An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Betty Benson, Upper School assistant director

In the opening assembly on the first day of Upper School, Upper School Assistant Director Betty Benson spoke to all Upper School students, faculty, and staff.

I want to frame [this first day back] with you all by talking about community. I want to talk about five qualities: honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, and courage. These qualities are more commonly used in describing a good citizen, but I am going to assert that these same qualities are also integral to being good members of the Lakeside community. These qualities are the strands that weave the fabric of our identity as a school; [they are] represented in our mission and the set of parameters that guide our community.

Here are few sound bites from our mission and our Statement of Community Expectations. See if you can spot all five qualities in these excerpts.

  • “to develop in intellectually capable young people the creative minds, healthy bodies, and ethical spirits needed to contribute wisdom, compassion, and leadership to a global society.” 
  • “Each member of the Lakeside community is expected to act in ways that show consideration and respect for others and that enhance an open atmosphere of trust.”
  • “Lakeside School is an educational institution in which a high level of personal responsibility is expected of all students and adults and is a community in which all members share a personal commitment to abiding by this Statement of Community Expectations.”

Did you hear all five qualities mentioned?

[A sizeable number of hands go up.]

You may have noticed that one is missing.

[Cue embarrassed groans from everyone that raised their hands.]

We’ll get to that in a minute.

On our website, the mission is introduced by this statement: “This we believe: The actions of each Lakesider can reinforce our commitment toward what we value: academic excellence, diversity and inclusion, and global engagement.”

To believe in something – something that may not always be in your control or something that may not turn out the way you envisioned or planned… That, my friends, takes courage. Courage is the foundation for bringing honesty, compassion, respect, and responsibility to life and giving them actions. The courage to be honest when you’ve made a mistake; the courage to show grace and compassion when you’ve been hurt; the courage to respect different viewpoints and opinions from your own; the courage to take responsibility for your actions.

To believe in our community takes courage because each one of us has a part to play in shaping this community. In the spirit of being courageous, let me tell you what I believe. I will take from words written in my application for this position. “I believe in adolescents; in their powerful potential for good, their genuine curiosity about the world, and the bold hope and sense of adventure that characterizes the beautiful complexity of this stage of life. I also believe that we, as educators, have a great privilege and responsibility: to provide the support and guidance necessary to help our students realize their potential, helping them embark on the lifelong journey of becoming their best selves.”

This means that I believe in YOU, each and every one of you and your potential to positively shape this community according to our mission and values.

In a recent communication with families Mr. Noe wrote, “Lakeside School, at the end of the day, is the sum of all the interactions students have with one another, and with their teachers.” That being said, it is my sincere hope that we each can allow courage a little more room to inspire us to be the kind of community members that make Lakeside School such a wonderful place. Know that it is my absolute privilege and honor to work with you all as you navigate your own paths and that I and all of the adults on this campus are here to help.

So with that, I want to welcome you to the 2018-2019 school year. It’s a new year, a fresh start and it is going to be awesome!