An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Felicia Wilks, assistant head of school/Upper School director

The first few weeks of school have been wonderful. It all started in late August with our team of senior leaders – members of the senior class who apply to lead community-building efforts during the school year – who came in to prepare a new student orientation. That successful welcome for new students was followed up by a warm and unique tradition on the “official” first day of school: the whole senior class, this year dressed in fishing outfits, tossed candy at freshman as they were dropped off in Red Square. It’s a moment to which I always look forward.

At convocation and opening assemblies, at the senior retreat and the freshman retreat – not to mention the start of classes – we saw students making new connections, welcoming new students, and truly embodying the concept from our Statement of Community Expectations that the daily actions of each individual can reinforce our commitment toward what we value. Particularly at the start of the school year, we try to empower seniors to reflect on what they’ve learned, consider their legacy, and be active and engaged community members by sharing what they know with 9th graders.

October will be another busy month. In addition to the events below, I want to highlight a special speaker coming to speak to students, parents and guardians, and faculty and staff. On Tuesday, Oct. 15, we will welcome Jackson Katz, an educator, author, and thought leader in the movement to promote gender equality and prevent sexual violence.

If we want students to make good life decisions and to act on those decisions, they need information as well as skills. Dr. Katz will talk with Upper School students about relationships and relationship violence. We will follow-up on Dr. Katz’s talk in a few ways throughout the school year: 9th graders will continue the conversation in Wellness classes and Dr. Katz’s staff will return to Lakeside in the spring to lead small-group sessions for 11th and 12th graders on strategies for preventing sexual harassment and relationship violence.

In addition to his school-day presentation and talks with students and faculty and staff, Dr. Katz will speak at an evening event for parents and guardians. I hope to see many of you there. Learn more about Dr. Katz and his visit in this article.

Earlier this month, Mr. Noe emailed families the link to the 2019-2020 family handbook. If you haven’t already reviewed it, please do. We encourage you to talk with your students about the school’s harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct policy, which was updated this past summer. In this policy, we took steps to more clearly articulate the school’s expectations regarding interactions between community members. We hope you will review the new policy and take the opportunity to learn from a national expert on these topics in Dr. Katz. This is a topic on which the school and parents and guardians need to work together to educate and empower our students to make healthy decisions.

Notable October happenings

Make sure to check the online calendar for events hosted by college counseling, the PGA, and our arts and athletics programs – as well as our centennial lecture with Bill Gates '73 (don’t forget to RSVP!)

Upper School Assistant Director Betty Benson and I will be hosting a parent/guardian coffee on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 3 from 8-9 a.m. in Kent Evans Auditorium in Allen-Gates Hall. We look forward to sharing what is happening on campus and answering any questions you might have. You can read more about these gatherings in this news story on the website. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP. And check out the college coffee talk happening afterward, from 9-10:15. We look forward to seeing you there!

There is no school for students on Friday, Oct. 11 and, looking ahead, on Monday Nov. 4. On Oct. 11, teachers will be engaging in professional development. Nov. 4 is a teacher workday that teachers use to prepare quarterly grades and comments.

Wednesday, Oct. 16 has a special schedule:

  • As a part of our commitment to developing students’ ethical spirits, compassion, and leadership skills, 9th graders will spend the school day volunteering at two local venues: Food Lifeline and Green Seattle at Northacres Park. Food Lifeline is a distribution program that rescues millions of pounds of food across the state. In their South Seattle warehouse, volunteers sort and repack food for delivery to food banks, shelters, and meal programs throughout Western Washington. Green Seattle is a collaboration between the City of Seattle, Forterra, community groups and non-profits, businesses, schools, and thousands of volunteers working together to restore and actively maintain the City’s forested parklands. The service will take place during the school day and students will earn up to five service hours.
  • On the same day, 10th and 11th graders will take the PSAT on campus. Check-in is at 8:30 a.m. and they should be finished at 1 p.m. The cost of the PSAT is included in tuition, and no other charges are billed for this test. These students may stay on campus or leave for the day once they are done with the PSAT. We will have a few fun activities planned for those who stay on campus until 3 p.m. For more information, see the email from college counseling sent on Sept. 11.
  • Seniors may use this day to work on college applications, either on or off campus.

Our first music concert of the school year is on Wednesday, Oct. 23 – students have been rehearsing in the beautifully renovated McKay Chapel and they sound great. Learn about this concert and other fall arts events in Director of Performing and Visual Arts Andrew Krus’s article.

The fall tailgate is on Friday, Oct. 25 – come and support our teams, meet new families, and feel the Lion pride. Learn more in Director of Athletics Chris Hartley’s article.

Finally, the first quarter of the school year ends on Friday, Nov. 1. Over the course of the following week, advisors will go over grades and comments with students and write comments of their own. Grades and comments will be posted on the Veracross family portal sometime in the second full week of November (we will send parents/guardians an email when they are posted). Our practice of sharing feedback with students first is purposeful: Our mission guides us to “lead students to take responsibility for learning.” Reviewing grades and comments with students keeps them engaged in their own progress, so they are aware of their strengths and have the tools to chart a path toward continued growth.

Have a wonderful fall!

Felicia Wilks is Lakeside’s assistant head of school and Upper School director. Reach her at or 206-440-2721.