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
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
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,
From Now to the Future
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
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
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. My friends are one of the reasons I come to school because they make school more enjoyable.
When things are hard for you, just try and push through. Once you get it, you just breathe through and it will be super easy. Don’t be mad because you can’t learn something. Remember, if you’re having trouble, ask a friend or teacher and they will probably be able to help you. Or if they don’t get it, then you can try and learn it together.
Lake and Park is a school that values hands-on projects and it’s not all textbooks. Even now, I have a place mat that I made six years ago during my first year at Lake and Park. We were studying space and the place mat is a collage of our solar system, with all of our planets and the sun. When I use it, I remember Camille and Elizabeth and the book that we all got at the end of the study. The book is called Older Than the Stars. I have read this book at least 10 times. Each time I read it, it makes me jubilant and I remember my first year.
At Lake and Park, all the classrooms do one study and then there are different levels for different classes. Everyone’s learnings and findings come together. We are always thinking and creating ways to show what we learn to share with others. For example, this year the Prehistory Study, each class studied in-depth the period of time before writing. Camille’s class studied different dinosaurs. Morgan’s class examined the last Ice Age. My class turned the North Room into a cave and learned how different hominids evolved into the humans we are today. I was surprised by how all the facts fit together and how one fact leads you to discover a whole new hypothesis and avenue of learning.
All the museums we do, the art projects, and events like the book sales and the Silk Road Bazaar are examples of group learning. At the book sale, I was really excited to see what other people were writing about. Also, this was the first time that Samar came. She taught me to use my 5 senses to write a descriptive poem. By having us write lots of different poems, I began to realize that poetry is a short story and like a song. From this experience, I wrote “Ode to Iris’s Curls” and shared it at the poetry reading. Now, when I write poetry, I write it from many points of view, and I know that it is good and descriptive.
Lake and Park is a school that does a lot of outdoors activities. The Botany Study appealed to my love of nature, and I remember one day we went on a scavenger hunt for different leaves. Now every time I go to the garden I can identify some of the characteristics about the leaves. In the spring time, I plant seeds and in the fall I harvest different plants. At the Hoe Down there is usually an aromatic and mouth-watering rhubarb crisp to be consumed.
We connect what we are learning about with something that is happening in the world. I am passionate about saving our planet, and I remember when we took our signs down to Mount Baker Park to chant and hold up our signs to raise awareness of Climate Change. I plan to continue this action of stopping climate change from now on.
Wherever you are as a learner, Lake and Park makes it fit for you. And it is small enough that you can have a one- on-one relationship with everyone. The teachers helped me with my reading by believing in me and pushing me to practice more. All the outside time, hands on projects, how we meet at all school gatherings, and getting to know and work with younger kids prepared me for my next step in life.
The Skills that I Learned at Lake & Park
Over my six years at Lake and Park, I have learned so much. From Ultimate Frisbee and skiing to long division and volume, Lake and Park has taught me so many of the skills that I know today.
I still remember that first day, when I went into the Beginning Room. I remember sitting down in the block corner, playing with blocks. I also remember my first play that I did, it was the Monkey King. In the play I was the Buddha. Since then, I have done more than 10 plays. My favorite one was probably the Norse Mythology one because I felt I put the most effort into it. I was a musician and I also helped paint the scenery. Plays gave me lots of opportunities to learn to work with other people.
My favorite part of Lake and Park is the field trips that we take. Some of my favorites are: Blake Island, whale watching, Columbia Tower and Smith tower. I liked Colombia Tower and Blake island the most because it was cool seeing Seattle from 2 totally different perspectives. Field trips helped me get a better understanding of where we live.
I also liked the science experiments that we do. Some of my favorites were looking at stuff through microscopes and dissecting owl pellets. Doing these experiments helped me pay closer attention to things and see more details that I wouldn’t notice if I didn’t do these experiments.
My favorite topics were clay and Norse Mythology. I liked clay because we got to do lots of experimenting and playing. I liked Norse Mythology because I didn’t know much about it. During the study I gained a deeper understanding and liking for Norse myths.
Lake and Park has also taught me most of the academic skills I know including how to do long division and how to simplify, add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions. Also, I have learned many sports and games here like Ultimate Frisbee, skiing, dodge ball and Capture the Flag. Lake and Park has taught me to work with other people and to help younger kids and be patient with them like if they ask you to carry something or if they don’t know the answer to a problem. I would like to thank my friends, family, teachers and classmates for supporting me on my journey through elementary school these six years. I am excited to go to my new middle school but I will miss my friends, teachers and classmates and always remember Lake and Park. Thank You.
A Brief History of Myself
Hi, I’m Ian. When I was 8 I was a communist. (PAUSE) We were studying Civics and Civil Rights and we had a vote on which system of government was best and I and many others voted for communism. So, we had a communist class… Sike! Just kidding! In the Civil Rights unit, we studied Martin Luther King Jr. and watched his speeches. It taught me about equality and that we’re a democracy--one that works better when people speak out and share their opinions.
I started Lake and Park in 2015 in Morgan's class. I was 7. I learned all the things you’re supposed to learn in first grade but Morgan emphasized art and creativity. We did a lot of sharpie drawings of bees. Morgan allowed me and my friend Ardin to stay in during recess to finish our drawings. I appreciate how Morgan allowed me to draw and have a lot of art projects; this significantly contributed to becoming an artist.
On my first day we went to Triangle Park. At my old school there was a concrete wall with a plastic playground--this was actually outside. The parks we go to are more inviting, with sunshine and many trees. It felt more natural to be there. Going outside makes you an active person, you see how great it is.
We’ve been doing ski trips every year I’ve been at Lake and Park - 5 stars! 10/10! We started at Crystal Mountain and then went to Snoqualmie, It helped build my skiing skills, because I had pretty much none before that. Having other classmates with me while we skied also helped, because I could see what they were doing that worked, and copy them.
At the end of my first year we did a performance of Really Rosie. For a bunch of non professional child actors, we did a pretty good job. My class performed Alligators All Around. We all wore weird propeller hats and alphabet shirts that we made ourselves in class. It was directed by an actual play director that also worked in the school named Elizabeth.
This year we performed a Norse Mythology play and I played the role of Loki. He’s funny, but he’s also selfish, and he’s a trickster. He’s the only funny character in Asgard, and I’ll play anything funny. Believe it or not, it was a challenge to memorize my lines, I’m better at just delivering them. This was the first play where I had a starring role and I will remember this for a long time.
The comics I sold to my friends taught me about running a business and the fact that my art is not bad. It gave me confidence in my art. I liked selling things and being a business person. It is nice to know that others care about my art and enjoy it. It's not just a hobby that I do that no one knows about. People care and can see my art.
I’m a creative person who wants to accomplish goals but can’t at the moment because I’m a child. My goal is to publish art so that more than the people in my school can see it.
Over the past 5 years, my hair has quadrupled in size, and so has my maturity. I used to only read comics because I thought everything else was mundane. Now, I want to read famous classic books like Lord of the Flies. I want to learn about history. The history of art and civilizations.
My favorite thing about Lake and Park is the friends I’ve made here. Joking around with my friends and making them laugh, playing grounders at the park, playing chopsticks while riding the monorail, and just drawing together. I can get bored pretty easily if I’m not challenged, but I’m never bored around my friends.
I want to thank Lake and Park for getting me outside, for my friends, and for all my teachers. Thank you Morgan for supporting me as an artist, and thank you Quynh for being a fun and cool teacher.
Thank you Lake and Park.
My Time at Lake and Park
I started at Lake & Park last year and immediately everyone was friendly to me. I like that the school is so close to my house and my parents would let me ride my bike or walk to school.
Lake and Park has contributed greatly to helping me like school better. At Lake and Park, the hands-on learning made sense to me. For example, playing games like Around the World, made it easier and faster to learn the multiplication facts. Learning in a more fun way helped me to remember it. I also started to like writing more when I learned how to write in cursive. When I first went into Quynh’s room, the first week, we started learning cursive and I immediately loved it. It was so much easier because you didn’t have to pick up your pencil. At Lake and Park, instead of having to do work one way, like writing, you have multiple options of how you do it.
At Lake and Park, they encourage you to ask questions for many reasons. By asking more questions I feel like I’ve learned a lot more about a subject. For example, in Morgan’s room we studied clay. I thought it was really interesting because at the park sometimes I would dig and find clay and wonder how it got there. I wanted to know how it formed, and why it formed in that particular place. Did it need special mud or sunlight to form? I ended up asking a lot of questions and learning that clay formed in many different places and there are three different main types of clay.
The garden is one of my favorite places to go because I like the variety and abundance of plants. My first time in the garden, I sat under a big tree in the rain while Morgan read a story. I remember I had to kneel because there was no place to sit because it was wet. Returning to the garden, we made our own stories about plants. I sat next to a plant with a snail and wrote about that. I also enjoyed using the Seek app. because I would be able to get outside and observe and identify new species. So far, I’ve identified 143 species and earned 7 species badges and 4 challenge badges in Seattle. I look forward to identifying more species in Maine.
My favorite study was photography. I have always loved taking pictures, but I didn’t know how a camera worked. When we started doing photography, we learned how a camera works. I immediately went home and grabbed my film camera and went out and started taking pictures. At first, I only took a couple pictures but then I started to get the hang of it. Some of my early pictures were blurry and uninteresting, some might say they were boring. I learned a camera trick that made the pictures more interesting. My later shots are a lot more advanced and have more color and light in them. I can compare my photography learning with my school learning. At my old school, my learning was uninteresting, blurry, and boring. Now at Lake and Park, my learning is full of color and light.
I want to thank Lake & Park for all the fun times, learning opportunities, and great friends that I made there. I look forward to visiting and coming back for the Hoedown.
Graduating to the Next Level