Together, At Home

Together, At Home
Together, At Home

The community gathers for games, food, fellowship, and a homecoming for the ages.

Hundreds of alumni, students, current families, grandparents, and more than a few prospective families filled the Sidwell Friends campus October 14 to 16 to celebrate a Homecoming Weekend as festive as the weather was beautiful. It was the largest campus event in more than two years.

The School’s campus on Wisconsin Avenue was abuzz with upbeat energy and Quaker pride as a sea of maroon-and-gray t-shirts, sweatshirts, and pennants filled the walkways and bleachers.

Throughout the games, student and parent clubs sold a wide range of food. Alumni reconnected over the weekend as well, both at the games—in a special Alumni Fan Zone—and at special evening events just for them.

The weekend also marked the public launch of a historic fundraising campaign, Together We Shine. The campaign, which began quietly in 2015, has raised $118 million of its $152 million goal, and will end on June 30, 2024. The campaign will fund the renovation of a new environmentally sustainable Upper School, bolster endowed financial aid resources, and create new programs and centers to benefit students and faculty.

The weekend kicked off on Friday with a series of all-community events. Before an audience of hundreds, Upper School entrepreneurs pitched six business plans for apps and services to a “Shark Tank” panel of alumni and parents with business experience. Following that, the action moved to the Arts Center for a cross-divisional song and dance performance, featuring a 4th grade chorus, a showcase from the Middle School drama program, and a concert from the Upper School jazz ensemble. Athletic Director John Square closed out the morning by introducing alumni, parents, and friends to the School’s Sports Leadership Academy, which was represented by student athletes who discussed the role values play both on their teams and in their academic studies

Saturday began with a presentation by Natalie Randolph ’98, the director of Equity, Justice, and Community, and Robbie Gross, the Upper School dean of academic affairs. They described the importance of unique electives at Sidwell Friends, including the course they co-teach on metropolitan policy and urban planning in the DC metro area. Associate Head of School Min Kim then led a conversation with the inaugural endowed chairs in Spanish and Latin American Studies, Silvana Niazi, and African and African American Studies, Jewell Debnam, about the role they plan in helping share the School’s academic programs.

Darby Thompson, the robotics coach and computer science head, along with several student members of the Robotics Club, introduced the audience to a robot named Ethan and explained the benefits of hands-on engineering and design. 

Of course, the weekend was also a showcase for Sidwell’s athletic teams. The Quakers had a strong weekend, with the varsity teams winning all but one contest over the two days, including girls tennis, field hockey, girls soccer, and football. During halftime of the football game, members of last year’s girls and boys basketball teams received championship rings to commemorate their victories in the spring DC Class AA State Championship tournaments. As the Sidwell Friends teams played on the courts and fields, the youngest Quakers hung out with Star Fox in the Little Fox Zone, where face-painting, games, and sweet treats were on offer.

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Guèye told the more than 300 attendees that though his normal motto was “gratitude, generosity, and goodwill; tonight, it is gratitude, gratitude, and gratitude.”