Take Back the Night Director Speaks to Upper School Students

Each spring, Upper School students participate in Cookies courses to shift outside their regular classroom setting and explore a variety of topics that interest them. This year, juniors Jacob Condrell, Coco De Leon, Maya Khare and Zach Maple chose sexual assault and consent as their Cookies topic to inspire students to learn and make change surrounding the subject. 

“We felt it was important for people to have a better understanding of how prevalent sexual assault and harassment are around us,” Condrell said. “By educating others, we hope we’ll plant the seeds for a healthier future regarding relationships and society as a whole.”

The students were inspired to focus on this topic after their time at Georgetown Day School’s Sexual Assault and Consent Summit, where they heard from activist Katie Koestner, executive director of Take Back the Night, a foundation that seeks to end all forms of sexual violence, including sexual assault, sexual abuse, trafficking, stalking, gender harassment and relationship violence, and support survivors in their healing journeys.

The students connected with Koestner at the summit, which resulted in her coming to speak at Parker. She shared her personal sexual assault story and how that led to her activism and lifelong work dedicated to combatting sexual violence. “I was a student, and a student can make change,” Koestner said. She also provided a more academic look at the concept of consent and ways to teach its importance.

Koestner’s speech was moving, impactful and, ultimately, inspiring to the students who discussed the ways personal stories can change viewpoints and opinions. Powerful speakers such as Koestner not only bring a personal perspective to an intense subject, but also inspire students to recognize their ability to make a difference in the world. 

“Personally, I had the realization that we students have more power than we think. We have opportunities, teachers who are open and ideas we share with each other, which can open doors to growth in the community,” Khare said.

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.