Olivia Kane ’21 reflects on the courtyard

Olivia Kane, Senior Editor

When I first arrived at Friends Seminary in sixth grade, the courtyard was not under construction and in full swing. I remember walking out into the sun and surveying the scene with a feeling of dread. My new classmates were all involved in some game, whether it was kicking a soccer ball around or playing handball. I stood there anxiously for a few minutes and decided that the courtyard simply was not a place for me. 

For the most part that has remained true throughout my time at Friends. I hardly spent anytime there in seventh grade while many of my classmates seemed to find a particular joy in hanging out there. In eighth grade, the real trouble started. Due to the impending construction on the school, much of the courtyard and roof was closed off for the second semester. All of a sudden everyone was crammed into the courtyard, a ridiculously small space compared to the roof. It was impossible to avoid the balls flying overhead and the loud noise of everyone releasing pent-up anxiety. Most kids reluctantly retreated indoors to the library, but I was always surprised that some people remained out there, shooting basketballs endlessly. Was there some hidden treasure in the courtyard that I wasn’t getting? 

At the start of ninth grade, the courtyard was at its smallest ever, barely half of its original size. Crossing the courtyard to get to the meetinghouse became an unpleasant ordeal. I would awkwardly start to pass through the courtyard, painfully aware of the basketball players cursing me for interrupting their game, the balls would continue to fly overhead, and each time I was certain that one would take my head off. My loathing for the courtyard continued to increase, yet despite my personal dislike for it and the lack of space, people continued to spend their time there. Groups of friends would huddle around a bench, play basketball games, and fearful crossers would dread the balls flying overhead. 

Now that more space has been opened up, the courtyard is as popular as ever, if not more. I walk through a little slower now, still wary of the balls, but with more space, I have more time. This time gives me a moment to appreciate this space in our school and my relationship with it. Why is it a place I dread so much? The answer comes to me, and it is not one that makes me particularly proud. I associate the courtyard with not belonging. I was unable to find a place the very first day I set foot into it and ever since I have not wanted to spend my time there. Others, however, see the courtyard as a place where their friendships have grown. I often wonder what would have happened if I had been willing to ask to join a game of soccer or handball that very first day. Would the courtyard mean something different to me today? I don’t know, and although I still don’t care for it much, the fact that it is a special place for others in the community makes it an invaluable part of Friends despite its size.