A  coed Friends school, pre-K to 12, on 47 acres in East Falls, Philadelphia



Fourth grade used upcycled materials to connected with the testimony of stewardship, Penn Charter's theme for the 2022-23 school year.

As we open this new school year, your teachers, our faculty and staff, will help you think about our Penn Charter environment and the world in which we live, so we can show care and become better stewards of our earth.

Darryl J. Ford

Good Morning, Penn Charter!

I welcome you, our students, to the 2022–2023 academic school year. Because the beginning of school is important, we are joined by our school board clerk, Jeff Reinhold, whom you’ve already met, assistant clerk, Jane Evans, and other board members who are responsible for the education you receive at Penn Charter.  These dedicated and busy people want to make certain you have the best teachers, supplies and materials, facilities, and support to be fully successful here at school.  They join us here today to indicate to you your importance, that there is that of God in each and every one of you, and to celebrate the excitement of the beginning of a new school year.  We all are here to mark and celebrate this moment.

In this the 334th year of Penn Charter’s existence, we welcome 31 new faculty and staff members and 140 new students. Our new students are interesting, diverse, and talented.  Among them are a tri-athlete, a botanist, an actor, social advocates, someone who hiked Mt. Rainier, musicians, and a pole vaulter. These are but a few of the talents of these new friends who join our talented returning students. Together, you total 990 students – our largest student body in our school’s history. Please join me in welcoming everyone who is new to Penn Charter as I welcome you all back to school.

This school year’s theme is Stewardship. Before I talk about stewardship, I want to tell you a quick story about something nice that a friend does for me each year.

At the beginning of each school year, a friend gives me a flower. It is a lovely orchid.  I am not very good at keeping plants and flowers alive, but each year, this friend brings me a lovely flower for my office.  This year, the orchid is white. It has five blooms on each stalk. It is a phalaenopsis orchid – how about that for doing my research – better known as a moth orchid.  This orchid typically blooms once a year, but can bloom 2 to 3 times a year once the plant reaches maturity.  If cared for by getting direct sunlight and appropriate watering every 7 days or so, the flowers can last up to four months. This all happens when the flower has good care.

Stewardship, our theme, can be defined as the “job of taking care of something.” Taking care of something.  We are thinking about this theme in two ways: showing care for the environment and showing care for each other.

Showing care and taking action on environmental issues is and needs to be our concern as a Quaker school.  Faith and Practice, a book that helps us live as a Quaker community, says the following about environmental stewardship. “The well-being of the earth is a fundamental spiritual concern” (Faith and Practice, p. 31). It also says, “Our planet as a whole requires our responsible attention” (Faith and Practice, p. 31). As students and teachers, what are the small and large ways we can show care for our environment? Recycling, taking public transportation, writing letters to congress are just a few examples of how we can act and show care. Members of our Green Club, environmental certificate students, and students who have helped us raise awareness about the Lenape land upon which our school sits are ways that you, our students, have shown care. You are stewards.

Thinking about how we care for each other is no less important. How do we steward each other? William Penn, your school’s founder, offered this simple but powerful quote: “Then, let us try what love will do.” This is not the love of infatuation or passion. Rather, this is the love of care and support.  Here are some specifics of stewardship that Penn offers as this relates to friendship: “A true friend freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.”

In modern language, a friend gives advice, helps, is adventurous with you, shows patience, defends you, and is a friend no matter what.

And if this is too much to think about, the words of the great musician Dolly Parton offer a simple way to care for another: “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.”

How do you show care for the environment? How do you show care for yourself and each other?

My friend who gave me the moth orchid showed care to me. She gave me a present to say I am thinking about you. I care. In a small way as I try to take care of this plant, I will remember to think about the environment that we need to care about in a big way.

And as we open this new school year, your teachers, our faculty and staff, will help you think about our Penn Charter environment and the world in which we live, so we can show care and become better stewards of our earth.

In addition, your teachers, our faculty and staff, will show care to you as we steward each other and ask that you show care for each other and one another, too.  Then let us try what love will do. Try love and see what love will do. And if you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.

Welcome to the 2022–2023 school year.  By caring for each other, I am certain it will be one to remember.

Thank you.

Read All-School Assembly remarks by Clifford Harling, senior class clerk.