by Bernie Noe, head of school
Let me begin with a thank you to Gov. Inslee for making all teachers and school staff eligible to get vaccinated! In the first ten days of this new eligibility, almost all Lakeside faculty and staff had received at least their first shot. Vaccinations, the move to Phase 3 in Washington state, longer days, slightly warmer weather (which, with windows open, means warmer classrooms and offices), and teams practicing and competing (masked) have all contributed to a growing sense of hope and the sentiment that we just might be seeing the light at the end of this long tunnel.
We still have a ways to go, though, and we all need to continue following Lakeside’s health and safety protocols, including testing, through the end of the year. As Lakeside student body president William M. ’21 said at the beginning of the year, “True service is not about what feels fun or what makes us feel good about ourselves; it’s about putting others’ needs first,” and all of us need to keep embracing that service mindset. The impact of the pandemic has fallen unevenly on Lakeside families, and some are still very much struggling to manage the effects. As we move forward, let's continue to support each other, act as an ally and advocate for others, and seek to include those who are left out.
Through the end of this school year, we will be masked and socially distanced, but we plan to hold in-person celebratory events at the end of the year. We will hold an in-person, socially distanced senior prom (stay tuned for details from the PGA!). Commencement and baccalaureate will also be in-person and held on the quad; we hope the state will allow large enough gatherings so family members can be invited to attend. If state restrictions prevent families from attending, we will livestream commencement and possibly baccalaureate. We will hold an 8th grade graduation and details are currently being worked out.
For the remainder of this school year, we will continue to do all in our power to offer our students a world-class academic education in remote and blended formats, and to open up all school programs as soon as we feel it is safe to do so. I am thrilled we have been able to resume Upper School athletics, even with shortened seasons, and we are making plans to offer after-school athletic activities for our Middle School students. The Outdoor Program is also resuming this spring, and we are looking at changes that could allow us to offer Global Service Learning experiences in the summer of 2022. We cannot yet gather for in-person performances, but I am hopeful those too will resume early next year. In the meantime, our arts program has put together a fantastic season of virtual events and programming.
So, everyone, things are looking up, and I hope that soon I can stop using the word pivot! When we hear from the federal and state governments about plans for student vaccinations and other safety protocols, we will know for sure how we will open next year.
As I have written before, we are moving full steam ahead with implementing our competencies and mindsets curriculum next year and our diversity, equity, and inclusion work with students, faculty, and staff. And the PGA is working toward building an equity and inclusion mindset among Lakeside parents and guardians. We are educating our students to thrive personally and professionally in the world of the future.
And finally, as lifelong learners we will learn all we can from the COVID-19 period and apply that learning to make changes in some school policies and practices going forward. We have learned, for example, that many parents and guardians attend our webinars for each division, so those will stay; and, that alumni from all over the country attend virtual alumni events and thereby help us build community, so many of those will stay; and that our students slept more this year, which is great, and we are investigating how that too could stay. We know that remote and blended learning will play some role in post-COVID education, so we are also looking at all possibilities for both.
I want to end by sharing how grateful I am to work with this school community. Parents and guardians have been overwhelmingly supportive of the school this year, even given all the pivoting we did, and so much of it done on short notice. The students have been very appreciative and openly grateful about the efforts of their teachers and staff members to continue to offer them the best possible education in the middle of a pandemic; and the faculty and staff have worked enormously hard to offer our students stability, calmness, and a great education. It truly is a privilege to have the good fortune to share life with all of you.
We are now more than a year into this pandemic, hopefully with the end almost in sight. We have successfully, thus far, gotten through this together, supporting one another. Please keep up this support. Thanks.
I wish you a great final quarter of the school year. And I hope to see you all soon in person!
Bernie Noe is Lakeside’s head of school. You can reach him at Head'sOffice@lakesideschool.org and 206-440-2714.