What Students Want Mr. Noe to Know

What Students Want Mr. Noe to Know

With the advent of the 2021 school year came a wave of optimism and generally high morale among the student body prepared for a school year that promised the restoration of things such as a (hopefully) permanent return to in-person learning; for some, the beginning of high school; the renewal of many lost traditions; and a greater sense of community that had been missed for so long. Despite this newfound hope and elation for the year though, students — especially upperclassmen — were also touched with a tinge of melancholy as they remembered this was, indeed, the final year head of school Bernie Noe would be with us.

 Nevertheless, Mr. Noe has thus far made the most of his limited time, and after both of his special-appearance assemblies (such as the “Boston Univehsity and Hahvahd” speech where he talked about Boston in a heavy Boston accent as well as his now-famous performance in the role of “Retirement Bernie” at Halloween), I have consistently heard students assert something along the lines of “that was the highlight of my week,” or “that was one of the best assemblies I’ve ever seen.” 

In recognition of that well-deserved praise, I wondered what the student body wanted to see more of from Mr. Noe in his final semester and, although diverse in their breadth, student recommendations can mainly be organized into three primary categories: the funny, the personal, and the serious. 

Many individuals have remarked that the recent, more engaging assemblies have been a welcome change in their lives, allowing them to feel a deeper personal connection with Mr. Noe.

The first and most prominent among the suggestions is invariably “the funny.” Out of the myriad responses received to the question I posed in the Tatler poll, the overwhelming majority of students stated they wanted more fun speeches. Students find themselves increasingly tired with the monotonous and droning speeches of the past that they have come to expect when the front office announces a Wednesday assembly, and many individuals have remarked that the recent, more engaging ones have been a welcome change in their lives. These speeches have not only made them excited for assemblies but allow them to feel a deeper personal connection with Mr. Noe. This idea of personal connection, in addition to general requests for greater candy distribution at school events and more dancing/twerking (an “absolute gem” one student says), represents both a facet to the comical suggestions and another desire students maintain for Bernie in his final year. 

Students also want to acquaint themselves with Bernie, even in (and for many, especially in) his last year. For many sophomores and freshmen, who spent much of the last year either remote or at a completely different school, they have not yet been able to foster the connection they initially sought with their esteemed headmaster, and are hopeful that they may do so in the remaining months of school. They accordingly requested activities such as one-on-one question and answer sessions with Bernie, Bernie boot camp, a bow tie tying session with Bernie (possibly before Spring Fling), small groups sessions with him, more interactions on campus, and advice sessions.  Students observed that these personable interactions would give students an effective means to not only learn from Mr. Noe but have him learn from the students as well.

Many students have expressed that they would appreciate greater transparency and receptivity to student concerns from Mr. Noe. The topics they consider most important for Mr. Noe to contemplate and discuss more openly include establishing a better environment for low-income students, accountability from the administration, ensuring the administration is genuine in their speeches and opinions, wider and more comprehensive efforts to promote students of color, and, as one anonymous student put it, “Not just saying there’ll be more change, but actively showing us the change he and the rest of the administration are promising.” Furthermore, students also want to know how Lakeside is working to keep Mr. Bynum (Mr. Noe’s successor) updated on the school and how they will make sure that the transition is as smooth as possible.

Mr. Noe has been a hallmark of Lakeside for about 30 years, and his constant benevolence, warm demeanor, and unparalleled bow ties will be sorely missed around campus. Nevertheless, with students clear about what they want to see from him in his final year, the only question that remains is: will he accept the challenge?