Just Jones

Cross-grade Friendships & A Tribute to my Parker Hall of Fame


When I think of my past four years at Parker, I see Ava Ori and Emma Jung on the field hockey field, comments from Leila Sheridan on my latest SCOUT article, President Wagner on stage during plenary, Alex Carlin at the MUN podium, and Tess and Ivy in the choir room. My entire high school experience has been defined by a factor I could have never anticipated as a Freshman: cross-grade friendships.  

When I think of the benefits of having cross-grade friendships, I immediately think of all the classes, teachers, tests, and projects I’ve navigated through with older Parker students’ unsolicited guidance. From shared mystery box reports to advice on the dos and don’ts of Elliot quizzes and Laufer essays, to what classes are worth it senior year, to how to pass the Advanced Geometry final: the stories that I’ve been told and the directions that I’ve been given from older Parker students have held my hand all throughout high school. I would even go so far to say there’s a culture of paying it forward. Something tells me that the study docs and physics labs shared with me may have some even older inspiration too. 

A hallmark of the Parker academic school is year, and one of my favorite times of year is application season in the spring. The lovely and equally stressful stretch of two/three weeks is defined by a flood of application emails everywhere from Cabinet appointments, to Model UN Captains, to new Editor-in-Chiefs (EICS). On the receiving end, it’s fun to get another email in your inbox that reads Congratulations, but on the applying end, this time of the year can redefine goals entirely. I never realized how much having older friends was influencing my high school experience until the spring of my freshman year. 

On another April, COVID day, I received an email in my inbox from SCOUT magazine titled “SCOUT EIC,” an email that would change the course of my high school experience. The email personally urged me to apply for the Editor-in-Chief position because of my “creativity, diligence, and dedication to the publication.” Now either freshman year Rania’s writing was truly impressive or I made the right impression on the right people – I’ll never know why I was especially worthy for the position as a freshman. 

Like SCOUT, close to every extracurricular leadership team at Parker is selected by students. The infamous Elected Cabinet Retreat in the spring is a selection day where kids compare other kids with each other for positions. Close to every conversation during application season looks something like weighing the actual writing and ideas of an application, with what we know and think about the student applying. And though some groups have moved into “anonymous applications,” some level of the selection process will always have something to do with the name on the application. Regardless of what positions I have or haven’t gotten, extracurriculars at Parker have been among the most special parts of the high school experience. 

When I leave this building I’m going to remember the Friday afternoons I spent drawing on my sheet music with Ivy, or the intimidation I felt standing up at the Model UN podium facing Zach Joseph and Julia Marks. I’m going to remember the backstage secret-spilling with Bella Charfoos and Sophia Rogers and the Cabinet text chains I had with Alex Carlin. The relationships that I made in these spaces at Parker have shaped me into a chaotic, yet unique leader and friend that I am today.

If you’ve ever spent a day with me and my friends, you may have heard the term “forever seniors.” Though a term we’ve recently abandoned (maybe in hopes of living up to it ourselves), we long cherished the impact that a specific senior class at Parker had on us. This building is full of an insane amount of slang terms everywhere from “mathletes vs athletes” to “fourteen-year gang.” As a new-to-Parker student in eighth grade and someone without any older family ties in high school, my cross-grade friendships helped define so many social cues at Parker that I would otherwise be completely foreign to. Who knew that the “pasta bowl party” was more than just a pasta dinner, or that nobody actually eats popcorn at “the popcorn party.” 

Though an A-Z Parker Social encyclopedia would’ve been helpful, the friendships that I cultivated gave me all the inside scoop I could’ve ever needed. More than anything I’d experienced prior to my time at Parker, the culture here shapes you to always look forward to getting older. From my freshman year, there are so many things that I looked forward to everywhere from one to three years away. As my time here nears its end, I find myself pushing the emphasis on friends in younger grades to “treat everything like the biggest deal ever.” From white out game shirts and posters, to prom and homecoming Instagram inspiration, I’ve always understood that a norm at Parker is idolizing those older than you. 

As I near the end of my time at Parker, I wonder what kind of legacy I’m leaving behind. Constantly living with such big shoes to fill, my high school experience has influenced my cross-grade friendships in such a variety of ways, but I’m eternally grateful. With a blueprint on the dos and don’ts of all things Parker and high school, I live every day at this school striving to leave a legacy as great as the ones that I’ve always looked up to. 


You know you love me, 

Rania Jones