The 2017-2018 academic year kicked off this week with seniors tossing candy at freshmen, orientations designed to welcome new students, and a high-spirited and welcoming convocation.
On Tuesday, students new to Lakeside Upper School were greeted by faculty, staff, and senior leaders (dressed as characters from Harry Potter) for an orientation to the school and their classes, while new Middle School students were welcomed by their teachers at orientations on Wednesday. Upper School started in earnest Wednesday, and the Middle School started Thursday.
Thursday’s convocation – the first event that gathers together the entire community – opened with a performance by Lakeside’s Upper School jazz band under the direction of Ethan Sobotta. Head of School Bernie Noe welcomed the entire school community, and particularly the 158 new students spread across all the grades and 25 new faculty and staff. New students this year come from 83 different schools. Eighteen different languages are spoken in their homes, and some had recently moved to the Seattle area from as far away as France, India, and New Zealand. “We worked hard … to gather you all here so that you could share your interests, your dreams, your kindness, your patience, your humility, and your talents with each other; so that you could learn from one another and from your teachers,” said Noe. “And just in case any one of you is…wondering whether or not you belong here: you absolutely do and we will all help you be successful in any way that we can.”
In his speech, Noe shared three things he believed would contribute to students’ happiness and success – both at Lakeside and beyond.
- Do not waste time and energy comparing yourself to others. “The most successful and happiest students…move beyond the need to compare themselves to others; instead, they spend their energy working on who they are as people and not on studying what everyone else is doing,” said Noe. He particularly cautioned students against comparing themselves to others through social media. Instead, spend the time “thinking about what matters to you, what you believe in, what you value, the person you want to be, the contribution you will make to others in this world. In doing so, you will also become more of who you are authentically meant to be in the world, which is always a beautiful thing.”
- Reach outside yourself to notice and act upon the needs of others. “The happiest students I have seen go through Lakeside are those who have the ability to see outside of themselves, who notice the needs of other, who get involved in activities and causes that benefit others,” said Noe. “These are the people we all want as friends and colleagues.”
- Strive for a balanced life. Some stress is to be expected in a busy, challenging school environment. But “to be successful and happy at Lakeside we will all have to find the right balance for us, of what we can do well and how much time we need to sleep, and otherwise restore ourselves to be healthy, balanced human beings.” It’s a moving target, admitted Noe, and can present its own challenges.
“Most importantly, make choices for the right reasons,” Noe said in closing. “It will take courage. But to live a joyful, meaningful, and authentic life, it will take courage. And it is not too soon, while in Middle and Upper School, to be developing it.”
Noe was followed by Middle School students Ai-Li H. and Phillip M., members of the Class of 2022, who spoke about the Lakeside community. I’m certain that every single person in this room has some memory…of the trepidation and vulnerability of being a new student,” said Phillip. “Though Lakeside may seem intimidating today, I can guarantee all the new students in this room that you will find support and friendships that help you to feel comfortable here. I urge all of you to be open to friendships with new people and give your time and energy to those dear to you.”
“It’s not…the superlative academics, or the school’s reputation that makes Lakeside strong,” said Ai-Li. “It’s the people…. We are the Lakeside community…. It’s our hearts and minds, supporting one another, that will help us succeed. Together, we are strong. Together, we are Lions!”
Upper School Student Government President Dag M. ’18 also spoke, echoing Noe’s advice to seek balance in life. “I can’t tell you about the challenges you will face, but I can promise there will be days that never end…. But come September of your senior year, you won’t care about those days,” said Dag. “When I look back…I don’t remember those nights [of studying] at all. I remember winning house assembly, freshman retreat, boxing at May Day, and the tailgates. What’s memorable are the good times, not the bad.” In closing, he advised students, “Don’t forget to have fun. Make sure school doesn’t take over your life because soon enough your time at Lakeside will be gone. And if all you have is a diploma at the end, you honestly missed out.”
Director of Athletics Chris Hartley closed convocation by enlisting the captains from crew, cross-country, football, golf, girls soccer, girls swimming and diving, boys Ultimate, and volleyball in teaching the community the L-I-O-N-S cheer.* He also encouraged everyone to put their practice-skills to use at the fall tailgate on Friday, Sept. 22 when Lakeside’s football team will take on Chief Sealth.
Convocation closed with the Class of 2018 creating human tunnel to usher the much-smaller members of the Class of 2025, a tangible reminder of the growth that occurs over the course of a student’s time at Lakeside.
*For all of those who didn’t catch the details of the cheer:
Gimme an L! (Everyone: L!)
Gimme another L! (L!)
Gimme an L-I-O! (L-I-O!)
Gimme an O! (O!)
Gimme another O! (O!)
Gimme an O-N-S! (O-N-S!)
L-L, L-I-O! O-O, O-N-S!
L-L, L-I-O! O-O, O-N-S!
LIONS! LIONS! LAKESIDE!!!!!!