Last Friday evening, I stood in the soaring lobby of the O’Shaughnessy auditorium greeting families, friends, and community members to the Friends School of Minnesota’s annual, all-school Martin Luther King Celebration. The excitement and pride amidst the families was clear; one parent told me it was her favorite day of the year, “even better than Christmas!” she declared.
A long and important tradition for the Friends School of Minnesota, each year’s Martin Luther King Celebration focuses on an exploration of the universal values of peace, simplicity, equality, and community. This year the celebration centered on community, and its role in building a just and equitable world. In her opening remarks, Head of School Lili Herbert reflected on our culture where:
“…individual freedom has been so emphasized, that to talk about collective good is seen as extreme and radical. Through living in that balance between individual freedom and collective good, Friends School of Minnesota students become skilled members of community.” read Lili’s full opening remarks
As one of the newest staff members at Friends School of Minnesota, I was curious to see how 164 students between the ages of 5 and 14 could sum up the sense of community in one evening’s performance. However, it was apparent from day one of the school year that it is possible because it’s not a one-time collaboration. Rather, the performance is a deeply rooted and thoughtful expression of the school’s mission.
I am inspired by the bravery of these kids getting up on stage speaking, singing and dancing in front of a huge crowd. The stage becomes an extension of their classroom and the audience is part of a vast network that supports and nourishes them on a daily basis. Up on stage, the students recognize that their words and actions do make a difference in our interconnected society.
What we teach about community at Friends School of Minnesota may be, as Lili noted, countercultural or even be considered radical, but it may also be the most important thing we do. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Events like the Martin Luther King Celebration, our Poetry Cafés, and our weekly Meeting for Worship, make me feel proud to be part of an independent school fostering thoughtful, global-minded citizens. Community support is part of creating a learning environment where children are understood and encouraged to pursue their educational interests while learning lifelong skills and values.
On behalf of the students and staff at FSM, I invite you to make a donation to the Friends Annual Fund.
- Your support of the Friends School Fund provides tuition assistance to give access to a diverse student population. Thirty-seven percent of our current student body receives need-based tuition aid and we are proud of this commitment to keeping FSM accessible.
- Your donation enhances learning opportunities outside the classroom. Visits to Crosby Farm, Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, Manos Con Centro, and many other organizations are integrated in the curriculum and help ground our programs in active learning and meaningful work.
- Your donation elevates professional development of the faculty. Each year, our staff develop skills and learn new teaching methods through additional training and national conferences, which helps them expand their knowledge base, share with colleagues, and energize Friends School of Minnesota curriculum.
Donate online or mail your gift to:Friends School of Minnesota 1365 Englewood Avenue St. Paul, MN 55104
Thank you!Dawn Flinsch Development Director
P.S. We’d love to show you Friends School of Minnesota in action! Please join us for an upcoming Visitor Coffee. To learn more about visiting or to RSVP, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-621-8936.
Upcoming Visitor Coffees at Friends School of Minnesota
- Wednesday February 19: 9:00-10:30am–coffee & classrooms visits
- Friday, April 25: 1:00pm–coffee, 1:30pm–tours of school, 2:00-3:00pm–7th/8th grade play