COVID-19 Strikes Again

Parker Partners Cancelled due to COVID-19 Regulations


Photo credit: Gray Joseph

Parker’s middle school parker partners in 2018 when they were able to meet in person. Photo courtesy of Gray Joseph.

In past years, middle school students have spent one half-day, once a month, traveling around the city of Chicago, visiting the community, and helping and meeting others. Middle school students visit schools, nursing homes, dog shelters, and many other places around the city. Parker Parkers help middle school students get involved in the community and gain new experiences. However, due to the pandemic and social distancing, the future of Parker Partners is unknown. 

Seventh grader Victoria Grove had a positive experience in the program last year. “I do like Parker Partners because it’s really nice to get out of school and do activities and it feels good to think you’re helping others and doing good stuff,” Grove said. Her favorite memory of Parker Partners was going to Casa Central. “We went to the Latinx preschool and got to hang out with the kids and paint and play with them. It was really fun getting to know them and they were nice.” 

Middle school administrators believe Parker Partners are essential for middle schoolers to get involved in the community. “Parker Partners is, indeed, an essential component of the Middle School experience at Parker,” Head of Middle School John Novick said. “It enables students over three years to explore and learn about the breadth of experiences in our city, to get outside the bubble, and to connect with others they wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to meet and learn about in a school day.”

Intermediate and Middle School Dean of Student Life Traveres White also believes Parker Partners is great for middle schoolers and is essential to the Parker community. “I think it’s great for Middle School students,” White said. “Parker Partners gets middle schoolers out of the school building and out into the community. Our partnerships with various organizations and initiatives allow students to engage in advocacy efforts that expose them to the greater community that have varying lenses, stories, and perspectives.”

Due to COVID-19, Parker Partners has not been happening. Parker Partners wasn’t able to meet the CDC’s or Parker’s health standards. “Sadly, this experience is one of the losses to COVID-19,” Novick said. “It’s just not possible to replicate the experience virtually, and it would be impossible to maintain our vital health and safety protocols during this pandemic in the program. This year, the focus is on helping and supporting and encouraging one another in each pod to continue to be healthy and well during the pandemic. That’s a big job, alone.” 

Novick is optimistic that Parker Partners will continue in the future and be a big part of middle school. “I am confident that with Ms. Tabor’s leadership and our new Head of Intermediate and Middle School Vahn Phayprasert joining the Parker community this July, Parker Partners will continue to evolve and thrive,” Novick said. “It challenges our students and helps them grow. It is an important program for the school.”

Parker Partners is another tradition at Parker that had to be postponed this year. Middle schoolers have not been able to go out into the community to help and meet others. However, the middle school administration is optimistic about a return of Parker Partners next year and for the years to come.