3rd Grade Says Goodbye

Thanksgiving MX Is Replaced with Spring MX


Photo credit: Parker School

This Fall will mark the first year since the founding of the Thanksgiving Morning Exercise, that it will not take place. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s restriction on gathering sizes, the entire Parker community will not be crowding into the auditorium in late November to sing “Simple Gifts” at the top of their lungs. Instead, classes are canceled the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, no students will be at 330 W. Webster, and the auditorium will be silent.

Not only is the third grade not going to lead Parker through the traditional Turkey Day MX this year, but the change is also more permanent than many members of the Parker community had expected. “The third graders aren’t going to host the Thanksgiving MX anymore anyway. So this was already going to be the first year that we didn’t host it,” said Third Grade Teacher Amy Przygoda.

The third grade team has decided, based on input from their indigenous people’s consultant, that the role of the third grade in the Thanksgiving MX will no longer exist. Instead, the third graders will present their learning about Indigenous people at an MX in the spring. “I think it’s going to be a lot more meaningful for the third graders,” Przygoda said. 

There has been no public information shared about whether next year the Thanksgiving MX will be canceled or if only the third grade’s part of the MX will be gone. “I think that the lower school should have an active role in the Thanksgiving Morning Ex,” said Molly Donahue ‘60, a former long-time third grade teacher, Parker parent emeritus, and founder of the Thanksgiving MX.  “The reason that the third grade took over was because by the time Thanksgiving came around, we were studying the native tribes in Chicago,” said Donahue. Many current students are also quite fond of the November highlight. “I think that the Thanksgiving MX is an essential part of the holiday celebrations at Parker,” said ninth grade student Jack Charfoos. 

The Thanksgiving Morning Ex has always been one of the cornerstone events during the school year, when the entire community comes together to share an experience. “The Parker idea of being an entire school is vitally important and is one of the things that I valued the most about being a student there and being a teacher there and being a parent there,” said Donahue.

The third grade made its first appearance in the Thanksgiving Morning Ex in 1979, according to Donahue. “We tried to find a topic that was not just pilgrims. It was the earth or…we tried to come up with something each year that was more universal than just pilgrims.”  Donahue also shared that prior to the third grade’s involvement in the Morning Ex, the traditional presentation was overseen by Bart Wolgamot in the music department.

As society has progressed, many Parker traditions have been reshaped to fit the current social climate. The Thanksgiving MX, just like many other unique Parker experiences, will undergo some changes.  “I believe that the job is to do the best where you are at your moment in history and move forward,” said Donahue. While change can cause a variety of emotions from joy to dismay, particularly for an activity that has been a core thread of Parker for many students, it is important to remember the words of Joseph Brackett, “To turn, turn will be our delight, till by turning, turning we come ‘round right.”