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Are We There Yet? Super Commuters Share Their Stories

By: Jack Li ‘20 and Vicky Liu ‘20, Reporters 10-28-18

Many of us are oblivious to the varied journeys our fellow community members endure to arrive at school each day. While some of us live just steps off of the Friends’ Central campus, others of us regularly spend more than two hours en route per day just to get to and from school. In fact, there are students from over 70 zip codes who attend FCS. Focus recently interviewed some of the “super commuters” of FCS, students who live very far from or very close to school, in an effort to elevate their stories.

Noah Condiff ‘19, for example, commutes a great distance. His route exceeds state boundaries. He resides in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Even on a good day without much traffic, it takes Noah 45 minutes to an hour to get to school. Ever since kindergarten, he has been making the long commute to Friends’ Central. Before he obtained his driver’s licence, he used to be dropped off at 30th street station and take the train to school. For his commute home, he needed to wait at school until 5:30pm for his parents to pick him up. Now that Noah can drive himself, he can control his own schedule, yet having to spend so long in the car is anything but fun. Besides the immense amount of time he spends daily in the car, Noah adds how driving to school is quite an expensive ritual: “Driving here and back is one gallon of gas [which costs about four dollars]. I need to fill my tank every week.” He maintains there isn’t much advantage to living far away. However, he says it improves his time management skills and forces him to keep a well-organized daily schedule. Each school day, he arises precisely at 6:49am and gets ready by 7:20am. At the end of the interview, he imagines if he lived closer to school, saying, “My life would be so much easier, and I would save so much money on E-ZPass. I could also have more time to do work.”

Mason Mosley ‘20 dwells in Mullica Hill, which is also in New Jersey. He describes his arduous hour-long commute to school: “Either one of my parents takes me to school, but most of the time, I take the train. It takes me 30 minutes to get to the train station and 15 minutes from there to Overbrook Station, then five minutes of school bus.” Similar to most students who live in remote locations, Mason follows a strict time schedule because, otherwise, he would miss the train and be late to school. Unfortunately, he often struggled with punctuality last year. However, as he is gradually getting acquainted with his tight schedule, he has improved greatly on his morning attendance in recent months. Mason’s one-hour journey requires him to get up at 5:55 every morning, and prevents him from beginning his homework until seven o’clock each evening. Like Noah, Mason imagines what life would be like if he resided closer to FCS. He claims he wouldn’t have to leave home until ten minutes before the start of the school and that he would feel much more rested and energized every day. When asked why he chose to attend FCS in the first place, he cites our school’s competitive basketball team and strong academics. Despite the time spent travelling, says Mason, it’s worth it.

Mr. Dankoff, one of Friends’ Central’s history teachers, as well as the faculty advisor for Student Council, shares his experience of commuting to work. He explains that, until a few years ago, he and his family lived in the Fairmount neighborhood, not far from the Eastern State Penitentiary Museum. Then, to be closer to Friends’ Central, they moved to Overbrook Farms, the neighborhood right across City Ave., a mere half a mile from our school. The move shortened Mr. Dankoff’s daily commute by car from 20 minutes to four minutes at most. He loves the convenience of being able to attend school events very often. He explains, “It was so easy to see The White Snake twice and to see the chorus concert.” Living close to school also allows Mr. Dankoff to host after-school events for faculty, either to gather socially or to plan school events. Mr. Dankoff usually wakes up at around six, as he takes care of his two children. One of them, who is in seventh grade at Friends’ Central, loves to get to school early. To accomplish this, the Dankoffs leave home around 7:40am. Due to the geographical convenience, Mr. Dankoff and his children like to bike to school, specifically when the weather is decent in the and Mr. Dankoff doesn’t have an off-campus appointment. He comments, “We drive too often, we’d rather bike more.”

Jack Li ‘20 makes his home in Friends’ Central’s “backyard” at Greenhill Condominium. The commute by foot lasts less than five minutes. One can even catch a view of Jack’s abode from many parts of the FCS campus! Jack, who is an international student, reflects, “Even though I come from a country on the other side of the globe, I live right next to Friends’ Central and walk to school everyday. I wake up at 8 o’clock mostly and get to school at around 8:25. Living this close to school gives me the advantage and luxury of getting up late and not having to worry about driving or taking a train. This allows me to better focus on getting more work done without having to sacrifice much sleeping. Living close is good in every single possible way.”

Either joining us from near or far, every member of our school community brings with him or her a unique perspective from a different setting. Some of us live in the suburbs, some in the center of town, and some in rural parts of the state. Whether we can walk to school or endure a strenuous drive twice per day, we all manage to congregate at one magical place: 1101 City Avenue, in the charming town of Wynnewood, PA.

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