With Age Comes Wisdom: Excerpts from our Alumni Panel

Educational philosopher John Dewey once said, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” Just before break, we at Parker were honored to practice some reflection of our own by welcoming back our Class of 2020 graduates to participate in a Transition to High School panel with our current 8th graders. This was the first time these now-sophomores have set foot on campus since March of 2020. Nearly two years ago they walked out of Parker, not knowing they would never return as students. They did not even have the chance to officially say goodbye. Needless to say, welcoming this group back was bittersweet and heart-warming, and the evening was punctuated by immense gratitude and joy for the opportunity to come full circle.
Our 2020 graduates returned to campus mature and articulate, having kept Parker close to their hearts. Listening to their conversations, it is clear that they miss Parker, have fully embraced their high school experiences, and also probably stay up too late;) It is apparent that they have grown into flexible learners that think outside the box and lean into uncertainty and change. As high schoolers, they now value questioning and problem-solving, and they have the academic and emotional intelligence to meet the challenges of our time head on.
The following questions and answers, posed by Parker 8th graders and answered by our alumni, are insightful windows into how our teens experience and process these momentous years of transition in their lives. They are also a strong testament to the confidence and character nurtured by a Parker education. We are proud to share their reflections with you, and we hope you will join us in celebrating all the learning that continues to shine through in our esteemed graduates.
Is high school stressful?
“It’s only stressful if you make it stressful. You’ve got to manage your time going into it. You have to prepare yourself for every test, and stay organized too. I wouldn’t say it’s too bad. The work isn’t that bad. You just have to pay attention and prepare yourself.” ~Manny
“I think it’s a little stressful. If you wait until the last second it gets so stressful, especially if you have a test to study for or a paper to do. As long as you manage your work and your time, then it’s fine.” ~Liam G.
What is your advice for how to make friends or connect with people?
“It’s pretty easy to make friends in a bigger school. There are just so many people – whatever kind of personality you have you know you can find people that are in your niche. There are also webs of people with similar interests between sports and clubs, so if you meet one person they can introduce you to others that you will probably get along with.” ~Jo
How much homework do you get on average?
“I generally have about an hour of homework per night, but personally I think the quizzes and tests are more stressful. We have a lot more of those than we had at Parker, but I got used to it pretty quickly.” ~Christopher
“I’m in an interesting situation because at Tech Valley, everything is group work. I find you won’t be overwhelmed with homework if you pace it yourself. Most of my assignments we are given a week to complete. If you wait until the last two days, you’re obviously going to be overwhelmed. But if you pace it out, you’ll be fine.” ~Amy
Did the work at Parker prepare you for some of the academic challenges you’re facing now?
“Yes. In English and History, the papers we did at Parker really prepared me for the work I’m doing now. I know what to do and how to research and find data thanks to our thesis project. I felt really prepared.” ~Max
“In my experience, my work in high school actually doesn’t have to be as high quality to get a good grade as it did at Parker. The standard for the amount of effort I had to put in to do a good job at Parker was definitely higher than it is now at my high school.” ~Liam R.
In what ways do you think Parker best prepared you for high school?
“I think Parker really helped with doing projects and learning how to manage them. Also, doing the thesis helped me a lot because it gave me confidence in my abilities to handle other big projects that are on a longer timeline.” ~Liam G.
“One thing I think was really important about Parker is that it taught me how to advocate for myself and get the help I need. Now that I’m at a big public school, those things don’t just happen automatically. If I want to improve on something or I want to understand better, I need to make a point of asking. The teachers are willing to help, but I have to seek it out. I think my relationships with my teachers at Parker laid the groundwork for that.” ~Jo
What is it like going from being the very oldest and in charge of everything to being the new kids on the block?
“It was definitely interesting. People joke about older kids hazing or bullying the freshman, but I’ve never seen or heard of that happening. My advice is to do sport or a club. When you do that, you get to interact with a lot of different and older kids. Then, because you hang out with them during practice, it’s a lot easier to also talk with them during the day.” ~Christopher
What do you miss most about Parker?
“Parker was not as stressful because all of the teachers were so much more understanding and a lot more helpful. In English, for example, earlier this year I had to write a 5-page paper, and they haven’t checked the paper yet. They don’t help you at all, and you just get the grade that you get.” ~Ben
“I miss having a good relationship with my teachers. At high school there are so many teachers, it’s hard to make yourself known to them. But here you can call teachers by their first name and have a good relationship with them, so it’s more fun to go to school. I also like the property here, and going to a small school where there were not so many people.” ~Max
If you could go back in time and do anything different in 8th grade, is there something you would do differently?
“Have fun and enjoy your last few months with your classmates. I think of that most because we weren’t able to do it. We had to go online, so we didn’t get to do any of the class trips, events, or presentations together that we had been building towards. Just enjoy these times together, and don’t take it for granted. This is going to be one of your best years at Parker.” ~Ben
“You don’t have to worry about the school work because Parker prepares you for that. Just worry about making friends and being a good person.” ~Max