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How is life at school for your gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, etc. students?

Elizabeth, FCS Senior
Friends’ Central is an extremely open and accepting community and has a strong gay presence. The Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at our school is one of the largest and most active clubs on campus. GSA puts on numerous assemblies and bake sales in order to raise awareness and funds for various LGBTQ causes. But it is not just GSA that supports these causes; it is the entire FCS community. High school is a time where some students may start to question their sexuality, and countless people in the FCS community, both students and faculty, support and understand this. Students have publicly come out at Meeting for Worship because they wanted the support of the entire school and know how accepting FCS is. No student is ever singled out because of their sexual orientation because our community does not believe that sexual orientation makes a student any different. What I want to stress is that FCS is an incredibly accepting community, and no matter what your sexual orientation is, no one in this community will treat you any differently because of it. 


My family is going through a tough financial situation, and I can't afford FCS. What do I do? I really want to attend FCS, but my grades aren't good enough for a scholarship.
 
Your questions are very good ones and address concerns many students and families face when considering Friends’ Central School, or any private school, as an educational option. Your first question relates to financial aid. Friends’ Central supports nearly a third of its students through the financial aid program. Assistance ranges from small percentage grants to more significant dollar amounts. All grants offered to families are based on the financial position of the family. No grants are made based on merit (academic, art, athletic, etc.). The names of students receiving financial assistance are kept confidential, meaning that teachers and other students do not know who receives aid and who does not. 
 
Students applying to Friends’ Central should follow the guidelines on our website: www.friendscentral.org/admission. We generally like to see students with A’s and B’s (or the equivalent). We also look at a student’s writing skills, teacher recommendations, and testing results, and we want to meet the applicant in person, as well. Though grades are important, they are not the only item that the Admission Committee considers when making a decision. Please contact the Admission Office at 610.645.5032 and ask to speak to an Admission Officer to discuss the specifics of your academic profile. We can give you guidance on how to become a strong applicant to the School. We can also guide your family through the financial aid process. Thank you for your two important questions.
*This question was answered by the Admission Office.

What are the extracurriculars at Friends’ Central?

Rachel, FCS Senior
FCS offers a wide variety of extracurricular activities, including clubs, sports teams, musical groups, and much more. Currently, I am involved in several clubs, including Student Council and Student Admissions Committee, and I am a member of our school's Varsity softball team. There are approximately 30-40 clubs, and students are free to participate in as much as they choose. Students can also form their own club have if there is no existing group that offers that activity. In addition, Friends’ Central offers special programs like Science Olympiad, Core team, and others, which occur at certain times during the year and generally take students off campus. These groups do a lot of work outside of the classroom and give students the opportunity to learn in fascinating settings. Athletics is also a substantial part of the extracurricular activities on campus. We have three sport seasons and varied levels of competitiveness in each sport (usually Varsity, Junior Varsity, and Third team/Intramural). Sports teams are an great way to meet new people and build friendships in a non-academic setting. Whether during practices, games, or even long bus rides, I have become some so grateful for my chances to share in these experiences, and I know I will sorely miss them next year. The Arts at FCS are another huge part of our school. Students can participate in theater productions, musical ensembles, and vocal groups. We perform a fall play each year and another production in the winter that switches off every other year between a Shakespearean classic and a musical. This year, we performed the musical satire Urinetown, and so many members of the community came out to watch the amazing performance! The Arts at FCS are incredibly welcoming and inviting, and anyone can participate. 

What are my chances of getting a scholarship to this school?

 
Chiara, FCS Junior
All financial aid grants made to families are need-based at Friends' Central School. Need-based means that the awards families receive are based on the family's financial situation, rather than the merit of the student. For instance, a student with better grades than another would not necessarily receive more funding. The School does not support any merit-based scholarships for academic achievement, arts, or athletics. Students are accepted to the School through the admission process based on merit, though (being a good student and good citizen). You should apply for financial aid when you apply to the School. Admission Decisions are made need-blind, meaning they don't look at your financial aid application before they decide to accept you. Each school year, about 30% of the student body receives some amount of financial assistance.

I am trying to decide between Friends' Central and a good public school, and I am finding it hard to make a comparison because one is private and one is public. How can I tell which is better?
 Marielle, FCS Senior
The Philadelphia area has many quality schools, both private and public, that offer a great learning environment and outstanding education. The key difference in my mind is the Friends' Central faculty's dedication to its students and the opportunities available at FCS. At most public high schools, there are many more students to a grade, and teachers often handle classes of 25-30 students. At FCS, the classes seldom reach above 20 students, and consequently, each student receives personal attention from his or her teacher. Because FCS teachers are not dealing with larger class sizes and teaching loads, they are also able to offer their students more one-on-one time to meet. At FCS, it is commonplace for teachers and students to meet for lunch, early morning coffee, or after school. Friends' Central teachers not only possess the free time to meet, but encourage personal meetings. I have had countless teachers at FCS offer to further explain a topic or current event after class. The faculty here is not only dedicated to making sure students both comprehend and enjoy what they are learning, they themselves are passionate about the topics they are teaching. It is an infectious learning atmosphere to have faculty so excited about the learning process, and ready to not only teach, but to also learn from their students. I have found as a student here that I learn so much more from FCS faculty than just the basics subjects they teach.

When do you take a placement test?
Placement tests for both math and foreign language are taken in late-April prior to a student starting in September. Students are only given a placement test after they have been accepted to the school and enrolled for the following school year. Students are given a math test covering their most recent math level. The foreign language test is only given to students who have previously taken French, Latin, or Spanish. There is an oral component to the French and Spanish tests to go along with the written portion. Faculty members in the math and foreign language departments then make recommendations for placement based on the results of the placement tests. In some cases, the faculty members will use other information, such as standardized test scores or grades on report cards, to help with their recommendation.
*This question was answered by the Admission Office.


Does FCS have an Orchestra?
 Suzy, FCS Junior
Friends' Central has multiple musical opportunities, and I've been lucky enough to be a part of both the Middle School and Upper School orchestras. The music program at Friends' Central welcomes all levels of experience, ranging from beginners to accomplished performers. The program, which also includes a jazz band and a chamber music group, is taught by Mr. Bradley. I have been playing clarinet in the orchestra since I arrived at FCS in 6th grade, and along the way Mr. Bradley has encouraged me to both continue to grow individually, and has further showed me and my classmates how to truly enjoy being part of an ensemble. The orchestra and jazz band each have two class periods every week for rehearsal, with an additional (optional) rehearsal before school one morning each week. There are two wonderful concerts every year in the winter and spring along with a chamber music concert in the spring. For the past two years, the orchestra has also had the opportunity to play in Center City in the lobby of the shops at Liberty Place. It's been a wonderful part of my FCS experience!


What does it mean that Friends' Central is Quaker?
Nate, FCS Junior
While I am not a Quaker, and the majority of the student body is not Quaker, the School still creates a Quaker environment. It doesn't do this by instilling the theological aspect, but rather the ideas behind the theology. The concept that all people are equal is present in all School activities, and consequently students’ ideas are appreciated equally when sitting in class. Furthermore, in the classroom the idea of equality creates an atmosphere where learning does not come from the teacher simply through putting notes on the board, but rather it comes from the ideas of all the students.  Our teachers want us to realize that we can all learn from one another. As a Quaker school, we have Meeting for Worship once a week. While this is the Quaker form of worship, it means different things to every student. To some it is the opportunity to sit in silence and try to hear the light of God speaking out of them, while for others it is a time to collect themselves. These two aspects, and many other Quaker-derived ideas shape the community to really being a school of friends—not in the religious way, but in the more literal sense that any student can sit down with another student and a friendship can be created. This is the impact that a Quaker religion has on our community and the students. 
 
 
If you could describe your high school experience in one word, what would it be and why?
Tara, FCS Senior
Discovery. To be in the midst of people from Philadelphia, the Main Line, Delaware County, and even parts of New Jersey, the FCS community is comprised of many different personalities and backgrounds. Ours is one of the most diverse communities in the area. My classmates and I have opportunities to discover new interests, new friends, and new knowledge just by interacting with this mix of amazing people. Students at FCS excel in a wide range of areas such as sports, arts, science, and history. There is always something new to learn, not only from our outstanding teachers, but from our motivated and unique peers, as well. I learn something new everyday, not only in academics, but in how to use my community as a resource for growth and true discovery.

 
 


Why did you and your family decide on Friends' Central?
Jeff, FCS Senior
Coming from a Jewish day school, deciding on a high school was not an easy task. My parents and I visited Quaker schools, independent schools, Jewish schools, and public schools. After visiting many schools, we decided that Friends' Central had the perfect mix of academics, extracurricular options, and a strong sense of community, all of which were very important to our family. My parents found that Friends' Central had the best and most inclusive arts and music programs in the area. The sports program is also a huge part of FCS for those who want it to be, but it is not overbearing on those who do not. My parents decided that the time to make the transition to FCS was when my sister graduated from her elementary school and I was entering 6th grade. The combination of excellent academics, amazing arts, strong sports programs, and a true School community made Friends' Central the perfect place for my sister, myself, and our family.


How do you manage your school work, extracurricular commitments, and a social life?
 Suzy, FCS Senior

Managing schoolwork with extra curricular activities can be difficult for any High School student. As an athlete and a musician, my days are enriched beyond the classroom, but Friends' Central has taught me how to manage my time so that I can do my homework as well as practice my clarinet and my jump shot. The support and flexibility of my teachers and coaches has really helped me manage my schedule. As for my social life, I've learned that homework needs to be done, in many cases, on Saturdays (not just Sunday nights), in order for me to balance being social and succeeding academically.
 

What was the transition from Middle School to Upper School like? 
 Nate, FCS Junior
As a Middle School student entering High School there is usually a lot of nervousness, as can be expected. However, Friends' Central does a good job of handling this transition. An event called “Next Year Day,” when all students have a chance to visit the grade above them, is extremely helpful in 8th grade because it lets you meet a lot of the teachers you will have in High School. It also lets you ask teachers what the transition is like and what to be prepared for as a High School student. Another great thing Friends' Central does is give every freshman homeroom two peer mentors. These peer mentors are juniors who have already been through the nervousness of transitioning to High School. These peer mentors are a huge asset to rising freshmen both returning and new to FCS. New students are also given a student guide from the grade they'll be entering. These guides help introduce the new students to others in the grade as well as teachers. The School does a great job of helping the 9th graders put aside the natural nervousness of entering a new environment by making the transition from Middle School to High School very easy and comfortable.


How has Friends' Central prepared you for college?
Jamie, FCS Senior
The best preparation for college for me has been the responsibility given to me, and my peers, by the faculty. The classes here are excellent in terms of preparing us for college level material, but it goes beyond that. The atmosphere at Friends' Central is one of independence. Students are taught how to handle and manage their time, then asked to do so. While teachers absolutely have an open door policy and are very accessible, we as students learn to plan ahead and space our work out so that we can complete long-term assignments on our own. I now look at a paper due two weeks down the road as a two-week project, not an assignment due in two weeks minus one day. I did not always think that way, but, through my development at Friends' Central, I have learned valuable lessons about time management and planning ahead. Amongst all the things to be apprehensive about for college, I am least nervous about the workload.


What are sports like at Friends' Central?
Leah, FCS Senior
Whether you are a star athlete or just learning a sport, you will have an opportunity to play on a team at Friends' Central. There are 'third team' intramural opportunities for the less serious athletes, and Varsity and JV teams for athletes who enjoy a more competitive edge. Even if you have never played a sport before, you have the chance to pick it up at FCS. After playing on the varsity soccer team my freshman year, I decided I also wanted to try a new sport in the spring. I had never picked up a lacrosse stick in my life until freshman year, but I started learning the basics on JV, and now I'm a starter on the Varsity lacrosse team. I continue to learn more and more every day about the sport of lacrosse, even on Varsity. With many league championships under our belt, cheering on your peers as they compete against one of our 'rival schools' is a core aspect of our community. Come ready to support each other and have some fun!
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Meet the students answering your questions:
Rachel, Will, Lindsay, and Declan
Mariel, Jeff, Naomi, and Leah
Francesca, Jamie, Tara, and Nate
Asher, Suzy, Lauren, and Claudia