The Story of Woolman
Woolman is an educational community in the Sierra Nevada foothills focused on peace, social justice, and environmental sustainability.
Fifty years ago, a group of Quaker and like-minded families came together with the dream of creating a Quaker/Friends residential high school on the West Coast. Josephine Duvenek, social activist and founder of the Hidden Villa farm and wilderness preserve in Los Altos Hills California, identified the following ideals for the school:
- A spiritual emphasis running through and undergirding all phases of study, work and living.
- The experience of brotherhood in day-to-day relationships with all races, with different economic levels, differently endowed individuals, and the acceptance of the disciplines involved.
- The training for rigorous and sustained intellectual or creative work.
In 1958, the College Park Quarterly Meeting of Friends took the College Park Friends Educational Association (CPFEA) under its care. Five years later, in September 1963, John Woolman School, a four-year residential high school began. The school continued for 38 years and was laid down in 2001. At that time a steering committee met to create a new program that carried on the vision of the original founders into the 21st Century. The campus was renamed Sierra Friends Center and Sierra Friends Camp and the Woolman Semester were born. The Woolman Semester opened its doors in the spring of 2004.
The namesake of the school comes from the the life of John Woolman, a Quaker born during the 1700's. During his adult life he walked thousands of miles urging Quakers to fight the institution of slavery by freeing their slaves and boycotting various goods made by slave labor. At the Woolman Semester we strive to live and teach his values of simplicity, equality, and truth in our curriculum and community.