QYLC Comes to Friends Select


Image Courtesy of Bella Robinson ’22

Friends Select School will virtually host the Friends Council on Education’s annual Quaker Youth Leadership Conference from February 4th through February 6th. The conference, led jointly by English teacher Miriam Rock and student co-clerks C.C. Servon ‘21 and Elena Miliken ‘22, follows a theme of “staying proximate, staying progressive, and staying positive.” 

The school’s decision to host QYLC was made at last year’s conference at George School, which Miriam, Math Department Chair Sarah Kelly, and six students from Quake, Friends Select’s Quakerism club, attended. Miriam explained that when the conference’s leadership offered attending schools the opportunity to host, Friends Select was the only school to volunteer. C.C. remembers the selection process differently: “I believe we just sort of forced our way into it, as we are wont to do,” she says.

According to Miriam, hosting QYLC was one of her main goals for Quake when she and Arley Johnson ‘20 founded the club in 2019. After an extended hiatus from the conference, Arley and former Dean of Students Jim Miller took Friends Select back to QYLC in 2018. When Miriam attended the conference at Sidwell Friends School in her first year at FSS in 2019, she had a vision to bring the conference to Center City. “Part of why [Arley and I] founded Quake was to build the Quaker infrastructure in the student body so that we could potentially host QYLC this coming year. We talked with students and administrators and they were all on board,” she says.

Part of Quake’s excitement to host the conference came from their experiences at George School last year. “I enjoyed meeting people from across the country that I would not have met otherwise,” says Elena. C.C. added that the conference’s emphasis on casual social connections made for an enjoyable time.

Before it was clear that the conference would be entirely virtual, Friends Select’s student-operated QYLC leadership team hoped to enhance the conference’s service component. In recent years, difficult logistics have limited the opportunity for a conference-wide service project. This year, though, the leadership team hoped to change that by working with Director of City Curriculum Margaret Smith. “We really wanted to up the ante for the service component of the conference, navigating the city and going to service locations and connecting that service to our conversations at the conference,” says Miriam.

Now, with all participants Zooming into the conference from home, the service component will have to take a back seat. While each attending school will have asynchronous time to plan local service events, actual conference time will be devoted to student workshops, a talent show, a virtual speaker panel, and unstructured time for social interaction and Quakerism-related discussions.

The student leadership team also includes a number of committee leaders: Lucy Kelley ‘22 heads the scheduling committee, Margot Schneider ‘22 leads speaking arrangements, Asa Johnson ‘22 steers the service initiative, Bella Robinson ‘22 has designed t-shirts and other merchandise, and Chris Crisden ‘22 leads the social media team. All members of the leadership team have been encouraged to lead workshops as well: “I am sort of intrigued by the idea of lesson planning and leading a discussion among students whom I don’t know at all,” says Margot.

With lots of the foundational work out of the way, the Quake team is starting to get excited for the conference. C.C. and Elena are especially looking forward to the fulfillment of relaxing and watching the team’s hard work play out. “QYLC is my three favorite days of the year. I’ve been looking forward to it for months,” says Miriam.