Friends’ Central School has an artful October on the books

Posted 10/19/23

Two alumni from Friends' Central School in Wynnewood are making a big splash this month.

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Friends’ Central School has an artful October on the books


Two alumni from Friends' Central School in Wynnewood are making a big splash this month.

Carolyn Lazard '05 was announced last week as a 2023 MacArthur "Genius" fellowship winner. Lazard, who was a lacrosse goalie as well as a budding artist during four years at Friends' Central, was one of only two Philadelphia awardees and one of only four artists nationally to receive this nearly $1 million grant.

Lazard uses the experience of chronic illness to examine concepts of intimacy and the labor of living involved with chronic illnesses. A multidisciplinary fine artist, Lazard's mediums include performance, filmmaking, sculpture, writing, photography, and sound, as well as environments and installations. They participated in the 2019 Whitney Biennial and have received a fellowship from the Ford and Mellon Foundations in 2020. Lazard has an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania and wrote Accessibility in the Arts: A Promise and a Practice as a guidebook for arts institutions.

Eighteen-year-old thespian Ethan Jih-Cook, class of 2023, appeared on stage at the Kimmel Cultural Campus this October in the hit musical Mean Girls. Cook plays a lead role, Damian Hubbard, whose character was inspired by a real-life Philadelphia-area local and friend of Tina Fey, the original screenplay writer of and actor in Mean Girls.

Jih-Cook, who starred in plays at Friends' Central and in the Philadelphia area during his school years, described the school as a nurturing place — and a far stretch from the world of teenage cruelty comically on display in this celebrated movie and now musical, which will continue to tour North America this year.

Each year, Friends' Central invites the public to its Distinguished Lecture Series, which seeks to inspire the next generation of writers, educators, scientists, researchers, policy makers, and thinkers by bringing renowned scholars to campus for courses and a public lecture.

This year's Distinguished Visiting Justice Speakers, visiting the School to speak in October, are Friends' Central alumnus Andrew Nadkarni, class of 2013, and Dr. Nalini Nadkarni.

Nalini, Professor Emeritus of Biology at the University of Utah, studies the biota that live in rainforest canopies and documents the numerous critical ecological roles they play in tropical and temperate forests, work that has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society.

Andrew Nadkarni, class of 2013, is a queer multiracial filmmaker currently based in Brooklyn, New York. His directorial debut documentary, Between Earth & Sky, highlights Dr. Nalini Nadkarni's groundbreaking treetop research. The film won Best Short at Big Sky Doc Film Fest and the Audience Award for Best Short at DC Environmental Film Festival.

For more information about the Distinguished Lecture Series and to register for future Friends' Central lectures, visit