Home / Supports the Main Line Parent Community  / Community Blog  / Five Things You Didn’t Know About Friends’ Central School

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Friends’ Central School

Learn more about the campus life, curriculum, and more at this Wynnewood area school with two campuses.

An outstanding Quaker, coeducational, Nursery – grade 12 college preparatory school, Friends’ Central has been around since 1845, and its name is familiar to many in the greater Philadelphia area. There are, however, some unique aspects of the school that may not be as well known. Below are five things you might not know about Friends’ Central.


1. A Distinguished Visiting Scholar Series brings Internationally Renowned Scholars to FCS.   

Each year, Friends’ Central brings renowned artists, scholars, and changemakers to campus for courses and public lectures. A core group of Friends’ Central students and teachers studies the work of the visitors in advance and participates in special classes and workshops both on campus and, in many cases, at the lecturer’s home institution. Over 100 Friends’ Central students take advantage of these unique opportunities to learn firsthand from artists and scholars of international stature.


In keeping with Friends’ Central’s belief in learning for all, each visitor offers an evening lecture that is free and open to the public! 



Past visitors have included Pulitzer-prize-winning playwright and educator James Ijames, theoretical cosmologist and Barnard College professor of physics and astronomy Dr. Janna Levin, and author and public health expert Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, whose research exposed the Flint, Michigan water crisis. 


The Distinguished Lecture series is integral to and typical of the intellectual rigor of a Friends’ Central education. In class and out, Friends’ Central students are expected to ask questions rather than simply memorize, apply creative and critical thinking to problem-solving, listen to the group for greater wisdom, and express their thoughts clearly and with confidence.


2. STEM Starts Early!

From Nursery to 12th grade, Friends’ Central students are engaged in hands-on, experiential learning. Beginning with Nursery students programming tiny robots in one of our four, state-of-the-art maker spaces in the Lower School’s Ulmer Family Light Lab, to our Upper School robotics team making full use of our Center for Innovation and Design, STEM concepts are everywhere. These cutting-edge spaces put students squarely at the center of experiential learning and provide myriad opportunities for them to engage with tools and materials, making high-level, technologically advanced, and creative projects as part of classroom learning or, in many cases, as individual projects, driven by the students themselves.


3. Learning Aligned With Greater Purpose

Since 1845, Friends’ Central has educated empathetic students and instilled in them a desire to change the world for the better. In fact, in a recent survey, hundreds of alumni/ae from the 1930’s to now agreed that their Friends’ Central education is still a meaningful part of their lives. 


“The combination of academic preparation and Friends values I learned as a student has impacted my life, and so much of what I loved about Friends’ Central as a student remains true today.”
– Head of School Beth D. Johnson ’77


The School has a nine-member Department of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Justice dedicated to supporting, assisting, and enhancing Friends’ Central’s commitment to eliminating harmful bias and discrimination, closing opportunity gaps, and advancing critical conversations and initiatives that promote inclusivity, equity, and social justice on campus and beyond.


Community service is an integral part of Friends’ Central’s identity, culture, and tradition. The School’s service program teaches a real-world understanding of social justice issues and challenges stereotypes existing within us. Many service projects bring students into contact with people and situations they might not often encounter – in hospitals, soup kitchens, legal aid organizations, and nursing homes. It is not enough simply to learn about service in the classroom; Friends’ Central believes that values must be lived. 


“I believe deeply in the significance and impact that Quaker education can have on students, faculty and staff, families, and alumni/ae. The faith and practice of Friends imbue all community members with an appreciation of and a desire for justice, equity, and peace, values which are especially important in today’s society.” – Lee Payton, Upper School Principal


4. Illustrious Alumni/ae 

The results of a Friends’ Central education are lifelong. FCS graduates pursue their passions at top colleges and universities. Alumni/ae report that they are well prepared to excel academically, to lead, and to problem solve. You’ll find Friends’ Central alumni/ae at the top of an incredible range of fields, from the arts and literature to science, engineering, and sustainability. Friends’ Central alumni/ae include two-time Nobel Prize winner K. Barry Sharpless; current member of the Atlanta Hawks DeAndre Hunter; Oscar, Grammy, and Tony winner Benj Pasek; and actor Ana Nogueira. When Friends’ Central alumni/ae graduate into the world, they are simply extraordinary.  


As Head of School Beth D. Johnson often says, “Friends’ Central: it’s all about the people!”

“FCS has fantastic teachers, small classes, and a faculty committed to a particular vision of education: ethical, creative, and empowering.” – FCS Alum


5. Two Campuses, One Arboretum

Friends’ Central’s Middle and Upper Schools are located across 28 beautiful acres on City Avenue in Wynnewood, maintained with sustainable and organic land management techniques. And the campus is officially an arboretum. Along with its many trees, the City Avenue campus boasts a dedicated nature trail and a pollinator garden. Guided by Friends’ Central science teachers, students in the Upper School have the opportunity to engage in advanced-level scientific research into native plant and insect life in these unique outdoor spaces. Service projects around sustainable gardening also connect students directly with the campus’s natural environment. 

The 18-acre Lower School campus on Old Gulph Road in Wynnewood provides students in Nursery through grade 5 with incredible opportunities for intellectual engagement, with facilities including an organic garden with chickens, nature trails, a bird bind, and a pond – all of which serve as outdoor classrooms rich with learning opportunities that also instill an understanding of environmental stewardship and our connection to the Earth. 



Discover Friends’ Central for yourself at a Spring 2023 Admissions Event:

    • Lower School Spring Open House: Tuesday, March 7, 9:30 am
      229 Old Gulph Road, Wynnewood, PA (Nursery-Grade 5) • Register here 
    • Middle School: Racing Robots Engineering & Design Workshop
      Saturday, March 11, 2 pm
      1101 City Avenue, Wynnewood, PA (Grades 6-8) • Register here 
  • Lower School Spring Open House: Saturday, April 15, 9:30 am

229 Old Gulph Road, Wynnewood, PA (Nursery-Grade 5) • Register here 

    • Middle School: Team Up with FCS Athletics
      Saturday, April 15, 2 pm
      1101 City Avenue, Wynnewood, PA (Grades 6-8) • Register here 
  • Middle & Upper School Spring Open House: Tuesday, April 18, 9:00 am

1101 City Avenue, Wynnewood, PA (Grades 6-12) • Register here 

  • Middle School: Cooking in the FCS Teaching Kitchen
    Saturday, May 6, 2 pm
    1101 City Avenue, Wynnewood, PA (Grades 6-8) • Register here   


2022-2023 Distinguished Visiting Lecturers (Free & open to the public, but registration required):

  • 2023 Distinguished Visiting Humanities Lecturer Patrick Rosal: Monday, March 20, 7:00 pm
    1101 City Avenue, Wynnewood, PA • Register here 
  • 2023 Distinguished Visiting Scientist Edith Widder: Wednesday, April 12, 7:00 pm
    1101 City Avenue, Wynnewood, PA • Register here 


Friends’ Central School is a coeducational, college-preparatory, Quaker school offering an outstanding independent school education to students in nursery through grade 12. Located on 41 acres across two campuses in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, Friends’ Central cultivates the intellectual, spiritual, and ethical promise of students. In every grade, students are encouraged to think for themselves and to find the courage to voice their opinions while understanding the importance of respectfully agreeing and disagreeing with one another in their quest for discovery. The results of a Friends’ Central education are lifelong. Their graduates pursue their passions at top colleges and universities. Alumni/ae report that they are well prepared to excel academically, to lead, and to problem solve. And, when Friends’ Central alumni/ae graduate into the world, they are simply extraordinary.