An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Hans de Grys, Upper School assistant director/5-12 academic dean

While our students are in the thick of their current studies, many of us are deep into planning for 2022-2023. This fall, the Upper School curriculum committee gathered to approve an exciting slate of new courses for the coming year, including Digital Music Production; Activism and Resistance in the Fight for Racial Justice; The Literature of the Natural World; Data Science; Queer United States; Neurochemistry; and a new yearlong economics elective that covers both macroeconomics and microeconomics. These courses appear in the new Upper School curriculum guide, which was sent to students in mid-December and can be found on the parents and guardians webpage, under “Handbooks/Guides.”

We take seriously the charge in our mission to provide a “rigorous and dynamic academic program” that helps students appreciate “the joy and importance of lifelong learning.” Our teachers design and deliver challenging, student-centered classes that strive to be meaningful, relevant, and engaging. Our goal is to develop creative, independent, and critical thinkers who can engage in open inquiry, collaborate effectively, and conceive thoughtful solutions to the questions, issues, and problems that face our community and our world.  

The Upper School’s educational program is broad and deep and our curriculum guide provides a map for students as they plan out their time at the school. Students take a series of core classes in grades 9 and 10 and choose from an array of electives in grades 11 and 12. Many students join our community in 9th grade already excited about electives they might take as juniors and seniors! While we have only 580 students, we offer 132 different classes in English, history and social sciences, math and computer science, languages, science and engineering, physical education, human development and health, and the visual and performing arts. There are also the classes offered through our Summer School Programs and Global Online Academy partnership. Each class delivers substantial academic content paired with the competencies and mindsets; the combination of all three elements supports students’ quest to make sense of what they are learning and apply their knowledge in novel and productive ways. Courses are designed to be both challenging and supportive, an effective combination for maximizing students’ learning and growth.

In addition to a full list of course offerings from every department, the curriculum guide details our requirements for graduation, academic policies and procedures, and information about our co-curriculum and academic support programs. It’s a hefty document, but it’s important that students and families spend time reading and talking about it.

To supplement the curriculum guide, Upper School administrators host an optional Curriculum Night webinar on Tuesday, Jan. 11 for parents and guardians. We will cover key choices that students in each grade must make and discuss how the school and parents and guardians can partner to guide students on their unique path through the Upper School. See below for details on the webinar and find more details about curriculum night in this FAQ.

First semester grades and comments

The first semester ends on Friday, Jan. 14. In the week that follows, students will receive their grades and comments and have one-on-one conferences with their advisors. While these mid-year grades are not recorded on transcripts, they can provide useful guidance to students about which courses to sign up for next year, especially in math, languages, and science. Teachers often weigh in with their recommendations for future courses in the comments. The advisor conferences are invaluable in helping students to craft an overall schedule that will provide the student with an interesting, challenging, and manageable course load. The deadline to complete course signups for students currently in grades 9, 10, and 11 is Friday, Jan. 28. Parents and guardians will be emailed a copy of their student’s final signups in early February to verify that everything is correct.

Family education

While educating students is the reason for Lakeside’s existence, the school also offers opportunities for parent and guardian education, with the goal of fostering a community where all our students can thrive. There are three upcoming educational opportunities for parents and guardians to which we want to draw your attention.

On Jan. 13, the Equity & Inclusion Virtual Speaker Series will host a webinar with author and clinical psychologist Beverly Daniel Tatum. The ongoing senseless killing of Black individuals has prompted much-needed and long-overdue conversations about race and racism. Many wonder, “How do we talk about this with our kids? How do we teach them about racial identity and equality?” Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College, an award-winning clinical psychologist, a national authority on racial issues in America, and a thought leader in higher education, will look at why these conversations are so difficult and share her insights on how to talk with kids and each other about race and racism, and how to be actively anti-racist. Tatum's book, "Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" is a national bestseller. Learn more about the webinar in this article and RSVP here for the webinar

Another educational webinar is the first in the series “Intersections of Identity and Wellbeing,” hosted by Lakeside’s personal development and wellness department. The series will offer parents and guardians opportunities to explore how identity affects people’s understanding of what it means to be healthy and well. Identity and Mental Health, on Wednesday, Jan. 19, will explore questions such as: What does it mean to be mentally healthy? How do various identity groups define, express, and address mental illness? What options or resources are available for coping with and/or treating mental illness in ways that align with families’ culture and values? What practices or behaviors can parents and guardians model at home to promote mental wellbeing in their students? Learn more about the series in this article, and save the date for the next webinar, Identity and Body Image, on Thursday, Feb. 3.

Finally, the PGA — in collaboration with Lakeside’s DEI team — is offering an educational webinar about bias featuring presenter Greg Taylor, which takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. In late November, Mr. Taylor worked with faculty and staff during a professional development day, and he’ll be presenting to Upper School students in January. This is a great opportunity for members of our community to increase their understanding of what harmful bias looks like in an educational setting, and the impact it can have on students.  

As with all webinars for parents and guardians, registration links will be emailed to families, and webinars will be recorded and posted on the parents and guardians webpage. If you are looking for more opportunities for learning, we highly recommend the video series and educational resources, We Are Lakeside, created by Lakeside’s Parents and Guardians Association.

Important dates and events for January

Make sure to review the Inside Lakeside email for Upper School highlights and the full calendar for information about PGA, college counseling, and other school events. Find athletics information on the athletics calendar.

  • Monday, Jan. 3: Classes resume.
  • Friday, Jan. 7: Upper School course changes open for second semester.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 11, 7-8:15 p.m.: Classes of 2023, 2024, and 2025 (current 11th, 10th, and 9th graders) Curriculum Night. This optional event is for parents and guardians and provides an overview of Lakeside's curriculum and the choices students must make as they sign up for classes by the end of January. See more above.
  • Thursday, Jan. 13, 5:30-6:30: Equity & Inclusion Virtual Speaker Series with Beverly Daniel Tatum in conversation about race and racism. Learn more.
  • Monday, Jan. 17: Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Lakeside closed.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 18: No school. Professional development day for faculty and staff.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 19: Spring semester begins.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 19, 7-8:30 p.m.: “Intersections of Identity and Wellbeing Parent/Guardian Webinar: Identity and Mental Health” hosted by Lakeside’s personal development and wellness department. Parents and guardians will receive an email with a link to register. A recording of the webinar will be posted the following day on the parents and guardians webpage. See above for more info.
  • Friday, Jan. 21: Course changes close for second semester.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 26, 8-9 a.m.: Senior parent/guardian webinar with Upper School administrators.
  • Friday, Jan. 28: Course sign-ups due for 2022-2023. See above for more info.