Diversity at SSFS

SSFS All-School Diversity Statement:
Sandy Spring Friends School embraces the values of the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. Quaker values are grounded in the belief that there is that of God in everyone. This belief – along with the continuous quest to seek the truth – is central to the understanding that diversity of thought, identity and experience is essential to academic excellence, personal growth and spiritual development. Our School is committed to fostering a diverse community of students, faculty, staff, administrators, trustees and families who accept, appreciate and respect each individual’s uniqueness.

News & Events

Black History Month CelebrationOn Thursday, Feb. 7, SSFS Middle and Upper School students gathered in the PAC for the 2019 Black History Month assembly, “Highlight, Educate, Celebrate: Black Excellence.” The SSFS Lower School gathered later that afternoon for  "The Underground Railroad: Not a Subway" presented by Schroeder Cherry.

During the Middle and Upper School assembly, our Middle and Upper School Black Affinity Groups—who hosted the assembly—sought to raise awareness about those who did not receive recognition during their lifetimes, as well as highlight the original works of SSFS students and faculty.

The assembly featured a variety of performances including:

  • readings of published poetry from Langston Hughes and Nikki Giovanni;
  • music and biographies of several black artists and musicians whose work was co-opted by others, including Willie Mae Thornton, Bob Marley, and Gloria Jones; and
  • dance, poetry, spoken word, and rap created by SSFS students and faculty.

The assembly ended with a reflection on the lyrics from “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” written by James Weldon Johnson and put to music by his musician brother, John Rosamond Johnson. Before the song played, students provided some historical context about the song and how it become known as the “black national anthem.” More photos from the assembly are available online or on Vidigami here. (please log in to the website before clicking the link). 

For the Lower School assembly, students in grades K-5 gathered in Clifton to see "Underground Railroad, Not a Subway," performed by Schroeder Cherry. Through the use of puppets, storytelling, and song, the performance shared information about how slaves used the Underground Railroad to escape north to freedom. The program was part of the Young Audiences Arts for Learning network. Students in grades PK3 and PK4 will participate in an activity designed for them later this month. 

Quaker Youth Leadership ConferenceThis year, nine Upper School students participated in the Quaker Youth Leadership Conference at Sidwell Friends, co-hosted by Baltimore Friends and Sandy Spring Friends. We gathered with Friends schools from Canada to the Carolinas to discuss this year’s theme, "Higher Ground Through Common Ground." Students explored various aspects of media including media literacy, media polarization, and media consumption.

The conference kicked off on Thursday, January 31st with keynote speaker John Biewen, director at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. He spoke about his podcast, Seeing White, which investigates the roots of racism and white privilege.

On Friday, the Friends schools metroed to the Newseum and attended a panel discussion with professionals in media that touched on diversity and bias in media. Students also rotated through a workshop on lobbying led by a representative from the Friends Committee on National Legislation. After spending some free time exploring the Newseum, we went back to Sidwell, where many students wrote letters to their congressional representatives about issues they cared about. 

On Saturday, February 2nd, students participated in peer-led workshops. Samaa Eldadah (‘19) and Begai Prom (‘19) led a workshop titled "Common Ground through Conversation," which recognized the ways in which we unconsciously interact and perpetuate partisanship and polarization and explored how to tackle it. Seth Gorton (‘19) led a workshop titled "Empathetic Art" where spontaneous sketches and cartoonified objects were analyzed as a gateway into a deeper understanding of oneself. Ben Gruodis-Gimbel (‘18) led a workshop titled "Free Speech and Hate Speech," in which students explored the line between free speech and hate speech, and how edging this line has made politics divisive in America. The peer-led workshops allowed students to share their interests and expertise in a concrete, constructive manner.

After workshops, all conference participants convened in a final Meeting for Worship where many spoke about the unique connections and community found at QYLC. It was a wonderful way to end the amazing conference.

MLK Jr Day of Service 2019Thanks to all SSFS families and friends who gathered on campus to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, on Monday, Jan. 21, through service and fellowship together. After gathering for a community breakfast in Westview, volunteers spread out throughout the campus to fill Smart Sacks for food insecure families in Montgomery Country; prepare casseroles for homeless men, women, and children at Shepherd’s Table; put together Comfort Cases with school supplies and more for children in foster care; bake dog treats for a local animal shelter; make Linus Blankets for a children’s hospital; write letters of gratitude to our troops and first responders; and audit our children’s library books to make sure our students see themselves represented in the books they read. Special thanks to Kerry-Ann Farmer for coordinating the day, and to Tiffany Reed, Joanna Scott, Jen Ray, Calvin Farmer, Holly Solano, Mona Eldadah, Nyasha Muronzi, Peter Mataruse, Kelly Rush, Ani Kame'enui, Monica Cross, Debra Budiani-Saberi, David Blake, and Frank Saunders. See photos from the day online here, and view and download even more by logging in to the School website and visiting this Vidigami album

All parents were sent a link to a Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Survey from the Glasgow Group via Survey Monkey on Monday, Jan. 7. More context for the survey request can be found in a recent email from Interim Head of School David Hickson. Thank you in advance for your participation! 

The SSFS residential community will celebrate the Asian Mid-Autumn Festival with food and fun in Westview Dining Hall on Monday, September 24, from 6:00-8:00 pm. Dorm and homestay students are expected to attend, and host families and SSFS community members are invited. Please send questions and RSVPs to anne.pulju@ssfs.org.

The SSFS All School Summer Reading Program was front page news in the Greater Olney News this week. Read here to see a summary of the events and activities around this year's All School Read, Loving v. Virginia, and see quotes from SSFS students and the visiting authors. 

Our People, Our Planet Day
On Wednesday, May 23, our whole school came together for a day dedicated to a dual focus of environmental literacy and greater understanding of the unique social, global, and cultural composition of all SSFS community members. Once again, many Upper School students took the lead in continuing the vision of Victoria Lyu '17, which expanded upon our traditional Earth Stewardship Day to highlight the many different cultures of students here on campus. The day included Upper School student presenters on topics including current events, diversity, and international awareness, as well as education on environmental issues. Each class or advisory participated in service, education, and reflection sessions. See a photo gallery with events from the day here. 

Youth Peace Conference 2018On Saturday, April 7th, over 95 8th grade and high school students from schools around the DMV area gathered on the SSFS campus for the 2018 Youth Peace Conference, Sandy Spring's annual youth-led social justice conference, for a day of social activism, powerful discussions, and community connections. This year's conference featured a keynote panel with UndocuBlack Network Founder Gabby Jackson, BYM Inclusion Coordinator Dyresha Harris, and author and poet Tariq Touré, along with student-facilitated workshops and other activities. 

YPC's success this year was due in large part to the passionate and powerful Upper School student and faculty organizers, the generosity of Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting's Peace Committee, and the incredible student participants who joined us on Saturday. Organizers were inspired by the potential for social activism in this generation and look forward to continuing SSFS's commitment to value-driven action.

For pictures from the event, click here.
 

All-School Nina Simone AssemblyOn Tuesday, March 6, SSFS students, faculty, and staff gathered for an All-School Assembly in celebration of both Black History and Women’s History months. The assembly celebrated the life of Nina Simone, American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and activist in the Civil Rights Movement. With contributions from all three divisions, it was a mixture of oral historical perspectives, music and dance tributes, poetry, and visual art displays. Chanelle Broughton, Hannah Kerr, and Aimee Farley worked with an enthusiastic group of faculty from all three divisions to put together an informative, passionate, and inclusive show that celebrated the accomplishments of Black Americans and women, while at the same time acknowledging their ongoing struggles and the work that still needs to be done. Photos can be found online here, and in Vidigami here

All School Nina Simone Assembly

All-School Nina Simone Assembly

As part of Black History Month, William Jones, a historian, writer, educator, and self-described comic book geek came to SSFS to speak to our students about the representation of black comic book and science-fiction characters from the 1800s through the present-day Black Panther movie debut.

Jones is the founder of The Afrofuturism Network, which "seeks to support the ever-growing community of black writers, artists, and thinkers in the realms of sci-fi, fantasy, comic books and film, and analyzes the contributions and portrayal of black characters in these mediums."

Student Panel DiscussionIn honor of Black History Month, the SSFS Upper School Newspaper The Wildezine and US Black Affinity Groups co-hosted a student panel with the theme "Black People in the Media" on Thursday, Feb. 22. Six Affinity Group members engaged in a powerful conversation on issues including the prevalence of overt, covert, and aversive racism in the media; lacking media portrayal of diversity in the black community; type-casting and stereotypical portrayals of black women; and issues of colorism in media. The panel was a huge success, and both Wildezine and Affinity Group members look forward to similar for-student, by-student collaborations in the future. 

Library Reading ProgramWe are in the home stretch and on target to make our goal of reading through the years and celebrating the determination and activism of the Loving Family. Our current total is 208,739 minutes in the present, which is enough to fuel the Wildebeest’s time machine 6.26 years. We keep adding things to the timeline in the library – please come in and check it out (and maybe check out a book, too). We welcome your additions of important things that took place between 1958 and 1967.  

The bonus hour this in this week of Loving Kindness is earned by reporting kind acts – those you have done for others or  those you have received. There is a checklist of ideas at www.bit.ly/ssfskind if you need inspiration. We live in a world that needs loving kindness anywhere and everywhere. Send what you have done and seen to elizt@ssfs.org.

Don’t forget that we are collecting new and gently used books to donate. There are collection boxes in the LS and MS and/or you can bring things to the library. There are some local groups in need of books, and we are also thinking of sending or taking some to our friends in the Mississippi Delta. I have just read Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo and am reminded of the very great need there. Perhaps I will begin my retirement by driving a car full of books south.

Congratulations to our Top Readers for classes and advisories who have reported their numbers for weeks 2 and 3: 

  • PK3 – Lucy G-K
  • PK4 – Sophie D.
  • KA – Cala A.
  • KB – Ellen B.
  • 1A – Meena P., MacKenzie F.
  • 1B -  Leila D.
  • 2A -  Emmi H.
  • 2B – Alexa K.
  • 3 – Marley F.
  • 4A – Matthew B.
  • 4B – Lyla W., William C.
  • 5A - Charlotte M.
  • 5B – Jacob L.
  • Middle School -  Jordan C., Eliana H., Ellery C., Kairava B., Manav B., Abidini B., and Zoe B.
  • Adults – Brenda Crawley, Salli Innes and Kiki Vargas

Keep reading, and keep reporting your minutes so the Wildebeest can make it to 1967 – and beyond!

2018 Youth Peace Conference FlyerThe Youth Peace Conference is an annual student-organized social justice conference focusing on youth activism as a means towards local social change. YPC 2018 will be April 7th, from 11am-4pm, hosted on the Sandy Spring Friends School campus. SSFS students from grades 8-12 are encouraged to attend and bring a friend from another school. Student participants will earn 6 hours of community service for their participation in the conference.

YPC 2018 is focused on "Breaking Down Walls"-- exploring ways to deconstruct discrimination individually and within communities. The day features keynote panelists such as Gabby Jackson, Jessica Semachko, and Dyresha Harris; student-facilitated workshops; and opportunities to turn discussion into action. Workshops include powerhouse conversations and activities on socioeconomic status and education, sexual harassment, double standards of immigration, and freedom of speech and expression.

SSFS Upper School student organizers are inspired by the potential for social change in the youth of Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC and want to be catalysts for change in our communities. For more information and registration, please visit youthpeaceconferencemd.org.

Making Dumplings for Chinese New Year Celebration
February 15th marked the first day of the Chinese New Year. Traditionally, this is a time when families get together to eat dumplings, paste paper cuttings on windows, and receive gifts of red packets from elders. On Thursday, February 15 (Chinese New Year’s Eve), some of the SSFS international students invited host families and friends to celebrate this festival together in Westview Dining Hall. After teaching their guests how to make dumplings and sharing some delicious food together, Thenea and Kejin introduced the families to some of the familiar customs and traditions of Chinese New Year. After dinner, the group enjoyed a game of Kahoot; congratulations to Aidan, who won first prize! See more photos online here, and on Vidigami here.
  
 

2018 Library Reading Program - Loving Reading2018 Library Reading Program Update: We have received more than half the numbers from Lower School, and less than half from the Middle School. Our total (as of Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 14), is 65,089 minutes, and the Wildebeest has piloted his time machine through 1958 and most of 1959. That covers the time period when Richard and Mildred Loving were arrested and found guilty of miscegenation. At the same time, Virginia's school-closing law was found to violate the State Constitution. Fifth graders are working on adding various events to the timeline – come check out their work in the library.

Week 1 top readers of those reporting so far:

  • PK4 – Nate D.
  • KA - Cala A.
  • KB – Ellen B.
  • 1A – Meena P.
  • 1B - Margo C.
  • 2A – Emmi H.
  • 2B – Alexa K.
  • 4B – Lolo N.
  • 5A – Charlotte M.
  • Top LS Faculty – Chanelle Broughton
  • Top readers in reporting MS Advisories:
  • Nico C.
  • Ellery C.
  • Zoe B.
  • Greta G-T
  • Top MS Faculty – Kiki Vargas

Congratulations! Keep up the good work! See photos of our students and faculty/staff with their books in Vidigami here. 

We are also collecting books for kids who don't have them. Please bring any new or gently used donations to the library. This week's bonus hour is earned by sending a loving message on one of the postcards we created and distributed, either through Wee Mail, the USPS, or personal delivery. You can still get your Week One bonus hour by adding to the gallery of beloved books and libraries here. Keep reading and fueling the wildebeest's travel through time!
 


Sandy Spring Friends School's curriculum cherishes the worth and dignity not only of each individual student, but of our students' cultures as well. These differences among us are celebrated daily in a number of pedagogical ways and manifested annually and publicly in the Upper School International Assembly. 

On Tuesday, February 6th, Sandy Spring Friends School was proud to host the 22nd Annual Cross-Cultural Student Talent Showcase in the Performing Arts Center Theater. It was a wonderful and celebratory event, where upper school students displayed many different cultural talents, from classical ballet to American hip-hop and Korean K-pop, from Chinese folk music to a traditional Yiddish song, from classical violin to a hulusi solo, and from soundtracks to the Great American Songbook, plus a few other very special surprises, including an international fashion show of traditional and contemporary garb.

For those unable to attend, this signature assembly was filmed and is posted to the SSFS YouTube channel. Additionally, high-resolution copies of all photos from the show are available for viewing/downloading on Vidigami here. Students and parents will need to login with their school network account (the same login info they use to log in to the website or Finalsite Learn) to access this photo gallery. A selection of these photos are also available publicly via our online photo gallery, here.

Interracial Marriage Panelists with Korva Coleman
More than 80 friends across our school and local Sandy Spring community came to explore the interesting topic of interracial marriage since Loving vs Virginia. NPR's Korva Coleman seamlessly moderated an open and honest conversation taking questions from the audience. Panelists generously shared a spectrum of their experiences as partners, extended family members, and parents, making it clear how important listening is in moving the world forward. At the close of the formal discussion, audience members, panelists, and our moderator lingered for an additional hour continuing the conversation over coffee and cake.
 

How does our community respond to the current climate in the U.S., and worldwide? SSFS Board of Trustees member Lauren Brownlee addresses this topic in a recent blog post, "Shining Our Collective Light." Along with being a member of the SSFS Board of Trustees, Lauren is also a member of Bethesda Friends Meeting, where she is an active member of the Peace and Social Justice Committee, and a member of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Peace and Social Concerns and Growing Diverse Leadership committees. She is currently the Director of Social Action at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. Lauren writes, "Not everyone at Sandy Spring Friends School shares the same religious faith, but we do share a faith in Quaker values. We share a faith in the belief that there is light in every person and thus we share a responsibility to support that light in growing, as our student leadership grows, from a spark to a flame to a torch." Read more here.
 

Korva ColemanNPR newscaster Korva Coleman will be moderating our Evening Panel Discussion on Interracial Marriage since Loving vs Virginia on Wednesday, January 31 at 7:15 pm in Yarnall Library. Students, faculty, parents, alumni, and friends are all welcome to join us for community, snacks, and conversation! Click here for flyer.


 

Puerto Rico Summer Service TripSpanish teacher Leah Niepold is organizing a relief trip to Puerto Rico to help families affected by Hurricane Maria. Open to current SSFS 9th – 12th grade students, we will tour San Juan and work with families in Villa Del Rio, located on the North Coast of Puerto Rico. We will end our trip with a kayaking tour of Puerto Rico's famous bioluminescent bay. Students will complete a minimum of 30 community service hours through various work projects and put their Spanish to use in community- building activities, cultural tours and service work. Please see the flyer for more detailed information and pricing. If interested, fill out this application by Friday, January 12, 2018. The first deposit to Global Works is due January 22, 2018. For more information, contact Leah Niepold.

Friday, January 26th US/MS Assembly - Lyle Denniston, grandfather of Irene '21 and Vivian '28 will be speaking about his 58 years covering the Supreme Court without missing a case. His talk, highlighting the impact of precedence in the law will include discussion of Loving v. Virginia (1967), Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), and the so-called Wedding Cake Case before the court now. See NYT article, National Constitution Center blog articles

Jan. 31 Panel on Interracial MarriageWednesday, January 31st, 7:15 in the library- Evening Panel on Interracial Marriage since Loving v Virginia. The panel moderated by Korva Coleman of NPR, will include SSFS alumni Derek Turner and Bonnie Imlay; longtime Sandy Spring residents Chandlee Offerman and Andy Murphy, who were not allowed to marry in Sandy Spring due to anti-miscegenation laws; their daughter Heather Murphy Capps and husband and Dudley Capps; and our own Kwame Darko. Together their experience of "mixed" marriage spans the 50 years since the United States Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws across the country. Students, parents, and faculty in the SSFS Community, as well as those from the larger community, are invited to come and participate. Korva Coleman NPR bio See flyer here.

MLK, Jr. Day of ServiceThis Monday, January 15, 2018, the Parent Association of Sandy Spring Friends School will, once again, host the annual MLK Day of Service at SSFS! Breakfast will be served, and there will be specific activities for students of all ages, as well as opportunities to participate in various service projects, such as Empty Bowl, Smart Sacks, and the Linus Blanket Project. There will also be space for open dialogue centered around our theme, "Why Race Still Matters In Our World," led by Dr. Joanna Scott, a nationally recognized expert on race in organizations. Bring a friend and join in the fun!

If you would like to volunteer in any capacity, please contact Kerry-Ann Farmer at kerryann.farmer@yahoo.com. Please RSVP here to let us you'll be there. We are looking forward to a great day of service!

Schedule:

  • 10:00-10:45 am - Community Breakfast
  • 10:45-11:00 am - Introduction (with remarks from Tom Gibian)
  • 11:00-1:00 pm - Break out into service projects
  • 1:30-2:00 pm - Why Race Still Matters in Our World — Conversations in social justice with Dr. Joanna Scott
    Students break out into grade specific sessions:
    PK3-3rd grade - Painting for Peace
    4th-5th grade - Conversations in social justice
    Middle and Upper School students - Conversations in social justice
  • 2:00 pm - Reconvene and adjourn

The middle school is excited to announce the return of an elective this fall. Beginning on November 3rd, students can sign up to participate in a program called Hear My Voice. Hear My Voice is a non-profit, student-run organization started by a SSFS US student last year. Hear My Voice focuses on teaching middle school students skills such as active listening, self-advocacy, managing conversations without arguing, and peaceful conflict resolution. Run by trained upper school peer counselors, classes will use a three-pronged approach to teach these skills. Discussions will focus on defining terms and then using hands-on activities and projects to reinforce these concepts. Students will participate in role-playing activities and learn how to apply these skills in everyday life. Hear My Voice will run for eight weeks, every Friday from 3:05-3:35. There will be additional Hear My Voice electives in the winter and spring for students who can't make it this fall. If you have any questions, feel free to email, Benjamin.gruodis-gimbel@ssfs.org, US peer counselor, or visit our website at hear-myvoice.weebly.com.

 


 

News

Upper School International Assembly
Sandy Spring Friends School's curriculum cherishes the worth and dignity not only of each individual student, but of our students' cultures as well. These differences among us are celebrated daily in a number of pedagogical ways and manifested annually and publicly in the Upper School International Assembly.

Upper School International AssemblyOn Tuesday, February 6th, Sandy Spring Friends School was proud to host the 22nd Annual Cross-Cultural Student Talent Showcase in the Performing Arts Center Theater. It was a wonderful and celebratory event, where upper school students displayed many different cultural talents, from classical ballet to American hip-hop and Korean K-pop, from Chinese folk music to a traditional Yiddish song, from classical violin to a hulusi solo, and from soundtracks to the Great American Songbook, plus a few other very special surprises, including an international fashion show of traditional and contemporary garb. For those unable to attend, this signature assembly was filmed and is posted to the SSFS YouTube channel. Additionally, high-resolution copies of all photos from the show are available for viewing/downloading on Vidigami here. Students and parents will need to login with their school network account (the same login info they use to log in to the website or Finalsite Learn) to access this photo gallery. A selection of these photos are also available publicly via our online photo gallery, here.

Interracial Marriage Panelists with Korva Coleman
More than 80 friends across our school and local Sandy Spring community came to explore the interesting topic of interracial marriage since Loving vs Virginia. NPR's Korva Coleman seamlessly moderated an open and honest conversation taking questions from the audience. Panelists generously shared a spectrum of their experiences as partners, extended family members, and parents, making it clear how important listening is in moving the world forward. At the close of the formal discussion, audience members, panelists, and our moderator lingered for an additional hour continuing the conversation over coffee and cake.

Friday, January 26th US/MS Assembly - Lyle Denniston, grandfather of Irene '21 and Vivian '28 will be speaking about his 58 years covering the Supreme Court without missing a case. His talk, highlighting the impact of precedence in the law will include discussion of Loving v. Virginia (1967), Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), and the so-called Wedding Cake Case before the court now. NYT article, National Constitution Center blog articles


Interracial Marriage Panel - Jan. 31Wednesday, January 31st 7:15 in the library- Evening Panel on Interracial Marriage since Loving v Virginia.

NPR's Korva Coleman moderates our panel of couples including Chandlee Offerman of Sandy Spring. Anti-miscegenation laws made it illegal for Chandlee and her husband Andy to marry in 1960s Maryland. Together the panel's experience of "mixed" marriage spans the 50 years since the United States Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws across the country.

Students, parents, and faculty in the SSFS Community, as well as those from the larger community, are invited to come and participate. Please note: this event is recommended for high school students and older. Middle school students may also attend; however, it is advised that they attend with a parent. See more details here, and download flyer.

Korva Coleman

NPR newscaster Korva Coleman will be moderating our Evening Panel Discussion on Interracial Marriage since Loving vs Virginia on Wednesday, January 31 at 7:15 pm in Yarnall Library. Students, faculty, parents, alumni, and friends are all welcome to join us for community, snacks, and conversation! See more here.


MLK Day of Service 2018

Thank you to everyone who came out and participated in the MLK Day of Service. We made blankets for children's hospitals, dog treats for animal shelters, packed food and made casseroles for hunger organizations, all to benefit our local community. This year's event also offered grade-specific breakout discussion sessions that enabled small group, age-appropriate conversations around Dr. King's legacy. A special thanks to parent and faculty volunteers who led projects and discussion groups, as well as the SSFS staff who helped with the event's logistics. See photos online here, and view/download more photos from the day on Vidigami here.

Let's keep these important conversations going. Join us for a continued discussion of "Why Race Still Matters in Our World" on February 6, 2018 at 8:15 am in Scott House.