Roundtable Q&A Discussion About Lakefield College School (2022)
Lakefield College School alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Suzanne, Mackenzie, Jeremy and Catherine had to say about the school.
Highlights from the Q&A discussion
Suzanne — current parent
Suzanne has one son who graduated from Lakefield College School in 2020 and two other sons currently enrolled at the school. She feels that the university advisory program at LCS is the best she’s seen. She’s seen her sons return from Lakefield with a maturity and an appreciation for their parents and family life.
Our focus when looking at schools was academics, and he happened to be an athletic kid. So Lakefield was a good fit, and he was able to play hockey outdoors and join a team and do all of that. So when we visited, it was initially because of hockey. That very quickly changed when we drove onto campus and saw what he was about to sort of dive into.
The university advisory program that Lakefield runs is by far the best I've seen. And just the fact that these kids are coming, they're going into Grade 12, they're having to do all their applications for universities, and that's not an easy thing to do, and they seem to do it with ease, and the guidance that they're given is just something that is you can't get anywhere else.
LCS does a very good job of making everybody feel like family and just helping us raise good, kind, nice people is important to us. For me it's always been about ‘it takes a village.’ So it was an easy decision. It's a real easy one with Lakefield.
After attending Lakefield, they have a different appreciation for home, what that means, and just the family. I saw three boys leave each other, and every single time they came back, there was just this love and unconditional bond that is unbreakable now. All of a sudden, family has meant something more. They come back, and our family time is just that much more meaningful. So I've seen maturity. They've come back with an appreciation for their parents and family life. It's incredible. It just really is by far the best experience. We cracked the door for them, and they chose to walk through the door, but we have zero regrets. It's just made them that much more well-rounded.
Students at Lakefield are all very loyal to each other and loyal to the community. Everybody has the opportunity to be who they are. You see a lot of private schools that are pretty narrow and guide those kids down the same path. LCS does not do that. You have the opportunity to be who you are 150%.
Our kids regret they weren't at Lakefield longer. That's one thing that they thought, ‘This is cool, we're going to go for Grade 12.’ But when Grade 12 ended, that was a downer. I think they wish the experience was longer. They would have liked to have Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12.
When I meet other families from Lakefield, we all seem to have a similar desire. We all come from different backgrounds, different countries, but we all want the same thing for our kids. We just want them to be well rounded, kind human beings that also are aware and are smart and are making an impact, whatever that looks like for them. I think we all are very like-minded and all very different. So it's very cool. The community is just incredible.
Mackenzie — alum
Mackenzie graduated from Lakefield College School in 2020. He is currently attending Queen's University. He experienced a lot of support from teachers and heads of houses. He felt that Lakefield increased his confidence because everyone was so nice. He learned a lot of life skills while at Lakefield, like doing his laundry and shopping for groceries.
Every single time that we didn't have class, every student was together having fun, doing activities, playing sports, or doing one of our arts, and just having the opportunity to form connections. So Lakefield gave me the opportunity to form those connections in the community.
I've been taking the values that Lakefield has taught me into my life now into university. I actually live with one of my former classmates at the moment. We're in the same student housing at Queens and we both take pride in having been able to go to Lakefield and have the opportunity to learn what they taught us and bring it into the Queen's community.
I chose Lakefield because I really wanted to get my academics up. I wanted to have that opportunity to stay in Canada for high school and go to university. And one of the big universities, which I learned about, were Queen’s, Western, Laurier, that's where most of my graduating class ended up.
Respectful was the first word that comes to my mind when I think about Lakefield. I feel like that comes from the community; that the heads of house basically support all their students and teachers support all their students. And I feel like having those opportunities to reach out to other people builds your network and how you should be presenting yourself and how you should be caring for others.
For me, the biggest thing that changed from being a student at Lakefield was my confidence. I was a pretty shy student going in and obviously being one of three new students in my grade, it was definitely nerve-wracking. Everyone was so nice and it built up my confidence.
I learned things that I didn't think I'd have to. I learned how to do my laundry, basically. Even though there's a laundry service, I still had to wash some of my own clothes, grocery shopping in town, leaving the campus with some friends to go out, going on road trips with all the students, having the coaches leave that opportunity for you to make your own choices as well was very important for me.
People might be surprised by how much the staff members care for their students. I had a personal experience with my English teacher. I wasn't talking much, and she would say, ‘Oh, what can I do to make it more comfortable for you to get you talking more?’ And I found that very impactful for my time at Lakefield. It's like a big family, and I don't think parents would realise how close every student and every staff member would get. I loved it.
Jeremy and Catherine — current parent
Jeremy and Catherine have a son and twin daughters attending Lakefield College School. They believe that there’s a lot of value in connecting with nature, so they appreciated Lakefield’s value of outdoors everyday. They felt that the opportunities at Lakefield allow their children to be exposed to many different people, cultures, and arts. They feel that they have a very good partnership with the school.
What stood out to me at Lakefield was the outdoors every day. When looking at schools, I recognized that academics were going to be taken care of no matter where they chose to go. And I just personally believe there's a lot of value in connecting with nature, spending time in nature, even if it's not obvious to you at the time. And if he could spend time in nature while he was going to school, learning in nature, I just thought that was a huge advantage for him, not just for his years at Lakefield, but in the future, knowing that he could recharge in nature.
When I think of Lakefield, I definitely have to lean into that word ‘authentic.’ I think that really comes to mind and resonates with me about the school. It's the example that I see of the school setting for the students that are there and encouraging them to lean into and live by themselves.
Lakefield sets high expectations or goals to meet, to work toward. But they know they're dealing with human beings. I see that the school really kind of lays it out as it is. They don't expect perfection. They know they're human. And so it's a safe place to fail and to grow.
Lakefield College School is capable of handling challenges and adapting. And it's teaching and encouraging our kids to do the same, to fail in a safe place for them to figure out how to move forward and know that they are capable of accomplishing amazing things. And the school really builds incredible and capable human beings.
Our kids are now framing their perspectives on what's going on in the world based on their direct interactions with people from all around the world. They recognize that that's a huge advantage that they now have, that they have personal connections around the world.
We talked about a lot of different values in Lakefield, but one worth mentioning is the strength-based approach. All of our children seem to be very aware of their strengths, and they learn them. It's been pointed out to them and they know them. And I think that's super valuable. And they value the strengths of others. They recognize and value that and other people. That's pretty important.
The experience at Lakefield is designed for the students to grow their independence, become independent, and you can just trust the school to do it. It's a safe environment for them to have small failures to learn through. If they have any concerns or any fears that they're not going to succeed or that they've had a small failure, the only thing they need to do is just lean into the school and just share that fear, share that concern. Every time we watch the school just come around them and lift them up. Just trust the school.
This opportunity at Lakefield allowed them to be exposed to so many different people and cultures and opportunities and events and arts and programming. As parents, we really want to deepen and enrich the opportunities that our children are exposed to. And at some point, there's only so far we can go as parents offering those opportunities. Watching them just really expand into those opportunities and try things outside their comfort zone, which they're encouraged to do at Lakefield, has been a huge impact.
When we see them come together back in the family unit, it is remarkable the way that relationship has changed, the respect that they have for each other. I mean, they're still siblings and have disagreements, but the way they interact is entirely different now that they've had this out-of-home opportunity to kind of establish their own autonomy and their own independence and be their own people.
Another huge impact for us has been to watch, not just the maturity, but in addition, the ability to listen and have perspectives outside of their own. Sometimes they'll challenge those perspectives and sometimes they'll acknowledge that those are things they had never thought of. Lakefield really opened their mind to listening and hearing from others and others’ opinions and perspectives and thoughts.
The exposure to different cultures has been just a real highlight for us at Lakefield. Really a global perspective on many things, experiences, opinions, cultures. It's been a very diverse experience and very helpful for our kids, I think, in terms of their lifelong learning and the way they're growing to be really great human beings overall.
One of our daughters has articulated to us that she really feels like she gets to be herself at Lakefield, that she's in sort of a group or a collective that are somewhat like-minded and sort of stretching her a little bit in good ways. So she really feels like she found a home in the student body.
This year, our daughter was very intentional about describing the new value that was added to the list of school values, which was joy. As we emerge from the pandemic and there are more social experiences, more opportunities for the kids, you really feel that sense of joy. And when that's a focus of an opportunity, whether it be a learning opportunity or otherwise, you know that that's going to be a really enriching, positive, transformative experience. To put joy at the centre is really unique. It’s pretty incredible that the school does that.
I've had other parents ask from different cultures and communities and countries, 'How safe is it?' And knowing where it is and the safety of the campus and the safety of Ontario and just the structures in place were comfortable for us. Just really knowing that Lakefield is a real family environment and it felt safe. And maybe for other parents, they may not understand just how safe and comfortable those structures are around Lakefield.
The teachers and guidance, they just seem to know our kids and the nuanced ways that they do life interestingly. Sometimes I can learn from hearing about the interaction of our child in that environment. It's been a really great partnership.