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2018 Graduates: Kendra Parkman
Linda Mah
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2018 Graduates: Kendra Parkman

Longtime Singer Plans a New Way to Use Her Voice

Kendra Parkman took choir every single trimester of every year of high school at Kalamazoo Central.

She sang with the school’s Hawthorne Singers. She was in all the school musicals, including lead roles as Evillene in “The Wiz” and the Fairy Godmother in “Cinderella.”

But, when she goes to Wayne State University in the fall, she plans to major in pre-law.

She loves singing but ever since she was little she wanted to be involved in law. First, she thought she might be a police officer, then she thought about being a prison warden — she’s not sure why, then a court administrator. Recently, she’s turned her focus toward practicing law.

“Everyone says, ‘Oh, you’re not doing anything with singing?” she said with a laugh. “I really do plan to join a choir or be in some musical at Wayne. It will help me get around thinking about school work all the time.

“Music makes me feel calm. It’s a stress reliever. And I feel like I have a nice voice, so why not use it?”

Parkman graduated from Kalamazoo Central in June. She lives in Kalamazoo with her parents Eric and Sheila Parkman. Her older sister Kiera Parkman graduated from KC in 2016.

She began singing with the First United Baptist Church youth choir when she was a preschooler. When she reached Hillside Middle School, she met Theresa Williams-Johnson, who would be her choir teacher all through middle school and high school.

“Kendra is a true joy to have in my music program,” Williams-Johnson said. “She’s an outstanding musician and student. It’s hard for me to see her leave.”

Choir became a second family, especially after she joined the Hawthorne Singers, Parkman said.

“It gave me a connection with people who had the same interests and goals as I had — to improve my singing, to perform for the school, to be a good representative for Kalamazoo Central,” she said. “It has been an anchor in my career.”

She said that through choir she’s pushed her vocal range and her under- standing of music, singing choral works in Russian and Latin “all the time.” But, more importantly, music has been a valuable tool for reaching others.

“I’ve really learned you can connect with people through music,” Parkman said. “You can empathize and sympathize with people that you probably never would be able to communicate with if you were just having a face-to-face conversation.”

She acknowledges it will be difficult to leave the safe and nurturing environment at Kalamazoo Central, a place where her name was cheered when called at graduation.

She’s loved the pep rallies, with their epic tug-of-war battles. She’s loved the way the students came together to rally against gun violence. She loved the way everyone supported each other after the death of a beloved teacher. She loves the fact that she went to school with the same two best friends, Davyn Thomas and Morgan Dantzler, since kindergarten at Northglade Montessori Magnet School.

“I feel like Kalamazoo Public Schools get a bad rap and that Kalamazoo Central is right in the center of the negative vibes,” Parkman said. “But Kalamazoo Central is actually a really great school for education and for diversity. We’re really intertwined with each other.

“Everyone has the same goal: to set our footprints on the world and to be world changers.”

Cutline: Kendra Parkman was the president of the Kalamazoo Central Class of 2018 and was known around the school community for her singing ability. She will attend Wayne State University in the fall. 

Photo courtesy of Casey Spring.

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