An Independent School • Grades 5-12
October at the Middle School: Service and learning opportunities for everyone
October at the Middle School: Service and learning opportunities for everyone

by Ted Chen, Middle School assistant director

At Lakeside, service learning is an important aspect of a student's educational experience. Our program is designed to develop students' desire and ability to give back to their community – both locally and globally. Through service learning, students develop resilience, empathy, and a greater sense of who they are in community. It also gives them an opportunity outside of the classroom to practice being agile and flexible in different situations, preparing them for the always-changing world that demands those traits. 

Every Lakeside Middle School student participates in a service learning experience with their respective grade level. Eighth graders are about to embark on their Global Service Learning trip – read Charlotte Blessing's recent article for more information. Students in grades 5 through 7 participate in their own service learning on a more local scale. 

Last year, Greta Block, our Middle School experiential education coordinator, led a group of Middle School faculty and staff through a review of our service learning program. Their charge was to think strategically about the program, its goals, and how service learning could enrich the students' overall educational experience today and into the future. Responding to best practices around service learning, the group made changes to two aspects of the program for the 5th through 7th grades. 

First, we have changed the timing of the days. This year, students in grades 5 through 7 will still participate in four service learning days, but the days will be clustered. There will be two consecutive days in the fall, Oct. 2 and 3, and two days in the spring, May 2 and 3. This shift creates more opportunities for student reflection and growth: Students are able to reflect upon day one and directly apply their ideas on the next day. 

Second, we have established themes for each grade level's service learning experience. The 5th-grade theme is food, focusing on issues like food insecurity. The 6th-grade theme is environmental restoration. The 7th-grade theme will explore issues of importance to Seattle – for example, homelessness and access to healthy food – and students will have four different experiences over the four days. 

We're excited to launch this revised service learning program and extend our learning outside the walls of our school. In the coming months, we'll be exploring additional ways that teachers can create connections between service learning and the classroom throughout the year.

Important information for October
Please check the online calendar for more information, locations, and updates, as well as information about games, PGA events, and other happenings on campus. 

Parents and guardians of 6th graders! Please join us on one of two dates for Let's Talk About ... Phones and Social Media. Middle School Director Elaine Christensen and I will share resources, best practices, and facilitate a conversation about how to manage students' use of phones, tablets, laptops, gaming, and social media in the home. The goal is that at least one parent/guardian will attend from every 6th-grade family. 

  • Monday, Oct. 8, at Lakeside Middle School. Light dinner starting at 6 p.m., talk goes from 7-8:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Garfield Community Center. A light dinner will start at 6:30 p.m. followed by the talk until 9 p.m. 

On Tuesday, Oct. 9, we'll have our first Q&A with Middle School administrators. It's an informal, drop-in meeting during which we talk about what is happening at the school, including upcoming events and trends in the student body, and answer questions from parents and guardians. We'll be in the Middle School dining room, from 8:30-9:30 a.m. 

There is no school for students on Oct. 12 and Nov. 2. On Friday, Oct. 12, teachers will be engaging in professional development. Friday, Nov. 2 is a teacher workday, which teachers use to prepare quarterly grades and comments.

Thursday, Oct. 18 is the Arts of Lakeside, Middle School clothing exchange. It's a great opportunity for students in the performing arts to pick up free performance attire for upcoming concerts. Watch for more information from the PGA's Pawprint email newsletter on Oct. 1. 

The first dance of the year is on Friday, Oct. 26, from 7-10 p.m. – it's for 7th and 8th graders and students will receive information about it in advisory. The same evening, Middle School Director Elaine Christensen will host a discussion with parents and guardians of 7th and 8th graders: Let's Talk About ... Student Stress. That conversation goes from 7:30-8:30 p.m. and you are welcome to hang out after the meeting until the end of the dance. 

Wednesday, Oct. 31 is Halloween! It's always a fun day at Lakeside Middle School. Please make sure costumes abide by community expectations and are respectful to everyone. If you have questions about this, please reach out to your student's advisor. 

Thanks for reading! 

Ted Chen is Lakeside's Middle School assistant director. You can reach him at 206-440-2721 and