You Are From Here: Presenting the Lake and Park Class of 2020

On Friday, June 12th the Lake and Park School graduated the Class of 2020. Following a warm welcome from Camille Hayward, Director of Lake and Park, Quynh Cao, the North Room teacher shared these remarks in her commencement address. Thank you, Quynh.

You Are From Here

by Quynh Cao

Congratulations to Lake and Park’s graduating class of 2020.   Family, students, teachers, and friends, thank you all for joining us on this very special occasion.  

Welcome!  You are here!  You made it!  Each of you traveled your individual path to arrive at this very moment. 

At Lake and Park, there is practically a song for every occasion.  I am reminded of a familiar song appropriate for right now: 

We’ve been waiting for you to come to this place. 

Waiting for you to come to this place.  

Wherever you’re from, we’re glad that you’ve come.  

We’ve been waiting for you to come to this place.

I learned this song at my first All School Sing, in my first year, at Lake and Park-- seven lucky years ago.  Many of you have been here from your elementary school  start. Others  joined us at different times along the way.  I  remember waiting,  when you were younger,  for your arrival into the North Room. Time certainly does fly when you are having fun, as they say.  Now it is nearly time for you to go.   Before  you move on,   remember where you are from.

You are from a place of imagination. Anything can and does happen.  Blocks are fashioned into elaborate cities with secret tunnels. They transform into a spaceship, prepared to launch for the moon,  They  take the shape of the cities  a caravan would encounter traveling the Silk Road.  You are from classrooms that have turned into museums, fairs, and marketplaces.  As  boxes, cartons, fabric--materials of all sorts were repurposed to  become machines,  to create art, to be made into---yet-to-be-determined projects. You brought others in, and you found opportunities to play everywhere.  Nearby parks, the meadow,  the beach--all  hold countless memories.  Once you were archaeologists discovering fossilized dinosaurs at Mount Baker Beach.  You were also mushroom hunters  and biologists. You were early humans roaming the old-growth forest in Seward Park.  

You are from play. From play, your imagination expanded. Your understanding of the world deepened. From play, you worked together, shared ideas, listened, and created solutions. 

From play, you built strong friendships through acts of kindness,  through compassion, and through inclusion. Remember to keep playing.  

You are from a place where making mistakes is preferable to perfection. We’ve made mistakes together.  You’ve witnessed mine. It’s how we learn.    I’m grateful for all the misspellings and miscalculations I made.  I’m glad I made them.  The quote above our white board reads, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.” A  wise person once said this.  It was Camille.  It is worth repeating:  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  You’ve been forgiving and gracious of my “slip ups''.  Remember to be patient and kind to yourself, as you have been for your teachers. 

You are from a place where students are teachers.  Apart from classmates helping each other to master a new academic skill, like long division or  vocabulary building.  I am speaking of abilities that go beyond the  four classroom walls--that may take place just outside the walls.  Unicycling on the patio, rollerblading, riding bikes, jumping ropes,  or further away,  skiing and snowboarding, and abilities that go beyond what might be thought of as school--breaking rocks on the sidewalk, hammering a nail for a woodworking project, using the sewing machine, print and paper making, binding a book by hand, learning lines for a play.

When writing, you’ve sought out or recommended the exact word to express a feeling. With art, you’ve helped to identify the right brush or pigments for the most expressive strokes and textures in painting.

It has always been a goal of mine to remain a student.  I feel incredibly fortunate to have come to Lake and Park, where I am both. Everyone knows that students learn from their teachers--what many do not realize is that a teacher’s best teacher is her students. 

You are from curiosity.  You get to the heart of a study by asking the simple, yet profound questions: “How did zero come to be? Why is it called zero? Who invented zero?”  I recall how surprised many of you were to uncover the mathematical truths of our strange friend, zero.  Like zero, start from nothing.  Adding a bit of genuine curiosity will take you to places far beyond what you expect.  Run with it and remain unafraid to ask questions. 

You are from a place of kindness, love, and action. From caring for each other as you bring everyone into your community; from taking the lead with children from Downstairs while also taking care of our school building during Friday Clean; from protesting down the hill at  Mount Baker Park to raise awareness for equal rights and global warming.  Your voices ring loud and clear when encouraging your community with messages of healing, hope, justice, and positive change. Let your voices continue to be heard.

It is my heartfelt wish that you lean on these memories in the coming months and years. Look back at where you have come from to know the deep inner-strength you possess.  

Even now, in the middle of  a pandemic, in “School Sway from School,”   you attended to your studies.  You  are graduating at a time that is new to everyone. I am proud of your dedication, tenacity, and optimism. I am excited for you---for the possibilities ahead,  the discoveries to come,  for new friends and teachers to meet.  There may be challenges and there may be times of struggle.  You will know what to do because you are from Lake and Park.  Rely on your character, your compassion, your sharp minds to press on.  

You have all that you need to begin.  Congratulations.

A Story of Risk

by Teague

One day in school I was walking through halls and down the stairs. It was the day of the spelling bee. After I got signed in, I waited, excited and impatient. A while later,Camille comes in. That means the spelling bee could start soon. It was a big deal for me because there were a lot of North Roomers and we were Big Roomers.  We were seemingly on the same level, even advancing past some of the North Roomers in the later rounds. To my surprise, I ended up getting 3rd place. It was important to me and made me realize that I was good at spelling and writing. It helped me get more interested in writing. 

When Samar came by, poetry became one of my more favorable parts of writing. With Corona-virus, I got a poem on Poems to Lean on. Poems to lean on is an online website posted by the poet laureate to encourage poetry. It was another big moment for me. 


by Teague Song


great ones, remembered

good ones, kept

bad ones, forgotten

Sometimes you forget one

let it go,

like a squirrel burying nuts

But then it sprouts

A tree grows

Your imagination

filling in a hole

Your lost memory

I wrote this poem as an assignment and we were told to write about memories.  I feel like when I’m going to move on, I will read this poem once again and the main reason I wrote it was because of my teachers and I will remember them. 

The first friendship I remember is with Rowan, Liam, and me. We were playing with blocks and designs in Kindergarten.  This was mainly what we would do for quiet time. This was my first major friendship at Lake and Park and we remain friends today. 

I keep digging back to past memories but keep coming back to this recent memory from this year.  Playing capture the flag, I believe it was the last round of the day.  I saw the flag on the left side of their field. I saw that there was nobody in particular guarding at the line. I decided to run at the flag to get it. I ended up grabbing it and somebody put their hand out to tag me and I slid under them. I didn’t manage to get it to my side, but close enough for Henrik to get it back to our side. The feeling of succeeding was exciting because I took a big risk and it paid off. A lot of times you won't get a feeling of happiness without risk. Sometimes it doesn’t pay off. But that’s OK, because sometimes you just have to take a risk.

Thanks to all my fellow students,

Thanks to all my friends and family,

Thank you.

From Now to the Future

by Rowan

I remember my first day at the lake and park School. I was really nervous I wasn't going to make any friends,  but I remember some kids like Hezekiah, Liam, Teague and a bunch more asked if I wanted to play grounders. Everyone was super welcoming, no one said I couldn't play, no one was cold, everyone was warm, they were all so nice, especially the teachers Camille, Eileen Quynh Morgan Andy and more in the coming years. Everyone has been that way all through my time at lake and park. Thank you for that. 

Lake and Park has taught me a lot about sports. It's been my favorite thing ever since I was able to throw a ball or catch a ball. Lake and Park has taught me about cross country, Ultimate Frisbee and dodge ball . Thank You for extending my knowledge of different sports and helping me get better at the ones I was already good at. At Lake and Park we play sports differently. We play with kids at different levels and at the same time we have fun.      

Over the years we studied many different things. I'm going to talk about my three favorite studies over the course of my six years at Lake and Park. My favorite one out of all of them was the Silk Road study. I really loved all the field trips we went on like to the Science Museum to see the Terracotta Warriors and when we got to do the bazaar at school and got to wear costumes. I remember when I helped make a frittata that inspired my sense to cook at school. Yeah that was definitely my favorite study but not the only one. 

While in Camille's class we studied the Chinese culture and  we had a play about the Monkey King. I actually think that's what it was called and I think it was the year of the monkey too. I remember that was the first time I played an instrument in front of an audience. It was really exciting but at the same time I was nervous.  I was also one of the worshipers in the play. We went out on a field trip to a Chinese restaurant and had lunch there and I think the class I’m in now also went and they read some facts to us about the Chinese culture.  

We also studied the ocean in first grade. I knew nothing about the ocean besides a few animals and  that it was water. I learned so much that I had never learned about in my life.  I learned how to make a museum and share  an exhibit . I remember all the other classes came and our parents came. 

Thank you so much Lake and Park for helping me go beyond my comfort zone and teaching me all I know from over the years and for being kind to me when I needed you to be.  I will take all I know and take it with me wherever I go in the future. Thank you. 

Song of Six Years 

by Rhea

One factor I think all great schools have is to learn together as a class and to learn openly. That is really what Lake & Park is all about, which is why I love it so much. To be involved with what we are talking about, learning, and doing is an amazing feeling, and I get to feel it every time I am solving a problem or working out a puzzle with my classmates. Not to mention how much time we spend outdoors. Rain or shine, you will find us outside!

On my first day at Lake & Park my parents and I went down into the Beginning room. I remember the loud bustle of commotion! Watching all the other kids laugh and shout and play was new and scary! I had never been to such an active environment! Then a dominant looking stranger comes over, and introduces herself as Camille. Camille tells me to go play with Sofia in the sand tray. I am only half listening. I walk over to where she points, to a girl with long dirty blond hair and an exuberant spirit. She introduces herself right away.”My name is Sofia!!!” she says.“Your name is Sofia?! I exclaim. “My name is Rhea!” The fact that our names rhymed was a big deal to us, and our bond started from there. Sofia was my first best friend, and still is today!

Over the years at L&P, I feel like I have changed a lot. I remember on the first day at L&P I was bashful and shy. I had never been somewhere with so much activity! Looking back, I thought I would have a hard time making friends. But I see that everyday with Sofia at my side I made more and more friends, and we journeyed all the way to the upstairs together! I remember when we were in the beginning room, the upstairs was like a dense forest of the unknown, intimidating, but exciting! And when Sofia left L&P, I was sad. But I didn't need her there anymore! I had plenty of friends, and I loved all the teachers. I was happy. And that was just the beginning. 

When I was in 4th grade and it was my first year of cross country, I was the only 4th grade girl running. At the end of it all, we met in the big room and there was a slideshow. It felt so good to see a picture of me up there… 4TH GRADE GIRL! Then, I won fastest girl in the school. One of the happiest moments of my life!

My favorite trip that I had with Lake and Park was two years ago, when we went to release the salmon. I had SO. MUCH. FUUUN! I played bean bag toss, ate hot dogs with veggies and Cheetos, made vanilla ice cream with Morgan, played in the field with all of my friends, played with bubbles, and on the rocks by the river... and, of course, released the salmon!

After all that when it was almost time to go, we played the salmon migration game! I never

made it all the way, but it was still the highlight of the day!!

It seems only yesterday I was drawing or playing dress up with all my friends in the beginning room. I remember the day I was going to get my north room buddy, I walked to school, and I saw Harriet. I had a feeling that she was a nice person, and hoped she would be my buddy. Sure enough, she was! I still remember her clearly. All the field trips together, watching carefully how she bossed everyone around, and chatted, chatted, chatted! She was my hero. 

Years later, in my first year in the north room, I got my own beginning room buddies! Addy was sweet but shy, and reminded me of how timid I was my first year at Lake and Park, while West was energetic and tireless. There was a lot of contrast between the two, and I felt very responsible and mature looking after them.

It was in the north room when I discovered my passion for writing and storytelling! I remember when my lit group was going to do a small performance for the school, using one of the short stories from the book we read. I decided to make my own story using the same topic. When it came to choosing which story to use, EVERYONE chose MY story!!!!!!!!! That's when I figured out not only did I like writing stories, but that I was actually good at it! 

The most important thing I learned at Lake and Park was to be a powerful learner, a good listener, and a risk taker. I learned to stand up for others, to engage in everything, to listen carefully, to not shy away, to respect others, to always imagine and think big, to throw out a guess, to believe in what's right, to include others and not leave people behind, to look forward and be optimistic, to play it by ear, to know how to be happy, to make friends, to put yourself in other’s shoes, and to believe in yourself, the people around you, and the world you want to live in! 

Lake and Park has made me an honest, kind, considerate, loving, learning, and brave person and is who I am today, tomorrow, and forever! Thank you.

The Freedom of School 

by Oliver

When I first came to Lake and Park, I walked into Camille’s class and saw all the fun activities, and wanted to do every single one of them.  During choice, I remember playing with the toy astronauts that I could stack on each other; or the robots that turned into different letters and you can assemble and disassemble.  I got to decide what I wanted to do. Camille was mostly the boss, but she didn’t boss us around that much.  I liked that I could stay with something all day if I wanted or move to the next thing. The freedom of being able to move place to place gave me a feeling of control over what I was able to do.  But the sand table was one of my favorites; it was satisfying it was to put your hand in the sand. There are endless things to do. You can mold it if it’s wet enough and it feels silky when it’s dry.   I couldn’t wait until I started school and I started in the middle of the year. So technically I’ve been at school for 5 and a half years. 

At Lake and Park  you learn in other ways than most schools. You don’t sit at a desk all day and copy notes.  You can go outside and learn about plants, and you can learn about math like the Fibonacci sequence--it’s everywhere like in flowers and branches. It was basically the first school that I’ve stayed in for a long time. Other schools made me learn things I was definitely not ready to learn.

I love the field trips we go on because they are a chance to get outside and we learn stuff, too. Also just walking around is like an adventure because you really don’t know where you’re going to go. You turn a corner and you’re in a garden and it smells really good. Or you turn another corner and you are in front of a garbage can and it smells really bad. You don’t know what you’re going to get. 

My favorite study was either Seattle or the Prehistory. I feel like we had a lot of fun activities. In some studies I forget about them over time. In these studies I still remember a lot about them. I liked how in the Seattle study  we got to travel the city and visit my dad at work. 

I've made a lot of friends at school.  My parents taught me to be nice and friendly and a good way to make a friend is when you notice when someone is feeling  down, ask them how you can help. Try as hard as you can to make them feel better and if they want to be alone then just walk away.  Friends help each other.  My friends helped me learn things when I’m having trouble . We also tried to write books together.  M