In-Person Interactions

Student Programming Board Plans Upper School In-Person Events


Photo credit: Marcy Zoller

The in-person events committee is looking to plan more in-person events similar to the class gatherings in the beginning of the year. Here, the junior class is gathered in the courtyard. Photo courtesy of Marcy Zoller.

This school year, Parker Upper Schooler’s sole way of seeing classmates who are outside of their school groups or friend groups is through Parker sponsored in-person events. This is why Dean of Student Life Joe Bruno took the responsibility of forming an in-person events committee, with the official title of “Student Programming Board.” In Bruno’s email announcing the committee, he described the group’s intent as being able to “help lead planning efforts for on campus events and social activities over the next few months.” This group will lead efforts to bring the Upper School together, as close as COVID-19 guidelines permit. 

Bruno has called upon students to join his newly created Student Programming Board. Now more than ever, students are separated from each other while all across the city they learn from their homes. “With the announcement that we will be remote until the end of the first semester, I know that students are looking for a way to socially connect with their peers as we are remote learning,” Bruno said. “They are looking for that way to connect in person.”

The board is run by students, for students. Its intent is to cultivate engaging activities for any age or type of high school student. “For me, it’s very important that these opportunities are created through the lens of the student,” Bruno said. “These social gatherings are not about me, they are not about any other teacher, they are about students. I wanted to make sure they are exactly what students want and not what I think they want.” 

The committee is open for any student of any Upper School grade level to join. “I joined the committee because I really wanted to get more involved in the school,” said freshman Alesandra Ozbek. “I also wanted students to be able to get to know each other while acknowledging COVID-19.”

“I don’t love being at home by myself all day everyday,” junior Sophia Rogers said. “I wanted an opportunity to share my thoughts on events I know I myself would want to be a part of.”

Bruno formed a similar board last spring, when the class of 2020 seniors was forced online. “There are several end of the year senior traditions,” Bruno said. “I wanted to make sure that we were planning them with the seniors in complete focus, so I created a task force for those seniors.”

“I am doing something similar to the senior task force, now with the whole Upper School, to make sure these events are exactly what students want,” Bruno said.

Henry Weil, a sophomore at Parker is also on the Student Programming Board. “I joined the committee because I think now it’s even more important to have some sort of social interaction,” Weil said. “Being with other people, even if it’s masked or socially distanced, is still really important social interaction, especially being teenagers.” 

Weil describes his ideal in person event to be a movie night. “It’s probably the easiest to do with COVID-19,” Weil said. 

Weil sees room for improvement from the in-person grade events and in-person advisory that occurred in the early fall. “It was just a little boring,” Weil said. “I think they lost a lot of time doing not a lot of things.”

“I would like to make the events less intimidating and more exciting, so people actually want to show up,” Ozbek said. 

The board is planning mixed grade events that any Upper Schooler can sign up for. The events will not be separated by advisory or group and are open to anyone who signs up while there is still space available. 

A potential incentive for students to attend relies on food. “We can’t force people to attend,” Weil said. “But I think maybe offering food after, not to eat there, but to get and go.” Another idea Weil would consider is a food raffle with gift cards, similar to Student Government Senate’s Postmates food raffle. 

The committee met together on Zoom for the first time on November 2 and is already planning events for the year. “Before anything gets confirmed, Mr. Bruno has to get the ideas cleared by the medical committee,” Weil said. “Ideas we have are a movie night, a Christmas walk or Zoo Lights, a club night for different clubs to meet, and then some sort of 12 Days for Seniors or other grades to meet separately.”

“I think the goal is to think like the rest of the student body,” Rogers said. “We want to think about if you were on the other side of this process what events you would want to like proposed and be thrilled to go to.”