Mini Updates from Past Park Parent Stories
The end of any school year is traditionally a time for reflection, and the circumstances of the past few years have rendered signs of progress and growth even more meaningful. In order to celebrate growth and progress, we first have to notice it. As this school year draws to a close, the Park Parent Editorial is looking back at some past stories to see where things are now. We hope your own school year end reflections inspire similar feelings of gratitude, hope and optimism.
Blandings Turtles Released! In the article Fifth Grade Scientists to the (Turtle) Rescue! published in Winter 2021 we introduced readers to Moose and Nugget, two critically threatened Blanding’s Turtles being raised by Grade 5 students under science teacher Meg Armour’s careful supervision. On May 21st, the fifth grade visited the Great Meadows National Wildlife Reservation in Concord to release the turtles. The months they spent growing at Park have prepared them for life in the wild. They have grown in size and their shells have hardened enough to make them less vulnerable, increasing their chances of survival. Perhaps Moose and Nugget are an extended metaphor for Park’s graduating eighth grade class! We wish both groups luck out in the wild. Swim free, Moose and Nugget!
Park Faculty Receiving Mindfulness Certifications – We think Jack the Moose would be proud to tell you that a year after writing about Social Emotional Learning at Park, a number of Park teachers have been continued their professional development in mindfulness in the classroom via the Mindful Schools Program. Fourth grade teacher Eliza Botsford is in the process of completing a year long certification program, and even more teachers have completed a Foundations Workshop. The program was made possible in part by a grant from the Park School PA, and being able to tell my fourth grader that my amygdala is firing because I’m afraid we’re going to be late to the bus is priceless.
In Person Music Concerts Held at Park – Back in the fall of this school year, we wrote about all the work Music Department Head Sadie Mayes did learning about aerosolized droplets and air exchanges per hour and ordering specialized PPE so students could create music together safely. The joy of being able to make music together was evident and contagious when Upper Division students performed for the community at a Spring Concert on the Discovery Playground in May. Instructors and students powered through the challenges of learning finger placings or trying to hear pitch via small group ensemble zoom sessions in 2020-2021, and playing or singing through masks in 2021-2022. Their perseverance made the music sound even sweeter. The fourth grade ensembles are scheduled to perform their Spring Concert on June 7th.
Rubik’s Cubes Granted – In March we shared a story about the Rubik’s cube culture at Park and how it connects students of all experience levels, encouraging collaboration and creativity as well as a growth mindset. We also lamented the ending of the lending program from Rubik’s that allowed Park to borrow enough cubes each spring to create mosaics in the Upper Division. We are so thrilled to report that club advisor Carol Buzby’s Faculty Grant application to the Park School Parent Association has been approved for the purchase of 400 Rubik’s Cubes that will live at Park all year round and be available for teachers to use for everything from math lessons to the infamous mosaics!
Dining Room Partially Reopens- This spring Upper Division students re-entered the dining room after approximately a two year absence and were treated to greater food choice and an interpersonal connection with chefs. In December 2020, we published an article outlining the arduous process of individually packing and delivering lunches to socially distanced student groups. Having the Upper Division resume food-line service for meals has reduced some of the strain on our remarkable staff members, and brought back one of the things Chef Anthony Marco missed most: connection. Students are nurtured by more than the food when staff members remember their dietary needs and slip into the back to bring them a special slice of pizza, or tell them that the watermelon is extra good today because they know a student likes it. And now when Upper Division kids have compliments for the chef, they can deliver them in person!
Park Continued Support for the Pine Street Inn – Last spring, we reflected on the loss of the beloved chop-a-thon fundraiser but celebrated the Park PA’s determination to find a way to give back via community outreach with support for The Pine Street Inn. This year, the Park PA continued their support with another drive, collecting over 400 items to create Welcome Home baskets for individuals previously impacted by homelessness. The drive continued to be a safe and socially distanced way to provide community outreach.
Springfest Returned! On February 28th of 2020 a colorful, cheerful advert for Springfest 2020 was published on the Park Parent Editorial website. Reader, it did not happen. Nor did it happen in a traditional sense the following year. In June of 2021 the Park Parents’ Association wrote about a year of P.A. Meetings via zoom and Springfest at Home complete with goodie bags and tie-dyed t-shirts. This year, Springfest was back in person! Community, carousel, cotton candy and more as families and staff gathered together on the field, raising funds for Park PA grants and having fun.