Lakeside Reflections: New Headboy Meets New Headmaster

Lakeside Reflections: New Headboy Meets New Headmaster

Who is he, and what does he stand for? I want to explore his mind, learn about him, and learn from him. I want to peek into the future.

After all, he is our new Headmaster.

The office appears strikingly different from the last time I visited. The pictures have been replaced, the furniture has changed, and the tarnished gym bag next to the desk has disappeared. One distinctive feature, however, remains the same. Sinking in the soft, gray couch directly across Mr. Lake’s warm, charismatic smile, I feel very comfortable. I think to myself, what was behind Mr. Lake’s move from California to B.C.?

Upon discussion, I discover that aside from a complex set of reasons that span professional to personal, it was Collingwood’s distinctive qualities that caught Mr. Lake’s eye.

“In comparison to the other schools I’ve worked at, which have been 100 to 200 years old, Collingwood is a very young school. The fact that the school has gotten to where it is in such a short period of time is extremely inspirational.” Mr. Lake sees the same forward thinking, youthful, and budding spirit at Collingwood that he had experienced living in the Bay Area. Having lived in the Bay Area, Mr. Lake sees the same forward-thinking, youthful, and budding spirit at Collingwood. This promising environment at our school, juxtaposed with the natural beauty and rich tradition that defines B.C., was something of a magnetic draw for him.

I question Mr. Lake’s interests and hobbies…in retrospect, I should have asked what he’s not interested in! Well versed in multiple domains, our new Headmaster is a true Renaissance man. Atop his list is exercise, sports, and being outdoors — what he describes as his ‘Zen place’. Having competed in soccer, lacrosse, and indoor track at the collegiate level, going on to play professional soccer in the US and Germany, Mr. Lake has had quite a seasoned athletic history. Today, he continues to keep active, and is excited to coach the senior boys’ soccer team this year at the school. Number two on Mr. Lake’s list is reading…which is something I had predicted. Upon entering his office, I noticed there were books everywhere. These were philosophical books and literary classics that had the rustic aura of another century. He professes his love for old books and classics, and at any given time to be in the midst of 3 or 4 books. Who would’ve thought he was an English major in college! As for number three on Mr. Lake’s list, I’m not sure which he loves more — music or Spotify itself! Finally, number 4 on his list of interests is travelling & photography. Another observation I had made when I first entered his office were beautiful pictures from around the world that adorned his walls…and yes, you guessed it: he took them! Though only having been in BC for a short period of time, he’s already been to Whistler, Tofino, Victoria, and Lake Okanagan. Trying to stump him by asking if he’d done the grouse grind already, I was left speechless when he replied with a resounding ‘yes’. I soon began to feel as if he knew B.C. better than I did. Given how quickly he’s discovered our province, I’m sure it won’t take him long to explore Collingwood culture and find himself at home again. When asking him what he doesn’t do, much to my chagrin, the answer he gives me is basketball! Ouch!

I inquire what motivates Mr. Lake; what’s his fuel? He replies with three things. First, it’s being surrounded by individuals who are each proficient in their own disciplines, much like at Collingwood. Whether it’s the best math teacher, the best violin player, or the best swimmer, these individuals motivate Mr. Lake to excel at the things he takes on.  Second is kids, the people he’s dedicated his whole career to. He says that his dream is for Collingwood students to attribute their foundation to Collingwood 20 or 30 years down the road. Third is the future.

As I learn more about him, I begin to develop a sense of great admiration for Mr. Lake. I want to know what he thinks is the key to success for any leader. For him, it’s all about fostering a cohesive community, no matter the scale. It’s about creating a culture in which everyone is invested, optimistic, caring of one another, and feels a real ability to make change. As a leader, one can create this environment by communicating effectively so that everyone is bound by a clear mission. Leaders should always make positive ripples around themselves, stay calm in times of turbulence, shore up friendships, and be willing to look beneath the surface – I found this very ironic coming from someone with the last name ‘Lake’.

As our meeting comes to an end, I pose my final question, one I have been waiting to ask all along. I ask if he has any role models in his life. His response intrigues me.

“Anybody who says they can’t list off ten role models is somebody who actually isn’t looking.” Mr. Lake believes role models are everywhere in our lives. Among the many role models in Mr. Lake’s life are his father (who had influenced hundreds of people’s lives as a teacher) Cormac McCarthy, Bono from U2 (whose music is not only timeless but has had a meaningful life), and Barack Obama, who has maintained his integrity despite being under constant criticism.

Perhaps a lesson for us all and this year at Collingwood we should all take time to appreciate the individuals that surround us.

From this meeting, perhaps the quality I’ve found most appealing about Mr. Lake is how personable he is. Mr. Lake wants to get to know every student, inviting anyone to pop by his office any time to chat and dig into his candy stash. To those students reading this article, do take him up on this! You won’t regret it.

So what have I learnt about Mr. Lake? He’s eloquent, inspirational, welcoming, and believes strongly in the future of Collingwood. Oh yeah, and he can give one heck of a testimonial for Spotify Premium.

By: Samir Damji 

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