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An Independent School • Grades 5-12

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

This has been a spring like none other, and yet, it is still hard to believe the year is winding to an end!

The last day of classes for Upper School students will be Friday, June 5. While we will not hold traditional end-of-year exams, each class will have two graded opportunities this quarter for students to improve their course grades. Some classes may also need to give cumulative assessments — a test that surveys all essential content covered during the year. Those assessments will help teachers confirm course placement for next year and identify areas of needed growth for students. These cumulative assessments will not be graded, but students will receive feedback on their progress. 

Before we get to the end of the year, students still have much to learn and share in their classes, clubs, affinity groups, and teams. Starting in mid-April, Wednesdays have been dedicated to community building in this time of social distancing. In response to student feedback that they were feeling isolated and missed social interactions with other students, we developed a schedule that gives students the chance to connect in familiar groups, like advisory and class meetings, but also to try some new things, like joining a new club or grade-wide challenge. 

To begin the day, there is an all-community yoga class, hosted by Upper School PE and Wellness Department Head Eleanor Long. At 10 a.m., students meet in advisory where they spend time playing games, talking, and sometimes taking care of school business (much as they would have when school was open). In a recent advisory, students in grades 9-11 viewed pre-recorded videos of Student Government representative speeches and filled out their ballots. It was awesome to see the confidence and creativity each candidate brought to their recorded speeches!

After advisory, students, faculty, and staff attend Upper School assembly. Though we can’t see everyone, it is thrilling to see 630 names in the participant list and to know we are still together, as we were in St. Nick auditorium not long ago, for a school-wide experience. Students hear from administrators and the assembly committee emcee, and students and faculty record announcements like Student Government’s Student of the Week (a student who has gone above and beyond in some way), and info about upcoming events or happenings, like Earth Day. In early June, we will host our annual Farewell Assembly, in which students bid farewell to faculty and staff who are not returning next year; the assembly committee is already hard at work getting these speeches ready.

During the second half of Wednesdays, students have the option to attend club meetings, affinity groups, and grade-level meetings. Yesterday, we hosted the first virtual Real Talk, a student-led conversation in which a student shares a personal story with members of the community about an experience that has had a major impact on them.  

A major student-centered event each year is May Day. This year, Student Government is working to come up with a May Day-inspired schedule for Wednesday, May 20. We are all looking forward to what this creative group of student leaders proposes!

We are also busy at work rolling out how we will celebrate our seniors. On Tuesday, we sent out an email to seniors sharing some of our plans. Decisions about events were informed by surveys of the seniors, to help determine which experiences would be most meaningful to them. A committee of Upper School faculty, staff, and administrators reviewed student feedback and is working to find creative and safe ways to honor and celebrate the wonderful Class of 2020. One of the first things we will do is host a virtual Pet Day on May 6 that promises new ways for all of our students to enjoy this zany and fun day. 

The Lakeside Parents and Guardians Association recently formed an ad hoc committee to plan and coordinate additional ways to celebrate the senior class, since the COVID-19 pandemic has made many of the usual PGA-sponsored senior class traditions not feasible. The Class of 2020 Senior Celebration Committee is chaired by Holly Johnson, and they are already hard at work planning fun new ways to recognize the senior class. If you have ideas or want to help with this effort, please reach out to the PGA President Joanna Black at lakesidepga@lakesideschool.org.

And don’t forget to submit GradGrams! GradGram messages are short notes that will be printed and bound into a homemade booklet for each graduate. Anyone can participate, and it is free of charge. The program is coordinated by PGA, and the books are made by volunteers. Submit here.

Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, I hope you all have moments of fun and joy as a family as we enter what I consider to be the most beautiful stretch in Seattle. Remember that we are here for you, and please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. I look forward to speaking with you at our next Q&A with administrators on May 20; you can find yesterday's webinar here.

Felicia Wilks is Lakeside’s assistant head of school and Upper School director. You can reach her at USDirector@lakesideschool.org and 206-440-2721.