Alumni/ae Testimonials

Raymond Lohier ’84
Judge, United States Court of Appeals
"At Friends' Central School, I developed a deep love of reading and writing and an understanding of how important it is to read and write carefully and with a reverence for the written word – a skill that has been crucial to my career so far. Another important skill I learned at FCS is how to operate inside the "box," but to think critically and with an open mind outside of it. Last but not least, I made lasting friendships there that I still cherish today, and I am lucky to continue to call classmates close friends."


Thomas F. GeorgeThomas F. George ’63
Chancellor and Professor of Chemistry and Physics at the University of Missouri-St. Louis

Since 2003, I have served as chancellor and professor of chemistry and physics at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, an institution of 16,800 students, 2,500 faculty and staff, 40 academic buildings, and a $200 million annual operating budget. In addition, $120 million of new capital construction and landscaping on campus is taking place from 2014-2016. Besides my responsibilities as chancellor, in my faculty role, I am an active scientific researcher, with 750 papers, five authored books, and 18 edited books in the areas of chemical, materials, laser, and nanophysics, including nanomedicine.

My interest in science and mathematics began during my six years (1957-63) in 7th through 12th grades at Friends’ Central School (FCS). I cannot say enough about all my teachers, including those in the sciences (Clayton Faraday in biology, Stanley Cherim in chemistry, and Albert Small in physics) and mathematics (Benner and Doris Simon). They were most enthusiastic about their discipline and generated excitement with their students. I should also indicate that I was stimulated by my fellow students, as well. FCS is a truly special educational institution, and I am most fortunate to have been a student there. Besides the academic component of my development, FCS taught me how to interact with people, which has served me well in my role as chancellor.

Tom Robson ’98
Assistant Professor of Theatre & Dance at Millikin University

While at Friends’ Central, my teachers exposed me to material unusual for high school students. [English teacher] Laurie Novo challenged me to read and study Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, [drama teacher] Terry Guerin introduced me to Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, giving me a chance to perform material that almost no high schooler in the country could touch. As a senior, I was given the opportunity to direct, again giving me a leg up on my college classmates. I also remember taking a college level music history class and emailing [my FCS music teacher] Jim Davis after the course ended to tell him that I learned more from him in high school than in this upper level college music class.

Without the access and opportunity I was given at FCS, I would not have thrived in college and beyond. I came out of Friends’ Central a better writer, researcher, and thinker than many of my classmates at an elite college. With my FCS preparation (and an excellent college education) I was ready for graduate study and eventually a PhD.

Megan Lundy ’08
Second year medical student at Jefferson Medical College

“FCS nurtured my learning. It did not just throw information at me and expect me to memorize it. I learned how to think critically, both inside and outside the classroom. The sciences and literature classes prepared me the most for college and medical school. I had a professor my first year at Penn State give me an A in freshman English and told me that somewhere in my writing education I excelled past the rest of my current classmates. I owe much of this ability to write and communicate to FCS. Dr. Yin’s advanced biology class is still the foundation I use daily in medical school. I would not have gotten through college or the first few classes of medical school without it.”



Sarah Brown ’07
Grant Administrator at JDRF

“There are so many wonderful things to say about FCS! 1. How to love learning and how to be in independent learner; 2. Quaker principles: Though I am not Quaker, I still carry many of the values that I learned at Friends’ Central, like how to live with integrity and to see and treat others as equals; 3. Opportunities to learn and explore interests outside of the classroom through the arts and athletics; 3a. The resources and facilities at FCS are amazing and certainly enhanced the quality of education I received.

“I was more than prepared for my English courses in college. I found that a few of my literature teachers at FCS instructed curricula more rigorously and critiqued my writing more heavily than my college professors. I am not reducing the collegiate education that I received, but am attesting to the strength of the literature/writing development that students experience at FCS (and I was just an average student, a few As -- many Bs and Cs). In college, many classmates would seek my help in crafting and proofing assignments before they were submitted. That is when I realized just how strong my education was. Writing aside, Friends’ Central prepared me to be a disciplined, independent learner and to never stop seeking knowledge and answers. 

“FCS has strong academics, but I learned a lot through class cohesion activities (French Creek, Echo Hill, 11th Grade Bio trip), as well as through athletics. I had many outlets to explore my academic interests and creative hobbies. Moreover, the sense of community and cohesiveness sets Friends’ Central apart from other schools. It’s truly a special place.”

Hanna Popick ’02
Survey Design and Analysis

“Learning how to think analytically was the most important preparation FCS gave me. It goes without question that FCS has solid academics, which set me on a great path through college and a Ph.D. But I think more unique is the preparation FCS gave me in approaching a problem, evaluating possible solutions, deciding on a solution, and following through on implementing it. I’m sure there are examples from a preschooler’s first day on campus, but I remember building load-bearing bridges in 4th grade all the way through planning chemistry experiments in Upper School chemistry – lots of opportunity to evaluate, plan, and then learn from the natural consequences!”

Alex Kleiman ’11
Student at Brown University

“I am particularly thankful for the values of caring, compassion, and kindness that were instilled in me as a child, a significant part of which stemmed from my time at Friends’ Central. The lack of bias about who was supposed to be good at which subjects in school really stands out to me.

“The three most positive aspects of my time at FCS were the wonderful Friends’ Central community, the incredibly kind, talented, and caring teachers, and the wide array of extracurricular activities that enabled me to grow both intellectually and socially. I will never forget how it felt to be surrounded by people who so deeply cared about me.”

Trish Baker ’03
Finance Director, Travel for Teens, LLC

“I think one of the most important things I learned at FCS was how to review and respond critically to ideas or pieces of work. We were always thinking, writing, and talking about ideas and academic works. I feel so comfortable with my viewpoints and expressing them in an assertive, but calm, way. 

“Frankly, the workload and responsibility for oneself was a huge battle that I’d already faced by the time I got to college. I was so prepared for college that it was actually tedious and boring until I really got to the classes in my major. Also, I feel like I’m a lifelong learner versus just out to get a grade. I have a genuine interest in learning and keeping myself challenged.”

Sara Viola ’04
In-Residency MD training at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, specializing in internal medicine

 “I vividly remember the excitement I felt learning biology, especially with Mr. Ross and Mr. Gruber. Without their creative, engaging teaching and without the encouragement they provided, I don’t know if I ever would have found my calling in medicine. I also believe that the education I had in the humanities, particularly writing, has been far more important than I anticipated and has served me so well throughout college and medical school. Friends’ Central also instilled in me a desire not only to tolerate but to celebrate cultural differences and to have compassion for everyone around me, which is really more important than anything else in my development as a physician.

“One major difference I’ve noticed as I’ve met many people from different educational backgrounds is that at FCS we learned by engaging, participating, trying out ideas, and debating. This kind of learning prepared me for the kind of learning required of me now, where, as part of a team (residents, medical students, attendings, nurses, social workers, etc.), we all teach and learn together. I think many workplaces function in this kind of structured team dynamic, so it makes sense to learn that way and to develop the skills needed to be a participant and a leader in that kind of environment.” 

Mary Louise Alexander Cole-Wood ’52
Founder and executive director of Bay Point Schools, a pilot boarding school for adjudicated delinquent youth

“There is no question that my FCS teachers and courses prepared me well for college. But, more than that, I learned to set goals, prioritize, and get involved in college life. This prepared me to become involved in community wherever I have lived and many times, to become a community leader.

“At Friends’ Central, we were motivated to be individuals, to explore new worlds, to truly care about others. The small classes and individualized teaching taught us to be leaders. But, as leaders, to listen to other's opinions, to both the praise and the criticism.”

Deborah Hazzard Nash ’51
Retired, former Independent School Counselor

“Other than an excellent preparation for college, the most important influence in my life, after family, was the Quaker culture which impacted my view of the world for the rest of my life. I believe in building a community based on trust, making decisions with consensus as the primary underpinning, and serving the community as a responsible citizen of a democracy. It would be an understatement not to mention the friendships developed at FCS, with six of us still gathering on a regular basis at our homes around the US.

“It may sound like a broken record, but the Quaker philosophy which provided the basis of our daily school life was like no other. I have spent my adult years working in schools, and none compare with what I absorbed just going to Friends’ Central.”


Peter Dissinger ’14
Student at Washington University in St. Louis

“I am very ready to write college papers thanks to the preparation of my history and literature teachers at Friends’ Central. FCS also taught me the importance of talking to teachers and developing relationships with adults in your community. I met so many amazing people that will be a part of my life for a long time.”

Libby Fifer ’09
Program Supervisor at AmeriCorps Cape Cod, service program focusing on environmental conservation and education on Cape Cod

“For the last 10 months, I’ve been working with AmeriCorps, an amazing organization that works all over the country giving individuals the opportunity to do service in myriad different fields. Each person completes 1,700 hours of service over the course of his/her term. The Quaker principle of stewardship that is instilled in students and faculty at FCS has definitely played a role in my desire to give a year of my life to do service. This coming year, I will be continuing to work for the same organization as a staff member, furthering my service journey. I think Friends’ Central does a pretty good job of getting students to look beyond themselves towards a global community.

“The Quaker principles definitely set FCS apart from other institutions. Having spent 14+ years of my life going to Meeting for Worship, I am comfortable with silence and internal processing. While others find silence to be unbearable - frequently synonymous with boredom - I find it to be rejuvenating.

“Friends’ Central taught me how to think critically - although I did not master this skill in high school, FCS laid the foundation for it to bloom in college. It’s a difficult skill, having to process information and then form your own opinion about said material. Thinking critically was encouraged in classes at FCS, even in venues outside of the classroom.”

Nitya Jacob ’91
Biology Professor at the Oxford College of Emory University

“I was an international student, and I spent only one year at FCS in 12th grade. It was my first American schooling experience, and it was foundational in opening up my world for future success. The three most positive aspects of my time at FCS were as follows: above all, several specific teachers took the time to personally care for my wellbeing and education. They encouraged me every step of the way in difficult situations and always believed in me,even though I was only there for one year. They remain an inspiration to me as I continue my own career as an educator, and I will never forget them. Secondly, the courses I took in that one year developed my creative senses and expanded my knowledge incredibly. Finally, I had the opportunity to learn about and respect the Quaker tradition.”

Ben Schutzman ’06
Student at Harvard Business School

“I wanted to go back to school to truly learn about business since I had studied structural engineering and economics in college and had been working in business since without a real ‘foundation.’  From that perspective, I think Friends’ Central instilled in me a passion for learning and a desire to always be curious and constantly challenging myself, and this is the latest experience I’ve had where that’s come into play. Having the chance to go back to school and surround myself by immensely talented individuals who all have very diverse backgrounds and interests also reminds me of FCS, as well as the fact that so many of my high school classmates are off doing so many very different and interesting things.”

George M. Walters, Jr. ’55
Retired Vice President, Northern Trust Bank of Florida

“FCS created an academic environment which, with an excellent faculty of top notch teachers, made your thirst for learning and knowledge heightened to a high degree. [FCS prepared me for college and life by teaching and emphasizing] prioritization, good study habits and organization, and being able to think through any problems or obstacles.”

Katie Wilson ’99
Director of Operations, Copeland Center for Wellness & Recovery

“Quaker values have woven their way into my life and work. The level of work, including reading, writing, and math that we did in high school, prepared me well for college (and beyond). Critical thinking was highly valued and very helpful as adult. A strong value was placed on considering differing perspectives and critical thinking around some of the most pressing social issues that continues to influence my life today.”

Taylor Anderson ’10
"The three most important things that I learned during my 12 years at FCS are part of the core Quaker beliefs – peace, integrity and community. I learned that fighting and not listening is never the answer. Cooperation and unity among all people are the most important elements in living a good and gracious life. Integrity taught me about personal honor; I should not only allow others to hold me to high standards of honesty and responsibility, but that I must also hold myself accountable. The community aspect of FCS taught me not only to respect and love the people immediately around me but to also love and respect all people – no matter our differences. From my communication and interpersonal skills, to my ability to accept and integrate into different groups of people, every step of my life can be credited to the lessons and skills that FCS set for me."

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