SPICES at Friends Academy

As a Quaker school in today’s age, it is difficult to stay connected to the pillars of Quakerism. Students and teachers agree that we could all do a better job remembering why we chose FA.

With so many issues surrounding America in recent times, it seems as though the world is moving at an alarming rate- even inside our little bubble at Friends Academy. Sometimes the mission of Friends, a school founded on Quaker testimonies and ideals, can feel lost amongst the calamities. After gathering a wide array of opinions, it is clear that the community thinks Friends has a long way to go to reground itself in their mission.

In a recent poll of the upper school, it is clearthat the most emphasized value in our school is community. Not a single person who participated in the poll thought that simplicity was stressed as the most important value.

Keeping in line with the first poll, most students agree that simplicity is the least emphasized value at Friends, with equality being a close second, meaning there is a lot of space to work on incorporating these values into our lives more.

Teacher John, when asked on how we could do a better job integrating Simplicity and Equality, responded with

many ideas and posed the question “how can we actively play down wealth and actively promote economic justice?”

It is clear that students are asking the same questions in regard to the display of wealth and its relation to status and power at Friends. With the open ended question at the end of the SPICES poll sent out to the upper school, many people chose to comment on wealth in the community. One student responded that FA “Definitely need[s] to ban designer clothing”.

Another student commented on the need for equality amongst the wealthy members of the community- “Expelling people who deserve to be expelled- [it is a] failure of equality [due to their] money”.

It is crucial to recognize that the focus has been on building a strong community at Friends in recent years, but with that has come the disregard for many of the less wealthy families in the communities. As Teacher John pointed out to me, “look at the Auction through the lens of our least wealthy families”. A blatant display of power and money- and a complete abandonment of simplicity and equality.

Overall, it is important to understand that “Friends education is always a work in progress. We are in progress. I know many good people are working hard to fulfill our Quaker mission” (Teacher John). The first step to becoming more grounded in the SPICES is recognizing our disconnect, and hopefully, that will lead to change.