Finding the Joy

Becca and RJ Yttredahl, with mother Renee, greet Roger Perry at the front door.

Becca and RJ Yttredahl, with mother Renee, greet Roger Perry at the front door.

By Bob Yttredahl, Parent of RJ (4th grade) and Becca (kindergarten)

We, as a society, take things for granted. We are selfish and refuse to take the time to look around and be thankful for the things/people in our lives. Instead, we focus on a bigger house…the next trip…a newer car….a bigger paycheck…..signing our kids up for multiple activities. We are caught up in this whirlwind called life.


All of this finally surfaced for me this morning – on our first day of school. With all of the anxiety, excitement and trepidation that comes with the first day of school – I found my calm – my joy.


My kids are in a safe environment where the adults treat them like their own. I didn’t walk away concerned or nervous. I walked away feeling “lucky” to have them in such a great place. They are going to be challenged and loved and disciplined and guided….and successful.


So shame on me if I don’t step out of the whirlwind for a minute and be thankful. Thankful for Lakehill and Headmaster Roger Perry and the school he has created. It’s not about brick and mortar he tells us. Its about the people inside it.


Stop – reflect – be thankful – don’t take it for granted. We are more than lucky to have our kids at Lakehill.

Finding Blance

By Heather Dondis
Director of College Counseling, Lakehill Preparatory School

Since I am in the middle of the course selection process for next year and in the middle of AP testing, I have been thinking a lot about the structure of a high school student’s day. I find myself coming back to the word BALANCE.  Lakehill encourages students to explore their interests, both inside and outside of the classroom. We want our students to excel in their academic interests, but we also want them to explore new subject areas. Our students have two electives each semester for several reasons:  we want them to perform, create, look at texts in a new way, and explore non-traditional subjects.

As a college counselor, I am often asked, “What do colleges want to see?” But there is no magic formula. Colleges want students to follow a curriculum which challenges them, but is one in which they can be successful. They want to see that students can read, write, and think critically, creatively, and independently. Colleges want well-rounded students who are enjoying what they study and enjoy what they do in their “free time” so that they can contribute to their future campuses.

If a school offers AP classes or honors classes, students should be encouraged to take a class or two to further their knowledge and interest in a particular subject area, but only if it makes sense with the students’ learning profiles and other components of their lives. Students should not be tempted to choose an AP class because “it looks good on a high school transcript for colleges.” The same is true for activities and electives. Students should be encouraged to explore different activities and fields of interest, and to stick with those they like in order to develop their skills and leadership roles in those areas.

BALANCE is key to healthy, happy children. There are only 24 hours in the day, and 9.5 of those hours should be spent sleeping, so students should be encouraged to spend the other 14.5 hours in ways that will foster their personal and academic development in positive and healthy ways.

Heather Dondis

Planet Protectors: Lakehill Students Educate Others at Earth Day Texas

The 2016 Earth Day Texas was the planet’s largest Earth Day Expo ever. The 130,000 visitors who attended the event, held April 22-24 at Fair Park, were treated to 700 interactive exhibits showcasing leaders in the corporate, academic, and non-profit worlds, including a booth featuring Lakehill Preparatory School. 
Students in Lakehill’s AP Environmental Science class showcased a variety of environmentally friendly projects. Their exhibits included an interactive game to determine the rate of decomposition of eight common household items (Afton Guedea and Reed Henry), a station for visitors to make composters out of recycled soda bottles (Audrey Castaigne and Guilia Ferguson), a water table which demonstrated how surface pollutants can contaminate water (Kevin Lantz andKason Burt), a station to test the different pH levels of batteries, (Adam Muncaster and George Cheng), an interactive fishing game to highlight the impact of pollution on lakes and streams (Kaeli Bunger and Camryn Thompson), a simulated oil-spill with suggested solutions for safe clean-up (Charlie Pippen and Zain Imam), and a world map for attendees to add their personal Earth Day pledge (Charlotte Abate and Tata Fortune).
Visitors to the event could also tour the tiny house village, test drive electric bikes and cars, and see NASA’s Space Station exhibit.
Earth Day Texas is an annual festival seeking to elevate environmental awareness and change the way North Texans think, live, and work. This is the fifth year that Lakehill has been featured.
By Afton Guedea
Marketing Intern, Class of 2016
Earth Day 1 Earth Day 2

Room 110 for Rent

By John Trout
Fourth Grade Teacher, Lakehill Preparatory School

This is my fourteenth year teaching fourth grade at Lakehill. Same hall for fourteen years.  Same room for fourteen years. Same desk for fourteen years. It’s been my home away from home. In fact, I’ve “lived” in room 110 longer than any of my actual homes over the years! It has been a familiar, comfortable place for me even when other parts of my life have been in transition.

Of course, the room itself has changed. New windows, new desks, new tiles, and every year, a new crop of eager learners to share this home away from home with me for a year. Together, we’ve created memories of adventure, realization, and triumph. Together, we’ve enjoyed days of excitement, accomplishment, and determination. And, peppered in amongst them, there have been days with frustration, setbacks, and uncertainty. But, like a family, we’ve been there for each other through thick and thin, making the best days even better and even the lowest days less intimidating. That’s what families do, and Lakehill has, since day one, felt like my extended family.

Fourteen years of memories, home, and family. That’s going to be hard to beat! Part of me yearns for a fifteenth year (and a sixteenth, and a seventeenth) in room 110. But, a bigger part of me is excited at the notion of new adventures, new challenges, and a hike down the road less traveled. And, that’s exactly what I’ll get next year as I take on my new role as Head of Lower School. And, I’m not losing my home-and-family-away-from-home. Instead, it’s growing! It’s always a little scary leaving behind the comfortable and familiar. But, I’ve got a huge and loving family to help me along the way.

John Trout

The Spirit of Growth

By Kaye Hauschild
Head of Middle School, Lakehill Preparatory School

One of the things I love about working in Lakehill’s Middle School is the constant growth and change that surrounds me. We have obvious growth in Middle School where students will grow a foot or more during their four years of attendance. Major changes indeed! But the changes that I also love are the changes that we make in our activities so that we create an educational experience unique to each group of students.

One example is in our Ancient Civilizations history class led by Patty Pippen.  This year, the class was given the opportunity to create their own Olympic games.  This two -afternoon event was filled with historical fun with a modern twist or two that brought our students an opportunity to run in someone else’s sandals.

Another addition this spring is a new team sport – math! In the middle of April, Coach K (Ms. Kuffel) and her math teams will participate in the Purple Comet Math Meet.  It is great to see students who are excited to work together to solve challenges!  I am looking forward to more mathletics next year!

Adding to spring time fun, we are welcoming the Yo-Yo Club the final month of school!  Coach Cayme and I will be sponsoring lunchtime meetings with demonstrations, opportunities to teach and learn, and conversations among like-minded yo-yo aficionados.

I love the spirit of growth and change that partners with our love and respect for our traditions. It is part of doing things the Lakehill way!

Kaye Hauschild

Growing Together

By India Miles
Middle School Teacher, Lakehill Preparatory School

Originally, this piece was supposed to be about the growth of my students. I was prepared to wax philosophical about the maturity of my students and how much more of their “peopleness” I saw and liked, this, their sixth grade year. However true, I wonder if it is really our relationship and my understanding of their struggles that I better appreciate this year.

As their fifth grade teacher, it was largely my duty to not only provide engaging content, but to facilitate the transition to middle school. Students spent the first half of the year triumphing in the exhilaration of being with the “big kids” while navigating lockers, acclimating to different teachers for each subject, and figuring out how to take care of their business within a five-minute passing period. The second semester dawned cold and bright, and though this would be their last January as the newbies of middle school, they still showed signs that they were not quite ready for independence. I’ll never forget one sweet student asking me if she should use a second sheet of paper to finish her work, since she’d filled up the first. Looking back, I realize that it was not a lack of problem-solving ability, but merely the need for assurance: “am I doing this right?

At the time, I was fairly stupefied by this question. With time and understanding, and by seeing a new fifth grade class exhibit those same assurance-seeking behaviors, I’ve come to the realization that so much of what I do in the middle school classroom goes beyond instruction, curriculum, and content. Though I’ve known for a while how we educators do much more than teach, it is in this, my fifth year of teaching, that I have a better understanding of my students’ minds, how they work, and the soon-coming but not yet achieved “light bulb” moments that every teacher longs to see. In short, it is not just my students who have grown; I believe I have as well.

India Miles

Camps are for Kids

By John Trout
Director of Lakehill Summer Camps

I know it’s only February, and summer seems like a distant dream, but here at Lakehill summer camp preparations are in full swing! Calendars are being set, camp descriptions are being finalized, and the Lakehill Summer Camps staff is busy planning a summer full of fun and adventure.

As this process unfolds, a single thought keeps coming back to me: I wish I were a kid again!
This year’s camp lineup looks fabulous! Minecraft, Community Connections, LEGO Engineering, Destination Dallas, and other perennial favorites are all lined up and ready to go, but it’s the new kids on the block that have me really excited!
Farm to Table takes a close look at the sources of our food, giving kids a tasty lesson in going local. Brain Freeze explores the world of science at its coldest. Mutants, Marvels, and Superheroes examines our classic super heroes and super villains, and guides kids into creating their own. Waffle Iron Cooking promises to do some amazing things with…you guessed it…just the lowly waffle iron.
These quirky, new, outside-the-box camps are exactly the kind of camps I would have enjoyed as a kid, and I’d love nothing more than to roll back the clock and sign up! I’m so thrilled at the creativity and energy that our summer camp teachers have put into their camps already, and I can’t wait to see their ideas unfold as the months roll on.
Our full summer camp catalog is available here, and camp registration goes live on February 20.  You can register here. And, sorry…these camps are only for kids!


An Everyday Hero

By Victoria John
Middle School Teacher, Lakehill Preparatory School

Sometimes a hero is not only the mythic god of Mount Olympus nor a contemporary Jedi knight. Sometimes a hero is someone we see every day, someone we know. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, noted mythological scholar Joseph Campbell, describes heroes in myth as “practice models for understanding how to live…life principles embedded in the structure of stories.” Within these stories, he describes the qualities and passages of a hero through twelve stages called the hero’s journey. In Adam Bede, novelist George Eliot offers her concept of a hero, “It is more needful that my heart should swell with loving admiration at some trait of gentle goodness in the faulty people who sit at the same hearth with me…than at the deeds of heroes whom I shall never know.”

I am fortunate to know and teach such a hero, sixth grade Lakehill student Charlie Borowczak, who gifts children through the Salvation Army Angel Tree program with his Charlie’s Angels project. In December, as a guest on The Steve Harvey Show in Chicago, Charlie was featured in the Harvey’s Heroes segment.  Charlie shared that he became interested in supporting the Angel Tree program when he was in first grade. Since then, each November he goes to NorthPark Mall, chooses angels from the tree and purchases gifts for each child. Charlie funds these gifts by earning all the money himself through pet sitting, car washing or other odd jobs. Recently Charlie bought gifts for 30 angels, spending $100 on each. He says, “It makes him feel good to be Santa Claus for other children.”

When asked if he would describe himself as a hero, Charlie replies, “It makes me feel kind of smug to call myself a hero. I just think of myself as a normal person. I guess I would be a hero to the angels, because I give them a Christmas.”

This young entrepreneur is already planning for the future.  “I want to keep helping and inspiring others. I am working on expanding Charlie’s Angels and setting it up as a non-profit. I am spreading the word, and it is going fast.”

Talking with Charlie about his dedication to help children has touched me deeply and reminds me that he has heroic qualities. Charlie is a leader, loyal friend and respected by his peers. He is committed to helping others and genuinely cares about doing his part to make the world a better place. There is a gentle goodness in Charlie. He is someone we all know – he is our own Lakehill everyday hero. With his own words, “A hero needs a persevering spirit and the will to do good no matter what,” Charlie continues his path on the hero’s journey.


Charlie - 7 years  oldCharlie in Chicago, Steve Harvey Show Charlie on Steve Harvey

Long and Short


By Ray Dent
Lakehill Preparatory School, Director of Development and Alumni Relations

This morning, as I stood at the north door welcoming the Lower School students, I looked through the glass and saw a tall Middle School student transiting the stairwell behind me. I was struck by how mature he looked. Not so long ago he was one of the Lower School “itty-bittys” so excited to be at school giving Mr. Perry a high-five at the door, saying “Good Morning!” then speaking with the lisp that comes from having lost a baby tooth, or two.

It reminded me how quickly our time here at Lakehill passes. Of course, I understand it may not seem that way for the parents and grandparents so involved in the daily whirlwind of activity around here.

For you, the mornings start progressively earlier as your child takes on ever increasing activities and more demanding studies. You multiply the days of multiple trips back-and-forth to study groups, practice sessions, pep rallies, sporting events, and birthday parties. Your late nights seem endless as term projects must be finished, first-dances need to be attended, homework increases exponentially, and you always make sure everyone gets home safely.

However, try to appreciate your passage through this exhausting, all-consuming window of time, because you’ll find it does close quickly. You are at that special season in a parent’s life when you have long days and short years.

Finding Balance

By Afton Guedea,
Lakehill Preparatory School, Class of 2016

Balance. The one word that will keep you from drowning during your senior year of high school. I would know.

Going into my senior year, I wanted to make sure that I made every minute count and that I was involved as much as possible. Before the school year began, I sat down with my parents to discuss goals, calendars, and thoughts about the upcoming year. During that conversation, I received a piece of advice that would save me: “Be balanced.”

My parents also told me that as much as I wanted to be involved, I also should enjoy the last moments of high school that I have. I should treasure the memories with my closest friends and instead of being busy all the time, I should give myself time to reflect and enjoy.

Balance isn’t strictly for seniors. All students should try to find balance in their lives. Having time for academics, as well as a time for friends, sports, and other extra-curricular activities is important. And, most importantly, don’t forget to schedule some “down time.” 

Many people just don’t know how to be balanced. Setting a time frame for each of these aspects of your life, planning your week out each Sunday, and having reminders on your phone are just some of the tactics that help me to stay balanced.

Being balanced helps keep stress out and allows for the enjoyment of activities and the chance to make memories.

Afton Guedea