Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

All Eyes on the Class of ‘24: Opinions on New Meeting House Seating Arrangement

All Eyes on the Class of ‘24: Opinions on New Meeting House Seating Arrangement

The Class of ‘24 was chosen as the first senior class to occupy the facing bench during Upper School Meeting for Worship. After years of deliberation and under the guidance of Quakers who have advised FSS, the administration, along with Miriam Rock, the Upper School Quakerism Coordinator, actualized this change. Senior opinions on the switch are varied. 

In an anonymous survey sent out to the Class of ‘24 on October 10th, many seniors admitted to feeling that their worship experience is negatively affected by having all eyes on them. Of the 35 senior survey responses, 48% say that they feel negatively about the new seating arrangement – only 14% feel positively about the change, and 37% feel indifferent. When asked whether they would prefer to return to the previous seating arrangement, 49% of seniors said they would, and 42% expressed no preference. Only 9% report preferring the new arrangement to the old one. 

Additionally, 46% of the respondents concur with the statement, “I am embarrassed to have all eyes on me”, and 43% agree that they are “too uncomfortable to focus on their worship time on the facing bench”. That being said, 49% prefer “being concentrated on the first floor” of the meeting house, rather than being spread out over the two levels. 

Contextually, Meeting for Worship is an integral part of Quaker education, focusing on connection and reflection. “Historically, and often in common practice in meetings, you have elders of the community sitting on the facing benches,” Miriam explains. “Our meeting house has a particularly prominent facing bench, but all meeting houses have benches that are facing each other… it feels that it would be more in the spirit of Quakerism for our community to actually be facing each other.”

For years, Friends Select has invited members of the Upper School Quake Club to sit on the facing benches to lead by example – now that both Quake and seniors occupy the space, comfort levels among the student body are beginning to shift.  “I don’t like it. It’s uncomfortable to just be looked at.” Says Scarlett Schneider ‘24.

Though a great number of students – primarily seniors – are averse to the change, many individuals feel indifferent, or even positively, about the new seating arrangement. “I enjoy looking at the whole community at once, and with time people will get used to it.” Says Beatrix Verstegen ‘24. 

This arrangement is not steadfast – if enough students expressed genuine concern or discomfort, Miriam is willing to reconsider; that being said, an alternative would need to be formulated to ensure occupancy on the facing benches.

The new arrangement is set to stay for at least the next few months to allow the student body to adjust.

 

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About the Contributor
Niamh Williams, Editor-in-Chief

Niamh Williams is a senior at Friends Select School and a co-editor-in-chief for The Falcon. Her beats are history, math, and English curricula. She is also a leader of the Quakerism Club.

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