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Quaker growth: Brooklyn Friends School expands Downtown • Brooklyn Paper

Quaker growth: Brooklyn Friends School expands Downtown

Before it was cool: Brooklyn Friends School has been in the neighborhood for nearly 150 years, and is set to keep its residency going with a new campus in MetroTech Center.
Brooklyn Friends School / FXFOWLE

This circle of friends is getting bigger.

Brooklyn Friends School, a 147-year-old school run by Quakers, is getting some new digs in Downtown’s MetroTech Center. After a traditional Quaker moment of silence at a ceremonial ground-breaking on Wednesday, Bob Bowman, headmaster of the institution’s 9th–12th grade “upper school,” said it was time to celebrate.

“My uncle By Poo used to say that there are certain times for hootin’ and hollerin’ — and this is one of them,” Bowman said at an announcement inside the new location on Lawrence Street between the Myrtle Avenue Promenade and Willoughby Street.

The religious sect founded the school on Schermerhorn Street back in 1867, with just 17 students in its first class. Today, the school has its main campus on Pearl Street and a temporary location on Willoughby Street, near Jay Street, enrolling 800 students from prekindergarten–12th grade. The school hopes to complete its $40 million MetroTech expansion in time for the 2015 school year. One Friends senior said she is proud of her school’s growth.

“It’s a recognition of all the great work that the teachers have been doing here,” Eve Bromberg said. “And it legitimizes the school’s academic prowess.”

The renovated building interior is set to house classrooms for 240 high schoolers on three floors, featuring science labs, art studios, music classrooms, a dance studio, and a fitness center, among other amenities. Administrators planned the new digs, which have been in the works for nearly a decade, with a lot of input from teachers, the school’s headmaster said.

What rooms may come: The $40 million high school is supposed to become home to 240 high-school students on three floors.
Brooklyn Friends School / FXFOWLE

“This was truly a collaborative effort,” Larry Weiss said. “Teachers really got to contribute to what we finally see here.”

Staying in the neighborhood is important to students and faculty, the student council president said.

“We’re in the heart of Brooklyn, one of the most diverse cities in the world,” said prez and senior Airenakhue Omoragbon. “It’s a testament to our school’s values.”

Borough President Adams was also on hand for the ceremony. He said he remembers being a cop in the neighborhood and coming to Sid’s Hardware, the store that occupied the new Friends spot for nearly 30 years until it closed in 2010.

“Now it’s going to give kids the tools and supplies they need,” he said.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperl‌man@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Lab’s tops: The Friends School expansion is slated to include laboratory classrooms like this one.
Brooklyn Friends School / FXFOWLE

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