Park is a true community of students, teachers, parents, grandparents, alumni, staff, and coaches. Here, from a Pre-K student's wonder-filled glee to an Upper School student's environmentally-focused research and activism, something is happening across our classrooms and marshes and playing fields that is more than just an education and can be truly life-altering.
Park is Exceptional with a capital E.
Why? How? These are a few of our stories.
The first thing the boy notices about Park is that everyone is so different. He makes friends with artsy kids and science-y kids and sporty kids and kids with bow tie businesses and kids like himself who are still figuring it all out. Park is a genuine community of unique individuals. Despite this - or is it because of it, he wonders - he feels not only welcomed by every student and teacher he meets, he feels accepted. He feels known. It is like nothing he has ever experienced. He loves his new school.
The little girl struggles with numbers and her mom drives her to school early for extra help. Her teacher holds her hand and they walk around Park’s campus. They count footsteps between The Bungalow and Knopp-Hailpern Science Center. They count trees in front of Hamlin Hall, and squirrels spying from branches. The girl realizes numbers aren’t so strange after all. In fact, they’re everywhere. Her sleepy confidence awakens and her young heart swells. She can do this. Park seeds every child with an enduring belief in themselves. It takes root deep inside them, forever changing how they see their world and themselves.
DEFINE THE RIGHT PROBLEM
The boy is designing a presentation about renewable energy sources for a simulated City Council. He could just quote experts from the oceans of online research. Instead, this Middle Schooler considers why the city needs additional energy in the first place. Is this about protecting the environment, or is it about spurring the local economy? While he may not always define the right solution, Park is equipping the boy and his classmates to define the right problem. It is a nuanced but invaluable skill and one he will use for the rest of his life.
From the beginning, nature enthralled her. She would spend entire afternoons crawling around her backyard, happily recording vast varieties of anthropods. Year after year, she would bargain with her family to take their summer vacations to places with natural wonders, preferring rivers to roller coasters. Today, as the 9th grade student pulls on overboots in the Berardi Family Field Station, she is doing more than discovering herself - she is becoming the person she is meant to be. It is a distinction that means everything and it happens at Park every day.
He listens intently as a girl in history class makes her point. He doesn’t agree with her, and other classmates challenge her, too. The girl is passionate and she expands on her position. Slowly, his own thinking begins to shift and sway. She’s right. For as long as the boy can recall, teachers at Park have encouraged him to be open-minded. He is so used to it that it’s instinct now. The boy probably realizes how his tolerance is making him a better listener. What he might not know is how it’s also making him a better human being.
The girl understands Park is a college prep school. Yet for her, those words fail to describe the adventurous, messy, safe, rigorous, hands-on, whole child-centered, hide-your-eyes-because-you-will-cry-if-you-think-about-graduating experience that has so transformed her. She can muck into a marsh and conduct a scientific experiment. She can stand before a roomful of strangers and persuade them. She can adapt her mindset in a blink. She can take risks, fail, and have the chutzpah to try again. Thanks to Park’s Progressive philosophy, she is an utterly fearless learner. She is ready for a world of change and surprise.
When the Park student hangs with his friends from other schools, they don’t talk about their schools being fun. But he thinks of the annual Thanksgiving Feast and kids from different grades sharing why they’re thankful. Their stories choke him up. He thinks of racing classmates up to Library Learning Center in the snow, guys and girls laughing, sliding and falling. He thinks of all the students and parents and older alumni coming out for that last game, and his team winning. Without a doubt, Park is joyful. In some ways, on some days, it can even be a little magical.
Discover your PURPOSE
The girl doesn’t consider herself creative. She can’t draw or play instruments like other students. Sometimes she questions if she’s good at anything. Park’s teachers see her differently, and they cultivate her creativity. It blossoms. She creates bold ideas that reshape class-long discussions. She creates novel solutions to complex math problems. She creates meaningful connections between students with differing beliefs. The girl is a creative thinker in a time eager for innovation. More than a hidden talent, she’s found something far greater - purpose.