- Who We Are
- How We Teach
- Curriculum at a Glance
- Academic Resources
- College Counseling
- School Profile
- Academic Calendar
- Farm & Food
- Campus as Laboratory
- Farm to Table
- Olney Green
- Bird's Eye View
- Goats: Olney's Other Kids
- Regional Sustainability
- Visioning Olney
- Student Life
- Support Olney
- The East Porch
- News & Events
- Olney Studios
It is hard to define the Olney Spirit; it means many things: a genuine friendly outreach, an honesty of purpose, an integrity which makes it safe to trust each other, not only with one’s property, but one’s reputation; it is an urge to grow into better balanced, more wholesome and understanding individuals. It is, in fact, a practice of the law of love. -- Anna Kirk Hartley, 1918
“Olney Green” has many meanings in our community – a way of life, a guiding spirit, a love of living close to and working with the land, and, of course, the land itself. We see ourselves as stewards of the land and its many gifts. We adults in the Olney community are also, first and foremost, stewards of young people – looking after their growth and development, planting just the right seeds for a lifetime of intellectual curiosity and a flourishing of the spirit.
In this page, we want to lift up for those new to, and also those familiar with, Olney Friends School some of the many ways in which we are a “green” school. We hope you will accompany us on a short tour of a much larger subject. Enjoy!
Progressive Education for a Sustainable World
Olney Friends School prepares students to live in harmony with each other and with the planet, using resources responsibly and caring for each other in equal measure. The school fosters awareness of global issues while at the same time demonstrating the importance and joy of participating in one’s very local community. Olney students come from all over Ohio, all over the country, and all over the world.
Students learn by doing, and their classroom includes not only the village of Barnesville, Ohio (population 4,000) where they contribute hundreds of hours of service each year, but also the campus itself, comprising 350 acres in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
Outdoor education, like community service, is required of all students. Opportunities range from hiking and camping to working in the garden or building a dock for our own Livezey Lake. The campus includes pasture land, forest, creeks, a pond, hay fields, small grains, and an orchard with apples and peaches. The farm includes beef cattle, pigs, chickens, and goats.
Four seasons are felt and experienced. The rhythms of the year influence the lessons that are chosen, as students and teachers, particularly in the life sciences and the humanities, make daily use of the outdoor learning environment for field trips, environmental conservation projects, and immersion in the school’s farm and food program.
Environmental science students regularly collaborate with local authorities to protect the region’s watersheds; to monitor the quality of local air, soil, and water; and to raise awareness among their peers and teachers about conservation. Science teacher Leonard Guindon ’70 won the Ohio Conservation Teacher of the Year award in 2009 in the high school category.
Students monitor campus energy usage; they clean the dormitories and classroom buildings; they coordinate recycling efforts. They help weed the garden, snap green beans, peel garlic, wash root vegetables, bake pumpkin bread, trim goat hooves, and prepare menus for the community.
Farm & Food
Eating meals together is one of the greatest sources of community-building at Olney. Students are assigned tables at lunchtime; each table includes two or three adults and several students. Table assignments change every three weeks, giving everyone a chance to get to know each other better. There is open seating at supper. Breakfast is enjoyed around a large table in the kitchen.
The farm produces nearly 19,000 pounds of organic produce annually, including kale, collard greens, beets, carrots, potatoes, lettuce, butternut squash, tomatoes, and herbs. Using a cold composting system, the school composts all the leaves for the village of Barnesville.
A growing percentage of meat and produce for the kitchen comes from the farm program, which involves all students throughout the year, at different levels of participation. For example, a student may come to realize, based on her own experience, that carrots grown in the school’s organic garden look and taste rather different from supermarket carrots or food service carrots. A farm beef burger likewise is very different, in taste and appearance, from a fast food hamburger.
The school supports co-curricular education about the nation’s food supply as well. Recent programs have included directors’ screenings of award-winning documentaries including “King Corn,” “Big River,” and others.
Wise Use of Resources
The school’s emphasis on sustainability has its roots in frugal Midwestern culture (“waste not, want not”) as well as in the traditional values practiced by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), such as peacemaking, simplicity, and social justice. Students are encouraged to use the resources they need and to become more conscious of the effects of their choices on others.
In a rural environment, living closer to the land, sharing close quarters in a small residential community, each person’s actions are more visible. A former dean of students describes Olney as a place where students, teachers, and staff alike “are fully known.” At Olney persons are led to appreciate one another for all the strengths and areas of growth each person brings to the table.