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.

Summer, Lakehill Style

I know it’s only March, 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 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! STEM, 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! Thirty Seconds to Fame challenges kids to create the ultimate summer blockbuster movie trailers to hint at the bigger tales to be told. Summer with the Bard gives older campers a taste of Elizabethan verse, Shakespeare-style. Slithery, Scaly Snakes promises some up-close encounters with our forked-tongued friends. And, Games: Unplugged will remind campers that kids survived (and enjoyed!) the summer months long before entertainment involved plugs or batteries.
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.
Take a look at our just-released Summer Camps Guide. Register for camps here. And, sorry…these camps are only for kids!

By John Trout

Director of Summer Camps

I Will Think of You Often… and Fondly

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

Although we have been planning it for a long time, it feels a bit strange that I am retiring this Friday. According to the Social Security Administration’s recent letter to me, they first started taking money from my pay check in 1961 when I was a ten-year-old busboy at Furr’s Cafeteria in Lubbock, Texas. I have been quite fortunate in the work I have had, the different lives I have lived, the adventures I have enjoyed, and the people I have known since then.

With regard to future plans, there is a good-looking girl, named Nancy, whom I met when we were eighteen year old freshmen at SMU. We celebrate our forty-fourth anniversary in a couple of months and we plan to spend the next few decades traveling, spoiling our children and theirs, volunteering, playing with friends, and pursuing our creative interests. She loves to paint and I think I still have at least a couple more good novels left in me.

There is no question that I will miss my Lakehill Family. This school, its people, and its programs are a rare treasure that I have seen nowhere else in my twenty years in educational development. It has been an honor, and a true pleasure, to be a part of Lakehill Preparatory School for the past five years.

Update from Lakehill’s Environmental Science Center

By Daniel Bracken
Lakehill Preparatory School, Director of Environmental Education

This term, kindergarten students learned about animal movement. They played a game where they acted out and guessed the different types of animal movements. They studied feathers, animal tracks, snake skins, and silicone fish to investigate the different ways that animals move. They also handled red wiggler worms from the ESC worm farms to feel how the worms are able to slide through soil.

First grade learned about different bird habitats. They observed nests from the ESC collection, and learned about some of the largest, oldest, heaviest, and most intricate nests that birds can make. the classes used cardboard drink containers to create bird houses to take home.

Second grade studied how the form of insects’ legs affects their movement. They observed insect specimens which had jumping, swimming, running, and killing legs. They also made pitfall traps in the forest at the ESC. The students will check their traps on their next visit and add any insects that are collected to the ESC insect collection.

Third grade observed the results from their plant maze experiments. They saw how plants can wind their way around the walls of a maze to reach light. They also learned about the chloroplasts in the aquatic plants from the ESC aquarium. They were able to see that the green pigment of plants comes from these little green blobs. They also helped to replant the garden with brussels sprouts and kohlrabi.

Fourth grade investigated tree seeds and cones as a method of identifying different types of trees. They identified the type of seeds that beans, dates, peas, junipers, red buds, and avocados have. After determining what type of seed each plant had, they had to conclude how that seed could be dispersed. The fourth graders also observed how much their avocado seedlings had grown.

Fifth grade learned about regular composting and vermicomposting (worm composting), using their knowledge about soil nutrients from their previous visit to evaluate the value of the earth worm castings from the ESC worm farm. They observed how nutrient rich the soil from the worm farms is and helped to harvest the castings, building a new home for the red wigglers. The worm castings were also used in the Little Sprouts Garden before the third grade completed their spring planting.
Sixth grade brought tap water from their homes and tested its water quality for pH, iron, copper, hardness, and chlorine. They also learned about the potential risks of having acidic, basic, or hard water, or having high levels of metals.

Seventh grade created QR codes for the trees which they had identified on a previous visit. The QR codes will have information such as tree species and GPS coordinates that will be hung on the trees. The codes can be scanned to reveal the information to other students and visitors. The students also conducted an experiment on variegated plants that revealed that not only do the white parts of plants not have chloroplasts, but they are also unable to produce and store sugar as starch in those areas of the leaf. They removed the green color from variegated plants using alcohol and used iodine to stain starches. They observed how stained starch replicated the original pattern of the variegated leaf.

Eighth grade tested the efficiency of their solar houses. They used the results of the experiment to determine how to better build a solar house that would keep the house cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter, and provide solar power throughout the year. They also observed how solar energy can be used to create movement by investigating radiometers and solar balloons.

See more pictures from the ESC.

For more information about Lakehill Preparatory School, visit lakehillprep.org.

Symphony in Snowy Delight

By Victoria John
Middle School teacher, Lakehill Preparatory School

The power of snow to delight should never be underestimated. The magic of its rhythmic, almost musical quality inspires adventure and mystery. I admit our recent snowfall awakened my own inner child, as I opened my window blinds anticipating the smiles of my seventh grade Latin students. As they settled in their seats, an unusual silence prevailed. I knew they were getting ready to ask, “Can we go out and play in the snow?”

Their eager, open mouths welcomed the soft coldness of the snowflakes, as baby birds awaiting their mamma’s feeding. In their own rhythm several spread their wings to create snow angels in the faint accumulation. Others, slipping and falling, raced to be the first to gather the cold wetness on the bleachers. I watched the nearby eighth graders frolic like kindergartners, without a care in the world. One remarked, “It is pretty fun.” Snow is a great equalizer of children.

My students were just kids playing, frantically capturing every moment of the white magic falling from the sky. They were children totally engaged in an age-old entertainment that requires no internet, no texting, no headphones – no thoughts of grabbing cell phones between classes to check messages. The simplicity of snow, with all its enchanting wonderment, inspires creative play and breaks down social barriers.

“Snow, Snow, Snow, Snow…,” the opening words in four-part harmony to Irving Berlin’s timeless classic “White Christmas,” echoed through my mind as I marveled at the expressions on their faces. In the swirling haze, I heard, “Take a picture of us!” The photo froze their voices and uninhibited joy as it blended individual personalities in a concert of embraces and laughter. Creativity writer Julia Cameron said, “The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight.” In the remaining last minutes my students stretched out their squeals of delight as they ran headlong, sliding into one another, enveloped in the snowy blanket.

Being with them in that moment was a priceless gift of immeasurable delight.

My Lakehill Top 5

By Lisa Bracken
Director of Admission, Lakehill Preparatory School

I love lists. So when the New Year approaches, I get especially energized. Now this will date me, but growing up, I always looked forward to listening to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 best songs of the year. And, I still love hearing the year-end lists of best movies, books, etc. Now, I’m busy making my own New Year’s lists of goals and ideas. Some are on paper; others swirl in my head hoping to materialize. My family laughs at me when I talk in lists. I’ll often say, “Well first, now second, and finally…” You can imagine how I felt when David Letterman retired. What, no top 10 lists? What to do?

So, when I offered to write Lakehill’s January blog, of course I knew I had to make a list! My twin middle school girls proudly call Lakehill Prep their school home, and it’s where I serve as the Director of Admission. So from the perspective of both a parent, and an admission officer, here is my list of favorite things about Lakehill!

This list can go on and on, but for brevity’s sake, here are my top five:

  1. The Headmaster greets children at the door each day. And warmly. With a handshake.
  2. The faculty is passionate about teaching. It shows. Students shine.
  3. Class size is small and interactive. On purpose. With thought.
  4. You’re not a number at Lakehill. You matter.
  5. Our graduates rock college acceptances. 100% of them. Every year. With scholarships.

So, please have a wonderful 2017, and our best to you and yours. Come by and visit to check out my list for yourself. You’ll find that and so much more.

Happy New Year!

Lisa Bracken

 

Applications are currently being accepted for the 2017-18 school year. To find out more about Lakehill, visit lakehillprep.org.

Magical Moments in Teaching

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

There have been many moments in my life as a teacher when I have felt the presence of a Power greater than myself, and today was one of them. Using feedback from my students from year to year, I often modify annual lessons, and I had spent several days of my holiday doing exactly that to a unit of study and research related to William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker.

I find the story of Keller and Sullivan fascinating and inspiring on so many levels that I once voluntarily read the over 800-page “definitive biography” of both women and a few years ago even wrote a short play about Sullivan as part of an international effort called 365 Days of Women. 

My seventh-grade classes began our unit in earnest today, touching on the primary themes of our research and reading the first dozen or so pages of Gibson’s play. As my students and I began to see connections that I had not consciously incorporated into the assignment, I experienced that triad of excitement, gratitude, and humility that can only be properly called magical or blessed.

Undeniably, teaching is hard work, but days like this are why I’ll never give it up!

This Term at Lakehill’s Environmental Science Center

By Daniel Bracken
Director of Environmental Education, Lakehill Preparatory School
Kindergarten
Kindergarten learned about animal life cycles. They examined how some animals are born and grow while some experience large changes as they get older. Each student decorated a “metamorphosis cookie” using different types of candy to represent the stages of a butterfly’s life cycle.
First Grade
First grade learned how a bird’s diet determines the type and shape of their beak. Students used pliers, pipettes, tongs, chopsticks and tweezers to simulate beaks in order to pick up nectar, seeds, wax paper, Swedish fish, and rice (standing in for food sources).
 
Second Grade
Second grade learned about insect camouflage. They observed real insect specimens within their habitats and later created their own camouflaged stick bugs out of bamboo and leaves.
Third Grade
Third grade studied plant movement, learning about the different types of stimuli that induce plants to move. They set up an experiment to examine how light can cause plants to move. Pairs of  students constructed mazes that bean seedlings must navigate in order to reach the light source.
Fourth Grade
Fourth grade studied tree rings, learning how to determine tree age and the causes for the markings on their tree slices. By the end of class, they could describe some of their trees’ past experiences.
Fifth Grade
Fifth grade learned about soil nutrients, testing samples for nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and pH levels, and determining which plants are best suited to live in different types of soil.
Sixth Grade
Sixth grade examined the water quality of the stream and pond at the ESC, testing water samples from the each. They learned about the nitrogen cycle and discovered the levels of nitrogen, ammonia, dissolved oxygen, and pH in the water.
 
Seventh Grade
Seventh Grade identified and researched their assigned trees at the ESC. Their findings will be used to make a QR tree tag on subsequent trips.
Eighth Grade
Eighth Grade built model solar houses complete with solar fans and lights. They will conduct an experiment to investigate the efficiency of their houses on a future visit.

The Right Balance

By Salma El-Feky, ’17
Marking Intern, Lakehill Preparatory School

Going into my senior year, I wanted to do everything I could possibly do and be involved in every activity. I wanted to make every minute of my senior year count.

Throughout the school year, my parents and I would sit down to discuss my schedule and what was going on that week. We also spent a lot of time talking about my future plans.

During those discussions, my parents gave me some good advice: “Be honest with yourself and find a balance between school, friends, and family.” This advice helped me change the way I approached my school work and my extracurricular activities. I realized that I can’t do every single thing, every single time. I prioritized my responsibilities and focused on those that were the most important. With my new focus, I could make a schedule and stick to it. I learned how to better manage my time. In the past, it was hard for me to admit when I needed help. By communicating more with my teachers, I gained confidence and certainty in completing my assignments. Most importantly, I feel better prepared for the future and for the college experience that is just ahead.

High school is definitely a challenge and can be overwhelming – if you let it be. While I wish I could go back and share this advice with the freshman version of myself, I am glad that I received it now and will carry it with me to college.

Enjoy every moment in high school, get involved, and be active–but remember to be honest with yourself and make sure you seek balance in your life. Schedule your school work, but remember to leave enough hours to get a good night’s sleep and enjoy some down time for yourself. This will keep you from becoming stressed and will allow time for you to enjoy the little moments and make memories.

While I was writing this, I received my first college acceptance letter! I am so grateful for my Lakehill experience and the environment that has allowed me to stay positive and focus on my goals. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Salma El-Feky

A Thank You for Veterans

By Kaye Hauschild
Head of Middle School, Lakehill Preparatory School

Having a family member who served in our nation’s armed forces pretty much guarantees that Veterans Day is noted on your calendar. This in not because your beloved veteran brings it up or requests that the family come together for recognition. Instead, they hold their memories and experiences close to the vest, sharing only with those whose experiences are the same.

In our school, we make sure that Veterans Day honors veterans through assemblies or music or study. Through this and our service clubs and activities, students have come to recognize both the contributions that have made our country safe and the challenges of our veteran population.  They think of their great grandfathers who served in World War II, and consider uncles who fought in Desert Storm.  They also remember former military men and women they have met during a Bingo game at Austin Street Shelter or while serving a meal at Dallas Life Foundation.

When asked what they planned for Veterans Day this year, the students’ answer was unanimous.  Through an e-mail or a phone call or a personal visit, they are going to say thank you.

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