Sliding & Skating & Sledding — Oh My!

The highlight of winter here at Parker has traditionally been our Winter Fridays program, which originally took place on the six Fridays between winter break and President’s Day. Designed to encourage and celebrate outdoor activities at a time when our inclinations are to hibernate, Winter Fridays allowed students to engage in an adventurous array of outdoor physical activities (downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, ice skating) as a fun way to stay engaged with nature even when she is frosty and biting. Each Friday, classes would end at noon, and students would spend the afternoon happily engaged in their chosen sport along with Parker faculty and parent chaperones. Our program was so innovative for a school that we were even featured in The New York Times!
*Please click on the photo to see a video of our Kindergarteners penguin sliding!
This year, our official Winter Fridays program was once again suspended because we cannot safely transport students to multiple activities off campus due to COVID. Thanks to the tireless creative energies of our teachers, however, Parker students have continued to enjoy a new host of exciting outdoor traditions right here on our own campus. From exploratory hikes in the woods to penguin-belly slides on the ice, Parker students of all ages are meeting this frosty season with fresh-faced enjoyment. Sledding has quickly become a favorite activity for students of all ages, and occasionally we will even find a teacher or two tearing down our hills:)
*Please click on the photo to see a video of our Kindergarteners enjoying the ice!
Another beloved new tradition that was started last year is skating on our Parker pond. It is hard to remember that the pond has not always been here, but it was just built in 2013-2014. Born out of the strategic idea to capitalize on our natural science environment, the pond was originally built with the intention of enhancing opportunities for scientific discovery and analysis as part of our outdoor-based science program. For years, the pond has served as a centerpiece for exploring water ecosystems, clean water advocacy, and STEM projects. And now, thanks to the pandemic, we have discovered it’s freezing-weather appeal as a magical, winter wonderland.
This past week, students have thoroughly enjoyed the shiny new surface of our frozen pond. Middle school students eat lunch quickly and then race out to lace up and skate through recess. Even our 3-4 class got in on some skating action by heading out with their middle school buddies. Leigh’s kindergarteners enjoyed slip-sliding around on Thursday afternoon, and even our PreK class plans to venture out next week to explore the crystalline landscape next week.
*Please click on the photo to see a video of our middle school ice skating at recess!
Of course, this new love for our pond is not without considerable labor. Parker owes a huge debt of gratitude to our middle schoolers for volunteering to shovel off the initial crusty layer of snow, and to our parent/faculty team of Matt Thornton, Darcy DeMaria and Jesse Hoffman for their considerable prep work in flooding the pond in freezing temperatures to make the surface smooth. Thanks to them, and the endless commitment and flexibility of our teachers who have organized to enable this special winter activity, our students are creating unique memories that they will carry with them for years to come. It brings a smile to our face to know that someday our Parker students will talk with their adult friends and say, “What do you mean you didn’t ice skate during recess?!” Childhood done well? CHECK!
*Please click on the photo to see a video of our middle schoolers sledding!
*If you or someone you know has either figure skates, hockey skates, or helmets of any size that are no longer being used, we would greatly appreciate if you would consider donating them to Parker! Not all of our students have skates and helmets! We have been sharing the few donated items we have, but we would love to be able to outfit every child who wants to skate at any time! Please contact Andrea Hartman or Matt Thornton if you have any questions!
Donor Supported Upgrades!
Our new water bottle filling stations are here!!! We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the donors who made a contribution to Parker’s end-of-school-year appeal last spring in support of adding these fountains to our campus. They have been a huge hit among students and faculty alike, and we appreciate that they help us to further our commitment to reducing plastic waste and promoting earth-friendly habits.