Frequently Asked Questions - Middle and Upper School Students

    What's it like to come to Friends in middle or upper school?

    Most students (and their parents) say that Friends is a pretty easy place to be new. There are some official programs built in to help – like student guides and advisory groups in middle school, and the upper school Link Crew students who help new kids and freshmen throughout their first year. Lower school grades are smaller than middle and upper school, and new students come to Friends in every grade, except maybe senior year. There were 68 graduates in the class of 2013; 16 of those students came to Friends in middle school, and 16 came in upper school.


    But an even more important reason that it's easy to be new at Friends is that this is a Quaker school; and even though that's not always an influence that people identify for what happens here, it is a very real influence. People at Friends are just pretty good to each other (with some occasional exceptions, of course), and the standards for how you treat other people are as high as the standards for academics. Plus, the kids who have been here the longest are usually the most excited about new people coming in, especially if they have an interest in common.


    You can get a pretty good feel for how Friends students welcome new people when you visit for a day.


    How hard is Friends?

    Friends is hard but not mean. The teachers here want students to do well, and they will work hard to help you. They don’t try to bury you with homework just to do it (although it can pile up at times, especially if you don’t plan ahead).


    But teachers here do expect you to speak up in class, to do a lot of different kinds of projects and labs, to read and write a lot, to use technology, to make original arguments, to revise almost everything, to respond to what other people do, to work in different groups, etc. They expect you to do the best you can with every assignment and will call you on it if you don’t.


    There are some upper school classes that are hard enough that you should think about them carefully before signing up. But when students find Friends “hard,” especially at first, it’s usually because they’re used to classes that require mostly memorization or one kind of assignment. The classes here require a lot of analysis, a lot of saying why something is true or why you think it is, and a lot of variety in assignments. That can be hard if you’re not used to it, again, especially at first.


    What are sports like?

    Friends has competitive, interscholastic sports starting in seventh grade, and sports are taken seriously. There are great facilities, including a training room and full-time trainer. Most coaches are Friends teachers or have a lot of outside experience (like coaching in leagues); they even give report cards (pass-fail with comments) in sports.


    In middle school, everybody has to play a sport every season. It’s part of trying everything in middle school. One good thing is that a lot of people discover that they like a sport they had never tried before--and they keep playing in upper school. Another good thing is that you learn to play with teammates of different strengths, and you develop some good skills that way (whether you are a strong player or there because you have to be), just like working with different groups of people in class. Middle school sports also usually have different levels, A and B (and sometimes C) teams, so you can play where you should play. All of the teams are instructional but play to win, especially at the A level.


    Varsity and JV sports in upper school are competitive. Friends tries not to cut, so usually every student who’s interested can be on the team, but not everybody gets to play in every competition. The teams play to win. Upper school students are required to play at least one sport each year (with one non-interscholastic option, a fitness program); most Friends students play more than one sport. A lot of Friends graduates play varsity sports in college—usually 10-20% of each graduating class.


    If you have an interest in a particular sport, the admissions office can help arrange a meeting or phone call with the varsity coach, so you can get a sense of what your sport is like at Friends.


    Is it hard to get involved in clubs and leadership roles at Friends?

    Actually, it’s hard not to, especially in upper school. The student government is a Quaker Business Meeting, and every student and teacher participates. Most of the work is done by committees—lots of them, and anyone interested can join a committee. Students can also start clubs based on their interests; some clubs are service oriented, like the group that works to bring attention to and raise money to help child soldiers in Uganda, and others are just fun, like a horror movie club. Between clubs, committees, sports, arts and music groups, every student at Friends is encouraged and able to take a leadership role. And again, it’s not just the kids who have been here a long time who get those roles; a lot of students who come in high school have been officers of the Business Meeting, have started clubs and clerked committees, have been captains of teams, members of Link Crew, and have taken lead roles in performances. It happens all the time.


    What is different about a Quaker school?

    There are two main beliefs from Quakerism that you see in practice in Quaker schools.


    One is the idea that truth isn’t fixed and permanent; you have to keep looking for it, testing it against experience and new ideas and questions. That’s kind of what you’ll be asked to do in your classes here—not just memorize, but ask questions and try new ideas. You always have to keep learning, and so do the adults.


    The second belief is that there is “that of God” in everyone. Whether you think in terms of “God” or just goodness or dignity, there’s this idea that each person has a fundamental worth that you have to respect and support. You are expected to develop the best of your own talents to your full potential, and also to bring out the best in the people around you. Everything that happens at Friends supports that kind of thinking and that way of acting toward other people.


    People often say that Friends graduates are confident but not arrogant, that the school gives students a sense that you’re not better than anybody else and nobody else is better than you.


    That kind of equality is what you see in Meeting for Worship, which is held once a week for students and teachers. In schools, Meeting for Worship is less a religious practice than a time for quiet reflection. The group gathers in silence, and anyone who wants to speak can stand and share a brief message. A kid in preschool has as much right to speak as the Head of School; all voices are valued equally—respecting that fundamental dignity in each person. While people are in school as students, they have some mixed feelings about Meeting for Worship—some kids love it; some think it’s boring—but almost all Friends graduates say, looking back, that they deeply value the experience of Meeting for Worship and often go back to the practice of a “moment of silence” when they need it.


    What’s the dress code?

    The dress code is casual. You can wear jeans, shorts, t-shirts, etc. But the school is very strict about the rules that it has. So it’s good to understand the dress code—things like shorts and skirts have to be a certain length; you can’t wear athletic clothes or hats; you can’t have certain sayings on your clothes. As long as you know the rules, you’ll be fine, and you’ll have a lot of choice about what you can wear.


    What about the food?

    The cafeteria serves a hot main dish every day at lunch, and also sandwiches, salads, soup, sides, and snacks (at morning break and after school). There is always a vegetarian option, and the school follows “healthy food” guidelines in terms of fat and sugar. If you buy lunch and snacks at school, you can use an account number (they don’t want you to carry cash at school, but they will take cash); the charge goes on the monthly school bill your parents/guardians get. Your parents can set a limit on how much you can spend each month, but it’s better just to talk about it and keep track, so you don’t actually have to put food back if you go over the limit. The food changes often enough, and there are enough different things offered, that almost everyone can find something they like. Of course, you can also bring your lunch from home.


    What if I have other questions?

    The admissions office can answer a lot of questions, and the staff there can also put you in touch with a student if you like. When you visit Friends, you’ll have a student guide for the day, and you can ask that person a lot of questions, too. And you should ask about everything that’s important to you, because you won't have a chance to see it all in action. Friends has a lot to offer--to students with all kinds of interests and talents.


    To contact the admissions office, email, or call 302.576.2930.




    Submit Application
    Beginning in September - Rolling


    Schedule Visit/Shadow Days 
    Beginning in October - Rolling


    Submit Financial Aid Applications
    November 3 - December 15


    Register for Testing

    Testing Schedule for Middle and 

    Upper School applicants

    (Assessments for Lower School 

    occur on visit day. )


    All Application Materials Due for
    First Round Offers

    January 15  for Middle and Upper
    January 29 for Preschool and Lower


    First Round Offers of Admission &
    Financial Aid Notification

    January 22  for Middle and Upper
    February 5  for Preschool and Lower


    Rolling Admission
    Applications will continue

    to be accepted and reviewed

    on an on-going basis as
    availability permits.




    Wilmington Friends School
    101 School Road, Wilmington, DE 19803