What's New at LFS

The dictionary definition of generous is "showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected."  There is a spiritual underpinning to almost any act of generosity, for people give out of love.  I am continually in awe of the many generous people who make up the LFS community.  I would like to lift up one today.

At the end of a Monday in August, the telephone rang.  Jack Swope, an alumnus from the LFS class of 1946, was calling me because he felt inspired by a sermon he heard at church the day before.  He and his wife, Joan, wanted to make a difference to a Lansdowne Friends School family by paying for one child's tuition through his or her LFS education.  Although the call was unexpected and extraordinarily magnanimous, it was not out of character:  Jack has given generously to LFS in the past.  For example, in 2000, he established The LFS Endowment Fund, the interest from which provides supplemental funds for faculty development.  In addition, he has shared his love for the school through bringing together alumni from his time here, including one of his classmates from Holland who came after World War II and who with Jack and had a terrific visit with our fifth and sixth grades.

Jack and Joan's latest gift has a multiplier effect, for this scholarship frees up the financial aid that the recipient had been getting to be awarded to another family in need.  We thank Jack and Joan for giving us that opportunity, for supporting an LFS student so generously, and for their ongoing support to Lansdowne Friends School in so many ways.

John McKinstry, Head of School

We've put together a slideshow that includes much of the students' experiences related to sustainability this school year.

Watch the slideshow here.

The School Community Association hosted the annual May Fair on Saturday, May 16.

Check out more photos on our Flickr page.

Why not?  LFS is an educational and spiritual beacon which involves a child's whole family.  This is something that I had not really appreciated for more than half a century since I graduated and moved on with higher education, marriage, work and family.  Since serving on the LFS School Committee, I have been reminded of the enormous commitment our students and their families make to be a part of LFS.  What they don't realize immediately, but hope, is what a positive and profound difference LFS makes in building character and intellect in its students. I owe a lot to LFS, but it wasn't my doing that enrolled me, it was my parents’ insight that led them to enroll me and my sister. Hence, I give to honor them and my teachers, with a desire to pass the torch.

- Joe Bullen ’53

LFS has given me such a wonderful community to work in. The hours I spend with students in the library and with my colleagues and parents on the playground and beyond have enriched my life. That's why I give to the annual giving drive to enhance the many great programs in this gem of a school!

- Jacqueline Yates, LFS Librarian



One of the qualities that sets Lansdowne Friends School apart is the culture of shared responsibility; the students are expected to create problems as well as solutions, and prepared to see that sometimes the right answer is that the answer is still unknown. 

I give to Lansdowne Friends School as a means of practicing my commitment to the school and declaring my belief in its mission. I give because it makes a difference to families with children right now in the Philadelphia area and because it makes a difference to the future we (all humans) are living into. 

- Maura Leeper, LFS Parent, School Committee Member 

This year, Lansdowne Friends School marks Martin Luther King Day with a day of service on Friday, January 16. Students will spend part of the day creating placemats, lunch bags and greeting cards for Meals on Wheels, and will share a simple all-school lunch to benefit the Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan Foundation, a foundation established in memory of a medical doctor in Sierra Leone who lost his life helping his country battle ebola. 

LFS Lasers and LFS Stars attended the First Lego League robotics qualifier at the Franklin Institute on Saturday, December 6, in the hopes of earning a spot at Finals held at the University of Pennsylvania in February. 

The Lasers and Stars are coached by T. Deb and Ashley Hazen, an engineer with Johnson Matthey. Both teams are mentored by Bob Hazen, and engineer at Boeing. 

The competition challenge this year was World Class. Teams had to develop an innovative way to teach others in a 21st century learning environment. Our teams have worked with experts to research and develop their projects. The Lasers developed plans for an App that would assist families in teaching children who are born deaf how to read. The Stars developed an innovative way to assess students that supports the development of Growth Mindsets. Both teams incorporated complex arms and sensors into their robot designs. Their programming is sophisticated and allows their robots to accomplish multiple objectives at one time. 

On December 6, Students arrived at 8:00 a.m. and competed until 4:00 p.m., in a number of areas. First, they were judged on core values. Three judged watched the teams complete a teamwork challenge, evaluating how students balanced the challenge and motivation. Afterwards, in a question and answer session, the judges asked students about how they worked together and took charge of the challenge as a group.  

Then the teams presented their research projects: each team had five minutes to present, followed by ten minutes of questions from a panel of experts (engineers and computer programmers) who asked about sources of their research, the cost of implementation, and the potential impact of their projects on the real-life target market. 

Then the teams faced a panel of three experts who evaluated their robot design. Students ran a robotics program and answered questions about why they built their program, and had to produce copies of the programming code. Throughout the day, judges circulated to observe how students interacted with each other, with their adult coaches, and with other teams and adults. Finally, the teams each ran a two-and-a-half minute timed match on the robotics board, trying to accomplish as many trials as possible within that period. Afterwards, judges went through the scoring rubric with each team, and each member had the opportunity to agree or respectfully disagree with each score. 

One real challenge of this part of the competition is that the competition boards are always slightly different from the practice boards. Another potential complication is that the challenge document is twenty pages along-and in the case of both the board and the document, changes can be made leading up to the morning of competition, which means students are also responsible for keeping up with those changes and constantly tweaking their work.

At the end of the day, the students took part in an end-of-competition dance party. 

"Their performance was a good example of grace under pressure," said 5/6 teacher and robotic mentor Deb Hazen, who pointed out that in competitions the rubrics are thorough and rigorous and that the First Lego League runs through eighth grade, so LFS students were among the youngest in the competition. The sixth grade team brought home a trophy for their research. Go LFS! 

Each Grand Friends Day, Lansdowne Friends School welcomes grandparents and students' other special friends to come to school. Grand friends share meeting for worship and classroom time with their students, and the morning ends with an all-school sing -- a beautiful way to begin Thanksgiving break.

More photos are on our Flickr page.

grand friends day

The motto from the earliest days of Lansdowne Friends School has been “Service over Self.”  At LFS, service is important in our curriculum and takes many forms.  At the most basic level, students are expected to take personal responsibility for the school, and are therefore expected to clean up after themselves and take care of the campus. Older classes work with the younger classes as another form of service.  We also have days of service where we go out into the community and partner with community organizations.

On October 2, most of the school spent the day in our surrounding community. Our fifth and sixth graders tended to street trees in Upper Darby, Lansdowne and East Lansdowne with members of the Darby Creek Valley Association. Third and fourth graders cooked for the Life Center of Eastern Delaware County, part of Lansdowne Friends School’s monthly commitment to help provide meals for those experiencing homelessness. First and second graders picked up trash on our campus and in our neighborhood.


On a broader level, service is an expression in our belief in learning through personal experience.  It requires collaboration, fosters empathy and a sense of civic and social responsibility. It also engages students in active learning, and encourages them to be connected to and part of the larger local and world community.  Service enriches the classroom experience and allows for active expression of what goes on in the classroom and in meeting for worship.  Ultimately, we hope it will help students internalize a strong sense of purpose and will help then decide what they will do in their adult lives.

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