Young Hearts Help Buy Farm Animals for Christmas


While most Canadians, at some point in their childhood, probably rifled through the Sears Wish Book in search of the perfect Christmas present, the students at our Junior School have an annual tradition of going gift shopping for others with the help of a very different catalogue.

The pages aren’t filled with toys and electronics – it’s animals! $600 for a live cow, $250 for an alpaca or $50 for two hens and a rooster. The items in the World Vision Gift Catalogue are gifts that bring help and hope to a child, family or community in need. The gift of livestock provides much-needed food and income for families living in impoverished conditions in countries all around the world. The fundraiser, held in the last two weeks before students head off on winter break, ties in with the Junior School’s focus in December on the virtue of generosity.

Students earn money at home by completing extra jobs to help out around the house, like washing dishes after dinner or doing the vacuuming, and donate it to the Junior School Service Committee’s efforts to buy a barn full of animals through World Vision.


Every day at lunch, the money was collected and counted schoolwide, and students got to peruse the catalogue and choose the animals to purchase.

The Junior School raised a total of $1,500, and purchased a variety of animals, including a cow, and a few goats, pigs and chickens. The students also purchased some fruit trees and a wood stove.

Student Reflections

“The World Vision project was to help those in need. So our school raised money to help these people in need. We used the money to buy animals such as: cows, sheep, chickens, hens and so on. This project was very fun and also we were being generous to these people. After this project I realized how much we had and others didn’t.” – by Matthew, Grade 5

“World Vision is an exceptional program that helps a lot of people.  It can help kids go to school and get animals for families. This is an amazing program and thank you for contributing!” – by Anna, Grade 5

“World Vision is a project that the SMUS Junior School has been doing since before I was in Kindergarten, which for me was a long six years ago. I truly believe this is an amazing way to spread Christmas joy because the students get to have the opportunity to learn that giving always feels good, even if that is giving a goat to an African child, or just opening a door for a classmate. They learn that as people we should always lend a helping hand. This organization is a great way to teach that message to children by encouraging us to do extra chores so we can buy animals for families in Africa. I hope when I am in Grade 12 this project is still going on!” – by Alex, Grade 5

(photos by Gordon Chan)

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Primary Students Jingle All The Way Onstage


To cap off the holiday season, our Junior School hosted its annual Primary Christmas Concert this week, much to the delight of proud parents and teachers. Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 students sang, danced and acted to holiday music on stage in the Junior School gymnasium.

The Kindergarten students performed “Suzy Snowflake”, “Santa’s Helpers” and “Must be Santa”. The Grade 1 students performed “The Marvelous Toy” and “The Toyshop”. The Grade 2 students performed “Santa Bring Me Snow”, “Seven Feet of Snow” and “Christmas Spirit”. The Primary Choir performed “Vive le Vent” and “Silent Night”.

After the concert, Santa Claus visited the Junior School, handing out candy canes and posing for photos with students.

Relive the whole concert again on SMUSTube!

While the onstage performances were great, we also think the students’ reflections on the concert are just as cute:

William:  I liked when we were singing “Silent Night”. I even liked when I saw Santa. He gave me a candy cane.

Lorenzo: The singing, cookies and juice box were my favourite.

Hannah: I could see my momma and she also waved at me – twice!

Drew: I liked being on stage and I liked singing “Must Be Santa”.

James: I’ve never did a concert before but it was the best thing I ever did!”

Raleya: I was feeling so good and I liked the singing!

Mia: I liked singing “Silent Night” because I liked the actions.

Karen: I liked the concert a lot because I saw my mom and dad smiling at me.

Eli: My mom and dad were very proud of me!

Haley: I liked wiggling in “Must be Santa!”

Cindy: I liked the “Zip when it moved, bop when it stopped and whirr when it stood still” part.

Preeya: I felt excited and proud to be playing the drum!

Luke: I liked playing the intrument even though I was nervous.

Gillian: It felt a little interesting because all the people were looking at you but it was fun.

Asha: I thought it was cool to do the sign language song.

Cooper: I liked doing the actions for “Santa Bring Me Snow”.

Rupert: I thought it was fun to be a student who was a Master of Ceremonies.

Emily: I really loved playing the bells – it was so fun.

Wil W.: It was really fun because I like going up on stage and smiling!

Lee: It was actually pretty fun when everyone from K–2 was on stage.

Aiden: I loved the “Yo!” in 7 feet of snow.

Thank you to everyone who helped make the show such a success, especially Mrs. Sharon Goodman and Mrs. Edler-Davis, as well as Mr. Gordon Chan and Mr. Brandon Hawes.

See more photos of the Junior School Christmas Concert at the SMUS Photo Gallery.

(photos by Gordon Chan)

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Treasured Boarding Experiences are a Hot Commodity


This is the final part in a series of candid blogs written by our 2014-15 Best School Year Ever winners on the Good, the Bad and the Surprising of their boarding experience at SMUS.

by Silke Kuhn

Whether it be at age 7 or 77, we all have to face the reality of our own beliefs at some point in our lives. It just happened to be at age 16 for me, when I left the comfort of my family home and moved to boarding school.

Youth are gold. Did you know that? As teenagers, our opinions, views and beliefs are as malleable and precious as fine gold. We are meticulously poured into a certain mould when we are young, sheltered from the world and kept encased there until we cool, every second reinforcing the precise curves, angles and edges measured out for us. When we are extracted from the mould, we are subject to the often harsh environment around us. BSYE-Logo-2015 transOur beliefs can so easily be shaped and contorted. I didn’t realize just how pliable we humans are until I arrived at SMUS. Living independently has caused me to question and re-evaluate my outlook on these priceless adolescent years.

And perhaps I was a little surprised by that. I was unsuspecting of the many strong and convincing voices coming at me from all angles. Voices coming from teachers, teammates, clubs, students, councils, house parents. I was unsuspecting of the gratitude that would flow from me for teachers’ encouragement, for teammates’ support, for clubs’ enlightenment, for students’ acceptance and house parents’ kindness.

But at some point after I came to SMUS, I had to decide what to let in, what to give value to. These values, these treasured stones, will adorn the crown of gold I am shaping for myself from these years. And I will wear this crown with my head high. With each new and unexpected or surprising experience I’ll add another gem; another badge of time passed, and wisdom gained.

Learn more about our 2015-16 Best School Year Ever video contest, with $70,000 in boarding scholarships up for grabs.


Parts 1 and 2 of the series were blog posts written by Best School Year Ever runners-up Silke Kuhn and Alessandra Massa on what they love about boarding life at SMUS.

Part 3 was co-written by Silke and Alessandra on the challenges of being a boarder.

Last week, Alessandra wrote about the surprises that come with having to adjust to boarding life.

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The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer is Singing Loud for All to Hear


Every family has Christmas traditions. For the SMUS family, our tradition is a very large gathering (everyone from Kindergarten to Grade 12 comes together) to sing Christmas carols, enjoy great student performances and bask in the enthusiastic spirit of the holiday season. It was a sea of Santa hats, reindeer antlers and ugly Christmas sweaters when we hosted our All School Christmas Assembly last week. Everybody was in a cheerful holiday mood; though how could you not be when you’re all eating candy canes?

Among the highlights were performances by some of our Senior School bands, our Junior School bell choir, a terrific rendition of “We Three Kings” and the grand finale: a very loud and very energetic participatory version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.

From our SMUS family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Middle School Band Students Exude Christmas Cheer


A concert leading up to Christmas doesn’t have to simply include traditional holiday music to make it a great show, and our Middle School band students proved that this week. While holiday staples like “The 12 Days of Christmas”, “Jingle Bells” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” were on the bands’ set lists, so were songs by Cee Lo Green, Pharrell Williams, Three Dog Night, One Direction and Queen.

It was an energetic night as students from our Middle School Jazz Band, Grade 7 Band, Grade 6 Beginner Band, Grade 8 First Year Band and Grade 8 Advanced Band took to the stage at our chapel and played to a packed house. All five bands sounded fantastic, performing a variety of pop music, Christmas songs, musical medleys and symphonic pieces.

Concertgoers were also lucky enough to get an audible sneak peak at one of the pieces of music from this spring’s Middle School production of The Wizard of Oz.

Thanks to band teacher, Mr. Ian Farish, as well as Audrey Bailey and Meghan Bellamy for their great work with the students. Congratulations to all for putting on such a wonderful show!

See more photos of the Middle School Band Concert at the SMUS Photo Gallery.

(photos by Kyle Slavin)

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A Whale of a Book Sale


by Tanya de Hoog

On Thursday, December 4, Grade 4 students hosted a book sale to raise funds in support of the Adopt a Killer Whale Program at the Vancouver Aquarium. This student-initiated action arose after both classes inquired into the creatures inhabiting the Salish Sea. After further inquiring into issues affecting killer whales they chose to organize and host a book sale to raise the funds needed to adopt a whale. Leading up to the book sale, students created projects to raise awareness about killer whales and the issues affecting them, which were shared with Junior School classes.

Student Reflections

“We studied the Salish Sea and then we studied killer whales especially. We realized that killer whales are close to being endangered so we are making this big book sale and selling books to other people in the SMUS Junior School and then we are adopting as many killer whales as we can. The money that goes to adopting the killer whales goes to research, and when you research them you help them, because you find out why they are going extinct.” – by Jamie

“We learned about orcas and how they are endangered and why they needed our help, and then we got the idea for this fundraiser that we’re going to raise money to adopt one and make sure that it all goes well. It’s important to help the killer whales because they are endangered. But they are at the top of the food chain of the Salish Sea so we really want to keep them alive.” – by Jonah

“Whales are endangered because of great white sharks and people are killing them because they think they are dangerous. We will be helping them by donating all the money we get from the books to the Vancouver Aquarium and that will help them survive. I really love helping whales!” – by Arjun

“My favorite thing that I learned about the Salish Sea and saving the killer whales is that it is really exciting to put together a book sale. The most challenging thing was making all the signs and sorting all the books into different categories. We are going to raise $89 to adopt a killer whale. Then we are going to the Vancouver Aquarium and then we are going to see Chester, the whale that got stranded on the shore and he got injured and they are helping him.” – by Rowan

“We are trying to raise $89 to adopt a killer whale so that scientists can research more about them because they are going to be endangered if we don’t help them. They are not endangered yet but they are about to be, so we need to help them by not throwing garbage in the ocean and things like that. If they become endangered we don’t want that to happen. They are a really majestic animal.”– by Alexandra

Huge thanks to all the Junior School families who donated and purchased books! The Grade 4 classes raised $650 – enough money to adopt seven killer whales! The classes planned to visit the aquarium on Tuesday, December 9, but poor weather resulted in ferry cancellations, so the field trip will be rescheduled for the new year!

(photos by Gordon Chan and Tanya de Hoog)

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How to Win the Best School Year Ever Contest

With the deadline to enter our Best School Year Ever video contest fast approaching, we want to help boost your chances of winning the once-in-a-lifetime boarding prize (valued at $50,000) by offering some advice.

We know it may seem overwhelming to cram everything you want into a 2-3 minute video, so we enlisted the help of last year’s winner, Santiago Mazoy, to give you some tips to make your video stand out. He created an exceptional and engaging video recorded on his bedroom computer – so if anyone knows how to make a great video, it’s him. Take a look at this quick tips video and read more below!

Here are his tips to making a great video:

  • Be yourself – There’s no such thing as our “ideal candidate”. The only “ideal” we’re looking for is someone who is completely genuine in their video. We want your personality (your enthusiasm, your sense of humour, your passion) to come through, because we want to know that you’ll be a great fit at SMUS. Watch how runner-up Alessandra Massa pulls you in to her entry video with her infectious spirit.
  • Narrow your ideas down – There’s a lot that you may want to tell us, but trying to fit it all into a short video just isn’t going to work. Plan ahead and decide which few points are the most important to touch on. Don’t feel the need to over-share (we’ll get to know you better when you’re here on campus!).
  • Be creative – Above anything else, the best way for you to stand out is to make your video unique and totally different. What might that look like? Surprise us!BSYE-Logo-2015 trans
  • Don’t read from a script – It’s hard to be yourself and feel comfortable when you’re reading from a set of notes. Practice what you want to say before you start filming to become familiar with the points you want to make, but let the words flow naturally when you record.
  • Record in a quiet, clean place – We want your video to speak for itself. Having outside distractions that prevent us from being able to hear make it difficult for us to judge the content of your video.
  • Think visually – Part of being creative and making your video stand out among the rest is ensuring you’ve put some thought into what you want to show in your video. Santiago’s winning entry video included photos and video that complemented what he was talking about.
  • Do what makes you comfortable – There isn’t a right way or a wrong way to make your video. If you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, you don’t need to be. If you’re a strong writer, there are ways to incorporate writing into your video. As long as your video allows us to get to know you and your strengths, that’s okay. Last year’s runner-up, Silke Kuhn, did very little talking directly to the camera in her fantastic entry video.
  • Make sure your video meets our requirements – We’re not asking for much. We have a few things we really want you to touch on in your video (Tell us about yourself; What would make 2015-2016 your best school year ever?; What do you like most about school?; Why would you be a great addition to the SMUS community?) – answering those, at the very least, will paint us a great picture of who you are.
  • Show it to your friends and family – Let them watch it and provide feedback. Make some changes, and have them watch it again until you feel it’s great!
  • Get someone to help you film – If possible, get someone else to shoot your video because it gives you one less thing to have to think about. It allows you to work collaboratively through the process, get immediate feedback, and the filming will go quicker.
  • Don’t leave it until the last minute – The contest deadline is midnight (Pacific) on January 12, 2015. That leaves you plenty of time to plan, shoot, edit and upload the video. Don’t procrastinate; you’ll make a video you’re happier with if you give yourself more time to work on it.

Don’t forget that you also need to submit your TWO most recent report cards when you apply online.

And make sure your video is uploaded as either Public or Unlisted. We won’t be able to watch it if the settings are set to Private (even if you send us the link).

Do you still have questions about the Best School Year Ever contest? You can get in touch with us in any of the following ways:

We’re looking forward to seeing your video, and hopefully seeing you on our campus in the very near future!

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Athletics Week in Review: December 10


The basketball season continued apace, with numerous SMUS teams in action through the week.

The Senior boys started proceedings with a physical 65-43 league-opening win versus Claremont. Jake Wilmott registered five three-pointers en route to 23 points.

Then, playing one of its best games in many years, the team ambushed a very capable St. Thomas More squad. The Knights, defending AAA provincial champs and again ranked No. 1 in the BC poll, simply had no answer for the swarming Blue Jags defence. The long awaited return to the lineup of Callum Montgomery and Graeme Hyde-Lay proved significant, while Jason Scully (26) and Max Pollen (20) led the way on offence in a comprehensive 72-27 victory.

The following day did not produce quite the same fireworks, but SMUS still eased its way to a 74-48 win over Richmond’s R.C. Palmer. Scully again notched 26, while Hyde-Lay added 13 and recorded 10 assists. Only some erratic three-point shooting, normally a team strength, kept the margin from being wider.

Then, the much anticipated December 10 matchup with crosstown rival Lambrick Park certainly lived up to the hype. In the end, two Scully three balls, the first at the end of regulation and the second at the buzzer in OT, proved to be the difference in an exciting 68-65 win.

The Jags now travel to the Mainland this week to compete in the prestigious Vancouver College Emerald Tournament.

The Development team, up against Stelly’s, fell behind early before mounting a comeback. Shaco Chi, who led all scorers with 11 points, sparked the resurgence, while Jack Sherrod scored all of his nine points after halftime. Jonas Robinson shut down the opposition’s main threat to allow SMUS a chance to tie the game in the final seconds. However, a last shot rattled out, with the Stingers prevailing 44-41.

After splitting mid-week contests against Oak Bay and Mount Douglas, the Senior girls traveled to Vancouver to take part in the ISA tournament. Some stingy defence and balanced scoring from Emma Loughton, Charlie Colby, Aveen Glen and Leah Sparkman saw the Blue Jags subdue a physical Shawnigan team 46-31

In the semifinal, SMUS struggled from the field against Southridge, shooting just 23% en route to a 56-38 defeat. Emily Cuell, with 7 points and 7 rebounds, was the top performer. It was a similar story in the bronze medal matchup versus Mulgrave; despite 10 points from Robyn Noel and nine rebounds by Colby. Noel was named to the tournament All-Star team

The Junior boys produced another bronze medal tournament finish, this time in a Victoria City Invitational. Following a win versus Shawnigan, there was a sense of frustration as a fine defensive effort in the semifinal against Nanaimo District Secondary School was negated by a poor display from both the free throw and three-point lines. Still, the players bounced back from this disappointment to record a solid 51-42 victory over Semiahmoo. Throughout the weekend, point guard Ephraim Hsu, wing Jasper Bosley and post Quinn Ngawati performed well.

See more photos of the Senior girls basketball team at the SMUS Photo Gallery.

(photos by Brady Doland)

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SMUS in the News: Best School Year Ever

Saanich News
December 6, 2014

Saanich’s St. Michaels University School lures top students with unique competition

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Carol Service Brings Reflections on the Holiday Season


Our annual Carol Service is a joyous opportunity for members of the SMUS community to gather and reflect on what the holiday season means to every one of us, while enjoying beautiful music from our Junior, Middle and Senior School students.

Another highlight of the Christmas Carol Service is the Middle School reflections. Rev. Keven Fletcher works with a different group of students every year to write and recite reflections on what Christmas means to them. This year’s group consisted of Seung, Amira, Georgia, Marcus, Nadine, Mareya and Connor. They, as a group, explored the what it means to give gifts at Christmas, as it relates to the popular song Carol of the Drum.

Below are two of the group’s reflections.

First Reflection

If you really must know, there are a few presents that we wouldn’t mind finding under our trees this year. One of us wants a golden retriever, while another expressed interest in an e-reader. There was also mention of a blue Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang with two white stripes through the middle; and a driver, because it’ll be a while before any of us gets a licence. We won’t mention names, but another of us would like to find in his stocking a membership card into the Illuminati. But that’s not the most disconcerting wish: one of us wants his dog to be given the gift of speech. You heard correctly, a talking dog.

What’s got us thinking about gifts is a piece of music sung by the Grade 6 choir in the service. It’s called Carol of the Drum, or more commonly, the Little Drummer Boy. It’s not a story that you’ll find in the bible, but since it was recorded back in 1955 by the von Trapp family, pretty well everyone has covered it: Bob Dylan, Faith Hill, Pink Martini, even Jimmy Hendrix has his take!

And you can see why the song appeals. A young boy is encouraged by the wise men to see the newborn baby, Jesus. The wise men have all brought lavish gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh; but the little drummer boy has nothing to offer on that scale. Absolutely nothing. Knowing that he has nothing, he could have walked away. He could have thought to himself, “I’ve got nothing to offer. Why am I here? Maybe I should just leave.” But he doesn’t. He stays, he plays his drum, and Jesus smiles.

SMUS-MS-CarolService-02Which got us to thinking about the gifts we bring; the ones we wish we could lavish on those around us. We didn’t hold back.

One of us wants to give people airline passes so that we can learn more about the world and expand our viewpoints. Perhaps, another suggested, this could include a return trip to Mars. Back on Earth, one of our group wishes that she could provide enough food and clean water for everyone, everywhere. Yet another wishes that she could give someone she knows good health; that the person would be cured of the sickness that holds him back. These are pretty lofty gifts.When we imagine giving these sorts of presents we think we’d experience a kind of joy that would bring some of us to tears; that powerful; that awesome. But we know that these are beyond our reach, and not just because of our age.

So we ask the same question as the drummer boy: What gifts shall we bring?

Second Reflection

Here’s the thing about gifts: when you receive one, it sits on the top of your mind for a day, two days. We feel happy, special, maybe even overjoyed… for a few days. And every day after that the excitement slips away. Eventually, we get used to the new gift and it becomes a part of our normal life. More often than not, what stays long-term is that desire for the “next” gift. Don’t get us wrong, we’ll be thrilled when we get each gift, those moments when everyone’s watching and those eager small breaths escape our lips; all of that is real. At the same time, when we’re outside of that moment, we know the excitement will pass and a part of us will be wondering about the next gift.

When giving a gift, it’s altogether different. It’s hard to explain the feeling: there’s happiness, excitement. It’s like a warmth in our body, when we see a massive smile on the person’s face. One of us talked about the difference between receiving and giving like this: receiving a gift is like getting a top layer of warmth on our heart; whereas giving a gift fills our heart with love, kindness, and respect.

When we give a gift, we’re not focused on ourselves anymore. We’re more open to the thoughts and emotions of others. We’re more inclined to think about what went into the moment. And yet there’s no sense that the moment is about us. It simply isn’t. Instead, it’s about the recipient. In thinking of them, we feel hope, curiosity, excitement, eagerness, and within ourselves we somehow feel more whole through creating just an extra hint of happiness for someone else.

And the part of the act of giving that stays with us? Instead of anticipating when we might receive our next gift, we anticipate when we might next give of ourselves. The whole offering of a gift reminds us of the difference we can make in the lives of those around us. And the gifts we offer don’t have to be lavish to be meaningful.

This thought takes us back to the little drummer boy and what he offered: a simple sharing of his talent, of his ability in a way that was completely focused on the recipient, not himself. Sometimes we wish we could wrap up an emotion for someone. For that person who’s sick or feeling a sense of despair, we’d like to wrap up a box full of hope. For that person who’s feeling a little overwhelmed with life, we’d like to put a bow on peace. For that person who feels a little disconnected, wondering about their relationships, for that person we’d tie a ribbon around belonging.

Of course, that isn’t possible, but what is possible is our ability to give of ourselves; give of ourselves in all those small ways that build another person’s sense of hope, peace, and belonging.

We can be that gift. Any of us. No gold or frankincense required. No fancy boxes or ribbons. Just our presence and our willingness to share something of ourselves. And like the little drummer boy, we might discover that our offering is worth more than we imagined possible.

Watch the entire service on SMUSTube.

See more photos of the Christmas Carol Service at the SMUS Photo Gallery.

(photos by Kyle Slavin)

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