This is a reprint of an article published on www.statecollege.com on March 15, 2018. You may view an expanded version of this story on our Facebook page.
Middle school students at State College Friends School joined others around the country on Wednesday in participating activities to remember the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and advocate for school safety.
But they've also undertaken another initiative to show their support for the Stoneman Douglas community.
They've been hand writing on paper hearts messages such as “You are not alone,” “We support you,” and “You are strong,” to send to the high school's 2,972 students, with the goal of brightening their days, if only for a moment.
Bailey Kellermann, middle school teacher, said in a release that on Feb. 14, the day of the shooting that claimed the lives of 17 Stoneman Douglas students and faculty, Friends School students were sharing affirmation hearts with each other, a Friends School Valentine's Day tradition.
“As the news broke in waves over our community, one of the most surprising reactions was resignation: school shootings and gun violence are now the reality in America,” Kellermann said. “But this is not the world I want to live in. I cried. I pondered. I felt helpless. I tried to picture my students in that situation. I cried some more.”
Kellerman soon learned through social media that a teacher at the Parkland school was requesting letters of support and encouragement for the survivors.
She pitched the idea to the students: each would write 125 affirmation hearts, one for each of the high school's students with some left over for teachers and staff.
She knew it was a lot, but every student immediately agreed and they spent hours writing, cutting out and filling bins with thousands of hearts with messages of support.
“When I learned about the shooting, I was so sad,” said eighth-grade student Miranda Morrison. “I imagined what it would be like to be in that school, to see my friends or my brother be killed. When Teacher Bailey brought up the affirmation idea, I was excited to participate.”
Morrison said after several days their hands hurt, "but we felt it was important to reach out and let the students know we care about them.”
Kellerman said the students' efforts made her proud and optimistic about the future.
“Each affirmation they wrote reminded me that this is the world I want to live in; these young adults make it so."
Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday has come and gone, but students at State College Friends School continue to learn about civil rights. On Thursday, February 1, children in 2nd and 3rd grades were treated to a visit by Julia Williams, the grandmother of 2nd-grade student Jade Dickens. Born and raised in Statesboro, Georgia, during the 1940s through the 1960s, Julia spoke with the children about her experiences with segregation.
According to Joanne Thurston-Griswold, a 2nd/3rd-grade teacher at the school, the visit followed the children’s field trip to the Bellefonte Art Museum’s Underground Railroad exhibit and the Friends School’s annual “time in” on Martin Luther King Day to learn about and reflect on the importance of equality, one of the core values emphasized at the school. The Friends School is the only school in the State College area that is in session on Martin Luther King Day.
“How were you discriminated against?” one of the students asked Julia. Having spent several weeks learning about the civil rights movement, the children were not surprised by Julia’s response. She spoke about her experiences being excluded from restaurants, being forced to give up her seat on the bus for white patrons, receiving hand-me-down textbooks at her all-black elementary school, and running away from white children as they threw rocks at her and called her names.
The children were, however, shocked to learn that Julia’s brother had participated in setting fire to a restaurant that refused to serve blacks. The restaurant had been closed for business at the time and the arson did not harm anyone. Julia explained that some people, like Martin Luther King, chose to use peaceful measures to bring about change, while others chose more forceful measures.
The idea that sometimes people choose to break the law in order to change those laws for the better is something that the children had already considered following their trip to the Bellefonte Art Museum’s Underground Railroad exhibit. In their class discussion of the field trip, one child asked how lying to the police in order to harbor and protect a runaway slave fit with the concept of integrity—another of the core values emphasized at the Friends School. The children all agreed that the abolitionists were right to break the law in that case because doing so was the true act of integrity.
Other questions the students had for Julia included, “Were you a slave?” “Did you hear Sojourner Truth’s speeches?” and “Did you know Harriet Tubman?” “It was a valuable lesson for the students to learn about the order of events,” said Joanne.
Julia explained that she had not been a slave, although her great grandfather had been. “I was born after slavery was abolished,” she said. “My generation followed and benefited from the efforts of Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman.” It also benefited from the important people who worked on behalf of equality during her own time—Martin Luther King and Ruby Bridges, for example, she added.
Julia continued. “The most important moment in my life was when Barack Obama became the president of the United States,” she said. “African American people went from not being able to read all the way to the White House in just 100 years.”
Julia closed the discussion with some recommendations for the schoolchildren to carry forward the legacy of the civil rights movement. “We should think of ourselves as one human race made up of unique individuals,” she said. Ultimately, she added, the world will be a better place when everyone does their best to be good people and to love each other.
As the 2nd and 3rd graders at the State College Friends School move forward with their studies of civil rights, they are working with Becky Misangyi, an assistant teacher at the school, to write new lyrics to the song “What Can One Little Person Do?” that incorporate three people from modern times who have worked on behalf of the greater good. For example, they wrote a stanza about Christian Bucks, an elementary-school student who recently popularized the idea of a “buddy bench,” where children can sit when they need a friend and other children will respond with friendship. On Friday, February 9, the students presented the three contemporary change-makers with posters about each and then sang the new verses with the entire school.
The students also are examining current-day issues with equality. They interviewed their parents about times when they were discriminated against, and discussed their findings with their classmates. “The students were upset to learn that their mothers had been paid less than men for the same work,” said Joanne, “and that their parents had witnessed older, more experienced workers bypassed for jobs in favor of younger, less experienced workers, among other issues that came up.”
According to Joanne, this emphasis on civil rights is a regular feature of a Quaker education. “Our students are learning to follow in the footsteps of those who have already done so much good in the world,” she said. “They are learning that ‘one little person’ can do so much when they act with love.”
Ready, set, register! That was the call heard all around the gymnasium this weekend at the Summer Youth Fair, held at Mt. Nittany Middle School in Boalsburg. Friends School Summer Camp director Glynn Hornberger and school administrative assistant Jackie Elliott attended the annual event where schools, churches, and other organizations offering youth programming when school ends showcased their offerings.
For more than 20 years, State College Friends School has been offering themed day programs for "campers" as young as 3 years old, up to middle school. While the cornerstones of the Friends School summer program have always been safety, friendship, fresh air and fun; and the daily schedule and rhythm has always remained pretty much the same, the themes change to reflect student interests.
"Drama has always been -- and we predict -- always will be one of our most popular week-long camps," said Lori Pacchioli, director of advancement for Friends School. Our Fairy Tale Mash Up is often one of the first programs to fill up. This week of script-writing, music composition, set and prop building, costuming, and performance rehearsal for older students (grade 4 - 7) culminates in a performance at neighboring Foxdale Village.
"Between the all-time favorites of Splish-Splash and Movin' Groovin, and the newer camper-initiated Science Week and Stop-Motion Animation, we've got something for every interest," said Gynn. "Now we've got to fine tune our weekly field trips and put on the finishing touches before the first week of camp, June eleventh."
Registration is open for Wee Friends: Ages 3 - 5, Kids Camps: K - 4th grade, and Creative Arts Camps: Grade 4 through 7.
State College Friends School administrator Lori Pacchioli took a call from BB&T's Michael Petrine on the first day back after the winter holiday break. The bank's Sr. Vice President invited Pacchioli to the Commons Office Building to meet Community Relationship Manager Cody Jones to discuss financial literacy programs available to families and employees of the school. received a donation of $10,000 from BB&T Bank. BB&T made the contribution through Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. "BB&T has always been a generous, community-minded partner in helping to serve school-age children," said head of school Dan Hendey, but the amount of this gift came as a huge surprise." "Our BB&T friends Mike and Tara delivered the check during a surprise drop-in at our holiday gathering," Hendey added, sharing that "the standing-room-only crowd of parents and grandparents who had come to sing and enjoy cookies and punch were already in place for the standing ovation."
“BB&T is committed to helping the communities we serve in impactful ways, such as supporting solid education for our neighbors,” said BB&T Northern Pennsylvania Regional President David Kennedy. “BB&T is proud to join organizations in helping to build stronger communities.”
"While not all students understood the idea of EITC, they surely understood the impact of BB&T's unexpected gift when they saw me almost faint," laughed Lori Pacchioli, director of advancement for Friends School. Pacchioli explained that the contribution made to the State College Friends School Scholarship Fund allows for broader diversity in the school community. As is the case with most independent schools, Pacchioli added, tuition alone does not cover the true cost of a high-quality educational experience. The school counts on the generosity of alumni, grandparents, and community-minded individuals and organizations to bridge the gap, allowing the school to offer flexible income-based tuition. Pacchioli said the contribution just before the winter Christmas and Hanukkah break was "sweeter than all the cookies combined." The children cheered and giggled at that.
The EITC program, which is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, provides tax credits to eligible companies that do business in the state when they contribute to scholarship organizations, educational improvement organizations and/or pre-kindergarten scholarship organizations. The tax credits may be applied against the tax liability of a company for the year when the donation was made.
From the Centre Daily Times, May 2, 2017
Photo, Greg Feinberg
Parents of State College Friends School students work together to fix the yellow food stand in time for this weekend’s Fun Fair festivities. The stand was blown apart early Tuesday morning.When Jillian Sherman, of Bellefonte, saw how severely Monday’s storm had battered her school, she asked to open up her piggy bank.
The kindergartner’s mom, Martha, put her heart — and her hands — where her daughter’s money was, and she wasn’t alone.
The State College Friends School is having its annual Fun Fair this weekend, and for 15 years, one visible signal of that has been the long, bright yellow wooden food booth. The booth was brought out as preparations were being made, but the high winds Monday pummeled it.
“It was crumbled to the ground at 6:45 this morning,” said Lori Pacchioli, the school’s director of advancement. “When the first children arrived at 7:45, that’s what they saw.”
The kids were upset. Did this mean the Fun Fair was canceled? What would happen to the booth?
“I said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll figure it out,’ ” Pacchioli said.
The solution was apparently teamwork.
After Jillian Sherman saw pictures of the damage and asked to pitch in her pennies, Martha Sherman told her husband about the booth. Other parents got involved. They came together with hammers and nails and fixed the 15-yearold booth that was originally built by parents, too.
“We’re a community here. We’re a family. When any part of it needs help, we pull together,” Martha Sherman said. “We wanted to show the kids about stewardship in action.”
And they did, finishing up just in time for the kindergarten and first grade’s school play. Appropriately, it was the “Little Red Hen,” a story all about everyone working together for the common good.
It wasn’t the only example. One family at the school lost power at the restaurant. Someone loaned them a generator. Other parents made soup for those doing the repairs.
“This is what community does,” Pacchioli said.
Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce
It began with a samosa, stuffed with a spicy mixture of potatoes and peas and served up piping hot. The first State College Friends School Fun Fair -- held in 1981 following the school’s opening in 1980 -- offered this tasty treat, along with paneers, masalas and daals, all spooned onto fragrant mounds of basmati rice. It was a simple affair -- home-cooked Indian food, games for kids and a garage sale. The event raised a few thousand dollars to be used by the school for scholarships.
That first year, the school was home to only ten students, each with a family that worked tirelessly to ensure the fair’s success. Today, the school serves about 100 families, and these folks are as busy as ever preparing for the Fun Fair’s 36th installment, which will be held on Saturday, May 6th, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the State College Friends School (1900 University Drive, State College). The event, which welcomes everyone from the community, will include live entertainment, food, games, prizes and more.
Thinking back to 1981, Mary Ziegler, who retired as the assistant director of the school in 2015, said the school started Fun Fair in an effort to raise money for student tuition assistance.
“We were surprised and extremely pleased with how many people attended the first fair and how much money we earned for the school,” she said, noting that the fair back then was held where the school was held -- the Friends Meeting House, which is located at 611 E. Prospect Avenue in State College.
Ziegler remembers inviting all the Friends School families over to her house afterward to celebrate the event’s success. The “after-fair party” at her house became a tradition.
“We would stay up until two o’clock in the morning singing, talking and laughing,” she said. “The children would all be asleep on the living room floor. It was wonderful.”
Ziegler recalls several moments throughout the Fun Fair’s history, however, that were not so great. For example, there were always weather-related worries.
“For several years, we had a parent involved with the school who was a meteorologist at AccuWeather,” said Ziegler. “We relied on him to give us very accurate weather predictions for fair day.”
One year, Ziegler remembers waking up on fair day to heavy rain. She called the meteorologist parent, and he assured her the rain would stop by the fair’s opening time -- ten o’clock.
“We were all soaked as we were setting up for the fair,” she said, “and the volunteers kept asking me if we were really going to go through with it. But I had confidence in our meteorologist parent, and he turned out to be right. The sun came out just in time, and it was a beautiful day.”
Then there was the year when a ferret in the petting zoo bit a child. A parent who was a physician attended to the child, who was unhurt. There was also a year when a petting zoo chicken got loose, and the children chased the bird all over the school’s playground before cornering it and capturing under a bush near the parking lot.
“The ferret was someone’s pet; we don’t do those anymore,” said Ziegler. “Fun Fair is always a little stressful because there are so many factors we can’t control,” said Ziegler. “But it’s always worth it. Everyone has fun and we earn valuable income to help students attend school.”
Ziegler notes that although the purpose of the Fun Fair was, and still is, to earn money for student financial aid, the event always has aimed to provide an affordable source of entertainment for the community. And while it has changed over time -- for example, there was a time when a plant sale and book sale were part of the event, and, of course, there was that fabulous ethnic food, which included at various times Indian, Chinese, Mexican, and Eastern European foods -- one thing remains: the devotion of the school’s families to making the fair a success.
This year, parent volunteers will serve up high-quality hot dogs courtesy of Nature’s Pantry, sausages from Fetterolf Family Farm, homemade hummus and veggie pita pockets, quinoa black bean salad, massaged kale salad and fresh fruit cups. They also will provide live music, pony rides, a bubble station, an egg drop competition and face painting, among other things -- enough entertainment to last for hours.
From ten families to 100, the State College Friends School has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, and the school’s annual Fun Fair has grown with it. And even though Ziegler no longer hosts “after-fair” parties at her home, the happy feelings acquired by all fairgoers -- from Friends School families to the greater State College community -- persist as a warm glow in their hearts, until the next year’s fun begins.
Inter generational Earth Day Celebration
Love your Mother (Earth), and share with one another at this Earth Day celebration co-hosted by State College Friends School and Foxdale Village. This progressive two-hour inter-generational activity is suitable for all ages.
The program begins at 10:00 with a welcome circle dance, "hand-in-hand."
Young children enjoy story time with Tr. Lisa, while older children and adults participate in an interactive poetry/story telling guided exercise.
All re-group for mural painting or poster-making and postcard writing to our state and federal representatives to encourage earth-friendly action.
Participants close with singing, dancing, and sun salutations before visiting a make-your-own (nut free) trail mix for the road. Weather permitting, guests are welcome to bring a blanket and family picnic lunch to enjoy from 1:00 to 2:00 Please no pets.
. . . the boy Peter (the strings) and his friend the bird (flute) wander out into the garden, where they encounter a duck (oboe) and a cat (clarinet). Peter’s grandfather (bassoon) warns Peter of a dangerous wolf that might attack if he strays outside the garden gates. But Peter does not heed this advice, and sure enough, the wolf (horns) appears. A group of hunters (timpani) come to the rescue, but they arrive to find that Peter and the bird have already outsmarted the beast—although not before . . .
You'll have to research what happened next: http://www.centreorchestra.org/education/
The Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Douglas Meyer, played and narrated the the conclusion of Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf for our students. Teachers, staff, and students of State College Friends School are grateful for the performance by the orchestra members. We are also grateful to the sponsors of this education outreach program:
Sheetz, The State College Kiwanis, Gordon Wells, and Anne and Lynn Hutcheson.
State College Friends School K-8 has been named "Best Private/Charter School" in State College. We are an independent school built on the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship. All faith beliefs are welcome.
If you are yearning for connection and wholeness, I have good news. Phillip Shepherd [www.phillipshepherd.com] will be offering a two-day Workshop on “The Embodied Present Process” right here in State College on the weekend of March 25-26th (preceded by an evening talk on March 24th). Phillip is a phenomenal teacher and I recommend this workshop with unbridled enthusiasm!
p.s. Heads up: This workshop is limited to 18 participants and will, very likely, fill quickly.
|State College Friends School||
state college friends school
A Tradition of Successful Learners
- Confident, Creative, Compassionate -
- Confident, Creative, Compassionate -
1900 University Drive
State College, PA 16801
State College, PA 16801