What do Chelsea Clinton, Sasha and Malia Obama, and Bill Nye have in common? A Quaker education. This unique learning experience is founded on the belief that a student’s character is as important to them and the world they live in as their intellectual growth and academic successes.
Quaker schools, also known as Friends schools, are rooted in the same common purpose: to provide a rich and challenging education and to foster the ideals of community, spirituality, responsibility, and stewardship among students. Friends opened their first American school in Philadelphia in 1689. Today, there are more than 75 elementary and secondary schools nationwide — including the Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Tracing its roots back to 1796, Oakwood — an independent school serving grades 5-12 — is New York State’s oldest co-educational boarding and day school. Oakwood was built upon the fundamental Quaker principle that each student, no matter his or her background, embodies a special spirit, a unique voice that speaks from the heart. Today, Oakwood continues to educate young men and women for lives of conscience, compassion, and accomplishment within the framework of a rigorous, college preparatory program.
“Our alumni have a reputation for poise and thoughtfulness,” says Anna Bertucci, Assistant Head for Academics and Student Life at Oakwood Friends School. “They possess both self-awareness and awareness of themselves in the broader world. They value community and know how to work well with people. Unlike conventional private schools — many of which emphasize competition — Friends’ schools focus more on solving problems together and creating a culture of peace.”
Academic and Spiritual Development
A principle philosophy of the Quaker education is the belief that each student has unique gifts and talents. Oakwood practices this belief by focusing on the individual learner and cultivating a diversified community of students and staff in an atmosphere of mutual respect and enrichment. Students experience a challenging curriculum within a diverse community dedicated to nurturing the spirit, the scholar, the artist, and the athlete in each person. Additionally, the school provides an array of opportunities and learning experiences beyond the classroom to encourage creativity, self-expression, cooperation, and teamwork.
Quaker schools value and embrace the diversity of cultures and religions in our communities. Oakwood is home to a diverse spectrum of students and faculty who represent different faiths, races, economic backgrounds, political views, and cultures, as well as differing physical abilities and family structures. “Our students hail from all over the globe — from Rwanda to Newark to Poughkeepsie. We all work together to create a vibrant environment to help raise aware, enlightened, and prepared members of our world,” says Ms. Bertucci.
Access and Affordability
Friends’ schools seek to maintain financial aid programs to ensure accessibility and affordability based on the founding Quaker principles of equality and diversity. Oakwood Friends School has a long-standing commitment to enrolling an economically diverse student body and offers need-based financial aid to more than 35 percent of its student body.
Guided by Quaker principles, Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie is New York State’s oldest co-educational boarding and day school. It is an independent, college preparatory school serving grades 5-12 from a 60-plus-acre campus that includes six tennis courts, three soccer fields, two baseball diamonds, wooded areas, academic and administrative buildings, a library, three dormitories, a dining hall, an auditorium, and a gymnasium.
Oakwood Friends School
22 Spackenkill Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
This content is made possible by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the attitude, views, or opinions of the Hudson Valley Magazine editorial staff.