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Sidwell Friends School

Sidwell Friends School is a Quaker school located in Bethesda, Maryland and Washington, D.C., offering pre-kindergarten through high school classes. Founded in 1883 by Thomas W. Sidwell, its motto is "Eluceat omnibus lux" (English: Let the light shine out from all), alluding to the Quaker concept of inner light. All Sidwell Friends students attend Quaker meeting for worship weekly, and middle school students begin every day with five minutes of silence.[1]

Sidwell Friends School
Sidwell Friends School.JPG
Sidwell Friends School is located in Washington Metropolitan Area
Sidwell Friends School
Sidwell Friends School
Bethesda, Maryland (Lower School)
Washington, D.C. (Middle/Upper School)

United States
Coordinates38°56′21″N 77°04′29″W / 38.939217°N 77.074628°W / 38.939217; -77.074628Coordinates: 38°56′21″N 77°04′29″W / 38.939217°N 77.074628°W / 38.939217; -77.074628
TypePrivate, Day, College-prep
MottoEluceat Omnibus Lux
("Let the light shine out from all")
Religious affiliation(s)Quaker
Head of schoolBryan K. Garman
Athletics conferenceMAC (boys)
ISL (girls)
Team nameQuakers
PublicationThe Oat
(the satirical student newspaper)
(the art magazine)
Student Political Review
(student editorial newspaper)
Information(202) 537-8100

The school's admissions process is merit-based. As documented on the school's website, it gives preference in admissions decisions to members of the Religious Society of Friends, but otherwise does not discriminate on the basis of religion. Sidwell "accepts only 7 percent of its applicants".[2] The school accepts vouchers under the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

Described as "a great Quaker school",[3] the school has educated children of notable politicians, including those of several presidents. President Theodore Roosevelt's son Archibald, President Richard Nixon's daughter Tricia, President Bill Clinton's daughter Chelsea Clinton, President Barack Obama's daughters, Sasha and Malia, Vice President Joe Biden's grandchildren,[4] and Vice President Al Gore's son, Albert Gore III, graduated from Sidwell Friends.


Thomas Sidwell started a "Friends' Select School" in 1883 on I Street in downtown Washington, four blocks from the White House.[5][6] It opened with just eleven students.[7]

Beginning in 1911, Sidwell began buying property between Wisconsin Avenue and 37th St. Initially, the new property was used for athletic fields—and, with the central campus' downtown location—meant students had to shuttle between the two sites by streetcar. However, in 1923, Sidwell built a building for school dances and other social gatherings on what came to be known as the Wisconsin Avenue campus.[7]

In 1925, the school added a kindergarten, making it the first K–12 school in Washington.[7] In 1934, the name of the school was changed to "Sidwell Friends School", and began its gradual re-location to the Wisconsin Avenue building.[7][8] By 1938, the transition to the new building had been completed, and the I Street property was sold.

At the urging of the students, the school briefly adopted a dress code in 1955, which included a coat and tie for all male high school students. The dress code was later dropped—again at the urging of students—in the 1970s.

Sidwell became racially integrated in 1964.[5] Before 1964 it was a white-only school.[9]

Since 2005, the Wisconsin Avenue campus has seen the completion of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum Middle School; a new indoor athletic facility; underground parking garage; and two turf fields. A new Quaker Meeting House facility is located in the newly renovated Arts Center.

Thomas B. Farquhar was removed from his position as the Head of School after the 2013–2014 school year. He became the Head of School after the retirement of former Head of School Bruce Stewart at the end of the 2008–2009 school year.[10] Bryan K. Garman, the current Head of School, took office beginning with the 2014–2015 school year.


In 2005, Sidwell's AP English Exam scores were the highest in the nation for all medium-sized schools (300–799 students in grades 10–12) offering the AP English exam.[11] Sidwell does not offer an AP English course.

All students must acquire at least 20 credits before graduating. Students are required to take four years of English, three years of mathematics, three years of history, two years of one foreign language, two years of science, and two years of art. In addition to this, all freshmen must take a full year Ninth Grade Studies course that involves a service project. Tenth and eleventh graders must also take courses corresponding to their grade level.[12]

Sidwell is a member school of School Year Abroad.


Sidwell's sports teams are known as the Quakers; their colors are maroon and gray. The Quakers compete in the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAC) for boys' sports (after previously competing in the Interstate Athletic Conference (IAC) until 1999) and the Independent School League (ISL) for girls' sports. Sidwell offers teams in Volleyball, Golf, Boys and Girls Cross Country, Football, Field Hockey, Girls and Boys Soccer, Boys and Girls Basketball, Swimming, Wrestling, Boys and Girls Tennis, Baseball, Boys and Girls Lacrosse, Boys and Girls Track, Ultimate Frisbee, Movement Performance and Choreography, and Softball.

Boys' cross countryEdit

Sidwell has a strong tradition in boys' cross country, including winning four consecutive conference championships under Head Coach Bill Wooden from 2006–2009. In 2015, they won the MAC Championships and ended Georgetown Day School's six year MAC title streak.

Boys' soccerEdit

Over the past decade, the Sidwell Friends Boys' Soccer program has become one of the best programs in the Washington, DC metro area. In fall, 2006, the boys' varsity soccer team compiled a 19–2 record and was recognized as No. 9 in the Washington Post Top Ten soccer schools in the metropolitan area. The 2007 Boys Varsity Soccer team again won the MAAC Boys' Soccer championship and achieved a second consecutive Washington Post Top Ten ranking, reaching No. 3 in the final poll with a 20–2 record. The 2008 team continued their recent success by winning the third consecutive MAAC title, and their 4th in 5 years, with an undefeated 16–0–1 record for the season. Again, the Quakers finished the season ranked No. 3 in the area by the Washington Post and No. 36 nationally by The 2009 squad began the season ranked No. 22 in the country by ESPN. After failing to capture the MAAC tournament trophy in two consecutive seasons, the 2013 team was the first team in Sidwell Friends History to win the MAAC league, tournament, and DC state championships finishing 3rd in the Washington Post Top Ten rankings.[13] In October 2009 the squad achieved a prestigious No. 1 Washington Post ranking. They also ended up ranked No. 47 in the country.


Sidwell Friends has a century-long tradition of playing football, and plays in the MAAC. Players have gone on to play college football at Columbia University,[14] Franklin & Marshall College,[15] Georgetown University,[16] Middlebury College,[17] Kenyon College,[18] Ithaca College,[19] Stanford University,[20] and Wake Forest University.[21] Miles Brown, Sidwell and Wofford College graduate, in 2019 earned a place on the 53 man roster of the NFL Arizona Cardinals.


The wrestling program at Sidwell has taken 10th place in the national prep tournament in 2003, and won the DC Classic, a competition among all DC private schools that compete in wrestling, in 2007 and 2008. In February 2008, the Boys Varsity Wrestling Team claimed their 7th "banner" (conference championship) in 9 years of participating in the MAAC. It was also their 4th straight banner. They established clear dominance, winning the tournament by over 100 points, and boasted 8 MAAC champions and one additional All-MAAC selection. In January 2009, the Sidwell Wrestling team had an impressive showing at the MAAC wrestling tournament—having 7 MAAC champions and winning the tournament by over 80 points. In January 2011, Sidwell Wrestling broke the MAAC record for most consecutive championships, previously held by Sidwell Football, by winning their seventh.

Boys' basketballEdit

Sidwell Friends School Varsity Boys' Basketball is coached by Sidwell alumnus Eric Singletary '93. Singletary, now in his fourth year, has led the Quakers to conference championships in the 2009–10, 2010–2011 and 2011–2012 seasons. Other recent program highlights include Sidwell's first conference championship in Boys' Basketball in the 2006–07 season, with a 14–0 conference record.

Movement performance and choreographyEdit

The movement performance group at Sidwell is a co-ed group of students who love to dance and choreograph as their physical education requirement. In addition to this, the students in this program perform what they have choreographed twice a year in a show with colorful, dynamic lighting and well-designed costumes that reflect the mood of their dances. Unlike other sports teams, a student does not have to try out for this program, and dancers of any experience level are accepted, creating a family-like environment.

Girls' basketballEdit

The Sidwell Friends girls' varsity basketball program has a long winning tradition, with numerous conference titles as well as local and national rankings. Head Coach Anne Renninger, a pioneering player at the University of Maryland and one of the youngest Division I college coaches ever (at George Washington University), has led the Quakers to over 400 victories. Over a two-year stretch from 1997–1999, the Sidwell girls' basketball team lost only two games, while winning back-to-back conference championships and achieving both Washington Post Top 10 and USA Today rankings.

Boys' baseballEdit

The Sidwell Friends men's baseball team has been one of the top squads in the MAC in recent years. With a conference championship in 2006, and 3rd-place finishes in 2007, 2009, and 2010, the Quakers finished second in the league in 2011 and 2012. The Quakers also won the 2011 Washington, DC city title with a victory over Woodrow Wilson High School in the Congressional Bank Classic at Nationals Park.

Current profileEdit

  • For the 2017–2018 school year, 1,146 students are enrolled.[22]
  • 47% of the student body are people of color.[22]
  • 23% of the student body receives some form of financial assistance.[22]
  • The school employs 155 teachers and 112 administrative and support staff.[22]
  • 84% of faculty hold advanced degrees.
  • Tuition for the 2018–2019 school year is $40,840.[23]
  • The school does not release its SAT average scores or college admission list. However, the school releases to the families of the most recent alumni class a list of which institutions each recently graduated student is attending.
  • The school does not rank its students, as this conflicts with the Quaker Testimony of Equality.[citation needed]


The Middle and Upper School campus is located at 3825 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20016-2907

  • 15-acre (6.1 ha) Wisconsin Avenue campus in the Tenleytown section of Northwest Washington
  • Earl G. Harrison Jr. Upper School Building
  • Middle School building with LEED platinum certification,[24] designed by architect KieranTimberlake Associates and landscape design by Andropogon Associates. The wood-clad building was designed around a sustainable use of water and energy, exemplified by a constructed wetland in the center of the campus, with many species of plants, as well as turtles and fish, part of a wastewater recycling system designed by Biohabitats. On the interior, the building uses thermal chimneys and louvers that admit diffuse light to limit the need for artificial light and thermal control. Lastly, the building contains a centralized mechanical plant that uses less energy than normal, much of which is produced by photovoltaic banks on the roof. The materials used and the environmental technology are referenced architecturally and made accessible to students, either physically, or by explanatory signs, as an educational feature.
  • Kogod Center for the Arts
  • Richard Walter Goldman Memorial Library
  • Zartman House (administration building)
  • Sensner Building (Fox Den Cafe and school store)
  • Wannan and Kenworthy Gymnasiums
  • Three athletic fields, five tennis courts, and two tracks (one 2-lane indoor track indoor for bad weather and an outdoor 6-lane track for competitions).
  • Parking facility with faculty, student, guest and alumni parking (2 floors, 200+ parking spaces), as well as offices for security, IT and maintenance

The Lower School campus can be found at 5100 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda, Montgomery County, Maryland, 20814-2306

  • 5-acre (2.0 ha) Edgemoor Lane campus in Bethesda (formerly Longfellow School for Boys; opened for the 1963–64 school year)
  • Manor House (classrooms, administration, and Clark Library)
  • Groome Building (classrooms and multi-purpose room)
  • Science, Art, and Music (SAM) Building
  • The Bethesda Friends Meeting House
  • Athletic fields, a gymnasium, and two playgrounds

Both campuses underwent major renovations throughout the 2005–2006 school year, and construction for the Wisconsin Avenue campus Athletic Center (which includes the Kenworthy Courts) was completed in 2011.

Sidwell Friends plans to move the Lower School to the site of the current site of The Washington Home and Community Hospices, which is adjacent to the Wisconsin Avenue campus. Until funding is secured, there is currently no timeline for when this move will take place.[25]

Notable alumniEdit

Notable alumni of Sidwell Friends include:


The arts and television




Government and law


Literature and poetry

Presidential children and royalty



Sister schoolsEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ "'Friends' for Life". Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  3. ^ {| first=Rachel L. | last=Swarns | title=Obamas Pick Sidwell School, Ending a Washington Guessing Game | date=November 22, 2008 | url= }}
  4. ^ Wilgoren, Debbi (January 5, 2009). "Obama Girls Start School at Sidwell". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ a b Smith. Thomas G. (2011). Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins. Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-8070-0082-3.
  6. ^ Thomas, Grace Powers (1898). Where to educate, 1898–1899. A guide to the best private schools, higher institutions of learning, etc., in the United States. Boston: Brown and Company. p. 42. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d Williams, Paul K. & Higgins, Kelton C. (2003). Cleveland Park. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. pp. 28–29. ISBN 978-0-7385-1521-2.
  8. ^ "Education: Friends' Jubilee". Time. May 29, 1933. p. 80.
  9. ^ Zug, James (2008). "The Color of Our Skin". The Long Conversation – 125 Years of Sidwell Friends School – 1883–2008. Washington, DC: Sidwell Friends School. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-615-17854-7.
  10. ^ Sidwell Head of School Search Committee Report
  11. ^ College Board: Advanced Placement: Report to the Nation
  12. ^ Sidwell Friends School: Graduation Requirements
  13. ^ "Home – Espn Rise". Retrieved October 2, 2010.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^,
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b c d "About Sidwell Friends School". Retrieved September 23, 2013.
  23. ^ "Sidwell Friends School: Tuition and Financial Aid". Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  24. ^ US Green Building Council
  25. ^ "Questions & Answers: Lower School". Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  26. ^ a b Zibart, Eve (April 30, 2012). "STORY OF PROMINENT PRIVATE SCHOOL, SIDWELL". Capitol File. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  27. ^ a b c Vogel, Chris. "Prep Schools of the Power Brokers." Washingtonian. Monday May 1, 2006.
  28. ^ Martin, Douglas. "W. D. Zantzinger, Subject of Dylan Song, Dies at 69." New York Times. January 9, 2009.
  29. ^ Giridharadas, Anand. "LinkedIn Profile". Retrieved November 27, 2018. External link in |website= (help)
  30. ^ a b Prep Schools of the Power Brokers – Education (
  31. ^ "友好学校—北师大二附中". Retrieved December 11, 2018.

External linksEdit