Editorial: What is GFS missing?

We often think of GFS as having it all. Good teachers, historic buildings, fields, and good values. But what aren’t we getting? What does GFS need, and what standards should we be meeting that we aren’t already? Should we be satisfied with the current state of GFS? There are many things that GFS needs to improve upon in a variety of areas.

Our Campus is beautiful, but some of the facilities have not been improved upon for a long time. Many of the buildings have been around since the turn of the twentieth century, and have not been renovated in decades. There are some obvious things needed, such as air conditioning in the Cary Building, but there are other things that GFS, with all of its resources could do. Though we have the extremely energy efficient Wade Building, sadly we do not have any solar panels on campus. This could be an easy way for GFS to save money, and be more environmentally friendly.

Our athletic programs are excellent, but there is a glaring lack in two areas. Most schools have an indoor swimming pool, but GFS doesn’t have one, despite giving exemptions to students who swim. The pool could be a multipurpose facility, with anything from lifeguard training to kayaking happening there. We would be able to have a GFS swimming team as well. GFS is not only missing a swimming pool, but it also does not have any school squash courts. The lack of squash courts leads to an overly competitive atmosphere in the middle school teams, which can lead to people becoming discouraged from the sport. 

GFS is a heavily liberal school, that often leads to one sided political debates, and vilification of political beliefs. This can lead to an automatic liberal bias and stops students from being able to defend their viewpoints, especially if they are liberal. The absence of conservatives is arguably a good thing, but it can distort our impressions of conservatism, and tilt us towards political extremes. If we want our students to be truly politically aware, we need our students to understand other viewpoints.

GFS has a wide range and variety of classes and clubs, ranging from newspapers, to adventure clubs, to everyday classes. Our school has an open and secure community. Students are very protected from the world outside our campus. Despite this, it is important to understand and know what is going on around us, especially in today’s world. Many students hear about current events at home, on the news, or on the radio, but it is crucial to delve into details when it comes to understanding what they hear. A way to do this is for GFS to have current events classes. Whether talking about politics or the environment, students need to understand and comprehend the movements going on in the world. As a community, it is GFS’s priority to make everyone’s voice heard, and students will feel more empowered knowing that they are educated in current events.

Prior to having classes discussing current events, some students might feel inspired to continue on to debate ideas and topics that are important to them. For students that feel inspired to do so, a debate team would be a great opportunity. Many schools have debate teams, and students at GFS feel that a debate team would be a fun, important, and encouraging opportunity for them to debate topics such as politics. 

Another event that could benefit student life at GFS would be a spelling bee. Many schools have spelling bee competitions and clubs, and students at GFS feel it would be a good addition to our school too. Students are excited and eager to show off their talents. From talent shows, to math competitions, many students get an opportunity to share their unique and special abilities, but what about the spellers out there? GFS strives to be inclusive of all people, and having a club like the spelling bee could really include and encourage many more students to participate in fun events.  

GFS is a very inclusive school. Everyone at Germantown Friends strives to make people of all genders, races, and religions feel welcome. Yet the diversity levels are not very high. Despite the support of peers and teachers, some students, especially from minority groups, feel slightly alone and unheard at times. It is important to understand that the diversity levels not being high can affect and discourage people who go to GFS. As a community, we need to support each other and be there for everyone. An issue that has come up all around campus regarding inclusiveness is that most of the buildings in GFS are not wheelchair accessible. A drastic and important change needs to be made about that, because GFS strives, as stated before, to be as inclusive and understanding as possible. Inserting ramps and chair lifts all around campus is an imperative aspect to the process of creating a wheelchair accessible community, and GFS has begun to plan how to make this happen. 

 Our Cafeteria has been a recurring issue. Although there are a lot of food options and our cafeteria staff work hard on our behalf, students tend to find themselves not knowing what to eat for lunch. Issues concerning the hot meals have been brought up. Students sometimes complain that the food is not to their taste, but what is worrying is that in the past students have found things ranging from hair, to pieces of plastic in their food. GFS should make sure the food that is being served is prepared well. Another issue brought up is the lack of healthy food options the school is offering. Despite having a salad bar, the hot meals rarely consist of a variety of vegetables, and may include unhealthy options. All the drink options, except water, are unhealthy, and sugary. Sweets range from doughnuts and cookies, to Oreos and cereal. Bags of chips and popcorn are some of the most popular options for the students. We agree that it’s nice to have a little treat sometimes, but for many children, these unhealthy options have taken the place of lunch due to the lack of healthy and good options. Students might also have trouble paying for lunches and snacks. Many have said that having a free lunch would be very beneficial to them. Lunches shouldn’t be a question of: “Can I pay for this?” or “Can I afford that?” Students should be allowed to eat lunch without having these thoughts, and the most effective way of doing that is by having free lunches. 

Though GFS is better than many other schools, GFS has room to grow, and to expand into a more inclusive school, with more opportunities and chances for students to learn, and to express themselves.

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