We are enjoying a bright, beautiful, busy summer here at Olney Friends School. The campus is green and glowing and those adorable cicadas have (finally) silenced their sweet symphony. Many exciting changes are in the works and we are looking forward to welcoming back our returning students and introducing a wonderful group of new students here in about six short weeks.
While a lot is happening on campus, Olney staff and alumni have also been traveling lately, visiting an eclectic array of events and establishments these past few weeks in an effort to spread the word about our one-of-a-kind educational institution.
Our travels began in early June as Maddie Aerona Allen and Julian Fahl-Matlack, members of the OFS Class of 2016, attended the Pittsburgh Pride event and spoke with numerous vendors, camp directors, educators and consultants about their alma mater. Their visit was of particular importance as it came the day after the tragic shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. For these recent graduates, both of whom were incredibly instrumental in helping shape a positive, safe and supportive school community for members of the LGBTQ community this year, the experience was inspirational.
"To describe this year at Olney, the word I am tempted to use is tolerance, but it's much more than that. It was more than just acknowledging the differences between each of us -- it was genuinely holding a fascination for our peers and wanting to know how they see the world. As two alums doing volunteer work for Olney, Julian and I went to the Pittsburgh Pride fest and spent some time talking to people about our school. It was an incredible experience," said Allen, who co-facilitated an educational workshop on gender identity during the year.
"We went the day after the Orlando shooting and were expecting a lot of negativity. When we arrived, the place was just as bustling as ever. It was clear that when we let people take the light and joy out of our lives, we are letting the terrorists win, and it was incredible to see the LGBTQ community be able to bounce back from this with such vigor."
Olney has also made several more stops in Pittsburgh and beyond this summer. Maddie, Julian and I visited the city's South Side district, distributing promotional materials and engaging with numerous vendors at the Citiparks Farmers Market. We also paid a visit to New Vrindaban, a Hare Krishna living community near Moundsville, West Virginia, to speak with one of the directors about Olney serving as an alternative educational option for their high school aged residents. While the Ohio Valley has several private high schools, Olney offers an open, accepting, tolerant school community, flexible curriculum and campus experience that simply can not be found anywhere else in the area. As our promotional efforts continue, the long-standing belief among area residents that Olney is exclusively a boarding school for Quaker students is beginning to change and we receive more interest from local families each year.
For the past several weeks, Olney has also had a display at the Farmers Market at Phipps Conservatory. Alumna and current librarian Anne Marie Taber and Olney newcomers Lorin Kinney, Lisa Ryberg and Christopher Hinshaw have all attended the event, sharing information about Olney's 350-acre USDA certified organic campus, farm-to-table program and commitment to sustainability and environmental education. This week, farmer Mark Hibbett and interns Mobin Mussazadah '17 and Jonas Robin '15 will work the booth.
If you are hosting or know of an event that would like to welcome Olney Friends School, or if you are interested in becoming an Admissions Ambassador for the school, please let us know by calling 740-425-3655 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director of Admissions