All photos ©Melanie Weitzenkorn

We gathered as a community to celebrate the Eighth Grade class on June 9th, to conclude BFS’s 227th year, and to hold graduation on the upper field.  A warm yet especially beautiful June day graced everyone’s arrival, and the campus was in full glory. 

Students sang and recited poetry, adding to the overall spirit and meaning of the event.  Stephanie Thliveris delivered a personal speech for the graduates and all attendees to consider.  And, as the close relationships between teachers and students at BFS is at the core of all that we value and the educational experiences at our school, each Eighth Grader was individually recognized by a member of the faculty.

Especially meaningful and poignant were the individual and heartfelt reflections that were shared by the graduating Eighth Graders about their many years at our school.  Their ability to express themselves while touching upon the essence of BFS’s mission and core values was uplifting and affirming.  Here are their remarks, in the order that they were shared:

The people, the teachers, the experience. Everything at Buckingham Friends School is more than I ever could have asked for. I feel humbled by the big meeting house standing across the way. It has stood there for more than two and a half centuries. BFS might be one of the best primary schools you could ever go to. In my time at this school, I’ve done many extraordinary things, ranging from weekly woodshop classes to overnight field trips. It’s also a challenging and accommodating school. The small classes mean that I can have personalized attention from any teacher. Whether I’m falling behind, or I’m just not understanding something, I know that the teachers and administrators care about every student. I’m proud to say I’m graduating from this school and I’m grateful for everything it has done for me. (CR)

I came to Buckingham Friends School just this year because COVID precautions weren’t good enough at my old school. Honestly, though, I am so glad I came. I have had so many new experiences here, and they have helped form me. 

Here at BFS we learn about those around us and the world we live in with amazing teachers and fun classes, including those I never knew existed, like mindfulness and sustainability. I’ve learned so many new things and advanced my educational journey.  

I’ve also made many new friends here. All of them have helped shape me into who I am today, and I wish nothing less for you, that you too will find people as special as those I have found this year.  Life may be confusing, but with the right people by your side, you can work through anything and piece together the answers to any question.  Thank you. (EH)

Like many others in this class, I came to Buckingham Friends School later in my school career. Unlike others, I came in the middle of the year, and it was the third school that I’d attended. Yet, BFS didn’t feel like the third school; it felt like it was the first. I was immediately immersed in my classes and in group projects, initiated into lab experiments and lessons on ancient civilizations. Simple things like calling teachers by their first names made everything feel much more comfortable than in other schools I’d been to. 

BFS knows what benefits each student, whether it’s playing outside, performing in plays, making art, solving math problems, learning a language, or reading poetry. In many schools, kids might dread going to science class, but at BFS you are always excited about it. When you walk through the door, you know you’ll always learn something, and that you’ll have fun doing it. But this isn’t only science class, it’s all classes. I have enjoyed my three years at Buckingham Friends better than any school I’ve ever attended. (JH)

Well, we made it. Through countless ringing bells, broken bones, and a pandemic, we made it. My journey began nine years ago, in Mrs. Partridge’s kindergarten class. I was an obedient little munchkin (most of the time) who carried an enormous backpack filled with every different color of erasable Crayola markers and those thick little Ticonderoga pencils. I filled my curious growing mind with knowledge, tripped over wheelbarrows (Christina’s favorite moment), and looked up to my big friends and the upper schoolers as if they were celebrities. 

As middle and upper school flew by, the Crayola markers were replaced with crumpled math packets, my engineering notebook, and granola bar wrappers. That same backpack seemed to shrink as I slowly but surely grew and matured into the eighth-grader I couldn’t wait to become. But I don’t think I would be the person I am today without my teachers, friends, and family. So, I thank you all— Mom, Dad, Paul, Ms. Sinisi, Stephanie, and everyone else for pushing me, listening to me, and preparing me for whatever’s next. (AK)

I came to Buckingham Friends School in the 7th grade. Mr. B did so much to help me adjust, during a pandemic no less. As a 12-year old, I needed someone who would guide me through my first year and teach me everything about BFS. I want to thank Mr. B. for all that he has done for me.  I also want to thank Ms. Thliveris. Ms. T is not only a science teacher and homeroom advisor, but also a friend. There is so much to say about her, but the two most important things that I will remember are her ability to keep me and my friends in line with our academics and social life, and her ability to stick by our side and advocate for us in any way she could. All the teachers at BFS helped make me a better person and I have learned a lot in my two years here. I’m incredibly thankful for all the teachers and classmates that put up with my shenanigans over these two years. I may have been unsure about the school when I first got here, but I am really grateful for everything I’ve learned here and for the close-knit community that I’ve been a part of. (QW)

People keep asking how I feel about graduation. Am I nervous? Yes. Am I excited? Yes. Will I miss Buckingham Friends School? Of course. Like my classmates, I am grateful for all of my experiences and the people I’ve met along the way. I still laugh at funny memories – a lot of which seem to involve Mr. Haupert and duct tape. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead, but I’m also nervous about going to a new school for the first time since second grade. Some of my nervousness is about adjusting to a new environment, new people, new challenges, and new responsibilities. I’m not formally a Quaker, but the values of this school which I’ve called “home” for almost half my life seem natural to me because it’s how I see the world, too. A genuine emphasis on kindness, understanding, patience, and environmental responsibility: these are the things that have made me comfortable here. Thank you to everyone I’ve met and for all that you’ve done to help me learn, grow, and be hopeful about the future. (SR)

Throughout these years, I have been lucky to be a student here at BFS. One thing that I always loved about this school, from the moment I arrived in first grade, is the amazing campus. I have always enjoyed learning outside, occasionally taking walks in the woods during classes, and how even as eighth graders we are still allowed to play outside and just be kids.  We have managed to enjoy the outdoors during the winter season as well. For instance, we could go sledding and play in the snow (if there was any).  I can also remember how in third grade we once went outside to collect tree sap for maple syrup.  Being outdoors has been one of my favorite gifts that this school has given to me over the years, even if it’s just to do worksheets outside during math. It has also allowed me to spend time with my friends and enjoy this campus with them. Though l am now moving on, I will always keep these memories in my heart, along with this campus, and the people I have shared it with.  Thank you. (EM)

I’ve been imagining how this speech would go since I was in first grade. I thought I’d be standing on a stage and speaking about my time at Gulf Stream School, where I spent almost six years. If you told me I’d be looking back on my time at Buckingham Friends, I wouldn’t have believed it. But now, after being here for the past three years, I wouldn’t have it any other way. This 8th-grade class has been with me through some of the most critical moments of my life, consistently encouraging and lifting me up. My classmates have been like family to me, and that’s why leaving will be so much harder than I could have imagined. When I first arrived, I was so different from how I am now. The people I’ve met and the friends I’ve gained here have molded me into the person I am, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not grateful for their support. I’ve become a better version of myself. I’m more independent-minded and I’m more confident in myself. There are no words to describe how thankful I am for my time at BFS. Thank you, everyone, for helping me become who I am today. (JB)

I have been at BFS since the 5th grade, and I have loved every part of it. One reason is that the teachers are engaging and help me understand in a way that allows me to learn and grow. For instance, Mr. B. can teach me math regardless of my skill level. In addition, BFS provides you with so many learning opportunities and recreational activities, it’s hard not to find something that interests you. What’s also important is that students have a lot of choice in what they learn, giving them ownership over their education. As a very hands-on learner, I know that it would be difficult for me to learn in any other school. Here the teachers and staff are committed to each and every student’s education, and they respect everyone’s individual talents. Finally, BFS is like a family to me. Everyone here is so kind and accepting. I am grateful to have been a part of this community. (JT)

My school career has had a few twists and turns. I attended public school from kindergarten to third grade and then switched over for two years of homeschooling. As a rising 6th grader, I felt I needed a shift in my education. My friend Henry Liddell brought up the possibility of attending Buckingham Friends School. Henry told me about his experiences and the traditions of BFS, and how much he enjoyed it all. I wanted that. I wanted to establish relationships with both students and teachers, and I wanted to be accepted for who I was. So, my mom looked into BFS, and I applied immediately. Fast forward a couple years. I am now standing here before you ready to graduate and embark on a new path. It’s here at this school that I’ve grown so much. It’s BFS that taught me the value of relationships and personal connections, where I’ve learned to be confident about all the choices I will make in life and all the relationships I will form. We’ve been through a lot these past two years; but even the pandemic, which brought mask wearing, social distancing, virtual learning, and canceled field trips, did not break our class spirit. I believe that our class is a very special one. We have a close-knit bond strengthened by memories and life lessons which we will remember forever. (MR)

As we celebrate our graduation, I’d like to share some remarks about Buckingham Friends School and how I have grown during my time here. Let me start with the second point. I was five years old when I came to BFS, and now I am fourteen. It would be an understatement to say that the years flew by. It seems like just yesterday I was learning how to write letters with Mrs. Partridge. And who can forget racing cars with Mr. Haupert, or learning life lessons in Mr. B’s double block of science? I have grown at BFS from a child into a young man.

Back to the first point. What is it about BFS that’s so special? I don’t think I could have answered that without having been here as long as I have. For one, I’ve had many role models to look up to, people who have shaped me in various ways. I also have many fond memories, like playing soccer on this very field with the last eighth grade class and playing basketball this past year with the sixth graders. It brings me so much joy to see the younger students creating new memories and carrying on old traditions.

In closing, I would like to thank all the teachers and administrators that have helped me thrive. Thank you also to all my friends for sticking with me through thick and thin. Thank you most of all to my parents for giving me this amazing opportunity. (HL)

Having attended Buckingham Friends School for five years—from the 3rd grade to the 8th—I’d like to say how grateful I am to everyone that’s helped me along the way. You’ve offered me many academic and personal opportunities, and have guided me on my journey of becoming the person I hope to be.

I have many amazing memories from my time at BFS, as well as great friends whom I can always count on. I will cherish both for a lifetime. I will never forget this school and how it has shaped me. (JE)

There is so much that I’m grateful for as a student at Buckingham Friends School. Really, all I can say is thank you. Thank you for teaching me how to forgive, how to move on from mistakes, and most importantly, how to learn. I wouldn’t be saying this if I didn’t mean it wholeheartedly. I’ve been at BFS since kindergarten and have lived through many highs and lows. Watching the moments skip by is extremely bittersweet, and now that our time here has ended, I’m excited to see the next step I take in life. Some of my closest friends are coming with me to high school, and I’m excited to continue sharing memories with them. As for my classmates going in other directions, this isn’t a goodbye, just a “see you later.” To my teachers: thank you for offering me the awesome opportunities to discover what I love, especially writing! Whether it’s writing poetry or a science fiction novel that doesn’t make any sense to anyone but me, I find joy in written expression. To my parents, thank you for allowing me to attend BFS. You’ve watched me grow over the years, and now you’re seeing me start a new chapter. And to BFS, once again, thank you: thank you for affording me a wonderful education, for guiding me through childhood, and for shaping my dreams. (CM)

At first, I thought it was going to be hard coming to a new school during a pandemic, but I soon realized that this situation doesn’t define us: we do. I came to Buckingham Friends School in 7th grade, right after finishing elementary school. It was challenging knowing that a lot of my friends were going to be together in middle school, but after finding so many amazing new friends and a wonderful community, I would not change anything. BFS has become more than just a school. It has become a family. A family that supports us, lifts us up after we fall, and cheers for us every single day. BFS doesn’t only teach us the core subjects, it teaches us how to be brave, how to stand up for one another, and most importantly, how to be kind. I want to thank all of the wonderful people in my BFS family. My teachers, for helping me become the person I hope to be. My friends, for so many wonderful things I cannot explain. And of course, my parents, for making my dreams come true. I wouldn’t have done anything without you. (CM)

I came to BFS in the beginning of the sixth grade after moving from California to Pennsylvania. The thing I was scared about the most was making friends. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I definitely didn’t anticipate the whole-hearted welcome I received from my classmates and teachers. Sixth grade was a roller coaster. Right as I was starting to feel comfortable, starting to get used to a new environment, new routines and traditions— BOOM! The world shut down.

I’ll be honest, those first years of quarantine were not fun, but BFS made it a little bit better. It may not have been smooth sailing the whole way, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I have grown as a student and as a friend throughout my sixth, seventh, and eighth grade years. I will never forget my classmates or the teachers that have helped me along the way. I am sure I will go on to do great things in life.

To everyone here: thank you. I am forever in your debt. So, as we end this year and head to high school, here’s to happy endings and new beginnings!

Oh, and here at BFS I’ve been notorious for bad jokes, so here’s one I made up. “Knock Knock (who’s there). You’re gonna miss (You’re gonna miss who?). You guys. I’m gonna miss you guys.” (JZ)

My time at Buckingham Friends School has been short but sweet: this is my first and last year. But in that short span of time, I have become a more mature individual, in addition to having many great experiences. Before I came to BFS, I attended two other schools, and I assumed that the switch would be a challenge, but thankfully, I was mistaken. The community, the teachers, and the students all welcomed me with open arms, and I am grateful for that.

Despite Covid restrictions, I would still consider this year my favorite in all the years I’ve been a student. Plus, with Covid in retreat, I feel that I’ve gotten the whole BFS experience. With my time at this school coming to a close, I look back at the past year and think of all the fond memories I’ve made, all the fun I’ve had, and all the people I’ve met and grown with. I will forever remember my time here. Thank you. (EB)

I want to thank the Buckingham Friends School community for all it has done for me. I joined BFS as a seventh grader, and I have changed so much since then. I am more at peace with who I am and what I might become. These past two years have provided me with some of my favorite school experiences. I’ll miss math class, especially when we had class outside. I’ll miss our sledding hill, my little friend Mackenzie, discussions in science, and our read-a-thon reward of walking to Rita’s. I’m going to remember all of the wonderful lunches outside, Spanish café classes, lending and borrowing books, and talking on the bench near the basketball court. With Covid rates decreasing, and restrictions lifting, I’m so glad our class had the chance to experience our fantastic play and the Heifer trip. But most of all, I will miss every one of my classmates and teachers who made my time here memorable. Thank you. (IM)

I have been at BFS since the 1st grade, and it has been the best experience of my life so far. According to my mom, when I first came here, I didn’t talk for a few months, but that has definitely changed! Now I love being with my friends, in school and outside of school. 

Growing up, I always looked up to the 8th graders, always thinking they were the coolest; and now that I am an 8th grader and graduating, it’s a lot to dwell on. 

One of favorite memories of my time here was the 4th grade sleepover. Playing tag in the dark was so much fun. I also remember the D.C trip in 6th grade and getting to see all the memorials and museums. This school year, we went to Heifer Global Village for our signature trip. I really enjoyed making a fire and learning about how people in Thailand live—although I wish it was a little warmer. Judging by all of these experiences, you could say that BFS has helped me understand more about the world and myself.

Here’s what I know: If you come to BFS, even if you stay for only a year, you will be a different person. BFS has a special place in my heart, and I’ll never forget it. I’m grateful to everyone here—teachers, students, and administrators—who have shaped and inspired me. Thank you. (AZ)

Our class began in 2013 as ten little kids. Now we are nineteen teenagers with a bond that can’t be broken. During that time, we’ve endured a pandemic, but we’ve also shared some of the happiest memories of our lives. This class has been through it all together. 

 And we’ve made it! For me, though, it’s bittersweet. Buckingham Friends School has been my second home since kindergarten. I’ve grown up here, and I am so grateful for the enriching childhood BFS has gifted me. From Friday sings and little friends-big friends activities to upper school days and iMovies, every moment has been one of a kind. 

Since day one, I have been guided by excellent teachers to whom I will always be thankful. I will never forget Mr. B’s life lessons, Miss T’s optimism, Tonia’s learning experiences, and Mrs. Partridge’s quiet support throughout the years. 

I began at BFS as a blank canvas and now I can say with confidence that I am the person I am today because of this school. I am forever grateful for my time here. Thank you. (FS)

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