Dear New Wildcat Families and Students,
New schools, new journeys, and new beginnings can be terrifying. It is human nature to fear the unknown and the unexpected. As an Academy at the Lakes student who is currently entering her fourteenth and final year, I hope to provide insight about what to expect from your Academy at the Lakes journey and to dispel some of that uncertainty as well as offer some advice on how students can take full advantage of the Academy experience.
My name is Anisa Nanavati and I have four younger siblings who attend each of Academy at the Lakes’s divisions. Nyra and Syam are entering first grade in Lower Division, Krish is entering eighth grade in Middle Division, and my sister and I are both upperclassmen in the Upper Division. Though there have been some changes since my time at the Lower and Middle divisions, I can confidently say that the tenets of the Academy culture and experience have remained the same.
The Academy culture is rooted in traditions and values that the members of our community participate in and uphold. Traditions such as the all school musical when students from kindergarten to 12th grade work together to put on impressive productions, House Day when all Academy students of all ages work together to bring victory to their respective houses, and Buddy Reading Day when students from the Middle and Upper divisions read to their younger buddies to promote community and add to our culture. The little traditions carried out in classrooms such as Munchie Math for Senior Kindergarten when treats are given while students learn math also have an enormous impact, and I have the opportunity to see how much they mean to my younger siblings. Traditions such as Service Day when Middle Division students head out into their community one day a quarter give us the opportunity to give back to our communities and promote our core values. These traditions also provide opportunities for our students. At all school assemblies, students as young as three years old have the opportunity to publicly speak in front of over four hundred people sharing their stories and their important insight.
Opportunities are plentiful here and have changed the lives of many students like me. If it weren’t for our no-cut policy, I would have never stepped foot on a basketball court, met some of my best friends, or had the opportunity to be the captain of our team. If it weren’t for our strings orchestra program that students can join from second grade, I wouldn’t have the appreciation for music I have now or participated in the pit for the musical. If it weren’t for our competition teams such as Battle of the Books and Odyssey of the Mind, I wouldn’t have the same confidence I do today. At such a young age, Academy gives you the opportunity to accomplish amazing activities such as perform the lead of an all school musical, organize massive charity drives, and step up to play with high school varsity teams. These opportunities are so important to provide for students who are exploring who they will be as they instill confidence and resilience in times that are characteristically difficult such as Middle School.
Behind all of these opportunities and traditions are our amazing faculty. I have never known a group of individuals who care so deeply about their students. Academy teachers have always challenged me academically and have always given me more difficult work when I was easily able to grasp material. When I struggled, teachers were there to help after class and after school during extra help to talk through difficult concepts and help prepare for tests. They ensured that I was challenging myself but never pushed me too much. With smaller class sizes, teachers have the capacity to not only know every student but work with students to reach their potential. Teachers were also there to push me socially. When I was in Lower Division, I was extremely shy and reluctant to interact with other kids. My Junior Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Debbie, pushed me to participate in the silly dances we did every morning and I refused for weeks. She never gave up on me and celebrated with me joyously when I finally did participate. Teachers do more than teach; they help students in all capacities and are there when students need support. The impact that my teachers have had on me throughout my time here is immeasurable.
I hope to leave all of you with some advice. As you look toward your new beginnings here, take advantage of the opportunities here. Students, don’t be afraid to try new things. You never know how much you will enjoy them, and if you don’t enjoy the experiences, at least you have an interesting story and a new point of view. Parents, urge your students to try these new things. If it weren’t for my parents, I would have never participated in half of the activities I now enjoy and would have missed out on so many amazing experiences. I am excited for all of you, and I cannot wait for you to come to campus and join our community this fall.
Anisa Nanavati ’22
Student Council Secretary