A Day in the Life of the Parker Pond

Traditions are unique to human culture and help bond us together. For younger children especially, traditions give them an important sense of belonging, not only to their family, but also to their village. This is an essential component of helping children to define what their community values and figure out what their own identity within that community is.

This year at Parker, we have been very thoughtful about the need to preserve traditions for our children in a year where so much has changed for them. Our creative and responsive faculty has met this challenge head on, adapting and (dare we say) even improving on some of our timeless traditions by making them not only safe but also more focused and intentional. We saw this last week with our teacher-led reimagining of Robert C. Parker Day. This week, our lower and middle school science teachers preserved our long-standing tradition of participating in Day in the Life of the Hudson by organizing a Day in the Life of Parker Pond. 
Led by John Sherry (MS Science) and Leiana Hawkins (LS Science), Parker 8th graders upheld their tradition of taking on the role as science teachers for our younger students by leading our 3rd and 4th grade students through a morning of hands-on science discovery at the Parker pond. Leiana reflected, “It is a rite of passage for the 8th grade to lead this program for the younger science students, and John and I wanted to make sure that something that we look forward to could still happen.”
The 8th graders led the 3-4s through three different stations, where each team of older students guided the younger students through experiments and learning about macroinvertebrates, turbidity, water temperature, wind speed and direction. As John said of his 8th graders, ““When they are out there in the pond having to teach these things to little kids, it gives them a level of confidence with the material that they don’t get otherwise. It’s fun to let the teachers take a backseat and watch the kids teach kids. It feels like you’ve come full circle.” 

John also added, “I think it’s important for the younger kids to hear from somebody other than an adult. It’s pretty cool for them to realize all the things that these older students get to learn from their classes. In a way, it’s like they get a sneak peak of what’s coming. I feel like they look forward to becoming an 8th grader and getting to teach these things themselves.”
As for what the 3rd and 4th graders thought, Leiana shared, “They loved it! After our experience at Staats Island in previous years, their expectations were high. We’re used to doing this at a beautiful, scenic, historic sight that is all ours. It was obviously greatly shrunken this year, but they loved it all the same. They were all up to the tops of their boots in the pond, and it was almost more exciting because we were finding things that were actually in OUR backyard. It was really great to take lessons that they had learned before, relevant to the Hudson, and make them really local to our pond.”

John reflected further on the 8th grade experience, saying “The 8th graders felt so good about themselves. Afterwards they were asking questions and really happy. They shared questions that the younger kids gave them, and they were blown away by the amazing ideas they had. It really helped drive home this notion that even when you think you’ve learned something entirely and it’s pretty cut and dry, there is always more to explore.”
Participating in “A Day in the Life” is a valued tradition here at Parker because it gives students the tools to act as knowledgeable stewards of our natural resources. The scientific work Parker students do here ignites a love for the environment. Students become advocates for clean water from an early age as they see the importance of their own contributions to studying the subject. We are grateful for the talented teachers at Parker who persevere in not only maintaining our traditions, but evolving them to become more meaningful.
All Together Now!
Here at Parker, students and faculty alike have all been longing for the multi-age connections that are typically such an integral part of our school year. So we did what Parker does best, we solved our problem with purposeful action! For the first time ever, the entire school ate lunch together on Parker’s field today. Classes were amply spaced apart, but the field was nonetheless abuzz with the excitement of seeing each other and being all together.