equal access and support for all children, whether that was to the School, summer programs, outside summer camps or Friends after Three. Robin’s sons Max ’14 (who spoke on behalf of the family) and Griffin ’09 were in attendance to support their mother’s legacy.

Max Hoffmann '14 and Griffin Hoffmann '09

Proceeds from the Contemporary Art Auction, which exceeded $180,000, established the Artists for Artists Fund. This Fund will provide financial aid to the children of practicing artists. This year’s Contemporary Art Auction included pieces by alumni Sean Cavanaugh ’87, Adam Dressner ’98, and Jo Messer ’09. Head of School Bo Lauder comments, “Artistic families have always brought a special energy to the Friends community. This Fund will help ensure this tradition continues.” If you would like to learn more about these new funds, click here.

Naledi Salema '06 spoke at the Benefit.

During the Benefit, an Upper School pre-recorded performance of Magic to Do from the musical Pippin was premiered. The musical will performed on April 22-24, 2022. Pippin was written by the late Roger Hirson ’43.


100 Days of School at Friends

Kindergarteners celebrated the 100th day of school with the performance of a song on the second floor landing. Students in Judy’s and Ellen’s class also built a 100-block structure. Check out their celebration video here.


Grade 5 Tea Party

As part of Joseph Sills’ Grade 5 Arabic unit, students learned about foods from several countries to help make a meaningful connection to the region of study. For Morocco, students watched an Arabic language video on making Moroccan mint tea, and were so enthused by it that they asked if they could make it together in class. Graciously, Mouna Fdilat, another Friends Arabic teacher, who is from Morocco, agreed to demonstrate preparing and pouring the tea, using her personal set of tea glasses and teapot. Students learned that there is a special sugar just for Moroccan tea that Mouna recently received from Rabat and were surprised with how many mint leaves go into one teapot! To create the casual atmosphere of chatting in a tearoom, Benjamin ’22 joined to engage students in conversation.


Seeking to Understand the War in Ukraine

On March 2, students packed a double classroom for a lunchtime presentation on the Ukraine-Russia war led by History department chair Stefan Stawnychy. Stefan walked students through the larger context of the invasion and debunked recent propaganda regarding the invasion.


What does it mean to Let My Life Speak?

Upper School students were joined by interfaith leaders from around New York City who endeavored to answer the question, “What does it mean to Let My Life Speak?”

Organized by the Center for Peace, Equity and Justice, and moderated by Dr. Rev. Chloe Breyer, Director of the Interfaith Center of New York, this third session of the “Let My Life Speak Series” was held in the Meetinghouse during Upper School Assembly. Panelists included Aacharya Vijah Ramjattan, Founder of the United Madrassi Association, Kujegi Camara, Assistant Director of Community Engagement and Operations at Fordham’s Center for Community Engaged Learning, and Rabbi Josh Stanton, Senior Fellow at The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership and Rabbi at the East End Temple.

In addition to hearing the panelists speak, students asked questions about their faith, intersectionality, and what it means to stand in solidarity with one another.


Celebrating Women

On International Women’s Day, we celebrated the incredible women of Friends Seminary leading the way to#breakthebias by hosting a panel discussion featuring women in our community who have uplifted and supported other women throughout their careers.

Additionally, Upper School students gathered for a discussion with MADRE’s Associate Director of the VIVA Girls Initiative, Divya Sooryakumar. Divya spoke to the students about her journey as a feminist, the process of setting up a girl-centered initiative, and the challenges and benefits of intergenerational work. Students asked Divya questions about MADRE’s policy efforts, how to communicate with adults about the issues they care about, and how many countries VIVA works in (46!).

This ongoing work can be traced back over a century ago as Friends Seminary hosted meetings for the Woman Suffrage Party. See below for an old newspaper clipping of a meeting announcement from 1911 published in the New York Tribune.


Debate Champions!

Elena ’22 and Tenzin ’22 are 2022 Ivy League Parliamentary Champions! The pair recently won the national high school debate tournament by defeating opponents from Greenhill School in Addison, Texas in the final round by a vote tally of 5-2. Hosted by Columbia University, the event attracts the nation's top debate teams. To view the final standings, click here. Congratulations Elena and Tenzin!


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