Sandy Spring Friends School



2023 Upper School Intersession Blog

2023 Intersession Trip Photos

In 2022-2023, Intersession trips were  re-introduced Upper School students again after a hiatus since Spring 2020, due to the pandemic. Students participated in four trips, by grade. Each trip was within a 4-6-hour drive from SSFS, and took place from Monday, March 13 through Thursday, March 16.  The trips were anchored in core aspects of our program at SSFS: Quakerism, Community-Building, Service Learning, and Outdoor Education. 

  • 9th graders traveled to Philadelphia;
  • 10th graders traveled to New York City;
  • 11th graders traveled to Pittsburgh; and
  • 12th graders traveled to Virginia Beach.

Below are updates from the trips as they were sent throughout the week from students and staff. Students, faculty/staff, and parent/guardians can sign in to Vidigami to see and download more Intersession photos

News from the 2023 Trips

9th Grade Intersession at Friends Select School
Emily Mauser '26

Thursday, March 16

On our last short day we woke up at 7:00 am, packed up, and went to breakfast at the hotel. We got a little delayed and unfortunately missed our appointment to the Franklin Mint, so we visited the iconic Love Park, and a few of the students were asked to participate in an interview with students from Germantown Friends School. We then walked to Friends Center and toured their meeting house. Following that, we took an impromptu tour of Friends Select school. The campus is in the center of Philly, so we learned that they use the city to their advantage and use it as an extension of their classrooms. After the tour, we went to Reading Terminal Market to have our final meal in Philly. Now on the road to head back to school, hoping to be back around 3:30! 

See 9th Grade Intersession photos in Vidigami

12th Grade Intersession - Day 1
Njandee Murangi '23

Monday, March 13
The SSFS seniors started the day at 8:00 AM when we arrived at campus. We broke up into vans and took a four-hour drive down to Virginia Beach. It was a classic road trip, complete with snacks, car games, a Wawa stop, and an awesome playlist. Once we arrived at the KOA Luxury Cabin Village, we dropped our bags and headed straight to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. We explored the exhibits, saw all kinds of marine life, and even touched stingrays! Upon getting back from the Aquarium, we had a sandwich dinner and spent the rest of the evening chatting and exploring the camp.

Tuesday, March 14
On Tuesday, each group started the day with an in-cabin breakfast that our chaperones had previously bought. We then got into our service groups and went out into the world. Our service group went to volunteer with the Elizabeth River Project in Norfolk, Virginia. We spent two hours walking around the riverfront and town, picking up litter. After our work was done, the group leaders at the Elizabeth River Project weighed our trash bags. In just two hours our little group of 20 picked up over 60 pounds of trash! After that, the group leaders took us on a tour of their organization, complete with the history of the Elizabeth River, and the progress the Foundation has made since its beginning. Our service group then went down to Mack's Barge where we had lunch. After eating, we drove straight to MotorWorld for an evening of Go-Karts and Mini Golf. We then split up into smaller groups and went for dinner. After dinner, we spent the evening watching movies and playing games.

Wednesday, March 15
On Wednesday, each group started with an in-cabin breakfast. Once more, we got into our service groups and left to volunteer. Our service group went to the Back Bay National Wildlife Rescue for a self-guided GeoCaching Tour. We walked around the beautiful landscape, took pictures, and learned about all the wildlife native to the area. Once our group was finished, we went to Sage's Kitchen for lunch. After lunch, our group went to the arcade next door and played games. After that, it was back to KOA for downtime before our next adventure. We drove down to the beach and walked the boardwalk, did some shopping, and took a class photo in front of the Neptune Statue. Our big group then went down to the Mellow Mushroom for pizza, cookies, and conversation. We ended our jam-packed day with a good old fashioned campfire, and of course, s'mores. 

See 12th Grade Intersession Photos in Vidigami

10th Grade Intersession - Day 1
Eduardo Polon

Day 2 (Tuesday, March 14) culminated in a culturally-enriching evening of a riveting performance of Rent by the gifted students from the famed LaGuardia High School. For many in our group, it was the anticipated highlight of a day already filled with special opportunities. For others it was a wholly new and in some cases illuminating experience. For all, it served as an entertaining and educational punctuation to our second day together.

Day 3 (Wednesday, March 15) would see us - once again in our Green and Gold groups - swap experiences with our counterparts from the previous day. Those who the day prior experienced the program with an emphasis on Immigration (Liberty and Ellis Islands) would partake today in the program focused on the United Nations, including a planned program for us at the Quaker United Nations Office, and vice versa. The day, while still brisk and windy, came sun-kissed, welcome and warming in the wake of the rain on Day 1 and snow on Day 2. 

Opportunities to learn about the history and mission of the Quakers within the United Nations, and later to see firsthand the UN’s 6 principal organs, including the General Assembly and Security Council, along with learning about their 17 sustainable development goals were inspiring, but also affirming with regard to our own focus at SSFS on the testimonies, particularly Peace, Community, Integrity, Equality and Stewardship.

Additional highlights included stops at some of New York City’s most iconic landmarks, including Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Plaza, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City Public Library, Bryant Park, Chelsea Market, The High Line, Battery Park, the Financial District’s Charging Bull, closeups of the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings, as well as the East and Hudson Rivers, and window shopping along 5th Avenue.

After hours of hitting the pavement (in some cases over 10 miles and 22,500 steps), mastering the subway uptown and downtown, and braving the elements, the group was grateful to reconvene, kick off our walking shoes, and share some evening time together collectively back at our hostel, on our last night. During this trip our daily reflection exercises in our advisory groups have served as an important centering, contemplative, and connective exercise. Afterwards, everyone seemed to relish the chance to relax, catch up with old friends, and strengthen new friendships.

Day 4 (Thursday, March 16) is the denouement of our shared experience in The Big Apple, as we pack up our belongings and cherished memories, in order to make the trek back to campus, our homes, our loved ones…and our Spring Break!

See 10th Grade Intersession Photos in Vidigami

9th Grade Intersession - Day 1
Emily Mauser '26

Wednesday, March 15

We woke up at 8:00 and had a Philly specialty, Federal Doughnuts. We got packed and ready to head to Independence Hall for a tour of the place where our country was founded. Gary, our tour guide, was very interesting and committed… We then walked a very long time to Reading Terminal Market where we had a good lunch (including tripe)! We then went to the odd and very strange but cool Magic Gardens, an art installation featuring many glass bottles and art representations of bodies. After that we walked to the hotel and rested for a bit and got settled in. For dinner, we had to WALK to &pizza and had pizza there. Half of our group went back to the hotel and the other half went out to get cookies and ice cream. Tomorrow is our final tourist stop in Philly, the Franklin Mint. We will do our best to fund our future college tuition by applying the lessons we’ve learned from shows and movies like Oceans 8 and Money Heist! :-) 

See 9th Grade Intersession photos in Vidigami

9th Grade Intersession - Day 1
Emily Mauser '26

Tuesday, March 14

After waking up at 7:15 am, I freshened up and headed to a nice simple egg and potato breakfast, which was delicious! We left Pendle Hill after hanging out for a bit and drove back to the city. We dropped off our stuff at the hostel where we are staying for the night and went to Reading Terminal Market. I immediately went to the Peking duck place and got a really good rice, pork and duck bowl. (I did not get my boba so tomorrow, fingers crossed I get my boba smh.) Next we walked to the Arch Street Meeting House, had a short Meeting for Worship, and learned a lot about Quaker history; we learned we were on top of 20,000 bodies on an old burial ground. Afterwards, we assembled bags of socks, snacks, and hygiene products to give out to those in need as we walk through Philly. Then our chaperones bought us Geno’s Philly cheesesteaks. After eating, we went straight to a ghost tour and learned a lot about ghosts and old history. Even in the teeth-chattering cold we still went to Franklin Fountain and got ice cream to satisfy our sweet teeth! 😋😋

See 9th Grade Intersession photos in Vidigami