« 2017


  • December

    Credit: National YoungArts Foundation

    Senior Natasha Partnoy named National YoungArts Finalist for Excellence in Theater

    Natasha Partnoy, Class of 2018, was on the bus heading home from her Spanish class field trip when she received a phone call. The voice on the other end was unfamiliar but delivered some life-changing news: Natasha had been selected as a finalist for the National YoungArts Foundation Award for Excellence in Theater.

    As the prestigious foundation’s highest award, Natasha was selected from a pool of applicants made up of thousands of talented young artists from across the country. The award not only makes her eligible for a cash award of up to $10,000, she will join the other 170 finalists for a week of master classes in Miami from Jan. 7 to 14.

    The 37th Annual National YoungArts Week is a chance for these talented finalists to hone their craft while learning from some of the best performing and visual artists in the world. Natasha will share her work with the public during the weeklong program and will be evaluated for further award levels from the foundation.

    The award also unlocks for Natasha a network of accomplished YoungArts alumni, who have gone on to become some of the greatest artists in their disciplines. High-profile YoungArts award winners include actresses Viola Davis and Kerry Washington, and recording artist Josh Groban.

    This year’s finalists will mingle with past awardees, including Tony and Academy award-winning artists, at the culminating “Backyard Ball.” The ball is a chance for current finalists to network and share their passion for the arts with their role models and potential future colleagues.

    “It’s cool to think that maybe one day we could be those people,” said Natasha, who has been doing theater since she was four years old, professionally since she was 10.

    Natasha has played the role of Mary Poppins and Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz;” she even originated the lead part in a musical written by a Parker parent for the San Diego International Fringe Festival.

    Natasha said her role in that musical, called “The Test,” was her favorite so far because she helped to create and develop the character.

    “Anyone else doing that part will kind of be playing me. It was a unique experience and I hope to do more of it,” she said.

    As Natasha prepares for YoungArts Week, she is simultaneously applying to Bachelor of Fine Arts programs in acting and musical theater on the East Coast and Midwest. After college, she plans to move to New York City to jumpstart her career in theater.

    “It’s a hard life but I think I can do it. I’ve been working professionally already. I know how it works and I think I have what it takes,” said Natasha.

    Her confidence, talent, and hard work have led her this far -- to the doorsteps of the National YoungArts Foundation. On top of earning the prestigious award, Natasha said she looks forward to meeting the other finalists next month in Miami.

    “I’m excited to meet kids my age who are just as passionate as I am about musical theater, and who will probably be my colleagues for decades to come,” she said.

    To learn more about the National YoungArts Foundation, visit https://www.youngarts.org/.
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  • November

    Parker freshman wins top prize in design thinking challenge aimed at solving San Diego’s transportation issues

    D.J. Nelson, Class of 2021, was part of a group of high school students who took home the grand prize in a sophisticated design challenge aimed at solving complex city problems through design thinking.

    Design for San Diego’s 2017 Civic Challenge asked competitors to solve mobility issues in the city of San Diego, addressing four main challenge areas: walkability and bikeability, accessibility, commuter experience, and autonomous vehicles. The grand prize winners received $5,000 and the top three teams will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas directly to the City of San Diego, SANDAG, and the private equity firm SCALE SD.  

    D.J. and his team members, two students from Canyon Crest Academy, were one of the few high-school-aged students to enter the competition, which was dominated by professional and college-level designers. Their team, Cycle Detection, is a member of The League of Amazing Programmers, a nonprofit that teaches professional-level programming to children and teens. The League entered five teams in the design challenge, all comprised of high school students; two of those teams, including D.J.’s, took home top honors.

    Cycle Detection tackled walkability and bikeability issues in San Diego, answering the question, “How can we make bicycles more visible to cars of the future?” To do this, the team designed small, wireless transponders that allow bicycles and cars to communicate with each other on the road using technology already enabled in today’s smart cars.

    The transponders attach to bicycles and send signals to smart cars on the road, allowing those cars to detect the bicycle from far away and around corners. The smart cars can react to the bicycles by flashing a light on the dashboard or even braking for the driver.

    D.J. and his team members will soon meet with the city and other stakeholders to pitch their idea and potentially implement the technology in real life.

    When asked how it felt to win such a prestigious award, D.J. said it was incredible but unexpected.

    “Most of the teams were business professionals. They were there because it was their job. I did it for the experience of using design thinking. It was amazing just to be a finalist,” he said.

    Becky Deller, Director of Community Engagement for The League of Amazing Programmers, lauded the students’ ability to design advanced solutions for today’s toughest challenges.

    “I knew the students could hold their own, but I had no idea one of the League’s five teams might win!” said Deller. “The judges were surprised to learn the age of The League’s student entrants, and praised them for their poise and intelligence.”

    For more information about the League of Amazing Programmers, visit: www.jointheleague.org

    Design for San Diego was created by UC San Diego’s Design Lab team with support from the National Science Foundation, Design Forward Alliance, and SCALE SD. For more information about the Civic Challenge, visit: https://d4sd.org/
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  • October

    Parker Students Spend a Weekend to Find Innovative Solutions to Society’s Most Pressing Issues

    Congratulations to Parker students Avalon Smith, Class of 2020, and Leena Mayberry, Class of 2019, whose entrepreneurial teams won first and second place respectively at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Social Innovation Sprint Program in October.

    The Social Innovation Sprint is a collaboration between UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering and the Rady School of Management, that focuses on teaching college and high school students essential design thinking and entrepreneurial skills in the context of thinking critically to solve society's most pressing issues.

    The program accepts 41 students from UCSD and five local San Diego high schools including Bishop's, Helix Charter, Francis Parker School, Canyon Crest, and Pacific Ridge Schools. Over the two-day event, UCSD faculty guide teams of students to develop solutions to the selected topic of homelessness and human trafficking. Students gain insight into becoming an entrepreneur and learn marketing, ideating, prototyping and pitching skills from industry experts. At the end of the program, the students present their group’s innovative solution to address homelessness and human trafficking.

    Avalon’s group called Know Idea won first place for their shuttle system idea that would incorporate stops to food pantries, clinics, and shelters for riders.

    Leena’s group called Heart House won second place for their solution to work with shelters to designate a space within the shelter that is intentionally set aside to serve as a community center for homeless individuals.

    Both Avalon and Leena’s group members each earned personal mentorships from local companies and successful entrepreneurs to help them with their future endeavors.
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  • September

    Parker students’ documentary to be screened at All American Film Festival in NYC’s Times Square

    A documentary film made by two Parker students is set to be screened at the All American High School Film Festival in New York City’s Times Square this October.

    Plessy v. Ferguson: Tipping the Scale was made by Adam Nussbaum, Class of 2018, and Ben Clark ‘17 for National History Day 2017 and gained attention as it made its way through the local, state, and national competitions.

    The film finished ninth in the nation in the group documentary category and was shown at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. during the week of the competition this past June.

    It is scheduled to be screened at the AMC Empire Theater in Times Square on Saturday, Oct. 7 as part of the All American High School Film Festival -- an international event that brings talented high school filmmakers from around the world together to screen their creations and network with top industry professionals and each other.

    Adam and Ben’s 10-minute documentary explores how the U.S. court systems can be used to generate social change for historically underrepresented groups using test case litigation. One of the first and most widely recognized instances of test case litigation in the United States was Plessy v. Ferguson, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of 1896, which upheld state segregation laws under the doctrine “separate but equal.”

    “The biggest thing we wanted to drive home with this documentary is how different our country and our world looks because this judicial process exists,” said Ben, now a freshman at Stanford University. “We were showing how much bigger this case was than is traditionally seen.”

    The documentary explores additional cases through history that granted rights to minority groups, including Roe v. Wade, which led to the legalization of abortion in 1973; and Obergefell v. Hodges, which led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015.

    It also features interviews with political science experts and civil rights historians, including Dr. Rai Wilson, Upper School history teacher at Parker and former professor at UCSD; former federal judge Nancy Gertner; and Dr. Steven F. Lawson of Rutgers University.

    Adam and Ben leaned on these and other experts to not only inform their research but also to widen their perspectives as white men on the topic of minority rights.

    “I don’t think there’s any reason to shy away [from this topic] but it’s not the same for us to approach it as it would be for African Americans or members of the LGBTQIA community. We’re missing that personal connection, but it didn’t hinder our research of the topic. We did our best to hear people’s accounts and to listen to them from a historical perspective,” said Adam.

    Plessy v. Ferguson: Tipping the Scale will be screened on Oct. 7 at the All American High School Film Festival in Times Square, but you don’t have to fly to New York City to see it! The film can be viewed on YouTube at the following link: https://youtu.be/fMMh1X6U7sc
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  • Liam Fay: Improvisation Innovator

    Standing at the front of the classroom with the confidence of a seasoned teacher, Parker student Liam Fay led a group of educators through his course: Improv Techniques in the Classroom.

    It was a hot day in the middle of August and the last day of Cajon Valley School District’s professional development week. Liam was leading a breakout session of his innovative course, which he created to help educators incorporate improv into their classroom structure.

    Liam is passionate about improvisation and knows how beneficial it can be to build team unity and strength. Using the “yes, and…” technique -- the foundation of improv -- students show support for their fellow classmates (the “yes”) and build off of their ideas to improve whatever task they might be working on (the “and...”).

    Improv can get students motivated, help them concentrate on a single goal and grow stronger together as a class. Liam knows this well, not only from his time spent in theater, but also from the educational outreach program he helped spearhead with Parker Robotics beginning his freshman year.

    Liam, along with his fellow classmates, started playing improv games with members of the robotics team, the W.A.R. Lords, at their overnight competitions. The games were not only fun, they helped bring members closer together. As teacher Ryan Griggs knows, the secret to a successful robot is a strong, unified team.

    Griggs has run Parker’s wildly successful robotics program since its inception in 2007. The program started with just 10 members; on Wednesday, Sept. 13, Griggs was sorting through a roster of 79 interested students.

    But robotics is more than just building robots, especially at Parker. It also involves education and community outreach. The W.A.R. Lords have taken those aspects of Parker’s mission and run with them.

    “Education is a big component of our robotics program. Orion Ed. emcompasses several different education programs,” said Griggs.

    The team created its Orion Ed. program to teach and support robotics programs across San Diego County and the region. Liam’s improv course developed from Orion Ed, but has since grown beyond the Parker program.

    In 2017, Liam taught his course at the F.I.R.S.T. Championship Competition in Houston to fellow robotics clubs from around the country. He also took it to Teach for America and created a website for educators from around the world to access and use in their own classrooms.
    The course was a hit among teachers in the Cajon Valley School District back in August, at least one of whom pulled Liam aside to say she would be incorporating the tools into her regular classroom schedule.

    “Improv is a fun way to work together and to make people more comfortable with each other,” said Liam, after finishing his first lesson at Cajon Valley Middle School on Aug. 11. “The version of the course that we teach to high schoolers is all about team-building in robotics and it’s an opportunity to outreach with other schools.”

    Liam, who just entered his senior year at Parker, plans to continue his work after graduation and enter the education field himself. While he’s not certain where a career in education might take him, he has certainly laid the foundation for success.

    To learn more about the course, “Improv Techniques in the Classroom,” visit www.liamjfay.com.
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  • Upper School Family Speaks About Iranian Revolution With Students

    Perspective is everything when learning about history. One person’s perspective can dramatically change how history is “told”. The students of Upper School’s Global II Honors class have been examining the many perspectives of the Iranian Revolution by reading different novels and textbooks and watching different films on the event to gain a broad view of the revolution.

    On Friday, Sept. 15, Upper School student Neusha Kharrati, Class of 2020, invited members of her family to speak with her classmates about how the Iranian Revolution affected their lives. Neusha’s grandfather, mother, aunt, and uncle gave their perspective of how Iran was forever changed by the revolution.

    Neusha’s family talked about the freedoms they enjoyed before the revolution and how they faced prejudice while living in the United States during the Iranian hostage crisis. Their message to students was to “get to know your neighbors”. Neusha’s uncle said that the more that we get to know our neighbors in our community the less prejudice we will be to others.
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  • August

    Students build and battle their way to a STEM education at Parker’s Robo.Camp 2017

    Robo.Camp 2017 is now underway at Parker, bringing together students in grades 3 through 8 for a week of building, programming and teamwork.

    Robo.Camp was started by Parker’s award-winning robotics team, W.A.R. Lords. During the week-long camp, students build Vex and Lego Mindstorm robots and compete against each other in simulated competitions. Students not only have a blast building and battling robots, they learn important skills involved with STEM education and careers.

    Parker’s W.A.R. Lords are incredibly active in community engagement activities. In addition to Robo.Camp, the W.A.R. Lords have mentored and raised funds for other FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams. They’ve hosted hackathons and Family Science Nights for students across San Diego County and even traveled to Mexico with Project Mercy to build houses.

    The team itself is built on education and mentorship. Every new member is paired with an experienced one to ensure all members receive necessary guidance and instruction. The W.A.R. Lords also provides a domain certification process encompassing 10 “101 courses” and 16 “102 courses,” as well as programming services and a public folder filled with relevant source code for anyone, anywhere to access.

    Keep up with the W.A.R. Lords throughout the year by following them on Facebook (search FRC Team 2485: WARLords).
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  • Parker senior Emily Potts gets an early start to a career in medicine

    The University of California San Diego is training the next generation of scientists and physicians, and Parker’s own Emily Potts, Class of 2018, took part in the innovative program this summer.

    Emily spent the last several weeks in a personalized lab coat learning the latest research techniques from top UCSD faculty and engaging in lively discussions about an exciting new field in medicine.

    The Reproductive and Oncofertility Science Academy at UCSD introduces girls in grades 11 and 12 to the burgeoning field of oncofertility, which addresses quality of life issues and fertility needs of young cancer patients. The Academy is held three days a week during the summer and covers topics such as reproductive physiology, cancer biology, in vitro fertilization and reproductive bioethics.

    The program is competitive, accepting fewer than 15 girls per session, and offers five college credit hours from UCSD Medical School. Many students who graduate from the program go on to successful careers in science, technology, engineering and math. This year, the program was taught in part by Dr. Ericka Senegar-Mitchell, a nationally recognized high school biology and biotech teacher. At the end of the summer, students give presentations during a graduation ceremony and the top presenters are invited to a national conference in Chicago.  

    To learn more about the program, visit the Reproductive and Oncofertility Science Academy webpage.
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  • July

    Rising Grade 9 student volunteers on community project in Costa Rica

    July 25, 2017–SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Laurence Miller, Class of 2021, recently completed a 15-day Summer Expedition with Outward Bound Costa Rica. On this unique course, Laurence volunteered on two service projects and honed his surfing skills in the warm waters of the Pacific Coast.

    Laurence and his group began the course by participating in trail maintenance and planting around Outward Bound Costa Rica’s rainforest base. The students then headed to Manuel Antonio where they had their first taste of surfing on the country’s famous beaches.

    To kick off the second week of his adventure, Laurence and his group traveled a bit farther to perfect their surfing techniques in Playa Dominicalito. Here, the group learned important skills such as how to read wave conditions, maintain equipment, and earned their ASHI First Aid and CPR certifications. When the students were not catching waves, they went to work on a beach clean-up.

    “Outward Bound Costa Rica’s programs, like the one Laurence participated in, create environments that allow for personal and leadership development through challenges, group effort and cross-cultural understanding,” said Jim Rowe, Executive Director of Outward Bound Costa Rica.

    About Outward Bound Costa Rica

    Founded in 1992, Outward Bound Costa Rica inspires a lifetime of leadership, growth, and a commitment to serve through adventure-based learning. Activities include backpacking, rafting, kayaking, surfing, rappelling and scuba diving as well as cultural experiences such as homestays with local families and community service projects focusing on people, construction, animals, marine biology and environmental issues. For more information, visit www.outwardboundcostarica.org.
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  • Don’t miss FPS Drama Department’s Summer Production of 'Grease: School Version'

    Francis Parker School’s Drama Department is preparing for its summer production of “Grease: School Version.” The production features everyone’s favorite characters and musical numbers, including Danny and Sandy’s beloved duet, “Summer Nights,” and the upbeat group number “We Go Together.”

    The costumes and choreography bring the musical to life on stage and drama students Vaughn Melbourn and Kyrah Panfil give stellar performances as Danny and Sandy.

    All of Parker’s drama students have been enthusiastically rehearsing the musical that is sure to delight audience members of all ages. The show will be held at the Galli-Curci Performing Arts Center on the Linda Vista Campus this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There are four chances to watch and tickets can be purchased at the door. The cost is $8 for students and $10 for adults.

    Don’t miss your chance to see this amazing musical performed by some of Parker’s brightest drama stars!

    Show times:

    Thursday, July 20 at 6 pm
    Friday, July 21 at 6 pm
    Saturday, July 22 at 2 and 6 pm
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  • Parker Robotics 2017 Season Highlights

    The Parker Robotics Team, W.A.R. (We Are Robots) Lords 2485, celebrated its 10th year with a hugely successful season. The team brought home three major awards from regional and championship competitions and competed for the first time at the Overwatch Cooler Master Invitational near Los Angeles.   

    W.A.R. Lords competed in at least three FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Competitions this season, including the San Diego Regional Competition, the Las Vegas Regional Competition and the Championship Competition in Houston. The team took home the Safety Award and the prestigious Chairman’s Award from Las Vegas and the Gracious Professionalism Award from Houston.

    Members of the team also held a workshop in Houston called “Secret to a Better Robot,” which shows how the power of teamwork can elevate any robotics team to the next level. The workshop was part of the W.A.R. Lords’ education program, Orion Ed. (named after their robot), which reaches out to kindergarten through 12th grade students across San Diego County on STEM education.

    This month, six members of the W.A.R. Lords entered the ESports Arena in Santa Ana for the first time to compete in the Overwatch Cooler Master Invitational. The competition raises funds for high school robotics teams and was held July 15 and 16.

    To see more highlights of the 2017 season, check out this video on the W.A.R. Lords YouTube Channel: https://youtu.be/cvhwDWI4nUM

    Keep up with all that’s happening by following the W.A.R. Lords on Facebook (FRC Team 2485: WARLords) and on Twitter and Instagram (@FRCTeam2485).
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  • US students return from rewarding trip to Fiji

    A group of Upper School students returned from their Global Studies trip to Fiji last week. The students spent about two weeks on the main island, traveling the King’s Road from Nadi in the west to Rakiraki in the north and to the capital Suva in the southeast. They immersed themselves in the local culture, removing their shoes before entering their homestays in Rakiraki and wearing sarongs and sulus to show respect toward the village elders. They also participated in a Kava Ceremony, which gave them permission to stay in the village near Rakiraki and use its facilities.

    Parker students stayed four days in the village near Rakiraki, where they visited with local students, shadowed them in their classrooms at Nakauvadra High School, and played pickup rugby whenever they could. Parker students also helped paint chairs and dig holes for new benches at the high school, which was damaged in a recent typhoon.

    After leaving Rakiraki, students traveled to the capital Suva, and the villages of Abaca and Lautoka. They trekked through mountainous jungles to reach beautiful waterfalls and hiked to the Batilamu Summit, about 3,700 feet above sea level.  

    Read the Fiji blog to learn more about US students’ travels to Fiji.
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  • June

    Alumni, Parents and Upper School students tap into Parker’s professional pool at Parker Networking 2017

    Parker parents, alumni and Upper School students came together for an evening of socializing last month at the the annual Parker Networking event.
    Parker Networking is an important way for members of the School community to connect with peers, exchange business cards and meet new people in their industries. For current students and recent alumni, it is a great way to learn about internships and job opportunities, as well as meet people who work in potential fields of interest.
    This year’s event was held May 24 at the Catamaran Resort and Spa in Pacific Beach. It featured a brand new format consisting of three breakout sessions on compelling topics, including the economic climate of San Diego, the impact of the Internet on individuals and their businesses, and the ever-evolving policy and legal landscape.
    Each breakout session had a panel of experts on-hand to speak on the topics and answer questions from the audience. Panelists included Parker alumni, parents and special friends who work in both the private and public sectors and are influential in their respective industries. Attendees were able to partake in two of the three breakout sessions before coming together for an hour of open, unstructured networking and socializing to close out the night.
    The event was well-received, with many attendees highlighting the strong quality of the panels as their favorite part of the entire event. For others, catching up with old friends and meeting new people was the high point of their experience.
    Parker Networking was co-hosted by the Alumni Relations Committee of the Board of Trustees, the Parents Association and D.A.D.S. Committee, and sponsored by First Republic Bank.
    Caroline Wohl, Chair of the Alumni Relations Committee, spoke of the event’s importance and the importance of networking in general in a statement following the event:
    “The Alumni Relations Committee is honored to co-host this event because it provides our alumni, especially recent graduates, a chance to learn about potential internships, career paths and employment openings. It’s never too early to start building your professional network, and these events are a valuable opportunity to tap into Parker’s considerably accomplished and diverse professional community.”
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  • May

    2017 State of College Admissions

    Take a peek inside the college admissions process. Last week, Parker's College Counseling Department hosted a college admission panel with representatives from the University of Virginia, Wake Forest, Stanford, and Lafayette. The questions asked by moderator Bob Hurley, including the timecode markers, are listed below.
    • Brief introduction of our panelists (00:00:06)
    • Since you are just concluding another season of enrolling a first-year class at your institution, can you reflect on some success stories that stuck out in your mind? (00:00:25)
    • With competition for admission always increasing, have you found new or improved ways to evaluate the applications that cross your desk? (00:04:41)
    • Is there a part of the application process that you feel the students sometimes overlook? (00:17:30
    • What role, if any, does testing play in your review of the applications? (00:26:51)
    • What is the first part of an application that you turn to? (00:35:40)
    • Even though it will be a while before you see their files, what would you encourage a freshman or sophomore in high school to think about or do? (00:38:56)
    • What do you love about your role within your school community? (00:46:25)
    Questions? Contact Parker's College Counseling Department by email at collegecounseling@francisparker.org
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  • Parker students excel at National History Day state competition

    Francis Parker School students shined at the National History Day - California competition last weekend. Five Upper School students brought home division awards and are now invited to compete in the National History Day Competition in Washington, D.C., to be held June 11 to 15. Another Upper School student was named Runner-up and three Middle and Upper School students were presented with Special Awards for their outstanding projects.

    Nearly 30 Middle and Upper School students represented Parker in the statewide competition, held Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7 at William Jessup University near Sacramento. Of those students, 24 made it into the final round of judging!

    Students worked in groups or individually to present projects focused on the annual theme, “Taking a Stand in History.” Projects included individual or group exhibits, performances, documentaries and websites.

    The final results of the statewide competition were:

    Senior Champions
    -Ben Clark, Class of 2017 and Adam Nussbaum, Class of 2019 - “Plessy v. Ferguson: Tipping the Scale” (Group Documentary)
    -Nicolas Del Rio, Class of 2020 and Umit Suri, Class of 2020 - “Taking a Stand for Independence: The Singing Revolution in Estonia” (Group Website)
    -Emily Park, Class of 2019 - “‘Fly On 'Till Our Mission is Done’: the WASPs Take a Stand for Equal Status” (Individual Exhibit)
    Senior Runner-up
    -Sabrina Soffer, Class of 2019 - “Elie Wiesel: The Voice for Human Rights and Dignity” (Individual Website)

    Special Awards
    California History Award
    -Cate Hasler, Class of 2020 - “Dorothea Lange: Changing Perspective Through Photography” (Individual Exhibit)

    Social Justice and Diversity Award
    -Ian Lillie, Class of 2021 and Adelyn Phillips, Class of 2021 - “Sit-in to Stand Up: A Victory for 504”
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  • Two Parker Students Named America’s Top 10 Youth Volunteers of 2017

    First time ever two students chosen from the same school in the same year for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
    Parker Senior Meghana Reddy, 18, and Parker Middle School student, Kenan Pala, 13, were named America’s Top 10 Youth Volunteers of 2017 for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a national program which recognizes students for their impressive acts of volunteerism.
    “This is a rare honor for two honorees to come from one school in the same year,” said Kevin Dunn, Director of Parker’s Community Engagement department. “It is humbling the amount of time both Meghana and Kenan have put into helping the community. It is wonderful seeing both being recognized at a national level.”
    In February, Meghana and Kanen were chosen as California’s top Prudential finalists and earned an all expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. to see if they would be chosen as Prudential’s Top 10 Youth Volunteers in the nation. As a national honoree they both earned personal awards of $5,000, gold medals and crystal trophies and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation to go toward a charitable organization of their choice. During their tour of Washington, D.C., Meghana and Kenan got to meet Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.
    More than 31,000 youth volunteers from across the nation were considered for the Spirit of Community awards. Meghana was recognized for her work using her 3-D printer to create artificial hands for children and adults in countries who cannot afford prostheses. Inspired during a family trip to India, Meghana was shocked to see children without limbs. The experience moved her to help those in need. Shortly after returning home, she researched and worked with local computer and software engineers to create affordable limbs with her 3-D printer and distributed them to international charities. To meet the growing demand, Meghana created a nonprofit organization called “Limbs of Love.”
    “Whenever I see a smile on a child after receiving their prosthetic limb,” said Meghana. “That is what keeps me going and wanting to do more for others.”
    Kenan was recognized for his work launching his “Food4Homeless” program, which has provided more than $5,000 to homeless shelters in San Diego and has fed more than 2,000 homeless at local soup kitchens. Kenan has been volunteering for a variety of homeless charities since kindergarten. However, it was one event that solidified his purpose to continue his work. During a visit to the beach, Kenan witnessed a crowd of people gathered around a sick baby seal, trying to save it. Kenan was shocked by the amount of strangers who stepped up to help the baby seal while a homeless man begging for help received no attention.
    In 2016, Kenan gathered a dozen other Parker students to collect more than 4,000 boxes of cereal to create The Guinness World’s Record largest cardboard-box mosaic in the school gym. All boxes were donated to the Interfaith Community Shelter.
    "These honorees have done exemplary work to contribute to the health and vitality of their communities, and we look forward to seeing the great things they achieve in the future," said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. in a press release. "Congratulations to each of these extraordinary young volunteers."
    The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 22nd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
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  • Parker students compete in National History Day State Finals

    Today, nearly 30 students from Francis Parker School are heading to William Jessup University near Sacramento to compete in the National History Day - California State Finals. Students have been preparing all year for the competition and were chosen to participate after advancing through the county contest in February.

    The state competition takes place this Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7 in Rocklin, Calif. Parker will be competing against more than 1,200 students from across California, all of whom are vying for a spot at the national competition in Washington, D.C. next month.

    National History Day - California is an educational program that encourages students to discover and learn about local, state, national and world history through the lens of an annual theme. This year’s theme is “Taking a Stand in History.”

    Parker Upper and Middle School students have spent the better part of the school year creating projects that range from individual and group exhibitions to performances, websites and documentaries. Students used local libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and other resources to develop their projects and delve deep into meaningful and important topics.

    This year, students in grades 6 through 12 have teamed up or branched out individually to create projects that focus on important figures in history, like Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, Holocaust survivor and activist Elie Wiesel and photographer Dorothea Lange. Other projects dive into broader historical topics, such as South Africa’s rise out of Apartheid, Estonia’s Singing Revolution and the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Plessy vs. Ferguson.

    Tens of thousands of California students competed in county contests for a chance to represent their schools in the state competition this weekend. Francis Parker School is proudly represented by nearly 30 exceptional students. Those who advance through the state competition head to the University of Maryland near Washington, D.C. for nationals, to be held June 11 to 15.

    Good luck, Parker!
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  • ‘Storied Streets’ filmmaker challenges Parker students to take part in everyday social justice

    On Thursday, May 4, Francis Parker School hosted a special screening of the critically acclaimed documentary “Storied Streets” by executive producer Susan Sarandon. The documentary focuses on the issue of homelessness in America and aims to encourage San Diego high school students to become more involved in social justice issues within their communities.

    Parker was selected as one of five San Diego schools to screen the acclaimed documentary as part of San Diego Film Foundation’s FOCUS on Impact Film Tour. Students viewed “Storied Streets” and then had an open and frank discussion about the issues it raises in a Q&A session with filmmaker Thomas Morgan and Giuseppe Pizan, a formerly homeless youth featured in the documentary.

    “Don’t be scared to reach out or offer help,” Pizan told students after the film. Pizan was abandoned by his mother before the end of his freshman year of high school. He lived under his school’s bleachers for months before a teacher finally reached out and offered help. “A very small amount of anything goes a long way for people who have nothing,” he added.

    Community involvement and social stewardship is a large part of the Parker mission. In addition to volunteering at shelters or donating food, Morgan and Pizan emphasized that even the smallest gestures can make a world of difference in a person’s life.

    “I would encourage someone to say, ‘Hello,’ and make eye contact. That’s a great start,” said Morgan, who left his job as an investment banker to take on the “Storied Streets” project. The film was released in 2014 and is still being shown to high school students across the country in an effort to get teens more involved with social justice issues, like homelessness.

    Homelessness is a social issue with which San Diego is all too familiar. In 2016, there were nearly 8,700 homeless people living in San Diego County, more than half of whom lived unsheltered on the streets, according to an annual report from the Regional Task Force on the Homeless.

    “Storied Streets” brings these issues to light by telling the stories of those who experience homelessness firsthand. The documentary takes viewers on a journey through 13 cities from Los Angeles to New York and raises both awareness and compassionate understanding through the real-life stories of homeless individuals.

    The film breaks through the stereotypes placed on homeless populations by asking, “Who is homeless?” and fostering an understanding that homelessness can happen to anyone.

    “My story is just one of hundreds of thousands,” said Pizan. “I want to be able to change your perspective and your perception of homelessness.”
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  • Four Parker Seniors Earn Ford's San Diego County Salute to Education Scholarship

    Four Parker seniors including Mary Fellios, Olia Javidi, Meghana Reddy and Gabriella Leibowitz received the 2017 San Diego County Salute to Education Scholarship from the San Diego County Ford Dealers on Wednesday, April 26 in Balboa Park.

    The scholarship selected more than 150 San Diego senior high students who exemplify academic excellence and show commitment to school and to improving the community. The scholarship encourages students to continue their education by awarding them with $1,000 to invest toward their future.

    All 150 scholarship recipients were honored at a special ceremony held at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park. Recipients were entered into a raffled for a chance to win a Ford car of his/her choice. Parker student Olia Javidi was selected and picked a brand new white Ford Mustang.

    The San Diego Ford Dealers created the program in 1997 and is celebrating 20 years of supporting San Diego Schools and education. For every new vehicle sold or leased, the San Diego County Ford dealers make a contribution to the San Diego County Salute to Education scholarship program. Additional funds are contributed by Ford Motor Company, Global Team Blue, Zubi Advertising and RMD Group.
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  • Parker Sailing Team Places 3rd in Regional Regatta

    The Francis Parker School Sailing Team took home the third place trophy on Sunday, April 23 at the Pacific Coast Interscholastic Sailing Association’s (PCISA) Gold Pacific Coast Championships. The victory guaranteed Parker’s place in the national championships in Boston, where the team will fight for the coveted Mallory Trophy – the oldest trophy in high school sailing.
    The regional championships were held last month on April 22 and 23 at Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club in San Pedro, Calif. Parker’s six-person team battled 21 other schools from across Southern California, including three other San Diego schools, for a third place trophy and a spot in the national championships.
    This is the first time in seven years and only the second time in team history that Parker’s Sailing Team has secured a spot in the national regatta. Parker sailors will face 19 teams from across the United States in the Interscholastic Sailing Association’s (ISSA) Mallory Championships, to be held at Massachusetts Institute of Technology May 12 through 14.
    The Parker Sailing Team consists of sailors Cole Harris, Class of 2018; Madeleine McGrath, Class of 2018; Sam Merson, Class of 2018; Annabelle Huyard, Class of 2020; Jack Joslin, Class of 2018; and Reese Ger-Herscott, Class of 2020.
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  • April

    In a Class of Its Own | Honors Organic Chemistry Challenges Students at the Highest Level

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  • Parker Robotics Team Earns Prestigious Chairman’s Award from FIRST Robotics Competition

    Francis Parker School’s robotics team W.A.R. (We Are Robots) Lords 2485 return from the 2017 FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Regional Robotics Competition in Las Vegas with not one but two awards including the Safety Award and the Chairman’s Award.

    The Chairman’s Award is the highest award at FIRST, which celebrates a team that has inspired greater levels of respect and honor for the science and technology industry and has done an exceptional job of encouraging the younger generations to become interested in STEM education. The Safety Award celebrates a team that progresses beyond safety fundamentals to eliminate or protect against hazards.

    “I am incredibly proud of our team this weekend,” said Ryan Griggs, director of Parker Robotics. “Earning these two awards speaks volumes of our students and how far our program has come in 10 years.”

    Created in 2007, the Parker robotics team started as an after-school club with only 10 students. A decade later, the students have built upon the legacy of commitment to excellence and giving back to the community.

    “Our saying is ‘We are champions of legacy,” said Griggs. “Team members have to look at what they want to leave behind to help the community.”

    To earn the Chairman’s award, judges looked at how the team demonstrates volunteerism in STEM education. This year, the W.A.R. Lords introduced a new education program called ORION Ed. (named after their robot), which reaches out to kindergarten to Grade 12 students across the San Diego county on STEM education. The program is split into three sections. The elementary section hosts family robotic nights where young students get to play with the W.A.R. Lord’s prized robots. The middle school age section called “STEMinist”, which encourages young girls to get involved in STEM. The high school age program called “The Secret to a Better Robot” shows other robot teams how the power of teamwork is what will elevate them in any competition.

    “Going out into the community with the robots is my favorite thing to do with the W.A.R. Lords,” said Anton Baddour, Class of 2018. “It is so inspiring to see kindergarten students gain an interest in robotics at such a young age.”

    The Chairman’s Award also took into consideration how the W.A.R. Lords were complimenting diversity in their team. The W.A.R. Lords created a powerful video called, “We are…”, which showed how the W.A.R. Lords are an eclectic group of students with a wide range of interests.

    “What makes us stand out is that we are so diverse,” said Jake Brittain, Class of 2019. “We have athletes, we have cheerleaders, we are more than students who love building robots.”

    The W.A.R. Lords will move on to the 2017 International FIRST Championships in Houston, which runs April 19 to 22. As a Chairman’s Award recipient, the W.A.R. Lords will have a shot at winning the title of “Hall of Fame” team, which would grant them an invitation to any future FIRST Championship.
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  • March

    Parker Students Spend A Day Building Communities Across the Border

    On March 25, 2017, 36 Parker students spent the day breaking down barriers and strengthening communities in Mexico. Parker partnered with Project Mercy - Community Development Project, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of the poorest and needy in Tijuana, Mexico. Students spent the day helping paint houses, hanging shelves, entertaining children and distributing food to the families of Colonia Fuentes del Valle.
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  • Four A's of Lancer Excellence Students Announced

    Congratulations to Yasmeen Abu Khalaf, Asher Ellis, Cam Miller and Ethan Risse as this round of Four A’s of Lancer Excellence students. The Four A’s of Lancer Excellence is a recognition program at the Upper School to celebrate students who strive for excellence in the four areas of Academics, Attitude, Athletics and Artistry. Students are nominated by faculty throughout the year.

    Academics: Ethan Risse, Class of 2017, excels in AP Calculus AB. He is a quick learner with a solid mastery of mathematics. His work is impeccable and his attitude is laid back but always positive and ready to learn. He is always ready to help out a classmate who is struggling to understand a concept. I am impressed with his dedication and perseverance when tackling a challenging problem. Ethan is an excellent example to his peers on how to be an outstanding math student. - Mr. Paul Esch

    Attitude: Yasmeen Abu Khalaf, Class of 2017,advocates for herself and others on campus in ways that promote human dignity, empathy, and compassion. As one of the leaders of the Middle Eastern Club on the Upper School campus, Yasmeen bravely informs her student and faculty peers about challenging issues, ideas, and developments impacting peoples in a region of the world that remains largely off the radar of most Parker students (both in and out of the classroom). Amidst a very unsettling period in the United States' political culture, Yasmeen stands out as a voice of reason, rights, and justice for peoples not fully integrated into the general public's understanding of "those who matter" and boldly endeavors to make others aware of how to celebrate diversity and privilege all cultures. Yasmeen does so with grace, charm, and grit, and it has been my pleasure to work with and learn from her over the past two years. - Mr. Eric Taylor

    Athletics: Cam Miller, Class of 2017, is a very hard worker and has a great work ethic. Cam is self motivated and self driven. He is a player that will give you 110% and is always a student learner of his craft. A team player first and is willing to help others get better/reach their potential. - Mr. Karl Johnson

    Artistry: Asher Ellis, Class of 2020, is a first-time woodworker who is in the process of creating a round top coffee table, which is quite a challenging endeavor for a beginning craftsman. Asher, nonetheless, has made exceptional progress on his project by employing an aggressive daily work ethic. I very much look forward to showing off his finished table at Arts Night and the Del Mar Fair this summer. - Mr. Barry Cheskaty
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  • Students Spend an Evening Learning About Homelessness in San Diego

    On the evening of Saturday, March 11, Parker students from Lower, Middle and Upper School came together to learn about homelessness in San Diego. School faculty brought together a panel of speakers and passionate community volunteers to speak about why they are committed to ending homelessness.

    Zeynep Ilgaz (Board Member at Interfaith Community Services), Chelsea Buck (Director of Development at Interfaith Community Services), Melissa Peterman (Vice President of the Homeless Housing Innovations at the San Diego Housing Commission) and Dennis Stein (from www.sdhomeless.com) kicked off the night sharing their work addressing the issue. Special guest Tony shared his story about his life on the street.

    “The most moving part of the night for me was hearing from a homeless man named Tony talk about his life living on the street,” said Upper School student Evan Stewart, class of 2017. “He was extremely well spoken and was someone who would be able to change someone's belief that all homeless people have substance abuse issues or all have mental issues. It was the first time I had ever heard from someone part of the homeless community and I will never forget the stories that he told.”

    That evening more than 80 students participated in the event. Many came with the curiosity about how they can make a difference in their communities. And many were surprised to learn that homelessness is more complex than they thought.

    “I had always known homelessness was a very complex issue that is not easy to solve,” said Evan. “But this night taught me even more about how difficult a topic is. Also, I better understand that every homeless person has their own story and that you can't look down on someone else just because they are less fortunate than you, but rather you have to do everything you can to help them.”

    Additional guests Mary and Gary Cox shared with students the power we all have to affecting the lives of those in need as they shared their personal story about Harry -  a homeless man they helped get back on his feet.

    After listening to the speakers, Evan said he was motivated to speak with local politicians about homelessness and to stress the importance of providing affordable housing for the needy.

    “Talking to politicians is something that does not take much time and is important to me so I plan on doing everything I can to decrease the homeless population and hopefully one day make it no longer be a problem in San Diego and the rest of the world,” said Evan.
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  • Upper School Junior Zach Hall Aces the ACT

    Zach Hall, a junior at Francis Parker School earned the highest possible ACT composite score of 36. On average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earns a perfect score.

    The test consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. Exceptional scores of 36 provide colleges with evidence of a student’s readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.

    “I was really surprised when I got my letter,” said Zach Hall. “I took so many practice tests in preparation. It really paid off.”

    Students received letters from the ACT chief executive officer recognizing this exceptional achievement. “Your achievement on the ACT is significant and rare," wrote Janet Godwin. While test scores are just one multiple criteria that most colleges consider when making admission decisions, your exceptional ACT Composite score should prove helpful as you pursue your education and career goals.”

    The ACT test scores are accepted by all major US colleges and are used when considering a student for admission.
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  • February

    Photo courtesy of Symetra Tour

    Brooke Seay wins ANNIKA Invitation with 30-foot putt

    Brooke Seay, Class of 2019, won the ANNIKA Invitational after nailing a 30-foot birdie putt on Sunday, Feb. 19 in Reunion, Fla. Hosted by the American Junior Golf Association, the invitational selected 55 players from around the world, ages 12-19, to compete on a 54-hole course at the Reunion Resort - Watson Course.

    No stranger to stardom, Brooke keeps an impressive golf resume. Last year, Brooke, who resides in Rancho Santa Fe, was named the 2015 CIF San Diego Section Girls Golf Champion. At the age of 12, Book won her division of the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship. When she was just 10 years old, Brooke won the Callaway Junior World Championship for her age division.

    Brooke’s incredible win on Sunday earned her a spot in Florida’s Natural Charity Classic in March.

    Brooke was featured with women’s golf legend Annika Sorenstam on NBC’s Morning Drive show, click here to watch.
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  • Parker Students Rank at Science Olympiad

    Parker students placed 9th out of 58 competing San Diego County public, private, and parochial schools at the 2017 Division C San Diego Regional Science Olympiad Competition. Division C represents teams in grades 9-12.

    Science Olympiad is a nationwide competition where students compete in events including earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering. The competition was created to increase interest in STEM fields by providing recognition for outstanding achievement in team events. Team trophies are awarded to the top 10 schools in each division.

    Parker is proud to have placed in the top 10 in each of the San Diego Regional Science Olympiad Competitions in the past 10 years.
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  • Two Parker Students Earn National Honor for Impressive Acts of Kindness

    Parker Students Named California's Top Youth Volunteers of 2017 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

    Parker Senior Meghana Reddy, 17, and Parker Middle School student, Kenan Pala, 12, were named California’s top Middle and High Level Youth Volunteers of 2017 for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a national program which recognizes students for their impressive acts of volunteerism.
    “This is a rare honor for two finalists to come from one school in the entire state,” said Kevin Dunn, Director of Parker’s Community Engagement department. “It is jaw-dropping the amount of time both Meghana and Kenan have put into helping the community.”
    Meghana was recognized for her work using her 3-D printer to create artificial hands for children and adults in countries who cannot afford prostheses. Inspired during a family trip to India, Meghana was shocked to see children without limbs. The experience moved her to help those in need. Shortly after returning home, she researched and worked with local computer and software engineers to create affordable limbs with her 3-D printer and distributed them to international charities. To meet the growing demand, Meghana created a nonprofit organization called “Limbs of Love.”
    “Whenever I see a smile on a child after receiving their prosthetic limb,” said Meghana. “That is what keeps me going and wanting to do more for others.”
    Kenan was recognized for his work launching his “Food4Homeless” program, which has provided more than $5,000 to homeless shelters in San Diego and has fed more than 2,000 homeless at local soup kitchens. Kenan has been volunteering for a variety of homeless charities since kindergarten. However, it was one event that solidified his purpose to continue his work. During a visit to the beach, Kenan witnessed a crowd of people gathered around a sick baby seal, trying to save it. Kenan was shocked by the amount of strangers who stepped up to help the baby seal while a homeless man begging for help received no attention.
    In 2016, Kenan gathered a dozen other Parker students to collect more than 4,000 boxes of cereal to create The Guinness World’s Record largest cardboard-box mosaic in the school gym. All boxes were donated to the Interfaith Community Shelter.
    In a press release, Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld said, “Prudential is honored to recognize these young volunteers for their exemplary service. We hope that their stories inspire others to consider how they, too, can volunteer their time and talents to improve their communities."
    The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 22nd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). The program chooses two finalists from every state in the US. Meghana and Kenan will join the other national finalist on an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. and to receive $1,000 each, an engraved silver medal for their service and will qualify for one of 10 national awards announced at the recognition ceremony.
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  • Three Student-Athletes Sign National Letter of Intent with Division I & III Schools

    On Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, three Parker seniors Adam Gordon, Michaela (Kaelie) Thomas and Alan Tom signed National Letters of Intent to play sports at Harvard, Trinity College and Pomona College respectively.

    Adam Gordon, 18, Parker’s varsity boys outside hitter, signed with Harvard University to play Division I volleyball.

    Kaelie Thomas, 17, Parker’s varsity girls soccer goalie and team captain, signed to play Division III soccer with Trinity College in Connecticut. The team's record this season is 10-5-5 (3-1-1 in the league) and Kaelie is responsible for 8 shutouts this season.

    Alan Tom, 18, signed with Pomona College to play Division III golf. Alan was named by The San Diego Union-Tribune as a local student golfers to watch in 2016 and 2015.

    Athletic Director Phil Hunt said these students are not only impressive athletes in their sport but are remarkable students off the field as well.

    "We are very proud of the accomplishments these student-athletes have achieved here at Parker and wish them the very best in college,” added Mr. Hunt.
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  • January

    Parker Students Gain Important Networking and Interviewing Advice From Industry Experts

    On Jan. 19, juniors and seniors in Parker’s Internship Program received networking and interviewing advice from Parker’s Past Chair of the Board of Trustees Kathy Purdon and Parker Alumna Lizzy Bendrick ’07.

    Kathy, who served as Regional Vice President of J.P. Morgan Chase’s Mortgage Banking division in Southern California for more than 17 years and has interviewed more than 400 applicants, passed on her knowledge of winning interview skills and networking tips. Kathy encouraged students to share their passions when they go out in the workforce and not to be shy about their accomplishments even if it doesn’t directly relate to the job they’re applying for.

    “Talent will get you in the door,” said Kathy, “but character will keep you in the room.”

    Lizzy, who serves as Active Living Director for The Patrician, a senior living community in La Jolla, spoke about the importance of keeping a professional social media presence and having a passionate 60-second elevator speech to leave a lasting impression on employers.

    “I like to say ‘I’m a cruise ship director on land!’” said Lizzy. “My job is to serve my residents. Serving has been a long passion of mine. I have been volunteering since I was in high school.”

    Parker is dedicated to providing its students with skills that will lead them to successful careers. This session is part of a speaker series for professionals to share their insights on what it is like to work in the 21st Century.
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  • Bryan Shaw '18

    Parker Students Picked to Serve on Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade Royal Court

    Francis Parker School juniors Bryanna and Bryan Shaw (Class of 2018) were selected to be part of the royal court for the 37th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade held on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 at 2 pm in downtown San Diego.

    Bryanna Shaw will serve as queen of the court and her brother Bryan will sit on the court of six other students representing schools from the county. All students were chosen by the Zeta Sigma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. for demonstrating high goals for their future and are capable and willing to work to achieve their goals.

    Bryanna and Bryan are both active in the San Diego community. Bryanna operates her own babysitting business and Bryan is greatly involved in the mentoring organization Boys to Men in La Mesa.
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Francis Parker School is a private, independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12 from across San Diego County. Founded in 1912, the Lower School is located on the Mission Hills Campus with the Upper and Middle Schools on the Linda Vista Campus. Parker's mission is to inspire a diverse community of independent thinkers whose academic excellence, global perspective and strength of character prepare them to make a meaningful difference in the world.

Mission Hills Campus Lower School

4201 Randolph Street
San Diego, CA 92103

Linda Vista Campus Middle/Upper School

6501 Linda Vista Road
San Diego, CA 92111
858 / 569-7900