Strong Minds. Kind Hearts.

From the Upper School Principal...

What is the most important thing to for each one of us to do? In Three Questions, the Tolstoy story some of you may know, a king offers a great reward to anyone who will show him the answer to this question. Unable to find a satisfying solution from any famous learned men, he goes into the woods where a wise hermit is said to live. Since I want you to read the story, I won’t tell you what happens – but I think in the telling of the tale itself, there is one of the better answers to the great question I think about most days, “Why are we here?” Here is what the hermit says to the king, who by living and doing (and not by words or quotations) finally discovers the answer for himself: “Remember then: there is only one time that is important -- Now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary man is he with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with anyone else: and the most important affair is, to do him good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life.” To understand these words, you can start by reading the whole Tolstoy story, but to really understand the answer, you have to live it: you need to go to the woods yourselves and pick up a figurative spade.

At Friends Academy, our Upper School curriculum is designed to help each of you take your own journey similar to the one the king finally takes. Our vigorous college preparatory program, rooted in the liberal arts and sciences, comes alive in the minds and hearts of students and faculty who care deeply about the essential questions for each of us. Our graduates are prepared to pursue their college aspirations but most importantly to use their education for the betterment of the community at large. As our students learn to find the right questions to ask, and as they discover how to move beyond the typical framework and audience for those questions, we want them to dare to look beyond typical horizons.

We believe that by engaging fully in the visual and performing arts, playing and competing in athletics, and developing leadership skills through club and committee opportunities, young people gain greater awareness of the importance of living more balanced lives of individual meaning and purpose. Our teachers, faculty colleagues, and student peers challenge them to extend their learning beyond the classroom as we help them to realize the importance of doing good, of being present with and for each person in real time, here and now. Our community service program engages students in meaningful experiences and projects that help them use their talents and skills to better themselves and our greater community, and to see the greater world as our own, in trust. For leadership, travel and outdoor education, students are offered opportunities to study abroad annually, allowing development of language competency, cultural awareness, and further opportunities for service learning and personal growth.

The four-year journey of high school is so important to each young person’s emerging sense of self. For me, the most important moments in high school centered around my ability to see – or not see (!) – when or if I could change course and learn from a mistake. When I was that age, I was fortunate to have had people who encouraged me to get back up when I had fallen down. In the end, though, I had to take the journey myself. Central to a Quaker education, our students are encouraged to be reflective, to develop the ability and skill to look within and discover their very own voice and passions. We challenge our students at Friends to think differently, to unleash their creative spirit, and to take big risks as they discover how to embrace deeper learning – all in an effort to help them find their “inner light” so as to connect more personally to their natural talents. We want all our students to be courageous and open minded in all their pursuits at Friends.

When I get up each day, I am grateful to be able to work closely with a diverse and caring group of students, faculty, and parents to bring our school’s Quaker mission to life. The most important work we do is being with one another, and the most important time is now.

– Mark Schoeffel, Upper School Principal

Mark Schoeffel

Upper School Principal