Signs of Life

Before the academic year starts at the Lower School, there are meetings to attend, bulletin boards to curate, bookcases to stock, and other sundry classroom chores to be done. This year, Lower School teachers found one more thing on their to-do lists—an art project.

Working collaboratively under the guidance of Lower School art teacher Kristen Campbell, the teachers created panels, each representing a different Quaker testimony, to prominently display in the School’s breezeway.  The artists were divided into eight groups, based on which testimony—community and connection, balance and simplicity, kindness, justice, peace, stewardship, integrity, or truth—they felt called to work on. Then out came the paper, colored pencils, and eventually paint.

“It was a joyous time,” Campbell said. “It was almost like a therapeutic art session: We had music going on, all these ideas were coming together; people were giving feedback and balancing their ideas with others’ and just really thinking about how they could best translate whatever testimony they were working on.”

The collaboration of the teachers is part of the message of the project; the students will see the testimonies represented, but they will also know that their teachers worked together, respected one another’s ideas, and ensured that everyone felt heard—all values that the teachers hope their students will demonstrate when working with their classmates. Moreover, the students will walk by these signs daily, knowing that they were made by the hands of people who care about them.

And, of course, the signs aren’t just for the students.

“One of the main goals was to ground ourselves in the core Quaker testimonies and bring diverse voices to the panels,” Campbell said. “But especially after last year, we needed some time to get together and breathe and remember that learning can be fun. Everyone walked away feeling really good about starting the school year because they had a chance to sit back and go through a creative process together.”

That’s a good sign—well, eight good signs—for what the new academic year will bring.


More School News

Ghost in the Machine

Ken Hakuta P ’98, ’00, and ’02 takes the Sidwell Friends community along for a tour of the new Nam June Paik retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.