by Sarah C. ’26
Good afternoon Lakeside! I can’t believe that it’s been two years since I was sitting in this audience. Maskless, of course, and not worrying about social distancing, but it’s still hard for me to be here with the whole school without remembering that very first day. I could tell you that I was relaxed and full of self-confidence, but the truth is I can only really picture my look of utter terror and the nervousness that was emanating off me in very noticeable waves. I was here. I was to what, until recently, had seemed like the finish line. I had expected Lakeside to be a trophy given to me for all my hard work, but sitting there among a vast number of my peers… I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had wanted to make the leap, jump into the murky waters of middle school, just for the sake of jumping, and sitting there, heart racing, palms sweating, I realized I had made a mistake.
Not in choosing Lakeside, of course. I’d known I wanted to go here since my first tour. Since my brother's first steps on campus, actually. No, my mistake was in assuming Lakeside was the end. From day one this school had been presented to me on a pedestal, so it was hard for me to see it as anything but a reward.
Of course, we’ve all heard many accounts of what Lakeside is; it’s competitive, it’s academic, it’s rigorous, from time to time it’s tough on kids. I think some of that is true, you'll certainly learn a lot here, many of you already have. But really Lakeside’s goal, like any other middle, or high school, is to prepare you for what comes next. In that respect, this school has many good qualities; talented alumni, state-of-the-art resources, incredible teachers.
But what really stands out to me about Lakeside, is how much it’s changed me. This school taught me to never apologize for being passionate, or talkative, or asking what might actually amount to a million questions. I can tell you that that 6th grade girl would never be up here, and in that moment she was almost ready to run from one of the hardest and most rewarding challenges of her life. Lakeside has made me who I am today, and for that, I couldn’t be more grateful.
I can’t promise that Lakeside will make you a better learner, or more resilient, or more persistent, but it will change you and challenge you, and every single person in this audience is willing to help you with that, even if you don’t think you deserve it. Honestly, any change comes with its struggles, I’ve felt more anxious, elated, depressed, and determined than I have ever felt here, but no matter which way it felt like my world was breaking, Lakeside was here to tell me that just like anything else that feeling would change. This school will make up some of the most important moments of your life, and whether through the best or worst of times, these people will never allow you to feel alone.
Congratulations, all of you, you’ve made it through these past two years, and you’ve made it to Lakeside. Some of you will graduate in a few months, and some of you have been a Lakesider for only a few hours. But whoever and wherever you are, let’s start this year together.