This past week the students, their family and the staff of Lakeside celebrated our end-of-year graduation and awards luncheons for our four schools.
This time of year holds a special joy of reflection and celebration.
For each school, we were able to look back at where our students had come from to recognize the growth they had attained through the support of many individuals, including their families and the great staff at Lakeside.
Becca Johnston was one who graduated this year. Her speech was so inspiring I thought I would post it! Following is Becca’s speech to her class in its entirely.
I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized…And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. ~ J.K. Rowling
My name is Becca Johnston, and that could’ve been my quote—or anyone of us sitting here could’ve said that and it would be true—but that was said by J.K. Rowling, one of the most successful female authors in the world today. You probably know her for writing The Harry Potter series, but what you might not know about her is she struggled with depression, anxiety, and family relationships just like most of us sitting here today.
For many of us, prior to coming to Lakeside Girls Academy, we were living our greatest fear, and there was no solid foundation. During our time here, all of us have developed some kind of foundation, whether it be through support of our counselors, our friends, or our families. I’m proud to say we have all grown so much from when we first started at Lakeside. I’ve watched each and every one of us shed our shell of who we once were and witnessed the transfiguration as we changed into who we hoped to be. I believe everyone in this room right now had a part in that.
When I started at Lakeside, I was used to having F’s, skipping classes, and maintaining consistent truancy issues, now I’ve received High Honor Roll, and Perfect Attendance throughout my Junior and Senior year.
I’m sharing a piece of my story because I know many relate to it, and I know we all have grown from where we once were because of Lakeside. We unite in our faults and accept each other for who we are no matter what we are going through.
Some of us had fears of being accepted as a teen mom, of being the best mother they could be for their children; some of us had fears of being bullied or judged. Others feared even getting out of bed everyday just to face sitting in a classroom for seven hours. When we came to Lakeside, those fears eventually washed away. We were all accepted for who we were, and we were able to be ourselves without those fears holding us down anymore.
For all of us, Lakeside became a critical part in realizing that rock bottom can be a strong foundation on which we rebuild our lives. Although we don’t exactly know where life is going to take us from here, or how different things will be, I can confidently say that Lakeside has prepared us with not just academic tools, but also social and emotional tools for whatever challenges are ahead.
As you walk across the stage today, you’re sealing a chapter.
All of the memories, laughs, hard times and good times, will forever be cherished. All of us can think of a time at Lakeside that never fails to make us smile. Whether it be holiday parties, time with friends, certain teachers falling maybe a little too often, the seniors throwing a “peaceful protest,” or how it took four people to actually get me into a canoe, there are endless moments we won’t forget.
I want to thank Souderton for allowing me to come to Lakeside for the past three years and helping me find a place where I could find myself with the support of everyone at Lakeside. I also want to thank all of the families and friends, who have stood by us, supporting us no matter what decisions we’ve made, and always pushing us to keep going.
I especially want to thank all the teachers and staff members for having consistent patience with each and every one of us and getting us to where we are right now, graduation. They always made sure we were where we needed to be whether it was getting us to class on time, taking a brain break, or even just taking a walk. Although some of us are very stubborn, they never stopped encouraging us; they loved us most on our hardest days, and I can say that we are all grateful for that.
We may have entered when we were at rock bottom
But now we’re on our way up, just breaking the surface. Lastly, I want to thank my classmates. You all have taught me something different, whether it be patience, trust, or just being comfortable with being myself. I’m so proud of every one of you, and I know that you’ll continue to conquer anything that stands before you. Congratulations!!
This is why we do what we do at Lakeside
We have amazing staff who are teachers, clinicians, behavior managers and administrative support professionals who work diligently together to give the best of care to our students so they can achieve their goals and share stories like Becca’s.
It is our most encouraging and exciting time of the year. For our students, it is the end of their high school career and the beginning of their next adventures. They have courageously worked through a myriad of difficult issues and have moved from that “rock bottom” place to this new phase of growth and a future full of promise and hope.
Once again, we thank everyone who has been a part of their lives, and I would like to acknowledge and express my appreciation for the amazing effort, care and love provided to our students each and every day. We have such a rare opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of our students, and once again we have witnessed the impact of our mission at Lakeside. Congratulations to all!
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network