Scenes from an Inauguration

“A peaceful transfer of power,” is a phrase repeated by newscasters at every inauguration. This week’s ceremony continued democracy’s great achievement, leaving unbroken the precedent set by John Adams after he lost the presidency to Thomas Jefferson in the bitterly contested election of 1800.

Watching the inauguration with students this week was moving. Our littlest PreK students thought about the weighty concept of a promise, and made some of their own, as they learned about what an oath is.

Other students were fascinated by the oath of office and re-enacted the ceremony. Suddenly, having two little girls play the roles of Supreme Court justice and vice-president didn’t feel so imaginary. In another moving moment, our student Devi lit up with a face of pure joy when the new vice president’s full name, including her middle name “Devi”, flashed up on the screen. No little girl has ever experienced that before in America.

Talking about the inauguration with children matters. In allowing our students to experience the events of the day with us here at school, we show them that what happens in the real world matters here at school. Current events don’t just happen “out there”; they are directly tied to the skills, challenges, and learning that is happening here and now. Our students know that they can trust the adults in their lives to be open with them about difficult and life-changing events because they are experiencing them together in real time. The conversations, critical-thinking, and love-of-learning born out of educational moments like these will carry for a lifetime.

As you scroll down and enjoy the images, words, and videos shared from our inauguration day, I am sure you will be filled with the same hopes and dreams we grown-ups are feeling here at Parker, and join with us in looking forward with bright optimism to the future we see here right in front of us.

1-2s Take the Oath
1-2s Take the Oath*Click on the image below to see a video of our 1-2 students who, inspired by the day’s events, decided to hold their own swearing in ceremonies.
“Inaugurations are moments when we, as American citizens, can pause and marvel at the peaceful transfer of power. I love to have my students observe these moments and reflect on what they are witnessing. Given that this transition was not peaceful, but today was ultimately successful, I really wanted to experience and process the meaning of today’s events with my kids. Children at this age take in the pomp and circumstance, are alert to the grandeur of the Capitol steps, and sense the gravity of the moment. They were intrigued by the Oath of Office, as they understand the weight of promises at this age. They were also fully invested in processing the idea of a first female Vice President. In listening to President Biden’s speech, my students noted words like fairness, children, and hope. My aim was for them to see that politics matter, and that they will ultimately inherit a responsibility as citizens to weigh in on the issues of the day. Our Power of Flexibility work this week had us thinking over the changes in mindset that were necessary to bring a woman of color to the vice presidency. And today, we spent time listening to and looking at the language of Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem. All in all, it was a wonderful week to teach children about our responsibilities and the role they play as citizens of the world.” ~Lynn Schuster, 1-2 Teacher
PreK Promises
“We were able to witness history this week in our PreK classroom. On Wednesday, we talked about our new president and vice president and that they would be making a “promise” to our country when they were inaugurated. We talked about what a promise is (PINKY PROMISE!) and heard phrases such as “trying your hardest” and “saying that you will do something”. We talked about the President’s promise being an “Oath of Office”, and that he promises to do his best to help our country be the best it can be. And then we watched! The children were excited to see “President Joe Biden” and “Vice President Kamala Harris” when they made their promises. Later, we brought the topic of promises into our classroom, and each child was asked to make a promise to help our classroom be the best it could be. We often talk about how our actions can help a space feel friendly, so the children were able to make their own promises and seal them with a handprint.” ~Michele Ridgeway, PreK Teacher
5th Grade Presidents Rap
*Click on the image below to select a president and see each student’s musical interpretation of their history!
“As long as I have been a teacher and have taught 5th grade I have been teaching Rap of the Presidents by Theresa Jennings. Although this was written during the G.W. Bush administration; it has become a tradition for each new class to rewrite the ending to expand on our current history. It has also become tradition for each student to look into the past and find a past president that they would like to create a rap about, highlighting their achievements, life facts and anecdotes that promote the president in a positive light. Students research and listen to a variety at modern rap examples to highlight and learn the techniques and intricacies of rap to incorporate into their own productions.” ~Sara Feltes, PreK-8th Music Teacher
Spanish Connections
“In Spanish class, my middle school kids have been working in groups to find and share information in Spanish about two hispanic participants in the inauguration — Sonia Sotomayor and Jennifer Lopez. For those kids that saw the inauguration, they were able to discuss the roles the two women played in the festivities with their classmates. As Jennifer Lopez used some Spanish between her musical numbers, I wrote what she said on a notecard, and once the kids identified some of the words, they were able to figure out that the words came from “The Pledge of Allegiance.” ~Jen Baker
A Conversation in Kindergarten
Leigh: Today we’re going to do something really different. We’re going to watch TV; the Inauguration Program! Do we usually watch TV at school?
Class: NOOOO
Charles: Yeah, but this isn’t regular TV. This is, like, important.
Ida: This is important because Kamala Harris is the first girl vice president of color.
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Our Head of School, Laura Graceffa, and Academic Director, Jennifer Gresens, are beaming under their masks after receiving their first doses of the COVID vaccine at SUNY Albany last week. Nearly all Parker employees will have had both their first and second vaccinations by the end of February.
*Robert C. Parker School follows NYS guidelines and protocols for school safety during Covid.