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Frankford Friends School’s Open House Invites New Friends!

We went to school – on Saturday! This past Saturday, October 17, Frankford Friends School (FFS) held an Open House beginning at 11 AM! While we no longer have school-age children, being a retired preschool and elementary school teacher myself, we wanted to see what FFS has to offer. (We are looking forward to grandchildren when they arrive!) FFS has a proud history of being the first school in Frankford that still continues to serve area families and their children. While tour guides were available, we made our own way.

Our first stop was the century old meetinghouse that houses the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms. In the meetinghouse, fifth and sixth grade students along with their teachers were playing the hand bells to the tune of  “Amazing Grace”. We met a family with two girls and their older daughter readily joined the music group when invited to come and play.

As we moved to the preschool and kindergarten classroom, we learned that these age groups, in particular, are a steadily growing population for the school. With the focus on the importance of early childhood education, FFS stresses listening and speaking activities with a focus on enjoying literature and having stories come alive using stuffed animal “friends”.

We proceeded across the school yard to the main building that is used for grades 1 through 5, a lunchroom and school offices. Each classroom was brightly decorated with the students’ work and teachers were in each classroom to discuss curriculum and answer any questions. The lunchroom on this day offered snacks and juices. Here we were greeted warmly and offered assistance by FFS principal, Penny Colgan-Davis. The well-stocked library had attracted several readers as we made our way to the first grade classroom whose class turtle was actively swimming and greeting all visitors. Lastly, we visited the middle school (6th, 7th and 8th grades) that is located on Gillingham St.

Besides actually teaching in public and private schools, I had a day care center in the area. We picked up children from local schools. Several children attended Frankford Friends School. The philosophy of peaceful co-existence and cooperative learning is also taught at FFS. These are skills much needed in our 21st Century. For more information and to learn how you can support the school, please visit their web site at Frankford Friends School.

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Frankford Friends to Launch Green Building Project

Frankford Friends School has hired the architecture firm DIGSAU to design a new Middle School facility on its historic property in Frankford.frankford_friends

“We are extremely excited to have a partner like DIGSAU,” said Joe Hohenstein, Clerk of the FFS School Committee, a Frankford resident, and himself a graduate of the school. “They really ‘get’ what Quaker education is all about and value stewardship as much as we do.”

DIGSAU is an award-winning firm practicing architecture, urbanism, and environmental design. Founded in 2007, the firm is recognized for expertise in the design of high-quality buildings for a diverse client group. Several principals, including architect Jamie Unkefer, were involved in the design of buildings at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., the first secondary school in the country to attain Platinum LEED certification. Unkefer said, “The Friends’ testimony of ‘walking gently on the earth’ is easily connected to sustainable design practices. However, to us, the idea of stewardship extends further toward core Quaker values of simplicity, equality, and peace, all of which should find form in the design of a Quaker building.”  They are also working on the Globe Dye Works property in Frankford.

“This year, in rented space, we have begun to achieve our dream of a 6th-8th grade Middle School,” explained Penny Colgan-Davis, Principal of the school. “The program that the three teachers have built is creative and engaging and allows the students to collaborate across the grades in ways we could only imagine in previous years. We look forward to a dedicated science and math lab and flexible teaching spaces.”

With the lowest tuition of any Quaker school in Pennsylvania, Frankford Friends School is known for offering outstanding education to families of modest means. The school has been a key player in the fight to reverse the decline of Frankford, a community struggling to stabilize since the loss of its industrial base decades ago. “The Friends School is the bedrock of this community and a vital partner in turning around Frankford,” said State Representative Tony Payton, Jr., whose district includes Frankford and Olney.  “We will not win the fight to save Frankford without great schools, and the Friends School is the best. We’re excited about the selection of DIGSAU, because it moves us one step closer to having a model of innovative green building in the district.”

In addition to uniting the school’s sixth, seventh and eighth grade classrooms on the main campus, plans call for a multipurpose room for before- and after-school care and summer programs, which will also be available to the wider community for meetings and events. A dedicated music room will serve the school’s newly expanded program, which offers strings to students in grades 4 through 8 as well as orchestra, a jazz ensemble, theory, and composition in addition to the hand bells and vocal music traditionally taught at the school.

The building is estimated to cost $2.5 million. It will be constructed in two phases, allowing work on Phase I to begin in the spring of 2010. In keeping with the school’s limited means, the design will combine sustainability with innovative building strategies to enable the project to be completed and operated as economically as possible.

For more information on the school or the building project, please visit or call 215-533-5368.

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Next week in Frankford

  • Plant Sale
    When-Sat, May 9, 11am – 4pm
    Where-in front of the library, 4634 Frankford Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19124-5804 (map)
    Description-The Frankford Garden club will be selling plants May 9th in front of the library 11 am – 4 pm. Great looking hanging baskets, flats of annuals for both shade and sun and 4″ pots of geraniums, sweet potato vine and others. The sale benefits the garden club so please come on by and check them out. The library is doing their book sale at the same time.
  • “Globe Dye Works: Layers”, Opening Reception with the Artists
    When-Sat, May 9, 5pm – 9pm
    Where-Globe Dye Works, 4500 Worth St. Philadelphia, pa 19124 (map)
    Description-Curated by Philadelphia artist Veronica Scarpellino, “Globe Dye Works: Layers” will bring together 13 artists to celebrate the transition of the Globe Dye Works building into its next incarnation. Artist Maria Anasazi, a recent Philadelphia transplant from Greece, will headline the exhibit with delicate sculptures created from antique and discarded books. Anasazi is a prolific artist who has shown her work extensively across the country and has received numerous awards and accolades. Anasazi will be joined in the main gallery by other established artists Steven Earl Weber, Kiki Gaffney, courtesy of Pentimenti Gallery and Pete Checchia. Together their artwork will pay homage to the past as it meets the present, in unison with the space around them. The exhibition continues upstairs in two other exhibit rooms, featuring the works of Candace Karch and Joshua Erb, Romy Scheroder, Ron Johnson, Justin Coffin, Deb Imler and Allen Spencer, James Oliver and Peter Stanfield. Also on exhibit will be works by Guy Stanley Philoche, a NY painter, courtesy of James Oliver Gallery. Globe Dye Works has been remade to support art studios, craftsman studios, offices and stores. Public spaces within will serve as areas to exhibit art, communicate with fellow tenants, and give residents an opportunity to collaborate. Spaces vary in size, from 500 sq. ft. to 3000 sq. ft., giving residents a flexibility in scope that is rare. Join the partners of Globe Dye Works and Philadelphia Brewing Company in this celebration
  • Dedication of the bench in honor of Gary Skerski
    When-Tue, May 12, 11am – 12pm
    Where– Levick Street, Philadelphia, PA (map)
  • Historical Society of Frankford program – Remembering Abraham Lincoln
    When-Tue, May 12, 7:30pm – 9:00pm
    Where-1507 Orthodox St., Philadelphia, PA 19124 (map)
    Description-The Historical Society of Frankford presents an exhibit and lecture commemorating the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln in 1809. The exhibit draws on the Society’s extensive collection of Lincoln related books, photographs, original documents, and artifacts to tell in brief the story of the rail splitter from Illinois. The exhibit will open to the public on Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 7:30 pm at the Historical Society of Frankford located at 1507 Orthodox Street , Philadelphia , PA. Members are free, $5 suggested donation for non members. Anthony Waskie will present the Lecture entitled Lincoln, Philadelphia, and the Civil War. Dr. Waskie, an Assistant Professor at Temple University, has written and lectured widely on the Civil War and is very active in Civil War history, research and preservation. He is a specialist on the life and career of Gen. George G. Meade whom he portrays in a “first person” style living-history performance. Active with the Philadelphia Consortium for Civil War History, he is part of the group seeking to promote the Civil War History of the city; and the foundation of the new Civil War & Underground Railroad Museum of Philadelphia, for which he serves on the Advisory Board. He is a charter member of the Philadelphia Civil War History Consortium. He was elected to membership in the Union League of Philadelphia in 2003. He is an active participant and founding member in the “Civil War & Emancipation Studies program” at Temple University , a part of CHAT (Center for the Humanities at Temple ).
  • 15th District 3rd Annual community Day
    When-Sat, May 16, 10am – 2pm
    Where-Lincoln High School, 7400 Rowland Ave. Phila. PA. (map)
    Description-15th District Phila. Police Dept. along with 15th District Advisory Council Sponsored by City Council Maria Sanchez and State Senator Tina Tartaglione Rain date may 17th
  • Frankford Friends School Hosts Annual Spring Fair for the Community
    When-Sat, May 16, 10am – 3pm
    Where-Frankford Friends School, 1500 Orthodox Street, Philadelphia , PA 19124 (map)
    Description-Frankford Friends School (FFS) will host its Annual Spring Fair for the community on Saturday, May 16, 2009 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at FFS, 1500 Orthodox Street , Philadelphia , PA 19124 . The day of the event will be filled with fun activities, carnival games, a petting zoo, snacks and new this year the Alumni Café. Don’t miss this exciting event! Come out and enjoy the festivities, tell a friend! FFS has been at its current historic location for over 175 years! FFS provides quality, affordable Quaker-based education for grades Pre-K through 8th grade. For more information on the school or the Spring Fair, check out our website at
  • Gun Buy Back
    When-Sat, May 16, 10am – 12pm
    Where-TACONY BAPTIST CHURCH, Disston Street, Philadelphia, PA (map)
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Next Week in Frankford

  • Saint Valentine’s Day Family Dinner
    When-Sat, February 14, 6pm – 8pm
    Where-Frankford Memorial United Methodist Church, 1300 Dyre Street Philadelphia, PA 19124 (map)
    Description-Frankford Memorial United Methodist Church will be holding a Saint Valentine’s Day Family Dinner on Saturday, February 14th, 2009. Dinner will be served at 6:00 pm. and there is one seating only. Singles, Couples, and Groups are welcome! Tickets are $15.00 for adults and $10.00 for children 10 and under. For tickets please call the Church Office at (215) 288-9800 by February 10th. Sorry, no tickets sold at the door. For more information and the menu see our web site at
    When-Sun, February 15, 10am – 12pm
    Where-1842 Torresdale Avenue (map)
    Description-Open House on Sunday, February 15, 2009 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 NOON. Please take this opportunity to experience our campus, and meet with our students, faculty, administration, alumni, activities moderators and athletic coaches. Any questions, please contact Terri Barrett at 215-831-1234, ext. 217.
  • 15th district’s commander, Capt. Frank Bachmayer Town Hall Meeting
    When-Tue, February 17, 7pm – 8pm
    Where-St. Joachim Parish Hall, Chursh St. at Griscom St. (map)
    Description-Come tell the captain how it’s going on your block. He wants to know.
  • 311 phone system
    When-Wed, February 18, 7pm – 8pm
    Where-Tacony Baptist Church, 4715 Disston Street (map)
  • Frankford Friends School’s 2009 Winter Soiree & Silent Auction
    When-Sat, February 21, 4:30pm – 7:30pm
    Where-Crane Arts Building, (map)
    Description-On Saturday, February 21, 2009, Frankford Friends School’s Winter Soiree & Silent Auction will take place at the exciting Crane Arts Building in Philadelphia. The event will be held from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Proceeds from the event and the auction will help us realize our dream of a new building on our historic site at 1500 Orthodox Street in Northeast Philadelphia. (For more information about our school, click the “banner” at the top of this page.) In advance of the event, the bidding will begin here, at this online auction site – allowing people who can’t attend to bid and have a chance to win. (Auction items will begin appearing on this page in January, so please keep checking back.) All items will close at the live event, so if you really want something, you may just have to be there! This year our event will include a very special wine tasting with Greg Moore pouring his remarkable artisan Moore Brothers wines. Also featured will be a cheese tasting and light fare. We look forward to seeing all community members there, new and old! The online auction runs from February 8 through February 19. Tickets to the live event are a suggested minimum donation of $40 per person, or $75 for two people. There are a limited number of tickets available, so reserve yours early.