Finding Pieces of The House

Seniors Come on Campus for a Special Grade Event


Photo credit: Nick Skok

A group of senior boys prepare for their escape into parker. Photo courtesy of Nick Skok.

From the outside, on March 6, Parker looked like its normal self. The girls field hockey team and boys soccer team sharing the field, musical practice resumed, and more traditional Parker activities occurred. On the inside, though, it was a different story. Parker was transformed into a treasure hunt/ escape room event for the senior class to participate in. On March 6, around 60 seniors entered Parker’s doors to embark on the ‘treasure hunt.’ 

Jenny Friedes, senior parent and an involved member of the Parker community, brought the idea of putting together a treasure hunt for the class of 2021. The idea, including the logistics and parameters, was presented to the medical committee and approved.  

Friedes first had the idea to create an event when talking with her son, senior Bodie Florsheim, who shared how much he wished to go back to school. “My desire was to get the kids in school who really missed the school,” Friedes said. “I wanted to give them time and a forum for them to hang out in school together in small groups because I still wanted it to be COVID safe.”

The seniors split themselves into groups of five to eight people and came up with a team name. Each group had a staggered arrival, every 30 minutes between 12 pm- 4 pm, so they would not expose themselves to other groups. All seniors had the opportunity to participate in the event. “Everybody was health screened and anyone who had chosen to stay remote was still able to participate if they brought their saliva sample in,” Upper School Dean of Student Life Joe Bruno said. 

In addition to the differing arrival times, the same COVID-19 precautions and more were taken for this event. “Temperatures were taken before they entered the building, the saliva samples were given, masks were worn,” Bruno said. Additionally, seniors were also not supposed to stop to talk to members of other groups to avoid further exposure.

Senior Amelia Hoerr believes that the precautions put into place were effective. “There was definitely social distancing to a limit,” Hoerr said. “The groups were small and we couldn’t see the other groups.”

The objective of the ‘treasure hunt’ was to find pieces of the “Parker House” from the Corinthians MX from around the school and put it together. “This was an extremely intricate treasure hunt, escape room type event jammed packed full of riddles, clues, and activities,” Bruno said, “It started in the lobby and ended in the auditorium balcony.”

Friedes employed many different strategies to create a successful event. “I used escape room techniques and not just treasure hunt techniques, but some ciphers, puzzles, and lockboxes, and black light type of things,” Friedes said. “I utilized the escape room scheme but had them move around the school, so they could also be in the school in various parts.”

Parents, the administrators, and the medical subcommittee were all supportive of the event. “We had a lot of enthusiasm for it from the beginning,” Friedes said. “The easiest part was getting people to be on board.”

The planning of the event also included parents entering the building, most of which have also not been in Parker for a year. “We forget how much Parker is a part of their [parent’s] lives too. The fact that so many of the parents were eager to help, and also miss being present here, really shows how much of a community we are,” Friedes said. 

To Friedes, the purpose of the event was more about the seniors’ ability to be in the building together. “I was shooting for clever, but not frustrating.  I was not 100% successful with 100% of the people, but on the whole, I felt pretty good about the balance we were able to strike,” Friedes said, “Ultimately, this wasn’t about the activity itself.”

The event took a month of full-time planning from Friedes. She had to think about a variety of ciphers and projects she could enact to help the seniors to best use the space. However, because of the coronavirus, they only had access to the Upper School areas. “Because of how carefully it was done it went over really well,” Bruno said, “and it was so wonderful seeing the excitement, the comradery, the sportspersonship that exuded from the students.”

One of the most challenging parts of planning it was the logistical unknowns. “I did not know if it was difficult, I did not know if it was easy, if it was clever to them, or if it was boring to them,” Friedes said, “so the unknowing of what they would be interested in and what level of difficulty I could put in.”

Bruno believes that it was a huge deal to be able to get the seniors into the building. “I think getting students into the building in such a creative way was a huge success, as I’m sure you can imagine seniors have especially had a tough year knowing that this is their last year at Parker,” Bruno said. 

Hoerr enjoyed the event and the potential that came with it. “It definitely gives me hope for more in-person events just because it worked out so well,” Hoerr said. 

The event was perceived well by members of the community and was very successful.  “There was a lot of great energy, gratitude, students were really gracious, a lot of thank yous. Everyone listened well, so that was a big success. And they had a lot of fun while doing it,” Bruno said.

The event got a huge positive response from parents and students alike. “It was an outpouring of gratitude from the students and the parents in a way that overwhelmed me,” Friedes said, “I teared up on the day watching how well it was working because I was really moved by how much the students seemed to appreciate it. They thanked me afterwards individually.”