I have the distinct privilege of making the rounds at the programs of Lakeside on a regular basis. There are a lot of administrative duties that are a regular part of my position. However, some of the greatest privileges I have are to witness the inspiring moments within our programs.
Lakeside students are in our schools and programs because they have significant struggles succeeding in their public school. We have a very special staff who go beyond their normal job descriptions to make sure that our students have every opportunity to overcome some difficult obstacles and eventually graduate or return to their schools with new momentum.
This past week, I was visiting our Upper Merion Vantage Academy in Bridgeport, Pa. The staff and students were participating in one of their inner-school competition events. Aside from the popcorn and cotton candy, there were all kinds of activities, sports competitions, games, music and even a dunking booth where one of our leaders was dunked by our students frequently. The water was quite cold, and our students had great aim throwing balls at the release lever. This leader was quite water logged as a result of their good aim!
An event like this transcends typical school. It is an opportunity for relationship building at an entirely different level. There is a sense of equality in the day that provides a type of relational connection around basketball, pool, games and yes even a dunking booth. I watched the energy of it all and realized that it was a bit of a culmination of all that had been built in relationship over the entire school year. Yes, there have been academic struggles, counseling issues, behavior management struggles and some very challenging moments for both our staff and students. Yet through it all there was a day when they could enjoy the simple fun of games and activities that laid aside those tough moments. It was a testimony to all that transpired before and could be celebrated by a festive day together!
These moments are what we live for at Lakeside. There are times at the beginning and sometimes throughout the year when our staff are concerned about a student’s capacity to grow through their issues. However, with perseverance and a great deal of caring and support, we see amazing results in their lives. This is where students overcome significant adversities and find new ways to regulate, cope, overcome challenges and find hope for the future.
I feel very privileged to be a part of a movement that has such an impact in the lives of students. It is not only the students who are impacted but also their parents, their siblings, their friends, their school teachers and their community. More importantly it changes the course of their lives forever. Yes, that is what we are able to celebrate each day at Lakeside! Sometimes we get a glimpse of the inspiration of it all like I did last week. I too have been inspired and encouraged by our staff and students! It makes all of our work both meaningful and so very worthwhile!