Why do we call it the Raft?

Otters (our mascot) enjoy taking a break from play in groups called "rafts.” As many as 1000 otters have been seen holding hands to keep from drifting apart. We hope that this newsletter will help keep you connected to our school community and the wonderful work our students and teachers are doing together.

A Message From Our HEAD OF SCHOOL

Dear Friends,

The 2022-2023 school year is off to a tremendous start and I could not be more proud to share this first edition of The Raft with you! After a much deserved summer break, our faculty returned to school this August with renewed energy, fresh ideas, and excitement for the year of learning with their new students. We have several new members of the FFS faculty and staff this year, each bringing their unique talents and strengths to make our community stronger than ever before. 

This summer saw the completion of a two million dollar renovation project on the Annex, our Middle School building and gym, the expansion of our 1st and 2nd grade classrooms, and a resurfaced blacktop on the Meetinghouse yard. The IDEA Lab, newly renovated last summer, is freshly stocked with an array of new materials and supplies for hands-on, collaborative  learning, and the mezzanine is now fully furnished with spaces for research and group discussions. Our faculty continue to hone their teaching practices, with innovation and a global perspective on problem solving at the core of their work with children. 

While we remain steadfast in our commitment to maintaining the health and safety of everyone in the FFS community, we are finally able to offer a mask-optional learning environment, both outside and inside our buildings and classrooms. This year we will see many opportunities to bring people back together within our community, in ways we have all so missed and longed for. Already, we have had our first in-person Back To School Night in two years, and look forward to welcoming our grandfriends to campus on October 7th for Grandfriends Day. Our Family Association is hard at work planning for Fall Fest and a very special spring fundraising event in April, which is sure to be an incredible night! And, for the first time in two years, our Middle School students and teachers are set to resume the annual Middle School Retreat, an FFS tradition and important community building event, which will take place in a few weeks. 

We are thrilled to have 35 new families enrolled this year, and our admissions office is already busy accepting applications for the 2023-24 school year. We remain strong in our commitment to maintaining the lowest tuition of any independent school in the Philadelphia area, putting socio-economic diversity at the forefront of our community. 

The year ahead is sure to be one filled with togetherness, shared joys, and growth. We are ready! I invite you to join us in our quest to see the best school year at FFS yet, and hope that you enjoy this edition of The Raft, the first of the 2022-23 school year. 

In friendship,

Kathryn Park Cook

EVENT Highlight

What a wonderful time was had by all at our second annual Otterfest! The weather was perfect for this joyful coming together of the FFS community to celebrate the start of an exciting new school year. Our beautiful campus was brimming with happy children, families, faculty and staff; everyone was filled with appreciation to spend a Friday afternoon amongst friends. 

The FSS Family Association truly outdid themselves, planning a variety of fun activities including music and games in the NEST, art activities on the blacktop, and some Philly favorite food treats including soft pretzels, pizza, and a food truck featuring water-ice! Frankie the Frankford Friendly River Otter came out to socialize and enjoy the festivities as well, bringing smiles to many little faces.

Though still young in its history as an FFS event, Otterfest! has very quickly taken its place as an important and beloved school tradition. We are certainly off to a great start, and look forward to many more Otterfest!'s in the years to come!

In the SPOTLIGHT

In July, Vanni Thach joined Frankford Friends School remotely from SC. Vanni is a proud Bates College alumna, who enjoys utilizing her writing and analytical skills to better serve organizations. 

At FFS, she's interested in streamlining processes and helping to make it possible for us to grow our programs and campus. As the Director of Development, she's most impressed by Frankford Friends School's history, people, and culture. She's excited to engage with the community, and looks forward to meeting you.

Sharon Oliver joined FFS in May 2022 as the Admissions Coordinator. Before joining FFS, she worked in the Philadelphia Business Journal’s newsroom for over two decades producing industry-ranked lists and editorial content for its digital, weekly, and annual publications. Sharon has always gravitated towards education, social justice, and equitable and inclusive initiatives.

As an FFS parent, Sharon witnessed the dedication, passion, equity, and inclusive culture offered to students and families. This is why she says she is most excited to have joined the school in her role as the admissions coordinator at FFS. Sharon looks forward to helping sustain, grow, and continue to diversify the student enrollment at FFS.

Sharon resides in Philadelphia and enjoys spending time with her family.

Kerri Ditro joined FFS last year. Kerri is the Executive Assistant to the Head of School and the Development Associate at Frankford Friends School. Like most, she’s a full time working parent, who is also a student–a lifelong learner! Kerri is completing her graduate degree of Organizational Development and Leadership and says her coursework as helped to facilitate her work at FFS as she is most interested in the people and the processes of organizations.

In her second year, she looks forward to truly integrating herself into the life of the school, learning from her colleagues, engaging with the families and students, and sharing her passion for the Frankford Friends School’s mission, values, and culture with everyone she meets.

Ji Kim joined the Frankford Friends team this past July as the Technology and Digital Media Manager. Having spent 18 years teaching and managing school technology systems, Ji is excited to put his experience to good use here at FFS. He is passionate about equipping students with the tools and expertise they need to engage the world with curiosity, mindfulness, and joy.

Ji also looks forward to helping shape the look and feel of FFS' online presence and communication, as well as documenting daily life here through photos and videos that can be shared with our school community.

He lives in South Philly with his wife and son, and they are always looking for new urban adventures together.

by the NUMBERS

During the 2021-2022 school year, more than $500,000 was given to tuition assistance programs at FFS, with more than $300,000 given through EITC and OSTC, an increase of 67% from the previous school year.

If you or your business pays taxes in the state of Pennsylvania, you can support Frankford Friends School students! Participation in EITC, the PA tax credit program, enables you to make a large gift to FFS students at a very low cost to you.

Individuals and businesses with at least $3,000 of PA tax liability per household can participate and receive a 90% state tax credit on contributions made. 100% of your tax credits will go to supporting socio-economic diversity and tuition assistance for FFS students in need.

Want more information on how this program works?

The Friends Collaborative is hosting two virtual information sessions on October 4th at 11:00 am and October 6th at 6:30 pm. Contact Vanni, at vthach@frankfordfriends.org, for more information on how to register for these sessions.

in OTTER NEWS

Peace March

On Wednesday, September 21st, our Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade classes gathered together in honor of the International Day of Peace, a day declared by the United Nations General Assembly as a time to strengthen the ideals of peace around the world. With a dedicated theme chosen by the UN each year, this year's theme for peace is - End racism. Build peace. Determined to do their part, our youngest students made signs and used their voices to spread the word of peace and love around the Frankford neighborhood, marching through the FFS campus and nearby Overington Park. "We want peace! Quiero Paz!" could be heard loud and clear as they marched on, with neighbors of the school giving nods of appreciation and lots of smiles and encouragement!

When back in their classrooms, guided by their teachers, students talked about the meaning of the word peace, and committed to each other to make their FFS class communities peaceful and equitable spaces for everyone. Second graders also focused on the importance of teamwork and friendship, and introduced their first word of the month, "Ally". Together, they came up with a wonderful definition for the word Ally: Someone who is a friend. Someone on your side. Bravo, 2nd grade, and bravo to all of our FFS friends who participated in this tremendous Peace March!

Middle School Explorations Classes

The Middle School Explorations classes are up and running! The Explorations program offers students a variety of electives to choose from, covering a wide range of interests. With two exploration classes each week and new selections offered each trimester, all of our middle schoolers have lots of opportunities to explore different options. Classes for the first trimester include theater, podcasting, personal fitness, printmaking, satirical journalism, no-cook cooking, sports analysis, and...a class dedicated to the care and keeping of our beloved FFS chickens!

Grandfriends Day

Grandfriends Day is a treasured tradition at Frankford Friends School: a special opportunity for grandfriends and students to share time together at school and to create wonderful memories together!  We are so excited to celebrate Grandfriends Day in person this year on Friday, October 7th!