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Bringing Friends Together for 150 Years

A Sesquicentennial Celebration

at the Brooklyn Historical Society

 

There is something very special about an educational institution that exhibits staying power for 150 years. On Monday evening, Jan. 29, 2018, that was very evident when Brooklyn Friends School held its third major Sesquicentennial event of the school year at the Brooklyn Historical Society, located at Pierrepont and Clinton Streets in Brooklyn Heights.

There some 200 members of the school community gathered in friendship to reconnect with one another and take part in the launch of a new school history book, “150 Years of Light” and museum exhibit with oral histories called “All That Dwell in the Light.”

Watercolor painting by BFS teacher Susan Greenstein

The 120-page book, “Brooklyn Friends School: 150 Years of Light” was a two-year labor of love for the author, Melanie Rehak, and the designer, Helene Benedetti. Both are longtime Brooklyn Friends parents. Another Friends parent, archivist Katie Bednark, was instrumental in professionally organizing more than 100 years of archival materials that became primary source materials for the book. Susan Price, ’86, assisted as the school’s first historian and Lekeia Varlack Judge, ’99 reached out to alumni. Emily Cowles coordinated all of the resources to make the book a reality.

The keepsake book may be purchased for $25 (at the Advancement Office at 375 Pearl Street) or $35 (including shipping) online.

There’s another special community connection with the cover of the book. It is a watercolor of the first school building of Brooklyn Friends of the meetinghouse at 110 Schermerhorn Street by Susan Greenstein, an accomplished artist and longtime BFS Visual Arts teacher.

“All That Dwell in the Light,” the museum exhibit, also represented two years of planning, labor and collaboration. It began when students Lily Edelman ’20 and Salma McLaughlin ’20 conducted research and oral histories with five celebrated Brooklyn Friends School alumni representing five decades in the history of the school. The stories of these alumni were told in video interviews conducted by the students, and in museum panels on display that evening. The alumni represented are Henry Altman, Class of 1940; Charles Rosenthal, Class of 1953; Camilla Church Greene, Class of 1960; Freddi Brown Carter, Class of 1973; and Dena Douglas; Class of 1983. The School was thrilled and honored that Camilla, Freddi, and Dena were in attendance at this special event.

Other highlights of the evening included an impassioned speech by Head of School Larry Weiss about the strength of the school, its enduring Quaker values, and its robust standing in the community; a journey down memory lane with the Brooklyn Borough Historian, Ron Schweiger,  thank-yous and acknowledgements from Director of Advancement Karen Edelman, and the beautiful music of the student Chamber Ensemble, led by their teacher Elvira Sullivan.

Stay tuned for the next Sesquicentennial event, the Spring Gala to benefit financial aid, on Friday, May 11, 2018 at the Brooklyn Museum.