As the 2021-22 school year draws to a close, it is time to celebrate the accomplishments Parker School has achieved over the past nine months. From moving the middle and upper school back into the theater for family meetings, to having a mask-optional status in and outside of classrooms, this year has been marked with an unbelievable amount of progress towards creating a sustainable post-pandemic school community, thanks to the persistent efforts of students, teachers, and administrators alike.
With this being my final year at Parker, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in recent weeks reflecting on my academic and social journey as a Parker student, as well as my role in our school ‘ohana. During my reflections, however, I repeatedly find myself circling back to my feelings of gratitude and reverence for the opportunities I’ve been given by my school community to lead as the Student Council Vice President of Events. Of the events I’ve been fortunate to bring to Parker this year, the success of the first-ever X Games stands out above the rest.
My philosophy behind the X Games has always been to build new friendships across all grade levels and foster school spirit during a time when COVID-19 subdued the enthusiasm of the student body. Now that we’re at the end of the year-long tournament, I can confidently assert the X Games fulfilled its purpose by generating numerous memories for students, staff, and faculty. Throughout the evolution of the X Games as the year progressed, the innovation and diversity of competition flourished thanks to input from sophomores Acacia Blyth and Elwin-Futrell Shotts, two incredible leaders who are interested in continuing the legacy of this school-wide tournament into the 2022-23 school year. From trivia to capture the flag, and water games to sidewalk mural art, the breadth of artistic, athletic, and academic competitions this year was extensive, and I hope each and every student had some moment in the year when they wholeheartedly enjoyed participating in the activities.
While some of the success of the X Games can be attributed to the exciting activities students engaged in throughout the year, this success was magnified by the custom t-shirts and medals we received for students. After raising $3000 dollars through sponsorships by Big Island Art Fair and the Parker School Parent Teacher Student Organization, we were able to purchase 236 t-shirts—which included the squad’s color, name, and X Games logo on it—for each middle and upper school student. Moreover, thanks to a generous donation from Parker School, we recently received 48 medals for the students of the top three squads, which will be presented this Thursday during Hui Malama. Through purchases such as these, Student Council made the tournament more exciting and engaging, which further fostered the camaraderie within squads.
The X Games created some defining moments in our school as it began transitioning to a post-pandemic school system. In September of 2021, the school saw—for the first time in a year and a half—all students grades 6 through 12 gather together outside for the Opening Ceremony. Furthermore, in April of 2022, the X Games inspired Parker’s May Day festivities, which may become a new tradition for future May Days.
Innovating, organizing and ushering these monthly competitions into fruition was no easy task, but I couldn’t have done any of it without the continued support of the Parker community. While it was a tremendous challenge, I’ve been rewarded with valuable knowledge about leadership, coordination, and teamwork that I hope to bring to college and beyond. Here are some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned:
Successful leadership relies heavily on a mutual relationship between the leader and students. Yes, the founding fathers were right when they asserted that “government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.”
It takes a substantial amount of time and effort to plan activities for a broad, diverse community of students and teachers, but this grants an opportunity to experiment with and innovate new ideas.
Not every person is going to realize, recognize, and respect the time and effort you put into planning and executing events, but this is absolutely okay. The number of people who will value your leadership far outnumbers the people who reject it, and this support should be a driving force to continue what you do.
It is okay if plans do not work exactly the way you intended them to. There will always be an external circumstance that alters the course of the plans, and it requires patience and practice to easily adjust to changing circumstances.
Don’t try to take on an entire project single handedly. It is the coordination and cooperation of many people and ideas that elevates a project to the next level.
Along with the lessons listed above, I would hope that students who plan to continue the legacy of the X Games find their own way to innovate and pioneer new ways to encourage the school’s student body. This tournament will be much more successful if it evolves from year to year to better meet the needs of the new student body and engage under and upperclassmen alike.
As for me, my role of leading the X Games has come to an end, and I thank you all for trusting me to lead such an incredible tournament this year. This endeavor could not have been possible without each and every member of the Parker School ‘Ohana, so I want to share my deepest gratitude for this school’s willingness to come together and enjoy each other’s company with one another. It has been an absolute honor being able to serve Parker School.