Brooklyn Friends School Journal, Winter 2015

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BFS Winter 2015 Journal


  • JournalWINTER 2015

  • AS BFS celebrates 2015, the year in which we will open our new Upper School facility on the MetroTech campus of NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, it provides a welcome opportunity to reflect on the school that Brooklyn Friends is becoming educationally as it continues to grow.

    The student profiles and other articles in this Journal reflect in personal, grade-level, and divisional perspectives the significant impacts that curricular improvement, professional learning, and innovation have had on the BFS educational program.

    The Upper Schools International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program represents BFS largest single curricular development over the past decade. The IB curriculum has played an indirect role in the strengthening of math, science, and technology throughout the school.Many of our Upper Schoolers who complete the IB Diploma Program most successfully have been BFS students since Preschool or Lower School. By emphasizing our one-

    school identity in our administrative and academic planning functions, we continually reflect on and innovate curricular content, methodologies, and best practices. This prepares our younger students well for the academic challenges that they will face in the Upper School and the world beyond.

    For all BFS students, the arts serve as a central focal point for creativity, communication, and emotional understanding of self and the larger society. The IBs two-year arts course framework allows students and teachers to pursue technical, content, historical and analytical knowledge in the context of guiding students to produce the best and most individually expressive work in their chosen art forms. These accomplishments flow naturally from BFSs renowned arts curriculum that begins in early childhood and grows organically in each subsequent divisional experience.

    Across all age groups, our extra-curricular, afterschool, and summer programs are areas in which we anticipate significant growth and development as facilities expand. The Upper School building has been intentionally designed to support after-class activities across many interest areas. These efforts will be enhanced by our presence on a university campus and the civic center of a dramatically changing and evolving downtown Brooklyn. The emphasis that our Quaker values, service learning program, and diversity curriculum place on justice, equity, and civic engagement will continue to shape the development of ourprogram.

    In the hope that you enjoy the Journals glimpse into the BFS present and future, I share with the faculty and staff the deep gratitude we all feel for your ongoing interest in and support of Brooklyn Friends.

    In friendship,

    Head of School Larry Weiss addresses students at the traditional Sing before Winter Break.

    Portraits of Young Friends by Jeffrey Stanley

    Message from Larry Weiss


    WRITER, ACTIVIST THE NEXT HOWARD ZINN?Jumoke Mc Duffie-Thurmond Senior year is under way, and BFS liferJumokeMcDuffe-Thurmondis feeling the pain as graduation approaches. Senior year has been very stressful, he said. Im at the most important part of the college application process right now, and along with the intense amount of school work, it has been quite the challenge. He finds solace in his new courses.

    In IB History, he is studying authoritarian rulers of the 20th century.My teacher, Anna Grafton, is phenomenal. Shes constantly posing challenging questions that force us to really go deeper into our analysis of different events. Its been an absolute pleasure. An impassioned observer of world events, Jumoke also created a lunchtime meeting group for Upper School students called Advocates for Palestinian Solidarity and Peace with Israel (APSPI).Spurred by news coverage of the violence in Gaza over the summer, Jumoke says, It was very important for our school community to really become engaged in conversations about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and explore different ways that we can stop being a part of the problem and really begin to be a part of the solution.

    As a member of another student lunchtime group, Youth Action Project (YAP), he has also been vocal as have many in the school community about an added layer of stress this fall semester, the abrupt relocation of the schools diversity director. Jumoke was so impassioned that he organized a

    student Day of Silence over the dismissal and the general lack of communication with students, as he described it in an open letter to the Upper School faculty.

    Not surprisingly, this outspoken young activist and scholar is an editor and writer for the Upper School newspaper. I encourage everyone to go to the BFS portal and read some articles! They are quite good.He also writes short stories in his spare time, and plays flag football and basketball. Although college plans wont be finalized for a few more months, Jumoke is set on being an author, and intends to pursue a degree in journalism.


    Daisy Feddoes I find Ive been getting very little sleep, and its been pretty stressful.Daisy Feddoes 15is spending a part of her senior year trying new things before her time is up at BFS. Between IB classes and wrapping up college applications, she auditioned for the school musical for the first time since entering BFS in sixth grade. She has also been working with her peers to really step up and make an impact before we leave. Daisy is now Vice President of the new Anime Club and works actively with the student-run Youth Action Project, where, she says, I enjoy talking to underclassmen and hearing their perspectives.

    It doesnt stop there. Daisy also plays in the schools orchestra, and is a co-leader of the Diversity, Privilege and


    Jumoke Mc Duffie-Thurmond Daisy Feddoes

    Cover photo of Family Folk Dance by Nina Broeer

  • of the schools Model UN team, and an avid cyclist. Last summer he got a part-time job working in a bike shop and continues working there when his schedule permits. This spring Ill also begin to race in amateur road races in Prospect Park and Central Park.

    He plans to major in History in college and looks forward to joining Army ROTC. This may seem like an unusual decision for a BFS student, although Quaker warriors and pro-war politicians have made their marks on history. Richard Nixon, Daniel Boone, Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene for whom Brooklyns Fort Greene is named and 20th century Marine Major-General Smedley Butler were all Quakers. Careerwise I would like to be a military adviser, explained Otis. It is truly my passion in life and I intend to get a doctoral degree in Military Science.

    FEMINIST, ARTIST, AND POLITICIANEve Bromberg Theres a certain pressure that comes with senior year, not only to do your best, as that is true of every year, but to tie together loose ends.Eve Bromberg 15 is caught up in the senior year whirlwind, as she calls it, along with her classmates, but sees it all as a training run for college. I try to think about the process, she said, and how I can make the work Im doing moreefficientand of better quality.

    A natural leader, she helped create and still co-runs the Upper Schools Feminist Club with several classmates. She described it as a retooling of a previous club known as Women of Strength, which she also co-created. Women of Strength was not inclusive for all genders, she said. Opening up the club to boys has led to conversations of greater importance and sophistication... Attendees leave with a better understanding of the topic that week... We all get so into it, were almost always out of the Friday meetings late. Eve hopes the fruit of her vision of empowerment and discourse continues to thrive as her BFS legacy after shes gone. I look forward to coming back and seeing what the group has become, but with our dedicated attendees now I have little doubt the group will be strong.

    A dedicated IB student, she appreciates how this rigorous two-year curriculum that starts in 11th grade allows for long-term projects. Theres a certain comfort to continuing in classes and being able to start again where you left off, she says. It allows students to see how far theyve progressed and what else they have to do.

    IB Biology is also fantastic. she says. While challenging, and sometimes verychallenging, I leave the class having learned somethingpracticallyevery time... There are many Eureka moments. She was equally effusive about IB History and her teacher,Anna Grafton. Anna is the first female history teacher Ive had since Lower School and thats an inspiration for me as a history-inclined student.

    Eve, who started BFS in sixth grade, continues to serve as a Student Ambassador for the BFS Admissions Office, which she has been doing since 10th grade. This year she is also working as a Capital Campaign Ambassador. This has involved speaking with Lower School parents about the Upper School, she explains. Its been a greatexperienceall around. I enjoy being able to articulate my love for BFS, and I feel even better knowing my words have had an impact on parents.

    Outside of school, Eve is interning in the district office of City Councilman Stephen Levin. She confesses to an obsession with President Lyndon Johnson and to loyally watching C-Span. She also held a summer internship on Capitol Hill in the office of her Congresswoman, Nydia Velzquez.

    In addition to seeing the inner workings of national politics up close (its nothing likeHouse of Cards, she insists) and lunching in the Senate, I got to go to Committee hearings and I saw Robert Kennedys grandson in a hearing on ISIS.

    Eve hopes to double-major in Political Science and History