The Joys Of Life, Issue 7


This week, I thought we’d take a deep dive into how Parker effectively implements cross-grade communication and what it could improve on……………NAW! JUST KIDDING! I’m going to talk about the fuzzy, furry, and felty creatures that run around our television screens and musical theater stages: Puppets.

Puppets are magical. They are literally just a hand. But that hand has SO much personality. They bring to life fantasy worlds beyond our imagination. When I watched Sesame Street, I was fascinated by the sharp and precise yet fluid and exploratory movements of the puppets. Cookie Monster and Elmo. Bernie and Ert. That’s not right, but can you tell why? The Count and Rosita. I bet you can guess why I put those two together….

And then there were the big ones. Not big, like, most famous. Big, like, physically large: Big Bird and Snuffleupagus. Snuffleupagus reminded me of the Heffalumps from “Winnie the Pooh,” and those scared me a lot, so Snuffleupagus was terrifying. But Big Bird and I were bros. We were buddies. He was my favorite part of “Sesame Street,” after Elmo’s fish Dorothy, WHO IS THE MOST ICONIC CHARACTER IN ALL OF TELEVISION. Even more iconic than Colton Underwood. Dorothy doesn’t even need a convoluted number connection. She’s automatically in the Big Leagues.

Speaking of Jim Henson, the entirety of the Muppets is fantastic. Miss Piggy is INSANE! Kermit is a musical genius and also incredibly problematic. What are the two guys judging everything for? It’s too much judgement. Everything about Animal makes me happy. He doesn’t know what to do with his life, so he just starts screaming. Fozzie and Gonzo are the only two Muppets who have any control over their own lives. Beaker is perfect, obviously. The Swedish Chef is racist towards Greta Thunberg, and she’s an international treasure so we can’t have that. 

Then there was “Johnny and the Sprites.” This show was magical. Starring Johnny, or John Tartaglia, a master puppeteer on Broadway, it captured Little Grayson’s heart and brought him to worlds beyond his wildest imagination, and I declared that I wanted to be like him when I grew up. John Tartaglia ended up being Pinocchio, a living puppet, in Shrek the Musical, and I was Pinocchio in “Shrek the Musical” at Parker, and so I can definitively say that dreams do come true.

But then I grew up. Now I have to look them up on Wikipedia (the most reliable of sources that taught us the joy of bubbles). Now I live in a world with “Avenue Q” (which John Tartaglia is also in, ew). I lived in a world with the show Kidding with Jim Carrey, where it’s Mr. Rodgers but he’s mentally unstable and is actively losing his mind. The adults of the world have taken the adorable idea of a puppet and made it INSANE!

Now let’s discuss my experiences with puppets at Parker. In Ms. Nielsen’s SK class, there was a puppet show theater, and I put on puppet shows, and it was adorable because I was adorable, AND puppets are adorable, and combining two adorable things makes things even more adorable. In sixth grade, my friend Cisco was a floating spoon. He wore black and walked around bobbing a spoon up and down. In Ms. Vernon’s third grade class, I made a sock puppet that was supposed to be friends with my Woolie (which were these little creatures we made), but I didn’t like the sock puppet, so I threw it away. And to this day, I still remember how unsatisfied I felt after it sunk to the bottom of the trash can.

Do you know what else I’m unsatisfied about? The cross-grade communication and integration in Parker. DISCLAIMER: This is going to get controversial. 

Parker is one of the most integrated communities between grades. I vividly remember my lower school experiences, and I get to see my lower school teachers. The shows that I watched as a kid, the puppets that I used in SK remain in the same building that I am in now. There are few schools, if any, where 14 grades are so integrated. We have 10 grades (3-12) at almost every single MX. The seniors are given Big Brothers and Sisters to connect the older grades to the younger grades and create an unmatchable sense of community. 

Buying a new building, for all of the benefits that may come, will divide our community in a way that I am scared of. If the goal of the new building is to take existing offices in Parker’s main campus and move it across the street, I don’t know if that helps to create a better sense of community. I’m not saying that buying the building is the worst idea we’ve ever had. There are merits to it. More space is always better. 

However, if there were classrooms across the street, like there are at Latin, I think Parker undoubtedly loses something special. Big Brothers and Sisters would have to walk across the street to see their little brothers and sisters. You create an unnecessary horse-stable sized guest house as an add-on to the house we all share. The “Piece of the House” song would have to have a little baby house next to the big house that people would fill in. I’m already sad that the archives and the business office aren’t under the same roof as my English and Science classes. 

Dividing the school up by putting Clark, or Belden, or Webster, in between the ancestral home of our educational institution and the “new and improved” classrooms seems disingenuous. It feels to me that by doing this, you are missing a part of what makes Parker so special: we are all here to create the best learning environment for everyone. The way that we do this is by being able to have MX consistently. The way that we do this is by having Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Putting 30 mile per hour cars between each MX seems unnecessary. 

Again, this isn’t ignoring the arguments in favor of buying the new buildings. It’s offering a perspective that makes me think back on all of the great things that I’ve done under the roof of this building and allll of the great teachers I’ve worked with. In order to see Ms. Wild, I don’t want to have to walk across the street. I don’t want her to have to walk across the street. Maybe the novelty of all of us being under one roof isn’t worth blocking expansion of our school, but maybe it is. 

And as Bear used to say to Luna: “Hey, this was really fun. We hoped you liked it too. Seems like we’ve just begun when suddenly we’re through. Good-bye, good-bye, good friends, good-bye.”