by Hannah W. '17 and Ben H. '17
Community. The word has become almost synonymous with Lakeside itself. We are reminded that Lakeside is, above all else, a community every time we gather for Convocation in September, every time we walk into a classroom, every time we go to a sports practice or meet up for a club or hang out with our friends during lunch. Whatever it is that we do here, we do it together. We pride ourselves on being an institution that fosters not only global conscientiousness and love for learning, but also the ability to connect. Often, we cannot go a day on campus without hearing the word used in loving reference to the school.
And yet, as of late, many of us seem to have forgotten what it actually means to be a community. Perhaps those four syllables have been thrown around so much that the significance behind them has become vague, intangible, and ultimately unattainable. We have all found our own niches during our time here – our interests, our passions, our favorite teachers, and classmates with whom we really click. There is certainly no shortage of small, tight-knit groups at Lakeside. But as for the concept of the school as one big, cohesive community, we pay it plenty of lip service without always translating it into our actions.
We know how to keep the people and things that make us happy close to ourselves. What makes or breaks a larger community is how we interact with others when we do not have as much in common with them. Is Lakeside an environment where we feel safe and supported wherever we go, where we can trust whomever we are with? Various recent events, both big and small, have demonstrated that this is not the case for everyone. Too many of us have become wary at school, keeping our distance from people out of fear of getting hurt. Too many of us have become strangers to one another.
Our years at Lakeside should be a transformative, exciting, and joyful time, but we cannot have that without a strong sense of community. Everyone deserves the opportunity to grow and create wonderful memories while here, and in order to get Lakeside to such a place where this is possible, we all must lean in. We must learn to be mindful of our place in this community and, even more importantly, our impact. Lakeside is not, and never has been, full of genuinely cruel people; most of us are well meaning and do not wish to wound or offend anyone else. However, the impact of our words and actions can be very different from our intentions, and it behooves us all to be conscious of how we affect those around us. When we interact with others, we need to be respectful of their feelings and willing to accept responsibility and apologize if we hurt them.
We also need to celebrate the differences among us, instead of letting them divide us. Lakeside brings together an incredibly diverse and fascinating group of people with them a multitude of talents, backgrounds, and ideas. So much of the learning and discovery that goes on at a school happens outside of the classroom, in our interactions with each other. At Lakeside, every one of us is interesting and intelligent and has a lot to learn from everyone else; we must learn to see each other as such. There is no place for discrimination, disdain, or judgment. We must strive to create a community dynamic that is inclusive of every member and ensures that one feels compelled to conceal differences.
A new semester and a new year have just begun. What better time is there to turn a new leaf and work toward making Lakeside the vibrant, caring, and affirmative community that it was always meant to be? It is up to every one of you – yes, you – to step up to the plate and help make that happen.