Olney Friends School Profile
Olney Friends School celebrates intellectual vigor, provokes questions of conscience, and nurtures skills for active engagement locally and globally.
School and Community
Established in 1837 by the Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends, Olney continues to cultivate the Quaker values of consensus, integrity, and cooperative conflict resolution while honoring ethnic, racial, religious, LGBTQIAS, and socio-economic diversity. Students participate integrally in all aspects of community life, including decisionmaking in the dormitories, deliberating on academic offerings, and working in the kitchen and on the farm. 100% of Olney graduates are admitted to 4-year accredited colleges and universities. The school is located on 350 USDA certified organic acres near the town of Barnesville, Ohio, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The area is largely agricultural; nearby areas of ecological interest allow the school to offer hands-on environmental science education. The Olney farm provides not only food for the community, but also educational opportunities for students and revenue for the school. The Olney curriculum takes advantage of its small size, international student presence, and culture of inquiry to offer a unique academic environment for high school students. All courses teach core college preparatory material and skills while offering students opportunities to choose to engage with material at greater depth and at an individual pace.
Olney is accredited by the Independent School Association of the Central States (ISACS), and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the Friends Council on Education (FCE).
Students and Faculty
The Olney Friends School student body averages 50 students in grades 9-12. The faculty to student ratio is 1:3, and the median class size is 8. Students come from across the U.S. and from many different countries, including Afghanistan, Rwanda, China, Egypt, and Costa Rica, representing a wide variety of religious and secular traditions. The small size of the student body and inclusive values lead students of all backgrounds to socialize together, adding a multicultural global perspective inside and out of the classroom. Faculty average 15 years’ teaching experience and over 2/3 hold advanced degrees (masters or doctorate).
In 2015, Olney implemented a mastery-based curriculum: in each course, students earn academic credit only when they demonstrate proficiency in every subject objective at the “B” level or above. The only grades conferred are B (80-89% equivalence), A (90-96%), and A+ (97-100%).
Students who either fail to demonstrate mastery or feel they can do better are expected to revisit the material and try again. As all courses are intensive, none are designated as Honors or AP. Because of Olney’s small student body, Quaker values, and emphasis on collaborative learning, the school does not compute comparative statistics such as class rank.
The underlying principles of intentional community, combined with Quaker values for shared decision-making and equality mean that Olney students take on multiple responsibilities for the smooth functioning of their school. All students at Olney participate weekly in consensus-based community meetings to develop policies and programming, and to respond to important issues as they arise. Designated student leadership opportunities include:
• Dorm Governors and Staff
• Work Program Crew Leaders
• Spiritual Life Leaders
• Admissions Ambassadors
• Athletic Team Captains
Notes on the Curriculum
Most Olney classes follow an informal discussion format or use the Harkness Method to build inquiry based learning skills comparable to those of upper level college students. Students engage deeply with course material, think critically, and develop argumentation styles for presentation of thoughtfully conceived positions. New indoor laboratory facilities constructed in 2014 complement Olney’s 350-acre “outdoor laboratory” where students collect new data to analyze in concert with decades of historic environmental data.
Students choose among multiple elective “Endeavors” each year that cover college preparatory content and skills. Endeavors last from 4 to 12 weeks and can support students toward meeting graduation requirements. Recent Endeavors include Philosophy of Religion (Questions of Conscience), Building and Protecting Wealth (Financial Literacy), and Digital Film making (Art). Co-curricular traditions at Olney Friends School include every student, and support the academic rigor and lifelong learning ethic characteristic of the school. These include literary events, trips to museums, historical and natural sites, the annual “Gym Extravaganza” performance, special meals, and farm activities.
Academic Graduation Requirements
- English: 4 yrs – Literature, Composition, and Critical Thinking
- History: 4 yrs – US, Western, and Global History
- Mathematics: 4 yrs -Algebra I/II, Geometry, Pre- and Post-Calculus, Calculus, Statistics
- Laboratory Science: 3 yrs – Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Environmental Science
- Foreign Language 2 yrs: – Spanish, Japanese, or ESOL
- Fine Arts: 1 yr -Music, Studio Art, Woodworking, or Theater
- Questions of Conscience: .75 yr – Religion, Philosophy, Peace and Social Justice
- Health: .5 yr – Personal Health and Sexuality
- Financial Literacy: .5 yr – Budgeting, Cash Management and Finance
- Junior Research Paper – Demonstrating academic research and documentation skills at college level
- Graduation Essay and Presentation demonstrating thoughtful and persuasive argumentation, critical thinking, and writing composition at college level.
- Admission to a four-year, accredited college or university
Non-Academic Graduation Requirements
• Physical Education/Athletics: 4 years (including soccer, cross country, ultimate frisbee, swimming, and farmwork)
• Campus Work Program: 4 years (on-campus community service, including kitchen, janitorial, and maintenance jobs)
• School Governance: 4 years (active participation in dorm- and schoollevel decisions through consensusbased weekly meetings)
Recent College Acceptances
Within the last five years, Olney graduates were admitted to dozens of colleges, universities and art institutes, including:
- Arizona State University
- Ball State University
- Berea College
- Bluffton University
- California College of the Arts
- Clark University
- College of the Atlantic
- College of Wooster
- Cornell College
- Earlham College
- Goshen College
- Guilford College
- Haverford College
- Hiram College
- Iowa State University
- Johnson and Wales University, Providence Campus
- Juniata College
- Lewis & Clark College
- Loyola University
- Marshall University
- Michigan State University
- Ohio University
- Pennsylvania State University
- Quinnipiac University
- Rhode Island School of Design
- School of the Art Institute of Chicago
- School of Visual Arts (NYC)
- St. John’s College
- St. Lawrence University
- The Evergreen State College
- The Ohio State University
- University of the Arts, London
- University of Connecticut
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- University of Pittsburgh
- Warren Wilson College
- Willamette College
- Wilmington College
Olney Friends School is an independent, co-educational, college preparatory boarding and day school offering individualized instruction in small class settings for grades 9-12.
The Main Office is staffed seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. till about 10:00 p.m. when school is in session. The administrator on call is available for emergencies 24 hours a day during the school year at 740-359-4015.