An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Amanda Darling, director of communications

The Spring 2019 Lakeside magazine included a photograph of “The Internationals” – five students in the Class of 2019 who have represented the United States in international competition during their time at Lakeside. All five of the students are male.

A few days after the magazine’s publication, a student visited the communications office and shared with us that she and others were upset that no girls were featured in the piece, and that it gave the perception that female students’ contributions were not valued in our community.

First, we want to clearly state that message was in no way our intent, and that we apologize for having given that impression.

Any time our office chooses to feature students – in print or on the website – we do it with careful thought about the messages we are sending about Lakeside’s values and the nature of “success.” We try to only feature accomplishments that are school-related, and we prioritize team successes over individual ones. We also try to balance highlighting accomplishments in academic fields (STEM and humanities) with accomplishments in athletics and the arts. We also seek out students’ reflections on their own accomplishments and growth, on our blogs and reflections webpage.

When we first became aware that several students from the same graduating class had reached an international level of competition, we recognized the news value of the accomplishments. We reached out to faculty and staff for a full list of students who had competed at the international level. When the list came back as all male, we paused to consider how to move forward.

We first reached out to teachers to make sure we weren’t missing anyone. The list remained all male. We then considered if we should run the piece at all. But the situation truly did feel unique. As math coach Dean Ballard said to us, “In any given year, there might be 12 kids here who would be the star somewhere else. One or two of our students seem to rise each year to compete at the national level – in good years as many as four or five. But in terms of reaching an international level … I don’t think anyone here has ever seen anything like this.” Because of the unique nature of having such a large group of seniors complete at such a high level, we decided to run the piece.

Even though our process was thoughtful and deliberate in deciding to run “The Internationals,” that doesn’t negate the experience of the student who visited our office to speak with us. In our conversation, she made an excellent point: by choosing to focus on competition, and, more specifically, competition in historically male-dominated fields, were we creating a framework that shut out girls and women? Should we have broadened the scope and included students like Eleanor K. ’20 (whose photo was selected by the New York Times to represent her generation) or Sophia C. ’20 who won a contest to design an experiment performed aboard the International Space Station? It’s something that we will consider and discuss as we move forward. And we will continue to look for remarkable student accomplishments to share with readers.

If you have thoughts on this topic – and anything else in Lakeside magazine! – we encourage you to share your thoughts with us at Emails (or letters or DMs) must include your full name, address, and phone number (numbers are for verification; contact info will not be published). And if you want to discuss this in person, please do feel free to reach out to me by phone (206-440-2787) or come by our office in Fix Hall to talk to me or magazine editor Jim Collins.