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An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Betty Benson, Upper School assistant director

Lakeside is a community that draws students and adults from various walks of life, each of whom has something to offer the community. One of the greatest aspects of the Upper School is students’ opportunities to discover their passions and share those passions with others. This can be done in a multitude of ways, including sports, the arts, service, and independent studies. We believe that supporting students in discovering and nurturing their passions serves to enhance the richness of our community.

For many students, clubs are a pathway for exploring their interests. Students can sign up for a pre-existing club or create a club of their choice with friends. Clubs change every year and are totally based on student interest. Each club has a faculty advisor who helps students plan events and organize meetings. The club fair every fall is an energetic, fascinating, and loud demonstration of all the topics in which students are interested: robotics, kindness, business, spirituality, even cooking on the stove, just to name a few. See a collection of photos from the fair on our Facebook page.

Some students find and develop their passions through something they discover at Lakeside — either through something they learn in the classroom or through a relationship they form. Seniors Ruby K. and Tanisha R. recently blogged about their culminating project for the Sexuality and the Law class, on the statutes of limitations for sex crimes. During the summer, the two students met with the lawmaker who had voted no on extending the statutes of limitations in Washington. As they shared in their blog, “Though the project was formally over, our curiosity that we had gained and the information that we still wished to learn pushed us to call and continue our project outside of the class and Lakeside. This is just one of the ways in which Lakeside students … take our learning and passions outside of the classroom!”

In another recent blog, Katie W. ’20 recounts her path to climate activism.  “While I shared a general concern for the planet, I was rather reluctantly convinced by a friend to attend the first global climate strike … I was worried that participating in the strike would convey the wrong message to [my parents], that I did not care for the schooling that they had worked so hard to get me. However, after witnessing the turf field of Cal Anderson Park flood with enthusiastic youth, spending a day listening to rousing speeches by countless talented speakers, several of them my peers, and having fruitful discussions with students from all across Washington, I felt a profound change in myself. I finally understood the meaning of the strike—it united and empowered the collective. It was this empowerment that then inspired me to continue being involved with the climate strike movement.”

Some students bring their passions to school and share them with the community — both at Lakeside and beyond. A sizeable contingent of Lakeside students recently attended the Riley’s Way Youth Leadership Retreat in New York, which is focused on empowering young leaders to use kindness and empathy to create meaningful connections and positive change. Four Lakeside students presented at the conference: Claudia H. ’21, Annette L. ’21, and Kathryn H. ’21 shared the importance of healthy relationships through their connection to the organization One Love, and Eman H. ’20 led a workshop about her organization, Purple America - dedicated to bridging political gaps. You can read more about their experience in their blog.

And earlier this fall, senior Jad G. blogged about a powerful experience teaching self-defense to women experiencing homelessness — an outgrowth of his service learning work at Lakeside. In his blog, he reflected on what he had learned: It was heartbreaking to hear their stories of when they could have used these [self-defense] techniques: many of them said they could have used them within the past week. When they were practicing the strikes, I was blown away by and proud of the power and confidence they began to show on each technique. Every participant was so strong, both mentally and physically … We’re used to teaching our kids class every Saturday, but this was a new challenge that was much more important and impactful.”

We encourage you to engage your students in what they encounter at school — even if it can be hard to get them to talk sometimes! You can ask them about the various speakers who present in assemblies — like Jackson Katz or Bill Gates —  the dialogue they are having with their peers about current events — like the climate strike — even fun school events like tailgates, dances, and the fall festival. Those conversations will help you to discover your students’ interests and help them find ways to articulate their values and delve deeper into their passions. Encourage students to care for a cause and bring their passions to campus, where there are plenty of opportunities for growth and evolution throughout their Upper School tenure.

November and December highlights

Check the online calendar for events hosted by college counseling, the PGA, and the arts and athletics programs.

There is no school on Monday, Nov. 4. It’s a faculty work day.

Parents and guardians with students considering Global Service Learning this summer should attend the GSL Information Night on Wednesday, Nov. 6.  It’s is an opportunity for parents and guardians to learn about the GSL program, hear the planned locations for summer 2020, and plans for classes with GSL travel components for the 2020-2021 school year. Students are highly encouraged to attend as well.

Parents and guardians are invited to a Thursday, Nov. 21 Q&A about the re-envisioning with Head of School Bernie Noe, Assistant Head of School/Upper School Director Felicia Wilks, and Middle School Director Elaine Christensen. The Q&A begins at 7 p.m. in Kent Evans auditorium. Learn more about the re-envisioning at

Lakeside is closed for Thanksgiving break from Thursday, Nov. 28 through Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Winter Ball takes place on Saturday, Dec. 7. This is the first formal dance of the school year. You can read more about dances in this FAQ.

On Tuesday, Dec. 10, Upper School Director Felicia Wilks and I will be available to talk with parents and guardians at the Parent/Guardian Breakfast with Upper School administrators. Watch your email for an invitation to RSVP.

Winter break runs from Monday, Dec. 23 through Sunday, Jan. 5. Classes resume on Monday, Jan. 6.