by Bernie Noe, head of school
Each year in early March, the Upper School holds an election for student body president, and this year three articulate and passionate juniors took the podium at assembly to explain to the student body why they should be elected. Their speeches were thoughtful and well-delivered, but what was most striking to all of us in the audience was the respect that they demonstrated for one another, thanking each other for running and hugging their opponents as they came off stage. We all were left with the feeling that any of three would provide kind, humble, high-integrity, and empathic leadership for the Upper School!
In my 20 years at Lakeside I have noticed, again and again, the high-quality interactions between and among students at both the Upper and Middle schools. I am not suggesting the school is a Utopia, but it has, overall, one of the healthiest student communities I have encountered. The students, in most cases, respect one another and support one another. When, for example, I am sitting in on classes, I notice that if a student is struggling with a presentation, their classmates will go out of their way to toss out softball questions or comment on what the person is doing really well. And when a student is struggling to understand a concept, their peers will come to their assistance.
There is also a very high level of respect for students among the faculty, staff, and administrators. Students have shared with me over the years (often when looking back on their school experience) that when they arrived at the school, they felt the benefit of the doubt - trust - was extended to them in advance, and they held that trust throughout their time at Lakeside unless they did something to violate it. And, in turn, students demonstrate a high level of respect for the faculty, thanking them as they leave almost every class and seeking out their guidance on a variety of issues. Job candidates, at the end of their interview day, regularly mention to me how respectful the students were of them during their visit.
Even in this era of incivility, respect and support for one another permeate the environment at Lakeside!
So, good job, parents and guardians, for nurturing respectful students. Let's all be sure to remain vigilant when we notice disrespectful behavior and continue to point out to our children all the ways in which we expect them to be respectful. Many of the messages in the popular culture and in current political life are not respectful, and every day we must actively counter their negative effects.
And let's be sure that our students also continue to give each other the attention that respect requires. One of the great Roman emperors, Marcus Aurelius, in his "Meditations" wrote that he had audiences with dozens of people a week yet made it a practice to give each his full attention, even if it was only for a few minutes. He knew that each one needed to know they were being heard, really heard, if only briefly. So, in this age of distraction, we also need to point out to our students that being respectful includes giving others your full attention, if only briefly - including of course, parents and guardians! Respect begins with paying attention to others.
Keep up the good work, everyone!
Enjoy the spring, and I will see you at games and performances.
Bernie Noe is Lakeside's head of school. You can reach him at Head'sOffice@lakesideschool.org and 206-440-2714.