An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Akal S. ’25

These past few months of quarantine, not being able to comfortably see our friends and relatives face-to-face, and wearing a mask for the safety of people in our community and ourselves, caused a whirlwind of uncertainty, confusion, and a longing to come back to normal again. With the recent news, the rising pandemic, and injustice in our communities and country, it has been hard to find many reasons to celebrate. 

Though even as we go through the hardest and most difficult times, it’s essential to make sure that we can come together as one — not only as a school, but as a community, a family that will always be by each other’s sides. I know this might all sound hard to reach, but we can work together to make school a safe place, helping each other with work after classes, welcoming new students into a caring and inclusive environment, and most importantly being flexible if something goes wrong. There may be barriers that we face in online school for now, but it’s always significant to have a growth mindset and make sure we stay positive about the ways we are inclusive, considerate, and make sure integrity is a part of our values here at school. 

When I joined Lakeside two years ago in 6th grade, I was so excited to start middle school. I was so excited to broaden my horizons of learning and make friends throughout the year. Most of all, I was excited to be part of a community that was inclusive to all. Lakeside is a school where we practice kindness and respect. We strive for better and can work together as a community through difficult situations. If we use our teamwork and sportsmanship, our empathy, and social awareness, we can achieve a lot of things both within our school and in other communities beyond where we feel most comfortable. Through our positive actions, we can celebrate the Lakeside community and ourselves as individuals.

Many of us might be feeling mixed emotions about starting school in this way, and to the new members of our community: We welcome you with open arms and want everyone to feel like they belong here at Lakeside. Even though you probably never thought your first year at Lakeside Middle School would be like this, just know that we are all in this together as a community. Surely, having new students be part of our community this year at Lakeside is something to celebrate!

I remember when I first started here: I was overjoyed to start fresh and learn more, but a small part of me was nervous, just like any other new student starting in an unfamiliar place. But as the days, weeks, and months went by, I realized that this was a community I belonged to. Here at school, there was always someone I could reach out to or connect with. That was the most significant way I was able to feel welcome. New students and those of us coming back this fall can reach out to each other, help one another, and come together to create meaningful discussions and even solutions to today’s issues. We can think about how we can make changes not only inside the classroom but outside of it as well, especially during these times when many people are struggling to find hope and resilience. This year, part of our job as individuals is figuring out ways we can help others in our community so everyone feels like this is their community, too. 

At this current time, the idea of celebration and celebrating together might be hard to wrap our heads around, but if we learn to help others around us, we can make a positive difference in our community. All these things are beneficial to us growing from these distressing times. Not only is it important to be mindful of others but it’s also important to pay attention to our own state and give ourselves the opportunity and the ability to try something new and expand our horizons. 

As I wrap up my speech I want you to know that even though there may be ups and downs through this fall, and for some, it may feel like a roller coaster ride, just remember that we are all in this together. The Lakeside community will strive to show that we can all be helpful and supportive through our growth mindset. This year we are starting off with celebration and togetherness, and even if that means not seeing each other face-to-face, we are doing it safely, and that’s really what matters most this year. In June 2021, as the school year comes to an end, we are going to remember and look back on all the things we accomplished during such a difficult year and that will be worth celebrating.