An Independent School • Grades 5-12
Midyear in the Middle School: Being inspired by students
Midyear in the Middle School: Being inspired by students

by Elaine Christensen, Middle School director

It's the middle of the year. It's dark and it's rainy and still, the students love to be outside on the field, on the sport court, on the swings, at the ping-pong tables, and on the new boulders installed around campus. Even as they are writing papers, working on projects, taking quizzes, and doing homework, it's important for kids to simply play, especially in the dark of winter.

As you know, the second term has started. And every single day, there are amazing moments that demonstrate the ways in which students are living the school's mission.  Eighth graders have posted their leadership profiles in the Crossroads; please come take a look at their beautiful pieces about parents/guardians, teachers, grandparents, public figures, coaches, and administrators. Seventh graders finished reading "Animal Farm" and are examining paramecium under the microscope. Sixth graders completed a unit on evolution using two skeletons (a chimpanzee and a 12-year-old human) purchased by the PGA through Tools for the Job. Fifth graders began an engineering unit by building towers using 3X5 cards and a foot of tape.

The event that most demonstrates students living our mission was the amazing community meeting devoted to the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It began with Lincoln W. '24 reading a poem he'd written in personal development class; the final lines of his poem were:

"But being Black in America
I have to stay focused and remind myself
That I belong, that I am smart, I am strong, I am creative, I am a genius, I am an inventor, and yes, I am forgiving and KIND.
Full of an undeniable resilience, strength & wisdom
Because....I am Black in America."

Following Lincoln, five students from our Queer-Straight Alliance gave a presentation about Jazz Jennings, a transgender girl, YouTube personality, and LGBTQ+ activist. Mr. Chen followed with a short profile of activist Yuri Kochiyama, his social justice hero. Elinor C. '25 read a poem about social justice.

Finally, we heard from Sarah H. '26. When she was in third grade, Sarah was at a soccer game in a Shoreline park and saw a plaque devoted to civil rights leader Edwin T. Pratt. She set out to learn more. Sarah found out that Pratt was an African-American civil rights leader, executive director of the Seattle Urban League, and a founding member of the Central Area Civil Rights Committee, which provided strategic coordination of Seattle's civil rights movement during the 1960s. In 1969, Pratt was assassinated on his front porch in Shoreline. His murder remains unsolved. Sarah set out to raise awareness of this local and national hero and this fall an early childhood center in Shoreline was named after him thanks to Sarah's sustained efforts.

Everything about this community meeting makes me proud to be at Lakeside. Students claiming their identities, speaking confidently in front of others, being creative, serving their community, highlighting kindness, listening to each other, and celebrating the way in which "individuals representing diverse cultures and experiences instruct one another in the meaning and value of community."

Valentine's Day at the Middle School
While it can be a fun day to celebrate friendships, we all know that Valentine's Day can also be fraught with opportunities to be exclusive. Here are some guidelines we've communicated with the students.

  • They do not need to bring anything at all.
  • If they do choose to bring any cards or treats, there should be enough for the whole advisory group, all the boys in the grade, all the girls in the grade, or all the students in the grade.
  • Cards and gifts should not be distributed to small groups of friends.

Please let me or Middle School Assistant Director Ted Chen know if you have questions. You can also learn about the "Palentines" project, organized by the Students Taking Action club, in this blog

Notes from Ms. Kennedy and Ms. Gatlin in the front office: lost and found
Missing something? Please label all your student's clothes, lunch boxes, binders, and other belongings! On the last day of each month, all large lost-and-found bins are emptied and taken to Rummage. If a student's name is on the item, it will be held at Rummage (in the PGA building on the Upper School campus) for one month and will then be donated. If there is no name on the item, it will be donated.

Planned absence forms
If your student is planning on missing one or more full days of school, please have them stop by the office to complete a planned absence form. You can also find the form on the parents and guardians webpage, under "Important Documents."

Middle School Community Night: A Celebration of Lakeside Families!
I want to encourage everyone to attend a special event on Friday, March 1 hosted by the PGA's TJ Vassar diversity and community committee. Middle School Community Night: A Celebration of Lakeside Families! will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Middle School dining room. All Middle School families, faculty, administration, and staff are invited. They are asking families to bring a dish to share, potluck style or to host stations that showcase their unique families. More information will be sent out in the Feb. 4 Pawprint email newsletter, but you can sign up here for the potluck and/or for family stations (note the 2 separate tabs for stations/volunteers). For more information, contact Karin Butler and Winston Yeung.

Dates to keep in mind this month!

  • CTPV testing for 8th graders take place Jan. 30 and 31. Grade-level coordinators emailed parents and guardians with information.
  • Fall semester grades, comments, and markers for growth are released on Friday, Feb. 1. Take a few minutes to read our advice from November about how to approach grades and comments, and ways to structure your conversation with your student.
  • Novelist Jesmyn Ward will deliver the Mark J. Bebie '70 Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 6. We encourage families to attend the free evening lecture at 7 p.m. in St. Nicholas Hall.
  • The Middle School musical "Guys and Dolls" will have two evening performances, Wednesday, Feb. 13 and Thursday, Feb. 14. The shows are free and take place at 7 p.m. in Evans Theater. Learn more about this and other upcoming arts events.
  • Midwinter break runs Monday, Feb. 18 through Friday, Feb. 22. Everyone returns on Monday, Feb. 25.

Elaine Christensen '82 is Middle School director and Lakeside's director of professional development. Reach her at or 206-440-2772.