"We prepare students to engage in the world that is and to help bring about a world that ought to be."

Into the Wild

Ashley Tripp // Senior Associate Director of Communications
Led by History Teacher and Department Chair, Stefan Stawnychy, History of the Adirondacks provides an important experiential learning experience with a breathtaking backdrop. The course is built around case studies related to Indigenous people, the abolitionist movement, conservation and representation in outdoor recreation. Through this elective Stefan provides his students with a broader understanding of New York and the Adirondack region, which is the largest publicly-protected area in the contiguous U.S., encompassing about six million acres.
Last spring twelve seniors embarked on a five-day excursion to a remote island in the region to gain hands-on camping experience and explore the historical landmarks that they had been learning about in the classroom. Students canoed, hiked, and set up camp, enduring some primitive conditions while maintaining a high morale. Students visited "Dreaming of Timbuctoo," an exhibit which shares the story of a farming community created by local abolitionist Gerrit Smith for Black families to migrate to the Adirondacks and homestead. By providing land to Black men, they were then entitled to the right to vote, a crucial step in the fight against racism and slavery. This powerful part of their itinerary hallmarked the trip and served as the subject matter for their visual presentation to the school community. 
Students also met with a park ranger, cartographer and environmental police from the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation. Prior to the trip, seniors participated in a virtual session with documentarian Mike Hansen, who directed “Shades Inside the Blueline," a film which examines attitudes about race in New York’s Adirondack region, and the historic and current cultural impact wrought by these attitudes. This culminating experience through exploration was essential to understanding the Black experience in the Adirondacks.
Stefan’s affinity for the outdoors began during his visits to the region as a teenager, continuing as a camp counselor and camp director. He used a Third Century Grant to map out the trip and connect with guides in the park. He comments, “Part of what I love about Friends is having the academic freedom to explore and share my passions. It’s exciting to open a window to part of New York that is new to many students. Outdoor education has been a component of the Friends experience for many years.”
Friends Seminary actively promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in all its programs and operations, including admissions, financial aid, hiring, and all facets of the educational experience. To form a community which strives to reflect the world’s diversity, we do not discriminate on the basis of race or color, religion, nationality, ethnicity, economic background, physical ability, sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. Friends Seminary is an equal opportunity employer.

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Friends Seminary — the oldest continuously operated, coeducational school in NYC — serves college-bound day students in Kindergarten-Grade 12.