Oakwood Friends School

Sponsored Content l September 3, 2020

Enlightened Education

By Chad Cianfrani, Head of School

Registration is now open for the Fall 2020 semester, with a full 5-day program of in-person programming, academic and extracurricular, with advanced health protocols meeting and exceeding all NYS guidelines, on a 60-acre campus for room to spread for the safety of all. Go to our website for full details at www.OakwoodFriends.org.

Follow the Hudson River 90 miles north of New York City and you will find Oakwood Friends School nestled on a picturesque 60-acre campus in the Hudson Valley, offering both upper-school (grades 9-12) and lower-school (grades 5-8) programs, day and boarding. Founded in 1796, Oakwood remains true to its founding principles that students learn best within a diverse and inclusive community dedicated to collaboration, social responsibility and highest academic standards.

Sara Sandstrom is Oakwood’s Dean of Students and Residential Life. She relates that “after twelve years working professionally in Residence Life at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Smith College, I was pleased four years ago to have moved to the Dean of Students role at Oakwood. This community welcomed my family (including my wife, two children, and menagerie of pets) in a way that I could not have anticipated. I appreciate the total inclusion that my family and I have felt at Oakwood, the visibility of same-sex parents and faculty, and the welcoming environment for our trans and LGBQ students, both boarding and day.”

Oakwood graduates from around the country and the world continue their studies at leading colleges and universities, and professional lives in the full range of disciplines. The Oakwood community quickly builds trust as students are challenged to take academic risks and push themselves outside their comfort zones. When the athlete discovers the joys of ceramics, the artist dives into a course on fractal geometry, or the pianist codes their first video game, Oakwood students are engaged in true learning.

The diversity of Oakwood's classrooms and educational approach reflects a multi-cultural world and helps prepare students for the rapidly evolving spaces they will be entering after high school and college. Today’s students will need to address complex local, national, and global issues, in the workplace and their lives. Actively engaging in a shared “search for truth,” Oakwood models deep listening, respect for competing viewpoints, and active participation in society.

Rooted in the Quaker values of equality, peace, community, integrity, service and stewardship, Oakwood students learn through inquiry, reflection and action. Beginning in the 6th grade, young citizen scientists may find themselves waist deep in the Hudson River tracking eel migration on a Tuesday, and volunteering at local food banks on a Thursday. When they are working in the four-season greenhouse as part of the science curriculum, students tie-in topics of food scarcity, local production and the economic impact on Hudson Valley migrant farmers. In the High School, many juniors and seniors work one-on-one with teaching mentors through a Global Affairs Certificate Program, while others participate in the United Nations Human Rights Internship Program. Two recent graduates, who are currently pursuing advanced degrees in engineering from Stanford and MIT, point toward the relationships with faculty and the breadth of courses, outside of the sciences, which sparked their curiosity for learning. Regardless of the courses chosen or individual paths taken, every student is challenged to put their learning in motion and lead lives of consequence and meaning.

Concludes Dean Sandstrom: “I have continually been impressed by the work done at Oakwood to support all students and faculty, including our active GSA, trans-inclusive housing policies, and participation in the local LGBTQ community. As a Quaker school, we deeply embrace inclusion and activism, and our diverse student body represents that. We work to support every student in their holistic growth on campus, and their families, through this life-forming journey.”