Choosing the right high school can be a major decision for teenagers and their parents, especially if that decision involves the person leaving home for nine months each year. We understand how difficult this decision can be, so we have invited some of our students to share what it is like to live and study at Olney Friends School.
Is Olney Right for Me?
Drew Iwenjiora (West Henrietta, NY)
I like Olney because of the close friends you can get here. I have had so many great and amazing relationships that remind me of my previous school. I am friends with everyone here and know them well. People are always willing to help and talk to you and you know you are loved by the community. The whole community is very supportive too.
I did activities here that I could never imagine I’d do at a public school. I learned skills I never thought I would enjoy. Learning here is great too because you are close to the teachers so you can ask them for help. It is easier to ask a friend for help and if your teacher is your friend, it works well. I have struggled in the last with math and writing but the teachers here have shown me ways to improve and I did. I love Olney and I am so glad that I get to be in this school.
Zahara Fischer Frank (Amherst, MA)
Olney is a place to come and feel accepted, where normal can be anything you want. When I came to Olney, I didn’t know what to expect, especially because I was coming as a Junior. One thing that is a big part of my life is soccer, I was scared that there wasn’t going to be the chance to play. I was wrong, and I had such an amazing experience.
Olney is a big place, with lots of places to go and hide. One of my favorite places to go is the goat barn. It’s my getaway, just me and the goats— no drama, no nothing. It is a calming place to escape. I think everyone should explore and find their escape space.
I came to be the big fish in the small sea, to get away from the normal, and I think you should too.
Sara Hirayama (Tokyo, Japan)
I am very grateful to have the environment and teachers that actively help me grow as a photographer and artist. Art supplies and art room are available to anyone, anytime. It makes it more convenient to create art whenever I feel like it. The teachers are always willing to help me learn what I want to learn. I have gained confidence in my photography and art by showing my work to the community, and submitting my work to local art shows and getting awarded.
Olney is a place where you can take a big step towards your dreams because we have such a supportive community here: I love how the teachers are experienced and skilled in a wide range of fields and the students can explore together, influence each other, and help each other. It can be insanely stressful to go through hard times all alone, but you would feel better when you know that someone has your back. You would never feel lonely, once you become part of Olney.
Dylan Lussky (Berlin, Germany)
The USA education has become very fixed on standardised tests. So if you want to succeed you need to be prepared for the test. Where do you learn best? In a full classroom with lots of students having there own conversations or a small class with lots of flexibility? Olney is able to give you that space and flexibility to learn in the best way possible. Olney is a boarding school so you are always around other people and can spend your free time relaxing with your friends. It all comes down to your relationships with other people and here at Olney, you build very strong friendships.
I am an international student. One of my fears of doing an year abroad was that I would get a bad host family, where I just would feel at home. Olney is a boarding school and that means that you live in the same building as your peers and classmates. Just knowing that I would be living with people my age group made me feel safer, because by living with my friends I knew I wouldn´t feel lonely and allways have a great time.
Starbuck Roberts (Belmont, OH)
I learned about Olney through the connections between my Quaker Meeting and the school, and the fact that the campus is less than a thousand feet from the meeting house I’ve been attending my whole life. During the summer, Olney hosts a Quaker bible camp called Christian Education Camp that I’ve been going to since I was six. The school would provide lodging and food. The food that they fed us was so good, especially compared to the food I got at public school, that I wanted to go. Now that I’m actually a student here, I’ve learned that there are even greater reasons why I love going to Olney. Don’t get me wrong, the food is still a big plus. However, one of the reasons I still love Olney is that it’s a challenge.
I’ve always done well in school, because classes were usually pretty easy, but I often lost motivation and my grades suffered. Olney, as a college prep school, has higher expectations and is more challenging. That challenge, and me wanting to overcome it, just to prove to myself that I can I suppose, made me actually care and want to succeed. In these last two years my grades have been better than they have ever been before.
Two other important reasons why I enjoy going to Olney are small class sizes and the community. Olney is a small school. Each class is significantly smaller than a lot of other places. This allows the teachers to focus more on individual students’ needs, meaning every student is more able to excel. Olney is a lot like a great big family. Most everybody has close relationships to one another and everybody manages to get along. I think this stems from the fact that this is a small school; there is no room for people to ignore the people they disagree with. Here at Olney we learn to work things out.
Frances Baker-Tucker (Canton, OH)
Coming to Olney was simultaneously the best and most terrifying decision I have made in my life. In May of my sophomore year, long after most schooling decisions are made for the next year, I decided I wanted to start exploring other options. Most other boarding schools my mother and I looked at had given away all financial aid long ago and weren’t accepting new students. The prospects were bleak. When we discovered Olney online one day, we didn’t think anything would come of it. Two weeks later, after I had visited, interviewed, and been accepted, we weren’t sure how we had ended up here.
That summer was full of anticipatory anxiety. Each day I managed to convince myself that I had made a huge mistake. All summer I tried to talk myself out of the worry and remind myself that this was going to be incredible. Turns out, I was right. It was incredible.
After two years at my previous school, I was just ‘getting through.’ At Olney, I remembered why I loved school so long ago. My freshman year of high school it took me three months to find friends and feel comfortable. At Olney, it took a couple of days.
Olney is a hotbed of diverse, strong-willed people- which isn’t always fun- but before Olney I never met such a passionate group of people who cared about education. Olney is like diving head first into the unknown- but once you come out the other end it’s like everything around you is brighter. There are no dreary, musty hallways at Olney Friends School, and there is never a dull moment.