A Day in the Life
Every school offers academic classes, dedicated teachers, classrooms and gym floors, soccer fields and locker rooms. Tandem Friends is no different in those respects.
What sets Tandem Friends apart from the rest is the amazing sense of community that exists between faculty and students, faculty and parents, the school and the many organizations our community service projects touch, between faculty coworkers. You can feel it the minute you set foot on campus - a sense of caring kindness and connections to one another.
Tandem is also unique in many of the facets of the Friends education we provide, such as service learning and community service, environmental stewardship, diversity, a celebrated summer arts program, and a strong and democratic student government. There are also many special projects and special days that are 'uniquely Tandem,' cherished traditions that every student values and remembers forever.
Morning Meeting starts out every school day at 8:30AM, with Middle Schoolers and Middle School faculty meeting in the Middle School Meeting Room, and Upper Schoolers and Upper School faculty meeting in the Community Hall. Morning Meeting begins with a few moments of settling silence, then meeting leaders call on those who have announcements to make. Morning Meeting provides daily connection to community, an opportunity to find out about the day's events, and an open forum for those who have announcements to share.
In a typical Middle School Morning Meeting, an 8th grader acts as meeting leader, ringing a bell to start the meeting, ending the settling silence, and calling on any adult or student who has an announcement to make. Teachers explain any changes to the day's schedule, students announce birthdays, share concerns, mention athletic game outcomes, and announce community related events or concerns.
Seniors run each Upper School Morning Meeting, beginning and ending the silence and calling on anyone who has an announcement to make. As in the Middle School meeting, students and faculty share announcements about schedules, games, practices, birthdays, announcements, concerns, opinions and community issues. Seniors happily share college acceptance news with their peers.
Students are expected to be on time and mentally present at Morning Meeting.
Classes begin right after Morning Meeting and every day's schedule is different in order to allow all classes to meet a minimum of four times per week. Ten-minute morning breaks are held every morning but Wednesdays. Advisory is held on Mondays, and Meeting for Worship and Speaker's Series are held on Wednesdays.
Click here to see the Daily Schedule
Click here to see the 2-Hour Delay Schedule
Take a stroll on the quad during a sunny lunchtime, and you will find students and faculty eating together, taking the time to understand an assignment or finish a conversation in class that sparked interest. Parents volunteer in the lunchroom, getting to know each student by name. In the lobby, a group of sixth graders might be eating lunch together, chatting with nearby adults. Faculty friends share a bench and a lunchtime talk. It's not unusual to find Tandem alums dropping in, seeking out favorite teachers to share what's new in their lives. A guitar and a fiddle might strike up a tune, or an electric guitar and some drums. Each small cluster of friends knows that they are part of the much larger community of learners that is Tandem - students, faculty, parents, alums, and friends.
The role that students and faculty play in maintaining the buildings and grounds at Tandem is one of the school’s oldest and finest traditions, that of all members of the community working together to keep the school clean and organized. The spirit that moves students to take care of their school is renewed by the work they perform; every sweep of a broom signifies a commitment to a community whose benefits far outweigh those of a clean floor.
Maintenance and upkeep of the facility is primarily the responsibility of the faculty and student body. The Plant and Grounds Crew handles repairs that are beyond the scope of the student’s abilities; most cleaning duties are assumed by student work teams. This program is extremely important to the well being of the community.
Fifth grade students are responsible for cleaning their classrooms under the supervision of their teacher. The rest of the school buildings and grounds are divided into distinct areas, with a work crew responsible for each. The work crews are composed of students in 6th through 12th grades. As crew leaders, seniors are provided an ideal and challenging leadership opportunity. Faculty members serve as work crew advisors and participate to the fullest extent possible.
All students in grades six through twelve have a work obligation of 85 days (approximately one-half of the school year). The year is divided into quarters and students are assigned to a work crew every-other quarter. All work is performed after school from 3:30 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. Students who have athletic games that interfere arrange to perform their portion of work crew during lunch.
Tandem practices a 'no-cut' sports policy; students who wish to play on a (grade appropriate) team become part of that team. There is no tryout process, and no cuts are made during the season. Players who expect to have play time attend practices responsibly and show dedication to the team. Our no-cut sports policy gives students the freedom to try different sports or play multiple sports during the school year.
Tandem's coaches mentor sportsmanship and kindness on and off the field; players are expected to do the same.
Tandem's Upper School teams participate in the Delaney Athletic Conference under VISAA Division II. Middle School athletes compete against a more localized network of teams.
Click here for a list of sports program highlights of recent years...
Tandem students can choose to participate in a number of extracurricular activities:
- Upper School Drama rehearsals, directed by Upper School drama teacher Larry Goldstein, take place after school in the Community Hall. The Upper School puts on a musical in the fall, one-act plays in January, and a drama or comedy in the spring. Auditions are open to all Upper Schoolers; 8th graders are frequently allowed to participate in the one-act plays as well.
- Model United Nations, led by faculty mentor Harold Mock, meets throughout the year to prepare for regional and state events. Upper Schhol students are invited to participate. Last year's Tandem team received numerous awards and accolades.
- The Quaker Notes, our community a capella singing group, rehearses at 7:30am on Wednesdays. The group is led by Middle School drama teacher Lydia Horan, and consists of students, faculty, and Tandem parents. The Quaker Notes is open to the Tandem community; the group performs in school concerts and events like Tandemonium and the Mother's Day Music Festival. All are welcome.
- Film Club, led by Middle School drama teacher Lydia Horan, meets on Mondays after school in our digital film lab, complete with 10 state-of-the-art iMac computers and software such as iStopMotion, Final Cut Pro and iMovie. Film Club members make and discuss films, watch films together, and learn filmmaking techniques.
- Fencing Club, a club sports team open to all ages, practices once a week at the Charlottesville Fencing Alliance and competes in meets throughout the year.
- Mountain Biking Club, a club sports team open to all ages, rides and participates in races in the Spring under the guidance of coach Joe Doherty.
Learning is a cooperative venture at Tandem; the intellectual curiosity of students is paired with an academically distinguished faculty. All students have opportunities to stretch their intellectual capacities and may expect to be fully challenged by their teachers.
But there is a difference. Learning at Tandem is a dynamic process of questioning and dialogue, not simply memorization and reiteration. Teachers impart information, but they also invite a sense of authorship in their students. Classroom discussions are modeled on the Socratic method, encouraging active thinking, listening, and articulation. Teachers constantly challenge students to realize their intellectual potential.
This close collaboration, paired with our small class sizes, builds strong relationships between teacher and students. Students at Tandem are not just seen and heard, they are understood and acknowledged by their teachers.
The Middle School enjoys four Middle School dances, planned by the 8th grade with faculty supervision. Middle Schoolers from other independent schools are invited, with a small entry fee is usually waived if canned food donations are contributed. The dances are supervised by faculty, with music and a snack sale organized by the 8th graders.
The 8th grade holds an 8th Grade Dinner Dance just before graduation - a dress-up, sit-down dinner followed by a dance and a movie. This much-anticipated event is organized and funded by the 8th grade, with assistance from faculty and parents. Volunteer 7th graders serve as the wait staff for this memorable evening.
The Upper School usually holds several dances during the year, sponsored and run by the Student Senate. Some years, a holiday season 'Holly Ball' is held; students learn ballroom dances at this fancier evening dance. Tandem does not hold a prom.
“Freedom with Responsibility” is an ideal simple to express, but difficult in practice. Freedom in an educational setting allows for the growth of the individual in ways often unforeseen by both adults and students. This unpredictable quality is the source of much of the excitement and joy in Tandem’s approach to education. Students at Tandem Friends learn that freedom is extended in a direct relationship to responsibility. Responsible freedom is not merely permissive. We require students to consider the consequences of their actions, not just for themselves but for their fellow students, their teachers, and the school itself.
“Kindness and Wisdom” reflects the Friends belief that the Inner Light of Wisdom exists within each human being. When we seek and then express that Wisdom, it is manifested as kindness towards others.
Several grades also participate in life-altering “Service Trips.” These two to four-day events combine community-building time as a class, subject area education, and actual service in the larger community.
- 7th and 8th graders, on separate trips by grade, travel by train for two nights to Washington, DC, sharing simple accomodations at a local church where they cook their meals together. They enjoy a full day of hands-on history and humanities that relates to their current studies at area museums and historic sites. Under the guidance of YSOP, a Quaker youth services organization that gives students experience in large city social agencies that serve the homeless and the poor, students perform a full day of service for DC-area organizations that serve the homeless and the elderly. On one of the evenings there, they cook and serve a dinner to a group of homeless people, some of whom share their stories of homelessness with the class.
- 10th graders travel by train for four days to New York City, sharing simple accomodations at a downtown Manhattan church. Under the guidance of YSOP, a Quaker youth services organization that gives students experience in large city social agencies that serve the homeless and the poor, students perform up to two full days of service for NYC-area organizations that serve the homeless. They work preparing food in the kitchens, serving meals in homeless shelters, working in clothing lending closets and more. On one of the evenings there, they cook and serve a dinner to a group of homeless people. The students tour the United Nations one day, visit Ground Zero, and spend a meaningful morning learning from Human Rights Watch.
Contact David Slezak for information on service learning trips.
Though not all service related, every other grade participates in grade trips/activities associated with academic and advisory goals:
- 5th graders camp overnight at Sugar Hollow and study natural habitats and water resources.
- 6th graders take a two-night trip to West Virginia to the Radio Astronomy site and observatory as the culmination of their study of the stars.
- 9th graders spend a day away from school performing class-building activities such as ropes course work.
- 11th graders travel for two days to Philadelphia to supplement their American history studies and to explore the roots of Quakerism in America.
- 12th graders spend a full day in Washington, DC to supplement their Government studies.
Occasionally, as the need arises, all Upper School students and faculty gather to address any issues of concern raised by a member of the community. These gatherings, run by the Student Senate, are called Open Meetings and they are one of the cornerstones of the ideals upon which Tandem Friends was based. The entire group sits down to discuss policy, resolve disputes, or air differences of opinion. The school's founders set up this method as a way to "foster the ideal of reasonable behavior arrived at reasonably."