Birthday Reflections

By Julie Riggs
English Chair K-7, Lakehill Preparatory School

Six decades. Sixty years. Somehow my birthday this year seems full of import. More than ever before, I find myself reflecting – and anticipating. My mother lived to be 82, and her younger sister turns 91 the day before I hit my comparatively youthful milestone.

Almost a third of that life has been here at Lakehill, and that’s a rather defining experience. When I began, I was nervous, a bit overwhelmed, and full of resolution to make my classes as meaningful as possible. I’m still overwhelmed sometimes, but nerves have evolved into a reserve of confidence and patience that serves me well.

I am even more eager than I was eighteen years ago to build memories and confidence in my students and to make them feel that time in this classroom– newly remodeled with accents in my signature colors of lime and teal—is well spent.

I hope, as before, that they walk away with some new vocabulary, an awareness of what makes writing effective, the memory of at least one book that touches their hearts or stirs their imaginations, and most of all, the knowledge that they are loved.

Here’s to the next decade!

The Triangle Rules

By John Trout
Lakehill Preparatory School, Head of Lower School

For eleven years now, Lakehill students have accepted the challenge of illustrating Lakehill’s three rules of behavior for our Annual Triangle Rules Poster Contest.

You read that right. We have just three rules in Lakehill’s Lower School: the Safety Rule, the Respect Rule, and the Welcome Rule. Everything a student can be expected to do or to avoid doing in our hallways, on the playground, and in class boils down to those three basic ideas.

These rules are simple, and therein lies their genius. They require students to think before they act, to imagine the natural consequences of their choices, and to craft a school environment that is warm and friendly. The Safety Rule reminds students to be aware of their surroundings and their bodies. When students push the boundaries, we, as teachers, ask them to tell us what could go wrong, and to decide how to correct the situation. The Respect Rule encourages empathy. Students are asked to imagine how a situation might look from another point of view, and to imagine how they would feel if roles were reversed. The Welcome Rule promotes togetherness. It reminds students to reach out to others to ensure that their peers feel wanted and have a place in the group.

Dozens of Lower School students have submitted posters that creatively remind their classmates of our Triangle Rules, and I expect dozens more will flood my office on the deadline date Tuesday morning when school resumes after our four-day weekend. The winners and runners up will be celebrated at our Triangle Rules Assembly on Wednesday, October 18. The winning poster will be reproduced for display in every Lower School classroom and along the hallways, so that students can be reminded all year long of who Lakehill students are meant to be.



Student Perspectives on Lakehill’s New Space

The following are thoughts on Lakehill’s newly enhanced campus, written by students in Mark Guerra’s Middle School Creative Writing class.

“I walked on the steps of the new Lakehill stairs and looked forward. The doors to the new school greeted me like an old friend. I opened the doors and saw the new, glistening white hallways and the sparkling, new front desk. I walked down the hallway and up the stairs. Everything was old but also new. I noticed the new and old kids and gave a friendly greeting while walking by. I was so happy and joyous to see the new school I had gone to for the past years. Walking up to my locker gave me a sense of excitement and I was ready to start my new school year.”

By Zak Goldstein, Class of 2022


“When I came to school on Friday for Orientation, I was amazed how everything was different and modern. Even though I saw the architect plans and construction during the school year, I still didn’t expect it to look like it does. Even when I was looking around on Friday, I missed the new addition to the Lower School area!  I also find it interesting how they incorporated the old school into the new one. For example, they left some of the old walls and brick in some places, reminding me where the old school ends and where the new one begins.”

Laurel Way, Class of 2022

Opening Doors…Transforming Lives

Dear Parents, Grandparents, and Guardians,

Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year at Lakehill Preparatory School. This has really been an exciting summer. So much has happened to our campus in such a short period of time, and it has been fun to watch the daily developments and transformations. We are so excited to have you here on our newly enriched campus. The addition of 16,000 square feet and the renovation of an additional 8,000 square feet of existing space are already transforming the way we teach, learn, and live at Lakehill.

With the construction of our new facility now completed, there is a palpable revitalization of energy, excitement, and creativity. Members of the faculty have been attending professional development opportunities throughout the summer and are eagerly exploring new ideas and teaching strategies. They have also been busy planning a variety of ways that our new resources will augment their teaching strategies and are eager to share their new ideas.

After more than a year of building new spaces to help re-envision education at Lakehill and redefine opportunities for our students, we are ready to open new doors. This year is about new learning spaces, new ways of thinking about teaching, and new ways of interacting with each other. The completion of our new facilities, coupled with this revitalization of energy, could not be timelier. This year, in anticipation of our ISAS Accreditation, we will be concluding a year-long Self-Study where we will reflect on where we have been, where we are, and what future direction we want to take. This process will secure the vision for our school and enable us to continue serving our students and transforming lives. We thank you for your patience over the past 15 months. We can’t wait to see where the future takes us.

Warm regards,
Roger L. Perry

Eco-Friendly Fun: Lakehill Students Educate Others at Earth Day Texas

The 2017 Earth Day Texas was the planet’s largest Earth Day Expo ever. The 130,000 visitors who attended the event, held April 21-23 at Fair Park, were treated to more than 250 speakers and 700 interactive exhibits showcasing leaders in the corporate, academic, and non-profit worlds, including a booth featuring Lakehill Preparatory School.

Earth Day Texas strives to increase environmental awareness through education. Thousands of educators and students from more than 100 schools attended the three-day event.

Students in Jeremy Holman’s AP Environmental Science class showcased a variety of environmentally friendly projects. Their exhibits included art works made from paper waste, an experiment on how plants help reduce soil erosion, and an activity to learn what types of materials can and cannot be recycled.

Lakehill’s Director of Environmental Education, Daniel Bracken, helped visitors paint silicone fish and leaves that they rolled paint onto and used to create colorful prints. “Many visitors were also interested in the types of classes that are held at the ESC,” Bracken said. “I showed off the student created herbarium and insect collections that were created by second and third grade students.”

Bryna Thomson’s Middle School student volunteers in fifth and eighth grade showed visitors the ESC’s worm compost bin and taught them about the benefits of worm composting. They also engaged visitors in a fun matching game to teach about the amount of time it takes different materials to break down in a landfill.

“Visitors especially appreciated the worm farm,” said Head of Lower School John Trout. “The courageous held the wriggling creatures in their hands as they learned why farmers love to have worms in their gardens while the timid cringed from afar.”

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 sixth year that Lakehill has been featured.

Summer is the Best Time to Try Something New

By John Trout
Director of Summer Camps, Lakehill Preparatory School

Kids love summer, and why wouldn’t they? Vacations, fun in the sun, and the best part (if you’re a kid) no school! Parents and teachers know, though, that summer can also mean “brain drain,” and it feels like kids forget half of what they learned in the past year! What’s a parent to do?

The secret to keeping those brain cells is to keep kids learning, but that doesn’t have to mean endless drills and remediation.  Learning a new craft or game, telling or creating stories, solving puzzles, and exploring the world around us keeps kids’ brains active and growing.  And, nothing flexes mental muscles better than trying something completely new.

Summer camps are a great place to do all of these things! Camps like Lakehill’s “Strung Together” and “Simply Stitchery” camp introduce campers to crochet and string arts. “Is it Art or Is It Science?” invites campers to use critical thinking to interpret novel situations. “World Building 101” takes a scientific look at planet and solar system formation to imagine realistic science fiction and fantasy worlds. Camps like these will have kids learning all summer long, even when they think they’re just having fun.

Behind the Scenes

By Mark Guerra
Director, Drama Department
Lakehill Preparatory School
When audiences see a play, they are only seeing the tip of the iceberg, In addition to the actors learning their lines, there is much more that goes on below the surface, or, in this case, behind the scenes. The theater tech crew is the silent army that keeps the cast moving with military precision.

Onstage in the Charles Wyly Auditorium, audiences have been treated to some stunning performances this year. Performers fought a killer vegetable and traveled back to 18th century England, but the real magic is what happens before the run of the production starts, and behind the stage during the show.

Leading our fearless team of backstage techies is sophomore Kate Langley. In addition to managing the Girls Basketball team, playing Softball, and keeping up her GPA, Kate is our Lead Stage Manager in the Performing Arts division. Kate and her family dedicate their time and their hands to any needs that our production has from sets to costumes to props. Kate has interned at a local theater and gained a wealth of knowledge from the professional stage managers with whom she has worked during a production of Les Misérables School Edition. This has given her the advantage to know just what needs to be done to keep the flow of rehearsals and performances running smoothly. With Sense and Sensibility, Kate spent hours formulating an entrance and exit plan for all 22 characters and 45 scenes! Not an easy task, but one that truly made the production as successful as it was. In addition to her work this year, Kate also served as Stage Manager for last year’s productions of On Broadway: A Musical Revue, Radium Girls, and Who Is Theo?

Assisting Kate and me is the job of sophomore Sarah Bradley. Sarah plays on Lakehill’s Softball team, but she is dedicated to theater. Sarah performed in a production of Les Misérables School Edition that I directed last summer, but found that she was more interested in being behind the scenes. Sarah has proved her worth working on the fall musical, Little Shop of Horrors, including operating one of the puppets, and not only Assistant Stage Managed Sense and Sensibility, but handled two walk-on roles in the show as well. Sarah is serving as Assistant Stage Manager for my production of Back to the 80s: The Totally Awesome Musical at Theatre Three, where she is working under a professional stage manager. In addition to all of her stage work, Sarah has played a significant role in the re-organization of Lakehill’s costume, set, and props storage. Sarah is also Lead Assistant for Lakehill’s Lower School Drama Club.

This summer, Kate and Sarah will co-Stage Manage a children’s production of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty for the Musical Theatre Academy at Theatre Three.

For the past two years, Reid Chickering has served as my right-hand man (except for when he broke both of them) and Technical Assistant/Teacher’s Aide.  Reid is a senior at Lakehill who participates in Football, Soccer, and Track, but has made time to serve as the Lighting Technician for our Upper School productions. Reid’s initiative and problem-solving skills have kept things running smoothly in the technical booth.

Although Blake Farokhnia has only served as Technical Assistant/Teacher’s Aide for the spring semester of his senior year, he proved himself to be a great assistant and addition to the Upper School Drama team. Blake has participated in Debate for four years, as well as Varsity Football, Student Ambassadors, Science Club, field events for Track and Field, and the Warrior Outreach Organization (WOO).

So next time you enjoy a performance, remember that there is just as dramatic a production going on behind the scenes.

For more information about Lakehill Preparatory School, visit

A Witness to History

By Elizabeth Schmitt
English Teacher, Lakehill Preparatory School

As a teacher, I am committed to bringing history and literature to life for my students. I have organized field trips to museums and plays, but find it most effective when I bring in an expert speaker to share their experiences. This week, I had the privilege to introduce Max Glauben, a Holocaust survivor, to an assembly of the sixth through twelfth grade students. We all sat rapt listening to his testimony.

At Lakehill, our study of the Holocaust begins in sixth grade with the Diary of Anne Frank. It is often difficult for an eleven-year-old to imagine that such persecution could have happened, that people would have to go into hiding. In ninth grade, our freshmen read  Night, Elie Wiesel’s brief, but powerful memoir of his experience in the concentration camps. With Wiesel’s death last year, I was spurred with the urgency of having a survivor speak to our students. As my freshmen read the text and watched Schindler’s List this January and February, a spike in Anti-Semitic threats and desecration of Jewish cemeteries occurred across the United States. I proposed that we have Glauben speak to our students, and it was arranged through the Dallas Holocaust Museum.

Glauben was 11 when the Nazis invaded his homeland of Poland; 13 during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising; and 15 when the war ended. He told his story without embellishments or visual aids. This simplicity made his words all the more vivid. I was struck by his matter-of-fact description of how his father was one of 100 prisoners taken as hostages because 10 others did not return from a work detail. He spoke of last seeing his father lying face down on the ground. The next morning all that remained were his father’s shoes. Glauben knew that his father had been killed, and that he was now an orphan at 13.

His perseverance and will to survive were driven by a phrase in the Talmud, the ancient Jewish legal text: “He who saves one life saves the world entire.” If Glauben could save himself, he would be able to make a difference, sharing his story and speaking for the more than 1,000,000 children who were killed during the Holocaust, including his younger brother.

At 89, he is preparing to make his twelfth trip back to Poland for the March of the Living. (Lakehill senior Zac Aron will be a part of this trip.) He and his wife Frieda have three children, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. One of his sons, Barry, attended Lakehill.

This assembly was a highlight of my 16 years at Lakehill for many reasons. My connection to the subject matter is personal. My family is Jewish. My father was a radar operator with the 781st Bomb Squadron of the Army Air Corps during World War II. I remember sitting at the dining room table, listening to him describe flying with two sets of dog tags: one identified him as Jewish, the other did not. He was shot down three times over Eastern Europe. I wouldn’t be here without that second set of tags.

Glauben’s presence transformed an abstract into reality for those assembled. The image of the KL tattooed on his arm will live in all of our memories. His story serves as a powerful reminder that every voice matters.

A Few Days in March

By Kaye Hauschild
Head of Middle School, Lakehill Preparatory School

You all know that March is well known for Spring Break. In Middle School at Lakehill, March is equally anticipated for Adventure Week. This is our time to hit the road and learn while we are experiencing new places, foods, activities, and ideas. Every year, our students travel on a different adventure that enhances their regular classroom curriculum. As one of the trip planners, I am continually impressed by our students as they experience history, science, ecology, and positive leadership, and turn their experiences into knowledge.

This year, I had a rare experience. I traveled with a new member of our faculty with whom I had traveled years ago when she was my student. I am sure it was something she had never imagined as a Middle School student that she would one day be the chaperon reminding students that it was time for light’s out! Who would? But I watched as she slid seamlessly into her new shoes, leading with that right mix of authority and humor.  

It is not always possible to learn through experiences, but I am more convinced than ever that the knowledge our students gain during their Adventure Week journeys is the kind that lasts a lifetime!  


Navigating the Twists and Turns of College Admissions

By Heather Dondis
Director of College Counseling, Lakehill Preparatory School

I recently attended the Dallas County Spelling Bee for private school students as my daughter was the school winner for Lakehill. As soon as we walked through the door, I could sense the enormous pressure of the participants, some praying, some doing yoga/relaxation techniques, some looking at spelling lists repeating letters over and over again. It made ME nervous! My daughter was proud to represent her school, and, aside from initial nerves, she went up on stage, spelled her words with confidence, and existed the stage with grace once a word was missed. I was proud of her!

Why, you might ask, is a college counselor talking about a spelling bee? I see the same scenario play out each year as seniors go through the college application process. For some, this process is more nerve-wrecking than for others, but with solid preparation, a balanced list of schools, and knowing the fact that there is more than one college able to prepare one for the future, our students go through the process with the confidence knowing they will be going to a ‘good’ college as they choose to define it.

I admire the confidence my students display as they perform, apply to colleges, compete in athletic and academic competitions, and engage in new projects in their communities. And I am impressed with the humility and grace with which our students handle situations which may not always work out as expected. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns and knowing how to navigate them will make our kids stronger and more prepared for the future.