Lakefield, ON | Grades 9 - 12 | Shortlist
If I was to describe LCS in one word I would use Kindergarten. Remember that time in life when play-based learning, inquiry, discovery, kindness and inclusivity were quintessential to teaching and knowledge transfer? That is what LCS is - on a high school scale. Our child has appreciated this approach to learning. He finds it fun, engaging, challenging and relevant. The expectations of him go beyond the classroom block where he is encouraged to discover and nurture other talents through required clubs, sports and boarding house events. There is nothing he is disappointed with because he is invited for feedback often with resolution. For example, he finds the food tasty and reflective of the diversity on campus, which came from a feedback session he participated in.
LCS is an elite school with an approachable and down-to-earth school leadership team. As a parent, it’s comforting to know that our son is well taken care of and to watch him consider the future with an increased sense of optimism. We pride ourselves in knowing that our values of community involvement are not only encouraged, but structured into our son’s school life. During covid, we felt further involved with the school leadership through their frequent and meaningful parent engagement reporting. Through zoom calls, focus groups, forums, surveys and emails we felt included in the decision-making and path LCS was going in response to the changing world. They continuously communicated the possible directions and updated us immediately with approved changes. Should a discipline issue arise, students should expect to meet with both adults, their peers/student mentors in a “Standards Meeting”. The members of the team uphold the values of the school while having the required student perspective to help guide the student to reform. The consequences are fair and based on the school life guide which is clearly shared with frequency. Overall, the discipline model is proactive by keeping students engaged in activities and involved in a community they feel proud to be a part of.
There isn’t a word to describe a teacher who has the right balance of academic knowledge, enthusiasm for learning and ability to listen and respond to the inquiry of the students. Similar to a camp counselor perhaps, LCS teachers are lifelong learners who are committed to a standard of excellence with a hands-on approach to learning. A good teacher can also recognize the ability of students to learn from each other. In the Harkness table method, students face each other for classroom discussion, welcoming all voices to the table. The diversity of thinkers and perspectives is something that has been surprising for me. I know people came from around the country and around the world, but I didn’t know how much that would contribute to interesting debates, better appreciation of difference, fun programming and world experiences, all in a little town. Furthermore, the teachers all use the same format of communication and feedback through Edsby. This online platform lets parents see in real-time the assignments, grades and feedback the students are receiving. To that, I don’t have to rely on my child to show me. The consistency makes it easy to learn and stay engaged.
The academic block and outdoor resources are well equipped to support our son on his learning journey. The academic culture is one based on meeting students where they are at and pushing them forward. The LCS program rests on a balance of academics, athletics, arts and community building. By valuing and actively participating, our child continues to position himself very well for a rewarding and fulfilling university and social life. I recommend to new students to take outdoor education, leadership and an arts-based course each school year, irrespective of the child’s future career path. While I acknowledge that my child may ultimately go into Math, Science or Business in university, it is important to take courses that contribute to well-being, spirit and community building. As an alumnus, I can say that these are the moments I remember the most.
Structured within the school day are required times for school clubs, teams and wellness activities. This means that students are not making the choice IF and WHEN they participate, but HOW. The variety of activities are truly outstanding. Within one year it would easily be possible to fit in a range of land and waterfront activities such as beach volleyball, dance showcase, outdoor hockey, business club, sailing and cooking. In addition to the after school extracurriculars, once a week the school pauses for an extended lunch break for wellness activities that help you stay well-rounded, focused and present.
LCS will awaken hidden potential in your child. Additionally, LCS will nurture known talents that your child already has and take them to new heights. We have seen increased self-confidence and awareness in our son about his potential as an individual in a growing and diverse community. He has a better appreciation of mentorship (as a mentee and as a mentor) and a developing passion for business, networking and leading by example. He already has the perspective that he will reflect on his high school career as some of the best days of his life. LCS reminds me of “glamping” which is a luxurious way of camping. In glamping, you are getting the comfort of a shelter and facilities in a gorgeous natural setting that feels like a retreat. LCS is a glamping school. You are getting enriched academics while living in a picturesque setting surrounded by other like-minded joyful souls.
The residents of Lakefield share their small village streets with the LCS students when they embark on the short walk to town. The people of the village have accepted the students and collaborate with them on some community events including the Santa Claus parade. The village offers modern conveniences of Tim Hortons, Subway and Pizza Hut, but also eclectic small-town stores selling specialty chocolates and sandwiches. Lakefield is a tourist destination for its quaint streets, river lock system and beaches. A taxi ride into Peterborough will bring you to a university town with movie theatres, escape rooms, restaurants and more. The 315 acres of the school, however, provides so many opportunities that it is common for students to be content on campus.
The vibe of the admissions team is relaxing, honest, and informative. Both in person and virtual communication felt friendly and inviting. Having an interest in being involved and trying new things is appreciated by the team of recruiters. While other classmates from my son’s grade 8 school were studying on cue cards for an entrance exam at other Independent schools, Lakefield’s process relies more on qualities that make a well rounded candidate. Through the admissions process you can expect a personal intake interview which feels like a casual conversation. Additionally, there is an English language test and opportunities for references from community members and previous teachers. This selection process allows for the continuity of a vibrant school life on campus with a center of community, outdoors everyday and academic excellence, all in balance.
I would describe the student body as a model Youth United Nations at a professional sports game. The student body is small, with only 350 students, but from over 40 different countries. The spirit is huge. This can be felt through pep rallies, dance showcases, musicals and spirit-focused events. In fact, each student is put into a spirit house and competes in friendly games and events throughout the year. The enthusiasm of students combined with the small student body creates community, and a connected group of diverse thinkers coming together to celebrate achievement, success and the privileged campus they are on. Standout qualities include respect, zest and perspective. This is demonstrated both during the school day and after hours. In particular, my son loves his experience in the boarding house. He sincerely admires the grade 12 leaders in his house for their inclusivity and role modelling. His housemates feel like family.
LCS is a place where teenagers greet new faces on campus with a genuine, warm smile that draws you in and immediately makes you feel that you belong. Also, the insightful and various personal and academic communications the schools share with the parents, are a constant reminder that LCS is a vibrant community. As a parent, I feel very included in the campus. In addition to Parent’s Day (a chance to meet teachers, discuss progress, and participate in workshops), we also felt at home at other school community events. Fall Fair is a chance to experience the campus amenities such as high ropes, beekeeping and the theatre. The spring Regatta Day is a day to fully enjoy the waterfront with canoe races and live music. This feeling only grew through COVID times. I was invited and included in forums, socials and volunteer opportunities virtually.