The 14 Year Experience

W Stands For Witch


I start this article in a pool of irony. Currently, these words are being typed at noon on Friday, February 3, 2023, at my kitchen counter. Whereas I am supposed to be attending my Advanced Calculus class, I am writing a Weekly article drinking a cup of freshly brewed tea watching the cold breeze shake the trees. The irony in this is that this article’s topic is about the Parker building, however, a power outage surprised community members and school was canceled due to this unprecedented event.

Now, the dedicated readers will realize that I didn’t start my column with a long, convoluted anecdote. I know that I’m quite the raconteur, but one of the main criticisms that I receive is that my column is too long and labyrinthine. So, I am just getting straight to the point for this article (maybe this time my title won’t be censored). For this article, I plan on writing and speaking on the Parker building. Also, another piece of information, I intend on being a little bit more positive and optimistic in my expressions about the school. Not only is karma a devious cow, but my denial of graduating in three months is starting to dissipate. 

In my tenure at Parker, I have found that the school focuses on symbolism. Throughout the school and the building, symbolism can be found everywhere. From the butting bricks on the outside to the four levels, it is apparent that the architects of Parker honed in on every small detail. 

When I started attending Parker as a JKer, my classroom was at the very edge of Parker and the furthest distance from the entrance. We were literally in a different building. Though it seemed strange at first, as I grew older, I realized the importance and symbolism that that held. As students grow up, mature, and become functional, global citizens, they move up in the school; both literally and figuratively. It is no coincidence that the majority of senior classes are on the fourth floor (other than math and science which is absolutely absurd. Like come on. I rack up over 100 flights of stairs every day). 

From lower school to intermediate school, students move from the first floor to the second floor. From intermediate to middle, students go from the second floor to the third floor. Finally, from middle to high school, students isolate themselves on the fourth floor. Back in the day, the lockers had a similar altitudinal system. Freshmen started in the lowest locker bay and worked their way up. Nowadays, it doesn’t work like that. And yes, I am still annoyed that I am in the red/freshmen locker area. Anyways, this structure was definitely thoroughly planned and thought out. Sure there are some miscreants and outliers, but if you look at it as a big picture, it works. 

As mentioned before, the bricks in the wall again are heavily saturated in symbolism. A curious bystander who meanders by the Parker campus may look at the brick wall and wonder, “why are some bricks sticking out? Why are some of them discolored? Why isn’t the outside perfect looking?” Ever since a young age, we’ve been instilled with the ideology of diversity, inclusivity, and community. In lower school, our teachers and administrators gave us an answer on why the brick wall isn’t perfectly laid. They explained that since our community isn’t perfect and we are all independent and unique individuals, the outside of our school should portray that and be a reflection of our community. It was injected into our minds that a community is only as distinctive and strong as each individual. A community is just the bond that conjoins the individuals through a common aspect. And since each individual in our Parker community is special and eccentric, the first thing people should see is a mirror of that idea. 

Let’s broaden our view on the Parker building. There are many other pieces of the Parker building then just the brick wall. The entrance off of Clark is a pillar of Parker. It is literally what a model school entrance looks like. Jo Anderson Drive is always packed with irritated and impatient parents as children run up the stairs into the lobby. If I were to ever film a movie/TV show that required a bustling school, I would film the Parker entrance from 7:50 am to 8:10 am. There, during those times, most of the 900 students can be seen in their abnormally large backpacks and a furious curiosity. The entrance is certainly something I will miss when I’m off at college. 

However, the entrance isn’t all glamor and praise. The most apparent issue with the entrance is the elevator. After being a part of a Civic Lab that taught us about the ADA and disabilities, I find that the very old and impractical elevator and wheelchair accessibility is lacking. Also, what is the deal with ID’s? I mean, do we have to use them everytime we walk into the building? Or… I’m not sure, but I’m still at Parker and my privileges haven’t been revoked yet. But other than those, I think the entrance of Parker is beautiful, efficient, and just all around Parker-esque. 

Now, once one enters the Parker building, the structure isn’t very complicated. It is built like a hollowed out square. Hallways are the perimeters with classes/rooms are budging out of them with all the hallways encircling the Courtyard. The classrooms and offices are not hard to locate and walking from class to class is efficient and effective. Again, the architecture with the building is very fluid and easy. As a student, I am pleased that I didn’t have to book it across a 2 mile campus in five minutes just to get to class. The five minute passing periods (two minutes depending on who your teacher is) is sufficient enough time to leisurely walk to the next class. 

The courtyard is also such a perfect and wondrous place. Not only is it located between the entire school, it is yet more symbolism Parker decided to create. One of the school’s most apparent ideals – as mentioned in the previous paragraphs – is community. By having the courtyard in the middle of the school, it truly symbolizes that aspect. The courtyard is a communal event for all members of the Parker network. Students from JK through 12th grade find themselves in the courtyard either playing on the monkey bars, walking through the fountain area to get to class, having a quiet and deep discussion in English class, or just lounging on the benches with friends and enjoying the cool breeze from the lake. Also, the courtyard is almost always visible. All of the inside classrooms have views of it and the hallways look down upon it. Though the courtyard isn’t always the most sought after place at Parker or the most desirable place to be, it is such an imperative part of Parker and we wouldn’t be the same without it. 

Another very communal place is the library. Now, I know that the library gets a lot of hate. Some of it is for good reason. One main part that annoys myself and the majority of the school is the limit on study rooms. I understood the two people per-room rule during COVID, but now, as we are moving away from the pandemic, that rule should become obsolete. I think the current maximum is five which is still shocking. In my opinion, the rule should be disbanded and the practice should be that if you can fit and you are disturbing others in the library, you are welcome to pack the study rooms. Another rule that is strange is the no eating policy. I really only have one good explanation for that rule: the library was too expensive to drop some crumbs on the floor. People are spilling caramel lattes from Starbucks on the floor, juice boxes, and straight bacon grease on the carpets but food is banned? That doesn’t make any sense. Even the books are more vulnerable to liquids than food. It seems like an arbitrary rule, but hey, I’m not a librarian and my thoughts on this subject are invalid. 

But there are good things about the library. When there isn’t the entirety of highschool and the seventh grade in the library, it’s pretty quiet and I can be productive. The limited spaces where work can be done are both comfortable and spacious. The latter adjective is the most important especially as students go through high school. I’ve just recently realized that whenever I have to do homework, I always find that I need to have a huge space just to do one math problem. My notes, my notebook, the textbook, scratch paper, handout, etc. Another positive about the library is that it looks nice. As long as someone doesn’t look at the roof, the library looks pristine, modern, and respectable. So, in general, though the library gets hated on and there are some peculiar rules and practices, it’s still a plus for Parker. 

The third communal place at Parker is the cafeteria. There is no singular place I’ve spent more time than the Parker cafeteria. Whether it is waiting in line for heinous amounts of time (or not…)  or sitting with my friends on the red chairs, the cafeteria is enchanting. The glaze on the always waxed floor and the endless amount of positivity coming from the kitchen and the Quest staff is always enough to entrance anyone. I can’t even get mad while I’m there. For example, it seems that every time I decide to sit and eat in the cafeteria, some teacher comes over to me, places a green card down and says, “this table is reserved for the fifth grade.” Normally, I would be infuriated and proceed to kick the kids, but instead, because the cafeteria has such a settline and calming ambience, I politely say “Oh, I’m sorry. I hope the fifth graders enjoy their goldfish and juice boxes,” and leave. The cafeteria staff is also such an amazing group of people. Each and every one of them are always so positive, nice, empathic, and kind. They work so hard everyday so kids have a full stomach with good food and a variety of food to choose from for all members of the community. They are truly models of our school and I applaud them for their inspiring work ethic and service. 

The last major communal space at Parker is the field and playground. There, our childhoods were made. From the endless games of tag and infection on the wood chips to the intense games of football on the field, the early years of our careers at Parker were cemented. That field is like a time capsule. Whenever one steps onto that turf field, they are ambushed with memories of grandeur, gym class, and getting turf burns. Some of my most cherished memories are on that field: Mr. Mahany’s Taylor Swift lip sync, our own rendition of the Super Bowl, Class Day, and just lying on the warm turf staring over the Parker community fraolicking across the artificial green field. It is such an important space for the school and the members within and I would be ignorant if I said that the field hasn’t had an immeasurable impact on my time at Parker and my life. It is very principled that the FWP picture was on the field. 

Lastly, we can talk about the sense of community this building creates. Now, I know that many students disparage Parker and complain about all of its idiosyncrasies, but Parker has truly built a community. From the packed hallways to the carefully curated communal spaces, the Parker administration and the architects made sure that community was apparent in all aspects of the building. Ever since a young age, the teachers and faculty have injected a sense of community into our brains. They would keep hammering home the point that our class is our community; each one of us a singular link in a larger chain. And I never fully understood that concept until I grew older; until I started to realize the smaller details of the Parker building. Though Parker has its faults, they have really paid attention and made sure that we are a community through the building. As my time at Parker comes close to an end, and my time with my classmates starts to drain, my eyes are only becoming more acclimated to the community Parker gave us. It is truly entrancing and enchanting and I am pleased that I am a part of this community. I guess the W in FWP stands for witch because they have truly entranced us and put a spell of empathy, love, kindness, and community into our minds. 

Was this a long article? Sure. Why is this such a long article? Well, it is because this is truly an important topic for me and the school in general., it’s important that my thoughts on this concept is in writing somewhere (and also multiple of my college interviewers have named-dropped this column because it’s the first thing that pops up when you look up my name. This will also hopefully be a good talking point). I hope, dear reader, that you got something from this article. Whether it’s opening your brain and showing you the community in Parker or just making you regret reading this, I hope this article and the concepts it tackles stays in your mind. So, next time you are out of the city and in a rural land, find the nearest field and look up into the night sky. Look at the stars and just sit there for a bit. Fall into a deep meditative state and fully reflect on the community you are a part of. The night sky is so boundless. So free. So liberating. The stars are bright. Beautiful; so is the building and community Parker has created. I am truly encapsulated, entranced, and enchanted by it. 



Ben Rachel