Park Helps Motivate and Appreciate Seniors through Parent Letters

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Vaishnavi Bhat (2021-2022), Print Editor-in-Chief

As the 2021-2022 school year comes to a close, the senior class of 2022 gets ready to take flight and commence a new chapter of their lives. Only a few months away from finishing high school, seniors are now reflecting on the past four years and preparing themselves for what their future may entail. In order to honor all the effort that these Falcons have put in over the years as well as provide a valuable bit of encouragement, AP Literature teacher Ashley Park engages in a yearly activity to make these students feel appreciated and acknowledged.

“Parents are asked to write a letter to their senior student at the beginning of the school year telling them their hopes, dreams, why they are proud of their student, or just anything that they would like to tell them. They can write it in English, a native language, include pictures, make it a card or a 5 page letter – there are really no parameters, I’ll take it all,” said Park. “The week of graduation, I return these notes to the students so that they can see what their parents have written to them.”

Park believes that as seniors come to a place in the year where they are so ready to be independent but become a little nostalgic about their time in high school, this becomes a very special moment for my students to read what their parents have written. Senior Hemangi Swaroop believes that this is a very touching and sentimental activity, and is looking forward to opening her letter as her high school career comes to an end. She thinks it will be a very special keepsake that will inspire and drive her to keep up the hard work as she heads off to college. She plans on holding on to her letter forever, and reading it whenever she goes through a tough time because her parents’ words will motivate her.

“I think the letters will help motivate us as we embark on the next chapter of our lives,” said Swaroop. “Reading these letters will also remind us seniors that our years of hard work are recognized and appreciated by our parents. It makes me feel loved to know that my parents wrote me a whole letter to show that they are proud of who I’ve become.”

Park started this activity as a way to show her students that their work over the years is truly recognized and respected. Students do not hear it all the time, so these letters are a reminder that their parents are proud of their accomplishments.

“The summer before I started teaching I actually heard about this activity from a mentor teacher who had done this activity with her students at a local high school,” said Park. “My teaching career began with teaching seventh and eighth grades and the students thought it was sweet and fun to hear from their parents but it wasn’t until I taught seniors my third year of teaching that I realized just how impactful it could be and have done it every year since.”

Senior year can be one of the most exciting, difficult, fun and stressful years according to Park, so these letters allow a bridge between students and parents that they may not have otherwise. She often explains to her students that  their wings are ready for them to fly but their parents may not be quite ready. That may further result in tough times as they are stressed out about schoolwork, getting into college, paying for it, and asking their parents for money for every single fun thing that senior year brings. The messages from their parents therefore serve as an indicator of their parents’ continuous support and unwavering love throughout this emotional year.

“I am incredibly grateful that Mrs. Park did this activity with our parents, since the letters are truly something that us seniors will cherish,” said Swaroop. “It will be a sentimental token of our parents’ appreciation and love that we will keep with us forever.”