Last Wednesday, Lake Tahoe School hosted our inaugural Founders Luncheon. Designed to bring together those who were there at our inception 25 years ago, we also welcomed back to campus long-time friends and supporters, current and former Board of Trustee members, and numerous long-term faculty and staff. The luncheon expressed our gratitude for each invitee’s work on behalf of LTS and allowed those in attendance to reconnect with their peers and our school. Below are excerpts of my welcoming words and gratitude for all of our friends’ and founders’ work on behalf of the students at Lake Tahoe School.

Welcome, and thank you for joining us! Today’s theme is simple: we are all here because of you. While we are sad that some of those invited could not join us, they are certainly on our minds and with us in spirit.

For me, the best way to describe Lake Tahoe School is to share a brief story that encapsulates for me all that is Lake Tahoe School – Morning Drop-Off. Each morning, standing on the sidewalk in front of Duffield Hall, my thoughts drift to the natural beauty surrounding me. The view across the road includes trees, mountains, and often the sounds of the wind and the creek – all enhanced each time the seasons change.

If I look around further, the campus buildings also hold a type of beauty. The wood and stone exteriors, the landscaping, and the uses of each room contained within them have a kind of beauty and wonder of their own. Rarely do you see a school that is so beautiful or one that matches its surroundings so well.

As the morning unfolds, the faculty arrive, and the campus begins to come to life. Now begins the best part: experiencing first-hand the joy of the kids as they exit the cars, toting their projects, backpacks, homework, and other detritus from their lives that may fall out of the vehicle.

Finally, the morning drop-off frequently includes a word or two from grateful parents – happy their children are happy and satisfied themselves that their children are receiving the best education possible – and all due in large part or small to the people in this room and beyond.

While 25 years is not long in the larger scheme of history, in 25 years, the impact of LTS on our community, students, families, faculty, and staff is immeasurable. The lives that have been enhanced, have been changed, or that have been touched positively are immeasurable.

Looking back, our success as a school was never easy. Those of you gathered in this room know there were times of plenty and, more often than not, times of lean. There were times – even as little as five years ago – when the school’s survival was suspect and uncertain. But thanks to those of you in this room and here in spirit, through your clear vision, determination, persistence, and the timeworn, though apt phrase, “time, talent, and treasure,” – we are here today to honor you, your legacy, and the hundreds of children whose lives you have made better.

From our humble beginnings as Incline Academy in a rented church building to our rise to become a well-respected and even envied educational institution – with 236 students, 45+ faculty and staff, a $5 million budget, and a Tuition Assistance annual budget of $1 million – we are the product of your hard work and efforts.

In closing, if there is a thread that runs throughout our 25-year history and connects that church rental beginning to today – it is the thread that encompasses our mission, our vision, and our commitment to the growth and learning of our students. Thanks to you, this slim but powerful thread perseveres today and into the future.