In the past two months, as federal agencies and the City of Philadelphia have refined security and transportation plans for the visit of Pope Francis, we have paid careful attention to how those decisions will affect our community.
While our preference would be to keep school open, it has become clear to us that the logistical challenges parents, students and employees will face on the Friday, Saturday and Monday of the papal visit require several adjustments to the Penn Charter calendar.
It is our plan to be open on Thursday, Sept. 24, until the end of athletics practice and a home football game. However, we are adjusting the Penn Charter calendar as follows:
Penn Charter will be closed on Friday, Sept. 25.
Students will report two hours late on Monday, Sept. 28; Lower School child care will be available beginning at 7:30 a.m. on that day. Faculty and staff will report at 8 a.m. on that day for a two-hour Strategic Vision in-service session; this session will replace the late-start session scheduled for Oct. 22.
Lower School Back-to-School Night (and the Lower School Dinner for New Parents) will move from Thursday, Sept. 24, to Monday, Oct. 5.
Athletics: We are still making changes to the athletics calendar but can announce at this point:
- The Middle School girls cross country meet scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 24 at Belmont Plateau will be rescheduled.
- No games on Friday, Sept. 25. We hope that the water polo team will be able to travel to their two-day tournament and will be contact water polo parents and players directly when we have finalized a plan.
- The varsity football game scheduled for Friday, Sept. 25, has been moved to Thursday, Sept. 24, with kickoff at 4 p.m.
- The Upper School boys JV and varsity soccer games have been rescheduled for Thursday, Sept. 17.
- We are working to reschedule the Upper School field hockey on Friday and the Saturday girls soccer games and will contact team players and parents directly when we have the new dates.
- Athletics practices and games resume on Monday, Sept. 28.
We think this is our final plan; however, we continue to monitor the situation and will make adjustments if necessary. We will change our online calendar to reflect these new dates, and I hope you will amend the paper calendar you received this summer.
Although I regret any inconvenience this causes for families, I think these adjustments are prudent. I hope that all of the advance preparations by individuals, schools, agencies and government officials will shine the best possible light on this great city during our time in the world spotlight.
Darryl J. Ford
Head of School
The publication A Friends School: Quakerism at Penn Charter explores the school's Quaker roots and the ways in which Quaker values shape the Penn Charter experience.
Quaker Life In Motion at Penn Charter
As the world's oldest Quaker school, Quaker values are at the heart of everything we do and expect of our students including what's taught, how it's taught, students' behavior and their relationships with one another. Through a loving and supportive school community, students grow as intellectual, emotional, social and moral beings. Ultimately, we are concerned less with what students will become than with who they will become.
That of God in Everyone
The central concept that there is "that of God" in every person is foundational to what we do throughout the school. That tenet leads us to value each child for his or her accomplishments, to believe in encouraging students from diverse ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds to attend the school, to discuss peaceful resolution of difficulties whether those difficulties occur on the kindergarten playground, the Upper School playing fields or in the world beyond Penn Charter, and to foster a commitment of service to others.
Meeting for Worship
If asked about Quakerism at Penn Charter, most students would focus on Meeting for Worship, a time of silent meditation punctuated by thoughts any member of the group wishes to share. Students meet each week, most often by division or grade. For the pre-kindergartner, that meeting may be five minutes of silence. By the close of the year, the meetings have reached 20 minutes. Upper and Middle School students meet for 40 minutes weekly. Most often, students who choose to speak share a reflection about some event of importance in their lives or reflect on one of the Quaker Testimonies: community, equality, integrity, peace, service simplicity, social justice and stewardship.
During their time at Penn Charter, students learn to take pride in the accomplishments of all, watch out for those in need, and support one another in difficult as well as good times. Students come to understand that the school community is broad, encompassing not just their friends or their grade, but all students, teachers, staff and families. They are mindful of the give-and take involved in creating a successful shared experience. And, while learning how to nuture their school community, they discover their place in a wider one.
Seeking the Truth
At Penn Charter, we believe that questioning and the dialogue that ensues are marks of a healthy community. Teachers don't simply provide facts but instead foster a spirit of inquiry. Acknowledging that no one knows everything, teachers challenge students to figure out what to ask as well as how to answer it. Students learn how to devise good questions, and along the way naturally learn that sometimes there's more than one right answer or more than one way to get to an answer.
Religious Life Committees
Religious Life Committees are charged with looking after the Quaker and spiritual life of their division. These committees helps schedule Meeting for Worship in a variety of settings and formats, be it whole division, grade level, or by homeroom. When special events or speakers come, this committee often helps to craft queries or material for the students that connect to the presentations. Lastly, the Religious Life Committe guides and shapes the "Quaker-ness" of each division, by organizing events or school materials that help bring attention to a testimony.
Participating in service is one way Penn Charter students develop an awareness and empathy towards particular community issues and others. One of the Quaker quotes “Let thy life speak,” drives discussion and action about doing good for others and our world because it represents the best of who we are and want to be. Service reminds students of the need to consider others and the powerful feelings that result. Students participate in school-wide events like the MLK Day of Service as well various division and grade level projects throughout the year. Our service partners include places like the Widener Memorial School, the Horizon House, Whosoever Gospel Mission, Fairmount Park, the Falls at Schuylkill Library, Philabundance, the Red Cross House, St. James School, and Aid for Friends.