Parker’s core values of global perspective and inclusive community demonstrate the importance of looking beyond the self and giving to the broader community. On Oct. 26, students in Grades 7 and 8 stepped out of their normal academic routines to participate in Community and Global Awareness Day. It is a day full of activities that aim to widen students’ perspectives and provide an opportunity to give back to the local community.
Grade 8 students spent the school day on campus participating in Global Awareness activities, while Grade 7 students went off campus to help at various nonprofits and community organizations that make a difference in the lives of San Diegans.
Head of Middle School Dan Lang said the Community and Global Awareness Day helps students fulfill the public purpose of the School while also learning the value of having a public purpose mindset in their own lives.
“At Parker, we believe that academic excellence is the baseline expectation of a great school. Certainly, we see students demonstrating academic excellence daily. Yet, a meaningful life requires more. A meaningful life requires applying one’s knowledge and skills in service to and with others,” said Mr. Lang.
Global Awareness Day - Grade 8
The Grade 8 Global Awareness Day familiarizes students with cultures from around the world and helps prepare them for Discovery Week. Many of the activities focus specifically on the countries and regions they will travel to, including Costa Rica, Peru, Canada, and China, while others focus on the broader global community and what it means to be good global citizens.
In the beginning of the day, students met with their advisory groups to participate in a Community Power Struggle and Privilege Walk. The walk demonstrates how power and rights are unevenly distributed in all communities and that a person’s skills and capabilities are not tied to their social status.
To show the disparities within communities, students were assigned various occupations and asked to stand in a straight line. The occupations varied and included doctors, politicians, small business owners, students, migrant workers, and actors, among others. Advisory teachers then provided power and privilege statements, like “I can vote in an election” and “I can own land,” and the students stepped forward if the statement were true for their occupation or backward if the statement were not true. At the end of the exercise, there was a clear distance between those occupations that have power and privilege and those occupations that do not.
Students said it was because of things like financial status, age, religion, ethnicity and race that created the distances between them. They concluded that how a person is viewed within society can dictate what that person can and cannot do and that skills and capabilities are not necessarily tied to the amount of power and rights a person has within their community.
Later in the day, Grade 8 students broke into their trip groups to take a deeper look at the countries they’ll be visiting during Discovery Week. Students went on a scavenger hunt to research the different countries and feasted on traditional cuisine at lunchtime.
Community Awareness Day - Grade 7
Grade 7 students traveled to different organizations around San Diego for Community Awareness Day, helping to prepare meals, clean up beaches and canyons, and support local students in their classrooms. The organizations included San Diego Food Bank, Feeding America, Canyonlands, and San Diego Cooperative Charter School. A group of students also collected trash along the beach at Mission Bay.
The activities helped build awareness around the significance of community and being good citizens within their community. Some activities also showed students the inequalities that exist and the importance of giving back.
At the end of the day, students returned to campus for a debriefing and to share their thoughts with their fellow classmates.
“We at Parker are really lucky. We have more than the basic needs,” said a grade 7 student who helped fill backpacks at the San Diego Food Bank. “It was nice being able to provide meals for other families. It was a really rewarding experience.”
Grade 7 students helped pick up over 100 pounds of trash around Mission Bay, pack 656 backpacks with meals at San Diego Food Bank, and collect trash bags filled with invasive species cleared from a local canyon, in addition to the numerous other community activities they participated in.
The activities of Global and Community Awareness Day are central to the Middle School curriculum. They are also central to the Parker mission as a whole, which seeks to “create and 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.”