An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Jackson B. ’25

The day began normally enough, as the many students at my stop quickly filed onto the bus to escape from the biting Seattle air. But once on the bus, you could almost feel the air of excitement that hung about the 8th graders, who restlessly turned in their seats and asked each other seemingly endless questions: Are you excited? What do you think we’ll do? What classes are you taking? Will we see Mr. Noe?! 

As we were discussing our predictions for the day, The Daily (a daily newsletter sent out by the Middle School front desk which typically details special events occurring that week, includes inspirational quotes intended to motivate students, and tells us what is for lunch) was sent out, and the conversation came to a momentary halt as we all rushed to check our phones. The Daily told us which advisories would be traveling together throughout the day, which caused the discussion to immediately move toward comparing the members of respective advisories. Stepping off the bus, various 8th graders began to react in distinct ways. Some remained calm and cool, some seemed to practically skip towards the school. I vividly remember my reaction: I took a simple breath, before continuing, walking as if everything was normal while simultaneously struggling to control my enthusiasm. The day had arrived. The 8th graders were going to the Upper School. 

Due to the special nature of the day, 8th graders the only ones on campus, and after a brief breakfast, I met my advisory group and another in the library where desks had been set up in orderly lines. We assumed our seats and waited with great anticipation to see what would happen next when Ms. Zinda Foster, commonly referred to solely as Ms. Zinda (we were even being taught the Upper School lingo), entered. She introduced herself as the Upper School service learning coordinator and student center and activities director and jumped right into her presentation. Somewhat immediately I noticed the undeniable energy she had about her as she addressed the students. She began speaking about one of the many central aspects of the Lakeside Upper School: the unique focus on service learning. She described how it was a graduation requirement that each Lakeside Upper School student put in, at the very least, 80 hours of service learning, and she showed us not only examples of service-learning in past years but the meticulous manner by which you document your hours of service. After taking a few questions, she concluded with the “capstone,” a final paper that serves to encapsulate your service experience and summate what you learned. 

After Ms. Zinda departed, we began to discuss the myriad service opportunities available for students, however, we didn’t get very far because concurrent to her leaving, Director of Athletics Mr. Hartley casually walked in. While not as structured, Mr. Hartley’s presentation was equally valuable as he devoted the majority of his time to answering the questions of students and opened up about his own experiences with sports as a teen. I had multiple questions about the golf team at the Upper School, all of which he was able to precisely answer off the top of his head. 

After Mr. Hartley left, we were asked to assemble into groups of three or four and compose letters to entering 9th graders about the Lakeside-related wisdom we had amassed throughout the years. My group collectively decided to incorporate the Lakeside colors of maroon and gold into our card and, for a group that generally lacked artistic skills, we were pretty proud of the final card we produced. We included insights into topics such as time management, self-advocacy, community, and teacher-student relationships. As truly interesting as the presentations and card-constructing activities had been, we knew what was about to come and all could not wait. 

As we were about to exit the front doors of the Middle School, the halls filled with great excitement as the students gathered, waiting for their chance to pour out onto the street and begin the expedition to the Upper School. When it was our turn, we filled the small parking lot in front of the school and followed the teachers as they entered the side street that led to the Upper School. There was something different and peculiar about this walk, though. I had walked this street several times before to attend tailgates, speeches, or performances hosted at the Upper School, but, as I took sporadic glances over my shoulder at the Middle School that grew smaller and smaller with each step, I reflected on the incredible journey I had taken.

I entered the 5th grade at Lakeside Middle School with wide, curious eyes and an insatiable hunger for new knowledge and experiences; ascended the grades and built lasting friendships along the way; experienced the stress of long nights of homework and studying and the satisfaction of having that hard work pay off; and became a part of and found my place in the Lakeside community. And now, finally, I am on my way to the Upper School. That walk, and the significance of it, fundamentally shifted for me away from simply “a walk down the street” and into a symbol of my entrance into the Upper School. As the top of McKay Chapel came into view, I looked behind me at the Middle School. To fathom that such a simple-looking building played such a major role in the formulation of who I am now was, and still is, insane to think about. At that moment I realized that while I am moving toward the Upper School, I should never lose sight of the Middle School and the invaluable effect it had on me. 

We arrived in Red Square at the heart of the Upper School campus and, while somewhat disappointed at the lack of a full-fledged Kremlin, I was immediately struck by how dramatic the contrast was between the Upper School and Middle School campus. While expansive, the Middle School campus appeared tiny when compared with the Upper School. Before me stood many edifices crucial to Lakeside such as Bliss Hall (the humanities and administrative building), McKay Chapel, Allen-Gates Hall, Pigott Memorial Library, and more, all impressive in their own respect and rich with history. We first entered Bliss Hall, receiving just a slight glance into the office of Bernie Noe (our head of school) and other administrative offices before making our way to Allen-Gates Hall. There, we could view some of the science classes from the outside and a small auditorium where minor lectures take place. We then proceeded around McKay Chapel and towards the Pigott Family Arts Center. 

As we turned the corner, we were able to observe the sheer size of the Upper School campus, as the chapel gave way to a vast stretch of land containing a large field, athletics center, and more historic buildings that line the right side of the campus. After glancing in at some of the art projects in Pigott Family Arts Center, we passed St. Nicholas Hall (named after the all-girls Catholic school Lakeside merged with in 1972, leading to the first co-ed class at Lakeside). It houses a considerably larger auditorium, the counseling offices (which are popular due to their free tea and hot chocolate), and a few miscellaneous classrooms. Walking through a narrow corridor, we passed Moore Hall, the oldest structure on the Lakeside campus, where the majority of the Upper School English classes are taught. 

To conclude our tour, our tour guide (a junior at the Upper School) took us past the Wright Community Center, where the cafeteria and student lounge are located and where dances are hosted, and to The Paul G. Allen Athletics Center, which houses the two main gyms and the offices of athletic trainers. After our tour reached its end, we thanked our guide and returned to the Middle School campus to eat lunch, listen to a panel of Upper School students, and end with a prolonged study hall period. My sole regret was that we did not get to enter most buildings (drat COVID!), however, I will admit that Lakeside really kept their students in high anticipation of the coming year. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and cannot even begin to describe how much I look forward to becoming a freshman at the Upper School in the fall.