Few schools can foster a sense of community in this way Scattergood Friends School Has since 1890. Today it continues to teach the principles of Quakerism – simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and responsibility – to contribute to the intellectual, physical, and spiritual development of its learners. Here you are free to be yourself as you discover who you want to be.
Just ask 12NS Grader Cecilia Clark. The transition from online learning due to COVID-19 to on-campus learning was initially challenging for the 17-year-old, but with Scattergood’s welcoming environment, adapting to school became a seamless process.
âI’ve started to make friends and finally understand the ins and outs of this great school,â she says. “Understanding why and how school integrates Quakerism into everyday life has helped me calm my fears and ease my anxiety.”
Located in rural West Branch, Iowa, Scattergood provides the perfect setting for students to discover themselves. It’s a bold place, an all-gender, all-inclusive, quaint school with small college prep classrooms for in-depth conversations. Core classes include English, social studies, math, and foreign languages. Each is progressive and experiential in its own unique way.
Stroll around its healthy campus and you will witness the school’s strong connection to nature, which offers students an ideal setting for self-discovery. Likewise, Clark’s enthusiasm for ways to interact with nature is palpable. This nature lover town girl thanks the Flower Power class – located at Scattergood Farm just a 20 minute walk from campus – for opening their eyes to the natural wonders of the world.
âIt’s very different from anything I’ve seen in any of my other schools,â she says. “Thanks to the Scattergood Farm, my colleagues and I can interact with nature as a lesson.”
Students can choose how much or how little time they spend enjoying this outdoor interaction. Regardless, Scattergood Farm ââ offers over 140 varieties of certified organic fruits and vegetables and breeds around 200 animals annually ââ is open to everyone.
Some students are content to devote only a few days a year to environmental education. Others prefer to be fully immersed in farm life by getting involved in original scientific research projects, enrolling in advanced Farm Project classes, or volunteering whenever their schedule allows. Scattergood’s interdisciplinary Farm Term is a three week program that starts any academic calendar on a high level.
âDuring the Farm Term, each student only has one hour in the morning. Students can choose which class to take, âexplains Dana Foster, science, health and agriculture teacher. “The interdisciplinary aspect of this course allows students to learn a variety of topics while focusing their learning on the farm.”
Pastoral poetry is one of Foster’s favorite sessions. It takes place in the school’s apple orchard overlooking a pasture. While breathing fresh air and taking mental snapshots of picturesque landscapes, students read classic pastoral poetry before learning to write their own stanzas. The course is a prime example of how Farm Term promotes not only practical farming skills, but also those related to the humanities, natural sciences and social studies.
The rest of Scattergood’s living laboratories to further complement an already solid learning experience. Scattergood Prairie extends over 26 acres and serves as a classroom during science classes and as a studio during art classes. As students assist the school’s faculty in the annual prairie burn to maintain the vitality of the grass, they learn the art of prairie management. Scattergood Pond and its small sandy beach are where to swim, find samples and specimens for biology classes, organize campfires and broom hockey games, or fish for catfish.
The May deadline classes are just as invigorating. âSome students go on three-week trips – into the wilderness, the United States, or Latin America – while other students stay on campus. The latter choose one specialty course that runs all morning and another in the afternoon, âexplains Foster.
Scattergoodians don’t have to wait until May to pack their bags. Excursions off campus are standard here and range from cross-country skiing in Camp du Nord to backpacking or kayaking in the Ozarks, hiking on the Appalachian Trail or Spanish trips to Costa Rica, Mexico, Bolivia or Honduras.
Service destinations included Su Casa (a shelter for displaced Latino families) on the south side of Chicago and Tillers International in Michigan (an organization focused on the international development of rural draft animal agriculture).
To graduate, students must do 30 hours of community service per year and be admitted to a four-year college or university. However, with Scattergood’s experience, impressing university admissions officers isn’t too much of a challenge.
âAll of our students have the opportunity to make a difference in the community,â says Foster. âWe have regular meetings where the students organize, hold and lead the necessary discussions. This gives them the opportunity to participate in group decisions and know that they are valued members of that community. “