The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

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Happy Birthday WFS: 250th vs 275th Celebrations



The Happy Birthday Song is a strange sound to hear if you’re taking a leisurely walk through Alapocas on a Wednesday morning. But this is the 275th anniversary of WFS, so brace yourself for a year of celebration. These celebrations aren’t random. They all come from the rich history that WFS has. After all, we’ve been celebrating our existence for longer than the United States of America! This is bound to be a year of celebration and gratitude, and while gearing up for the 275th, let’s look back on the 250th to reminisce or get ideas about how to make this birthday celebration even better. 

Twenty-five years ago, Wilmington Friends celebrated its big 250th birthday. If the year 1998 had a theme, it would have been change. At the beginning of the 250th year, the school welcomed eight new faculty members, had the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Snyder Athletic Center, renovated the meeting room, and introduced handicapped access throughout the upper school. These changes created a new feeling throughout the schools, and students were excited to celebrate. Some of the exciting activities that the school planned for the 250th were a kick-off picnic, an alumni golf tournament, a gala at the Delaware Art Museum, and the taking of the aerial photo of students and faculty standing in a 250 on the football field before homecoming kickoff. 

You can expect to see many of these same traditions this year on campus. On September 20, 2023, the entire school, from pre-k to 12th grade plus faculty, all gathered on the turf to participate in a meeting for worship and to take an aerial photo and video of the members of our community. Anonymous members of the senior class commented on the experience, saying it was “surprising that the entire school got free t-shirts” and that “singing happy birthday was a strange thing to do, but it was cool for the entire school to be together.” 

Another similarity you can find between these two birthdays is the lectures and special guest speakers invited to campus. In 1998, WFS welcomed A. N. Wyeth (a WFS alum of ‘66) to sign books and prints on September 20, 1998. The school and wider community also had the intense pleasure of hearing speeches from Doris Kearns and Toni Morrison throughout the year. Both authors are Pulitzer Prize-winning authors. Mary Woodward, Quakerism Teacher, commented, “It was my first year, but I do remember an air of pride throughout the school and impressive festivities.”

This year, look out for amazing presentations from Bryan Stevenson (November 30th), A Webinar Series on “How Networking Enhances your Brand” (November 9th), and another lecture series in April on “Leadership, Teamwork, and Quaker Values from the World of Sports.”  

Now, what isn’t a celebration without music? For the 250th, WFS welcomed the Grammy-winning South African group Ladysmith Black Mombazo to perform for the festivities. During Homecoming Weekend this year, look forward to Kristen and The Noise! They will be performing for the homecoming kickoff event on October 21st. Also, make sure you mark your calendars in advance for May 23, 2024, for the 275th Anniversary Concert, sponsored by the Nathan M. Clark Foundation at The Playhouse on Rodney Square. 

275 may not be as big of an anniversary as the 250th, but this year is jam-packed with exciting events and exciting speakers. The number may not seem as important, but the incredible schedule of events compares to one of the biggest and most significant anniversaries the school has celebrated. 

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About the Contributor
Katie Bryan
Katie Bryan, Staff Writer
Katie Bryan is a community writer for the Whittier Miscellany. This is her fourth year as a part of the Whittier team. She decided to join the Whittier because of encouragement from her eighth-grade English teacher. She likes to stay on a local scale when writing, and she enjoys focusing on the Wilmington Friends community. She finds that she learns significantly more from interviewing than she does writing.   

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