An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Max R. '21

Along with Head of School Bernie Noe and Student Government President Yasmin L. '17, Max R.'21 spoke to Lakeside students, faculty, and staff at this year's convocation.

My name is Max, and I'm a member of the 8th-grade class of 2021. I'm here to give you a few pieces of advice about how to start off the year well. Having a great start to the year includes understanding that things are not always what they seem.

My first story is about a time when I was hanging out with my cousins. So, as some of you know, I'm thirteen, and it has been said that teenagers have questionable judgement. I agree. Here's an example: when the day came that my family was supposed to go camping with my cousins, I was super excited. My cousins are around my age so we are a little competitive, and we also have tons of fun. I was happy all throughout the day. We ran all over Fort Warden and tried to find all the little secret passages and we ended up on a ledge. It was maybe a five-foot drop to the sand below, and because we are teenagers and we didn't think, we decided it would be a good idea to jump. And because I wanted to prove myself to my competitive cousins, I jumped first.

When I landed, the sand was not what it seemed to be from above. It was hard. I broke my foot. Because of this experience, I learned that, at times, we need to look before we leap. For some this might mean that we should take the time to be thoughtful, examine our surroundings, and think about how our actions might impact ourselves and others. Other times, it might literally mean make sure you take the time to see that your landing spot won't break your ankle.

The second story is from my first days as a student at Lakeside. I came to Lakeside in 6th grade. I was nervous and didn't know what it was going to be like here. I had been at my old school since I was five and we had a tight-knit group of friends. I felt comfortable and confident with them. I remember walking down the hall at Lakeside for the first time and seeing all the different groups of friends huddled up against the lockers talking about what they did over the summer. I wasn't sure where I would fit in. It seemed like they all already had their people and it was going to be hard to find my place.

I mostly just stayed by myself the first day. But then over the next few days I found that Lakeside is a very welcoming community and I found my people. What I learned from this experience was that people are not always what they seem to be. I thought that I would not be able to connect with some of those groups, but I found out I was wrong. I needed to be open-minded. I found that when interacting with others, going beyond the initial impressions and superficial things made me realize I had deeper connections with them.

So I guess what we can learn from these examples is that things are not always what they seem. The sand might seem soft, but it's hard. People might seem hard to get to know and connect with, but it's easier than one might expect.

What does this all mean for us? I think that if we start the year being thoughtful about what we do, think about the impact of our actions, notice our surroundings, and give people a chance and get to know them on a deeper level, we'll all have a successful start to the year.

Thank you and go Lions!