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

Celebrating Quaker Quilt Codes Through Choreography

Dance Teachers Barry Blumenfeld and Adia Whitaker have created a visionary Grade 3 curriculum that celebrates some of the hallmark academic programs in the grade. Over the course of this curriculum students will learn about the Underground Railroad, as well as the role Quakers and Harriet Tubman played in it. They will also learn about the folklore of the Underground Railroad Quilt Code—distinct quilting patterns that many people believe were used in this country during the 18th and 19th centuries as a tool to help self-liberators and freedom seekers learn important details about escaping from their enslaver’s plantations and traveling to the places where they could live as free people. 

Their studies first came to life through the help of the School’s art collection. Located in the Townhouse lobby, Equal Justice, an abstract print of the Underground Railroad quilt patch, Log Cabin. Equal Justice was created by a Gee’s Bend quilter, Essie Bendolph Pettway. Students studied the Log Cabin patch, examining its relationship to Equal Justice. They reflected on what displaying this artwork in the lobby of our School says about our community’s commitment to equality and justice.

Students were also introduced to new Underground Railroad Quilt Patches, as it focuses on the idea of navigation and the natural world. The patches learned in this unit are Bear’s Paw, Flying Geese and Drunkard’s Path. Students will connect dance to in honor of their Iditarod Study unit and how to navigate an arduous journey. Throughout the unit, connections will also be made to their studies of the metamorphosis and migration of monarch butterflies as well as the annual class visit to the Brotherhood Synagogue—the sacred space used as an Underground Railroad station.

Lower School Specialists in music, visual arts, technology and the Library will also support this curriculum in their respective subject areas. Their studies will culminate this spring in a moving work inspired by everything they learned in the class.  
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.

222 East 16th Street
New York, NY 10003
P: 212-979-5030
F: 212.979.5034
Friends Seminary — the oldest continuously operated, coeducational school in NYC — serves college-bound day students in Kindergarten-Grade 12.