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Other than my parents, East Lake Academy has been single biggest influence in forming me into the person I am today.
Obviously, academics played a huge part in that formation. At East Lake, academics are accelerated in every grade, and even though I didn’t know that when I was a first grader, I felt it. I still remember how big a deal it was for me to be a part of Mrs. Lagman’s 1st Grade Poetry Café! – I was scared and excited — what we were doing didn’t feel like 1st grade work – it was much bigger, much cooler, AND a lot of fun. Through the years all my classes were like that, pushing me to grow academically, right up until 8th grade when my classmates and I participated in high-school-level debates under the guidance of Mr. Stack and Shakespeare night with Mr. Nuccio.
The truth is that, the academic load at East Lake has always been challenging. But one thing made it bearable – the constant love and support of my teachers. At East Lake the teachers really DO care about the students – they get to know us on a personal level, and they value us and take us seriously. My teachers pushed me hard, but I always knew that they were doing it to help me reach my potential as a student and as a person.
Spanish is a perfect example of this. For years, Spanish and I were in a constant struggle, and there were times when I just felt like giving up. But that was never an option, because Sra. Gonzalez always believed in me even more than I believed in myself. Because of Sra.’s constant love and support over the years, I now consider Spanish to be one of my best subjects. Gracias, Sra!
The other essential part to my formation at East Lake was my character formation. For eight years, I spent more than 7 hours each school day in a place that didn’t just teach about Catholic virtue – it lived it. Honesty, hard work, humility, gratitude, and self-sacrifice are the virtues I associate most with my East Lake experience, and they’re the same virtues my parents emphasize at home. Because of my years of formation at East Lake, I not only know what is right but I know why it’s right. And no matter what situations I encounter in high school, I’m confident that I will choose what is right.
Here basketball jumps to mind. We all know how “animated” some coaches can get during the heat of competition, but at East Lake our coach – Mrs. Davenport — never lost sight of the bigger picture and always treated us the same way she would have if we were students in her classroom – with respect, dignity, and love. I now realize that she was teaching us a lot more than just basketball – she was teaching us about how to keep things in perspective, how to treat people with dignity…even when they frustrate you — how to really live the virtues we were being taught in class each day.
She did yell at us once – but we deserved it!
When Mrs. Patel called and asked me if I’d like to speak at Parent Back to School Night, I was a little shocked by my response – I didn’t even hesitate. And as tonight got closer and closer, I kept thinking about how strange it was that I jumped so eagerly at the opportunity, because – well, I’m one of the shyest people I know.
That’s when I realized that I had kept hearing a word repeated over and over during my 8 years at East Lake…
Without the years of love, support, and formation I received here at East Lake, I would never have the self-confidence I have today.
In closing, I’d just like to share a really quick fact that shows how much I love East Lake Academy: the first thing I did when I got my year calendar at Lake Forest Academy?….was to check to see when I could come back to visit East Lake Academy.”