The Lake and Park School graduated six fifth graders on June 5, 2015. The graduates walked down the center aisle of the sanctuary (Lake and Park is located in the beautiful Mount Baker Park Presbyterian Church building) flanked by children from the Beginning Room holding wands with streamers. Eileen Hynes, Director of Thematic Studies with over thirty years experience working in Seattle area schools, spoke in her commencement address of the seminal role her childhood summers played in her subsequent teaching philosophy:
When I was applying to graduate school I was asked to write an essay about the most
significant moments in my own education, where did I learn, who did I learn from, what did I remember about my education. I wrote about walking around the neighborhood pond while unwinding a ball of string to measure the circumference of the pond on a summer morning. I talked about my favorite pine tree that I knew just how to climb all the way to the top, and what I could see from that different vantage point. And I told about my grandfather, who was patient and kind and was always willing to take anything apart to see if it could be fixed. His stock response when anyone went to him with a problem was “Let’s see about that”. Sometimes it took a while, but he always came through with a clever way to solve a problem. He was a master of improvisation.
The assignment turned out to be a fun exercise – thinking about how I learned and what I thought was important to learn, and I surprised myself. The most significant moments in my education had nothing to do with schools or education in the formal sense. Yet these experiences had some things in common – learning for me took place in the summer, and usually outside. It was mostly self-directed, exploratory, hands-on, active and concrete. I wasn’t alone – I worked with a large multi-age group of neighborhood kids.
Well, I was accepted into graduate school and I’ve taught in a number of different schools over the years, but when I came to Lake and Park and met Camille, it was, for me like coming home. At Lake and Park the learning is mostly self-directed, exploratory, hands-on, active and concrete. The learning community is multi-age. The lake shore we spend time exploring is larger than the pond of my childhood, and the trees we climb at the park are cedars instead of pines. But the positive and patient problem solving philosophy of “Let’s see about that” I first learned from my grandfather is practiced here every day.
Today as we celebrate the 2015 graduates, I would also like to celebrate a school that creates a meaningful and rewarding environment for learning, filled with significant moments. I am grateful and honored to have shared in your time here. Together we have wondered about so many aspects of the world. We have practiced flexibility and kindness. We have delighted in poetry and story, and created music and art. We have been joyful in our work together. These are memories you can all come home to.
Each graduate was given the opportunity to reflect over his/her experience of being a student at Lake and Park and to present that reflection to the audience. Those reflections are reprinted below in alphabetical order:
Andersen: I have been going to this school for 2 and a ½ years.
Here are some highlights:
At L&P I did two plays, Typo and The Phantom Tollbooth. I really liked doing lighting for Typo and I liked doing the acting in Tollbooth. Tollbooth didn’t have as much joking around. I wish that it had more funniness.
Rattlesnake Lake. The hiking was extremely fun. The view at lunch time was great we were 1.6 miles high the view was spectacular.
A Christmas Carol play was really good. I’ll go to ACT theater again. It was very cool when Marley’s Ghost came out of the bed. It was quite a hilarious play.
This school has a lot less worksheets. That’s a good thing because when I had those worksheets at my other school, we didn’t have time for fun.
School is about work but it’s also about fun. Joking around is important. If you don’t enjoy school, you don’t want to be there. If you don’t want to be there, then you won’t be as productive or focus as well.
I have quite a few friends here. Most of them I’ll be able to still see when I’m in Middle School.
I’ll miss my friends and my teachers, they were nice. I hope my new school is fantastic.
Anna: I’ve been here for just 2 short years, but the 2 best years of my life. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I have so many wonderful memories that I will remember my whole life.
Lake and Park is a wonderful community. It’s a comforting, loving, learning community. The teachers and students are wonderful unique people.
My favorite part about Lake and Park school is all the experiences I have had. My favorite experience at Lake and Park was releasing the salmon. I loved learning about them and their environment, taking care of them, watching them grow and best of all releasing them with hope.
I really love how we go deep into the units we study. For example when we studied the nutcracker we saw the play, read the book, watched the movie and had a feast.
I remember my first day. I was so shy. I didn’t know anyone or anything about the school. After a couple days I realized there was nothing to be afraid of. Everyone was welcoming sweet and kind, including the teachers.
My favorite thing I did at Lake and Park is when we participated in the National Geographic Engineering Challenge. Jonah, Tate and I worked on it together. The challenge we choose was: Create one watt of energy without using a battery or a power outlet. There were 5 student winners out of about 150 schools. My group was one of them. We created a potato clock belt. We got to go live on YouTube and lots of people were watching. It was a great thing to experience that I will remember all my life.
One thing I will always remember are the plays we did. The Phantom Tollbooth and Typo. All the collaboration we had to have to get it together. We put in so much work for a great turnout. It was so fun. All the nervousness and excitement everyone had.
Lake and Park has taught me so much. To love, help, and appreciate what you have. Lake and Park is such a great community. I am so glad I had the chance to be a part of it.
Franklin: This school has been most of my life. I’ve been here since kindergarten. My first play was in kindergarten, I was a cardboard police car. I remember being nervous and I’m still nervous but now the roles get harder and I enjoy them more.
I think that all the kids that come after me should go to Winterim. You get to play in the snow for hours and you get the best hot chocolate and pancakes. I had never skied before and it was super easy to learn. It was fun to learn to ski and slide in the snow I’ve always had fun with the school staff. The’re fun, and good at their jobs. I’ll always remember them.
I’ve had fun these last few years at Lake and Park, it’s probably the best school I’ve ever been to and probably the best school I’ll ever go to. I will miss all the nice teachers and students. And I’m sure I will never forget this school for the rest of my life.
When I was in summer camp we always would go to the beach and play in the sand and swim, sadly it was only up our waist. We also got to play on phones and tablets for an hour to a half hour and then we would play with legos and marbles and go outside and play on the patio. My favorite game was where we all would have a bunch of balls on the patio and we would try to get them all onto the other side.
People say seven is a lucky number and that’s how long I’ve been here. I feel lucky to have been at Lake and Park for seven years.
Jonah: I’ve been at Lake and Park for three years. I was looking back at my journal the other day remembering all the stuff I wrote, all the friends I made, all the things we studied. It’s amazing to think that all the stuff we did happened over three years!
It seems like just yesterday that I walked into a classroom for the first time, just yesterday that we studied the human body, just yesterday that we went to the Burke Museum, just yesterday that we had our first Capture the Flag game. I remember one day as I was walking in to school there was a parent walking beside me. As we walked in, she said, “Wow it’s like Magic Land in here!” And it was. There were Christmas lights and paper birds hanging from the ceiling and the entrance had a hanging castle suspended from the ceiling. It was amazing to see all these things hanging.
Some of my favorite parts of the year were when we did our plays. Our first play was Typo. In Typo I played the Wolf. The Wolf always carried around maps and never knew where he was. He wasn’t sure if he was here or there. And he didn’t know whether he was supposed to be doing something, or nothing. In the Phantom Tollbooth I played a Minister and a Lehargarain. There were five ministers. Each would say things in turn, one after another. A Lethargian is a lazy, lethargic person who lives in the Doldrums. None of these characters are like me at all, but they were fun to play.
Luke: My three years at Lake and Park school were really fun. I learned a lot about our unit studies, my favorite unit was Greek mythology because it was interesting. I remember making up stories about fake gods and goddesses. It was exciting because we got to use our imagination. I’ll remember studying Greek mythology.
I will be really sad to leave this school and move on. I’m sure my next school will be almost as fun as this one. I will miss all my friends and I hope they go to good schools too. My favorite thing about Lake and Park is doing plays. I still have my script from Typo. I remember practicing and performing it. For every one that will be here next year I recommend you do a play, I really hope you have a good summer and I’ll miss you all.
Walker: It’s been such a long journey but also such a short one. It’s been a long one because I’ve been here for four years and I really love this school, so here goes my speech. Memories are a beautiful thing. They bring love, and fun, and friends.
My first memory was meeting my first best friend, Mac, at Lake and Park School. I remember meeting Sonia, who is still my friend. One of the things I will never forget is meeting Grant and Quynh. Some of my favorite things I did at school was releasing the salmon. The plays we did made me happy. Meeting new friends, I was really happy about that. And also I liked going on the Light Rail with Lake and Park to go on field trips. I like this about Lake and Park, going on field trips.
My favorite study was studying dinosaur bones with Kim. That was so fun! Kim brought us a bunch of bones to identify and write about them. What I learned was that bones are actually pretty cool. I first thought bones were a scary thing, now I think of them as cool things.
My advice to this whole school and the new kids coming is that there is a bunch of love in this school. When I think of leaving I am sad, excited, and nervous. Why I’m sad is because I’m leaving a group of wonderful kids and grownups. I’m excited and nervous at the same time because I’m moving on to another wonderful school and it probably has a bunch of wonderful teachers and kids, too. I’m nervous because it’s a new community for me.
Memories are beautiful when you really dig into them. I will feel love, friends, and being outside at recess when I look back at my 4 years at Lake and Park. I want to thank this whole organization for letting me be a part of this beautiful community. I will miss you guys. And the chain of family and friends never ends. Beautiful memories, beautiful memories.
As teachers Quynh Cao and Grant Dermody presented the fifth graders with a gift from the faculty, they spoke sincerely about what they will miss about each one as he/she moves on to Middle School. The graduates then joined Grant on harmonica in singing “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round”, a song from the civil rights movement.
In recent weeks, Lake and Park children throughout the grades looked at Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “Summer Sun” . Interpretations of the work in drawing, collage and painting form fill the stairwell and will remain in place throughout the summer, greeting visitors and children attending summer school sessions. In each sanctuary window, during the closing ceremony, sun paintings by Beginning Room children were featured in each sanctuary window.
Delphine Way read “Summer Sun” with studied interpretation. Her reading began a transition in the proceedings from the commencement aspect of the event to the celebration of the completion of a successful year of school for all the children.
A presentation of poetry and song followed, with the primary children reciting with precision a work of oral interpretation referencing our recent unit on fiber arts. Everyone sang “All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir”. Students led the group in singing “Sarasponda”, a round simulating the turning of a spinning wheel. The final selection was “Roll on Columbia, Roll On” a Woody Guthrie number that has been a Sing Along mainstay this past year.
The audience joined the children in singing “Make New Friends, But Keep the Old” as parents and children adjourned to the patio for refreshments where tables were already readied with cake and punch. Birdhouses made in woodworking class decorated the patio walls and were available to take home. A new edition of the school’s student written newspaper, The Lake and Park Times, was distributed. Excitement surrounded the giving-out of the annual, a colorful keepsake featuring candids reflecting units and events of the year. Parents helped collect finished journals and classroom photos and portfolios and lost and found items. Children handed out gifts to teachers and signed one another’s yearbooks. Everyone mingled in the sun and shade. It was a pleasant leavetaking. The graduates had been duly honored. We were just beginning to realize that summer had begun.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s
Great is the sun and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.
Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlor cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.
The dusty attic spider clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.
Meantimes his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy’s inmost nook.
Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.