What are Quaker Values

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Olney Friends School was founded in 1837 by the Religious Society of Friends. The school adheres to basic principles or “testimonies” that draw on Quaker tradition and values. Among these testimonies are truthfulness, simplicity, non-violence, and respect for the good in every person. We sum these up in our Community Rule: Be truthful; Harm no one. Students come to Olney Friends School from many different faiths and backgrounds. We try to teach respect for and celebration of differences rather than simple tolerance.

Olney Friends School students are asked to gather as a whole community regularly in silent Meeting for Worship as is the Quaker tradition. Students use this as a time to quietly reflect and gather strength and clearness which help them better face the challenges of meeting their individual responsibilities and the responsibility of living well in a close community. It is a cornerstone of community life here at the school; most Olney Friends School students quickly learn to appreciate the benefits of this quiet time.

Olney Friends School stands out in its vision and expectations for young people. Naturally, we ask each student to become fully engaged in his or her college-preparatory education. But we ask more. We ask each student to wrestle with questions of conscience, to appreciate simplicity, to choose a healthy, substance-free way of life, to develop healthy habits in both work and play, and to become a positive member of a close-knit and caring multi-generational community.


  • Do our actions contribute to peace?
  • Are we acknowledging our spiritual equality with one another?
  • Are we thinking of the community, and not just of ourselves?
  • Do our actions have true integrity?
  • Do they reflect our goal of living simply?

Do I Have to Be Quaker to Attend Olney?

Definitely not. About one quarter to one third of our students and about half of our faculty tend to be Quaker. Quaker process and Quaker values lie at the heart of Olney Friends School. Olney Friends School students are not required to believe in a God, creator, an intercessor, or a high power, though they must be respectful of those who do.

Quaker practices permeate daily life at Olney, and it is important that all community members respect the profound importance that spiritual beliefs have in many people’s lives, in many different ways.

The high school years are an important time in exploring the questions of spirituality and identity. Olney Friends School and its community welcome and embrace people with all kinds of beliefs.

What is Meeting for Worship?

Quiet reflection is central to life at Olney Friends School. For some, this is a time to commune with the Spirit; for others it is centering, a time for meditation, thinking, appreciation, or just slowing down. As in all Quaker gatherings, there is an invitation to speak out of the silence. This can be a time when important thoughts and feelings are shared, or simply a time when we sit together in comfortable, trusting silence.

We start and end each day with Collection, which begins with a few minutes of quiet reflection and ends with a shaking of hands and announcements.

On Wednesday mornings and Sunday evenings, we gather for a longer worship time, about a half an hour of quiet reflection. This worship time is under the care of school faculty and students. Some weeks the committee plans special programs or discussions that take place during Meeting for Worship.