An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Betty Benson, Upper School assistant director 

Empowering students is core to our mission, which articulates that our teachers “lead students to take responsibility for learning.” But what does that mean? What can an empowered student do? If we look to Lakeside’s collaboration and leadership competency, we start to get some ideas. 

A Lakeside student can demonstrate collaboration and leadership through the following skills:

  • Accountability: The student’s ability to meet their responsibilities, including manage their time, and take ownership of the impact of their words and actions.
  • Taking initiative: The student’s ability to create or seize opportunities to learn, grow, and act in enterprising, resourceful, respectful, and ethical ways.
  • Conflict resolution: The student’s ability to find a fair, peaceful, and successful resolution to a disagreement or dispute.
  • Being a team player: The student’s ability to transcend their personal interests to help a group or team achieve shared success.
  • Feedback: The student’s ability to give meaningful feedback in a helpful, productive manner and accept feedback in a receptive, graceful way. Feedback is defined as constructive observations and assessments that help individuals grow, learn, and improve.

Every spring, we see students stretching themselves and showing their growth in this area. Earlier this spring, Youngjoo L. ’21 crafted an incredibly persuasive, respectful letter that encouraged administrators to revisit their decision about Lakeside Athletics interscholastic competition. Youngjoo and other senior athletes embodied the collaboration and leadership competency by taking initiative, being team players, and providing meaningful feedback. As a result of the work of Youngjoo and others, the administrators changed their decision. 

This spring, student leaders of the Love Better club and Mental Health Advocacy Committee are exercising their collaboration and leadership competency by designing and implementing hourlong assemblies as part of an adapted Student Sponsored Day for the entire Upper School community. Modeled after the One Love program, Love Better is focused on teaching students about healthy relationships, and the Mental Health Advocacy Committee is a student-led and adult-supported group focused on educating students about mental health issues, with the broad goal of removing the stigma associated with talking about mental health. In particular, the students showed initiative when they pivoted from planning a daylong event of on-campus workshops, originally scheduled for spring 2020, to a one-hour presentation-style assembly held over Zoom. The Student Sponsored Day program is an amazing opportunity to show accountability, take initiative, be a team player, and receive feedback from adult club advisors, administrators, and counselors. The goal is for the presenting groups to share important information with peers, through programming that will help the entire community learn and grow. 

Student Government has been doing a fantastic job practicing collaboration and leadership all year: you can see much of what they’ve been up to on their website. They are currently working with administrators to plan events related to May Day, which is a student-focused carnival. Not surprisingly, this year will be different from other years! We’ve set aside two days on the calendar for May Day: April 30 and May 7. The Student Government reps from each grade are currently using all of the collaboration and leadership skills as they work together to design a day that will meet the needs and hopes of Upper and Middle School students. We’ll be there to support them along the way. 

No-homework days 

Over the course of this year, students have been advocating for the continuation of “no homework” days; these days started a few years ago and were the result of a student initiative that was moved forward by the Upper School Student Government. The idea is that for one or two days in the fall and spring, students are surprised with a homework-free night that they can spend with their families or friends, doing something fun, just hanging out, or catching up on sleep. We’ve also been hearing from seniors this spring: they’ve also asked for no homework days as a way to recapture some of the senior privileges they’ve missed this year because of the pandemic. 

As a result, we’re building two no-homework weekends into the schedule this spring; one for all Upper School students (the weekend of April 3 and 4), and one just for seniors (the weekend of May 1 and 2). In addition to no homework being due on Saturday or Sunday, there cannot be assignments due the following Monday or Tuesday. It is our intention that teachers remove some of the workload altogether instead of merely moving it around to another day. 

Final exams 

Plans for final exams were recently announced to students, and they are a little different from previous years. The exam schedule has been expanded to run Monday, May 24 through Monday, June 7. Exams on Monday, May 24 through Wednesday, June 2 will take place during regularly scheduled classes. See the full exam schedule below (it is also listed on the online calendar). 

While not every class will have a final exam, all students are expected to participate in all of their scheduled finals. Families should plan their summer activities, events, and trips knowing that students in grades 9-12 must attend all the final exams they have scheduled through Monday, June 7. 

  • Monday, May 24: Regular class schedule; English final exams.
  • Tuesday, May 25: Regular class schedule; English final exams.
  • Wednesday, May 26: Regular class schedule; history final exams.
  • Thursday, May 27: Regular class schedule; history final exams.
  • Friday, May 28: Asynchronous Upper School reading day.
  • Tuesday, June 1: All Upper School classes remote with regular schedule; language final exams.
  • Wednesday, June 2: All Upper School classes remote with regular schedule; language final exams; last day of Upper School classes.
  • Thursday, June 3: Science final exams.
  • Friday, June 4: Wellness final project due for 9th grade students.
  • Monday, June 7: Math final exams.

Students will receive additional information from each of their teachers. 

Planning for end-of-year celebrations

We recently shared news with seniors and their families that we will celebrate the senior class with an in-person June 9 baccalaureate (celebration of the senior class and talent show) and June 10 commencement and on Lakeside’s Quad this year. There will even be a prom! Events will follow social distancing protocols and will comply with state restrictions around gathering size. Many details are still being worked out, and will be shared with seniors and their families as we get closer to the date and more guidance from the state is released. There will be lots of ways to celebrate all of our students, and for our community to celebrate our seniors in the coming months. 

April events and happenings

Review the Inside Lakeside email for Upper School highlights and the full calendar for information about PGA, college counseling, and other school events. Watch for email updates including important information about testing, contact tracing, and the daily health checks.

Review the updated information about when students can get tested and come back to campus after traveling or gathering.

  • Friday, April 2: COVID testing for students in grades 11 and 12.
  • Week of April 5: Grades 11 and 12 on campus.
  • Tuesday, April 6, 6 p.m.: Upper School Jazz Band Spring Showcase.
  • Wednesday, April 7, 8-9 a.m.: Upper School parent and guardian Zoom webinar with administrators. Invitations will be sent a week in advance. A recording of the webinar will be posted the following day on the parents and guardians webpage.
  • Monday, April 12 – Friday, April 16: Spring break. No school. Please view the school protocols around travel and gatherings (updated on March 23 to incorporate state guidelines for Phase 3).
  • Monday, April 19: No school. Professional development day for faculty and staff.
  • Week of April 20: All students remote.
  • Friday, April 23: COVID testing for students in grades 9 and 10; also juniors taking the SAT.
  • Week of April 26: Grades 9 and 10 on campus, with the exception of Tuesday, April 27.
  • Monday, April 26, 6 p.m.: And the Band Played On, Part II: An exhibition of chamber music, and pre-recorded performances by the Bands of Lakeside (grades 6-12).
  • Tuesday, April 27: Juniors who are taking the SAT are on campus; all other US students remote. 
  • Thursday, April 29, 7 p.m.: Parents and guardians webinar with Julie Lutton, Reem Abu Rahmeh, Felicia Wilks, and Latasia Lanier. This is our routine: Setting up sustainable guidelines for technology at home. Invitations will be sent a week in advance. A recording of the webinar will be posted the following day on the parents and guardians webpage.
  • Friday, April 30: COVID testing for students in grades 11 and 12. 
  • Friday, April 30: May Day, Part 1. 

Betty Benson is Lakeside’s Upper School assistant director. You can reach her at or 206-440-2968.