An Independent School • Grades 5-12

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

The beginning of this school year has been filled with eager anticipation, nervous excitement, and joyful reunions. Seniors welcomed the new students to campus on the first day of school by tossing more candy than we have ever seen distributed on the opening morning. Old friends greeted each other with shouts of glee, fist bumps, and even quick (masked) hugs. New friends quickly bonded over silly ice breakers, fruit snacks, and first day activities. During the last month, many classes have been meeting outside, taking every advantage of the late summer sunshine and beautiful outdoor spaces that surround our academic buildings — something we’ll continue as long as we are able. Teachers and students alike repeat the same mantra, dozens of times per day: “It’s so good to be back.”

A September highlight was the Coming Home Dance: a chance for all Upper School students to be together outside, reconnect, and make new friends. To bridge the gap between the end of the school day and the beginning of the dance itself, Lakeside’s Student Government representatives set up lawn games on the Quad and our amazing kitchen staff provided dinner and treats for everyone before the students enjoyed an outdoor dance party as the sun set.  

Grade-level activities

We held two grade-level retreats for students (seniors and 9th graders) during September, and two more (for sophomores and juniors) are planned for October. The purpose of these retreats is to connect students to each other as a foundation for their learning, inside and outside the classroom. The senior retreat was a smashing success. A full day at a camp provided time for both reflection and celebration. Seniors played minigolf, swam in the pool, and tried out a fascinating game called “archery tag.” The best part of the day was the boat building competition, in which each of the 16 advisories used their skills in unstructured problem solving to build a boat out of two sheets of cardboard and one roll of duct tape. Each advisory selected a pilot for their boat, who raced against the other teams in the swimming pool, trying to make it to the end of their lane without sinking. 

The second day of the senior retreat was focused on introspection and goal setting for the year. A highlight was seniors receiving letters they wrote to themselves on the 9th grade retreat, three years ago. Students laughed, discovered trinkets they’d saved for themselves, and shared tons of stories they had forgotten. Versions of this peer bonding, team building, and introspection will play out at retreats for each grade level, and are an integral part of students feeling a sense of belonging here at Lakeside.

Coming up, Wednesday, Oct. 13 is an unusual day with several grade-level activities for students. As a part of developing students’ service mindset, 9th graders will spend the school day performing service on behalf of two organizations. Blankets of Hope is an organization that believes every unsheltered individual deserves a warm clean blanket and words of encouragement. Students will create notes of kindness for people currently sheltered at Roots Young Adult Shelter, Union Gospel Mission, St. Vincent de Paul, and Youth Care. These notes will be wrapped around the blankets and distributed by our outreach partners.

The second activity is working on parts of reusable cloth menstrual kits created for Days For Girls. This includes cutting the waterproof shield, putting ribbons in cloth pouches, putting snaps on the shields and notes of support for our chosen girls in Cameroon and Nigeria. The service will take place during the school day and students will earn up to five service hours.

That same day, juniors will take the PSAT on-campus. Check-in is at 8:30 a.m. and students should be finished by 1 p.m. (students with extended time will check-in at 7:30 and should be finished by 2 p.m.). The cost of the PSAT is included in tuition, and no other charges are billed for this test. These students may stay on campus or leave for the day once they are done with the PSAT. Sophomores can take a Virtual/Remote Mock PSAT from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. (students with extended time will test from 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.). Families of juniors and sophomores can find more information from college counseling in an email from Sept. 17.

Seniors may use this day to work on college applications or take the school day SAT (note that the registration deadline has passed).

In the classroom

The results of deliberate community-building can be seen in our classrooms: students are engaged with their classmates and teachers, challenging themselves in myriad ways. This month, students are beginning to dig into substantial and serious academic work. Laboratory investigations, discussion groups, research projects, and collaborative exercises are kicking off all over campus. Teachers are using some of the technology tricks and tips they picked up from remote and hybrid instruction (like new software and electronic learning tools and platforms) and tweaking them to complement our current in-person instruction.

As we move into October, homework usually increases, and assessments can raise the stress level of students. Parents and guardians: Please be aware if your student is experiencing healthy levels of stress (eustress or beneficial stress) or if they start to experience distress — unhealthy levels of stress. Remind them to take breaks and get plenty of sleep. If they have questions or concerns about a specific course, encourage them to find time to talk with their teacher: Teachers are happy to meet with students one-on-one for extra help when they are feeling confused or uncertain. Office hours for all teachers are from 8-8:30 a.m. every day, and teachers are often available during frees. Students can also talk with their advisors if they have any questions about Lakeside culture, policies, support systems, or how to navigate student life here in general.

Important dates and events for October 

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.

  • Week of Sept. 27 - Oct. 1: 9th grade and new advisee parent/guardian conferences. These virtual meetings are an opportunity to share about your student, ask questions, and get to know your student's advisor. 
  • Saturday, Oct. 2, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Virtual Mock ACT for sophomores and juniors. Families will receive information from the college counseling office.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 5 and Wednesday, Oct. 6: 11th grade retreat.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 5: School-day ACT for seniors. Learn more.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 5: Lakeside Fund Kickoff. Learn more and RSVP.
  • Thursday, Oct. 7: Sexual violence prevention webinar for parents and guardians.
  • Friday, Oct. 8: NWAIS Professional Development day; No classes.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 12, 8-9 a.m.: Upper School parent and guardian Zoom webinar with administrators. Invitations will be sent a week in advance, along with a prompt for questions. A recording of the webinar will be posted the following day on the parents and guardians webpage.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 13: Special grade-level activities. See above.
  • Thursday, Oct. 14, 6-7 p.m.: Equity & Inclusion Virtual Speaker Series with Gyasi Ross presenting “Indigenous People, Race, and Education.” Learn more.
  • Monday, Oct. 18 and Tuesday, Oct. 19: 10th grade retreat.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 20, 7-8:30 p.m.: Mark J. Bebie ’70 Memorial Lecture featuring adventurer and author Darcy Gaechter. Learn more and register for this in-person event.

Hans de Grys is Lakeside's 5-12 academic dean and assistant Upper School director. He can be reached at 206-440-2704 and USacademics@lakesideschool.org.

Jeff Bonar is Lakeside's assistant Upper School director and learning resources coordinator. He can be reached at 206-440-2743 and USstudentexp@lakesideschool.org.