135 years. Today that means Friends School Haverford has faced enormous challenges. FSH has survived the Spanish flu and polio, weathered historical economic recessions, and witnessed 24 US Presidents chart a course through it all. This thumbnail catalog of history offers us a bit of hope in the uncertainty of the moment. Today that means that FSH’s unabiding beliefs-- in the individual, in the value of student-driven exploration and learning, in the goodness within each of us and ourselves--have outlasted cultural shifts and enormous changes. It means that our alumni have a school to come back to (though not, as we had hoped, for a 135th-anniversary tent at our annual Spring Fair), a place we’ll all head back to as soon as we can. A place where generations of children have felt seen, heard, and deeply known.
Quaker institutions are often criticized for not pushing themselves out into the public sphere, for not embracing their bragging rights, accused of being all humility, no hype. In this particular moment, though, Friends School Haverford’s steadfast, gentle presence seems fitting. These are not times, after all, to be arrogant or self-involved. These are not times for birthday parties, parades, or even simple gatherings of more than ten people. These times call for staying in and looking inward, for taking stock, for humility--if you are taking the time to read this today, you’re most likely at home, safe and healthy. If you are at home, safe, and healthy, I hope you’ll join us to celebrate the meaning of Friends School Haverford today and many days before. Light a candle. Have your child lead you in one of our Meeting for Worship songs. Depending on the contents of your kitchen cabinets and the newly revised calculus for determining what combination of sugar, screen time, and sleepwear will get your family through the day, you might even decide to bake a cake.
In the end, a simple, creative, handmade celebration serves as the most accurate reflection of what we know and love about Friends School Haverford. We celebrate 135 years today because, as the small Quaker school with an enormous heart, we remain true to the vision of its founders. Now more than ever, we know we must teach this generation of children to take care of ourselves, each other, and our world.