Delivering Smiles

By Nia Rasheed, ’11
Marketing Intern, Lakehill Preparatory School

When I was younger, we always knew that when my grandmother came into town we would have less responsibilities because she was always willing to help cook and clean. As she has gotten older and less independent, she has not been able to do various things, including cooking essential meals during the day. Thankfully, my grandmother has a friend volunteer to help her purchase food and make sure she is receiving the necessary things for her health.

Seeing the assistance that my grandmother needs allowed me to witness the importance of caring for senior citizens. As Marketing Intern, I have the privilege to participate in Meals on Wheels, a program motivated to increase the lifespan of seniors by providing health food and nutritionists facts. Through this program, I have the opportunity to deliver food to residents in the Dallas community.

The best part about participating in Meals on Wheels is seeing the smiles on the residents faces when they receive their meals. From the moment we walk in, we are greeted with hugs and gratitude. Knowing that your service may be the only love some of residents see that day makes the experience even better.

“Caring has the gift of making the ordinary special.” – George R. Bach


Three Simple Rules

By John Trout
Head of Lower School, Lakehill Preparatory School

How may rules did you have when you were in elementary school? I remember giant lists hanging on my classroom walls when I was growing up, and they all seemed to be telling me what I shouldn’t be doing. Ask any Lakehill Lower School student how many rules they have, and they can tell you. Three. Just three! And, rather than telling students which behaviors are unwanted, our rules remind children how a Lakehill student should behave. Students are expected to Be Safe, to Be Respectful, and to Welcome Others.

Such vague, nebulous rules don’t tell kids very much, and that’s 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.
This year, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of a special tradition in Lower School, the annual Triangle Rules Poster Contest. Dozens of Lower School students submitted posters to creatively remind their classmates of our Triangle Rules. The winners and runners up were celebrated at our Triangle Rules Assembly on Monday, October 17. The winning poster, a construction-themed illustration by third grader Madeline Jones, will be reproduced for display in every Lower School classroom and along the hallways as a year-long reminder of who Lakehill students are meant to be.

Taking a Risk

By Heather Dondis
Director of College Counseling, Lakehill Preparatory School

Earlier this fall, I unintentionally performed a social experiment.  A representative from the University of Southern California was coming to present on the university and I had nearly 50 students signed up for the lunchtime visit.  The best place to accommodate this number of students and their lunches was obviously the lunchroom.  So I instructed the students who signed up for the visit to sit on the right side of the cafeteria.  Easy, right?  Well, little did I know how attached students were to their tables and their groups of friends.  I even heard one student say, “I guess I’ll learn more about USC,” as he didn’t want to move from his place, and he hadn’t signed up for the visit.

Fast forward a few weeks later.  At our annual presentation to our freshman and parents of freshman, we had a student panel of seniors offering their advice on how to be successful.  One piece of advice that they offered was to try something new, don’t just follow friends.

So this is my advice to students reading this blog…there are so many opportunities out there.  Do not let something pass you by because you were afraid to step out of your comfort zone.  Lower School, Middle School, and Upper School each has its unique set of activities and events.  College will offer you even more–some colleges have over 700 clubs and organizations!  And to parents reading this blog, encourage, but do not force your children to do something new.  Continue to offer new opportunities and be confident that something will click.

Life is too short to sit at the same lunch table every day.


Aquatic Adventures

Lakehill Preparatory School biology students recently spent five days in Galveston, adding hands-on experience to their classroom lessons. Students visited the NOAA turtle research facility in Galveston where they raise loggerhead sea turtles to use in testing the turtle exclusion devices required in all shrimp and fish nets. They visited the salt marsh and captured dozens of fish and invertebrates to discover what kind of animals live in that habitat. They also learned about the value of the salt marsh to human society, including its role in controlling flood waters, holding the soil in place, and detoxifying the water of chemical run-off from farms and urban areas. Students were also able to understand how freshwater rivers mix with ocean water by measuring the salinity and water clarity.


Students were able to sample marine life in the deeper water of the Houston Shipping Channel using a trawl net similar to what shrimpers use to haul in their catch. They caught a variety of fishes as well as a few invertebrates. They then returned to the salt marsh for a 2.5-mile kayak tour through small channels of water, allowing them to get a close-up view into salt grass habitats far from human disturbance. Students gained a better appreciation for the detail of this habitat by painting a water-color portrait of the scenery. “I think it helped students understand that we need both a scientific understanding of the biome and a personal artistic connection with the habitat to create policies to help preserve it for future generations,” said Biology teacher and trip sponsor Jeremy Holman.


The group enjoyed a tour of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which houses one of the finest paleontology exhibits in the country. At Brazos Bend State Park, they hiked around the lakes that are home to a robust alligator population. They also participated in a space station simulation and had a star-gazing party hosted by professional astronomers at the George Observatory. In the simulation, students assumed roles in navigation, communication, engineering, geology, biology, life support, and medical to successfully land a probe on the surface of the moon. This team-building exercise is used by corporations throughout Houston, and Lakehill students solved every challenge in under an hour to complete the mission. Through the 36-inch domed telescopes, they were able to see Saturn and Mars, various star clusters, and several nebula (planet- or star-forming dust clouds) in deep space.


They ended their adventure with a visit to the Kemah Boardwalk, where they fed sardines to the stingrays in the aquarium and rode on the various amusement rides, including the famed Boardwalk Bullet wooden roller coaster.


Finding the School that is the Right Fit

By Lisa Bracken
Director of Admission, Lakehill Preparatory School

As a mother of twin girls, I think the thought of where we would educate our children entered our minds from the moment they were born. My husband and I debated public or private, big or small. Lengthy conversations ensued over the next two years until I got the magical advice to visit schools from another mom. So that’s exactly what we did.

I was working in the field of education, specifically early childhood, and was looking for obviously outstanding curriculum, but also a place where my children would feel loved, cherished, and appreciated for how different they are from one another. A place where they are celebrated for their uniqueness. No easy feat, we thought.

We read, poured over websites, and then started visiting many schools that were recommended to us. We decided we wanted a school that had a community-school feel with smaller class sizes. Finally, we started narrowing down our choices.

We walked into Lakehill Preparatory School, a place we had driven by a few times on scouting missions and had even pulled into the parking lot on one occasion. After attending an admission preview, my husband and I looked at each other on our way out, knowing we had found our right fit. He said to me, “I wish I had gone to school there.” At that moment, my non-educator husband knew our girls would thrive,  continue to grow into happy, emotionally healthy children, and have the academics to match. We started the admission process and held our breath.

Those twins are now in fifth grade at Lakehill, and the school has more than lived up to our expectations. I joined the Lakehill team as Director of Admission two and a half years ago because I believed in the passion of the teachers, the warm families, the diversity of the student body, and, without question, the top-notch education. I can’t wait to watch them continue to grow and mature under faculty and administrative leadership that cherish my girls, and strive to help all children reach their full potential.

I look back at that advice from a mom, and I am so thankful we made visits to schools. It helped confirm our “right fit” and will hopefully yours as well.

The Bracken Family



We’re ALL in!


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


I’ve served in a position of Director for educational Development, Advancement and Alumni Relations for just about two decades now. Three quarters of that time was spent in university undergraduate and post-graduate institutions. My experiences in those arenas have given me a unique perspective regarding the special place children, families and educators have in Lakehill Preparatory School.

It is refreshing to be in an environment where the faculty and administrators are not only talented, but also totally committed to the students. This is a place where children actually want to go to school and enjoy learning new things. I’ve never worked at a place where the families, and not just immediate parents, but grandparents and parents of former students, as well, will get involved on so many levels and support the school with their time and their money.

Their solid financial support of the Annual Fund Campaign each year is a major factor in the vitality of this special place. It is so important to Lakehill’s wellbeing that, for the sixth consecutive year, 100% of the Faculty and Staff have already made personal gifts to the Annual Fund.

Thursday, 9.22.16, Lakehill Prep will partner with The Communities Foundation of Texas for North Texas Giving Day to support Lakehill’s Annual Giving Fund. From 6:00 a.m. to Midnight that day, all gifts designated to Lakehill Preparatory School through North Texas Giving Day will go to the Annual Fund Campaign. These tax-deductible gifts will also be eligible for “Bonus Funds” through The Communities Foundation of Texas.

Be part of keeping Lakehill Prep a special place for children, families and educators by giving generously on 9.22.16 at

#NTxGivingDay   #WEareALLin



A Warm Welcome

By Haley James
First Grade Teacher, Lakehill Preparatory School

As a teacher, I frequently reflect on my experiences as a student. I hope never to lose that perspective; embracing the methods of the teachers I loved, and vowing never to mimic the ones I did not admire.

Shortly into my year as a first grade student, I switched schools. It was the only time in my life where I experienced being “the new kid.” It was terrifying. I was scared of my new teacher. I got lost in the labyrinth of hallways searching for the restroom. All of my classmates already knew each other, and I was the odd one out.

I did not feel that same apprehension again, until I became a new teacher at Lakehill. I joined a new school at the last minute. But this time, my experience was completely different. Since my first day, I felt completely welcomed by parents, students, and teachers. Everyone went out of their way to introduce themselves, and to offer a helping hand.

That’s a rare thing, and I wondered what made Lakehill different. When I learned about the Triangle Rules, specifically the Welcome Rule, it dawned on me. The Welcome Rule is so embedded in the culture of Lakehill that it has become second nature for everyone. Every single day I watch children including each other. I see teachers mentoring new members. It is clear that the Welcome Rule goes all the way to the top with Mr. Perry greeting each child in the morning.

Lakehill is not like most schools. And that’s a beautiful thing.



Off and Running

By Lara Gajkowski, Assistant Headmaster
Lakehill Preparatory School

We are quickly nearing one of my favorite events of the year – Trek for Tech.

I love Trek for Tech for several reasons. It is our best avenue for ensuring that our school is equipped with the latest advances in technology. It is also a time that I more seriously train to run (following Coach Karen Owens’s Training Schedule), and I renew my yearly pledge to challenge myself physically, mentally, and creatively.

As I was running/walking my three miles last night, I thought about all of our students and a sudden rush of mental connectedness and empathy came over me. The first few weeks of a school year are challenging. The first few weeks of training are challenging. As I was struggling with my ¼ mile running lap, concentrating on my strides, breathing, and self-talking (“You can do this”), I thought, this is how the kids must feel. They are concentrating on getting to class, keeping up with their studies and activities, and self-talking (“I can do this”). I was humbled and encouraged by the daunting fortitude it takes to be a Lakehill student. I thought, if the kids can do it, I should give my best effort. Newly inspired, I wiped my brow and ran another lap.

I hope you will join me in my support of our students and our common journey of striving and working to be the best we can. I challenge you to challenge yourself. Coach Karen is only a walk/run away.

Save the date for Trek for Tech – Saturday, November 5, 2016.

Look for more information on Coach Karen’s Couch to 5K in the September 22 issue of The Warrior Weekly.

 Trek for Tech


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