An Independent School • Grades 5-12

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

Dear Parents and Guardians,

The start of the school year is quickly approaching. Faculty and staff have returned to campus and we are all excited to welcome you and your students to the 2019-2020 academic year!

Each summer, Lakeside faculty and staff work to refine course materials and instructional approaches. By the time we reach the end of August, we are all eager to welcome your students to campus – to hear about their summers, to see how they’ve grown, and to engage them in new learning and growth. But before students return on Sept. 3 and 4, please read the important reminders and information about the start of school below.

Course change request process

Our course change process is underway. Instructions about how to request a course change were emailed to students on Monday, Aug. 12 by Upper School Assistant Director Hans de Grys. Hans and math teacher/scheduler Tom Rona worked tirelessly to get as many students as possible into their top choices; when executing changes, they give priority to critical changes, as well as changes that will help the greatest number of students get the course they desire. This process takes time but has proven to be an efficient and equitable way for students to request schedule changes. Students can find more information in the Aug. 12 email from Hans. The course change period goes until Sept. 13, so if students need help with this process, their advisors will be available to help once students return to school. 

As a parent and guardian, you play a role in this process. If your student is interested in making a course change, talk with them about the reason and how it will impact their workload, ability to get a full night’s sleep, and quality of life. You should also talk with them about how they will respond if they can’t get into a class they want – many electives have long waiting lists or conflict with another essential element of a student’s schedule. Even if all of the classes your students are interested in are available, it is important to remind students that balance is key – we are all limited to a certain number of hours per day.

Ordering books

Information about ordering books for your student’s classes can be found in this article, “How to buy textbooks from University Book Store,” which was sent out in the Aug. 5 summer mailing. There is a lot of information in that article, so make sure you read all the way to the end! I also recommend reading “Graphing calculators for Upper School students” – please note that students only need to have one calculator for their math class.    

Sept. 3: New student orientation

Each September, the faculty, staff, and students from the senior class plan a special welcome for new Upper School students. Our 9th grade and new student orientation program (for all 9th graders, both those coming up from the Middle School and those who are entirely new to Lakeside) will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 3 from 12-3 p.m. (lunch is provided).

We look forward to seeing all students for the first day of school on Wednesday, Sept. 4. I’m excited to see what the senior class has planned to welcome everyone!

View a schedule for Sept. 4 through 6 on the announcements box of the parents and guardians webpage.

9th and 12th grade overnight retreats

The 9th grade and senior class will go on separate overnight retreats during the first few weeks of school. The senior retreat is on Sept. 11 and 12; the buses will leave at the start of school on Wednesday morning and return by 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. The 9th grade retreat will depart on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 24 and return Wednesday afternoon by 3 p.m.

The purpose of these retreats is to connect students to each other as a foundation for the learning they will do together inside and outside the classroom. Seniors are celebrating their entrance into their final year at Lakeside and deepening bonds they have made over the years. Our 9th graders are forging relationships with their classmates and their advisory, and learning different strategies for navigating the Upper School. To this end, senior leaders attend the 9th grade retreat and share their experiences and advice. These senior leaders serve as resources to 9th graders throughout the year. Rachel Maiorano, Upper School assistant director, will email families with details about these retreats in the coming weeks.

Connecting in person

I look forward to seeing you all at the All-School Picnic on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 5:30 and our Upper School Back-to-School Night on Tuesday, Sept. 17 from 6:15 to 9:10 p.m. Check out the Back-to-School Nights FAQ to learn what to expect of the evening.

Make sure that you’ve fully reviewed the contents of the summer mailing before the start of school (you can find a full list of all articles and documents in this article). Our family handbook will be emailed to families soon; when you receive it, set some time aside to go through our school policies and discuss them with your student.

There is a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks! I can’t wait to see you and your students on campus soon!

Felicia Wilks is Lakeside’s assistant head of school and Upper School director. Reach her at or 206-440-2721.