Message from Chad

The End of an Era

Posted by: Julie Okoniewski on Friday, June 26, 2020

While Oakwood Friends School has witnessed many changes over the last decades, there remains several constants. Along with mission and culture and sense of community, two other constants have greeted us every year since 1984 - Bill and Nancy Doolittle. For 36 years Bill and Nancy have engaged in virtually every aspect of the Oakwood community. This July they will begin a new chapter as they retire and move to Maine, close to their children and grandchildren.

A Graduation Like None Other

Posted by: Julie Okoniewski on Saturday, June 20, 2020

As Oakwood prepared for our 224th graduation (and our 1st virtual commencement!) last Friday, some things stayed the same. Thanks to longtime faculty member Chris Galschjodt, early morning music played under the Copper Beech graduation tree even though the graduates could not be there in person.  For the last few decades, when we hear Bonnie Raitt '67 playing in the early hours of graduation day... we know it is time to celebrate our seniors!

Reflections and Resources During Turbulent Times

Posted by: Chad Cianfrani on Thursday, June 4, 2020

During the last week of classes Oakwood held a special Candlelight Vigil and Silent Meeting to make space for students, faculty and families to collectively process the recent incidents of racial violence in our country. While we couldn't be together in the Meeting Room, we shared in powerful silence from our homes, near and far. 

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the anger and hurt and pain many members of our community are experiencing this week. Once again, we are confronted with the very real impact that systemic racism has on Black America. While this has been reported with increased frequency these last weeks, it is a reality many members of our community must deal with every single day.

The Oakwood Community

Posted by: Chad Cianfrani, Head of School on Monday, March 23, 2020

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Oakwood Friends School has a 224-year tradition of leaning into uncertainty, building community, and supporting a diverse population. While necessity drives us to physically distance ourselves this Spring, we are exploring multiple ways to shorten the gap between us academically, socially, and emotionally. Oakwood’s faculty and families are creative, thoughtful, nimble and resilient. A true community of learners - we prepare students from around the Hudson Valley and around the globe for lives of consequence and meaning. If there is anything you would like to discuss, please feel free to reach out to me directly at ccianfrani@oakwoodfriends.org, or (845) 462-4200, Ext. 332.

Over the last several weeks I have witnessed the best in family, friends, students, faculty and parents. What is being asked from each of us right now is immense. The support, care, and response within our community has been immense in equal measure. Families are adjusting to prolonged school, office, and business closings. Teachers are creating and adapting online learning curriculum, and our community is exploring digital ‘meet-ups’ to support each other socially, emotionally and spiritually.

Connections

Posted by: Chad Cianfrani, Head of School on Friday, February 21, 2020

Several years ago, a science historian, James Burke, wrote a series of pieces on connections.  Seemingly disparate thoughts, inventions, and ideas build upon each other, connecting across time and experience. Within our Oakwood community, I see these connections inform and strengthen our program from the arrival of the newest 6th graders through graduation and the decades beyond.

A Sustainable Future

Posted by: Chad Cianfrani, Head of School on Thursday, August 22, 2019
Chad Cianfrani at the dedication of the campus solar array

As a young child, I distinctly remember my father following me around the house turning lights off. By the age of seven, I could rattle off utility cost per kWh and the estimated lifecycle of the various incandescent bulbs illuminating our home. Whether it was getting produce from a modest home garden, heating our living room with a wood-burning stove, or having the entire house dark except the room currently occupied; there seemed to be an intersection between what is sustainable, what is good for the environment, and what yields measurable cost savings.

In Celebration of Charlie Butts

Posted by: Chad Cianfrani, Head of School on Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Coach, Colleague, Teacher, Mentor, Friend:
1981 - 2019


We are immensely grateful for the time we were given with Charlie and for all he gave to Oakwood. We are also immensely saddened by his passing on August 10th, due to complications from a planned surgery.

A Day in the Life of the Middle School

Posted by: Chad Cianfrani - Head of School on Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Basketball at Oakwood Friends Middle School

Early this February I walked into our Meeting Room for morning Collection filled with anticipation, excitement and a little anxiety. With the seventh-grade class as my guide, I focused on the experience at hand… my day as a middle schooler. The last time I was in this position the Carter and Reagan administrations were in transition and the Trapper Keeper was an organizational must. As our Middle School Director texted a photograph of the daily schedule to my iPhone, I quickly realized many aspects of the middle school experience have changed over the last forty years.  

Oakwood Faculty are All In!

Posted by: Chad Cianfrani - Head of School on Friday, November 30, 2018
Oakwood Friends School helps build

The Sacred Waters outside Standing Rock, Peking University, dormitory bathrooms, the Republic of Georgia, mitre saws, and approximately 70,000 bees spoke in unison within the Oakwood community this summer. Seemingly disparate activities, projects, adventures, modes of research and professional development opportunities resonated with a common theme this summer; one of engagement, energy, curiosity, and a sense that our faculty and staff are ‘all in’. And as we pause (just for a second) at the start of this academic year, it is appropriate to look back on the summer work which informs our curriculum, inspires our teaching and gives perspective to our work.

Off and Running!

Posted by: Chad Cianfrani - Head of School on Thursday, September 6, 2018
Deck Building at Oakwood Friends School

The Sacred Waters outside Standing Rock, Peking University, dormitory bathrooms, the Republic of Georgia, mitre saws, and approximately 70,000 bees spoke in unison within the Oakwood community this summer. Seemingly disparate activities, projects, adventures, modes of research and professional development opportunities resonated with a common theme this summer; one of engagement, energy, curiosity, and a sense that our faculty and staff are ‘all in’. And as we pause (just for a second) at the start of this academic year, it is appropriate to look back on the summer work which informs our curriculum, inspires our teaching and gives perspective to our work.

Excerpts from Graduation Remarks

Posted by: Chad Cianfrani, Head of School on Sunday, July 1, 2018
OFS Graduation - 2018

On June 8th students from around the country and around the world gathered under a beautiful Copper Beech tree on the Oakwood Friends School campus marking our 220th year of Friends education. As is tradition, each of the 36 graduates shared words of gratitude, words of hope and words of optimism. The students spoke powerfully about what they have gained academically, socially and spiritually. Through their words, spoken at times in multiple different languages, they expressed deep gratitude for the opportunities a Quaker Education affords.

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Winter 2018

Posted by: Chad Cianfrani, Head of School on Thursday, January 11, 2018
Cianfrani Family

One of my great joys is having my daily ‘to-do’ list tossed out the window when an alum unexpectedly stops by campus. I am continually, and pleasantly, surprised to see a student  I remember as a 6th grader, return to campus as a sophomore in college or a few years into a new career.

Welcome Back

Posted by: Chad Cianfrani, Head of School on Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Chad Cianfrani

As Oakwood Friends School enters its 220th year of coeducational Quaker learning, we are excited to welcome back returning families and to greet many new ones. Orientation week is rapidly approaching and the campus is abuzz with activity in preparation.

Shadow Day

Posted by: Chad Cianfrani, Head of School on Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Chad in Music Class

As a small child I had siblings who played flute and saxophone. Klipsch speakers that seemed bigger than a refrigerator woke us up each Saturday morning at 6:00 AM with their subtle 100+ dBA delivery of Pavarotti. I played piano for a short time in 2nd grade, but never managed to progress past Hot Cross Buns and thus my musical talents migrated more towards the listening than the creating.