School and Community
Established in 1837 by the Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends, Olney continues to cultivate the Quaker values of consensus, integrity, and cooperative conflict resolution while honoring ethnic, racial, religious, LGBTQIAS, and socio-economic diversity. Students participate integrally in all aspects of community life, including decisionmaking in the dormitories, deliberating on academic offerings, and working in the kitchen and on the farm. 100% of Olney graduates are admitted to 4-year accredited colleges and universities. The school is located on 350 USDA certified organic acres near the town of Barnesville, Ohio, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The area is largely agricultural; nearby areas of ecological interest allow the school to offer hands-on environmental science education. The Olney farm provides not only food for the community, but also educational opportunities for students and revenue for the school. The Olney curriculum takes advantage of its small size, international student presence, and culture of inquiry to offer a unique academic environment for high school students. All courses teach core college preparatory material and skills while offering students opportunities to choose to engage with material at greater depth and at an individual pace.
View a virtual tour of the Main Building, whose campus is “listed in National Register of Historic Places as Friends Boarding School and Ohio Yearly Meetinghouse Historic District (National Register #358778).
View a virtual tour of the Stillwater Science Center: (description notes that it was acquired, upgraded, and equipped with new science labs in 2015):
Olney is accredited by the Independent School Association of the Central States (ISACS), and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the Friends Council on Education (FCE).
Students and Faculty
The Olney Friends School student body averages 50 students in grades 9-12. The faculty to student ratio is 1:3, and the median class size is 8. Students come from across the U.S. and from many different countries in recent years, including Afghanistan, Rwanda, China, Egypt, Japan, Vietnam and Costa Rica and others, representing a wide variety of religious and secular traditions. The small size of the student body and inclusive values lead students of all backgrounds to socialize together, adding a multicultural global perspective inside and out of the classroom. Our faculty members generally possess significant teaching experience and over half hold advanced degrees (masters or doctorate).
The underlying principles of intentional community, combined with Quaker values for shared decision-making and equality, mean that Olney students take on multiple responsibilities for the smooth functioning of their school. All students at Olney participate weekly in consensus-based community meetings to develop policies and programming, and to respond to important issues as they arise. Designated student leadership opportunities include:
• Dorm Governors and Staff
• Work Program Crew Leaders
• Spiritual Life Leaders
• Admissions Ambassadors
• Athletic Team Captains
Notes on the Curriculum
Most Olney classes follow an informal discussion format or use the Harkness Method to build inquiry based learning skills comparable to those of upper level college students. Students engage deeply with course material, think critically, and develop argumentation styles for presentation of thoughtfully conceived positions. New indoor laboratory facilities constructed in 2014 complement Olney’s 350-acre “outdoor laboratory” where students collect new data to analyze in concert with decades of historic environmental data.
Students choose among multiple electives each year that cover college preparatory content and skills. Electives last from 4 to 8 weeks and can support students toward meeting graduation requirements. Recent Electives include Philosophy of Religion, Building and Protecting Wealth, and Digital Film making. Co-curricular traditions at Olney Friends School include every student, and support the academic rigor and lifelong learning ethic characteristic of the school. These include literary events, trips to museums, historical and natural sites, the annual “Gymnastics Exhibition” performance, special meals, and farm activities.
Non-Academic Graduation Requirements
• Physical Education/Athletics: 4 years (including soccer, cross country, ultimate frisbee, swimming, and farmwork)
• Campus Work Program: 4 years (on-campus community service, including kitchen, janitorial, and maintenance jobs)
• School Governance: 4 years (active participation in dorm- and school-level decisions through consensus-based weekly meetings)
Recent College Acceptances
Within the last five years, Olney graduates were admitted to dozens of colleges, universities and art institutes, including: