Parker Community Joins Together to Celebrate Those Who Persisted

To reflect on International Women’s Day—which took place on Thursday, March 8—the Parker community presented a Morning Ex to the entire JK through 12th grade community based on Chelsea Clinton’s book, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World. After Senator Elizabeth Warren encouraged her to write, Clinton decided to create the book, then secured Alexandra Boiger to illustrate. This book tells the tale of “thirteen inspirational women who never took no for an answer, and who always, inevitably and without fail, persisted.”

The Morning Ex kicked off with seniors Isobel Bender, Jolie Davidson, Maya Plotnick and Martha Wedner performing the song “She Persisted” by Drew Fornarola. Throughout the Morning Ex, Middle and Upper School Director of Studies Sven Carlsson, 5th grade teacher Scott Turner, Assistant Principal Ruth Jurgensen, Physical Education teacher Terry Davis, Upper School Spanish teacher Yadiner Sabir, 8th grade mathematics teacher Tim O’Connor and Senior Kindergarten teacher Dana O’Brien all took turns reading Clinton’s words on these 13 women. Further, the audience was especially lucky to have Parker parent and alumnus Elise Paschen ’77 read about her mother, Maria Tallchief. Paschen not only read from She Persisted, she also read a poem she had written about watching her mother perform ballet.

In addition to the seniors singing “She Persisted,” other Parker students from all grade levels participated. Middle and Upper School music teacher Rob Denien led his Colonel Choir—the 3rd through 5th grade extra-curricular choir—in singing “If You Miss Me From the back of the Bus” popularized by Pete Seeger. The Upper School Advanced Wind Ensemble performed “Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30,” a tone poem by Richard Strauss arranged by music teacher Alec Synakowski. Languages and Cultural Studies Co-Chair Liz Villagomez aided her 7th grade students in creating a video talking about the life and work of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Integrated Learning and Information Sciences Department members Sarah Beebe and Mary Catherine Coleman worked with the Junior Kindergarten to create a video about Ruby Bridges and how these JKers would have “Stood With Her” as she became the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis in 1960. Music Department Co-Chair Sunnie Hikawa led her Grape Jam ensemble in their performance of “Through the Dark” by Andrea Ramsey, which sets Helen Keller’s writings to music. And finally, to bring this Morning Ex full circle, seniors Isobel Bender, Jolie Davidson, Maya Plotnick and Martha Wedner again performed “She Persisted.”

This Morning Ex was a great experience that brought together people from throughout the Parker community to celebrate these persistent, inspirational women. A special thanks to Music Department Co-Chair Kingsley Tang, who conceived and organized this Morning Ex through his work as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Co-Chair.
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.