by Elaine Christensen, Middle School director
Dear Middle School parents and guardians,
Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year! I am writing this in mid-August, and I eagerly await the moment when the building is full of joyful noise as students and teachers come to school. The beginning of the year is one of my favorite times—so full of hope and possibility! I send a warm, warm welcome to both new and returning students and families.
I apologize in advance for the length of this article; there is much to communicate as we open the year, including calendar details (including Back-to-School Night and service learning), reminders about medications, information about how to access your student's homework assignments, and guidelines for student gatherings outside of school. If you have any questions or concerns, please email me at MSdirector@lakesideschool.org or call me at 206-440-2772.
Conversations to have with your student
Lakeside has several documents that are core to life at our school. As you all know from reading my opening-of-school letter, the Statement of Community Expectations is one of those key documents. You should have received a print copy of the statement in the mail; you can also find it on the parents and guardians webpage under "Important Documents" (or just click here.) It is important that students and families know and understand the community expectations, be able to articulate why they are important, and know how the statement informs and guides behavior for everyone who is a part of our school. In my letter, I asked every family to take time, before school starts, to sit down for a dedicated conversation about the following questions.
- With your student, "translate" and summarize this statement. What are the key points? What does it mean in the language of a 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th grader?
- What is a specific example of a "small act of academic dishonesty or personal discourtesy" from their life at school? Share one from your own life as well.
- Equally importantly, what is a specific "action that affirms consideration, integrity, and inclusion"? Again, share one from your own life as well as talking about examples from theirs.
- What will your student do if they witness something that goes against the community expectations? Generate some action steps.
- What words does your 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th grade student use to describe "the community we seek"?
- What is one very specific thing your student commits to doing which will help build the community we seek at school? This can be small or large. Please write this down, put it on your fridge or in your phone, and check in with your student on a regular basis (perhaps at each marking period when you discuss comments). Consider making a commitment of your own that you share and write down as well.
Please make time for this. Students' advisors will be asking them about these conversations in September.
Another question advisors will discuss with students this fall is "What are you reading?" Lakeside strives to cultivate lifelong learners, people who read books in their downtime. The role of parents and guardians is key – if you want your student to be a reader, they must see you reading, and – as a family – you need to talk about the books that engage you. I read a number of books this summer including "So You Want to Talk About Race" by Seattle author Ijeoma Oluo, "Cry, the Beloved Country" by South African novelist Alan Paton, "Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think" by Swedish physician, academic, statistician Hans Rosling, and "Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time" by animal advocates Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter with Caprice Crane. What did you read? Have you talked about it with your students?
Notes from the front office
For those new to the Middle School, the front office is the heart of the school. If you have any questions about anything related to the Middle School, don't hesitate to call Brittany Wilde or Jodi Kennedy. In each edition of Inside Lakeside, Middle School Assistant Director Ted Chen or I will include up-to-the-minute important reminders and announcements from our wonderful office team.
- Medications: Emergency medications should be kept in the main office. Please bring them in a Ziploc bag in their original containers with dosage information and student name. Please include a picture of the student in the bag. This is particularly helpful as we learn the new students' names and faces.
- Messages for students during the school day: Please limit messages to emergencies or information about changes in transportation and call or email them in by 2:30 p.m. When the office receives a message for a student, they will write it on the blackboard in the Crossroads (the main hallway right by the office). Students should erase messages after they receive them. Messages received after 2:30 will be delivered to classrooms by the office staff. We use this system since students are not allowed to use cell phones during the school day.
- Required forms: Students must have the following on file before the start of school: a permission to treat/physician's statement form and current immunization information. Forms were due on June 1; if we do not have the completed forms on file, a student will not be allowed to attend classes. More information is posted on the parents and guardians webpage in the announcements box (or click here for a link).
The performing arts wing and Evans Theater have been renovated and updated. It looks fantastic! All of us engaged in the performing arts – as musicians, singers, actors, and audience members – will benefit from these new and improved learning and performance spaces. Check out the arts calendar and mark some performance dates in your calendar so you can see the space in action. You will also see some wonderful changes to the outside spaces. We know that play time and time outside is important for students and we wanted to make the facilities more fun. You'll notice a new sport court (which can be made into a volleyball court at various times in the year), new swings, and more spaces for students to gather.
Books and supplies
Remember to purchase books and supplies before the start of the school year. You can find a link to students' schedules (and what they'll need) in the article that went out with the summer mailing, "How to buy textbooks through University Book Store." That article also has information about the required supplies – there are only five! You can also see the supplies list in the announcements box of the parent and guardians webpage (or click here).
Grade-level retreats on Sept. 7
On Friday, Sept. 7, students will participate in grade-level retreats. These are opportunities for students to bond as a class and get to know each other. The focus of the 8th-grade retreat will be preparation for their GSL trips in early October. Each grade will go to a different Seattle park with classmates and their adult advisors and return to Lakeside by 3 p.m. In order for your student to attend, you must sign the online permission slip form. You can find this form, and other important documents throughout the year, on Lakeside's parents and guardians webpage, under "Important Documents." If you have any questions please contact your student's grade-level coordinator or Ted.
Back-to-School Night on Thursday, Sept. 27
Please make sure that Back-to-School Night is on your calendar. This is your opportunity to meet your student's advisor and teachers. Free childcare is available for children ages 4 through current 5th graders, RSVP for childcare here. More information will be emailed in September; you can also check out this FAQ.
A big part of being a middle school student is learning how to keep track of assignments and manage time. All Lakeside teachers maintain a class webpage, which lists homework assignments. At the Middle School, parents and guardians have access to homework pages so they can assist students as they learn to stay organized. Soon after school starts, you will receive an email from Bonnie Brodd, our technology integration specialist, with instructions about how to access homework. Please look out for this email. We will also place a link on the parents and guardians webpage after school starts. Fifth- and 6th-grade students also receive an assignment notebook to use in conjunction with the homework listed on the class webpage. Using it consistently (every night!) helps students learn to coordinate tasks and assignments over time. Please reach out to your student's advisor, teachers, me, or Ted if you have any questions or concerns.
Sept. 30-Oct. 6: Service learning and GSL
The first week of October is unique. On Sunday, Sept. 30, the 8th grade departs for their six-day/five-night Global Service Learning trip, a required and integral part of our Middle School program. That same week, the 5th, 6th, and 7th grades will have their first and second service-learning days (Tuesday, Oct. 2 and Wednesday, Oct. 3). You will get more information about each of these events over email. These days serve as an opportunity for students to solidify new friendships, build a cohesive community at each grade level, take a break from the school routine, and actively engage in one of our goals: to serve the greater community.
No school Oct. 12 and Nov. 2
Looking ahead, there is no school for students on Friday, Oct. 12 or Friday, Nov. 2. Teachers will be engaged in professional development and working on midterm grades and comments. Please review the 2018-2019 overview calendar to find other days when school is not in session.
Inclusivity and feeling like you belong is a significant concern during middle school. As students get to know each other, they often get together outside of school. But off-campus parties and social gatherings can also create a challenge.
Our guidelines regarding gatherings outside of school, which we hope all parents and guardians will support, are articulated below. Helping your student gracefully and respectfully navigate the challenge of who gets invited and who doesn't is important. While we cannot mandate what families do on their own time, we hope that you respect the knowledge about middle schoolers that we've gained in our years of experience.
Please read this carefully and talk it over with your student in advance of organizing any activities. We believe that having transparent expectations helps students learn to navigate this tricky social territory.
- If your student is having a party, please keep all references to it, including invitations and pick-up, away from the Lakeside Middle School campus.
- In addition, we ask that you either include all members of the class (all the girls, all the boys, or all the students) or that you keep the party small. The guideline regarding small parties is to invite five students if you are in 5th grade, six students if you are in 6th grade, seven students if you are in 7th grade, or eight students if you are in 8th grade.
Having been in the Middle School business for some time, we can share that the most difficult demographic for this guideline every year is girls in 6th and 7th grades, especially around the time of the dance in May. We also want to acknowledge that following this guideline can be difficult and that, no matter where you cut off the invitations, some students may feel left out.
Related to this, please talk with your student and encourage them not to post pictures of these smaller gatherings on social media. These postings can be as hurtful as the events themselves. Learning to navigate this territory – discerning what is appropriate to post when and where – is an important part of students' growth.
Please do not hesitate to consult with advisors, counselor Hilary Myerberg, Ted Chen, or me if you have questions or concerns.
As always, please let me know if you have questions or want to check in for any reason. I hope your back-to-school preparations are going well. Thank you for sharing your wonderful students with us. On behalf of the whole Middle School faculty, welcome to the 2018-2019 school year!
Elaine Christensen '82 is Middle School director and Lakeside's director of professional development. Reach her at MSdirector@lakesideschool.org or 206-440-2772.