Tag Archives: education

Focused Studying

by Ryan Tufford ’20

At George School, most new students think that the amount of school work is overwhelming. Coming here last year, I had the same worry. I thought it would be hard to adjust from my middle school workload to a rigorous high school workload. To my surprise it was not that difficult to adjust. It took me a bit of time to balance my school work with things outside of school like sports and even enjoying a social life seemed like a challenge at first. I learned that there are ways here to become better at time management, some that are mandatory at George School, and some that I had to personally work towards.

As a boarder, I have a required study hall period from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and on Sunday nights. This may seem like a hassle for new students, but it is hard to put into words how beneficial those two hours a night can be. It is a time where I am required to focus on work, and I would not be as productive without study hall.

Some nights I am unable to complete all my work in the two hours, so I have to adjust my schedule and this may mean less socializing during or after dinner. Nonetheless, the ways I have changed to obtain a better schedule here have had a great positive influence on me. I know I definitely had to make changes to balance out school work and activities after school, but those changes were not that hard to make.

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Loving Dance

by Gia Delia ‘18

Dance at George School is unlike any other class that is offered here. I have been taking dance here since my freshman year, and now as a senior, I have a whole new perspective on dance. The most unique aspect to the dance program is that it is integrated into the normal school day. One moment I would be in math; and five minutes later I would be dancing across the studio for forty-five minutes. It does not even stop there, after the forty-five-minute class I have to go to English class. I found the variety of the George School curriculum to be energizing and motivating.

The dance program teaches students a wide variety of styles, focusing specifically on technique and how the body works through anatomy. Over my four years here, I have been involved in a variation of different dances, from topics on climate change to dancing to a Michael Jackson song. I love the bonds that I have made with my classmates—we have been together since freshman year.

Our classes organizes two performances per year, The Holiday Dance Assembly in December, and Dance Eclectic in April. For each we have one to two weeks of rehearsals at night and over the weekend, and this gives all three of the classes a lot of time to get to know each other. I feel like I have made a second family.

Barb Kibler, our amazing teacher and mentor, works alongside all of us to encourage creativity and the start of the choreographing process. As an IB Diploma candidate, I will take the HL Dance Exam, choreograph three pieces, and write an essay comparing two different styles of dance. Barb has played a huge role in mentoring me during this process. My perspective on dance has matured since I have been here, and I have a greater appreciation for the art as a whole.

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Why I Selected George School

by Sophia Guo ’18

I had no idea what a Quaker school would be like when I first came to visit George School. Instead of perceiving Quakerism as a religion, I perceived it as a set of spiritual values that continuously influence this school community. George School left me the impression of being the most open, friendly, and caring among the eighteen schools I visited in the US, and thus I spontaneously attribute the community’s unique aura to the biggest difference it has from other high schools, that is, Quakerism.

I always learn about the environment from people who live in it. Holding firmly to the belief that a school should not be approved until its people are worth trusting and being friends with. I was not committed to George School by its beautiful campus with squirrels running around, its two-floor library filled with natural light and over two thousand paperbacks as well as ten thousand electronic books, or its modernly designed Fitness Athletics Center with a homeothermal swimming pool, wrestling rooms, yoga rooms, and a supervised fitness center.

Instead, I was gradually convinced to select George School as my first choice through my talk with my tour guide and the community I observed in a very short time period. What surprised me was that people called each other by their first name, even a student to a teacher. It was one of the “SPICES” in Quakerism: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and service. “People feel that they are responsible for the community,” explained my tour guide, “because everyone is equal.”

I was impressed by the rigor of courses that George School students take. George School provides over 20 AP courses, as well as a full IB program for students who want to challenge themselves academically. Challenging oneself and trying to achieve a higher academic level seems very normal. Not to mention that students also pursue scores of leadership roles and passions. When I told my tour guide that she was very excellent, she blushed a little and told me that she thought “excellence should be a habit.”

It was not “love at first sight” between me and George School. It was the relationship between the kinds of lovers that the more they find out about each other the deeper their love is. Community, culture, and academics were all great reasons why I selected George School.

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Deciding on George School

by Maisy Cadwallader ‘20

I always heard the love story of my grandparents who met in high school. They talked about it often and I was confused because I knew for sure they didn’t live close to each other during those years. One day I asked my grandpa and he said they had attended George School, a boarding school. He told me as well that my father had attended George School too. So, I knew this “George School” had some sentimental meaning to my family.

I forgot about it for a few years until 2010 when at dinner one night my parents asked my brother if he had any interest in going to a boarding school, the same one my father and grandfather had gone to. This struck me and all I had heard about the school from my grandfather came back to me. Initially, I started to cry because my brother would be gone, leaving me to be the only one in the house. Then I got excited because it dawned on me that if he was asked, maybe I would be too.

A few months later my parents piled my brother and I into the car and we headed down for the first look at George School. I fell asleep waking up a bit later to my dad saying, “Here we are!” I looked out the window and was ecstatic. Driving past the campus I was blown away. My young eyes suddenly became filled with hope that this would be my school one day. Turning onto the campus loop we did a full circle. I remember looking at the view from the corner edge of the girls’ soccer fields, past what I now know as the “stairs to nowhere,” and being overcome with a calm feeling. The bright blue sky was the most beautiful thing my eight-year-old eyes had seen.  During the tour I saw the happiness on my father’s face. The smile was one of the biggest I had ever seen from him. During the car ride home, George School was on my mind.

A short five years later, we were sitting at the same dinner table and my parents asked me the same question, if I was interested in boarding school. My face lit up. A few months later, we were once more headed down for another tour of George School. During my tour, the abundant feeling of happiness I had when I had followed my brother on his tour, came rushing back to me. I looked up at my dad and saw the same big smile that I had before. That March when I received my acceptance letter I was overjoyed. I could start to picture my experience here.

Since I have been here it has been amazing. I am glad I get to experience the trials of high school at George School.

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Why Become a Tour Guide

by Liam Mitchell ’19

Every student should feel proud of their school. Proud of the buildings, the history, the athletic teams, and the opportunities available. When I first came to George School in my application process, my tour guide had a profound impact on me and really helped influence my decision to attend here. He was knowledgeable, confident, and carried himself with a certain amount of pride talking about his school.

While becoming a tour guide does require effort, knowledge, and time, becoming one is worth it. For me personally, giving tours is one of my favorite activities at George School. There’s a certain amount of enjoyment I take out of walking prospective families around, especially when I can answer their questions with confidence.

Being a tour guide is all about being the face of George School. I love my school, and I love to show it off. Not only does becoming a tour guide expand your knowledge of the campus, it allows you to meet new people, and expand your people skills. Every tour I go on, I learn something about the family or the prospective student, whether they are from a place I’ve never met someone from, or they participate in an interesting activity that I might not have heard of before.

Being a tour guide, especially a George School tour guide, unlocks new opportunities to expand your horizons and show off your beautiful campus. One of the best feelings is when a family asks a question, and you know the full answer with complete confidence. When families leave George School, they leave with a feeling of satisfaction that they know more about the school than they did when they came in, which is what being a good tour guide is all about.

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My Year with Four Female African Presidents

by Liz Grossman ’05

As I struggle to come to terms with the current state of gender politics in my own country, I am looking to Africa for inspiration, where many countries are actually making steps to bring women into positions of public leadership. Seven African countries make the top twenty of Inter-Parliamentary Union’s statistical rankings on the percentage of women in parliament, Rwanda being first globally. Not only this, but four different women from four different African countries have served in the highest office of the land.

This past year, I have had the honor to listen to, shake hands with, meet with, and grow professionally with all four of these women:  Her Excellency Ellen Sirleaf Johnson President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Her Excellency Joyce Banda Former President of Malawi, Her Excellency Catherine Samba Panza President of the Transitional Government of Central African Republic, and Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib President of Mauritius.

My first exposure to these female African heads of state was with Gwen Young, a role model and inspirational leader who runs the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center.  Gwen moderated a panel entitled “Women’s Political Participation: Leadership and the Global Agenda” at the Concordia Summit in New York City, featuring Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, the first African woman president, and Dr. Joyce Banda, the second. Fortunately, I had the chance to sit down with Gwen and Dr. Banda during a break, and my first impression was how down to earth Dr. Banda was. I noticed several young African women come over to her, nervously make small talk and ask for pictures, to which she graciously obliged. I noticed how much she cared about people, especially those with a passion for making change in Africa.

Next in the presidential circuit was Ameenah Gurib, the sitting President of Mauritius. She was a keynote speaker at the MIT Sloan Innovate Africa Conference this past April. President Gurib inspired the audience with her vision for Africa, supporting entrepreneurship, improving access to education, and getting more women into political leadership.

The journey continued in May, when I applied for a consultancy at the Wilson Center, specifically to support Dr. Banda on the research and writing of her policy toolkit entitled “Advancing Women’s Leaders in Africa.”  Alongside Dr. Banda, I attended the launch of the African Women Leaders Network at the United Nations, where some of the continent’s most prominent leaders in government, business, and civil society gathered to figure out how to promote one another and address the issue of gender parity in public service.  Another important attendee was Catherine Samba Panza, former President of the Central African Republic.

Rounding out this year in Accra, Ghana, at the Harvard Africa Alumni Action Forum, came a second opportunity to listen to President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, a Harvard alumna, deliver a keynote speech alongside President Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana. Several weeks later, I was flying back to Accra on a plane with my now client Dr. Joyce Banda, honored to accompany her to the UNDP Africa’s High-Level Policy Dialogue on Governance in Africa and support her while she spoke to policymakers about how promoting women’s leadership can end corruption and promote peace.

It has been an inspiring and humbling year, to say the very least. What has encouraged me the most was that four of these women all shared traits of relatability, kindness, and openness. All were receptive to questions, comments, often quite long-winded project partnership pitches, and even seem to genuinely welcomed them. Dr. Joyce Banda was sharing personal life anecdotes and taking selfies.  Catherine Samba Panza was handing out her personal business cards.  Ameenah Gurib was attending a conference dinner to chat with more participants, and Ellen Sirleaf Johnson was delivering an extra session about women’s leadership as a way to engage more with the audience in Accra.  These women all know how to relate to other people, and they all have a knack for making the average Joe and Jane feel like they were worthy of a President’s time.

Politics, particularly in Africa, can be dirty, but these women all showed no outward sign being bothered or upset by it. Each one of them, and most female leaders globally, have been dealing with harassment, reputation tarnishing scandals, and lies. They hold their heads up with poise and grace, remembering the real reason for their existence is for the people they serve, and the future young leaders who need their coaching and example to break the glass ceiling.

Being in proximity to these women leaders, and now counting Dr. Joyce Banda as a role model and mentor, I am energetic as ever to find ways not only to empower young women in Africa to access education and develop as leaders, but also to push my own compatriots to challenge the way we view women’s leadership. Women have to work twice as hard to prove themselves, fight harassment and overcome sexism in the workplace, and these four women in particular are showing that anything really is possible.

Engaging with four African female presidents renewed my certitude about the immense potential of girls and young women across the continent to become leaders of the next generation. Thinking of the students I spent three years teaching in Senegal and the countless entrepreneurs and community leaders I’ve met across the continent and here in the United States, I am confident that I already know many other future presidents.

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A Miracle of Sorts

by Ralph Lelii

I want to share a wonderful class experience I had today with the community. My students presented their Shakespearean recitations in my HL English class. Students had to don the Shakespearean hat, stand on an ersatz stage, and recite from memory. With one exception, these were not theater kids. Only two had ever memorized and recited from memory before, and none a passage of 65-70 lines.

Most of them chose the St. Crispian’s Day speech from Henry the V. For me, it is a most extraordinary passage, one which reveals Shakespeare’s unerring comprehension of human consciousness and the vagaries of the human heart.

King Harry has brought along an army to France to fight a war so he can marry a woman and thus earn him more land. The soldiers in the fight have no personal stake in it, nothing to gain in any material sense, as is the case for millions of men who have fought and died in wars across all cultures and all times. The passage rouses them to an existential epiphany, where they come to see their death as a form of honor, of transcendence.

Watching scared 17 year olds, having spent hours taking this beautiful, complex and archaic language deep into their memories and then reciting it, making it into a kind of spoken music—what literature has been since the times of Homer—is a wondrous thing. To do something hard, really hard, is to gain self-esteem, I believe, an enduring sense that one has agency in this life, that they can make a life by facing down whatever challenges are presented to them.

This was a challenge; George School provides them many challenges; it is not the only one they had today, perhaps not even the hardest one, but it was something they could not fake or avoid or BS their way through; it was a challenge they had to face or go home, and they all did it, the shy, the diffident, the lost, the confident and the haughty. It makes me so proud of them.

Here is the miracle. Scientists have charted a map of the brain’s somatosensory cortex for specific facial and oral body parts. The resulting brain activity is like a carefully tuned orchestra; each instrument section generates a specific sound, and those sounds are coordinated to produce the overall symphony. The time from a word’s identification to its travel to the mouth is 1/600 of a millisecond. What miracles these young people are—this speech, the mystery of memorization, the confrontation of the emotional lability of anticipation–wonders all. I find it astonishingly beautiful.

 

Henry the V: St. Crispian’s Day

 

WESTMORLAND. O that we now had here

But one ten thousand of those men in England

That do no work to-day!

 

KING. What’s he that wishes so?

My cousin, Westmorland? No, my fair cousin;

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow

To do our country loss; and if to live,

The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,

Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;

It yearns me not if men my garments wear;

Such outward things dwell not in my desires.

But if it be a sin to covet honour,

I am the most offending soul alive.

No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.

God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour

As one man more methinks would share from me

For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!

Rather proclaim it, Westmorland, through my host,

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,

Let him depart; his passport shall be made,

And crowns for convoy put into his purse;

We would not die in that man’s company

That fears his fellowship to die with us.

This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,

Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,

And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

He that shall live this day, and see old age,

Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,

And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,

And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,

But he’ll remember, with advantages,

What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,

Familiar in his mouth as household words—

Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,

Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester—

Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.

This story shall the good man teach his son;

And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be rememberèd-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition;

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

 

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Civil Discourse

by Tina Oddleifson ’82

I’m related to the first person executed for murder in the U.S. You may not have heard of him, but his name was John Billington and he came over on the Mayflower.  He was a troublemaker who killed a fellow colonist and was hanged in 1630.  My grandmother bravely fought for access to birth control in the 1930’s, despite the social stigma. But she also once told me that she thought Apartheid wasn’t so bad.  My hometown of Boston is often the first to stand up for higher American ideals like equality.  But it also has a long and complicated history of racism. I could tell you that I’m a Mayflower descendant, that my grandmother crusaded for progressive causes, and that Boston is a leader for enlightened thought in America.  But that wouldn’t be the whole truth, would it?

As humans, we tend to hold onto certain parts of our story and ignore or gloss over the messy parts because they don’t support our idealized version of reality.  This has become an alarming practice in today’s political environment where partial truths and absolutes are ubiquitous, often in the form of memes and sensational headlines addressing the outrage of the day.  “Liberals want to take down the flag – share if you don’t give a damn” or “Conservatives are literally pining for a dictatorship” are two that came through my feed recently.  One of these is bound to irritate you, maybe even both.

Our obsession with sound bites, memes and partial truths may serve our need for self-justification and help us commiserate with our political team, but they not only promote divisiveness, they miss the chance for exploring a much more fascinating and complex story.  The recent cultural conflicts over civil war memorials and kneeling during the national anthem are just two more examples of how our social media obsession is drowning out civil discourse and the opportunity to explore those gray areas, where the truth actually lives.

So where does one go to have an honest and respectful conversation these days?  How do we move forward as a country teetering on the edge of a democracy and something altogether different?  Admitting that your life story or point of view is filled with a certain degree of hypocrisy is a good place to start.  Having a murderous Pilgrim, a feminist but prejudiced grannie, and a hypocritical hometown forces you to admit that maybe things are a little more complicated than they appear. Recognizing your own inconsistencies can help others admit theirs as well. The next step is to find someone who thinks differently than you and actively listen to them.  This is not the kind of listening where you spend your time figuring out your next counterpoint while someone else is talking.  It’s about being curious and asking questions.  It’s about making the other person feel “heard,” even if you don’t agree with what they are saying.  Civil discourse is not about trying to change someone’s mind.  And it’s not about giving up your own values, or trying to avoid conflict altogether. It’s about disagreeing without being disagreeable.  It’s about being open and respectful enough to consider a different viewpoint, so that we can engage in the healthy deliberation of ideas that a successful democracy requires.

If you’re wondering how someone you have always liked can have such a different worldview, maybe it’s time to reach out and ask them how they got there.  And maybe it’s time for all of us to admit that not all conservatives are racist, not all liberals believe in unlimited government handouts, and we all love our country.  It would open up a desperately needed conversation for addressing urgent policy issues from sensible gun laws, to health care and immigration.

If you are interested in learning more about ways to advance civil discourse, the National Institute for Civil Discourse has launched the Revive Civility project in Maine, Ohio, Iowa and Arizona with plans to go nationwide.  They offer resources for talking to friends and family about issues that divide us, including a new program called “Setting the Table for Civility” with tools for families and friends to have civil conversations over the Thanksgiving holiday.  You can find them at ReviveCivility.org.  Additional resources to explore include Allsides.com  and Livingroomconversations.org.  If we begin to model civil discourse, maybe our politicians will too.

Note: This op-ed was originally published by Portland Press Herald on October 16, 2017.

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Friends Council on Education Statement – August 15, 2017

The violent expressions of hatred, racism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism in Charlottesville, Virginia were directly opposed to the values our schools stand for. These events serve to deepen our commitment at Quaker schools to teach our students habits of heart and mind that insist upon a disposition of openness and respect for every member of our community regardless of race, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, place of national origin, gender identity or gender expression.  

As we wrote in November:

William Penn founded the first Quaker school in 1689, one hundred years prior to the formal addition of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution.  Penn directed that the school educate students from all walks of life, genders, religions, and ethnicities to prepare them to be moral leaders within the Commonwealth no matter what profession or trade that they might someday pursue.

Penn’s school created a program of study through which these young people might together imagine a more ideal society. Today all Quaker schools strive to serve this critical public purpose just a Penn imagined it in the earliest days of what would become the United States.

In time of uncertainty, and deep distrust, Quaker school communities turn to the Quaker values of peace, integrity, equality and community, as well as the longtime practices of peaceful conflict resolution and nonviolence, as touch points for navigating these turbulent waters.

It is our sincere hope that as children everywhere return to school that they may come together, in the spirit of respect for all, to find a way to listen deeply to one another, to value the gifts that all students bring with them to school everyday, that they might, together, imagine an ideal society.

Each of the 78 Quaker schools across the United States is founded on core Quaker values and practices. These principles strive to address issues of societal injustice. Friends schools seek to create inclusive and diverse communities and to live into the Quaker values of peace, equity, and social justice.

Friends Council on Education supports schools in their efforts to teach for justice and equity. To that end, we lift up just a few examples of how Quaker schools and Quaker school educators are actively working to provide students with skills in mediation, conversations about differences, and peaceful ways for resolving differences.

Upper school students have a social justice collective where they meet weekly to engage in conversations utilizing the model of Intergroup Dialogue. (Germantown Friends School)

Students participate in a Peer Facilitator Training Program that strives to provide students with skills in asking open ended questions, clarifying and summarizing what you have heard, giving respectful feedback – all with the goal of preempting conflict. (Media-Providence Friends School)

The social curriculum serves as a foundation for a Social Justice Unit as early as preschool focusing on fairness, inclusion, and community. (Friends School Haverford)

Upper school students team up with students at other independent schools to host a student-led Mid Atlantic Regional Diversity Conference. Students explore issues of identity (sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, age, ability, socioeconomic status, gender, and religion) through activities that encourage building community and leaning into discomfort. (Abington Friends School)

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March 3

After our wake-up call at 2:15 a.m., smooth flights at 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. and a warm reception at the Managua airport where the 11th grade class met us with their teachers, we drove to the school accompanied by the students. A late lunch of chicken, salad, rice, and fries was awaiting us. Everyone ate well! Soon after, we were entertained by dancers and a poetry reading as we took in the whole scene. Such excitement! The students in pairs went into the older students’ classrooms and helped the teachers with their lessons. By 6:00 p.m., one by one, families came by to pick up their GS student. It was lovely to see them meet. We hope you like the photos!

Starting tomorrow, the students will write the blog entries. They are doing fine; their Spanish is really quite impressive as they dive into their first evening of immersion. We’re heading to bed now and hope that they are too. Tomorrow, we will visit Managua.

Tom and Cheri

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