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Valentine’s Day at Friends’ Central: Traditions That Spread Love Through Music, Food, and Memory

By: Vicky Liu ‘20, School News and Features Writer

     Every day at Friends’ Central is unique, but each Valentine’s Day, we have traditions which make the day even more special. In this day and age, it is not only lovers, but friends and family, who use the annual holiday to remind themselves of the beauty of love. With February 14th rapidly approaching, I decided to delve into the significance of our FCS Valentine’s Day rituals.

     One of our Valentine’s Day traditions is the “singing valentines.” The “singing valentines” will be provided by two of the FCS vocal groups: the Foxtones, who are comprised of boys in ninth through twelfth grades, and the Spicetones, whose members are 11th and 12th grade girls. “Singing Valentines” is a tradition where students and teachers can order a song (one song for three dollars or two for five) for a friend, classmate, girlfriend, or boyfriend. After ordering a song, people can expect one of the groups to visit the classroom where their intended recipient is at some point in the day, and the group will then sing the song to that person in front of his or her entire class. The groups will be performing popular love-themed songs.

     In addition to the “singing valentines,” the upper school community holds the Laurie Fox Bake Sale each year. Everyone is encouraged to bring baked goods and to patronize the sale, which will take place in the Rextaurant and the OPA room. While there are numerous bake sales through the year which offer treats that surely appetize us, it is the extra-delicious goods at the Laurie Fox Bake Sale which make it the most mouth-watering event of the year.

      The Laurie Fox Bake Sale was founded in memory of a lovely lady named Ms. Laurie Fox. Ms. Fox first worked at FCS in the business office and later served as the upper school secretary. In 2011, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which unfortunately proved to be fatal. Though she isn’t here with us physically anymore, her legacy continues to live on. Ms. Fox’s final contribution to the world was the devotion of all of her retirement savings to Friends’ Central. The money formed the nucleus of the scholarship now known as the Laurie Fox Scholarship Fund. The proceeds collected from both the Laurie Fox Bake Sale and “singing valentines” will contribute to the Laurie Fox Scholarship Fund. The scholarship aims to send bright students who couldn’t otherwise afford tuition to Friends’ Central.

       Mrs. Heather Tomes, the current Upper School Student Affairs Coordinator and main organizer of the bake sale, knew Ms. Fox personally. She recalls, “Ms. Fox was an amazing individual full of warmth and generosity. The students adored her, and would often sit in her office to just talk.” She mentions that since Ms. Fox’s passing, the upper school community has grown to utilize the Laurie Fox Bake Sale as a chance to honor Ms. Fox’s memory, spread the love she had of FCS, and “express our commitment to [providing] equal access to all FCS programs as a way of living the Friends testimony of ‘equality.’”

Ms. Laurie Novo, a current upper school English teacher and 10th Grade Dean, was a colleague and close friend of Ms. Fox. She shares about their relationship: “We became friends quickly. Seven years ago, she was the secretary at [the] upper school office and I was the principal. We were both new [to our roles] and started our positions at the same time.” Ms. Fox was a bit older than Ms. Novo, so she acted as a helpful guide to her. According to Ms. Novo, Ms. Fox enjoyed helping people solve their problems. Ms. Novo elaborates, “Ms. Fox was the first person who brought candy to school, [which has become an FCS tradition in of itself!] She brought cake to faculty meetings. In addition, she sent people emails notifying, ‘there’s cake downstairs.’”

      Aside from being a graceful presence at school, Ms. Fox was also warm and motherly in her personal life. Ms. Novo remembers her old friend as a positive person who always made sure other people were having a good day. She loved cats, yoga, and scarves. She traveled to Japan before she moved to Philadelphia. She had a twin sister who was an academic and later became a lawyer. At Ms. Fox’s funeral, her sister gave a speech suggesting building the scholarship in her name in memory of her hope of contributing to Friends’ Central community. The fact that Friends’ Central was a part of her funeral proved how near and dear the school was to Ms. Fox.

      It is important to remember Ms. Fox and to celebrate her with our continuing Valentine’s Day traditions. She was such a kind and lovely person. Her inspiring story is a part of the fabric of our school’s history and culture. She helped make our community what it is today. She was a role model we can all look up to, and someone who’s pure goodness we remember and commemorate every February 14th.

Your flaws are perfect for the hearts that meant to love you.

—Trent Shelton

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