Parent Association kicks off the new year

Sam Keimweiss and Nishtha Sharma

The Upper Division Parents Association (UDPA) kicked off the year yesterday, when chairs Cecile Caer P’19 ’21 ’24 and Benay Taub P’13 ‘17 ’19 ’22 led a meeting outlining their plans for the future.

The meeting covered the year’s calendar, protocol, and general advice for planning events, 11th Grade Representative Ellen Bender P’16 ’20 said.

In the second half of the meeting, UDPA Secretary Amy Federman P’21 taught parents the procedure necessary to plan an event, Bender said.

This meeting was especially important because it is difficult to get all the PA representatives in one place, Caer said. Within the UDPA, there are many committees, from the book fair committee to the athletics committee, Caer said.

Beginning their second two-year term as co-chairs, Caer and Taub plan to expand their collaboration with UD Head Dr. Jessica Levenstein, Caer said. Last year, they worked with Levenstein to put together workshops for parents focused on student life skills, she said.

“We wanted to have some events that were more focused on things she had implemented regarding some of the topics we think that parents should be more aware of,” Caer said. Last year’s topics included sexual health and drugs, she said.

This year, due to the popularity of the events, Caer and Taub plan to work with grade representatives to have more talks and cover more topics, such as screen time and social media, Caer said.

Other topics covered included discussing the PA’s annual events, such as Book Fair and the International Food Festival, financing for the upcoming year, and creating a more accessible PA for working parents who can’t make meetings, Caer said. “A lot of [parents], for example, are going back to work, so they are not as available as they used to be when the students were younger,” she said.

“We want to be as inclusive as possible, we want the events to be as accessible as possible,” PA President Grace Peak P’21 said.

Bender has been involved with the PA for 13 years serving various roles, she said. After a one-year hiatus, she was “pleasantly surprised to see how organized everything was,” she said. In past years scheduling was an issue, so a large part of the meeting was spent urging parents to be on top of dates, Bender said.

The UDPA is part of the larger PA, which spans all divisions, but the UD poses unique challenges for parents, Caer said. “A lot of times we feel that [our kids] don’t need us, or we don’t need to be there to help in any way,” she said, “But in fact it’s really fun and interesting to still be involved in the upper school.”

Part of the joy of working in the UDPA is collaborating with students, she said. “It’s a way for us as parents to realize the level of maturity that they are achieving.”