An Independent School • Grades 5-12

On the afternoon of June 9, Lakeside School presented diplomas to 142 graduating seniors in a rain-soaked ceremony on the Upper School Quad. The event marked two major milestones: the culmination of high school for the only class of students in the Upper School who knew what a full year in high school looked like pre-COVID, and the final commencement address from Bernie Noe, who will step down this month after 23 years as Lakeside’s head of school. During the ceremony, Noe, along with the retiring leader of Lakeside’s Service Learning program, Zinda Foster, received the Willard J. Wright ’32 Distinguished Service Award for his long service and extraordinary contributions to the school.

Lakeside School Board of Trustees Chair Carey Crutcher ’77 Smith formally convened the commencement — the school’s 97th — acknowledging at the outset the resilience of the group of students seated in front of her.

Student government president Mikaela Bautista spoke of gratitude, pride in her classmates, and the powerfully conflicting emotions of moving on from a place where she had discovered friendship and belonging. “And the thing I’m wishing for most?” she asked. “More time… more time to make up for all the imperfect memories and create the ones we lost during the time taken away from us. We were given back our lives our senior year, and as amazing as it was, the time we had together was simply not enough.”

In presenting the Class of 2022 to the families and friends in attendance, Assistant Head of School/Upper School Director Felicia Wilks highlighted four of the class’s remarkable strengths: its leadership; service to others; impressive, wide-ranging talents; and capacity for creating fun even during difficult times. “Their time here was marked by unique challenges,” Wilks noted, “and through it all, they persevered, and more than persevered, they led. They remained aware of the impact they could have and chose to focus on using their special power to connect our community during times when connecting was challenging. They used their power to infuse kindness and joy in everything they touched.” The speech marked Wilks’s final public remarks after five years at Lakeside. In July, she’ll become head of The Spence School in New York City.

Seniors Weronika Kwiecinski and Sam Kirley, elected as class speakers by their classmates, offered personal perspectives and insights on their years at Lakeside. Kwiecinski spoke of the value of trying on different personas and identities in the process of finding herself —  and how Lakeside gave her multiple opportunities to do just that. Kirley noted that, along with excitement for what lies ahead, nostalgia was already coloring his view of this moment, as he pointed out some of the memorable accomplishments and talents of his classmates, including 30 who had started with him at Lakeside in the fifth grade. “As we leave,” he told his fellow students, “hug your friends goodbye and enjoy the moment of reflection…”

In his final commencement address as Lakeside’s head of school, Bernie Noe first acknowledged the support and sacrifice made by his wife, Killian, in their move to Seattle in 1999. He shared parts of his personal story — growing up in a Massachusetts family with parents who had left high school before graduating because they’d needed to work to help their families earn money during the Depression, discovering while leading bike trips through New England that working with young people was the thing that gave him purpose, that made him feel most alive. He challenged the seniors to discover that thing in their own lives that makes them feel most fully alive, to do good for others, and to remain mindful and present. These three things, he said, “I believe make for a meaningful life.”

In a final gesture that had become a graduation custom of his in recent years, Noe presented each member of the Class of 2022 with a parting gift: this year, copies of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” and the 2020 book “Why We’re Polarized,” by American journalist Ezra Klein. “Send me an email when you finish them,” he said. “I mean that.”