oakleaves Spring 2016
A Photo Scrapbook Seven Faculty Farewells Homecoming 2015 Alumni Notes
Quaker Education in the
Timeless Values and Fresh Thinking
What is the
The Annual Fund is
Please meet the Annual Fund Spirit Challenge at www.abingtonfriends.net/giveonline 4
oak leaves spring
letter from the
head of school Our Quaker grounding and the vibrant culture it inspires is our greatest treasure as a school community. We derive immense strength from values that have proven sturdy and timeless over countless generations — values of unreserved respect for each other, simplicity, fruitful and peaceful engagement of conflict, community and integrity. These are values that are meant to be lived, rather than simply exhorted. It is in their daily renewal, as we live and learn together, that children grow
into their goodness as people and their excellence as scholars — the central hopes of a Quaker education. Beyond the values that we inherit and make new each day, we also have an orientation to two complementary and essential ideals — truth and love. In our accountability to truth, we seek to cultivate a rigorous honesty, a
continual search to deepen our understanding of the world we live in and of each other. In our accountability to love, we are called to a quality of respect, compassion, empathy and common cause that makes possible the hope for a better world. Together, these provide a foundation for a life of continual growth, connection to others and a pursuit of peace and justice that are our truest goals as a Friends school. In this issue of “Oak Leaves,” we look at this treasure of Quaker thought and practice, of Friends education, from the perspective of many voices, a multi-faceted set of reflections on our school community at its best. I hope that it sparks in you a deep appreciation of our mission at AFS, as it does for me. Also in this issue, we celebrate the remarkable education careers of Carol Palmer, Deb Stauffer, Emily Paar, Jane McVeighSchultz, Randy Schwartz, Donna Haines and Mary Eno. The extraordinary length of service of each of them reminds us that ours is indeed a living tradition, one that is deeply cultivated by folks who dedicate their professional lives to the children at our school. We will miss these faculty members and will cherish the legacy they leave behind. The Quaker spirit is indeed lively and vibrant at AFS, a spark we kindle together, a light that shines through each member of our community. The perennial freshness of the spirit gives us joy and hope in the day-to-day life of the school and as we together imagine a bright and distinctive future. I am grateful to all — faculty and staff, alumni, Meeting members and families — who bring Quaker education to life so beautifully at AFS.
Rich Nourie Head of School
in this issue
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Letter from Head of School Rich Nourie
Life at AFS: Seven-Month Scrapbook
Fresh Thinking and Innovations Keep Education Fresh
The Intersection of the Meeting and the School
Evidence of Quaker Testimonies: The Ghost Walk
Oak Leaves is a publication of the AFS Communications and Development offices. Richard F. Nourie
Head of School
Assistant Head of School for Institutional Advancement
Director of Communications, Editor
Director of Marketing
Director of Annual Giving
Cover Photo by David DeBalko On the cover: Senior Anne Silbaugh and junior Noah Rosenfeld at the Meetinghouse. Each spring, seniors pass the light of leadership to the junior class in a solemn ceremony.
Abington Friends School main switchboard: oak leaves spring 2016 215-886-4350
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Quaker Education in the 21st Century
Q and A With a Pioneering Couple
Joyful Learning at AFS:
s scrapbook A seven-month
Forging Bonds, Testing Limits
The class retreat at the beginning of the school year is a good time to build new bonds as students in Middle and Upper School grades take a few days away from campus to join in group activities. The sophomores headed to the Diamond Ridge Conference Center in Jamison, Bucks County, where the ropes challenge course tested their strength. In photo at left, sophomores Sophie Cameron, Sierra Granata and Cheryl Remolde prepare to climb. Meanwhile, students in fifth and sixth grades gathered at the Outdoor School in Horsham. In photo below, fifth grader Evan Cohen pets a new friend.
Darth Vader, Kangaroos and a Unicorn in Between Students use their imaginations and a lot of humor to create the colorful costumes they wear in the annual Halloween Parade, a fun-filled, fall tradition. Students in kindergarten through second grade make their costumes as part of class projects. Upper School students carry signs designating each class as it marches down the semi-circular driveway in front of the school.
Explaining the Numbers
A group of students from our partner school in Chauny, France, with their AFS host students. The French exchange students visited the school for eight days.
Financial advisor Michael Haberman ’97 returned to AFS for a presentation on several aspects of financial literacy, including how a credit score is calculated. Mike is first vice president and senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch.
An Extensive Clean Up
French Students Visit
Lower and Middle School students undertake an extensive clean up of the riparian buffer along Jenkintown Creek, which flows across the campus. Teachers Rosanne Mistretta, Amanda Milz and Mark Smith, and members of the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, showed the students how to keep the buffer healthy and thriving.
life at afs: seven month scrapbook
Fantastical Storybook Tales The Upper School fall play, “The Secret in the Wings,” evokes lesser-known fairy tales that go to the dark side of human psyche. The cast and crew studied the work of the English company Frantic Assembly and Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre in creating the movement style of the production.
Photos by John Flak
Heading to Division 1 Basketball
With family members at her side, senior Alexa Middleton signs a national letter of intent indicating she will accept a full scholarship to play women’s basketball next year at NCAA Division 1 Monmouth University. Alexa crossed the 1,000 point milestone in her high school career, finishing with 1,278 points over four years. This season, she played a pivotal role in leading her team to a program-record 21 wins on the season.
Students in Upper School advanced biology classes take the “Osmosis Challenge,” in which they are presented with six solutions of differing concentrations and have to identify which ones are which. Conducting the experiments here are Alexandra Gaev and Eli Russell.
The Lower School’s Winter Program takes youngsters on a dreamlike journey in search of what makes the light shine in each of us. The program, called “Una Luz para Luz” or “A Light for Luz,” was a mix of music, dance and poetry by students in Early Childhood through fourth grades.
life at afs: seven month scrapbook
Jazzing Up the Holidays
What Makes Our Light Shine?
Members of the varsity girls’ basketball team hold the championship trophy they won in the 15th Annual Coaches vs. Cancer tournament at AFS. Meanwhile, the boys’ team nailed an overtime win at the foul line with just 32 seconds left to capture third place. More than $800 was raised to combat cancer.
Senior Lucy Silbaugh plays the cello as part of a musical ensemble that greeted students filing into Hallowell Gym for the annual Winterfest activities. The student-led program was a joyful mix of instrumental and vocal music along with theatre pieces. In keeping with tradition, Winterfest ended with an All-School recitation of a holiday poem.
Holiday Tournament for a Worthy Cause
Winterfest: Celebrating With Songs and Skits
The Philly Pops Festival Brass plays a jazzy take on “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and other songs during their holiday visit to AFS for the Marshall Concert. Afterward, the professional musicians held a master class with our student musicians.
Seven sophomores who have expressed an interest in pursuing careers in medicine and five physicians are meeting once a month over the course of a year to examine what doctors do and how they think. The new group-learning cohort, part of the experiential learning program at AFS, is a pilot project that is expected to expand into other professions.
Fourth graders dip wicks in melted wax to make candles in one of many Colonial Day activities held at the Meetinghouse. As part of their studies, the students rolled big wooden hoops on the lawn, made dolls of straw and practiced penmanship, much like kids in colonial times.
A late January snowfall turns the playground behind the Lower School into a wintry paradise for kids who let off steam building snowmen, riding sleds down a hill and making snow angels. Upper School students, meanwhile, played flag football amid the snow, while Middle School students climbed a snow mountain.
Homegrown Kindergarten Plays
MLK Day of Service
More than 450 volunteers, a record number, take part in the Day of Service, which began with a short yet moving program of speeches and music in the Meetinghouse. A dozen local organizations benefitted from the hot meals, scarves, blankets and other items that were created.
Students in the two kindergarten classes perform in plays they had written themselves. Main characters included blue dragons, lizards, a mouse dentist and many kings and princesses. The main themes: Being kind to others and letting your light shine.
From Beethoven to Jazz Improv » The Middle School Winter Concert brings a wide range of choral and instrumental music to the stage. In the closing number, 70 seventh and eighth graders joined in performing “Dry Your Tears, Afrika,” the poignant theme from the movie “Amistad.”
Students in the Early Childhood Cardinals Class mix their own toothpaste and choose a favorite flavor as part of their Body Study program. Several sets of parents have visited the classroom to talk about their work and give hands-on lessons about how the body and the five senses work.
A Focus on Equality
Five AFS students attend the annual Quaker Youth Leadership Conference in Providence, R.I., for two days of in-depth conversations about “Equality: Past, Present and Future.” Students and teachers from 21 schools, including those from as far away as England and Ontario, participated in this year’s conference. Members of the AFS delegation, from left, are Desmond Daniels, Ken Wang, Noah Shufutinsky, Danielle Thomas and Emma Giddings. They are all juniors, except for Danielle, who is a sophomore.
Super Scholars » The National Merit Scholarship Program names five seniors as Finalists in the national competition recognizing scholastic excellence. They are, front row Lucy Silbaugh and Eli Russell. Back row, from left, David Naitove, Jacob Jacobson and Makarios Chung. Last fall, seniors Joshua Diamond, Anne Silbaugh, Corey Naitove, Daniella Nichinson and Loghan Thain received National Merit Letters of Commendation.
Chinese New Year » Celebrations International students teach third graders how to make the Chinese characters for “spring,” “year” and “luck” in one of several ways AFS marked the holiday. Students also performed traditional Chinese music during a morning assembly, made 1,000 dumplings and created paper lanterns that were hung in the school.
life at afs: seven month scrapbook
Varsity Wrestling Milestone
Bringing Home a Trophy
Junior Doug Watford, right, wrestles an opponent as the varsity wrestling team secures a playoff appearance for the first time in the program’s history. The team defeated Germantown Friends, 39-27, to advance to a post-season tournament. Later, junior Michael Sadowski competed in the 138-pound bracket in the prestigious National Preps Wrestling Tournament at Lehigh University.
With a performance that bodes well for future girls’ basketball seasons, the junior varsity wins the 2016 Friends Schools League JV Girls’ Basketball Tournament championship in convincing fashion. The Roos defeated Friends’ Central and The Shipley School in the tournament’s semis and finals.
» A Pair of Blacksmiths Fourth graders set up a Colonial Trade Fair in the Lower School, showing off their wares and looking for new apprentices to take up their crafts. The fair is the culmination of the students’ study of the colonial period. After researching their crafts, the students created brochures, painted signs and arranged their table displays at the fair.
“Pure Imaginaton” » In the Middle School spring musical, “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” eighth grader Cole Lewis, in top hat, plays the candy man who invites five lucky children to visit his factory. But only one, Charlie Bucket, played by seventh grader Noah Vinogradov, in the striped shirt, survives the series of temptations.
March Photos by John Flak
Spring Fever »
An impromptu lunchtime singalong outside the Faulkner Library is just one of the many ways Upper School students take advantage of temperatures in 60s and 70s. Students played frisbee, threw a football and sunbathed until it was time to go back to classes.
Spring sports got a jump on the practice schedule in early March because of unseasonably warm days. Teams engaged in full-field workouts, which usually wait until the end of the month, because of good field conditions, and got in a game of tennis.
Dr. Luv Javia P’27, a pediatric ENT surgeon at CHOP, gives tips to junior Jesse Kahn on the finer points of suturing. Elsewhere in the classroom, students in Kristina Denzel Bickford’s biology classes dissected organs from a pig and a cow.
life at afs: seven month scrapbook
Photo by Maria S. Young
Unveiling a Robotics Zoo Students in the Upper School “Introduction to Robotics” class and first graders collaborated for about two months to build a Robotics Zoo in the Lower School. The seniors used Legos and computer parts to build robots that mimicked the behavior of zoo animals, including a snake, a lion and an elephant. Meanwhile, the first graders chose pipe cleaners, cotton balls and cardboard to create exhibit habitats for the animals. The classes brainstormed together, and made many changes to improve their designs as the project unfolded. Finally, the zoo went on display in March, marking the end of the project between Upper School Science Teacher John Winter’s robotics students and those in first grade classrooms led by Kathy Lopez and Susan Arteaga.
Photo by Maria S. Young
Homecoming Homecoming 2015 drew about 150 alumni back to campus for a day filled with reuniting with classmates and teachers and making new friends. The fun also included an open mic improv session, a music jam and pickup games of soccer and frisbee. The day began with the 3rd annual Alumni Faculty & Staff Alliance (AFSA) breakfast, where former colleagues gathered in the Meetinghouse’s Short Stable with Head of School Rich Nourie. The All Alumni Association breakfast followed in the John Barnes Room, and then it was time to join Upper School students and faculty in Meeting for Worship. New to Homecoming this year was an event, rooPRIDE, created to reconnect alumni of color. The discussion was organized by Bridget Warlea ’15, Ayannah Woods ’15, Shane Bernard ’10, Cyndi Silverman P’01 P’05, AFSA, and Toni Williamson, Director of Diversity and Inclusion. This was the first year, too, that an alum, Dorien Korein ’15, ran the Improv Open Mic Jam for alumni, faculty and students. And, the alumni finally got in a good pickup game of Ultimate Frisbee, a competition that was planned for last year’s Homecoming until snow got in the way. The Student Commons was jammin’ with good music when musicians of all ages picked up their instruments. Meanwhile, the varsity soccer field once again hosted the popular alumni, faculty and varsity soccer game. A Tournament of Champions and a chance to play Beyonder, a tabletop role-playing game designed by alums Jordan Campbell ’02, Simon McEntire ’02, and Simon’s brothers, Caleb McEntire ’06 and Jacob McEntire ’10.
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Go well, stay well, come home!
Fresh Thinking Innovations at AFS keep our program vibrant and aimed at the needs of children growing up in a quickly changing world.
This year, AFS Outside made great strides in expanding opportunities for students to learn about nature by playing outdoors and discovering the importance of environmental stewardship. With grants from the Alumni Class of ’64, The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources and the Friends Council on Education, AFS this spring opened the Abington Friends Arboretum. Bartlett Tree, Inc. identified and inventoried more than 300 of the beautiful, stately trees on our campus. Middle School students took photos and documented about 40 trees that were designated as part of the Abington Friends Tree Tour ’64. This project is a result of a collaborative effort between the school and the Abington Monthly Meeting. As part of these efforts, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society held its Tree Tender classes last spring at AFS, teaching community members how to plant trees and their benefit to the environment. Several AFS teachers took part in the training and have used the knowledge in teaching their students. The Headwaters Discovery Playground, also scheduled to be completed this spring, holds exciting new outdoor adventure possibilities for our first through sixth grade students. With a Treehouse climber, a “Big Science” area and a “Water Play” area, the playground is full of ways to interact with nature and the outdoors. The entire community was involved in the planning of the playground, with student and parent focus groups and a steering committee composed of parents, faculty and alumni.
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The new playground complements one of AFS Outside’s very first efforts, to create the Redbud Nature Playground for our youngest children. The playground is the first certified Nature Explore/Arbor Day Foundation Outdoor Classroom at a school in Pennsylvania. The playground has areas for imaginative play, fort building, sand play, water play, planting areas and a mud kitchen. The area quickly became a hub for students during recess, class times and after school. Four years ago, AFS instituted the Nature Playdate, in cooperation with Briar Bush Nature Center. It has grown into a true celebration of outdoor learning, attracting several hundred participants each year. With outdoor activities for all ages, from building fairy houses to creating elaborate outdoor marble runs, it’s an exciting and educational morning. Last year, the Home and School Association
helped to expand the event to ECO Fest, a festival of recycling, shredding and other sustainability activities. Parents, students and faculty are all involved in these events each year. Other recent projects, created with our partner, the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, have included a stand-alone weather station, a riparian
buffer along Jenkintown Creek and a rain garden that helps filter runoff pollutants from parking areas and playgrounds. Taken together, all of these initiatives have helped turn an appreciation of nature and stewardship of the environment into a vital part of our curriculum. —Rosanne Mistretta
A Major Website Redesign The School’s website, abingtonfriends.net, was redesigned from top to bottom this school year to update its style; make it simpler to navigate, and make it easier to access on smartphones. The previous site, operating on a custom-made content-management system, had been in use since 2011, and had become outdated. “It wasn’t working well for our current parents and students, and it wasn’t supporting our admission efforts as well as it could,” said Gabrielle Giddings, Director of Marketing, who led the nine-month effort to create the new site. “We also wanted a site that was mobile-friendly. That was a big driver for us.” The first step in building the new website involved in-depth internal conversations about who would be using the site and how they might use it. Focus groups made up of parents and students also were
convened and a lot of research was conducted into best practices and reviewing other school sites. King Design of Fort Washington was hired to design the new site on WordPress, an open-source web software system. King, which has clients that include Honest Tea and Stonyfield Yogurt, had an approach that meshed well with AFS’s goals, Gabrielle said. With each decision as the site took shape, the audience’s point of view was the top priority. For example, information that parents and students search most often was placed on separate landing pages for easy access. All the forms that parents use most often were gathered on a single landing page.
“We wanted to be sure parents can find things they need in one or two clicks,” Gabrielle said. The site also uses Google calendars so parent and students can easily add athletic or division calendars to their own calendars. A group of parents helped a great deal during the process by testing the site’s functionality and giving feedback. “There are a lot of hands on this website,” she said. Creating a good user experience for the internal audience — parents, students, alumni, faculty, and staff — was only one of the goals. Another was making sure external audiences, especially prospective families, could navigate a clear path through the web pages. “Most important,” she said, “We wanted to showcase what a great school we are.”
An Unconventional Approach to “Pippin” Why begin the rehearsal process for the story of a hapless young prince looking for meaning in life with a trip to a circus school in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood? “I wanted the kids to think of themselves as circus performers. I wasn’t as invested in them coming home with astonishing acrobatic or juggling skills — a one-day workshop wasn’t going to produce those — but as a way for them to bond as a troupe of players united around a single goal. A trip to the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts felt like the place to begin,” explained Theatre Teacher Megan Hollinger about the unconventional approach to this spring’s Upper School production of “Pippin.”
“As we’ve worked through the staging of “Magic to Do” [the first of many complex production numbers], we’ve incorporated juggling, lifts and gymnastics. But the bigger payoff has been in the group’s shared identity as a rag-tag collective of miscreant actors. They’re nomads. They’re gypsies,” she said. The behind-the-scenes work for the play started early. “Our conversations about the design of the show happened months before any auditions took place,” explained Megan. “Seth (Schmitt-Hall), our technical director, and I began talking about the idea of a gypsy caravan wagon back in October, while we were still in the thick of “Secret in
the Wings,” our fall play. I knew the troupe of players in “Pippin” needed to travel about somehow, and we knew we wanted a scenic element that would provide lots of opportunities for transformation. So we came up with a wagon that could literally bloom open, like an onion.” Seth explained how the design for the wagon unfolded. “It started with the idea of a box that the whole set comes out of — that the troupe’s possessions lived in. It needed to move, so we added wheels. The idea of a wagon like the one in the Terry Gilliam film “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” emerged, and the possibilities of having this thing unfold followed — walls that turned into platforms, a roof that could be climbed upon…that’s when we knew we’d hit upon something special,” he said. As rehearsals took place through the late winter and early spring, the more familiar work of learning music and choreography entered the process. But even those continued to change as elements of circus, magic and technology evolved and the actors saw the story in new ways! The Upper School production ran on April 14-16.
Photo by John Flak
MARD Conference Draws a Record Crowd Attendance at this year’s Mid-Atlantic Region Diversity Conference in October was bigger than ever, with more than 250 students and 40 adults participating from 20 different schools. Rodney Glasgow, a nationally known Diversity speaker who chairs the National Association of Independent Schools’ annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference, headlined the event and led programming
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for the adults. More than 40 students from AFS and Perkiomen School facilitated student discussion groups at the conference affectionately known as MARD. In partnership with the Perkiomen School, Abington Friends School started the MARD Conference in 2013. The idea originated from students for an assignment in Director of Diversity and Inclusion Toni Graves Williamson’s diversity seminar class and remains entirely student-led. Each year, students craft the theme,
organize workshops and affinity groups, and handle all of the conference logistics. A product of the conference, AFS also hosts a Diversity Summit for Independent School Leaders in the spring. Students also work to make sure the conference is better and better each year. For the 2016 conference, already set for October 29, students are planning to expand the event by inviting local public schools. —Toni Williamson
A New Parent-Friendly Photo System
A Design Thinking Toolbox Dr. Natalie Nixon, director of the Strategic Design MBA program at Philadelphia University, made a presentation about the problem-solving process called Design Thinking at an in-service day in February, teaching faculty and staff to use it to frame questions differently and to focus more on those being served. She said Design Thinking’s hyper-focus on those who use products and services results in better outcomes that solve not only functional problems, but also emotional and social needs. For example, a toy company using a more traditional method might ask what they could create that would make parents buy more toys. Using Design Thinking concepts, that company might ask instead: How do children play? She described it as creative method of discovery that adds a measure of discipline to the process by focusing on framing the right questions to ask, by observing, doing qualitative research, brainstorming, prototyping in rough drafts and testing ideas. After her explanation, the faculty and staff broke into 26 small teams to solve educationrelated problems. One of the scenarios, for example, was how to help a teacher at an affluent suburban school who was missing social-justice aspects of his previous public school job. As this small group and others worked on solving problems, several sketched smartphone apps as possible solutions. In her presentation, Natalie told the group that as the world continued to change rapidly, it was critically important to prepare students to be comfortable with ambiguity and to encourage them to be “curious, adaptive, creative and resilient problem-solvers” and lifelong learners.
Rich Nourie, Head of School, connected Design Thinking to innovation in the Quaker education offered at AFS, where authenticity and genuine responsiveness are key themes, “We are starting with our students, we are observing the world they are living in, and we’re thinking about the best possible experiences for their development and growth,” he said. He said he saw Design Thinking as having useful tools for the school “to navigate the world of possibility, a discipline for naming the right ideas and testing ideas.” He also tied it to changes in education, away from thinking of it as occurring in a limited space with limited resources and instead as a school with “thinner walls,” where education is much more responsive to a resource-rich world. Group learning and individual internships and experiences, field trips, and artists in residence and speakers brought onto campus are all considered part of expanding the education offered at AFS. “All of this is consistent with who we are as Quaker educators and the shifting world that kids are going into,” he said. —Lillian Swanson
This fall, AFS plans to switch to an online photo-management system that will allow members of our community to post, tag, organize and share all of our school’s photos in one place. AFS has partnered with Vidigami, a cloud-based photo storage and sharing site, that will make it easy for community members to upload and download photos and share them. That means, for example, that parents will be able to search the database for all the photos of their children just by entering their names. Over time, as students advance through the grades, the photo collection will show their growth through the years. The school will control who can use the site so that only community members will have access. Like many organizations, the school has searched for good photo storage and sharing solutions. Vidigami allows users to upload and tag photos from their smartphones and it allows schools to easily share photo libraries internally, externally or both. Our hope is that yearbook, athletics, clubs and activities and day-to-day photography at the school can be captured, organized and shared in an efficient and user-friendly way. Photos also provide historical digital records of the school and serve as an important archive of events, places and people. For the school, moving this service to the cloud is a natural next step for the Technology Department, as we continue to utilize cloud solutions and off-site hosting to replace current servers. We hope that all of our families will find this solution beneficial, and that it will further develop our sense of pride in who we are as a school, as people and as learners. —John Rison
Quaker Education in the
By Rich Nourie
Photo by David DeBalko oak leaves spring
AS HEAD OF SCHOOL, I remember the first time I joined the students and Upper School faculty in the beautiful and solemn Candlelight ceremony in the Meetinghouse, where the light of leadership is passed from the senior to the junior class. Afterward, we all headed out into the cold night air for Rope Burn, a friendly but intense competition between the two classes. The object was for each class to build a giant bonfire as quickly as possible and to be the first to burn through a rope that was suspended 10 feet above the fire. The scene was spirited and raucous as the two teams searched for kindling in the deep dark of the late evening and transported logs from a nearby pile to build the largest possible fiery spectacle. When the rope above the seniors’ fire finally disintegrated into sparks, the class erupted, running wildly across the darkened Meadow field, whooping and hollering. Concerned about the nearby neighbors, I walked out into the maelstrom of 80 seniors who were careening about the field. When I got to the center, I called out, “Can we gather for a moment of silence?” In an instant, the class was huddled around me in the dark, suddenly stilled, intent in silence, breathing hard from running around. I said quietly, “It’s been a wonderful evening. But it’s late now, the neighbors are trying to sleep and the faculty is tired. It’s time to go home.” The students responded with cheerful murmurs of “Sure, Rich,” and “Goodnight, everybody!” I was struck in that moment by how quickly and completely the students were able to settle into silence from the wild celebration they were so enjoying. Silence was reflexive for them as seniors at our Friends school. So accustomed were they to the practice, they fell into its familiar and well-worn contours instantly.
Silence as Essential I’ve come to believe that silence is one of Friends education’s greatest contributions. In its simplicity, silence affords the opportunity to become familiar with one’s self and quiet thoughts, one’s interior life beneath the chatter of everyday give and take. It provides time for understanding to take shape, for ideas to unfold, for strength to be felt deep in the heart. In weekly Meetings for Worship, when students gather in the Meetinghouse, the extended silence invites perspective and encourages a careful but relaxed observation — of one’s own thoughts, of the community of which one is a part, of the elegant though unadorned 319-year-old building itself. In an over-mediated, over-scheduled world, the spaciousness of silence is a true gift for children and a powerful dimension of
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Our vision is to educate children to have deep capacities of intellect and emotional intelligence, a rich imagination, a welldeveloped inner life and a clear sense of reverence for things of highest value. their education at Abington Friends School. Whether extended, as in Meeting for Worship, or a brief moment before a class begins, it is experiential education at its simplest — inviting exploration and encouraging children to focus on what they know directly from their own lives. It is radical in its authenticity and sets the stage for rigorous honesty, open wondering and an expectation of evolving understanding that permeates the classroom experience as well.
Silence is but one of the Quaker thoughts and practices that are at the center of an AFS education, which now, in its fourth century, is more relevant and more rightly attuned to the world in which our children are growing up and the world they are being prepared for than at any other time in our history.
Intellect for a World of Change We all experience that our world now is one where change is the only constant, where the future lies well over the horizon of our
imaginations. It is one of unprecedented dynamism, inter-connectedness, diversity, challenge and opportunity. While much of the discourse about contemporary education is narrow in its focus, on a preoccupation with basic skills, test preparation and anxiety about the future workplace, in our view, education should be just the opposite. It should be about teaching children to be fully human, in the generous and expansive concept that we inherit from Friends thought and practice. Our vision is to educate children to have deep capacities of intellect and emotional intelligence, a rich imagination, a welldeveloped inner life and a clear sense of reverence for things of highest value. This is the best way to prepare students who will be the most ready to navigate the constantly shifting world ahead and create lives of meaning, fulfillment and great contribution. A well-developed intellect and habits of mind, of course, are at the foundation of an excellent education for the 21st century. We are fortunate that Quaker intellectual tradition requires an active and ongoing search for what is true. This tradition is empirical at its core, continually asking, “What do you know and how do you know it?”
complexity, who can sharpen relevant questions rather than merely answer simple ones and who can navigate ambiguity, complexity and multiple perspectives with clarity of thought.
Experience as Teacher
for manual labor, for prayer and worship, for silence, for communal time, for song. Benedict saw the ways in which each of those modalities spoke to some aspect of who we are as human beings, and brought a balance that ensures a wholeness in daily life.
Beyond outstanding academics and a sharp focus on intellectual development, we recognize that children thrive in their development when their daily experience is expansive, rich and varied, a profound truth that is steadily being lost in an age of stark educational budget cuts and narrow ideas about the purpose of education.
There is much to be said about thinking about children’s experience in a similarly holistic way. At AFS, we prize a full range of experiences that speak to who children are and who they may become. We have embraced hands-on learning in all its forms as a key part of our curriculum.
With its focus on wholeness as essential for full humanity, Quakerism has much in common with other contemplative traditions of the world. I draw inspiration from Benedict of Nursia, the 16th century Christian monk who founded the western monastic movement. In “The Rule of Benedict,” a guide for those living in religious communities, Benedict shared his vision for the ideal 24-hour day in the life of a monk: A time for sleep, for scholarly work,
At AFS, we prize a full range of experiences that speak to who children are and who they may become.
It invites questioning of what we believe to be true, an openness to identify assumptions and challenge them, and assumes that our understanding at any given moment of any topic is incomplete and can be improved. And it relies on collaborative inquiry — honed by continual practice over many years in classroom discussions, small-group work, reading and writing — to use multiple perspectives to come to a deeper understanding and a greater capacity to imagine better solutions. This intellectual training, which is habitual in our graduates, is essential in a world that increasingly rewards those who can bring narratives of coherence and meaning to
This summer, Lower School Science Teacher Rosanne Mistretta will become our first Director of Experiential Learning. Under her direction, AFS Outside has grown into a robust program that helps children to appreciate and learn from the natural world. The sensory experience of the outdoors in all seasons, of planting and growing flowers and vegetables, exploring the life of our creek, building forts, playing with water and getting to know the 300 trees we have mapped and notated on our campus in the past year have added an indelible dimension to their development. With these and other sensory experiences, children develop an intuition about the physical world as an essential foundation to their advanced study of math, science and the arts along with metaphors and touchstone experiences for their creative writing.
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Immersion in the creative and performing arts connects mind, body and spirit: in movement and theater, in exploration of myriad media in the art studios and in the experience of playing and singing a wide repertoire of music in our choral and instrumental ensembles. An astonishing range of accomplishment in the visual arts is always on display in the Upper School corridors. These works, all born of reflective work and of painstaking craftsmanship and creativity, offer a wonderful balance to the heady space of the academic classroom.
Our rapidly expanding offerings in design, engineering, robotics and â€œmaker spacesâ€? are challenging students to solve a wide range of practical problems in both real and virtual spaces. To compete in tournaments this spring, the Upper School RooBotics team built its most sophisticated design yet, using 3-D CAD software. Two of the student programmers developed visual recognition capability through the robotâ€™s cameras so that it could see openings and more accurately fire balls through them to score points
Our nationally recognized work in diversity and inclusion, which makes children capable of navigating and thriving in an increasingly diverse world, is experiential at its heart.
learning, exploration and creativity ensures that the educational experience at AFS is never by rote, but always inspired by the quest to genuinely help students learn their academic subjects and grow into their full selves as human beings. Of course, an AFS education is not solely for the good of our individual students. It also is intended to send people into their future lives ready to make the world a more humane place, one that respects the dignity of all people and is led ever forward by a hopeful vision of the world that can be.
Our nationally recognized work in diversity and inclusion, which makes children capable of navigating and thriving in an increasingly diverse world, is experiential at its heart. From the earliest ages, we explore the varieties of experiences and perspectives present in the classroom and as represented in the curriculum, learning to use multiple points of view to cultivate social intelligence, cultural competence, empathy and higherorder thinking.
This year, we launched a yearlong group-learning program called MedEx, which has connected seven sophomores with five doctors who are leaders in their fields in Philadelphiaâ€™s most prestigious medical institutions. Together, they are examining what doctors do and how they approach their practice in the wide field of medicine. We began with classroom study and branched out this spring to on-site visits to medical clinics. We will launch similar cohorts in other fields in the coming year.
And we have been expanding the landscape of learning at AFS, â€œmaking the walls of school thinnerâ€? through more than 50 guest speakers, scholars and artists in residence each year and close to 40 field trips to places as disparate as the Tenement Museum in New York City to the monthly trips the fourth graders take to nearby Meadowbrook Farm. The ECCO program, founded six years ago to provide transformative experiences in the wider world, actively connects Upper School students with a range of individual, direct-learning opportunities, ranging from internships at Fox Chase Cancer Center to summer immersion in an arts program in Argentina.
Our inspiration for this breadth of experience comes directly from the Quaker encouragement toward authenticity in learning. With such a variety of experiences available to them, AFS students achieve a confidence and expectation of meaningfulness in their learning that sets the stage for the lifelong learning that we know will be so important to their futures.
Consider the social challenges that are ascendant for our graduates: climate change, intractable and growing conflict in various regions of the world, political gridlock and distrust in the United States itself, poverty and water management, to name just a few. Breakthroughs and major steps forward will come from new thinking, new cultural competencies, new collaborative skills, new narratives to reframe the stories that are stuck and deeper empathy to counter the inhumanity that holds us all hostage at this point in history. Our world needs effective peacemakers, wisdom in leadership and people who have seen the potential of community formed around our best values. That is why I am confident in saying that Quaker education at Abington Friends School, which took root here in 1697, has never been more relevant or essential than it is today.
Our expertise in connecting Quaker values to experiences in learning has made AFS a national leader in Friends education. We use our independence to hone a curriculum that is continually evolving. The culture of faculty
What the Meeting and the School Share in Their Hopes for Students’ Lives By Liz Mosley
HAT DOES IT MEAN for Abington Friends School to be “under the care of” Abington Monthly Meeting? As a former teacher at our School and a member of the Meeting, I have often considered this question. Here is a small part of what I’ve thought: It is crucial, of course, for our School to have high expectations for the students and to develop their intellectual curiosity and abilities for their futures. At the same time, both the Meeting and the School share the wish that our students will learn to be “good
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at living.” We hope that their “outward lives,” now and in the future, are based on an inward Light, on what Quakers often call “that of God within” each person. We hope that students are learning to prepare for a life that, as Walt Whitman said, “satisfies the soul.”
The Meeting shares with the School the value of our Testimonies. We both seek to find peaceful solutions to conflicts, to use the gift of simplicity to mitigate life’s stresses, to feel deeply the importance of equality, to strengthen community.
Undergirding all of these testimonies is the testimony of integrity: “that our outward lives bear witness to the truth discerned inward,” living what we believe to be true. (Quakers used to be called Friends of the Truth.) That means constantly asking “What am I?” “What Do I Want to Be?” “What Do I Believe?” It also demands listening to the Light of others, examining and sharing their truths. We are all seekers of truth. Difficult as it is sometimes, we strive to use that light within to guide how we live our lives with integrity. The question then is this: How is integrity being taught at our school? How can we help each student learn to value his or her Inner Light and develop the courage in life to confidently “speak truth to power” when it is needed? I have seen this happening in several ways in the school. Here are three: Clearly, integrity, living one’s beliefs, is taught not with lessons, but by example. We are so fortunate to have teachers and administrators who themselves are seekers, who live up to the light they are given. While they know that all of us cannot always be at our best, they steadily seek their own Light Within. They model for students how to go beyond knowledge to understanding. They recognize that children have this light, and encourage them to speak their truths as much as possible for them. These teachers listen closely to what each child shares, and they give encouragement that tells young people that what is shared is of value. They also convey that mistakes and failures are simply a way to grow and to discover what one can find true. Thus, these teachers help develop courage in their students, for it takes great courage to be true to one’s Inner Light and express it. During these years of growth and self-discovery, how crucial is security, the sense of being respected, of being loved, that these teachers provide. Another way students learn about their Inner Light is to be taught the value of silence. It was my own students who showed me this when I was beginning to teach at AFS. One
winter noon hour, a group of students burst into my room. Obviously, they had been throwing snowballs outside. “Whatever will I do with you?” I asked this obstreperous crowd as I smiled at them. “You’ll do what any good Quaker lady would do,” one of them told me. “You’ll have a moment of silence.” And so we did, and then we slipped easily into examining Shakespeare. Most teachers at AFS begin classes with silence. I recently asked a group of Middle School children how this affected them. “It helps us to focus,” they replied. How well they understood that in rushing from the intensity of one class to a totally different one, silence helps them to “center down,” to be ready to listen again. “Centering” is an excellent term for finding where one really is, what is really important, what needs to be done next. Stress and life’s pressures diminish us all. The use of silence is a gift to prepare our students to live in tune with their inner selves, “to focus,” as they say, on what is important. Obviously, what is most valuable for our students in learning integrity is going to weekly Meeting for Worship. Over many years, when I have asked graduates what they most valued about their time at AFS, so many of them answered, “Meeting for Worship.” As they physically leave behind the intense activity of their classrooms, they walk along the path through the cemetery toward the
Meetinghouse. Scuffling though the autumn leaves, crunching the winter snow, breathing spring as it opens, they can set aside the pressures of their studies to enter the quiet of the Meetinghouse. They are indeed “under the care of the Meeting.” Each of these children can carry with them into their future this place of peace. There, in the simplicity of that large, quiet room, as they sit on the benches and settle into the silence, they can “come down where they ought to be.” Yet, this time is much more than just centering oneself. It is a communal silence out of which students share with each other the inner truths they are discovering. They become a community of seekers, listening, sharing what they have learned about living, sharing their joys, their frustrations, their griefs. They come to understand that they are all friends, “Friends of the Truth.” Despite their many differences, they come to feel the deep love that, long after they have graduated, often reaches out over time and distance. Out of this comes a strong sense of integrity, the sense that “this is how I wish to live.” As the school shares the Meetinghouse, so the Meeting shares its love and care with the school. Both urge, despite life’s struggles and stresses, that one must learn “to seek peace” as one learns to live a life that “satisfies the soul.”
Testimonies: The Ghost Walk By Lillian Swanson One of the first things you notice upon entering Abington Friends School is that the blond wooden lockers lining the halls are missing one notable thing — locks. Then, you see bookbags scattered every which way upon the floors, dropped in a hurry by students secure in the knowledge that they’ll be there when they return. The lockers and the bookbags speak to simplicity and integrity, two of the Quaker values that are evident — in understated yet powerful ways — just about everywhere you look on the AFS campus. In fact, “Evidence of Testimonies: A Ghost Walk” was the name of the unusual tour of the classrooms, library and hallways that Middle School Teachers Roseanne Liberti and Erin Timmer led during an In Service Day in October. They and colleagues on the tour found abundant signs of the six testimonies — simplicity, integrity, equality, peace, community, stewardship — that are the underpinnings of a Quaker education.
A reprise of that tour, conducted by Roseanne this spring, began by noting that the school’s architecture itself exudes a simplicity in design and color palette. The grey stone walls, cream-colored halls and wooden doors made of golden oak are tied together with a grey carpet. Wide expanses of glass seem to let the outside in. Taken together, it’s a quietly elegant canvas upon which all that happens here is written. The hallways of the Upper, Middle and Lower Schools are adorned with multiple and varied posters along with student pottery and self portraits that speak to peace, integrity and equality. Community is everywhere as students eat lunch together in small clusters and gather in The Commons for service projects and bake sales. Outside, simple wooden benches face each other in community, and invite reflection on the natural beauty of the campus. Evidence of stewardship abounds, too, from the recycling containers outside Hallowell Gym to the boot recycling exchange in the Lower School to a National Wildlife Federation Schoolyard Habitat sign that reads, “These grounds offer outdoor learning opportunities for students and the entire community.” All these signs, pointing to the six testimonies, silently reinforce the timeless values that are as much a part of a Quaker education at AFS as every academic subject taught here.
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The 6 Quaker Testimonies Integrity — living as whole people who act on what we believe, tell the truth, and do what we say we will do. Simplicity — focusing on what is truly important and letting other things fall away. Equality — treating everyone, everywhere, as equally precious to God; recognizing that everyone has gifts to share. Community — supporting one another in our faith journeys and in times of joy and sorrow; sharing with and caring for each other. Peace & Social Justice — seeking justice and healing for all people; taking away the causes of war in the ways we live. Care for the earth — valuing and respecting all of God’s creations; using only our fair share of the earth’s resources; working for policies that protect the planet. —As defined by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Life Compass Points Peace
Carol Wolf, Early Childhood Teacher
Becca Ethridge Bubb ’02 School Committee Member Growing up at Abington Friends taught me to live my life in a way that aligns with Quaker values. In fact, I remember someone telling me that Quakerism is more of a “philosophy” than a “religion” because, ultimately, it’s really just showing someone how to be a good person. While I disagree with the notion that Quakerism is only a set of principles, I do find that the six testimonies tend to inform how I engage with the world. In my adult life, the testimony of community has played a big role in my life. The closeknit youth groups in which I grew up were such a vital part of forming who I am as an adult. Communities like AFS, Abington Meeting, Abington Quarter, and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, all helped me figure out who I am as a person, and as a Quaker. When I moved back to Philadelphia after college, I wanted to give back to those communities. I began by working with the
high school youth group, but quickly began getting involved in leadership positions in many of the other Quaker communities I grew up in. For me, giving back in this way makes me continue to stay connected. I continue to reap my own personal benefits by doing so. I am still growing as a person and as a Quaker as part of these communities. But perhaps more important now, I am beginning to plant the seeds of the importance of community, connectedness, and giving back in my 1-year-old daughter, Cora, who I hope will be able to thrive in community as she grows up, too.
Raji Malik, Kindergarten Teacher
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Five AFS alums and current teachers were asked to choose and write about one of the Quaker testimonies that has helped guide their life journeys.
At AFS, we all share an important mission. At the center of the work we do with children and with each other in this community is a burning calling to make this world a better place. One of the Quaker testimonies I have been thinking about a lot this year is integrity. This testimony connects well with our all-school theme of Inner Light. It felt so meaningful to have discussions about Inner Light and kindness with the children in our classroom. As one of our students said, “Being with friends makes my light shine.
I find peace present in even the smallest moments of each day as well as in my grandest ideas about the meaning of existence. As a teacher of the tiniest people at Abington Friends School, peaceful is not a word generally used to describe my classroom. However, when a parent comes in exasperated after a long weekend and asks me how I do this all day, “Peace” is my answer. I search for that quiet calm place inside and join my kids in their quest to find it for themselves. It is in pausing to take a breath together, to be silent for a moment. It’s in a touch or a hug. It is a central part of our ongoing struggle to connect with one another. My kids are learning how to solve the conflicts that are an inevitable part of their lives as increasingly social beings. By quieting their anger, they are learning to see and feel from the perspective of their friend. They find power in being able to create peaceful resolutions. Peace is an immense force for good. It is the journey that we are on and, hopefully, our eventual destination.
Friends are the best presents, so you don’t even need presents like toys.” In kindergarten, we also have been experimenting with our attention. We have discovered that mindful breathing helps us to focus our attention. We also made another surprising discovery. When we take a moment to breathe, we become more peaceful and calm. The simple act leads us to act in a way that is more patient and compassionate. Every time we take a mindful breath, we move forward in the world with more integrity. What a lovely discovery!
Simplicity By Nate Kleinman ’00 There’s a reason why “simplicity” is almost always the first Quaker testimony on any list: all of the other testimonies spring from simplicity.
of organizing and sustainable agriculture, that I realized how important it is to have a purpose beyond one’s own self.
Yet, I find it to be the most difficult to put into action.
There’s an elegant simplicity inherent to a purposed life, though it may still contain numerous complications and distractions.
Equality is the golden rule; community is how we survive together; integrity is innate (at least for most of us); stewardship is common sense; peace only natural.
My favorite Quaker role model lived a stone’s throw from Abington Meeting, across the stream in a hand-built home dug into the ground.
But in a world as complex and magical as this one, simplicity is practically a contradiction.
Benjamin Lay was a profile in simplicity and purpose. So opposed was he to slavery, he completely forswore sugar, tea and cotton, all then produced by slave labor. He and his wife grew all their own food and even their own flax for clothing. He believed everyone had the right to the simple (though busy) life he pursued for himself.
Most of us strive to make our lives more complicated by pursuing careers, traveling, making art, playing sports, building social connections, starting families. (What could be more complicated than family?) We set goals and we work to achieve them. Undoubtedly, this complicates our lives, but — crucially — it also gives them purpose. I once thought it was enough to aim toward personal development. I thought a “great job” (whatever that means) was a fine goal in and of itself. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I devoted myself first to political organizing, then to a fruitful combination
Peace & Social Justice Todd Pitock ’83
At a time when many Quakers still held slaves in bondage, Lay agitated for abolition. He published more than 200 pamphlets and polemics, often with the help of his friend Ben Franklin. In order to dramatize the hypocrisy of “peace-loving” Quakers who yet believed they could keep fellow humans in chains, he once donned a military uniform and splattered fake blood across a Meetinghouse by stabbing a hollowed-out Bible filled with pokeberry juice. Between my junior and senior years at AFS, I joined a Friends League trip to Cuba. This was 1982, in the heat of the Cold War, and the U.S. government had imposed a travel ban. The Friends were challenging that ban, and we were permitted to visit while the court heard arguments. The two-week journey was in the spirit of peace and social justice, and we spent long days in discussion with Cubans in Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin (where we met Cuban “Quakeros”) and the Isle of Youth. For me, it was a deep and life-changing experience, filled with encounters that put us through an exercise of compassion, of trying to imagine the world, and this particular conflict, through the eyes of people on the other side of it. It made me challenge the conventional wisdom of my own side. This was a theme in many classes at AFS.
(A “founding father” if there ever was one, Ben Lay’s story is obscure today. Because he was a radical, he has been largely excised from the history books. We’re taught to admire and emulate the slave-holding aristocrats who debated in their powdered wigs, but not the pamphleteering farmer who agitated in his homegrown linen.) Just a year before his death, Quakers as a whole finally decided to oppose slavery and Lay proclaimed that he could now die a happy man. His complicated path had taken him from England, to Barbados, to Philadelphia, and ultimately to Abington. But by the end, his simple, single-minded purpose had been achieved. From our perspective, of course, everything they knew was propaganda, but it was a radical notion that we were also perhaps unwitting consumers of propaganda. That got me started reading in a more serious and inquisitive way, and ultimately led me into journalism, which, at its best, is itself a quest for truth, if not peace and social justice. Even in the end if you still believe in your own view, it’s a healthy exercise to consider others and how it’s possible to find common ground and workable solutions that promote equity and justice. Sometimes, I learned in Cuba, one truth doesn’t rule out others, and occasionally seemingly opposite things can be true even at the same time.
Faculty Farewells This June, we’ll say farewell to seven longtime educators, each of whom has served more than 20 years and has meant so much to the AFS community.
Upper School Math Teacher, All-School Math Department Chair, 43 years
Williams Instructor in Science, Upper School, 32 years
By Chris Hunter, Biology and Chemistry Teacher, and Niall Hood, Upper School Math Teacher
By Kristina Denzel Bickford, Upper School Science Teacher, and Rosanne Mistretta, Lower School Science Teacher
personal experiences to help create a sympathetic and empathic space where students can embrace and understand their sexual identity without judgment, and with unconditional acceptance.
For Carol Palmer, the students always come first. She is a nurturing teacher who treats each student as an individual, doing her best to bring out the mathematician within each child. Hundreds of math students have benefitted from her clear, straightforward approach to teaching and her love of puzzles and problem solving. She is a patient, reassuring presence and her teaching draws in even the most reluctant math students. She always seems to know what will engage a student, from the Geometry house-design assignment to the crosscountry basketball pass. There never seems to be a time when Carol’s classroom is empty. Students go there for help and advice, a space to gather for a quiet lunch conversation, or maybe the chance to unwind with a Sudoku puzzle. For many years, Carol’s classroom was also the gathering place for the student Gay/Straight Alliance. She has helped to foster a strong voice for our LGBT community. Using her
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We both had the good fortune to spend many years on the same grade team as Carol. She brought with her an endless list of icebreakers, games and activities. She was also an organizational force, who somehow knew exactly what an entire class of 12th graders would eat for breakfast and the most efficient way to organize an 80-student game of Gotcha. As an advisor, she would patiently strive to understand a problem from all perspectives and then always, always search for a solution that was in the best interest of the student. Carol offers her guidance not only to students, but also to her colleagues. She is there to calmly listen to every question and (seemingly) insurmountable problem and offer a solution founded on wisdom and experience. On committees, she contributes without ego, but instead with grace, kindness and camaraderie. AFS will be a different place without her, but we have no doubt that her legacy will endure within the institution and within the minds and hearts of every student and colleague who has crossed her path.
With a quiet calm and an ever-present smile, Emily Paar has led many students through the complexity and details found in the subject of Chemistry. Though she has taught abstract, challenging material throughout her career, her sense of humor and playful nature have allowed her to create a warm, inviting classroom experience that allows even the most wary student to bravely approach the subject. For many years, her students credited her with “inventing chemistry” because she was so good at it. A strong and consistent proponent of student research, Emily dedicated substantial time and energy to mentoring student Independent Research Projects. Using her encyclopedic knowledge — from acid rain to zooplankton — of
experimental systems, she has spent hours guiding students through the challenges of research design and presentation. She then chaperoned students as they attended science fairs, both local and international. As a colleague, Emily was an inspirational leader in her role as department chair. She always mentored new science faculty with consistent support and guidance. Her gentle manner and humorous spirit created a department environment of collegiality and collaboration. Lower, Middle and Upper school faculty always were fully included in all discussions about the vision for a science curriculum that focused on excellence and innovation. Under Emily’s leadership, Science Night grew to be an all-school event that is consistently one of the most well-attended events at AFS. Beyond the science department, Emily was a supportive presence in the lives of her students and advisees. There almost always was a student sitting near her desk, seeking her patient help with a tricky chemistry concept or just dropping in for a chat (and some amazing baked goods). For many years the science office was also the hub of prom planning, as Emily calmly guided groups of students through menus, venues, DJs and photographers. Whether it was celebrating Halloween in class with a cool chemical reaction that turned from clear to orange to black; sharing her love for and great skill in quilting and embroidery, or losing herself in a fit of giggles when someone said something that struck her as funny, Emily shared herself and her knowledge with students throughout her career.
“Lower, Middle and Upper school faculty always were fully included in all discussions about the vision for a science curriculum that focused on excellence and innovation.”
Dr. Mary Eno Consulting psychologist, 27 years By Rachel Kane, Middle School Director Other than my own, there are only three phone numbers that I know by heart: my parents’ home number, Administrative Assistant Regina Lynch’s office number, and the work number of Dr. Mary Eno. (I can’t tell you how impressive I feel when I can recite a phone number to families who need it at the drop of a hat!) Though technically she is only “at” AFS one day a week, Mary’s expertise, her availability and her responsiveness make it feel like she is a full-time faculty member. Day or night, weekday or weekend, I know that if I call Mary, not only will I hear back, but I immediately will feel a partnership and support that is invaluable. It took me very little time at all to recognize how important Mary is in the life of the School. The first few days that I was at AFS, the then-director of Middle School was away on a field trip, and I found myself in the middle of a student situation that was of deep concern. He directed me to Mary,
whom I had probably met once, if that, and she talked me through everything I needed to do. Her ability to immediately step in, to assess a concern with objectivity, intelligence and compassion, and to support everyone involved in the situation, including the student, the student’s family and me, elicited an immediate trust that I hold dear to this day. Sometimes we grow through challenge, sometimes through experiences, and sometimes growth has come through active mentorship, or through someone directly naming a strength or challenging an idea. Mary is someone who has served as a mentor to so many of us here. Both professionally and personally, she knows the AFS community members and cares for them in ways they may not even recognize. I am so thankful to have spent the last nine years in partnership with Mary and wish her the best as she moves into the next of the many adventures I know she has planned.
Debbie Stauffer Associate Head of School, Upper School Director, 41 years By Rich Nourie, Head of School In her time here, Deb has contributed to AFS in an incomprehensible variety of roles, ranging from serving as director of every division of the school to varsity coach of multiple Friends Schools League championship girls’ basketball teams. Since 1998, she’s been Associate Head of School, where she’s overseen student support services for the whole school, the physical plant and athletics. For the last year and a half, she’s run the Upper School, too, jumping in once again to serve the School where needed.
In one of the dozens of roles she’s held at AFS over 41 years, Deb Stauffer was my daughter’s 8th grade basketball coach. One day as we were walking to the car after practice, Jenna said to me, “Deb Stauffer is an amazing coach. I knew a coach could motivate you, but I didn’t know a coach could actually make you better as a player.” Deb’s career has been one of making people, including me, better at what they do. She is a master teacher and manager of people because of her clear thinking, careful listening and simplicity in directing attention to the heart of an issue. Underlying all of that is her love of this school and the people in it.
As my partner in leadership, my right hand in almost every aspect of running the school, Deb has been the best colleague of my 33 years in Friends education. From her trademark “We don’t have to do decide this right now, but we should probably start thinking about…” to her ability to bring every issue down to the question of how it affects children, she has been the best possible mentor to me as a first time Head of School and an excellent friend through all the joys, challenges and surprises of leading a school day to day. I will miss our 5 a.m. conversations about snow days — with Deb monitoring several computer screens at her house and me out in the middle of my street trying to figure out just how slippery it is. Deb’s mark on the school is indelible. We are the humane, respectful, caring and well-run community we are because of Deb’s heart, mind and spirit. She has made us better by caring about every single thing she did for AFS just as much as she cared about coaching a middle school girls’ basketball team when my daughter was in 8th grade.
“We are the humane, respectful, caring and well-run community we are because of Deb’s heart, mind and spirit.” 32
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Donna Haines Middle School Art Teacher, 34 years By Sandy Scott Mraz, 2nd Grade Teacher Donna Haines was my first teacher when I came to AFS in 1995. I was not a student, as you might think, but a teacher with nearly 20 years of experience. I came to teach second grade, and Donna taught the other class in that grade. Despite my experience, I was at a loss when it came to knowing much about the big Social Studies topic for second grade — Ancient Egypt! Donna kindly suggested that we group the classes together so that I could learn along side the students, and it worked beautifully! Now, after 20 additional years of exploring the fascinating world of ancient Egypt with many more second graders, I cannot help but think back to that first year with Donna. Though she later moved on to teaching art in Middle School, so much of the curriculum we use and the books we read in second grade are the ones that she shared that first year. As a teacher, she embodies all that is wonderful about AFS: collaboration, community and a shared love of the students and their learning. Though she is retiring, I will always think of Donna when the ancient Egyptian “artifacts” are set out, the blue tin-glazed pottery hippos are made and we read “Pepi and the Secret Names.” It is a sure sign that a new group of second graders is becoming immersed in all things Ancient Egyptian! Thank you Donna, for so generously supporting me that first year, and, in turn, supporting all the second graders I have taught since.
Jane McVeigh-Schultz Middle School English Teacher, 5th Grade Advisor, 37 years By Mary Lynn Ellis, Upper School English Teacher
Trampede of Joy,” after a line in a student’s poem. I feel that joy absolutely trampeding from her — almost daily — when she says, “Wait til you hear these amazing words someone wrote today!” Now, Jane is also teaching health, where she helps kids talk about things like social power and where she shares her own ongoing lessons in mindfulness. Her students talk fondly about “relaxing to the ringing of her singing bowl.” (See? Poetry! It comes so naturally to them now.) Thank you, Jane, for the poem you have made of your life here. Slainte!
Poet Mary Oliver asks, “Tell me what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life.” What Jane McVeigh-Schultz has done — with all her heart — is teach. She has taught her students about the power of story to explore their lives and about the way a poem can be a strong vessel to hold your deepest feelings and ideas. She has taught her colleagues that teaching is a joyful thing — there is a lot of laughter in her classroom! — and that it can change lives. Colleagues call her kind, wise, open-minded, playful, passionate. They marvel at the way she is always able to see what is wonderful about each child. “Jane took our ideas seriously and always shared one hundred percent of her heart with us,” said one former student. “She believed in me as a writer, despite how young I was,” said another. And a third: “Jane told us that we are all the main characters of our own stories, an idea that has shaped how I craft my life and how I connect with others.” Yes, Jane’s lessons have gone well beyond English. She teaches kids to be brave. She took a class to the People of Color Conference once to share what they’d learned about race from the characters in their books. She creates an annual Poetry Night where fifth graders recite by heart the poems that have mattered most to them. Jane is generous. She was the driving force behind our book, “With a Poet’s Eye.” One of the chapters in that book is called “A
Randy Schwartz Director, Jane & Mark Wilf Learning Resource Center, 24 years By Renie Campbell, Dean of Students, Upper School In her original role as all-school Learning Specialist, Randy was always an essential behind-the-scenes presence, helping us grow as a community in our understanding of how our brains work and how to use that knowledge to enhance teaching and learning. Over the past five years, though, Randy has burst into the Upper School community as a dynamic leader and innovator. In her role as founding Director of the Wilf Learning Center, she has worked to develop support and enrichment programs that have had an impact on every student in the Upper School. From leading the International Students Program, to the Ninth Grade Workshops that help freshmen practice study skills and learning strategies, to her warm presence in her cozy office where students love to gather, Randy has become an essential part of the fabric of the Upper School. The Class of 2016, in particular, feels so connected to Randy — they were the inaugural class for the Ninth Grade Workshops and the first to think of the Wilf Center as a major part of their high school
experience. They say that she is “graduating” with them, and wanted to share a few words of gratitude and farewell with her. “I remember loving the workshops,” one of these seniors said. “While I appreciated the productivity skills I acquired, more meaningful to me was the way in which Randy established herself as a mentor, confidante, someone who cares about and loves every one of her students. At the end of the year, I Photoshopped an image of the Disneyland sign so that it read, “The Wilf Center: The Happiest Place on Earth.” That sign is still taped to Randy’s door.” Another student appreciated how much Randy has supported the international students. “She respects our culture. Randy knows all of the international students personally and gives each one the necessary support. We will never forget her kindness.” What is most special about Randy, another senior said, is her ability to connect with all types of students. “Her work reaches and motivates kids in the middle of the pack as well as academic superstars, and her obvious love of what she does inspires me. She exemplifies the traits that I love about teachers at AFS: their willingness to listen, to care and to develop genuine friendships with students.”
What They Created Here Over the course of their careers, these seven education professionals have made a difference by contributing in important ways to projects and programs that have become essential pieces of the AFS experience. Asked to recount a few ideas that they had imagined or played a key role in bringing to life, here is how they described small parts of their legacy:
My whole career here started with conversations about the process of learning in addition to the “what” of learning. How does this class learn? How does this child learn? How does this family learn? And, of course, how do we teachers learn?
I went through a bunch of old files and saw programs for events that no longer existed. So, I brought back Field Day. At first, it was just for Lower School, but over time it became an all-school event. The Maypole was originally the culminating event to Field Day. That got moved to Arbor Day.
The stylistic kangaroo that we now use, I pulled from clip art and modified it just a little bit. So, I’m pleased that while I was Athletic Director, we wound up with a kangaroo on our uniforms, and I found one and tweaked it, and said how about this?
I started Science Night. Also, I designed all the science labs. I visited schools and worked with others to figure out what we needed here.
I was part of a unified effort over nearly three decades to establish and sustain a student-support team that included a division dean/director, educational consultant, school counselor, psychologist, director of student support services, parents or guardians, outside professionals and the student.
The innumerable ways to think about our work has included learning about the brain, about how people learn and struggle to learn, and how people find their paths to engaging with new ideas, facing learning challenges and finding new paths to follow. Those conversations are, I believe, what inspired the creation of the Wilf Center, which we, as a community, have built together over the years.
“The purpose of establishing a team is to bring together the key people who are central to a student’s life and figure out ways to best support him or her, building on the student’s personal efficacy and the expertise, experience, commitment and collective goodwill of the team.” —Mary Eno 34
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The purpose of establishing a team is to bring together the key people who are central to a student’s life and figure out ways to best support him or her, building on the student’s personal efficacy and the expertise, experience, commitment and collective goodwill of the team.
“The innumerable ways to think about our work has included learning about the brain, about how people learn and struggle to learn, and how people find their paths to engaging with new ideas, facing learning challenges and finding new paths to follow.” —Randy Schwartz
When I joined Carol here as a member of the physical education department, there was no health-education program in the school. Perhaps some topics were addressed in the science department, but the school lacked a comprehensive health-education program. With the administration’s blessing, Carol and I designed a health curriculum for Lower School through Upper School. The department then became the Health and Physical Education Department, PK — 12.
I collaborated with art teacher Nancy Bockbeder in 1980 to create an evening of poetry and drawings by third grade children. This has developed over time, with the help of Anne Fields, into the current evening that celebrates the poetry written and recited by fifth graders.
Also, when we arrived, the school was just fully achieving its coeducational status. As a girls’ school, the athletic program was quite strong. Introducing the boys into athletics began at the junior varsity level and then evolved into varsity-level participation. As part of the School’s Quaker tradition at that time, there were no athletic awards, even though some Quaker schools had substantial athletic accolades. The young coaches (we were all pretty young then!) got together and created and then proposed the Thode Athlete Recognition, named in honor of the late Edward Thode, the Middle School Director and a champion of athletics. After many meetings with administration and faculty, agreement was reached to allow this recognition to be presented in each varsity-level sport, girls and boys. Today, it remains the only formal AFS athletic recognition presented to our student-athletes.
I collaborated with Lynne Mass to create the first creek walks. We used to follow the AFS creek all the way into Northeast Philly. Each week, we’d drive to the spot we’d reached the week before. It was a magical experience.
Donna Haines Jeanne Quarles, a previous multicultural diversity coordinator, and I applied for and received a grant from the Friends Council on Education to create a mural on the themes of diversity and equality. The grant enabled us to buy the tools and supplies needed to create the large, colorful ceramic tile mural that hangs in the Middle School hallway. We spent a year meeting with classes at all grade levels to gather words and ideas for ways to articulate, then visually represent, equality and the celebration of diversity. Over the course of the following year, tiles were made by classes from all divisions, and I installed the mural the following summer. The mural includes a border made of the footprints of 3 and 4 year olds from our preschool division, and tiles representing a full range of cultural, community and personal identities. The central figures in the piece are
fashioned from enlarged photographs of actual AFS students, many of whom are dressed in their costumes from the play, “Fiddler on the Roof.” In preparation for an all-school Arts Day, celebrating the art of Diego Rivera, I contacted the City College of San Francisco, where Rivera’s Pan American Unity Mural resides. (Rivera painted this masterpiece, now commonly called “Pan American Unity,” in 1940.) The college shipped us the quarter-scale reproduction of the piece to hang in the Muller Lobby for several weeks, as well as a curriculum that included the history of the artist and the themes and making of the artwork itself.
Q & A with
Debbie and Carol
Debbie Stauffer and Carol Palmer talk about the changes they have seen at the school over four decades, their pioneering work and what they will miss most about AFS.
Photo by Maria S. Young
Carol Palmer says that it was “total destiny” that she was hired to be the Lower School physical education teacher at Abington Friends School in 1973. Fresh out of West Chester University, she had one year of teaching under her belt when she showed up to interview at AFS. It happened to be her birthday, and she soon learned that it was the birthday of the Lower School Director who would interview her. His birthday cake, sitting on the desk, proved to be a good icebreaker, and they went on to
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have a good conversation that led to a job offer. It also helped, Carol says, that AFS needed an archery coach, and she was qualified to do that, too. When Debbie Stauffer graduated from West Chester in 1974, she had her eye on a public school teaching job. She was hoping to become a successful basketball coach at a big program and parlay that into a college coaching job. Signing on as a basketball coach at AFS, she says, was “temporary for
me” until she could get a public school job. But in October 1975, the Upper School Physical Education teacher resigned, and after she — with the help of Carol and others — overcame Head of School Bert Mason’s qualms that she “was too competitive a coach for a Quaker school,” Debbie got the job. Now, more than 40 years later, Carol and Debbie have spent nearly their entire careers teaching and coaching at Abington Friends School, leading by example and lending their
considerable talents to all four divisions as well as the athletics program. Between them, there is virtually no program or place on campus that hasn’t felt their special imprint. Carol has coached nine different sports, in all three seasons, and is in her second stint as Math department chair. She’s been a longtime Phys. Ed. chair, athletic director three times, and run the summer camp. After teaching for seven years, Debbie rose through the administrative ranks and has served as Associate Head of School since 1998. During much of that time, she also has worn a second hat — as Director of the Preschool, Middle School and Upper School at different times as the need arose. The couple also has marked major milestones in their personal lives while working here: They had a baby, Jillian, in 1990, who went on to be an AFS student lifer, and they got married in Delaware on December 20, 2013, their 41st anniversary. As they prepared to leave, they agreed to an interview about the major changes they have seen at AFS, the social barriers they have broken here, and what they will miss the most when they retire at the end of the school year and head to their next home, in Dagsboro on Pepper Creek in southern Delaware. Here are highlights from that interview: What was life like here in the early 1970s? Carol Palmer: At that point, the all-girls school had become co-ed and they were integrating the boys into the school, grade by grade. When I got here, the boys were just freshmen. The Lower School Building hadn’t been built, and the Lower School was operating in the Triangle Building.
Debbie Stauffer: The first coed graduating class was in 1975. Peter Schorsch and Bonnie Dawson were both in that graduating class, high school sweethearts who got married, who now have had three kids graduate from here.
CP: I call kids who graduate, if I taught their parents, I call them ‘kids of kids.’ For me, their oldest son, Adam Schorsch, was my first ‘kid of a kid’ who graduated. Then I wound up helping to oversee his wedding in the Meetinghouse. That was really cool, to see him as a youngster, all the way up to getting married. Of all the jobs you’ve had, which is your favorite? DS: Running the Upper School. Because being a division director is being a teacher and being a coach. It really is not terribly different from being a varsity basketball coach, which I did for a lot of years. As a division director, I get to teach adults and kids and parents. You get the connection with the full constituency and you’re teaching all the time. Which is why it’s so rewarding.
CP: Teaching swimming. I can teach anybody to swim, and I have. I love teaching people how to swim. Second most favorite? Teaching math.
What is it about teaching swimming that speaks to you? CP: I think we really enjoy what we are good at.
In 1988, you decided as a couple that you wanted to have a baby. Carol had made a successful transition from Physical Education Chair to teaching math. Debbie was Dean of Students. But you feared rocking the boat, and even losing your jobs. One of your first steps was to seek the blessing of Bruce Stewart, head of school at the time. What happened when you met with him? DS: We went to Bruce and said that we wanted to have a baby, and we had decided that I would be the one [to carry the child] because I was a little bit younger. Bruce Stewart’s reaction was, ‘Well, get on with it. You’re not getting any younger.’
CP: And, he said, ‘You two will be great parents, I can’t wait.’ When we told him, he had tears in his eyes. He was so happy. DS: In my leadership position, as dean of students, one of the things I was concerned about was that if anyone in the community didn’t react well, it could cost the school families. Bruce was very clear that if somebody didn’t want this, they could leave. Later, I was pregnant and I knew I was going to be showing by the time spring break was over, so we made a decision that I needed to talk to the Upper School kids before spring
break. I remember being in a classroom, grade by grade, talking to them. I told the kids about us, and that we were going to have a baby. The kids were amazing. The community was incredible. Their parents were incredible. We saved every note we got. Our daughter has a box of notes from this community from when she was born. I don’t know that any family left the school, and certainly since then, there have been families who came to the school because we were here, we had a child, and they knew that their family would be welcome and their child would be safe. Do you think the fact that you are a gay couple helped other people here? DS: Without a doubt. Especially the decision to have a child. We’ve had students who were comfortable coming out.
What are some of the big changes you have seen here over the years? DS: Some of the big changes for me have been directly associated with the time of the world. The world was a certain way in the late ’70s, and AFS was a reflection of that. There was a period of time when people were really laid back. There were hippies. That carried over into the school. There was an informality and a casualness here, as there was in the country during that period.
In the early ’90s, during the Bruce Stewart era, the school was having healthy enrollment and a little bit of a growth spurt. That’s when honors courses were introduced into the Upper School. After that came the AP classes. Today, [Head of School] Rich [Nourie] has a clear vision for how we differentiate ourselves among other top-tier, independent schools. I am very confident that enrollment is going to grow. I think that the vision is really clear, and really right. I’m talking about our push toward thinner walls and experiential learning. I think Rich is right there on the cutting edge of that, and it is going to serve the school very well.
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Another big change was building all these buildings. Lower School, the connecting wings, the Muller auditorium, the Tyson Arts Wing, the Goodman Science Wing. A big project was Student Street, the Stewart Lobby and the Faulkner Library. When this was being done, there were construction fences everywhere. The Upper School Office was in a trailer out by the pool.
it’s done. If it’s done in the Quakerly process, everyone accepts it fine, and if it’s a rushed decision and a defensive decision, it’s a decision only to appease that squeaky wheel, people get upset. The more people you can include in the process, even if they are just listening to the process and not making the decision, usually the smoother it goes.
CP: I remember when students helped with the move from the Triangle Building to the Lower School. They all had their book bags, and they filled them with books from the library, and off they went. I had a whole crew of kids who had to move the phys. ed. equipment — hoops and big balls, small balls, everything had to be moved.
DS: The advice I would give is the same advice I would give to myself. Don’t lose your sense of humor. You must have a sense of humor to do this work and to do it well. Don’t lose sight of ‘that of God.’ Very few decisions have to be made the moment you hear a decision has to be made. Almost every decision benefits from some reflection, some consultation. Unless it’s a true emergency, take time with decisions so that you are ultimately making the best decision.
What advice would you give to those picking up school leadership roles from you? CP: To listen to all sides, not just the noisy wheel. I find in Quaker schools, including ours, it’s not what’s done, it’s how
And, as much as possible, in decision-making, follow the idea of ‘who is the meeting?’ Who are the people who should be involved in the decision? Are they involved because
they should be consulted, or should they be involved in the actual decision-making? Or should they actually make the decision? CP: I would throw in that when you’re making a decision, you’re making it based on what’s in the best interest of the students. It’s not what’s easiest for the teachers. The students are vital here, and they come first. I often tell new teachers that I teach as though every student’s parent is standing in the back of the room. When you’re addressing kids, making sure you are including everyone, keeping chaos from happening, just everything. If that’s how you conduct your class, you really teach well.
What Quaker values have underpinned your work? Debbie Stauffer: The idea that there is ‘that of God,’ that there is light in everyone. When you are the Dean of Students or the Division Director, you can’t ever forget that. Sometimes, you are dealing with kids who have made bad decisions or adults who have made bad decisions. The idea that you can make a bad decision and not be a bad person is really, really important. It’s always with me. Another piece of Quakerism that I really hang on to is the idea of continuing revelation. That things happen for a reason, things change for a reason, and if you stick with things long enough, you may see something in a different way than you saw it before, you may have an “ah ha” moment that may end up being one of the most important moments you’ve had to that point.
DS: One other piece I would add to this is … one of the things that is so important in this school is the healthy tension between individual and community. Thinking about whether something is good for the individual and maybe not for the community. And where you find the right balance between individual and community. I think in leadership that is really important.
That doesn’t mean the other values aren’t important, but in my everyday life here, those two are right there all the time.
An example is when thinking about whether something goes to the Disciplinary Advisory Committee, and thinking about what’s best for the individual and what’s best for the community. Is this an infraction that moves forward into that arena to be handled by a group of students and teachers, or is it better for the individual and the community to be handled in a more private way?
I always say that Quaker teaching practices are just good teaching practices.
When you leave, what items will you take with you? CP: I’ll take the scrapbook that the kids, my advisory, made for me when my mom died.
DS: It’s really funny, it’s really more about what I won’t take. Toni Williamson wants my desk. That’s my personal desk. We bought it at an auction. It has moved to every office with me. [Facilities Manager] Frank Benner is tired of moving it. But he’s going to have to move it one more time because it’s staying and going to Toni’s office.
Carol Palmer: One of my most vivid high school memories is fighting with my Problems of Democracy teacher, telling him that I didn’t believe in war. And he basically belittled me in front of the class. It wasn’t until I came here and learned more about Quakerism that I realized I was finally among people who believed the same thing I did. So, I was very happy to be here, and that tenent, I think, helped bring me here. We both joined the Meeting. Peace is one of big ones for me.
[Athletic Director] Jeff Bond will get the big trophy on my windowsill. I’m hoping somebody will take my plants. I’m hoping somebody will take those kangaroos on the bookshelf. There are a couple of basketball souvenirs. I’ll take those with me. They’re from teams, kids.
What will you miss about AFS? CP: I’ll miss the collegial conversations. We won’t have that. And the number of students that we won’t be around. It’s been 40 years for both of us, and we’ve spent most of our lives around teenagers, kids. Not having that will be very different.
DS: It’s all about people. You don’t miss the buildings. You miss the people. There are a lot of adults here who I’ve worked with and known for a long time. So, I will certainly miss them.
Is there anything else that you’d like to say? DS: The school has been here for so long because it has always cared about the people. Whether it’s the kids or the staff or the parents, the people have always been at the center of this school’s mission. I think that’s why the school is so special to so many graduates. That’s why people love coming here to teach, and why they stay. It’s about the people.
CP: I think we’re very thankful to all the people we’ve come in contact with, our colleagues and our kids. And before we had Jill, they were all our kids. We’re kind of possessive, in a good way, about them all. —Lillian Swanson
Dedicating the garden, from left, are Nancy Popkin (Emily’s sister), Marjorie Gleit, Susan and Ivan Popkin (Emily’s parents), Stephanie Gleit, Debby Popkin Amsellem (Emily’s sister) and Danny Bleznak.
The Emily Popkin ’89 Memorial Garden Mirrors Her Love of the Outdoors When Emily Popkin ’89 passed away in March 2015, former classmate Stephanie Gleit ’89, Emily’s parents, Sue and Ivan Popkin, and lifelong friend Danny Bleznak ’88 wanted to create a tribute to Emily, who loved the outdoors and AFS. Soon, the idea of a memorial garden was born. Following its dedication on October 29, 2015, the Emily Popkin ’89 Memorial Garden, located behind the farmhouse and in the center of campus, quickly became a popular gathering spot for students looking for a quiet moment in the sunshine. Emily herself was an advocate for the environment, so the garden was a particularly fitting tribute in her memory.
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alumni notes Go well, stay well, come home 1941 Emilie Walker Oppenheim is enjoying living in Provincetown, Mass., and Naples, Fla. She is a landscape painter in oils. She wants to connect with classmates and can be reached at 580 E. Lake Drive, Naples, FL 34102. Please write!
1948 Katharine Essick Harms writes, “We took our two ‘old’ children on a cruise. All we had to do was step off the Charleston peninsula and onto the cruise ship. We spent New Year’s Eve on the ship. This will forever embed itself into our memories as the Christmas/New Year’s time we spent on a ship! Other Christmas times easily become ‘just another Christmas.’ This was Mary’s and Paul’s first cruise. They looked at the whole cruise and ports with new eyes. In fact, they almost looked too long and we worried about them boarding in time to leave with the ship. Now, what can we do next year?”
1949 Helen Scott Robinson writes, “Peggy William Kelly and I both live at Fellowship Village. Still classmates!”
1952 Evelyn Steelman Doane writes, “I so enjoy selling lovely homes in Chatham and the adjoining towns on Cape Cod! Most of my clients are second-home buyers and want to create some wonderful memories with their families. I spend some time in Naples, Fla., during the winter, too, but thanks to the
computer and cell phone, I have been fortunate in selling several homes on the Cape every year while enjoying the Florida sunshine. Other than my work, I enjoy playing golf at Eastward Ho, a spectacular course overlooking Pleasant Bay in Chatham.”
1954 Diane Shaffer Castor writes, “Bruce and I are living in a 55+ community just outside of Skippack, Pa. Both of our children are close — Edie in Glenside and Bruce in Lederach. We are both fine.”
1956 Christine Lapp Donahower sent in this photo “of my marriage to Chuck Clayton (my high school and college sweetheart, who spent a lot of time at AFS) on March 21, 2015, officiated by another alum, MaryJo McConnell Mellberger ’61. Happily ever after!”
1962 Rebecca Phillips Morehouse writes, “It is with a heavy heart that I let friends know that our son, Michael, passed away on Dec. 16, 2015, from complications of a major congenital heart defect. Over his 37 years, he defied the odds; led a normal life of school, college and job; enjoyed travel and married the love of his life. He showed us how to live with vigor and hope, and how to bounce back from medical events to live with purpose. Steve and I continue to embrace time with our son Scott and his wife and children (6 and 4), and we are getting more serious about downsizing for the next chapter of our lives.”
1963 Judith Chestnut Fuss, class scribe, writes, “Betsy Mayers has made Asheville, N.C., her home for more than 25 years. Always an outdoors enthusiast, Betsy has taken full advantage of Asheville’s rich natural environment. Her interest in kayaking led to the publication of two books on exploring regional waterways, ‘Paddling Asheville’ (2000) and ‘Paddling Asheville and Southern Appalachia’ (2004). When Betsy decided to build herself a home, she used the environmentalism seeded by AFS science teacher Grace Tees, an early environmentalist, to craft an eco-friendly house that operates largely off the grid. Directional siting for solar gain and use of an in-floor heating system maximizes the benefits of heating, while her wooded lot allows for natural cooling during the summer. Use of solar collectors provides hot water
and maximal insulation greatly reduces the carbon footprint. While Betsy admits she no longer takes solo river trips, she did re-shingle her own roof in 2015! She also line dances 2-3 times per week. The Class of ’63 is a planning a trip to Asheville in October 2017 to explore with Betsy the various area attractions. Mark your calendars, Ladies of ’63, if you haven’t already done so — October 16-18, 2017. The B&B is already reserved! Details will follow in 2017.
Christina Wagner Kearney writes, “After 45 years of teaching art and being Head of the Art Department at The Shipley School for 37 years, I have moved on to paint, travel and spend time with my grandson. In September, they had an alumni exhibition of my past students and dedicated the new Arts Center.”
Family Photo: Left to right, Jon Kearney (son), Maurice Willis (son), Christina Wagner Kearney ’67, Michael Kearney (husband) and Sarah Labuda (daughter).
1968 Becky Van Buren writes, “I continue to live in Denver, Colo., (since 1975!) and love the West. For the past six years, I’ve been the Visual Arts teacher at Mackintosh Academy, an International Baccalaureate PreK-8th grade school in Littleton, a suburb of Denver. I love teaching art, and I appreciate our community of close-knit families! My youngest son, Lyle Lakota Baer, is a sophomore at Savannah College of Art and Design; two older children are living and working on the East Coast, and one works overseas in Vienna. Last summer, my husband, Steve, Lyle, and I had wonderful travels to Denmark, Estonia and Finland, staying with friends in most places. Over spring break in March, I’m flying to South Carolina and taking my 88-year-old mom and my son, Lyle, to Florida. Yay, road trips!”
1967 Sallie Guckes Derr writes, “After working for 20 years in the U.S. Senate for several Senators, and on both the Energy and Budget committees, I decided it was time to retire. I sold my home in Virginia and purchased a house in York, Pa. I’m now enjoying time with my four children and six grandchildren. I also have developed my own stained glass business, which I hope to grow while I am living in York. “I also have become a court appointed special advocate (CASA) and I am working with children who have been removed from their homes and placed in foster care. Finally, I have been enjoying cruising. I’m looking forward to a long cruise at the end of September, when we will go for 45 days to Australia.”
1969 Robin Becker has new poems coming out in 2016 in “The American Poetry Review,” a premier literary journal published at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Her poem, “Theory,” appeared in the March 28 issue of “The New Yorker.” She has been taking violin lessons for 18 months and will soon tackle the “Bach Double.”
Nancy Barto Hemmerich writes, “My husband and I just completed our second trip to New Zealand. We have now hiked six different tracks, all but one on the South Island. It’s simply a beautiful, clean country where humor rules. While the younger generations dominate the backcountry, there were plenty of “gray hairs” to share stories with as well. Anyone looking for advice or information should feel free to contact me — email@example.com.”
1972 Lynda Ann Martin Paquette will be releasing Volume I of her book series this spring, “Walking Through Your Walls: Loving Yourself And Everyone Else, Humanity’s Handbook to Living Consciously in the 21st Century.” Twice a week, Lynda also hosts a heart-based mediation circle, called Love by LIGHT (LIGHT is an acronym for Luminary Initiates Gathered Here Together.) Lynda also operates lodging, Angels Rest on Resurrection Bay, in Alaska, and encourages everyone to visit Alaska!
Victoria Vaniver Winter wants to remind classmates that their 45th reunion will be in 2017! “Let’s make an effort to do something this time! We live locally but travel often!” she wrote. “We were a small class and wonder if we should do a reunion with the class above and below us! I am facebook friends with some, but encourage others to join and begin the conversation!”
1975 Marci Abramowitz Goldshlack writes, “I continue to do well in my new and hopefully final position as regional trainer for StoneMor Partners. I also continue to do my stand-up comedy from time to time. Send me a note and I’ll be happy to put you on my list when I perform in the area. I was excited to reconnect with old friends from my 40th reunion. My twin boys, Ellis and Jacob, will be graduating from high school and will be college-bound this year. I can’t believe they will be 18.”
1976 Jane Page writes, “I continue to make Manhattan home with my husband, Tom, and son, Benjamin, 9. I enjoy my work as a practitioner of Chinese medicine and acupuncture, as well as humor-writing with my writing partner. Benjamin loves acting, dance, and baseball — he’s strong on stage and in film, and elegant on the pitching mound! Tom’s green contracting business (Carpistry) offers people non-toxic solutions to home renovations, a much-needed service in this day and age! We’ve enjoyed recent trips to New Mexico and Iceland and look forward to a Canadian adventure this summer. Cheers!”
1977 Mary Wells Ogden writes, “I am in my 33rd year of teaching and my 18th year at The Pingry School in Short Hills, N.J. I have just been elected to City Council in Summit, N.J. I have been married to Henry Ogden and we have two children. One child lives in Memphis, Tenn., and the other one is graduating in May from Syracuse University. I am very busy with teaching and serving on City Council, but love them both. I hope all my fellow classmates are doing well and look forward to reading about what they are up to.”
1979 Sindy Paul Friedman will receive the prestigious 2016 Ray Casterline Award for Excellence in Writing from the Federation of State Medical Boards. She is being honored for her article, “The Misuse and Abuse of Prescription Medications: Medical Regulation, Prevention and Care Initiatives in New Jersey.” The award will be presented on April 30, 2016, at the Federation of State Medical Boards’ annual meeting in San Diego.
1980 Chris Arms writes, “I have been a
in London, Scandinavia, Los Angeles, New York and Nashville. I have worked with Maurice White of Earth, Wind, & Fire; Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, Al Jarreau, and many others, including incredible songwriters that go unknown. “I started my own studio and production company and have written and produced every style of music. I also ran the main mixing console for Enon Baptist Church. I have a beautiful wife, Beth, and we have been married for over 20 years. We have 18- and 15-year-old daughters.”
1983 Ian MacInnes, chair and professor of English at Albion College, was named 2015 Michigan Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The award was for extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching. Ian is also director of the Foundation for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity.
1984 Dr. Joyann Kroser writes, “Greetings from Glen Mills, Pa.! I was thrilled to share the celebration of my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah with classmates Kathy Hazen, Jennifer Daugherty and Courtney Horrigan on Oct. 17, 2015. I was thrilled they could be there! It’s been fun keeping up with many classmates on social media, too. My girls play lacrosse, softball and soccer and their activities keep us running around. In keeping with tradition, my youngest plays goalkeeper, too, but only in soccer, not lax. I am currently the President-Elect of the Delaware County Medical Society and I serve on The Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Society of Gastroenterology. I am thankful for all the great memories of AFS, and send best wishes to all my classmates and former teachers!”
professional songwriter/producer working for BMG international and Warner Bros. I have been traveling all over, spending time
Stacey Schneider Harbaugh has
Nathan Hopson writes, “Beginning to fear
Jamie Bromberg Tretola writes, “I just
started her own small business, Your Kitchen Assistant, LLC. She is a Kitchen & Party Assistant, Caterer & Event Planner. She is currently enrolled in The Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College, pursuing degrees in Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry.
I’m about to cross my own timeline and cause a paradox. Here’s why: 1. I teach Japanese and East Asian history in Japan (in English) to international students. 2. I recently accepted a Japan Foundation fellowship to do research at Penn State this summer for my second book. So this summer, I’ll be an American teaching Japanese history in Japan, taking Japan Foundation money to research Japan in America. My apologies in advance if some sort of non-Euclidian implosion occurs in midstate Pennsylvania between June and August. Assuming it doesn’t, though, I’d love to catch up with AFS people this summer.”
wanted to say hello to my fellow classmates. I am wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2016. I now live in northern New Jersey with my husband and two children, Alyssa, 7, and Daniel, 5. We recently had a fantastic first trip to Disney World as a family. After taking many years off to be home with my children, I look forward to possibly heading back to work in my field of special education.”
1992 Molly McDonald Foley writes “Liz Spielman Klein ’96 and I are friends and neighbors who reconnected through our kids’ sporting events! We have celebrated Halloween together for the past five years at our annual BOO FEST! AFS living strong in Princeton Junction, N.J.!”
Sarah Caldwell writes, “I’m excited to announce that I’m reporting for a new series called ‘11 for the Cure,’ which highlights breast-cancer-related stories in the Baltimore area. I continue in my role as anchor of [Channel] ‘11 News at Noon’ and as a reporter for the WBAL-TV morning show.” She says she is thoroughly enjoying watching her two boys, now 14 and 12, develop and prosper. “My best to everyone there in the AFS family! I think of you often. :)”
1995 Jon Makler ’95 and Rebecca Fisher ’13 crossed paths in November at a transportation-industry event in Portland, Ore. Jon was giving a talk, “Understanding the Connected & Automated Vehicle Universe” and Rebecca was meeting new colleagues, having recently started an internship with a local non-profit, Community Cycling Center, that helps kids in underserved communities learn bike skills, including both riding and mechanics.
1996 Karen Meshkov and Matt Pillischer are the ecstatic parents of Asa Janos Pillischer, born on Oct. 28, 2015. The adventure of their adoption story, the ups and downs, is captured in Matt’s hand-painted children’s book, “Asa Comes Home!,” now available on Kindle. They are also celebrating the one-year anniversary of Karen being the owner and publisher of the magazine, “Natural Awakenings” of Bucks and Montgomery counties.
“I, Julie Ufberg, now Julie Ufberg Webb, am proud to announce my marriage to Christopher Webb on Oct. 3, 2015. We were married at the ACE Conference Center in Lafayette Hill, Pa. Lauren Harman ’98, introduced us and we are forever grateful to you, Lauren. We live in Elkins Park, Pa., with Chris’ daughter, Isabella, and it is a beautiful life. Gratitude.”
2001 Russell Nadel and his wife, Tara, welcomed a boy, Ari Mayer Nadel, to their family on Aug. 30, 2015. All three have been extremely busy since then! Russell continues to teach Middle School general and choral music at The Potomac School in McLean, Va., and to compose for a string of commissions on the side. He has had choral works commissioned and premiered in recent months by the Six Degree Singers and the Washington Master Chorale; a children’s opera is due to be premiered in May by the students of St. Anne’s-Belfield School in Charlottesville, Va; and compositions for solo cello and for flute and piano are due to be included in recording projects later this year, among others. He also continues to offer Orff-Schulwerk and musiceducation-technology workshops for teachers around the East Coast.
Class of 2001 friends celebrate Rachel Chernoff’s recent engagement to Thom Rainwater in New York City in February. Left to right, Ellie Silverman, Rachel Chernoff, Missy Green Present, Ashley Stempler.
mother. The officer, Jeff Heffernan, alleged in the lawsuit that he was demoted by the police chief, who said the officer was “overtly involved in a political election.” The case made it to the Supreme Court because different Circuit Courts, reviewing separate cases, had ruled differently.
2002 Mike Gallagher writes, “In February, I married Pragya Gupta in Chandigarh, India. Josh Brown, Stu Bell, Soren Krupp and Adam Freed attended. We’re all class of ’02.
Ryan Lockman’s name was listed on a brief that went before the U.S. Supreme Court in a First Amendment case brought by his Philadelphia law firm. The court heard oral arguments in the case in January. His firm, Mark B. Frost and Associates, specializes in civil rights cases, including First Amendment issues involving public employees. The case involves a Paterson, N.J., police detective, who, on his day off, picked up a political lawn sign as an errand for his bedridden
Ashley Ferguson and Brian Henske ’08
Andrew Miano has received a master’s
bought their first home, in Northern Virginia. She is working as a health-care consultant in the Washington, D.C., area.
degree in Fisheries Biology from SUNY’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry and has taken a job as a fisheries scientist with AECOM, an environmentalconsulting firm in the Philly area.
Runner Alec Peabody this spring was named Most Valuable Performer in the men’s track and field program at St. Joe’s University this spring. Alec, who is a senior at St. Joe’s, currently holds the university’s records in the indoor 300m, indoor 4x200m relay, indoor 4x400m relay and the 4x400m relay.
Elliot Williams has been awarded a
Emily Deutsch Weiss writes, “Hi, Class of 2006 and fellow AFSers! I am still living in New Hampshire and working as an elementary school reading specialist in Massachusetts. I am loving it! I just got married to the love of my life, Justin, on June 27, in Philadelphia. If anyone is in the Boston area, let me know! I would love to meet up! OH WHAT?! ’06!”
Emilia Silebi graduated in January from Lehigh University with a master’s degree in Statistics. In February, she began working as a statistical consultant for Kromite, a strategic-advisory firm that consults primarily with pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. In her free time, she enjoys playing violin with a mariachi band in restaurants in the Lehigh Valley and traveling — both abroad and to visit her far-flung friends from college.
2011 Becca Greenberg graduated from Temple University in 2015. She recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting and writing, with a focus on comedy.
2008 Morgan Pfost writes, “Shout out to the class of 2008! I am now seven months into my Master of Healthcare Administration degree at Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. In March, I am beginning an integrated Administrative Residency at the Cardiovascular Institute of the South, the largest cardio practice in the state. Best wishes to everyone for a wonderful spring semester!”
2012 David Buzaglo writes, “This May, I will graduate with a bachelor of music degree in vocal performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. I’m very excited to continue my studies in classical singing this summer as a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in the Berkshires, under the instruction of Dawn Upshaw. Next year, I plan on staying in Oberlin before applying to graduate schools for my master’s in music degree.”
highly competitive Newhouse Graduate Newspaper Fellowship for Minorities at Syracuse University. He will begin the 18-month graduate program in July, following his graduation this spring from Villanova University.
2013 Alexa Bowman has accepted an internship position with the Bucks County Children and Youth Social Services Agency. She writes, “I could not be more excited! Can’t wait to take the love, sense of family and compassion I gained at AFS and use it to help better the lives of children who may not know what having a family feels like. Miss the class of 2013!”
2014 Terren Robichaw writes, “I am having an awesome time at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va.”
in memoriam Jen spent a semester abroad in Aix in Provence, learning French and traveling throughout Europe. After graduating with a B.A. in sociology, she made the decision to live in Vail for a year. Twenty years later, Jenny had definitely found her niche.
A memorial service will be held for Jennifer Erin Pinkus ’92 at Donovan Pavilion in Vail, Colo., at 6 p.m. on June 23. Jennifer “Jen” Pinkus was born in Washington, D.C., on May 9, 1974, to loving and very excited parents, Ralph and Cheryl Pinkus. She was an adventurous child, climbing play structures and light posts for her first six years before moving to Philadelphia in 1980 with her parents and younger sister, Lauren. Jen grew up as part of the Westview Street gang, a close group of lively neighborhood children who met at the bottom of the beech tree each morning. In high school, Jen captained the tennis and lacrosse teams, graduating from Abington Friends School in 1992. She was on the crew team at the University of Vermont, but when the snow arrived she spent every weekend on the ski slopes, honing her love of dangerous trails at Tuckerman’s Ravine.
Jen’s adventurous spirit took her around the world. Besides her semester in France, she spent time in Israel working in a factory packing helmets; biking through Croatia; teaching English to children in a small town in Kenya; working as an au pair to a family in Verbier, Switzerland, and traveling to China, Thailand and Morocco, New Zealand, having adventures that no parent wants to hear about until after their child makes it back safely. She once called from Morocco to ask permission to go to Morocco. She came home with beautiful photographs of her trip. After moving to Vail, Jen became a ski instructor. She was certified to teach alpine, Nordic and snowboarding and acquired a devoted group of clients who came back year after year to ski with her. Jen completed a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Denver and began working for Eagle County Schools, teaching a variety of grades and subjects in several schools. Her creativity flourished through her teaching on and off the mountain. Jen wrote openly about her struggle with lymphoma through her prose and poetry on her Caring Bridge page. Like everything she did, Jen fought with determination to win this unforgiving battle. She passed away
on March 18, 2016, at age 41. A memorial service was held on March 21 at Rodeph Shalom in Philadelphia. Jen loved her life in Vail. She loved skinning to the top of the mountain and skiing down. She loved the challenge of climbing an ice wall and biking in Moab, Utah. But what she loved the most were her special friends and family. We will miss her beautiful smile, her kind heart, and we want to thank her community for making her smile. Contributions in her memory may be made to Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter, 100 N. 20th St., No. 405, Philadelphia, PA 19103, or Roundup River Ranch, P.O. Box 8589, Avon, CO 81620. —Republished from the “Vail Daily”
Ruth Kindt Johnson ’48 of Lakeland, Fla., formerly of Lower Gwynedd, Pa., died on Sept. 12, 2015. She was born on Sept. 12, 1930, the daughter of Charles F. Kindt Jr. and Mary Blair Godshall. She is survived by her husband, Charles S. Johnson Jr., and children Charles III of Lakeland, Fla., Scott of St. Petersburg, Fla., Mary Lee Bolton of Hamden, Conn., and Bonnie Blair Johnson of North Port, Fla. A son, Stephen, preceded her in death. Contributions may be made in her name to Keystone Health-care Services, 8765 Stenton Ave., Wyndmoor, PA 19038.
in memoriam Amy DiMarco ’76, 57, of Longmont, Colo., died on Nov. 5, 2015.
Dr. William C. Cochran P’79, P’81, 87, a retired general surgeon, died on June 27, 2015, of complications from cancer. He and his wife, Rose Specca Cochran, lived in Ambler and formerly lived in Jenkintown. He is survived by his children and their spouses, Roland ’79 and Jennifer Cochran and Sally ’81 and Paul Marshall. Dr. Cochran was a graduate of Temple University Medical School, and began work at Abington Memorial Hospital as a resident in 1951. He retired from the hospital’s staff in 1986. “He was a true gentleman whose consideration, kind words and actions touched many people,” his family said in a tribute. Memorial contributions may be sent to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 654 N. Easton Rd., Glenside, PA 19038 or to Abington Health Foundation, 1200 Old York Rd., Abington, PA 19001.
William Notley P’79, 91, of Foulkeways, Gwynedd, and formerly of Elkins Park, died on Sept. 1, 2015. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Hilda Moritz Notley. He is the father of daughters Judy ’79 and
oak leaves spring
Nancy, and sons, William and Tom. Memorial contributions may be sent to the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) or Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
Matthew Okin ’98 died in an automobile accident on March 22, 2016. He was married to Joanna Vaught and was father of Milo Bear Okin. He was a son of Louise and Michael Okin and brother to Scott Merves, Kimberly Harris, Jessica Lamb and Cynthia Okin. A memorial service was held on April 10 at Meadowbrook School. Contributions can be made to Milo’s 529 fund at http://fidelity.com/vd5d or to Meadowbrook School.
Faith Troup Swisher P’16, 55, of
Minn. He served at Troy Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Troy, Idaho; St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisc.; Christ the King Evangelical Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas, and Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church (Seeley Avenue). He was very much involved in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, and participated in the March on Washington in 1963. He was a pastoral assistant, interim pastor, substitute pastor and preacher at various churches in the Chicago area after his retirement and until 2000. Contributions may be made to Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, 1001 E. Touhy, Des Plaines, IL 60016, (www.LSSI.org), or to the charity of your choice.
Andorra, died on Oct. 13, 2015. She was the mother of Jade Swisher ’16 and the wife of David E. Swisher. Her family described her as being full of love, life and laughter and a joy to know. Donations in her memory can be made to The Abramson Cancer Center, 3535 Market St., Suite 750, Phila., PA 19104.
The Rev. Earl Mattis Bengtson, 94, passed away on Monday, June 15, 2015. He was the husband of Deloris Louise Hansen, whom he married on May 3, 1952, in Chicago. Survivors include a granddaughter, Erin, an AFS Upper School Math Teacher, and her husband, Brian Cassady, an Upper School Spanish Teacher, and their daughter, Thea. The Rev. Bengston was ordained as an Augustana Synod Lutheran pastor in June 1946 in Duluth,
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