Friends Seminary

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Friends Seminary
222 East 16th Street
New York City, New York 10003
United States
Coordinates 40°44′04″N 73°59′09″W / 40.734572°N 73.985776°W / 40.734572; -73.985776Coordinates: 40°44′04″N 73°59′09″W / 40.734572°N 73.985776°W / 40.734572; -73.985776
School type Independent
Religious affiliation(s) Quaker
Denomination Religious Society of Friends (Quaker)
Founded 1786
Principal Robert "Bo" Lauder
Faculty 147
Grades K–12
Gender Coeducational
Age range 5-19
Enrollment 754 (2013-2014)
261 Upper School
216 Middle School
277 Lower School
Average class size 17 students
Campus type Urban
Colour(s) Red and White
Song "Alma Mater"[1]
Athletics 18 teams
Mascot Owl
Rival Packer
Publication The Magpie
Newspaper The Insight
Tuition U.S.$41,750.00[2]
Former name Founded as Friends Institute (1786-1860)

Friends Seminary is a private day school in Manhattan. The school, the oldest continuously coeducational school in New York City,[citation needed] serves 761 college-bound day students in Kindergarten through Grade 12. The school's mission is to prepare students "not only for the world that is, but to help them bring about the world that ought to be." It is guided by a service mission statement and a diversity mission statement.[3] Friends is a member of New York's Independent School Diversity Network, and diversity is a key part of its educational philosophy.

Currently, Robert "Bo" Lauder is principal, the school's 35th. Lauder came to Friends in the fall of 2002 after serving as Upper School Head at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.


The Meetinghouse

Friends Seminary, established by members of the Religious Society of Friends, whose members are known as Quakers, was founded in 1786 as Friends' Institute through a $10,000 bequest of Robert Murray, a wealthy New York merchant. It was located on Pearl Street in Manhattan and strived to provide Quaker children with a "guarded education." In 1826, the school was moved to a larger campus on Elizabeth Street. Tuition in that year was $10 or less per annum, except for the oldest students, whose families paid $20.[4] (By 1915, tuition had risen to $250.[5]) The school again moved in 1860 to its current location and changed its name to Friends Seminary.

In 1878, Friends Seminary was one of the earliest of schools to establish a Kindergarten. In 1925, it was the first private co-educational school to hire a full-time psychologist.[6] M. Scott Peck, who transferred to Friends from Phillips Exeter in late 1952, praised the school's diversity and nurturing atmosphere. "While at Friends," he wrote, "I awoke each morning eager for the day ahead ... [A]t Exeter, I could barely crawl out of bed."[7]

In recent years, the school has made an effort to increase its endowment and has engaged in an ambitious and controversial renovation of its buildings. In 2015, based on recommendations made in 2005 by the Trustees of the New York Quarterly Meeting after completion of a study,[8] the New York Quarterly Meeting reached consensus on the issue of incorporating the school and the New York Quarterly Meeting separately.[9] Under the agreement, Friends Seminary will pay the New York Quarterly Meeting $775,000 annually, and both sides will contribute an additional $175,000 to a capital fund to preserve the historic buildings. The Quakers will continue naming half the members of the school’s governing board, and the agreement establishes a six-person committee to foster the school’s commitment to Quaker values.


Exterior of Friends Seminary on 16th Street

The school is divided into three sections:

  • Lower School - Kindergarten to Grade 4
  • Middle School - Grades 5-8
  • Upper School - Grades 9-12


The Annex on East 15th Street, formerly the German Masonic Hall[10]

The campus comprises eight buildings. The largest building, built in 1962, holds classes for the entire Middle School, most of the Lower School and some of the Upper School. The building contains a basement-level gymnasium and cafeteria, library and media center, a language laboratory, science laboratories, art studios, a photography dark room, computer laboratories, a music room and classrooms for all grades.

Attached to the school is the historic Meetinghouse and The Fifteenth Street Monthly Meeting of The Religious Society of Friends. The Meetinghouse plays an integral part in student life at Friends Seminary. Outside the front doors of the Meetinghouse is the courtyard used for recess and other activities.

In 1997, the school purchased and renovated a former German Masonic Temple located on 15th Street.[11] The new building, called "The Annex", incorporates "green technology" to create a building with less of an ecological footprint than many other buildings in the city. The Annex includes more science labs, as well as three multi-use classrooms, and the offices for the Upper School.

The Meetinghouse, located on 15th Street at Rutherford Place (next to Stuyvesant Square), serves both as a place of worship and, traditionally, as a performance space, although the school has opted as of 2011 to perform in the Vineyard theatre across the street. The Meetinghouse also serves as a home for the school's music program.


Tuition for the 2016-2017, school year for all grades is US$41,750. In addition, there are fees for meals, technology resources, etc., in combination with the expense for books for grades 9-12, that would add approximately $6,000-$8,000 to the cost of attendance.

In the 2016-2017 school year, more than $5.1 million in financial aid has been awarded to approximately 21% of students in grades K-12.[2][12]

Notable alumni[edit]

[citation needed]


  1. ^ 2013 Graduation Alma Mater
  2. ^ a b "Tuition & Financial Aid" Undated. Accessed January 2, 2017.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Barbour, Quaker Crosscurrents, p.148
  5. ^ Handbook of Private Schools(1915)
  6. ^ Gibbs, Nancy Reid. Children of Light, Friends Seminary, 1986. page 101.
  7. ^ Peck, The Different Drum, page 30
  8. ^ "NY Times Article Regarding Friends Seminary and the Meeting". Friends Seminary. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Quakers and Private School Part Amicably". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  10. ^ Federal Writers' Project (1939), New York City Guide, New York: Random House, ISBN 0-403-02921-X  (Reprinted by Scholarly Press, 1976; often referred to as WPA Guide to New York City), p.189
  11. ^ "For Friends Seminary, New Classroom Space". The New York Times. March 16, 1997. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Mead, Rebecca (November 15, 2010). "Downtown's Daughter". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 21, 2017. 
  14. ^

External links[edit]