WFS students take on QYLC


Ellen Johnson

WFS students at the Sidwell Friends School

     This year, five WFS students: Bella Stuccio ’19, Miranda Peak ’19, Livy Zug ’22, Estelle Hegenbarth ’21, and Casey Tyler ’19 will be attending the Quaker Youth Leadership Conference. The conference takes place at Sidwell Friends School in Washington D.C. from January 31- February 2. This conference will be chaperones by Ellen Johnson and Jeff Ransom, who, along with the students, are excited to share their experience at WFS and hear from students who go to other Quaker Schools. Mrs. Johnson, a biology teacher for Juniors and Senior, has led multiple QYLC trips before and really values the means this gives the students who attend to share their experiences with Quaker Schooling. She says that this conference is important for everyone who attends and teaches at Quaker schools because: “We’re all involved in the school” and, at QYLC, “Like-minded share what works for them, bring in new ideas, and solve problems.” By sharing their ideas at the conference, students are able to bring new ideas and outlooks to their school to try and improve it.

     The students going are also very excited about the upcoming conference. When asked about why he chose to attend QYLC, Casey Tyler said: “Since I’ve been going to WFS for so long, I want to see how other schools handle Quaker issues and maybe get ideas for how to help our school.” Casey is a Junior class representative, and we hope he will come back with new ideas to implement in our business meeting and our community as a whole.

     While QYLC’s name might make it seem like it’s only for Quaker kids, that is not at all the case. When asked about the purpose of this conference, Mrs. Johnson made sure to highlight that the conference is most definitely not exclusive to students who belong to meeting or identify as Quaker, it is for any student who goes to Quaker school and wants to meet students from other Quaker schools to share and learn their personal experiences and techniques for Quaker school. This consists of learning about how, for example, other schools conduct business meetings and uphold Quaker values week in and week out.

     During the last business meeting, Wilmington Friends students and faculty discussed the possibility of hosting our own Quaker Youth Leadership Conference in the future, as it did ten years ago. While there was much support for this proposal, and many students raised their hands when asked if they would be interested in helping to host the conference, there were also significant concerns. Among these concerns are the issue of space in our relatively small school and the lack of hygienic showers in the locker rooms. Mrs. Johnson, who is spearheading the effort to host QYLC at WFS, said that she thinks it is important that every Quaker school do their part to host the conference at some point, she understands that “we need to make sure that students are on board and that we have the facilities to host”. She also mentioned that there is the option of co-hosting with Westtown School, a much larger Quaker boarding school that is located nearby in Pennsylvania. Westtown has much more space to do something like this but is close enough that the Wilmington Friends community would still have the opportunity to be heavily involved in the hosting process. Another thing Mrs. Johnson stressed is that the idea of hosting is by no means rushed, it could very well be years down the line that QYLC is hosted at WFS.

     It is clear that QYLC is an important opportunity for like-minded students from Quaker schools to put their heads together and work out new ideas to improve Quaker life at their respective schools. To the WFS representatives who go, the school wishes you luck and hopes you return with ideas to improve Quaker practices here.