|Our Quaker values drive an intense commitment to an education that is both intellectual and thoughtful. Our pedagogy is grounded in reflection, integrity, and a willingness to accept responsibility. We teach that reason does not preclude compassion and that curiosity leads always to possibility. For over 160 years, this solid foundation has ensured both the opportunity and ability for extraordinary achievement.|
The big surprise for many parents is that our program produces consistently stellar success without the intense competition that can sometimes drain the joy from learning. In an outcomes-driven society, our students are known for their extraordinary academic talent and achievement. They are also known for their kindness, independent thinking, cooperation, and generosity of spirit.
At the heart of everything we do is the belief that each individual is valued, that each voice is important. Meeting for Worship and service reinforce this core value.
Meeting for Worship
Meeting for Worship, the Quaker religious service, is an integral part of student life at Friends' Central. Once a week, each division comes together for a period of silent reflection. In Lower School and Middle School, prompts are often used at the beginning of the period to help guide worship, but, in general, Meeting for Worship is not programmed. It begins when the first person enters the room, and all participants need to be spiritually and mentally present, and physically alert and focused during Meeting for Worship. Students and faculty members may feel moved to stand and share what is in their hearts with the group.
Friends' Central is a religious school that is different from other types of religious schools. While holding true to Quaker testimonies and the belief that there is that of God in everyone, we do not have as our purpose to make others into Quakers. Rather, we encourage students to nurture their own religious traditions. The intentional coming together to worship offers the opportunity for our community to learn and grow together. In this way, Meeting for Worship can be both the central event of the School week and the heart of the School experience.
As a Quaker school, Friends' Central believes that service is a vital spiritual and social component in the overall education of its students. Through ongoing service projects, students learn compassion and respect for people from different life circumstances. They have an opportunity to know that there is "that of God" in themselves and those they serve.They also learn that each individual has a responsibility to realize his or her ability to make a difference. Service projects are integrated into the life of the School and are designed to encourage individual responsibility, cooperation, and a sense of citizenship.
The belief that there is "that of God in everyone" is the fundamental basis of Quakerism which has led to the following tenets and practice of this religion:
- the elimination of the need for a "hireling minister" or other intermediary between the individual and God
- the opportunity and obligation for each to seek God's leading, both individually and corporately in worship
- as the writers of the Bible were inspired, the manifestation of the Inner Light also allows us to experience the continuing revelation of God
- the accordance of equality and respect to all
- the leading to respond to the needs of all peoples
- the refusal to take oaths, for there is but a single standard of truth
- the commitment to live simply so that others can simply live
- the "living" of the sacraments rather than the observation of them outwardly
- the conviction that peace can best be attained by striving to trust to love rather than by reacting to fear
Reflections on Our Core Beliefs
|Learning to Change the World|
Many times when I turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper, I am surprised and discouraged by the narrow-minded thinking of numerous public figures. My time as a Friends’ Central student has made me used to, excited, and inspired by broad perspectives. Now, more than ever, a wide range of ideas is crucial to our changing world.
|The Promise of Diversity|
In the world of current events, the word global is everywhere. It implies a level of cooperation and interconnectedness that is belied by news of wars, political groups, and neighborhoods where people are so polarized in their approach to issues that they cannot find common ground. Ultimately, our ability to transcend difficult and complex issues hinges on whether or not young people will be defined by their differences.
|A Better World|
In a world of ever increasing complexity, we are challenged to imagine innovative solutions for unprecedented problems. Knowledge alone will never solve the modern issues of climate change, biodiversity loss, and emerging diseases. These problems demand solutions that draw from multiple disciplines, that build bridges between areas of expertise, and that transform our practiced responses.
|A Return to Equilibrium|
The turn of this century has brought profoundly shifting sands of the economic order, and newfound pressures on nations, communities, and families to find their way. Perhaps ironically, these pressures are compounded by a 24/7 deluge of information and misinformation and an ever-widening divide between the “haves” and the “have nots.” It is a dynamic that for some translates into an unhealthy focus on short-term achievement at any cost and a mistaken view of what really matters. We live in a world out of balance.
|Critical Times for Critical Thinkers|
As any parent will tell you, teenagers no longer speak on the phone, even with their friends. Instead, they communicate through their fingers with typed words. Facebook posts, text messages, and blogs may depend on digital technology and the worldwide web, but these vehicles would not run without written language. In fact, current forms of communication are simply modified versions of centuries-old technologies, namely personal letters and journals. Quietly but importantly, we have come back, yet again, to the supremacy of the word.
|The Economic Consequence of Caring|
Challenging economic times have the potential to divide families, communities, and countries, to create a greater gap between those who have and those who do not. As many struggle to regain their footing, the question of how best to help — how best to shore up our economic foundation — is paramount.
|The Precedence of Play|
From the morning news to the increasingly ubiquitous blogosphere, the messaging that more is more never stops. It is a message that is leading educators and parents to value rigid pedagogic methods, overly structured environments, and an excess of programming. With that unrelenting focus comes the risk of losing sight of the power that play possesses in shaping our children and their futures.
|A New Declaration of Independence|
Independence is the source of our nation’s wealth. It is the font of innovation. A sense of independence defines our path and is a critical determinant of our future. Independent thought implies a willingness to push the barriers of established modes — to possess the foresight and confidence to go against the norm — to arrive at a better place for all.
|A Matter of Ethics|
Since the beginning of time, mankind has been guided by codes of ethics and morality. Sometimes established by law, sometimes not, these codes have served as the bedrock of civilization — the foundation of a fairer, more equitable life for all. But the newfound complexities and sheer velocity of today’s world have the capacity to blur the meaning of what is fair, and to create multiple and false barometers of what is right. We live in a world that cries out for a consistency of honorable intent, and for its leaders and citizens to follow a recognizable, shared moral compass.