Friends School of Baltimore's Student News * Founded 1938

The Quaker Quill

Friends School of Baltimore's Student News * Founded 1938

The Quaker Quill

Friends School of Baltimore's Student News * Founded 1938

The Quaker Quill

At the end of their final Collection, the class of 2024 streamed onstage for a final dance, and shouts of SEN-IORS!
Class of 2024's Last Collection [Brief & Video]
With heartfelt speeches and whole-class choreography, seniors said farewell to their teachers and underclassmen.
Members of Friends Schools class of 2025 pose for a photo before their first prom.
Photos, Dancing, Memories - and Don't Forget the Food [Brief]
Missed prom? A Quill correspondent and first-time attendee recaps everything you need to know.
Friends juniors prepare for the 2023 Homecoming dance.
'Back to the Future' at Friends School [Brief]
Homecoming 2023 threw students from the '80s to the future, as DJ Ok got everyone on their feet, and even faculty busted a move.
Fans line up for snowballs from a Kona Ice truck during a break in the rain on Scarlet and Grey day.
Scarlet & Grey Day Hits the Quarter Century Mark [Brief]
On a recent rainy Saturday, Park and Friends School sports teams faced off in a series of contests, cheered on by hundreds of soggy fans.
On the final day of Spirit Week, seniors dressed in Friends School colors - scarlet and grey - for the annual Pep Rally.
A Silly, Spirited Week [Brief]
Leading up to Rivalry Day, students dressed up to show their school spirit - and sense of humor.
A senior accesses the Common App landing page for the University of Delaware. As college deadlines approach, the class of 24 is sleepy and stresses.
Seniors Feel College Pressure as Early Deadlines Approach [Brief]
The mood in senior hall is tense, as sleep-starved teens scramble to finish their essays - along with a heavy load of mid-semester schoolwork.
The Morgan State University Marching Band processes down the Friends School driveway, lined with cheering crowds of students, from preschoolers to 12th graders.
In a Year of Tragedy, Morgan Band Concert a Particular Gift [Brief]
Friends students expressed gratitude for the marching band's energetic performance - especially so soon after a shooting on the Morgan State University campus injured five students.
In Orioles fan and 12th grade dean Josh Carlins office, Friends memorabilia and a recent Baltimore Sun front page celebrating the teams winning season have pride of place.
Fans Dress for MLB Success on Friends' 'Orange Thursday' [Brief]
Led this season by an exciting core of young, up-and-coming stars, the Orioles have won back the hearts of many Friends School fans.
Award-winning novelist Jenny Offill visits the 10th grade English class of Rob Traviesso - her own former student.
Upper School Author Visit Brings Reunion [Brief]
Novelist Jenny Offill spent a day on campus meeting with students at the invitation of her own former student - English teacher Rob Travieso.
Senior Maeve Reichert, head of the literary magazine Mock Turtle, talks to potential 9th grade recruits during the 2023 clubs fair.
Highlights From Upper School Clubs Fair [Brief]
Dozens of clubs showed their stuff and courted new members at the high-energy, candy-fueled gathering on the quad.

Like it or Not, Friends is Using ChatGPT

Over a quarter of Upper School survey respondents use the technology each week. Here, students, teachers, and administrators reflect on constructive uses of, hazards of, and boundary-setting around, generative AI.
Sam Balter
Junior Yipeng Lu opens the website ChatGPT. Students and teachers have a wide spectrum of views on its use at Friends.

On November 30, 2022, the non-profit OpenAI released its first rendition of ChatGPT to the public. According to Exploding Topics, the web app has amassed an average of 1.6 billion visits a month since its launch. 

As use of ChatGPT becomes prevalent in schools across the globe, more mixed opinions arise on its efficacy and morality. At Friends School of Baltimore, ChatGPT is being used by both high school students and teachers. Controversy has arisen as a result of its uptick in use, and Friends School community members have a wide variety of opinions on the matter.

“The way AI seems to be working now, it almost is like a person writing stuff. I would view it now almost like a friend helping you revise something,” says Senior Isaac Apencha. “I also don’t agree that you should use your friend to write something for you. Thinking of it as a friend, it’s easier for people to create those boundaries in their own mind.”

In response to a Quaker Quill survey, 82 Friends students and adults weighted in anonymously about their ChatGPT usage. (Sam Balter)

A recent Quaker Quill survey of the Upper School about individual ChatGPT use yielded 82 anonymous responses. Of the responders, 90.4% were students and 9.6% were teachers. 61% percent of responders claimed to have used ChatGPT, while 39% said they had not.

Of those who use ChatGPT, 44% said they don’t use it on a consistent basis, 23.2% said they use it 1-3 times per week, and 3.6% claim to use it 3-5 times per week. Of the 43 people who responded to an optional question about what class they find it most useful for, 44.2% answered history, 37.2% English, 11.6% language, 9.3% science, 2.3% math, and the rest indicated “other.” 

While this dataset is not representative of the entire Upper School, it reveals some existing trends. First, ChatGPT use exists at Friends School. Second, students are using it primarily in writing-heavy classes. 

In the wider world, the main fronts in the generative AI debate are its practical and moral implications. Here at Friends, the junior research paper provides a specific and relevant context on which to discuss real-world ChatGPT applications.

In this project, juniors are tasked with deep reading, note-taking, and analysis. 

How frequency do Friends students and adults who responded to our survey use ChatGPT? (Sam Balter)

Molly Smith, an Upper School History teacher who oversees much of the research paper process, was part of a Friends summer GROW cohort that spent a week last summer researching AI tools such as ChatGPT. At the time, she did not find it capable of producing useful answers to prompts. And she says she can imagine limited student uses of it being fine.

“I think to get general ideas, I don’t see a problem,” she says.

But when it comes to more specific uses, she recognizes the risks it poses to student learning.

“If you are given a reading and you are supposed to take notes on it and you just scan it into ChatGPT to get notes, you haven’t learned anything,” she says.

Academic shortcuts are as old as academia. In the internet age, they have long existed in other forms, like Google searching and surfing sources to find an answer. But ChatGPT has significantly expedited this process by providing in-depth responses to niche questions in seconds.

The tool’s ability to respond quickly has prompted questions about whether ChatGPT is more efficient and effective for learning, or whether it oversimplifies the learning process and causes excessive user reliance. Upper School students who agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity spoke about their ChatGPT use. 

Students responding to our survey said these are the classes they use ChatGPT for the most. (Sam Balter)

One junior uses it primarily to synthesize readings when in a time crunch.

“I use it sometimes to summarize my English or to rephrase something or take notes on history when I don’t have much time,” they say.

Another junior says they view it almost like they would getting insight from friends or teachers.

“When I have to write an essay or paper and I want to get some ideas, different viewpoints I may not have thought of to begin with, [I use it] just to get some input,” they say.

Upper School math teacher Jordan Wright says teachers have a role to play in prompting students to think about why they’re using the technology.

“[We] need to ask students, ‘What’s your goal of using ChatGPT in an academic setting?’ Are you trying to explore some things and get some ideas? Or is it like: ‘It’s 11 o’clock at night, [my] paper is due at midnight, and I need something?’ ”

Friends survey respondents got specific about their experiences with the technology’s strengths and weaknesses. (Sam Balter)

Friends PreK-8 Principal Heidi Hutchison was an early adopter of ChatGPT in a professional context. She says she finds its human-like input helpful when crafting work emails.

“Sometimes, if I have a difficult email that I have to respond to, I will write out my response and then ask ChatGPT to take [the] tone out of it,” she says. “It helps me actually see the difference, because when you have an emotional response as a professional you want to take tone out of the email.”

But Hutchison stresses that the writing is still hers – just refined by AI. And that matters, she says.

“When you are a school leader, people want to hear your thoughts and what you think, not what ChatGPT thinks.”

Teaching students how to use the tool could help them, too, become better writers, Hutchison says. 

“Give them assignments to use the tool with writing – then ask them to write their own piece, making that even better,” she suggests. “If we don’t start teaching kids how to utilize this tool, it will be abused in different ways.

Hutchison does stress that ChatGPT use should be limited for Middle School students – whose current handbook bans the use of the technology entirely.

In response to the Quill’s survey question about whether they use ChatGPT to write their lesson plans, all but one teacher said no – and some elaborated. (Sam Balter)

Travis Henschen, Upper School Dean of Student Life, is more skeptical of the technology. He says he approves of limited uses of ChatGPT: for citing sources, fixing small grammatical errors, and other syntactic tasks. But it really depends on the context.

“It’s when you are passing off work as your own and it’s really not your own, is the main area of concern,” he says, “and skipping all those steps of the learning process that the assignment was designed to achieve in the first place.”

While the details of generative AI’s precise use remains contentious, everyone interviewed for this article agreed that the tool has a place in academics. It’s just that what that place is, is still ambiguous.

“We need to start learning how to use it for good, because it’s not going anywhere,” Hutchison concludes.

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About the Contributor
Sam Balter, Contributor
Sam, class of '25, likes to study math, play tennis, and lead the Friends robotics club. Outside of school, he lifts weights and makes furniture in his basement.
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