Remembering Jordan Park

At the memorial for Jordan Park ’25, Photography I teacher Alexandra Pacheco Garcia spoke about her meaningful relationship with Jordan.

Alexandra Pacheco Garcia, Visual Arts Teacher

Hello, my name is Alexandra Pacheco Garcia. Many of you know me as Ms. PG. I’m Jordan’s Photography I teacher.

I’d like to share with you a bit about the student I had and the class she was a part of. For those that didn’t know, Jordan was an extremely talented photographer and promising young artist.

Jordan’s Block 5 class is special. It’s a group made of very different kinds of kids that in the venn diagram of teenage interests and pursuits, not many of them would overlap beyond the classroom. But for whatever reason, there is a bond with this small, intimate group of students that is unique and wonderful to be a part of. For the students and teachers in the room, I know you know what I’m talking about. The experience of those singular classes that have this magic chemistry to them, where everyone is connected.

Jordan was a big part of that magic. Jordan loved photography. It meant a lot to her. And she loved our class. She would spend hours after school in the lab with Andrea and Chris, blasting music and editing her photos. And she would come to school early sometimes and sit with me working a little more before first block, chit chatting as I hustled around the classroom, prepping our space. As teachers we’re not supposed to say we have our favorites…but here it is, she was a favorite.

Jordan took our creative prompts seriously. She was dedicated, inspired and she had talent. She had folders on her phone of artists and styles she admired and wanted to figure out how to emulate. She was attracted to architectural images in golden hour light and wanted to know how she could make those kinds of pictures — you see, the exposure is tricky when there’s extremes of shadow and light. She had about ten different ideas for any given project and as is true with any ambitious creative problem solver, she would sometimes overthink things. And the truth was she was more than capable, my guidance was to support her creative impulses. I was a sounding board, but the vision, direction and stunning end results were all Jordan.

As a teacher there is nothing more exciting than when you have a student who loves the thing you love. You see a little bit of yourself in their passion and curiosity, you are energized by their engagement and often, especially with Jordan, delightfully surprised and moved by what they create. I would never think to make some of the pictures in the way she did.

Jordan was sensitive. That sensitivity is useful in artmaking. She was a quiet, perceptive observer of the world around her. A great thing about the camera and photography for a sensitive soul, is that it allows for a bit of distance between yourself and the world. It’s a way to mediate and process what’s around us. Through Jordan’s lens she made images that were the poetry of the everyday. Quiet, candid introspective moments, like a man sitting alone at the back of an empty diner, holding his phone up to his ear and examining his nails. A red neon sign hangs behind him, filling the scene with a warm and slightly melancholy light. Another — two figures in a parking lot, caught at a distance in a deep conversation illuminated by the fluorescent street lamp above them. And a third — a side of an apartment building at night, filling the frame, small rectangular shadowy windows glowing like muted gems, portals to people and families and stories that we can only glimpse. That’s the frustrating thing about any given photograph — it only gives you so much information. There’s a lot left beyond the image frame that is unknowable.

In the fall, I do this activity with my classes called the camera obscura. I turn the 100 year old Rugby tower into a giant pinhole camera that we all sit inside. For Jordan’s class that day we had a spectacular afternoon — the sky had clouds, the light was perfect. I start by leading the kids through a meditation in the dark space and when we open our eyes, you can see the outside landscape projected on the wall and ceiling behind us. We all left the obscura buzzing, having shared that experience together. What I didn’t know was that Jordan was having a tough day that day. I was so caught up, I didn’t notice, but she sent me an email afterwards. It was long loving email, part of which said:

“Your class is one of the few things I look forward to in a week and I want to say it’s like my comfort class. There’s something about it, maybe it’s the way you teach it, or the chemistry with the other students, or the actual photographing aspect of it (or all of the above), but it is extremely therapeutic. As I mentioned earlier the day had not been going very well for me, and there was something about being there with the class that felt so incredibly healing and comforting that it made me want to cry because of how grateful I was for the class. But that’s all, I just wanted to express my gratitude and let you know how much your class really means to me. Thank you for being my teacher Ms. PG. I hope you have a lovely long weekend.”

I have never in my tenure of teaching, received a note like that. As an adult, I feel like I don’t take enough time to tell those around me what they mean to me, and here is this 15-year- old young woman with the generosity, the self-awareness and the kindness to let me know I am valued. What a gift.

Here are a few images and moments in my head when I think of Jordan. I see Jordan with Diana and Liv and Katherine on the FH Plaza during our shutter speed workshop. I see Kathy trying to bend way, way back while Jordan is crouched below, trying to get the best angle. I can hear them shrieking and laughing as Kathy breaks the impossible back bend. I can hear those same group of friends in the studio as they shout in unison, OOOOOOO! It turns out that after many failed attempts, they were able to perfectly capture the choreography of a light up ball motion. I see Jordan’s face at the beginning of the year, I see her bright smile as a K pop song she likes comes on our class playlist, I see her bopping along in her chair and mouthing the words. I see Jordan sitting on the stool at our center worktable, her bangs perpetually in her face. Her bangs and her braces, I feel tenderly about these details when I think of her. I see Jordan at Venice Beach during our field trip, when out of nowhere, a motorcycle crew inexplicably rolls up onto the basketball court and of course, Jordan and her friends make a direct beeline to try and get pictures of them. And finally, I see Jordan at her desk which is positioned right in front of mine. We are workshopping an idea together and I mishear what she says because the music is too loud in the classroom. I say something ridiculous and it gives us both the mean giggles.

These are a few moments of pure joy, silliness and artmaking that will stay with me always.

Thank you, Jordan, for everything.