Remembering a Forgotten Lakeside

The AAC, which was usually buzzing with the chatter of students and the frantic percussion of ping-pong balls, is eerily silent. From my view above the Comp Gym, I watch as rows  of students hunch over test packets, brows furrowed and pencils scribbling furiously. Meticulously arranged tables seat students of all grades, bringing the Lakeside community together for one of the most dreaded events of the year: final exams.

This is a memory of traditions at Lakeside lost to the pandemic. Perhaps some students are relieved that finals in the gym are a thing of the past, but for me, the loss of in-person finals is a solemn reminder of the many Lakeside traditions and customs that don’t fit our new “normal.” It is the loss of a moment of camaraderie between Lakesiders when we find ourselves in stressful circumstances. Even though we have recently been on campus together, it feels as though there is a rift between all of us. The complete isolation of remote learning has left a lasting impact on the dynamic of the Lakeside community. When I walk around campus, I hardly recognize any of the younger students, and sense that the unity  of the pre-pandemic community is missing. It is impossible not to reminisce of a past that is quickly slipping out of our community’s collective memory.

The senior class is now the only grade to have experienced a full school year in person, acting as a time capsule of pre-pandemic Lakeside. We cheered each other on at tailgates, dressed in our most spirited apparel for House Assembly, and excitedly left candy grams in our friends’ mailboxes. As Mr. De Grys explained to us on the first day of school, this year is one of the most critical in Lakeside’s history. It is a year defined by uncertainty and caution, but also joy in reconnection. Now more than ever, the seniors’ leadership is imperative in ensuring that when we graduate, the grades below us will feel as though they have returned to a community that is stronger and more connected. 

It is impossible not to reminisce of a past that is quickly slipping out of our community’s collective memory.

But, where do seniors even begin in rebuilding the community? This early in the school year, it is hard to say. Reintroducing beloved traditions such as Senior Pet Day and Spirit Week come to mind. But a part of me knows that this duty is more profound than just boosting morale. A large part of our responsibility is leading by example to make sure everyone on campus feels included in the community. Remote learning created virtual and physical barriers between Lakesiders, leaving all of us more isolated than ever before. It’s crucial that we begin to break down the social barriers that still stand after remote learning. Whether we’re actively forming new friendships with younger students or even just exchanging a quick hello to a peer passing by, rebuilding Lakeside begins by going back to basics. Bring on the awkward ice-breaking and deteriorated post-quarantine social skills!

Another significant part of this duty is about looking ahead and anticipating what the future could hold for the younger grades. I have no doubt that underclassmen will experience a truly “normal” year at Lakeside sometime in their high school careers. Exactly when that will happen is beyond me. But, that uncertainty is precisely why laying the groundwork of enthusiasm and hope is instrumental in reanimating our community. Fortunately, there are still several months for us seniors to continue ruminating over this responsibility and take action. Every day gone by and every step taken counts. So, let’s make the most of this time of reconnection as we all get back into the swing of our normal routines. Even on the days when being on campus feels overwhelming and exhausting, we can not forget that we do not go through our journeys at Lakeside alone. Whether we are seeing each other behind masks or studying tirelessly, we are always together as a community.