By Ajae’Lyn Price ’22
Leadership is deeply cultivated at Abington Friends School in a myriad of ways. At AFS, you are taught how to be a leader. Our school prepares students for the outside world by discussing real-world problems within our safe community. Students are taught how to use their leadership knowledge and to know how to gracefully take charge, not only for the benefit of ourselves but for others as well.
As a sixth-grade student entering AFS, I was amazed by the culture of the School’s community. It opened a new world for me. Beyond the enriching educational environment, I felt immediately welcomed. In just a few months, I knew I was home. At my old school, I was only exposed to one way of thinking. AFS has taught me about different cultures and perspectives. I have learned that there are multiple truths. This feeling of security and belonging allows me to take risks and move toward discovering my passions.
By the second half of my sixth-grade year, teachers approached me about forming a PRIDE group. In PRIDE, it was our mission to discuss and solve real-world problems surrounding diversity, student identity, immigration and more. Together, teachers and students collaborated in planning the way this group should be run. It was astonishing. Teachers wanted me to help them plan! This allowed us to take ownership over this process. I was surprised how students were granted a voice in this community.
PRIDE launched when I was in the seventh grade, and I attended my first diversity conference as part of the group. At the Middle School Diversity Conference I learned and shared with students from all across Philadelphia. Without the preparation from AFS, I would not have been able to participate in a conference like this. The experience led me to feel empowered and important. I felt that I could affect change not only in my school community, but also in the world around me.
By eighth grade, I hit the ground running in my leadership of PRIDE at AFS. I began to learn how to facilitate activities in large groups. My voice grew in its strength and influence. One of my proudest moments was having a hand in planning our “Many Voices Day.” This day encourages AFS students to share their unique perspectives and participate in many activities.
Many schools focus on rules and academics, but AFS looks to lift up what makes someone unique. This allows different perspectives to influence the culture. It also ensures that all students can become the leaders they want to be and take pride in themselves. AFS allows its students to create their own clubs and activities based on their interests and passions. Activities and clubs can range from passions like Harry Potter to addressing issues like division and equality, such as my work with PRIDE. By uniquely putting students in positions of leadership, our school prepares us for the world.
Within our clubs and activities, Quakerism is always present. In a Quaker approach to leadership, everyone has a say in how things get done. We always strive for consensus, if possible. Here at AFS, no one’s voice overpowers another— everyone’s voice is heard. All leaders at AFS take in other perspectives and do not rely on their own inherently biased opinions.
AFS has given me the tools I need to lead, and it has taught me the true meaning of diversity and leadership. I have always been a young woman who voiced my opinion and spoke my mind, but AFS community norms taught me to share the space and time and to respect the opinions of others. The most important values are peace and inclusion, and with those things, AFS is creating effective leaders.