Quakerism: A Guide for New Students

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A very common question from students and parents alike is, "I'm not a Quaker... what's it like to attend a Quaker school?  The Class of 2014 wrote this just for you as part of their Quakerism II class project.
 

---

Quakerism II: A Guide for New Students 

A Brief Introduction

Scattergood was founded in 1890 by Quaker pioneers who wanted to give their children a good education. It was originally an all-Quaker school but then evolved to include students of all faiths. The school is still under the Iowa Yearly Friends Meeting and includes Quaker values and practices in the school's daily life. Every morning except Thursday, the school gathers in the Meeting House for a fifteen-minute worship called Collection. On Thursdays, a forty-five minute Meeting for Worship is held in the afternoon. For both meetings, worship consists of students and staff sitting together in contemplative silence. If someone has something important on their mind or in their life they are welcome to stand up and share with the community, but most of the meeting is silent.

Quaker values are also present in the Scattergood community. We value equality, honesty, hard work, peace, simplicity, and integrity, and we work hard to bring those values into our daily lives. Students and staff participate in a work program that feeds and cleans the school. We go on Peace Walks every year, a nonviolent protest walk against war and violence. We support each other and value each other for our differences, and we can be a truly life-changing community. Every week, the students and staff meet separately to discuss any goings-on in the community that pertain particularly to students or staff. Community Meeting is where everyone meets together to talk about changes that will affect the whole community. Any suggestions made in any of these meetings, whether they come from students, staff, or both, are given weight in deciding on changes to how the school is run, allowing all members of the community to have a voice.

But what does this all mean for you, a new student? For many people, the idea of attending a religious boarding school can seem intimidating. As people from all backgrounds attend Scattergood, the incoming students have many different needs. To help address this, students have written about their religious and community experiences at Scattergood. It is our hope that these letters will give you good advice and information and help you transition more smoothly to the Scattergood life.

Rachael Lightstone
Class of 2014


---


To whomever might read this letter, 

My name is Esther. I am from Rwanda. I remember the first time I heard about Quakers, I was in Rwanda at the US embassy. I went there to ask for a visa and as I was answering some questions, the woman at the embassy asked me if I knew anything about Quakers. I answered no. It was a weird name, I thought, I had never heard about Quakers and it sounded like the name of some baby’s food in French. From that time I wondered, what were Quakers all about? I was kind of scared that they might not like me or the other way around. 

When I came to Scattergood, it was my first encounter with a Quaker community. Collection and Meeting for Worship didn't make sense to me. At first I would fall asleep almost every day. One day I decided to try out thinking about something so I could stay awake. It really helped me; I thought about my faith and how I would apply it during the day, I thought about my goals of the day or if I had fulfilled the goal I had yesterday. 

I am Christian and I felt like collection helped also spiritually. I sometimes would bring my bible and read a verse then meditate on the verse which really helped me grow spiritually. I feel like the Quaker ceremonies like Collection and Meeting for Worship are not a way to convert people but rather a way to help each one of us explore deeply our own beliefs and that is what I like about Quakerism here.

Sincerely,

Esther Keza
Class of 2014


---
 

Dear New Student,

Occasionally, in my years at Scattergood, I’ve heard students complain that it’s inappropriate for the schools to have mandatory ‘religious services’. Although I agree that proselityzing is inherently wrong, I think that, A, it’s not completely accurate to call a silent meeting or collection at Scattergood a “religious service”, and, B, this is a Quaker (you know, the religion?) school even if most of the community members might not identify as Quaker. 

Even though meeting for worship has the word worship in the title, there is no obligation to worship, whatever that means to you. Even if people give their own faith based take on life, as some might call it ‘ministry’, don’t feel pressured to adhere to their theological notions of life, but make sure to respect their notions. 

That doesn’t mean there won’t be uncomfortable grey areas- for instance, just last week I was in community meeting, sitting next to a staff member I know from personal conversation to be pretty firm atheist. The clerk of community meeting, as the current clerk is wont to do, asked for a 'moment of worship' before the meeting began, instead of a 'moment of silence.' The staff member inaudibly scoffed and sassily mouthed ‘Silence!’ I don’t know whether I think it’s right to overtly ask the community to worship in that setting, but I also don’t know that it’s wrong. Half the fun is in feeling out these grey areas!

Quaker process, tradition, and practice at Scattergood is reflected in many planes of life here. I won’t describe that- you’ll discover those things yourself! However, I just want to note to students with experience with Quaker practice that Quaker practice at Scattergood will probably be at least somewhat different from what you’ve experienced. Meetings at Scattergood will probably either have vastly more or less messages delivered, depending upon your meeting. Messages delivered will probably sound vastly different from what you’re used to. It’s easy to become snobby and say “no, this is how you do it.” However, that’s not the route to take. Scattergood, like any Quaker community, is a place with it’s own ever-changing brand of Quakerism, but it’s rooted in loving and supporting community members and seeking truth. Being a part of this living tradition, strengthened by the diversity of the largely non-Quaker background community, is a joyful and meaningful experience. 

Alejandro Rubinstein-Nadeau
Class of 2014


---


Dear non-Quaker Student,

Scattergood is in fact a Quaker school, imagine that? Some of you probably have never heard of the word 'Quaker' before looking at the school’s website which is okay, there will probably be a lot of you like that. If you come from a very different religious background, it may be difficult at first to understand Quaker worship, and that's okay too. It's a school, it's not supposed to be easy. Here are some things I wish I knew when I started out my freshman year.

  1. Quakers use a lot of acronyms (ex. IYM, FGC, NYM, BYM, etc.) Don't worry if you don't know what these mean, I'm not even sure half the Quaker students here do.
  2. At some point while you're here, people are going to talk about theology. You may be used to people challenging your beliefs, or you may not be. Either way, the most important thing is to know why you hold your beliefs and that it's okay to hold them even if they aren't popular. 
  3. At some point, someone might call you something you're not comfortable with. They might refer to you as a Friend, or group your religion into others you do not identify with. This is okay too. They do not realize what they are doing bothers you, just explain to them why you don't like the term they are using. If it doesn't bother you, then no need to worry.
  4. Because Scattergood uses consensus keeping with Quaker practice once a year there will be one Community Meeting that will never end. My friends and I refer to them in such loving terms as the snow shoveling incident of ‘11 and the locked door debacle of ‘12. The meeting will be over something completely ridiculous, and I do mean ridiculous. It will seem as though you are spending 4 hours talking about something that could be decided by the administration or voted on in less than 5 minutes. Too bad you decided to come to Scattergood then! Not actually, it is never really as bad as it seems, plus without these meetings you’ll never get to come up with names as cool as the locked door debacle of ‘12.
  5. Sometimes you won’t want to go to Meeting for Worship. That’s ok. You can skip if you really, really have to. But you should try to go anyway. It’s a part of going to a Quaker school. It’s not always that bad either. Having an open mind when you go to Meeting for Worship is important. If you decide you are going to hate it then you won’t be open to the awesome experience it can be. 
  6. My last tip is to always be open minded. Scattergood will change your views and rock your world and turn everything upside-down on itself. If you keep your mind open and willing then you are in for 4 (or 3,or 2...) crazy years. Keep your chin up and remember you’re here to learn everything you can and that at the end of the day there will always be people here to support you whether they are a staff member or a student and that you are not alone here.

I hope that these tips help you navigate the confusing world of being a new student at Scattergood.

Sincerely,

M. Charlotte Schiller
Class of 2014 


---


Dear New Student,

The culture I come from is a noisy one. I’m Jewish, which among other things means that my experience with religion has been full of singing, chanting in different languages, eating, dancing, and most importantly, arguing. I barely knew what I was getting myself into with the whole Quakerism thing, but my main understanding was that it involved a lot of silence. 

In the first Meeting I ever attended the thought: “This is not my scene”, entered my head. I looked around at all the Quakers sitting with perfect posture, a tranquil or intense look on their face. They seemed peaceful; stillness had penetrated them much more deeply than just not moving their lips. That first day, I found a respect for their experience of worship. But as I tried to clear my mind, all I could think about was the silence and how stifled it made me feel spiritually. I longed for a service of singing, speaking Hebrew, standing up, and dancing around the Torah. I will never be Quaker; silent meditation is not my forte.

That being said, Meeting has been a productive time for me throughout my four years at Scattergood. 

Honestly, most Meetings I find myself bored and distracted. But once a month, sometimes more often I spend a meeting thinking deeply in a very enriching way.

None of these experiences involved clearing my mind, which I feel somewhat bad about admitting, since that is sort of the point of Collection. Instead, these have been catalyzed by quite the opposite, releasing my mind and letting it run anywhere. You know that point right before you fall asleep where you are semi-aware of your physical senses still, but your thoughts have taken on a surreal effect? That is what I strive for in Meetings. It turns out you don’t have to be on the verge of a nap to have those thoughts. I found success by simply imagining the randomest stuff I could. I abandon reality and think ephemerally about places that don’t exist, or people I’ll never meet. Sometimes I’ll think about a movie I saw a trailer for and picture what it is about. In outdoor meetings I look up at the sky and wonder if something is looking down at me. I don’t know, it’s crazy, but it feels nice. I think of Collection as a kind of limbo; silence doesn’t exist like that in reality. Movement ceases, which can make it seem like the world has stopped.

All that being said, I’m often bored still. And I never feel any closer to God or the world or community or whatever. But sometimes those random thoughts that enter my head give me a new perspective on my day, or life. So here’s my advice. Don’t worry if sitting in silence isn’t your coffee shop. It can still be productive or intriguing.

Captured Sincerely,

Sophie A. Wolf-Camplin
Class of 2014


---

What do you want to know about Quakerism? 

When I first heard the new school I was going to attend was a Quaker school, my reaction literally was: WOOOOAAAHH! What’s a Quaker? I did some research, but still didn’t quite understand what a Quaker is… I mean, I just read a Wikipedia site expecting to fulfill my knowledge. The phrasing might scare you, the whole situation might scare you. You are enrolling to a private Quaker boarding school. Don’t panic, that’s why this letter was written, for you the new probably international student to read. I will introduce you to some Quaker ideas, what to expect from it and some other facts you are going to encounter during your school year. 

  • Quaker ideals that are not that new to you:  Simplicity, integrity,peace, sense of community, equality and, social justice are some values/beliefs Quakers hold. You don’t need to have these values within your list. As a human you might have them (and you probably haven't even thought about it) and they mean something different to you than to someone else, but at Scattergood we embrace diversity, so feel free to express and live your values.  
  • What to expect from a Quaker school:  Don’t make a big deal about it. This school will surprise you. Don’t expect to be dragged slowly into the religion, not even. There is never going to be a “welcome to my religion, you have to follow it” kind of talk.  The community would introduce you to some values you must follow in order to respect the community you are going to be part of, but they will never tell you what to believe. Expect some unknown terms like consensus and George Fox, but anyone will be willing to explain what’s going on. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Expect to attend Meeting for Worship and collection. Expect to have weekly meetings with your classmates, your dorm members and the whole staff. You will find more things you are not probably used to, but you will even enjoy them at some point. 
  • Meeting for Worship and Collection? Student Meeting? What?:  Keep your head up, Meeting for Worship does not literally means you have to worship something while you are meeting with people or anything like that. Meeting for Worship is something Quakers do to approach the inner light each one of us has by remaining silent for about 45 minutes. When I knew what it was I freaked out. What in heaven am I going to do in 45 minutes IN COMPLETE SILENCE. Well, this 45 minutes are a good amount of time to challenge your beliefs, converse with yourself, listen to yourself, wonder in your mind and find out what do you have to say. You will be amazed. This span of time is really nice to discover your inner light, even if you call it another thing. Another major thing going on here at Scattergood are meetings. Issues that concern the community are discussed in these meetings and you are encouraged to speak up. You’ll figure it out what your voice is. 

I would love to go on with advice, but I want to leave some things for you to discover. Welcome to the Scattergood community and enjoy your journey. 

Sincerely,

Rosa Castro
Class of 2014

---

In conclusion, Scattergood can be a pretty confusing place. There are meetings, worship, values, and responsibilities, all on top of the normal stresses of school work and meeting people. Just remember that all of us have been where you are, confused and stressed about coming to a new place. We have your back and don’t mind taking time to explain something to you or giving you a break because you’re new. We hope that these letters have helped and that you are more excited about coming to Scattergood now. We look forward to seeing you on campus!


Sincerely,

Rachael, Charlotte, Esther, Sophie, Rosa, Alejandro, and all the other staff and students at Scattergood.

 

 

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Scattergood's Quakerism II Class

A very common question from students and parents alike is, "I'm not a Quaker... what's it like to attend a Quaker school?  The Class of 2014 wrote this just for you as part of their Quakerism II class project.
 

---

Quakerism II: A Guide for New Students 

A Brief Introduction

Scattergood was founded in 1890 by Quaker pioneers who wanted to give their children a good education. It was originally an all-Quaker school but then evolved to include students of all faiths. The school is still under the Iowa Yearly Friends Meeting and includes Quaker values and practices in the school's daily life. Every morning except Thursday, the school gathers in the Meeting House for a fifteen-minute worship called Collection. On Thursdays, a forty-five minute Meeting for Worship is held in the afternoon. For both meetings, worship consists of students and staff sitting together in contemplative silence. If someone has something important on their mind or in their life they are welcome to stand up and share with the community, but most of the meeting is silent.

Quaker values are also present in the Scattergood community. We value equality, honesty, hard work, peace, simplicity, and integrity, and we work hard to bring those values into our daily lives. Students and staff participate in a work program that feeds and cleans the school. We go on Peace Walks every year, a nonviolent protest walk against war and violence. We support each other and value each other for our differences, and we can be a truly life-changing community. Every week, the students and staff meet separately to discuss any goings-on in the community that pertain particularly to students or staff. Community Meeting is where everyone meets together to talk about changes that will affect the whole community. Any suggestions made in any of these meetings, whether they come from students, staff, or both, are given weight in deciding on changes to how the school is run, allowing all members of the community to have a voice.

But what does this all mean for you, a new student? For many people, the idea of attending a religious boarding school can seem intimidating. As people from all backgrounds attend Scattergood, the incoming students have many different needs. To help address this, students have written about their religious and community experiences at Scattergood. It is our hope that these letters will give you good advice and information and help you transition more smoothly to the Scattergood life.

Rachael Lightstone
Class of 2014


---


To whomever might read this letter, 

My name is Esther. I am from Rwanda. I remember the first time I heard about Quakers, I was in Rwanda at the US embassy. I went there to ask for a visa and as I was answering some questions, the woman at the embassy asked me if I knew anything about Quakers. I answered no. It was a weird name, I thought, I had never heard about Quakers and it sounded like the name of some baby’s food in French. From that time I wondered, what were Quakers all about? I was kind of scared that they might not like me or the other way around. 

When I came to Scattergood, it was my first encounter with a Quaker community. Collection and Meeting for Worship didn't make sense to me. At first I would fall asleep almost every day. One day I decided to try out thinking about something so I could stay awake. It really helped me; I thought about my faith and how I would apply it during the day, I thought about my goals of the day or if I had fulfilled the goal I had yesterday. 

I am Christian and I felt like collection helped also spiritually. I sometimes would bring my bible and read a verse then meditate on the verse which really helped me grow spiritually. I feel like the Quaker ceremonies like Collection and Meeting for Worship are not a way to convert people but rather a way to help each one of us explore deeply our own beliefs and that is what I like about Quakerism here.

Sincerely,

Esther Keza
Class of 2014


---
 

Dear New Student,

Occasionally, in my years at Scattergood, I’ve heard students complain that it’s inappropriate for the schools to have mandatory ‘religious services’. Although I agree that proselityzing is inherently wrong, I think that, A, it’s not completely accurate to call a silent meeting or collection at Scattergood a “religious service”, and, B, this is a Quaker (you know, the religion?) school even if most of the community members might not identify as Quaker. 

Even though meeting for worship has the word worship in the title, there is no obligation to worship, whatever that means to you. Even if people give their own faith based take on life, as some might call it ‘ministry’, don’t feel pressured to adhere to their theological notions of life, but make sure to respect their notions. 

That doesn’t mean there won’t be uncomfortable grey areas- for instance, just last week I was in community meeting, sitting next to a staff member I know from personal conversation to be pretty firm atheist. The clerk of community meeting, as the current clerk is wont to do, asked for a 'moment of worship' before the meeting began, instead of a 'moment of silence.' The staff member inaudibly scoffed and sassily mouthed ‘Silence!’ I don’t know whether I think it’s right to overtly ask the community to worship in that setting, but I also don’t know that it’s wrong. Half the fun is in feeling out these grey areas!

Quaker process, tradition, and practice at Scattergood is reflected in many planes of life here. I won’t describe that- you’ll discover those things yourself! However, I just want to note to students with experience with Quaker practice that Quaker practice at Scattergood will probably be at least somewhat different from what you’ve experienced. Meetings at Scattergood will probably either have vastly more or less messages delivered, depending upon your meeting. Messages delivered will probably sound vastly different from what you’re used to. It’s easy to become snobby and say “no, this is how you do it.” However, that’s not the route to take. Scattergood, like any Quaker community, is a place with it’s own ever-changing brand of Quakerism, but it’s rooted in loving and supporting community members and seeking truth. Being a part of this living tradition, strengthened by the diversity of the largely non-Quaker background community, is a joyful and meaningful experience. 

Alejandro Rubinstein-Nadeau
Class of 2014


---


Dear non-Quaker Student,

Scattergood is in fact a Quaker school, imagine that? Some of you probably have never heard of the word 'Quaker' before looking at the school’s website which is okay, there will probably be a lot of you like that. If you come from a very different religious background, it may be difficult at first to understand Quaker worship, and that's okay too. It's a school, it's not supposed to be easy. Here are some things I wish I knew when I started out my freshman year.

  1. Quakers use a lot of acronyms (ex. IYM, FGC, NYM, BYM, etc.) Don't worry if you don't know what these mean, I'm not even sure half the Quaker students here do.
  2. At some point while you're here, people are going to talk about theology. You may be used to people challenging your beliefs, or you may not be. Either way, the most important thing is to know why you hold your beliefs and that it's okay to hold them even if they aren't popular. 
  3. At some point, someone might call you something you're not comfortable with. They might refer to you as a Friend, or group your religion into others you do not identify with. This is okay too. They do not realize what they are doing bothers you, just explain to them why you don't like the term they are using. If it doesn't bother you, then no need to worry.
  4. Because Scattergood uses consensus keeping with Quaker practice once a year there will be one Community Meeting that will never end. My friends and I refer to them in such loving terms as the snow shoveling incident of ‘11 and the locked door debacle of ‘12. The meeting will be over something completely ridiculous, and I do mean ridiculous. It will seem as though you are spending 4 hours talking about something that could be decided by the administration or voted on in less than 5 minutes. Too bad you decided to come to Scattergood then! Not actually, it is never really as bad as it seems, plus without these meetings you’ll never get to come up with names as cool as the locked door debacle of ‘12.
  5. Sometimes you won’t want to go to Meeting for Worship. That’s ok. You can skip if you really, really have to. But you should try to go anyway. It’s a part of going to a Quaker school. It’s not always that bad either. Having an open mind when you go to Meeting for Worship is important. If you decide you are going to hate it then you won’t be open to the awesome experience it can be. 
  6. My last tip is to always be open minded. Scattergood will change your views and rock your world and turn everything upside-down on itself. If you keep your mind open and willing then you are in for 4 (or 3,or 2...) crazy years. Keep your chin up and remember you’re here to learn everything you can and that at the end of the day there will always be people here to support you whether they are a staff member or a student and that you are not alone here.

I hope that these tips help you navigate the confusing world of being a new student at Scattergood.

Sincerely,

M. Charlotte Schiller
Class of 2014 


---


Dear New Student,

The culture I come from is a noisy one. I’m Jewish, which among other things means that my experience with religion has been full of singing, chanting in different languages, eating, dancing, and most importantly, arguing. I barely knew what I was getting myself into with the whole Quakerism thing, but my main understanding was that it involved a lot of silence. 

In the first Meeting I ever attended the thought: “This is not my scene”, entered my head. I looked around at all the Quakers sitting with perfect posture, a tranquil or intense look on their face. They seemed peaceful; stillness had penetrated them much more deeply than just not moving their lips. That first day, I found a respect for their experience of worship. But as I tried to clear my mind, all I could think about was the silence and how stifled it made me feel spiritually. I longed for a service of singing, speaking Hebrew, standing up, and dancing around the Torah. I will never be Quaker; silent meditation is not my forte.

That being said, Meeting has been a productive time for me throughout my four years at Scattergood. 

Honestly, most Meetings I find myself bored and distracted. But once a month, sometimes more often I spend a meeting thinking deeply in a very enriching way.

None of these experiences involved clearing my mind, which I feel somewhat bad about admitting, since that is sort of the point of Collection. Instead, these have been catalyzed by quite the opposite, releasing my mind and letting it run anywhere. You know that point right before you fall asleep where you are semi-aware of your physical senses still, but your thoughts have taken on a surreal effect? That is what I strive for in Meetings. It turns out you don’t have to be on the verge of a nap to have those thoughts. I found success by simply imagining the randomest stuff I could. I abandon reality and think ephemerally about places that don’t exist, or people I’ll never meet. Sometimes I’ll think about a movie I saw a trailer for and picture what it is about. In outdoor meetings I look up at the sky and wonder if something is looking down at me. I don’t know, it’s crazy, but it feels nice. I think of Collection as a kind of limbo; silence doesn’t exist like that in reality. Movement ceases, which can make it seem like the world has stopped.

All that being said, I’m often bored still. And I never feel any closer to God or the world or community or whatever. But sometimes those random thoughts that enter my head give me a new perspective on my day, or life. So here’s my advice. Don’t worry if sitting in silence isn’t your coffee shop. It can still be productive or intriguing.

Captured Sincerely,

Sophie A. Wolf-Camplin
Class of 2014


---

What do you want to know about Quakerism? 

When I first heard the new school I was going to attend was a Quaker school, my reaction literally was: WOOOOAAAHH! What’s a Quaker? I did some research, but still didn’t quite understand what a Quaker is… I mean, I just read a Wikipedia site expecting to fulfill my knowledge. The phrasing might scare you, the whole situation might scare you. You are enrolling to a private Quaker boarding school. Don’t panic, that’s why this letter was written, for you the new probably international student to read. I will introduce you to some Quaker ideas, what to expect from it and some other facts you are going to encounter during your school year. 

  • Quaker ideals that are not that new to you:  Simplicity, integrity,peace, sense of community, equality and, social justice are some values/beliefs Quakers hold. You don’t need to have these values within your list. As a human you might have them (and you probably haven't even thought about it) and they mean something different to you than to someone else, but at Scattergood we embrace diversity, so feel free to express and live your values.  
  • What to expect from a Quaker school:  Don’t make a big deal about it. This school will surprise you. Don’t expect to be dragged slowly into the religion, not even. There is never going to be a “welcome to my religion, you have to follow it” kind of talk.  The community would introduce you to some values you must follow in order to respect the community you are going to be part of, but they will never tell you what to believe. Expect some unknown terms like consensus and George Fox, but anyone will be willing to explain what’s going on. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Expect to attend Meeting for Worship and collection. Expect to have weekly meetings with your classmates, your dorm members and the whole staff. You will find more things you are not probably used to, but you will even enjoy them at some point. 
  • Meeting for Worship and Collection? Student Meeting? What?:  Keep your head up, Meeting for Worship does not literally means you have to worship something while you are meeting with people or anything like that. Meeting for Worship is something Quakers do to approach the inner light each one of us has by remaining silent for about 45 minutes. When I knew what it was I freaked out. What in heaven am I going to do in 45 minutes IN COMPLETE SILENCE. Well, this 45 minutes are a good amount of time to challenge your beliefs, converse with yourself, listen to yourself, wonder in your mind and find out what do you have to say. You will be amazed. This span of time is really nice to discover your inner light, even if you call it another thing. Another major thing going on here at Scattergood are meetings. Issues that concern the community are discussed in these meetings and you are encouraged to speak up. You’ll figure it out what your voice is. 

I would love to go on with advice, but I want to leave some things for you to discover. Welcome to the Scattergood community and enjoy your journey. 

Sincerely,

Rosa Castro
Class of 2014

---

In conclusion, Scattergood can be a pretty confusing place. There are meetings, worship, values, and responsibilities, all on top of the normal stresses of school work and meeting people. Just remember that all of us have been where you are, confused and stressed about coming to a new place. We have your back and don’t mind taking time to explain something to you or giving you a break because you’re new. We hope that these letters have helped and that you are more excited about coming to Scattergood now. We look forward to seeing you on campus!


Sincerely,

Rachael, Charlotte, Esther, Sophie, Rosa, Alejandro, and all the other staff and students at Scattergood.

 

 

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A very common question from students and parents alike is, "I'm not a Quaker... what's it like to attend a Quaker school?  The Class of 2014 wrote this just for you as part of their Quakerism II class project.
 

---

Quakerism II: A Guide for New Students 

A Brief Introduction

Scattergood was founded in 1890 by Quaker pioneers who wanted to give their children a good education. It was originally an all-Quaker school but then evolved to include students of all faiths. The school is still under the Iowa Yearly Friends Meeting and includes Quaker values and practices in the school's daily life. Every morning except Thursday, the school gathers in the Meeting House for a fifteen-minute worship called Collection. On Thursdays, a forty-five minute Meeting for Worship is held in the afternoon. For both meetings, worship consists of students and staff sitting together in contemplative silence. If someone has something important on their mind or in their life they are welcome to stand up and share with the community, but most of the meeting is silent.

Quaker values are also present in the Scattergood community. We value equality, honesty, hard work, peace, simplicity, and integrity, and we work hard to bring those values into our daily lives. Students and staff participate in a work program that feeds and cleans the school. We go on Peace Walks every year, a nonviolent protest walk against war and violence. We support each other and value each other for our differences, and we can be a truly life-changing community. Every week, the students and staff meet separately to discuss any goings-on in the community that pertain particularly to students or staff. Community Meeting is where everyone meets together to talk about changes that will affect the whole community. Any suggestions made in any of these meetings, whether they come from students, staff, or both, are given weight in deciding on changes to how the school is run, allowing all members of the community to have a voice.

But what does this all mean for you, a new student? For many people, the idea of attending a religious boarding school can seem intimidating. As people from all backgrounds attend Scattergood, the incoming students have many different needs. To help address this, students have written about their religious and community experiences at Scattergood. It is our hope that these letters will give you good advice and information and help you transition more smoothly to the Scattergood life.

Rachael Lightstone
Class of 2014


---


To whomever might read this letter, 

My name is Esther. I am from Rwanda. I remember the first time I heard about Quakers, I was in Rwanda at the US embassy. I went there to ask for a visa and as I was answering some questions, the woman at the embassy asked me if I knew anything about Quakers. I answered no. It was a weird name, I thought, I had never heard about Quakers and it sounded like the name of some baby’s food in French. From that time I wondered, what were Quakers all about? I was kind of scared that they might not like me or the other way around. 

When I came to Scattergood, it was my first encounter with a Quaker community. Collection and Meeting for Worship didn't make sense to me. At first I would fall asleep almost every day. One day I decided to try out thinking about something so I could stay awake. It really helped me; I thought about my faith and how I would apply it during the day, I thought about my goals of the day or if I had fulfilled the goal I had yesterday. 

I am Christian and I felt like collection helped also spiritually. I sometimes would bring my bible and read a verse then meditate on the verse which really helped me grow spiritually. I feel like the Quaker ceremonies like Collection and Meeting for Worship are not a way to convert people but rather a way to help each one of us explore deeply our own beliefs and that is what I like about Quakerism here.

Sincerely,

Esther Keza
Class of 2014


---
 

Dear New Student,

Occasionally, in my years at Scattergood, I’ve heard students complain that it’s inappropriate for the schools to have mandatory ‘religious services’. Although I agree that proselityzing is inherently wrong, I think that, A, it’s not completely accurate to call a silent meeting or collection at Scattergood a “religious service”, and, B, this is a Quaker (you know, the religion?) school even if most of the community members might not identify as Quaker. 

Even though meeting for worship has the word worship in the title, there is no obligation to worship, whatever that means to you. Even if people give their own faith based take on life, as some might call it ‘ministry’, don’t feel pressured to adhere to their theological notions of life, but make sure to respect their notions. 

That doesn’t mean there won’t be uncomfortable grey areas- for instance, just last week I was in community meeting, sitting next to a staff member I know from personal conversation to be pretty firm atheist. The clerk of community meeting, as the current clerk is wont to do, asked for a 'moment of worship' before the meeting began, instead of a 'moment of silence.' The staff member inaudibly scoffed and sassily mouthed ‘Silence!’ I don’t know whether I think it’s right to overtly ask the community to worship in that setting, but I also don’t know that it’s wrong. Half the fun is in feeling out these grey areas!

Quaker process, tradition, and practice at Scattergood is reflected in many planes of life here. I won’t describe that- you’ll discover those things yourself! However, I just want to note to students with experience with Quaker practice that Quaker practice at Scattergood will probably be at least somewhat different from what you’ve experienced. Meetings at Scattergood will probably either have vastly more or less messages delivered, depending upon your meeting. Messages delivered will probably sound vastly different from what you’re used to. It’s easy to become snobby and say “no, this is how you do it.” However, that’s not the route to take. Scattergood, like any Quaker community, is a place with it’s own ever-changing brand of Quakerism, but it’s rooted in loving and supporting community members and seeking truth. Being a part of this living tradition, strengthened by the diversity of the largely non-Quaker background community, is a joyful and meaningful experience. 

Alejandro Rubinstein-Nadeau
Class of 2014


---


Dear non-Quaker Student,

Scattergood is in fact a Quaker school, imagine that? Some of you probably have never heard of the word 'Quaker' before looking at the school’s website which is okay, there will probably be a lot of you like that. If you come from a very different religious background, it may be difficult at first to understand Quaker worship, and that's okay too. It's a school, it's not supposed to be easy. Here are some things I wish I knew when I started out my freshman year.

  1. Quakers use a lot of acronyms (ex. IYM, FGC, NYM, BYM, etc.) Don't worry if you don't know what these mean, I'm not even sure half the Quaker students here do.
  2. At some point while you're here, people are going to talk about theology. You may be used to people challenging your beliefs, or you may not be. Either way, the most important thing is to know why you hold your beliefs and that it's okay to hold them even if they aren't popular. 
  3. At some point, someone might call you something you're not comfortable with. They might refer to you as a Friend, or group your religion into others you do not identify with. This is okay too. They do not realize what they are doing bothers you, just explain to them why you don't like the term they are using. If it doesn't bother you, then no need to worry.
  4. Because Scattergood uses consensus keeping with Quaker practice once a year there will be one Community Meeting that will never end. My friends and I refer to them in such loving terms as the snow shoveling incident of ‘11 and the locked door debacle of ‘12. The meeting will be over something completely ridiculous, and I do mean ridiculous. It will seem as though you are spending 4 hours talking about something that could be decided by the administration or voted on in less than 5 minutes. Too bad you decided to come to Scattergood then! Not actually, it is never really as bad as it seems, plus without these meetings you’ll never get to come up with names as cool as the locked door debacle of ‘12.
  5. Sometimes you won’t want to go to Meeting for Worship. That’s ok. You can skip if you really, really have to. But you should try to go anyway. It’s a part of going to a Quaker school. It’s not always that bad either. Having an open mind when you go to Meeting for Worship is important. If you decide you are going to hate it then you won’t be open to the awesome experience it can be. 
  6. My last tip is to always be open minded. Scattergood will change your views and rock your world and turn everything upside-down on itself. If you keep your mind open and willing then you are in for 4 (or 3,or 2...) crazy years. Keep your chin up and remember you’re here to learn everything you can and that at the end of the day there will always be people here to support you whether they are a staff member or a student and that you are not alone here.

I hope that these tips help you navigate the confusing world of being a new student at Scattergood.

Sincerely,

M. Charlotte Schiller
Class of 2014 


---


Dear New Student,

The culture I come from is a noisy one. I’m Jewish, which among other things means that my experience with religion has been full of singing, chanting in different languages, eating, dancing, and most importantly, arguing. I barely knew what I was getting myself into with the whole Quakerism thing, but my main understanding was that it involved a lot of silence. 

In the first Meeting I ever attended the thought: “This is not my scene”, entered my head. I looked around at all the Quakers sitting with perfect posture, a tranquil or intense look on their face. They seemed peaceful; stillness had penetrated them much more deeply than just not moving their lips. That first day, I found a respect for their experience of worship. But as I tried to clear my mind, all I could think about was the silence and how stifled it made me feel spiritually. I longed for a service of singing, speaking Hebrew, standing up, and dancing around the Torah. I will never be Quaker; silent meditation is not my forte.

That being said, Meeting has been a productive time for me throughout my four years at Scattergood. 

Honestly, most Meetings I find myself bored and distracted. But once a month, sometimes more often I spend a meeting thinking deeply in a very enriching way.

None of these experiences involved clearing my mind, which I feel somewhat bad about admitting, since that is sort of the point of Collection. Instead, these have been catalyzed by quite the opposite, releasing my mind and letting it run anywhere. You know that point right before you fall asleep where you are semi-aware of your physical senses still, but your thoughts have taken on a surreal effect? That is what I strive for in Meetings. It turns out you don’t have to be on the verge of a nap to have those thoughts. I found success by simply imagining the randomest stuff I could. I abandon reality and think ephemerally about places that don’t exist, or people I’ll never meet. Sometimes I’ll think about a movie I saw a trailer for and picture what it is about. In outdoor meetings I look up at the sky and wonder if something is looking down at me. I don’t know, it’s crazy, but it feels nice. I think of Collection as a kind of limbo; silence doesn’t exist like that in reality. Movement ceases, which can make it seem like the world has stopped.

All that being said, I’m often bored still. And I never feel any closer to God or the world or community or whatever. But sometimes those random thoughts that enter my head give me a new perspective on my day, or life. So here’s my advice. Don’t worry if sitting in silence isn’t your coffee shop. It can still be productive or intriguing.

Captured Sincerely,

Sophie A. Wolf-Camplin
Class of 2014


---

What do you want to know about Quakerism? 

When I first heard the new school I was going to attend was a Quaker school, my reaction literally was: WOOOOAAAHH! What’s a Quaker? I did some research, but still didn’t quite understand what a Quaker is… I mean, I just read a Wikipedia site expecting to fulfill my knowledge. The phrasing might scare you, the whole situation might scare you. You are enrolling to a private Quaker boarding school. Don’t panic, that’s why this letter was written, for you the new probably international student to read. I will introduce you to some Quaker ideas, what to expect from it and some other facts you are going to encounter during your school year. 

  • Quaker ideals that are not that new to you:  Simplicity, integrity,peace, sense of community, equality and, social justice are some values/beliefs Quakers hold. You don’t need to have these values within your list. As a human you might have them (and you probably haven't even thought about it) and they mean something different to you than to someone else, but at Scattergood we embrace diversity, so feel free to express and live your values.  
  • What to expect from a Quaker school:  Don’t make a big deal about it. This school will surprise you. Don’t expect to be dragged slowly into the religion, not even. There is never going to be a “welcome to my religion, you have to follow it” kind of talk.  The community would introduce you to some values you must follow in order to respect the community you are going to be part of, but they will never tell you what to believe. Expect some unknown terms like consensus and George Fox, but anyone will be willing to explain what’s going on. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Expect to attend Meeting for Worship and collection. Expect to have weekly meetings with your classmates, your dorm members and the whole staff. You will find more things you are not probably used to, but you will even enjoy them at some point. 
  • Meeting for Worship and Collection? Student Meeting? What?:  Keep your head up, Meeting for Worship does not literally means you have to worship something while you are meeting with people or anything like that. Meeting for Worship is something Quakers do to approach the inner light each one of us has by remaining silent for about 45 minutes. When I knew what it was I freaked out. What in heaven am I going to do in 45 minutes IN COMPLETE SILENCE. Well, this 45 minutes are a good amount of time to challenge your beliefs, converse with yourself, listen to yourself, wonder in your mind and find out what do you have to say. You will be amazed. This span of time is really nice to discover your inner light, even if you call it another thing. Another major thing going on here at Scattergood are meetings. Issues that concern the community are discussed in these meetings and you are encouraged to speak up. You’ll figure it out what your voice is. 

I would love to go on with advice, but I want to leave some things for you to discover. Welcome to the Scattergood community and enjoy your journey. 

Sincerely,

Rosa Castro
Class of 2014

---

In conclusion, Scattergood can be a pretty confusing place. There are meetings, worship, values, and responsibilities, all on top of the normal stresses of school work and meeting people. Just remember that all of us have been where you are, confused and stressed about coming to a new place. We have your back and don’t mind taking time to explain something to you or giving you a break because you’re new. We hope that these letters have helped and that you are more excited about coming to Scattergood now. We look forward to seeing you on campus!


Sincerely,

Rachael, Charlotte, Esther, Sophie, Rosa, Alejandro, and all the other staff and students at Scattergood.

 

 

[summary] => [format] => full_html [safe_value] =>

Scattergood's Quakerism II Class

A very common question from students and parents alike is, "I'm not a Quaker... what's it like to attend a Quaker school?  The Class of 2014 wrote this just for you as part of their Quakerism II class project.
 

---

Quakerism II: A Guide for New Students 

A Brief Introduction

Scattergood was founded in 1890 by Quaker pioneers who wanted to give their children a good education. It was originally an all-Quaker school but then evolved to include students of all faiths. The school is still under the Iowa Yearly Friends Meeting and includes Quaker values and practices in the school's daily life. Every morning except Thursday, the school gathers in the Meeting House for a fifteen-minute worship called Collection. On Thursdays, a forty-five minute Meeting for Worship is held in the afternoon. For both meetings, worship consists of students and staff sitting together in contemplative silence. If someone has something important on their mind or in their life they are welcome to stand up and share with the community, but most of the meeting is silent.

Quaker values are also present in the Scattergood community. We value equality, honesty, hard work, peace, simplicity, and integrity, and we work hard to bring those values into our daily lives. Students and staff participate in a work program that feeds and cleans the school. We go on Peace Walks every year, a nonviolent protest walk against war and violence. We support each other and value each other for our differences, and we can be a truly life-changing community. Every week, the students and staff meet separately to discuss any goings-on in the community that pertain particularly to students or staff. Community Meeting is where everyone meets together to talk about changes that will affect the whole community. Any suggestions made in any of these meetings, whether they come from students, staff, or both, are given weight in deciding on changes to how the school is run, allowing all members of the community to have a voice.

But what does this all mean for you, a new student? For many people, the idea of attending a religious boarding school can seem intimidating. As people from all backgrounds attend Scattergood, the incoming students have many different needs. To help address this, students have written about their religious and community experiences at Scattergood. It is our hope that these letters will give you good advice and information and help you transition more smoothly to the Scattergood life.

Rachael Lightstone
Class of 2014


---


To whomever might read this letter, 

My name is Esther. I am from Rwanda. I remember the first time I heard about Quakers, I was in Rwanda at the US embassy. I went there to ask for a visa and as I was answering some questions, the woman at the embassy asked me if I knew anything about Quakers. I answered no. It was a weird name, I thought, I had never heard about Quakers and it sounded like the name of some baby’s food in French. From that time I wondered, what were Quakers all about? I was kind of scared that they might not like me or the other way around. 

When I came to Scattergood, it was my first encounter with a Quaker community. Collection and Meeting for Worship didn't make sense to me. At first I would fall asleep almost every day. One day I decided to try out thinking about something so I could stay awake. It really helped me; I thought about my faith and how I would apply it during the day, I thought about my goals of the day or if I had fulfilled the goal I had yesterday. 

I am Christian and I felt like collection helped also spiritually. I sometimes would bring my bible and read a verse then meditate on the verse which really helped me grow spiritually. I feel like the Quaker ceremonies like Collection and Meeting for Worship are not a way to convert people but rather a way to help each one of us explore deeply our own beliefs and that is what I like about Quakerism here.

Sincerely,

Esther Keza
Class of 2014


---
 

Dear New Student,

Occasionally, in my years at Scattergood, I’ve heard students complain that it’s inappropriate for the schools to have mandatory ‘religious services’. Although I agree that proselityzing is inherently wrong, I think that, A, it’s not completely accurate to call a silent meeting or collection at Scattergood a “religious service”, and, B, this is a Quaker (you know, the religion?) school even if most of the community members might not identify as Quaker. 

Even though meeting for worship has the word worship in the title, there is no obligation to worship, whatever that means to you. Even if people give their own faith based take on life, as some might call it ‘ministry’, don’t feel pressured to adhere to their theological notions of life, but make sure to respect their notions. 

That doesn’t mean there won’t be uncomfortable grey areas- for instance, just last week I was in community meeting, sitting next to a staff member I know from personal conversation to be pretty firm atheist. The clerk of community meeting, as the current clerk is wont to do, asked for a 'moment of worship' before the meeting began, instead of a 'moment of silence.' The staff member inaudibly scoffed and sassily mouthed ‘Silence!’ I don’t know whether I think it’s right to overtly ask the community to worship in that setting, but I also don’t know that it’s wrong. Half the fun is in feeling out these grey areas!

Quaker process, tradition, and practice at Scattergood is reflected in many planes of life here. I won’t describe that- you’ll discover those things yourself! However, I just want to note to students with experience with Quaker practice that Quaker practice at Scattergood will probably be at least somewhat different from what you’ve experienced. Meetings at Scattergood will probably either have vastly more or less messages delivered, depending upon your meeting. Messages delivered will probably sound vastly different from what you’re used to. It’s easy to become snobby and say “no, this is how you do it.” However, that’s not the route to take. Scattergood, like any Quaker community, is a place with it’s own ever-changing brand of Quakerism, but it’s rooted in loving and supporting community members and seeking truth. Being a part of this living tradition, strengthened by the diversity of the largely non-Quaker background community, is a joyful and meaningful experience. 

Alejandro Rubinstein-Nadeau
Class of 2014


---


Dear non-Quaker Student,

Scattergood is in fact a Quaker school, imagine that? Some of you probably have never heard of the word 'Quaker' before looking at the school’s website which is okay, there will probably be a lot of you like that. If you come from a very different religious background, it may be difficult at first to understand Quaker worship, and that's okay too. It's a school, it's not supposed to be easy. Here are some things I wish I knew when I started out my freshman year.

  1. Quakers use a lot of acronyms (ex. IYM, FGC, NYM, BYM, etc.) Don't worry if you don't know what these mean, I'm not even sure half the Quaker students here do.
  2. At some point while you're here, people are going to talk about theology. You may be used to people challenging your beliefs, or you may not be. Either way, the most important thing is to know why you hold your beliefs and that it's okay to hold them even if they aren't popular. 
  3. At some point, someone might call you something you're not comfortable with. They might refer to you as a Friend, or group your religion into others you do not identify with. This is okay too. They do not realize what they are doing bothers you, just explain to them why you don't like the term they are using. If it doesn't bother you, then no need to worry.
  4. Because Scattergood uses consensus keeping with Quaker practice once a year there will be one Community Meeting that will never end. My friends and I refer to them in such loving terms as the snow shoveling incident of ‘11 and the locked door debacle of ‘12. The meeting will be over something completely ridiculous, and I do mean ridiculous. It will seem as though you are spending 4 hours talking about something that could be decided by the administration or voted on in less than 5 minutes. Too bad you decided to come to Scattergood then! Not actually, it is never really as bad as it seems, plus without these meetings you’ll never get to come up with names as cool as the locked door debacle of ‘12.
  5. Sometimes you won’t want to go to Meeting for Worship. That’s ok. You can skip if you really, really have to. But you should try to go anyway. It’s a part of going to a Quaker school. It’s not always that bad either. Having an open mind when you go to Meeting for Worship is important. If you decide you are going to hate it then you won’t be open to the awesome experience it can be. 
  6. My last tip is to always be open minded. Scattergood will change your views and rock your world and turn everything upside-down on itself. If you keep your mind open and willing then you are in for 4 (or 3,or 2...) crazy years. Keep your chin up and remember you’re here to learn everything you can and that at the end of the day there will always be people here to support you whether they are a staff member or a student and that you are not alone here.

I hope that these tips help you navigate the confusing world of being a new student at Scattergood.

Sincerely,

M. Charlotte Schiller
Class of 2014 


---


Dear New Student,

The culture I come from is a noisy one. I’m Jewish, which among other things means that my experience with religion has been full of singing, chanting in different languages, eating, dancing, and most importantly, arguing. I barely knew what I was getting myself into with the whole Quakerism thing, but my main understanding was that it involved a lot of silence. 

In the first Meeting I ever attended the thought: “This is not my scene”, entered my head. I looked around at all the Quakers sitting with perfect posture, a tranquil or intense look on their face. They seemed peaceful; stillness had penetrated them much more deeply than just not moving their lips. That first day, I found a respect for their experience of worship. But as I tried to clear my mind, all I could think about was the silence and how stifled it made me feel spiritually. I longed for a service of singing, speaking Hebrew, standing up, and dancing around the Torah. I will never be Quaker; silent meditation is not my forte.

That being said, Meeting has been a productive time for me throughout my four years at Scattergood. 

Honestly, most Meetings I find myself bored and distracted. But once a month, sometimes more often I spend a meeting thinking deeply in a very enriching way.

None of these experiences involved clearing my mind, which I feel somewhat bad about admitting, since that is sort of the point of Collection. Instead, these have been catalyzed by quite the opposite, releasing my mind and letting it run anywhere. You know that point right before you fall asleep where you are semi-aware of your physical senses still, but your thoughts have taken on a surreal effect? That is what I strive for in Meetings. It turns out you don’t have to be on the verge of a nap to have those thoughts. I found success by simply imagining the randomest stuff I could. I abandon reality and think ephemerally about places that don’t exist, or people I’ll never meet. Sometimes I’ll think about a movie I saw a trailer for and picture what it is about. In outdoor meetings I look up at the sky and wonder if something is looking down at me. I don’t know, it’s crazy, but it feels nice. I think of Collection as a kind of limbo; silence doesn’t exist like that in reality. Movement ceases, which can make it seem like the world has stopped.

All that being said, I’m often bored still. And I never feel any closer to God or the world or community or whatever. But sometimes those random thoughts that enter my head give me a new perspective on my day, or life. So here’s my advice. Don’t worry if sitting in silence isn’t your coffee shop. It can still be productive or intriguing.

Captured Sincerely,

Sophie A. Wolf-Camplin
Class of 2014


---

What do you want to know about Quakerism? 

When I first heard the new school I was going to attend was a Quaker school, my reaction literally was: WOOOOAAAHH! What’s a Quaker? I did some research, but still didn’t quite understand what a Quaker is… I mean, I just read a Wikipedia site expecting to fulfill my knowledge. The phrasing might scare you, the whole situation might scare you. You are enrolling to a private Quaker boarding school. Don’t panic, that’s why this letter was written, for you the new probably international student to read. I will introduce you to some Quaker ideas, what to expect from it and some other facts you are going to encounter during your school year. 

  • Quaker ideals that are not that new to you:  Simplicity, integrity,peace, sense of community, equality and, social justice are some values/beliefs Quakers hold. You don’t need to have these values within your list. As a human you might have them (and you probably haven't even thought about it) and they mean something different to you than to someone else, but at Scattergood we embrace diversity, so feel free to express and live your values.  
  • What to expect from a Quaker school:  Don’t make a big deal about it. This school will surprise you. Don’t expect to be dragged slowly into the religion, not even. There is never going to be a “welcome to my religion, you have to follow it” kind of talk.  The community would introduce you to some values you must follow in order to respect the community you are going to be part of, but they will never tell you what to believe. Expect some unknown terms like consensus and George Fox, but anyone will be willing to explain what’s going on. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Expect to attend Meeting for Worship and collection. Expect to have weekly meetings with your classmates, your dorm members and the whole staff. You will find more things you are not probably used to, but you will even enjoy them at some point. 
  • Meeting for Worship and Collection? Student Meeting? What?:  Keep your head up, Meeting for Worship does not literally means you have to worship something while you are meeting with people or anything like that. Meeting for Worship is something Quakers do to approach the inner light each one of us has by remaining silent for about 45 minutes. When I knew what it was I freaked out. What in heaven am I going to do in 45 minutes IN COMPLETE SILENCE. Well, this 45 minutes are a good amount of time to challenge your beliefs, converse with yourself, listen to yourself, wonder in your mind and find out what do you have to say. You will be amazed. This span of time is really nice to discover your inner light, even if you call it another thing. Another major thing going on here at Scattergood are meetings. Issues that concern the community are discussed in these meetings and you are encouraged to speak up. You’ll figure it out what your voice is. 

I would love to go on with advice, but I want to leave some things for you to discover. Welcome to the Scattergood community and enjoy your journey. 

Sincerely,

Rosa Castro
Class of 2014

---

In conclusion, Scattergood can be a pretty confusing place. There are meetings, worship, values, and responsibilities, all on top of the normal stresses of school work and meeting people. Just remember that all of us have been where you are, confused and stressed about coming to a new place. We have your back and don’t mind taking time to explain something to you or giving you a break because you’re new. We hope that these letters have helped and that you are more excited about coming to Scattergood now. We look forward to seeing you on campus!


Sincerely,

Rachael, Charlotte, Esther, Sophie, Rosa, Alejandro, and all the other staff and students at Scattergood.

 

 

[safe_summary] => ) ) [#formatter] => text_default [0] => Array ( [#markup] =>

Scattergood's Quakerism II Class

A very common question from students and parents alike is, "I'm not a Quaker... what's it like to attend a Quaker school?  The Class of 2014 wrote this just for you as part of their Quakerism II class project.
 

---

Quakerism II: A Guide for New Students 

A Brief Introduction

Scattergood was founded in 1890 by Quaker pioneers who wanted to give their children a good education. It was originally an all-Quaker school but then evolved to include students of all faiths. The school is still under the Iowa Yearly Friends Meeting and includes Quaker values and practices in the school's daily life. Every morning except Thursday, the school gathers in the Meeting House for a fifteen-minute worship called Collection. On Thursdays, a forty-five minute Meeting for Worship is held in the afternoon. For both meetings, worship consists of students and staff sitting together in contemplative silence. If someone has something important on their mind or in their life they are welcome to stand up and share with the community, but most of the meeting is silent.

Quaker values are also present in the Scattergood community. We value equality, honesty, hard work, peace, simplicity, and integrity, and we work hard to bring those values into our daily lives. Students and staff participate in a work program that feeds and cleans the school. We go on Peace Walks every year, a nonviolent protest walk against war and violence. We support each other and value each other for our differences, and we can be a truly life-changing community. Every week, the students and staff meet separately to discuss any goings-on in the community that pertain particularly to students or staff. Community Meeting is where everyone meets together to talk about changes that will affect the whole community. Any suggestions made in any of these meetings, whether they come from students, staff, or both, are given weight in deciding on changes to how the school is run, allowing all members of the community to have a voice.

But what does this all mean for you, a new student? For many people, the idea of attending a religious boarding school can seem intimidating. As people from all backgrounds attend Scattergood, the incoming students have many different needs. To help address this, students have written about their religious and community experiences at Scattergood. It is our hope that these letters will give you good advice and information and help you transition more smoothly to the Scattergood life.

Rachael Lightstone
Class of 2014


---


To whomever might read this letter, 

My name is Esther. I am from Rwanda. I remember the first time I heard about Quakers, I was in Rwanda at the US embassy. I went there to ask for a visa and as I was answering some questions, the woman at the embassy asked me if I knew anything about Quakers. I answered no. It was a weird name, I thought, I had never heard about Quakers and it sounded like the name of some baby’s food in French. From that time I wondered, what were Quakers all about? I was kind of scared that they might not like me or the other way around. 

When I came to Scattergood, it was my first encounter with a Quaker community. Collection and Meeting for Worship didn't make sense to me. At first I would fall asleep almost every day. One day I decided to try out thinking about something so I could stay awake. It really helped me; I thought about my faith and how I would apply it during the day, I thought about my goals of the day or if I had fulfilled the goal I had yesterday. 

I am Christian and I felt like collection helped also spiritually. I sometimes would bring my bible and read a verse then meditate on the verse which really helped me grow spiritually. I feel like the Quaker ceremonies like Collection and Meeting for Worship are not a way to convert people but rather a way to help each one of us explore deeply our own beliefs and that is what I like about Quakerism here.

Sincerely,

Esther Keza
Class of 2014


---
 

Dear New Student,

Occasionally, in my years at Scattergood, I’ve heard students complain that it’s inappropriate for the schools to have mandatory ‘religious services’. Although I agree that proselityzing is inherently wrong, I think that, A, it’s not completely accurate to call a silent meeting or collection at Scattergood a “religious service”, and, B, this is a Quaker (you know, the religion?) school even if most of the community members might not identify as Quaker. 

Even though meeting for worship has the word worship in the title, there is no obligation to worship, whatever that means to you. Even if people give their own faith based take on life, as some might call it ‘ministry’, don’t feel pressured to adhere to their theological notions of life, but make sure to respect their notions. 

That doesn’t mean there won’t be uncomfortable grey areas- for instance, just last week I was in community meeting, sitting next to a staff member I know from personal conversation to be pretty firm atheist. The clerk of community meeting, as the current clerk is wont to do, asked for a 'moment of worship' before the meeting began, instead of a 'moment of silence.' The staff member inaudibly scoffed and sassily mouthed ‘Silence!’ I don’t know whether I think it’s right to overtly ask the community to worship in that setting, but I also don’t know that it’s wrong. Half the fun is in feeling out these grey areas!

Quaker process, tradition, and practice at Scattergood is reflected in many planes of life here. I won’t describe that- you’ll discover those things yourself! However, I just want to note to students with experience with Quaker practice that Quaker practice at Scattergood will probably be at least somewhat different from what you’ve experienced. Meetings at Scattergood will probably either have vastly more or less messages delivered, depending upon your meeting. Messages delivered will probably sound vastly different from what you’re used to. It’s easy to become snobby and say “no, this is how you do it.” However, that’s not the route to take. Scattergood, like any Quaker community, is a place with it’s own ever-changing brand of Quakerism, but it’s rooted in loving and supporting community members and seeking truth. Being a part of this living tradition, strengthened by the diversity of the largely non-Quaker background community, is a joyful and meaningful experience. 

Alejandro Rubinstein-Nadeau
Class of 2014


---


Dear non-Quaker Student,

Scattergood is in fact a Quaker school, imagine that? Some of you probably have never heard of the word 'Quaker' before looking at the school’s website which is okay, there will probably be a lot of you like that. If you come from a very different religious background, it may be difficult at first to understand Quaker worship, and that's okay too. It's a school, it's not supposed to be easy. Here are some things I wish I knew when I started out my freshman year.

  1. Quakers use a lot of acronyms (ex. IYM, FGC, NYM, BYM, etc.) Don't worry if you don't know what these mean, I'm not even sure half the Quaker students here do.
  2. At some point while you're here, people are going to talk about theology. You may be used to people challenging your beliefs, or you may not be. Either way, the most important thing is to know why you hold your beliefs and that it's okay to hold them even if they aren't popular. 
  3. At some point, someone might call you something you're not comfortable with. They might refer to you as a Friend, or group your religion into others you do not identify with. This is okay too. They do not realize what they are doing bothers you, just explain to them why you don't like the term they are using. If it doesn't bother you, then no need to worry.
  4. Because Scattergood uses consensus keeping with Quaker practice once a year there will be one Community Meeting that will never end. My friends and I refer to them in such loving terms as the snow shoveling incident of ‘11 and the locked door debacle of ‘12. The meeting will be over something completely ridiculous, and I do mean ridiculous. It will seem as though you are spending 4 hours talking about something that could be decided by the administration or voted on in less than 5 minutes. Too bad you decided to come to Scattergood then! Not actually, it is never really as bad as it seems, plus without these meetings you’ll never get to come up with names as cool as the locked door debacle of ‘12.
  5. Sometimes you won’t want to go to Meeting for Worship. That’s ok. You can skip if you really, really have to. But you should try to go anyway. It’s a part of going to a Quaker school. It’s not always that bad either. Having an open mind when you go to Meeting for Worship is important. If you decide you are going to hate it then you won’t be open to the awesome experience it can be. 
  6. My last tip is to always be open minded. Scattergood will change your views and rock your world and turn everything upside-down on itself. If you keep your mind open and willing then you are in for 4 (or 3,or 2...) crazy years. Keep your chin up and remember you’re here to learn everything you can and that at the end of the day there will always be people here to support you whether they are a staff member or a student and that you are not alone here.

I hope that these tips help you navigate the confusing world of being a new student at Scattergood.

Sincerely,

M. Charlotte Schiller
Class of 2014 


---


Dear New Student,

The culture I come from is a noisy one. I’m Jewish, which among other things means that my experience with religion has been full of singing, chanting in different languages, eating, dancing, and most importantly, arguing. I barely knew what I was getting myself into with the whole Quakerism thing, but my main understanding was that it involved a lot of silence. 

In the first Meeting I ever attended the thought: “This is not my scene”, entered my head. I looked around at all the Quakers sitting with perfect posture, a tranquil or intense look on their face. They seemed peaceful; stillness had penetrated them much more deeply than just not moving their lips. That first day, I found a respect for their experience of worship. But as I tried to clear my mind, all I could think about was the silence and how stifled it made me feel spiritually. I longed for a service of singing, speaking Hebrew, standing up, and dancing around the Torah. I will never be Quaker; silent meditation is not my forte.

That being said, Meeting has been a productive time for me throughout my four years at Scattergood. 

Honestly, most Meetings I find myself bored and distracted. But once a month, sometimes more often I spend a meeting thinking deeply in a very enriching way.

None of these experiences involved clearing my mind, which I feel somewhat bad about admitting, since that is sort of the point of Collection. Instead, these have been catalyzed by quite the opposite, releasing my mind and letting it run anywhere. You know that point right before you fall asleep where you are semi-aware of your physical senses still, but your thoughts have taken on a surreal effect? That is what I strive for in Meetings. It turns out you don’t have to be on the verge of a nap to have those thoughts. I found success by simply imagining the randomest stuff I could. I abandon reality and think ephemerally about places that don’t exist, or people I’ll never meet. Sometimes I’ll think about a movie I saw a trailer for and picture what it is about. In outdoor meetings I look up at the sky and wonder if something is looking down at me. I don’t know, it’s crazy, but it feels nice. I think of Collection as a kind of limbo; silence doesn’t exist like that in reality. Movement ceases, which can make it seem like the world has stopped.

All that being said, I’m often bored still. And I never feel any closer to God or the world or community or whatever. But sometimes those random thoughts that enter my head give me a new perspective on my day, or life. So here’s my advice. Don’t worry if sitting in silence isn’t your coffee shop. It can still be productive or intriguing.

Captured Sincerely,

Sophie A. Wolf-Camplin
Class of 2014


---

What do you want to know about Quakerism? 

When I first heard the new school I was going to attend was a Quaker school, my reaction literally was: WOOOOAAAHH! What’s a Quaker? I did some research, but still didn’t quite understand what a Quaker is… I mean, I just read a Wikipedia site expecting to fulfill my knowledge. The phrasing might scare you, the whole situation might scare you. You are enrolling to a private Quaker boarding school. Don’t panic, that’s why this letter was written, for you the new probably international student to read. I will introduce you to some Quaker ideas, what to expect from it and some other facts you are going to encounter during your school year. 

  • Quaker ideals that are not that new to you:  Simplicity, integrity,peace, sense of community, equality and, social justice are some values/beliefs Quakers hold. You don’t need to have these values within your list. As a human you might have them (and you probably haven't even thought about it) and they mean something different to you than to someone else, but at Scattergood we embrace diversity, so feel free to express and live your values.  
  • What to expect from a Quaker school:  Don’t make a big deal about it. This school will surprise you. Don’t expect to be dragged slowly into the religion, not even. There is never going to be a “welcome to my religion, you have to follow it” kind of talk.  The community would introduce you to some values you must follow in order to respect the community you are going to be part of, but they will never tell you what to believe. Expect some unknown terms like consensus and George Fox, but anyone will be willing to explain what’s going on. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Expect to attend Meeting for Worship and collection. Expect to have weekly meetings with your classmates, your dorm members and the whole staff. You will find more things you are not probably used to, but you will even enjoy them at some point. 
  • Meeting for Worship and Collection? Student Meeting? What?:  Keep your head up, Meeting for Worship does not literally means you have to worship something while you are meeting with people or anything like that. Meeting for Worship is something Quakers do to approach the inner light each one of us has by remaining silent for about 45 minutes. When I knew what it was I freaked out. What in heaven am I going to do in 45 minutes IN COMPLETE SILENCE. Well, this 45 minutes are a good amount of time to challenge your beliefs, converse with yourself, listen to yourself, wonder in your mind and find out what do you have to say. You will be amazed. This span of time is really nice to discover your inner light, even if you call it another thing. Another major thing going on here at Scattergood are meetings. Issues that concern the community are discussed in these meetings and you are encouraged to speak up. You’ll figure it out what your voice is. 

I would love to go on with advice, but I want to leave some things for you to discover. Welcome to the Scattergood community and enjoy your journey. 

Sincerely,

Rosa Castro
Class of 2014

---

In conclusion, Scattergood can be a pretty confusing place. There are meetings, worship, values, and responsibilities, all on top of the normal stresses of school work and meeting people. Just remember that all of us have been where you are, confused and stressed about coming to a new place. We have your back and don’t mind taking time to explain something to you or giving you a break because you’re new. We hope that these letters have helped and that you are more excited about coming to Scattergood now. We look forward to seeing you on campus!


Sincerely,

Rachael, Charlotte, Esther, Sophie, Rosa, Alejandro, and all the other staff and students at Scattergood.

 

 

) ) )

Scattergood's Quakerism II Class

A very common question from students and parents alike is, "I'm not a Quaker... what's it like to attend a Quaker school?  The Class of 2014 wrote this just for you as part of their Quakerism II class project.
 

---

Quakerism II: A Guide for New Students 

A Brief Introduction

Scattergood was founded in 1890 by Quaker pioneers who wanted to give their children a good education. It was originally an all-Quaker school but then evolved to include students of all faiths. The school is still under the Iowa Yearly Friends Meeting and includes Quaker values and practices in the school's daily life. Every morning except Thursday, the school gathers in the Meeting House for a fifteen-minute worship called Collection. On Thursdays, a forty-five minute Meeting for Worship is held in the afternoon. For both meetings, worship consists of students and staff sitting together in contemplative silence. If someone has something important on their mind or in their life they are welcome to stand up and share with the community, but most of the meeting is silent.

Quaker values are also present in the Scattergood community. We value equality, honesty, hard work, peace, simplicity, and integrity, and we work hard to bring those values into our daily lives. Students and staff participate in a work program that feeds and cleans the school. We go on Peace Walks every year, a nonviolent protest walk against war and violence. We support each other and value each other for our differences, and we can be a truly life-changing community. Every week, the students and staff meet separately to discuss any goings-on in the community that pertain particularly to students or staff. Community Meeting is where everyone meets together to talk about changes that will affect the whole community. Any suggestions made in any of these meetings, whether they come from students, staff, or both, are given weight in deciding on changes to how the school is run, allowing all members of the community to have a voice.

But what does this all mean for you, a new student? For many people, the idea of attending a religious boarding school can seem intimidating. As people from all backgrounds attend Scattergood, the incoming students have many different needs. To help address this, students have written about their religious and community experiences at Scattergood. It is our hope that these letters will give you good advice and information and help you transition more smoothly to the Scattergood life.

Rachael Lightstone
Class of 2014


---


To whomever might read this letter, 

My name is Esther. I am from Rwanda. I remember the first time I heard about Quakers, I was in Rwanda at the US embassy. I went there to ask for a visa and as I was answering some questions, the woman at the embassy asked me if I knew anything about Quakers. I answered no. It was a weird name, I thought, I had never heard about Quakers and it sounded like the name of some baby’s food in French. From that time I wondered, what were Quakers all about? I was kind of scared that they might not like me or the other way around. 

When I came to Scattergood, it was my first encounter with a Quaker community. Collection and Meeting for Worship didn't make sense to me. At first I would fall asleep almost every day. One day I decided to try out thinking about something so I could stay awake. It really helped me; I thought about my faith and how I would apply it during the day, I thought about my goals of the day or if I had fulfilled the goal I had yesterday. 

I am Christian and I felt like collection helped also spiritually. I sometimes would bring my bible and read a verse then meditate on the verse which really helped me grow spiritually. I feel like the Quaker ceremonies like Collection and Meeting for Worship are not a way to convert people but rather a way to help each one of us explore deeply our own beliefs and that is what I like about Quakerism here.

Sincerely,

Esther Keza
Class of 2014


---
 

Dear New Student,

Occasionally, in my years at Scattergood, I’ve heard students complain that it’s inappropriate for the schools to have mandatory ‘religious services’. Although I agree that proselityzing is inherently wrong, I think that, A, it’s not completely accurate to call a silent meeting or collection at Scattergood a “religious service”, and, B, this is a Quaker (you know, the religion?) school even if most of the community members might not identify as Quaker. 

Even though meeting for worship has the word worship in the title, there is no obligation to worship, whatever that means to you. Even if people give their own faith based take on life, as some might call it ‘ministry’, don’t feel pressured to adhere to their theological notions of life, but make sure to respect their notions. 

That doesn’t mean there won’t be uncomfortable grey areas- for instance, just last week I was in community meeting, sitting next to a staff member I know from personal conversation to be pretty firm atheist. The clerk of community meeting, as the current clerk is wont to do, asked for a 'moment of worship' before the meeting began, instead of a 'moment of silence.' The staff member inaudibly scoffed and sassily mouthed ‘Silence!’ I don’t know whether I think it’s right to overtly ask the community to worship in that setting, but I also don’t know that it’s wrong. Half the fun is in feeling out these grey areas!

Quaker process, tradition, and practice at Scattergood is reflected in many planes of life here. I won’t describe that- you’ll discover those things yourself! However, I just want to note to students with experience with Quaker practice that Quaker practice at Scattergood will probably be at least somewhat different from what you’ve experienced. Meetings at Scattergood will probably either have vastly more or less messages delivered, depending upon your meeting. Messages delivered will probably sound vastly different from what you’re used to. It’s easy to become snobby and say “no, this is how you do it.” However, that’s not the route to take. Scattergood, like any Quaker community, is a place with it’s own ever-changing brand of Quakerism, but it’s rooted in loving and supporting community members and seeking truth. Being a part of this living tradition, strengthened by the diversity of the largely non-Quaker background community, is a joyful and meaningful experience. 

Alejandro Rubinstein-Nadeau
Class of 2014


---


Dear non-Quaker Student,

Scattergood is in fact a Quaker school, imagine that? Some of you probably have never heard of the word 'Quaker' before looking at the school’s website which is okay, there will probably be a lot of you like that. If you come from a very different religious background, it may be difficult at first to understand Quaker worship, and that's okay too. It's a school, it's not supposed to be easy. Here are some things I wish I knew when I started out my freshman year.

  1. Quakers use a lot of acronyms (ex. IYM, FGC, NYM, BYM, etc.) Don't worry if you don't know what these mean, I'm not even sure half the Quaker students here do.
  2. At some point while you're here, people are going to talk about theology. You may be used to people challenging your beliefs, or you may not be. Either way, the most important thing is to know why you hold your beliefs and that it's okay to hold them even if they aren't popular. 
  3. At some point, someone might call you something you're not comfortable with. They might refer to you as a Friend, or group your religion into others you do not identify with. This is okay too. They do not realize what they are doing bothers you, just explain to them why you don't like the term they are using. If it doesn't bother you, then no need to worry.
  4. Because Scattergood uses consensus keeping with Quaker practice once a year there will be one Community Meeting that will never end. My friends and I refer to them in such loving terms as the snow shoveling incident of ‘11 and the locked door debacle of ‘12. The meeting will be over something completely ridiculous, and I do mean ridiculous. It will seem as though you are spending 4 hours talking about something that could be decided by the administration or voted on in less than 5 minutes. Too bad you decided to come to Scattergood then! Not actually, it is never really as bad as it seems, plus without these meetings you’ll never get to come up with names as cool as the locked door debacle of ‘12.
  5. Sometimes you won’t want to go to Meeting for Worship. That’s ok. You can skip if you really, really have to. But you should try to go anyway. It’s a part of going to a Quaker school. It’s not always that bad either. Having an open mind when you go to Meeting for Worship is important. If you decide you are going to hate it then you won’t be open to the awesome experience it can be. 
  6. My last tip is to always be open minded. Scattergood will change your views and rock your world and turn everything upside-down on itself. If you keep your mind open and willing then you are in for 4 (or 3,or 2...) crazy years. Keep your chin up and remember you’re here to learn everything you can and that at the end of the day there will always be people here to support you whether they are a staff member or a student and that you are not alone here.

I hope that these tips help you navigate the confusing world of being a new student at Scattergood.

Sincerely,

M. Charlotte Schiller
Class of 2014 


---


Dear New Student,

The culture I come from is a noisy one. I’m Jewish, which among other things means that my experience with religion has been full of singing, chanting in different languages, eating, dancing, and most importantly, arguing. I barely knew what I was getting myself into with the whole Quakerism thing, but my main understanding was that it involved a lot of silence. 

In the first Meeting I ever attended the thought: “This is not my scene”, entered my head. I looked around at all the Quakers sitting with perfect posture, a tranquil or intense look on their face. They seemed peaceful; stillness had penetrated them much more deeply than just not moving their lips. That first day, I found a respect for their experience of worship. But as I tried to clear my mind, all I could think about was the silence and how stifled it made me feel spiritually. I longed for a service of singing, speaking Hebrew, standing up, and dancing around the Torah. I will never be Quaker; silent meditation is not my forte.

That being said, Meeting has been a productive time for me throughout my four years at Scattergood. 

Honestly, most Meetings I find myself bored and distracted. But once a month, sometimes more often I spend a meeting thinking deeply in a very enriching way.

None of these experiences involved clearing my mind, which I feel somewhat bad about admitting, since that is sort of the point of Collection. Instead, these have been catalyzed by quite the opposite, releasing my mind and letting it run anywhere. You know that point right before you fall asleep where you are semi-aware of your physical senses still, but your thoughts have taken on a surreal effect? That is what I strive for in Meetings. It turns out you don’t have to be on the verge of a nap to have those thoughts. I found success by simply imagining the randomest stuff I could. I abandon reality and think ephemerally about places that don’t exist, or people I’ll never meet. Sometimes I’ll think about a movie I saw a trailer for and picture what it is about. In outdoor meetings I look up at the sky and wonder if something is looking down at me. I don’t know, it’s crazy, but it feels nice. I think of Collection as a kind of limbo; silence doesn’t exist like that in reality. Movement ceases, which can make it seem like the world has stopped.

All that being said, I’m often bored still. And I never feel any closer to God or the world or community or whatever. But sometimes those random thoughts that enter my head give me a new perspective on my day, or life. So here’s my advice. Don’t worry if sitting in silence isn’t your coffee shop. It can still be productive or intriguing.

Captured Sincerely,

Sophie A. Wolf-Camplin
Class of 2014


---

What do you want to know about Quakerism? 

When I first heard the new school I was going to attend was a Quaker school, my reaction literally was: WOOOOAAAHH! What’s a Quaker? I did some research, but still didn’t quite understand what a Quaker is… I mean, I just read a Wikipedia site expecting to fulfill my knowledge. The phrasing might scare you, the whole situation might scare you. You are enrolling to a private Quaker boarding school. Don’t panic, that’s why this letter was written, for you the new probably international student to read. I will introduce you to some Quaker ideas, what to expect from it and some other facts you are going to encounter during your school year. 

  • Quaker ideals that are not that new to you:  Simplicity, integrity,peace, sense of community, equality and, social justice are some values/beliefs Quakers hold. You don’t need to have these values within your list. As a human you might have them (and you probably haven't even thought about it) and they mean something different to you than to someone else, but at Scattergood we embrace diversity, so feel free to express and live your values.  
  • What to expect from a Quaker school:  Don’t make a big deal about it. This school will surprise you. Don’t expect to be dragged slowly into the religion, not even. There is never going to be a “welcome to my religion, you have to follow it” kind of talk.  The community would introduce you to some values you must follow in order to respect the community you are going to be part of, but they will never tell you what to believe. Expect some unknown terms like consensus and George Fox, but anyone will be willing to explain what’s going on. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Expect to attend Meeting for Worship and collection. Expect to have weekly meetings with your classmates, your dorm members and the whole staff. You will find more things you are not probably used to, but you will even enjoy them at some point. 
  • Meeting for Worship and Collection? Student Meeting? What?:  Keep your head up, Meeting for Worship does not literally means you have to worship something while you are meeting with people or anything like that. Meeting for Worship is something Quakers do to approach the inner light each one of us has by remaining silent for about 45 minutes. When I knew what it was I freaked out. What in heaven am I going to do in 45 minutes IN COMPLETE SILENCE. Well, this 45 minutes are a good amount of time to challenge your beliefs, converse with yourself, listen to yourself, wonder in your mind and find out what do you have to say. You will be amazed. This span of time is really nice to discover your inner light, even if you call it another thing. Another major thing going on here at Scattergood are meetings. Issues that concern the community are discussed in these meetings and you are encouraged to speak up. You’ll figure it out what your voice is. 

I would love to go on with advice, but I want to leave some things for you to discover. Welcome to the Scattergood community and enjoy your journey. 

Sincerely,

Rosa Castro
Class of 2014

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In conclusion, Scattergood can be a pretty confusing place. There are meetings, worship, values, and responsibilities, all on top of the normal stresses of school work and meeting people. Just remember that all of us have been where you are, confused and stressed about coming to a new place. We have your back and don’t mind taking time to explain something to you or giving you a break because you’re new. We hope that these letters have helped and that you are more excited about coming to Scattergood now. We look forward to seeing you on campus!


Sincerely,

Rachael, Charlotte, Esther, Sophie, Rosa, Alejandro, and all the other staff and students at Scattergood.