As I come to the end of my first year as Head of School, many people have asked me to reflect on how it has gone, and I can begin by saying – it has been quite a year. First, I have tried to catch on to the unique language of Lakefield: Paper Houses, Gladiator Day, Grove time, Chapel cards, K-Rod, Fort Night, TOD, DSB, and so on. Special places seem to come with special language.
But when I really think about it, I cannot define this place or how I am experiencing it, without conjuring certain moments. Some people take photos in those moments, but they are often disappointed that the image doesn’t do it justice. Artists and writers strive for their lifetimes to capture the emotions of a moment, and the very best succeed. I will do my best below to capture one of my Lakefield moments – in words and a photo – that captures a moment that defines my year. Here goes…
It was a warm evening in June, and I wandered down to the waterfront to see if anyone was outside after dinner. Now, you might think that being a community of teenagers, you would see everyone on their phones. Not here – the volleyball court was going full-on with an intense game, there was music, and there were students all over the new deck and lawn. And out on the raft in the water, a group of students stood waving and calling out, “AMK!”.
That was my Lakefield moment.
I felt proud of our students. In the hours between dinner and study, our students were outside, in the water, on the grass, playing, and having fun. They were forming the kinds of friendships that only come from these kinds of shared experiences, and they were dealing with the stress of culminating assignments, tests, and exams in such a healthy way, outdoors. I also felt proud of our staff, who figured out how to adjust to our new waterfront to make this happen.
Most of all, I felt I belonged. I’m not sure when students started calling me AMK, and they don’t usually address me this way (to my face at least!) but when that group called out to me, I couldn’t help but feel this incredible joy that only comes when you feel part of a strong community.
For over a century, people have tried to find the words to define the Lakefield difference, as I have just done. My hope is that we never quite manage to define the magic of this place and my larger hope is that our experiences here continue to be so profound that we never stop trying.
I, for one, promise to keep trying in the years to come.