An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Aidan C. '20, Upper School student government president 

Welcome back Lakeside! I’m so glad I get to see all of your lovely faces again. It goes without saying that this is a big year. We are the culmination of everything this school has been working towards over the past century. Lakeside’s story has led to this year with all of you. Remember this the next time you find yourself in a pickle. Each one of you is a page in the story of a century worth of Lakeside.

I want to start off with a thank you for allowing me to speak to all of you today. This may very well be the first audience I’ve spoken to of this size. Surprisingly this school is the reason for a ton of firsts in my life. I was in a fashion show for the first time, I ran more than three consecutive miles for the first time, I walked in high heels for the first time, met my second mother and advisor Dr. Wright for the first time, had my first kiss, serenaded someone in song with my brothers in the Acafellas, I even had my first sword fight, and the list goes on. Thank you Lakeside. 

To the seniors. To the 100th graduating class. This is it. We’re in the endgame now and I know we’re ready to step up to the plate. Just to let everyone else know, getting here was not a piece of cake. In fact, sometimes it seemed like the universe wanted to tear us apart, but here we are, closer and stronger than ever. Just in case any of you leaders and role models are confused, please make no mistake. This is our year. We’ve taken those tests. We’ve written those essays. We have cited those sources. We’ve made it to right here and right now and that alone deserves celebration. To the 9th graders and the 5th graders, remember that all of you can be leaders too. If there is an issue that you’re passionate about, or an idea that you want to actualize, dive in. 

Once upon a time I was new to Lakeside, but believe me newcomers, you are way cooler than I was. High school just wasn’t what I expected it to be. Angsty teens weren’t singing about the status quo, dance numbers were scarce except for the occasional floss, and there were no relationships… or so I thought. Again, I was not cool.

During my first year of Lakeside, I was shy, a little anxious, and I felt isolated. I was also closeted. That meant nobody knew I was gay. Well, someone knew, but they never said anything! Plus, I could only hide so much. Regardless, I bring up my identity because I know what it’s like to feel like the other, or to forget that I’m a part of Lakeside’s story. I also mention this because I want to talk about Lakeside’s next 100 years and how, maybe unlike the past, the black gay student is very much a part of the future. Fifth through 8th graders, 9th through 12th graders; everyone is a part of these next one hundred years.

To those of us in the LGBTQIA+ community. We are also a part of that future. Find your tried and trues who will love and accept you for who you are because who you are is worthy of love. Take pride in your experience and leave any intolerance thrown your way at the door. To those of us black students in the room. We are also a part of that future. Let’s remember that we’re not here to fill someone else’s quota or check a box. In fact, high school is our box to check, on a long list of accomplishments in our foreseeable future.

To anyone that’s ever felt like the other in any way. We are also a part of that future. Remember that what makes us different can make us stronger. No one may ever say it, but Lakeside needs you more than ever for this next chapter. The community is ready to see us take up space. Find your outlet to tell your story. Use the platform you have to be an ally. Begin to attend Lakeside like you own a part of it because you do. Step number one is finding your first true love: Yourself.

Alright everyone, repeat after me! I love myself! I can do anything I put my mind to! I slay all day! I am beautiful… and I know my self-worth! Lakeside… here I come!

Thank you.