Huge congratulations to middle school student scientists for their outstanding performance at CSEF, the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair, held on the Colorado State University Campus in Ft Collins April 7th and 8th.Read More
The Denver Metro Science and Engineering Fair (DMSEF) results are in and Friends middle school scientists took home some amazing awards.Read More
Friends middle school scientists have spent the last several months researching and working on their science fair projects and will be presenting them soon!Read More
Last week was full of extraordinary opportunities for Friends School’s young artists, with three visiting artists and organizations coming in to share their work and processes with us.Read More
K-8 PE Teacher, Steve Fragleasso (pr: frag-lee-AH-so) joined the Friends School team in January this year, bringing the joy of outdoor education to our students. Learn a little bit more about him in this brief interview.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Golden, Co. Its proximity to trails and mountains shaped my future. Since then, I have bounced around the Colorado area a little, spending about two years in Lakewood and the past 9 years in Boulder. I just moved to Lafayette with my partner, Megan, where we bought a house.
Personal stats (family):
I have one younger sister who has a 1 and 4 year old that I take on adventures often. My father still lives in my childhood home in Golden.
What did you do before working at Friends School?
Before coming to Friends School I worked with a handful of organizations that got kids outside learning about camping, climbing, biking and other outdoor activities. One of those organizations is Avid4 Adventure and it is where I plan to continue to spend my summers.
What do you think will be interesting, fun or challenging about your job at Friends School?
When guiding and working with summer camps, I only get to spend about a week with the same kids before they are on to the next thing. I’m very excited to get the opportunity to work with students for longer periods of time.
What’s an interesting fact about you?
When I was 26, I attempted to hike the Colorado Trail solo only a few months after being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I overcame a large learning curve and I hiked from Denver to Gunnision in 18 days. In Gunnision I had to end my hike because of early winter storms.
What’s your favorite kind of music, favorite band, book, movie, food – you pick?
My favorite food is coconut lemongrass green curry.Read More
This year marks the 100th anniversary of women earning the constitutional right to vote. Four of our 6th grade students accepted the challenge set forth by their Humanities teacher, Diane Bramble, to research and present the Nineteenth Amendment to their classmates.Read More
Friends Board Chair, Jenny Donovan shares excerpts from Honor and our three division directors about all the exceptional things that have been happening at Friends School since remote learning began.Read More
The middle school science fair projects are just about to be released and the topics are fascinating. Kevin Nugent describes all that goes into these projects, the “new” scientific process, and the importance of “failing forward”.Read More
There are so many amazing things happening all around Friends School. Our 4 division directors recently shared the highlights in preschool, elementary, middle school and the Teacher Preparation Program.Read More
Middle school science teacher Kevin Nugent does his part to lessen his carbon footprint. For one, he commutes by bike from Denver to Boulder every day. While it can be overwhelming for our students to tackle climate issues, Kevin showed them with one project they can lessen our impact on the world.Read More
By Honor Taft, Head of School
On a recent Friday, while visiting with our middle school students, I witnessed something unique that I believe captures some of the magic of our school. As part of the daily welcome, middle school science teacher Kevin Nugent prompted the students to share one or two things they are grateful for. As this traveled around the group of nearly forty students, and as students expressed gratitude for pets and food and family, at least 6 of them included “Friends School” on the short list of things that they are grateful for. One student went further, saying “I am grateful for friends, and just to be clear, I mean the school and the people.”
If you haven’t spent much time around middle school age students, this may not seem noteworthy. But if you have (or when you do), you will know that for a middle school student to be so bold and proud as to speak up and compliment their school in front of their peers is something truly special. Students at our school are not only being challenged in their classes, they are seen, known and valued for who they are and they feel this to their very core.
As a parent remarked to me at the close of graduation in May, Friends School sent a class of students into the world having loved middle school and that is an accomplishment to be proud of. How many of us as children loved our own middle school experience? I can’t say that I loved mine like our students love Friends.
This is the power of Friends School – cultivating a love of learning and a secure view of self that results in empowered, thoughtful and skilled people who know what community feels like and who do and will have a positive impact on our world.
We are honored to provide this experience and environment for our littlest preschoolers all the way through to our 8th graders. And we are grateful to be part of this remarkable community…the school and the people.Read More
by Jenefer Donovan, Friends School Community Board Chair
The new school year is now well underway and off to a great start! From day one I have been overwhelmed by the multitude of ways in which I have witnessed all the elements of Friends School’s mission in action…I have felt the energy and excitement of a dynamic community reuniting and reaching out to support one another and welcome our new families; I have been amazed by the wealth of team-building, collaborative projects and hands-on academic activities taking place in classrooms and I have been touched by the kindness of children connecting and helping others transition. I have felt the renewed energy of our wonderful teachers and met enthusiastic teacher candidates. I have admired the creative process of an elementary all-school collaborative art project and overheard middle schoolers display their passion for learning in eagerly asking when their full schedule would start! I have noticed the time taken in every grade for students to reflect on and share about themselves and listen to their peers, and for teachers and students to all get to know each other again; and I have seen the 5th graders already stepping up as leaders showing compassion and empathy for the new Kindergarteners helping them to feel safe, welcome and at home at Friends School.
These are just a few examples of the elements of the Friends School mission being put into practice, and all of this was in just the first week!
Before Honor started at Friends School, she began looking at everything here through the lens of the school’s mission and vision. One of her priorities in her first year was to “align decision-making practices with the mission and vision of the school”. She worked to bring Friends School’s mission and vision into everyday decision-making, keeping them front and center, putting children and mission first and consistently using the mission and vision to guide her and her leadership team. She encouraged all teachers and staff to do the same. Honor has also brought the 3 core principles of the vision to the forefront: ‘challenging minds, nurturing spirits and honoring individuality’. These provide the framework for all that the school does and, as you know, they have been chosen as the theme for the school this year.
In early September, the Friends School Community Board met for the first time this school year. I would like to thank all of our dedicated trustees for their hard work and commitment to the school. Over the summer the board read First Do No Harm, Progressive Education in a Time of Existential Risk by Steve Nelson and was inspired by his demonstration of “how education can nurture engaged and motivated children who actively discover their world and grow up to be good citizens”. Friends School has been the leader among Boulder schools in social and emotional education for over 32 years and we were proud to appreciate, while reading this book, that Friends School excels on every aspect of Nelson’s ‘Educational Bill of Rights’:
- Recognize the broad consensus that early childhood education should be primarily dedicated to free, imaginative play;
- Provide arts programming, recognizing that the arts are critical to all learning and to understanding the human experience;
- Provide ample physical movement, both in physical education classes and in other ways, recognizing that exercise enhances learning for all children;
- Exhibit awareness that children develop at different rates and different ways; that strict age or grade level standards and expectations are meaningless and damaging;
- Acknowledge the large body of evidence that long hours of homework are unnecessary and detract from children’s (and families’) quality of life;
- Exhibit genuine respect for all children;
- Honor a wide range of personalities and temperaments;
- Encourage curiosity, risk-taking and creativity;
- Cultivate and sustain intrinsic motivation rather than relying on elaborate extrinsic systems of rewards and punishments;
- Understand that brain research supports active learning, engaging all the senses;
- Understand that all children are intelligent in multiple ways and that all these intelligences should be honored and developed;
- Listen to each child’s voice, give them real experience in democratic processes, and allow them to express their individuality;
- Know each child well, appreciate the unique mix of qualities each child brings, and never demean, discourage or humiliate any child.
This year, Friends School Community Board has the important responsibility of creating the next strategic framework/plan for the school. Each of our board meetings throughout the year will include a strategic thinking work session. As we move through the process we will first examine our mission and vision, our “North Star”, guiding us through the journey of creation and implementation of the framework/plan. We will then gather input and data from the entire Friends School Community – teachers, staff, students, parents, families, trustees, founders, alumni parents and alumni students, before synthesizing and processing the data and formulating a strategic, flexible, forward-thinking framework/plan for Friends School.
I am looking forward to working on this process with the Friends School Community Board and our Strategic Planning Committee, led by alumni parent and trustee Anne Hunter. I am also excited to hear from all of you. Over the next few months the Strategic Planning Committee will reach out to all of you with various opportunities for you to provide your input – these could be surveys, small group vision meetings, or larger ‘dream-catcher’ meetings. We hope that you will participate in whichever ways work for you. Friends School is one of Boulder’s best independent schools because it has a strong community that cares.
Thank you all for being part of what makes Friends School such a special place for all our children.
Jenefer Donovan, Friends School Community Board Chair
If you would like more information on the role of the Friends School Community Board or are interested in being part of one of the Community Board committees, please email me at email@example.com.Read More