“There are no real shortcuts to finishing high school at Lakefield. Contributing to Harkness discussions, experiencing Grove Time, joining teams and clubs, taking risks by performing in a musical, going to spirit events with your House—going to Lakefield has always been a choice about trying to get more from each day.”
There are many reasons why a family would want a Lakefield experience for their children. One of the most important reasons would be the opportunity to have an academic experience that is enriched and rooted in relationships between students and teachers.
When families choose Lakefield, they are in many ways, choosing more. In the classrooms, a significant way we offer enriched opportunities for students is through our Advanced Placement (AP) program. For more than a decade, Lakefield has been offering AP courses to students. And, for most of that time, the growth of the AP program has been modest and steady. The AP program is one of choice for students. Not everyone has to choose to take an AP course; however, the many benefits of AP programs are well documented.
We encourage students to take AP courses to authentically experience the kind of work and demands they will face when they get to university. When students achieve a high degree of success on their AP exam (usually a 4 or 5 out of 5), most Ontario universities will recognise this by granting university credit for that course.
Beyond these compelling reasons, students take AP courses as a means of differentiating themselves when applying to particularly competitive programs or institutions. When a student chooses an AP course, they demonstrate courage to take the more challenging path. While all of our courses meet Ontario curriculum expectations, our AP courses are enriched with further content, making the course broader and deeper. This can be a reason for students to either take or not take an AP course, depending on their motivation and tenacity.
In these last few years, we have observed a dramatic shift in student choice. At Lakefield, students have been asking for more opportunities to take AP courses, eager to take on a challenge. In the last three years we have responded to their interest by offering more sections of existing AP courses and by expanding our offerings. In return, we’ve experienced a more than 100 percent increase in participation. We now offer the AP Capstone program, giving students the opportunity to add the AP Capstone Diploma to their experience. Included in this are two new courses, AP Seminar and AP Research. Beyond these courses, we have also added AP Art as an opportunity for our students.
The pandemic has brought with it many miseries. Beyond the ways in which it has impacted the health of families, it has also wrought troubling and long-term challenges for students as they progress through school. Much has been written about this issue and the ways in which unfinished learning will impact students, families, and society. Studies and reports have examined how students struggled to develop core skills in reading and math. At Lakefield, every year, we welcome over a hundred new students from around the world. During each year of the pandemic, students from all imaginable experiences have joined our campus. Students have returned to our classrooms—some not having seen in-person experiences for over a year—and we have seen the reality of this learning loss.
We also see how students are responding to the pandemic. Despite, or perhaps because of, the many breaks in learning students have experienced since March 2020, more students are choosing to participate in the AP program. In response to being forced to stay home, learn online, and accept less from their high school lives, our students have returned to the classroom and demanded more. They have been presented with the opportunity to do more, study harder, and commit more deeply to each day’s experience, and in numbers we have not seen before, they have chosen to be in AP courses.
Lakefield College School prizes community involvement; the school is best served when everyone participates. We have seen our students recognize the value of participation and they have been awoken to the fragility of the educational experience. They are choosing to be involved in an impressive, and very “Lakefield” way. There are no real shortcuts to finishing high school at Lakefield. Contributing to Harkness discussions, experiencing Grove Time, joining teams and clubs, taking risks by performing in a musical, going to spirit events with your House— going to Lakefield has always been a choice about trying to get more from each day. This is now what we are seeing in our most challenging courses. More students are choosing more and they are doing so at a time when we are poised and excited to give it to them.
Written by: Dean Van Doleweerd (Assistant Head: Learning)