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A Message of Concern

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May 30, 2020
Dear DVFriends Families and Friends,
Our nation is in the midst of challenges on many levels. As we wrestle with the health and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, grief and anger abound at the killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky; and Ahmaud Arbery in Southeastern Georgia. The Delaware Valley Friends School community, broader Philadelphia area, and our nation continue to mourn the ongoing disproportionate impact of deadly violence against people of color. Tragically, violence against people of color has a long history in our nation, and incidents ranging from Trayvon Martin’s killing eight years ago, to Eric Garner and Michael Brown’s deaths in 2014, to white supremacists marching in Charlottesville in 2017 serve as painful reminders that not all people feel equally safe in our society. Over the past week, we have seen protests increase both in number and in severity in dozens of metropolitan areas, including in Philadelphia.
Our nation strives toward an ideal of equality and we live in and around the City of Brotherly Love, yet freedom and security are not felt equally by all. The disproportionate struggle of communities of color amid the pandemic and the seemingly never-ending stream of unjust deaths of people of color have sparked outrage in those who continue to experience discrimination and violence and their allies. We hold in the Light those who raise their voices peacefully to speak out against injustice as well as those who strive to keep all those affected by the civil unrest in our area and elsewhere safe.
Every day, our teachers approach their work seeking that of God, or what we also call the Inner Light, in students whose past school experiences have made them feel lesser than in other schools. We seek a deep sense of equality and appreciation for one another, which goes well beyond surface impressions or quick judgments. As a Quaker school, we affirm the right of diverse voices to be heard. As a school community, we seek to oppose racism and injustice when aimed at people in our immediate and broader community. We also recognize with humility that we have our own ongoing work to do as a community and to learn how to best serve society as a whole.
We may feel separated by physical separation during this pandemic, but if the past eleven weeks have taught us anything it is that we remain strong in our connections to one another. With news of unrest across our nation and locally, amid the stressful experience of the pandemic, please know that we are here for you and for your students. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our administration or counselors as you help your student to navigate these troubled waters. Likewise, as we have in the past, we offer these resources to assist you.
Talking to Children After Racial Incidents - Penn Graduate School of Education interview with Howard Stevenson, PhD
George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What do we tell our children? - USA Today interview with Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD and Erlanger Turner, PhD
Helping Children Cope with Frightening News - Child Mind Institute, Harold S. Koplewicz, MD
In Peace,
Kirk Smothers, Head of School
David Calamaro, Associate Head of School & Academic Dean
Nic James, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Tom Lees, Associate Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Jim Miller, Upper School Director
Allison Gill, Assistant Upper School Director
Jason Seggern, Lower and Middle School Director
Christy Zawadzskas, Assistant Director for Lower School & Lower/Middle School Counselor
Beth Gray, Upper School Counselor

Delaware Valley Friends School
19 E. Central Avenue, Paoli, PA | 610-640-4150 | dvfriends.org