Integrated into our educational curriculum are wonderful traditions, many of which were started because of our students’ passions. Students look forward to these traditions that mark important rites of passage, engage students in community service and community awareness, or provide them with experiences beyond the school’s campus that help to round out a Lake Ridge Academy education.
One of the biggest highlights of the Upper School is the house system which builds school spirit, classmate and faculty camaraderie, and leadership skills. The house system at Lake Ridge Academy is based on the English boarding school system in which the entire Upper School is divided into four houses: Dante, DaVinci, Locke, and Newton. Each house has elected officers who, along with their many responsibilities and spirit-related activities, provide leadership on campus at all times. Within each house are five mixed-grade advisory groups. A faculty mentor leads each advisory group. This configuration is the basis of the Upper School mentoring system, whose mission is to nurture a relationship based on active listening and trust between faculty and students. The houses participate in several community-building events that range from athletic competitions to fundraising events that culminate with the awarding of the house cup during the end of the year house banquet.
Inspired by the idea of social responsibility, Lake Ridge Academy’s Diversity Forum started as a reaction to the attacks on September 11, 2001, and the need for everyone to better understand our diverse culture. This yearly gathering has grown from an initial attendance of seventy-five students from ten schools to nearly six hundred students from twenty-five schools. Recent Diversity Forum topics have included The Browning of America, Gender Identity in the 21st Century, Black Lives Matter, and Women as the Engine for Change.
Diversity Forum is also notable because the entire event is planned and run by Lake Ridge Academy Upper School students. Since the creation of the House System, each House is responsible for the organization of Diversity Forum every four years. This responsibility includes the planning and leading of group discussions, the welcoming and orientating of student visitors, and introducing and hosting the guest speaker(s).
Lake Ridge Academy’s Upper School’s Humanitarian Aid Society (HAS) was established by students in the Class of 2002 to support the Indian state of Gujarat following the January 2001 earthquake that devastated the area. After the events of September 11th, the organization expanded its focus to help educate the Lake Ridge Academy community and the community-at-large about the diversity of cultures around us. This decision led to the creation of Culture Fest, which is held every year in the spring to celebrate cultural diversity and raise money for an overseas cause.
For over thirty years, the Senior Challenge trip, which takes place in early September, has been a tradition for Lake Ridge Academy’s senior class. Though the trip has evolved from one that truly challenged the group with dubious sleeping accommodations to one where the mattresses are not always comfortable but the bed is always dry, the overall goal has remained: To unite the Senior Class. The highlight of the trip is a whitewater rafting trip on the New River Gorge in West Virginia.
Global Voyages: Spring Break Global Trips
International travel has been a part of the Lake Ridge Academy experience since six Lake Ridge Academy students and their faculty chaperone set off for an academic trip to Greece and Italy during the summer of 1970. In recent years, those trips took place during the school two-week spring break. With the creation of the Center for Global Citizenship, these international trips have become part of our Global Voyages program that allows students the opportunity to travel to international destinations in which our global curriculum in foreign languages, social studies, and literature can take center stage. In 2018, students and faculty chaperones traveled to Nicaragua for a trip that included a community service component. Global Voyages will take Lake Ridge Academy students on travels across Switzerland, France, and Spain in 2019.
This annual end of the school year event is hosted by the Upper School faculty and provides them with an opportunity to say goodbye to the seniors. During dinner, seniors sit with their mentors and other House members. Each academic department prepares a dessert and serves it at an appropriately-themed dessert station. The evening concludes with some kind of faculty performance, usually a video, that honors the graduating class. This tradition highlights the close relationships built between faculty and students over their years in the Upper School.