Through The Partners Program at Park, upper and middle school students establish friendships with lower school students of color* in weekly meetings and Partners-wide events. It was started thirteen years ago with eight pairings and has grown to now include about 15% of the student body.
This program reflects the school’s commitment to diversity and multicultural education. Our group strives to honor differences while building an inclusive community. We have found that students of color sometimes feel isolated when they are in a visible minority. An older buddy can make all of the difference in helping students become more comfortable at Park, thus enabling them to share their unique gifts and talents with all. The Partners Program has allowed children to build friendships with students in all three divisions and has given students of color a stronger voice within the school. It has also helped white participants understand multiple perspectives and has empowered many older students to probe white privilege and participate in antiracist work.
Each older buddy commits time and energy to meet with her or his younger partner weekly. This bonding time might take the form of sharing lunch, attending a school event and/or meeting during or after school. Additionally, Upper and Middle School students commit to meeting regularly with faculty advisors and student leaders to discuss and share partnering experiences and plan for whole group activities.
Feedback from partners indicates that this is a rewarding and fun activity. Upper School students get tremendous satisfaction and pleasure from knowing that they helped answer some questions, provided a smile, and shared a laugh with a younger Park School student.
If you identify your lower or middle school student as a person of color (see the definition we use below), we hope that you will apply for your child to become a part of The Partners Program at Park. If interested, please complete the online application form by September 7, giving as much information as possible about your child. We work hard to make pairings in a careful and thoughtful manner at the beginning of the school year. You will receive information regarding your child’s partner as pairings are completed.
* Person/People of Color — NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) considers ‘People of Color’ as individuals who are permanent residents or U.S. citizens and belong to one of the following racial/ethnic groups: African American, Latino/Hispanic American, Asian American/South Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern American, Multiracial American, and Pacific Islander.