‘This Has Been The Best School Year Ever!’

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Last September, Santiago Mazoy, Alessandra Massa and Silke Kuhn began their school year at St. Michaels University School. The three finalists in our inaugural BSYE-Logo-2015 transThe Best School Year Ever™ contest instantly immersed themselves in the school culture – joining sports teams, clubs and councils; making new friends; and filling their schedules with classes they enjoyed.

Now that the school year is over, their best school year ever is also complete.

Here’s what they did this year!

Next year, Santiago and Silke will return to SMUS for their Grade 12 year, and will continue to live in boarding alongside Lizzie, Bryce and Shalese, the winning finalists in our 2015-16 edition of The Best School Year Ever. Both Santiago and Silke will take on greater leadership roles next year, as their peers selected Santiago to be the head of his boarding house, SMUS-SS-Grade12-Graduation-AMand Silke was elected to sit on the school’s Prefect Council. We’re looking forward to seeing them thrive in these roles!

Alessandra is off to Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA to major in international relations, with a minor in Russian studies. She has big dreams for her future, as her ultimate goal is to become the first female US Ambassador to Russia. Congratulations and we wish you the best of luck, Alessandra!

We look forward to the start of 2015-16 school year, when we welcome the trio of BSYE finalists and run the third iteration of The Best School Year Ever contest.

Sign up to The Best School Year Ever mailing list (or share the link with a student you know!) to receive updates and learn about the 2016-17 contest.

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SMUS in the News: Paul Almond’s SMUS-Filmed “Ups and Downs”

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June 19, 2015
Times Colonist

Tim Williams ’83; Andrew Sabiston ’82; Leslie Hope ’82; Nick Etheridge ’61; Santiago Garcia de Leaniz ’82; Colin Skinner (former drama teacher); John Schaffter (former Headmaster)
Big picture filmmaker Paul Almond was honorary Victorian

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Congratulations to the Class of 2015!

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An excerpt from a speech by Eva Grant, co-valedictorian

When I was going through the college application process last fall – and can I get a Hell Yes! that those are over and done with? – I was asked this question by the dreaded entity “The Common Application”: what words best describe you?

I’d been going absolutely stir-crazy trying to answer what felt like thousands of pseudo-reflective questions, and, in a fit of pique, I wrote down five words to describe YOU: pronoun, second person, three letters.

Sometimes I think it’s a wonder I’m standing before you today at all.

But, really, it got me to thinking, what best describes YOU as a grad class? How would I characterize the myriad changes that occurred over the past four years to bring us where we stand today?

Y-O-U. Year of Uncertainty. 2011. Four years ago we stepped onto campus for orientation day as anxious, doe-eyed ninth-graders. When the teacher would ask: “Are there any questions?” we would sit there in silence because we didn’t even know what we didn’t know. We had no idea where we were going, why the seniors were so tall, or bearded, or just plain crazy, and why there were no bells. If you were like me, you found solace in books, studying French grammar in Xanadu and conducting post-labs on the shores of Walden Pond. I spent more time in that library than anywhere else, and while all that reading obviously paid off, I was missing out on moments of Shakespeare-esque drama, Scout-like bravery and Atwood-worthy humour. By September, as the pages turned like fall leaves to a new chapter of our lives, I, and we, stepped out of our comfort zones and immersed ourselves in the school culture around us.

Year of Undertaking. Three years ago we strode onto campus a little more confidently. We knew what the Boot Game was and who we were cheering for, we could navigate the science building without ending up locked out on the wrong side of the classroom, and gained a greater perspective as we took upper level courses and classes based on our budding interests. We joined clubs, gosh we joined so many clubs, tried out for sports, and plays, and art shows, and discovered what spoke to us. Some of us chose to get out of school early, I mean, participate in the experiential program, where we focused on outdoor activity, service and academic programs, and everyone ended the school year with a sense of civic, local and global engagement.

Year of Understanding. Two years ago we began our eleventh grade year as senior students of the senior school. Mourn it, for that was the last time being a “double senior” will ever be cool. We were finally getting jobs and cars, and those beards that scared us so much as freshmen. We began to see possible futures spread out before us. In between service trips and SAT prep courses we were starting to give thought to where we might be next year, what we might be studying, how we might be helping our fellow humans. That year, while tinged with evening classes, working lunches and weekends spent catching up on homework instead of sleep, burns bright in my memory with the knowledge that we had made a great leap in understanding who we were and how we complemented those around us.

And here we are, at the end of four long years. Y-O-U. Year of Unity. Like our prefect motto this year, we started the year ready to see one another off to new and exciting adventures. But first, we had a responsibility to the school. Many of us became the heads of clubs we had joined in our first year, captains of the sports teams we had tried out for when we were a lot shorter. We landed big roles in plays or musicals where we had previously been only afforded the honour of being Tree Number Four, unless you were like me, and somehow went from playing Emily Webb in Our Town to a statue of John Harvard in Legally Blonde.

Recently, we’ve faced an explosion of “senior-itis”, which I was assured last year was just an urban legend. Like an epidemic, I’m not sure anyone was safe from the plague, but everything we’ve been through this year, from giddy nervousness in the fall, to university joy in the spring, to AP Panic, to sloth-like apathy, we’ve been in it together.

But that’s just it, isn’t it? All this time spent trying to describe you, what I was really after was what best describes us. These four years haven’t been about you, or me, or all the things we accomplished on our own, but about us as a grade class, as a fun, dynamic, challenging group.

The entire Grade 12 Graduation Ceremony, inclding The speeches by valedictorians James and Eva, is now available to watch on SMUSTube.
You can also browse and download all the photos from the Grade 12 Graduation Ceremony in the SMUS photo gallery. Individual photos of members of the Class of 2015 can be found by typing their full name (eg. James Hayashi) into the search bar.
New to the gallery? Read our guide to downloading images.


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Senior Students Celebrate School Year’s End

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As the school year comes to an end, students and staff alike take the time to think back to September and reflect on all that has happened in the past 10 months and how things have moved forward in that time. One of the highlights of the annual closing ceremonies is the candid student speeches, as they put into words what their school year at SMUS has been like.

At Friday’s Senior School Closing Ceremonies for our Grade 9, 10 and 11 students, three sets of students had the opportunity to address their classmates, parents and the SMUS community. The following are excerpts from the speeches by the Grade 9, 10 and 11 student representatives.

An excerpt from a speech by Saje Griffith and Hayley Kirk (Grade 9)

Our peers have helped create an open, caring, intelligent atmosphere for the school. The diversity within our grade is reflected within the school, including so many cultures, passions, strengths and interests. Everyone is different and we accept that, and every one of us fits into this school somehow. When we say we fit in, please don’t take that as us saying we are all stuck in niches – it’s truly the opposite. Our best athletes are often our musicians, our quiet students can be great leaders. We all have our place in our grade and school community, and that place for every one of us is an incredible mash-up of strengths.

Many of those strengths were tested this year as we transitioned into high school. For some, it was their first year at SMUS. For others, this year marked the start of their 10th year here. Regardless of when you arrived, we are a united grade now. The transition into high school was a huge one, and it certainly shook things up. We are not the same people who were in the gym for our LINK orientation 10 months ago. We are now full-fledged high schoolers, complete with stories, achievements and plans for next year.

If we were to leave a piece of advice for next year’s Grade 9 class, it would be this: find yourself. Take this year and the next few to try everything you can. Discover your passions, figure out who makes you happy to be around, and don’t stress over things that will one day simply be growth experiences.

For our Class of 2018, I have three goals for us:

1. I hope that by the end of next year, every one of us knows each other’s names.
2. I hope that we, as a class, grow into leaders who will change the school for the better.
3. And finally, I truly hope that we can all appreciate what we have by going to this school. I want everyone to see the greatness of SMUS, because that, in turn, will fuel us to give back to the school.

An excerpt from a speech by Emma Demarchi, who, along with fellow Grade 10 students Oria James, Jessa McElderry and Philippe Welter, spoke on different aspects of life at SMUS.

This was my very first year at St. Michaels University School. I transferred to this magnificent institution in hopes of gaining a more advanced education and surrounding myself with peers who reallywant to succeed. And believe me, this year was far more challenging than any other school year that I had been through previously.

Something that astonished me after receiving my first report was that each teacher-written comment was totally personalized. I had lived with the same copy-pasted SMUS-SS-ClosingCeremony-Grade10-Emmaresponses for years, and it was so special to be noticed as an individual.

The social structure at SMUS is nowhere near how I would have expected it to be, and I was pleasantly surprised. I made friends in a matter of days, believe it or not. The whole community seemed so open to me and I felt genuine connections with some students right away. From this I have gained study buddies, formed alliances and even discovered my new best friends. I thought that coming to SMUS I would blend into the background and personify a monotonous machine, but I was mistaken. Here I feel appreciated for my talents and encouraged to push myself academically, all thanks to you.

An excerpt from a speech by Jasper Johnston and Sena Youn (Grade 11)

Twelve years. To some adults in the room, events from 12 years ago may seem like just yesterday, yet to the majority of our grade, 12 years is how long we have been attending grade school. An eternity of homework assignments, bagged lunches and early mornings. During this time we have witnessed governments fall, and corporations SMUS-SS-ClosingCeremony-Grade11-SenaJasperrise, we have seen the dawn of smartphones and the end of the VCR. Throughout the years, we have grown and changed along with our fragile world, learning more about it every day. As we prepare to enter our final year of high school, it is important to reflect on the things we have learned from our peers, parents and teachers. Lessons of leadership, passion and compassion, that have shaped us into the young adults that we are today and will guide us in the years to come.

As future leaders of 2016, our grade has begun to look forward to the many grade 12 leadership roles, which range from prefects to heads of clubs or councils to LINK leaders. Regardless of titles or appointed positions, simply by being in Grade 12, every person in our grade will have the chance to set the tone for the year and lead by example.

Throughout the year, we have received amazing support from our teachers and fellow students, who consistently push us to be our best and pick us up when we stumble. With only one year left, we have many things to look forward to.

(photos by Kyle Slavin)

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Leavers’ Chapel Marks Last Days for Grade 12 Students

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Before the Class of 2015 finishes at SMUS, the Grade 12 students were treated to their final chapel service. Weekly chapel is always a chance for students to pause and think about who they are now and who they want to become. It’s a chance to consider relationships and community, as they relate to the school’s pillars. So the annual Leavers’ Chapel does that in a private way that honours and recognizes the Grade 12 students before they leave SMUS.

Mr. Kyle Shaw was asked by the graduating class to speak and provide some wisdom on behalf of the teachers. The following is an excerpt from his speech, which focuses on decision-making for today and tomorrow.

Graduation marks the end of a very important time in your life. You are literally putting behind you everything you have ever known and are embarking on a new adventure. Along your journey you have faced countless situations, as everyone does, where you had to make a decision. Whatever the outcome at the time, those decisions have helped lead you to today. You have made good choices as well as bad ones that have all, in their own way, contributed to your success and have helped define the person that you are.

During your time at the Senior School I am sure that many of you stressed about a test or an assignment or how many AP courses you should or shouldn’t take. Decisions you made when you were young, and even the decisions that you make now, are all about perspective. The same can be said about anyone in this room and the choices that we have immediately in front of us. Big decisions can and will always be a source of stress in our lives – but if we can separate ourselves and take a step back from the emotional aspect, we all have the tools to navigate any situation.

Sitting where you are today, I know that most of you have had to make some very important decisions in the last few months. Most of you know where your path will begin when you leave this campus but some of you don’t – and that’s OK. Although you may have a clear idea in your mind where you want to go and what you are shooting for, it is important to remember that the path you choose will never follow a straight line.

There is no way of knowing if a decision that you make is the best one at the time. The only piece of advice I can give you is that it is important to always look inside yourself. Get to know who you are, get to know your beliefs and make sure that you understand your core values. The greater your sense of self, the easier the decisions will seem. Also understand that intelligent and dynamic individuals such as yourselves could make a meaningful and fulfilling life at the end of almost every road. Uncertainty is what makes life exciting.

You always have to think about who you want to be.

You have to make decisions that are right for your own happiness and right for your future, but it is also important to remember that you will rarely have to make a decision on your own. There will be times in your life when you will make the choice to sacrifice your own happiness for the people that you love the most. Those choices will not necessarily be poor ones. From time to time you will make selfless decisions to provide support for your friends and family and from time to time you will need them to sacrifice things for you; however, true love and true friendship should not always come hand in hand with sacrifice. If you choose to surround yourself with the people who truly love and support you, decisions that to some may seem difficult will come easier to you.

Whatever you decide to do with the years ahead, make sure that you always surround yourself with people that enrich your life and help you make even the most difficult choices seem easier. I think I speak for all of the staff at SMUS when I say that you are the reason we do what we do. We decide to come to work every day because you bring so much to our lives. You may think that over the years we have been the ones that have been guiding you and helping you make important decisions. As you walk across the stage at graduation, I hope you understand that we have been in this together and that you have also guided us.

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AP Students Get Behind-The-Scenes Tour of B.C. Legislature

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by Olivia Roberts, Grade 11

On June 1, all three AP Comparative Government and Politics classes went on a field trip to visit the British Columbia Legislature. When we arrived, we took a photo of ourselves outside of the legislature, and discovered that we wouldn’t be able to see Question Period because the MLAs weren’t sitting. However, we did get to see the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Andrew Weaver, the sole Green Party representative. He gave us a tour of the legislative precincts, including the library, inside passages, the journalist headquarters, the Green Party offices in the legislature, and a jail cell (that apparently has never been used).

Visiting “the stacks” (the legislative library) had an impact on me. There were newspapers from every constituency in B.C. and years worth of compiled original documents, all housed under high ceilings and marble walls. It was the library of my dreams! We were able to see the journalist’s rooms – a cozy, cluttered place that encompassed everything I hoped journalism would be. We were able to look through the glass in the doors that the MLAs walk through to get into the legislative chamber. Some of us hope to walk through them one day to debate the issues and change the province.

It was quite exciting to walk the halls of the legislature and see all the faces on the walls of people who have changed the province and taken it to where it is now. We learned so much about the structure of governments around the world. It was a very interesting experience to visit and to see firsthand how politics is done and realize how individuals, just like us, make the political process happen.

by Molly Robson, Grade 10

Our tour of the B.C. Legislature didn’t start out as we had hoped, with the discovery that the MLAs were no longer sitting and therefore there was no Question Period for us to sit in on – but from there the day was only uphill.

After walking into the building, our group met with Andrew Weaver, the MLA for Oak Bay and Saanich. He agreed to give us a special tour, and went above and beyond to show us the building. We got to see the chamber (from the outside only, of course), as well as the library, but he also took our group to some extra cool places. We got to spend a few minutes up in the main media centre, which was full of activity and where the walls were covered in old political jokes and cartoons. We also got a chance to look around Mr. Weaver’s office, where he went over some of the duties assigned to him and his co-workers.

My favourite part was when he took us downstairs to the never-yet-used jail cell (which now houses Perrier water). It was down here that Weaver described what an average day is like for him, which is about 10 times busier than some other MLAs since he’s the only provincially elected member of the Green Party in B.C. It was fascinating to hear about what goes on in the daily work of an MLA, even within the parliament itself, and it also confirmed several things we had already learned. Our trip ended with a guide showing us the chamber and sharing with us some great historical facts. While it would have been nice if the MLAs had still been sitting, because Question Period would’ve been very cool to see, being given such an in-depth tour of the building was equally amazing!

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2015 Athletic Awards

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by Lindsay Brooke, Athletic Director

The 2014-15 school year has simply been the finest ever in SMUS sporting history. Pride of place goes to the athletes and coaches who combined on an incredible “Triple Crown”, winning BC AA titles in boys soccer, boys basketball and boys rugby. One small step behind were girls field hockey and girls soccer, which missed out on blue banners by the slimmest of margins.

In addition, six teams won Island titles, while, of the twelve sports offering BC School Sports provincial championships, SMUS qualified for 10. In addition, school squash players and rowers left their mark on the national stage.

Last week’s Senior School Athletics Banquet, was just another reminder for me of the huge role sport plays at SMUS. Indeed, participation, enjoyment, performance and sportsmanship remain of vital importance, as reflected in the mottos of St. Michael’s (“Nothing is great unless it is good”) and University School (“A healthy mind in a healthy body”). To these, I would add a few final words: “To play is good, to win is better, but to love the game is the best.”

Congratulations to all of our athletes and coaches on an exceptional season. The following is a list of award winners from this year’s banquet.

Work ethic, attitude, leadership and sportsmanship, as voted on by teammates.
Boys Soccer – Callum Montgomery
Boys Rowing – John Throne
Girls Rowing – Acacia Welsford
Volleyball – Keeley CopelandSMUS-SS-AthleticAwards-J
Cross Country – Acacia Welsford
Field Hockey – Siri Knudsen
Sailing – Santiago Mazoy
Boys Basketball – Jake Wilmott
Girls Basketball – Robyn Noel
Squash – Jason Yoo
Tennis – Aline Halliday
Golf – Leif Skogland
Girls Soccer – Flora Manson-Blair
Track and Field – Abdul Shokoya & Kenny Shokoya
Cricket – Rachael Benjamin
Boys Rugby – Aidan McCleary
Badminton – Ryan Cui
Outstanding Male Basketball Player
Jason Scully

Outstanding 1st XV Rugby player
Josh Graffi
Max Pollen

Outstanding Field Hockey Player
Flora Staunau

Outstanding performance in sportSMUS-SS-AthleticAwards-Ss
Grace Thomas (Squash)
Acacia Welsford (Rowing)
Graeme Hyde-Lay (Triple Crown)
Matty McColl (Triple Crown)
Max Pollen (Triple Crown)
Jake Wilmott (Triple Crown)

Outstanding all round performance and effort
Jasper Bosley

Outstanding Female Athlete
Robyn Noel (winner)
Aveen Glen (runner-up)SMUS-SS-AthleticAwards-GT

Outstanding effort, humility in victory, grace in defeat
Flora Manson-Blair (winner)
Ryan Cui (runner-up)

Outstanding Male Athlete
Graeme Hyde-Lay (winner)
Matty McColl (winner)

Check out all the photos from the Athletics Banquet at the SMUS Photo Gallery.

(photos by Brady Doland)

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Grade 5 Students Grow Out of the Junior School

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This year’s Grade 5 class enjoyed its final days at the Junior School this week. After spending the school year as the oldest students – the leaders – they are off to the Middle School in September to start Grade 6 and an exciting new chapter in their education.

Many of our Grade 5 students have been at SMUS since Kindergarten, but the class grew over the years as new students were warmly welcomed. Before Friday’s closing ceremonies, Ms. Nancy Richards, director of the Junior School, asked a handful of Grade 5 students to reflect on their time at the school so far. More specifically, she focused on the concept of “transformation.”

As we explored the theme of change and transformation more deeply, the students explained that there had been a lot of change for them in terms of the facility and classroom spaces, the teachers’ approaches to instruction, which positively affected their learning and ultimately resulted in a personal transformation within themselves.

As the conversation expanded, they realized that although not always sought, change is inevitable, ever-present and an integral part of life and growth. Associations and connections began to be made about the educational Junior School vision through the metaphor of the garden.

How much space is needed for a garden to thrive? What seeds were actually planted by the teachers and what seeds did the students plant themselves? How were the seeds cared for? What actually grew? And what might keep growing?

As we engaged in the dialogue we found that there were many parallels between gardening, teaching and learning. The students realized that both the teachers’ and the students’ roles were to create the conditions conducive to growth. Would the soil be prepared in such a way as to enhance fertility? Would some ideas have to be trimmed and pruned? What variables might influence the health and growth of each student/flower? What if, along the way, the teacher and the class became mired in the mud? What might they need to give up to construct something new and perhaps go in a direction they hadn’t anticipated?

Below are reflections written by five Grade 5 students who are looking forward to Grade 6 and becoming Middle School students.


Student Reflections

by Ava G.
I believe the Junior School has done everything possible to make my experience the best it could be. Every morning I wake up excited to participate in all the activities we have that day, as well as work on all of our projects with my classmates and teachers. Project SMUS-JS-Gr5-Closing-01learning is much different than traditional learning in the way that you learn by asking questions and exploring. I think the simile, “The Junior School is like a garden,” is true in the way the students are the plants and the teachers are the gardeners. Every day we are watered and fertilized with information and skills for us to thrive with.

by John D.
I started at Kindergarten and now I am in Grade 5 and I think that the whole class thinks that this school is like a garden. You start as a shrub, and as you go through the grades you grow – and sometimes flowers from other schools come. What I like about this school is that every gardener stops at every flower until it blooms. At the end of the day I love my school – wait, I love our school.

by Olivia B.
During my past few years at the Junior School I have seen lots of changes – from teachers and students, to SMUS-JS-Gr5-Closing-02learning and my favourite subjects. They have all changed for the better. I know I have changed this year because I am now able to stand up in front of the school and present my learning without being scared. The teachers have helped me achieve that goal by putting me up to it – challenging me. I feel that us Grade 5s have changed since Kindergarten because we are now stronger in many of the subjects we might have struggled with in the past. We have more leadership opportunities and more responsibility to show that we have changed. We are like a garden, because we started as a seed, just learning the ways of the school and following the lead of the older students. Now we are leading the school and being that older student and opening up to more responsibility, expanding our learning and accepting that change.

by Markus M.
I like Mrs. Richards’ example of the Junior School being a garden. I think that the garden is very rich in nutrients of kindness. With this example of the garden in mind, I think the teachers are like the gardeners, helping the plants to grow. This example is also like learning to bike. The school helps you learn to ride without training wheels.

by Alexandra B.
Transformation is about turning into a better person. For me, this was about becoming more confident because in Kindergarten I was wimpy and I cried a lot. But now I am confident and brave. This proves to me that SMUS has turned me into a better, stronger person. It’s lSMUS-JS-Gr5-Closing-04ike we all start out a seed and we sprout into a wonderful flower! Sometimes the sunshine is nice and bright, other times there is shade, but we learn to work through problems. That is transformation.

My teachers have also been great. They teach me stuff that I’ll need to know in my future. Mr. Keil, my homeroom teacher this year, is a very good teacher because he gives us personal support in school subjects and he will talk to us individually about anything we need to talk about. He also will tease and make fun of us if we speak out in class or get in trouble, which makes me stay out of trouble most of the time!

Overall, with the help of great teachers I have transformed into the confident person I have always wished to be.

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Lifers Look Back on 13 Years at SMUS

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September 5, 2002. Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” was sitting atop the charts, kids everywhere were anxiously awaiting the release of the second Harry Potter movie, and the first season of American Idol had ended the night before. (Yep, now you feel old!)

But more importantly, it was also the first day of Kindergarten for the eventual graduating class of 2015. Twelve students who started at the Junior School that day have spent their entire education at SMUS – and in a little more than a week, those student lifers who have been together since Day 1 will graduate from SMUS.

In late May, a group of lifers headed to the Junior School for one final goodbye – a Lifers Lunch to spend an hour with the Kindergarten students (the Class of 2027), eating lunch and playing on the playground for the last time. It was also a chance for them to say goodbye to many longstanding teachers and staff at the Junior School who’ve watched them grow up.

Below, two of the Kindergarten lifers, Mike Edwards and Sage Friswell, reflect on their time at SMUS, their memories of their early years, and they look ahead to what’s next.


Looking back on the first day of Kindergarten, I remember clearly walking into a room with a group of other kids just as timid as I was, not knowing what to expect. Thirteen years later, this group of 12 “lifers” is set to graduate as part of the Class of 2015.

The time has flown by since then and I have had many great experiences over the years that will stay with me as I move on from SMUS. To name a few, Mr. Barber’s PE classes, time in the computer lab with Mr. Chan and learning how to play the viola with Mrs. Smith SMUS-SS-Lifers-Mikeare some of my fondest memories from the Junior School. Many of these memories came back a few weeks ago when I had the opportunity to attend the Lifers Lunch, where all of the Grade 12 lifers visited the Junior School to eat lunch with this year’s Kindergarten class.

I consider myself very fortunate to have been a lifer at a school that has given me so many opportunities. I have benefited from a number of outstanding teachers in the Junior, Middle and Senior Schools and have learned many valuable skills along the way, which will be of great use as I move on to the next stage of life. I have also thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the welcoming SMUS community for 13 years, an aspect of the school which I will certainly miss. Above all, I have had the privilege of developing many strong relationships with students and teachers alike.

It is particularly interesting to me to look back on how our current grad class gradually came together over time. With many additions to the Class of 2015 especially in grades four, six, eight and nine, it has been a neat experience to watch the expansion of the grad class take place having been a part of it from the start. And while many of my closest friends came to SMUS at different points later in the timeline, there remains a unique connection between this group of lifers knowing that we were the original members of a graduating class of 160.


My very first memory at St. Michaels University School is actually one that I recall from the summer before I started Kindergarten. I remember my mum and older brother, who was in Grade 2 at SMUS at the time, telling me all about the “headmaster”, Mr. Snowden. I was confused and scared, as they told me the stories that he told in assembly. In my mind when I heard the word “headmaster”,SMUS-SS-Lifers-Sage I saw a scary three-headed man with an office full of heads. Needless to say on my very first day of school I was quite relieved to meet the real Mr. Snowden.

Being a lifer is unlike any other experience. You have the opportunity to see a community grow up together. Before you even know what change and development of a community is and looks like, you start to realize how the school and your classmates are changing and evolving – for the better! All the little kinks in the system become sorted out, and the old relationships continue to thrive while new ones begin.

While I don’t know a life without SMUS, during my time here I have gained so much that I am unsure I could have gained anywhere else. I certainly learned, grew and experienced, but not all on separate occasions with different people in different classrooms. With SMUS I was able to learn, grow and experience things at the same time, with hands-on learning opportunities that opened my eyes and expanded my knowledge. Having done all these things simultaneously I was able to have a concrete learning of the material or of general life skills.

What I will truly miss most out of anything from these past 13 years are the family-like relationships that I have built with friends, teammates, coaches and teachers. The community network of endless support that has always had my back – I think this will be a hard thing to come by in any other place or school that I attend.

As far as my future plans go, I will be attending the University of Victoria in the fall in the faculty of Social Sciences and hope to complete a kinesiology undergraduate degree and go on to complete a master’s degree in physiotherapy! However one thing I have learned in the past 13 years is that you need to be adaptable, and quick to respond and react to change if you hope to go anywhere. So as of now, I feel more ready than ever to tackle life head on as it comes.

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Grade 8 Students Anticipate Life at the Senior School

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School is nearly out for the summer at the Middle School. For the Grade 8 students, that means their final days at the Middle School are here – come September they’ll be the youngest students at the Senior School.

Below, four Grade 8 students who’ve thoroughly enjoyed their time at the Middle School share their thoughts on what life was like at the Middle School.


My name is Connor and I want to tell you about my time at the Middle School. I came to the school in Grade 6 and since then I have had an awesome time here. I have so many great memories, such as sheep heart and cow eye dissections, but probably the most memorable thing was my out trips this year. My out trip was surfing. At the beginning I wasn’t really sure whether I would enjoy this or not but at the end it turned out I really liked it. Our instructors were great and I really enjoyed my group and the food they gave us.

During my time at the Middle School I have seen myself grow a lot. I believe that I have not only grown my academic skills, but also I have become more independent.

The thing I most enjoyed about being at the Middle School was that it helped you make a smooth transition to each grade. At the Senior School, I think I will most enjoy all of the different classes that you can take because I think it will help me think about what I might like to do in the future. During my time at the Middle School I have seen myself grow a lot. I believe that I have not only grown my academic skills, but also I have become more independent.

The biggest thing that I learned at the Middle School is to stay on top of your homework or if you are going to be missing some classes then tell your teacher ahead of time to figure out a plan. During my Middle School life I have had a wonderful experience and I hope I will continue to have an exceptional time at the Senior School.


My name is Julia and I have spent the past three years in the SMUS Middle School. I came here from Ontario, so everything about this place called Victoria was new to me. I was expecting a school with a few kids, but boy, was I ever wrong. The school was so large, I got lost a lot on my first day. But there were a lot of nice people, eagerly willing to lend me a hand. I didn’t get lost much after they showed me the way. It was these kids that helped me in to the SMUS community. I took it from there, making friendships quickly and discovering my passions through school activities and opportunities, moving quickly and successfully through academics, sports and the arts. Now this year I have been one of the more experienced kids, giving the new Grade 6s a boost, just like the older kids did for me two years ago.

I realize now that when I go to the Senior School I will be starting all over again; becoming like a Grade 6 again in the eyes of the Grade 12s: young and looking for a helping hand. But this time I know how to give myself a boost, and I can’t wait to get started in the new part of my education and discover new parts of myself and people around me.

During my time at the Middle School I have found my likes and dislikes, and I am building off of my passions to become good at what I love. It feels like I have been here forever, but it also feels like my Middle School experience is ending too soon, and now I am moving on the the Senior School, which I am very excited about. I can’t wait to dive into Grade 9 and see what I’ll find.

I realize now that when I go to the Senior School I will be starting all over again; becoming like a Grade 6 again in the eyes of the Grade 12s: young and looking for a helping hand. But this time I know how to give myself a boost, and I can’t wait to get started in the new part of my education and discover new parts of myself and people around me.

My name is Alex and I have been part of the SMUS Middle School community for three years now. I am currently 14 years old and am about to finish my time at the Middle School and migrate over to the Senior School for grades 9 through 12.

Throughout my time in the Middle School, I have seen lots of events and changes take place and it is really amazing to be a part of such a special group of teachers and students. My greatest memory in the Middle School was working with the CGI team for The Wizard of Oz production this year. It was very fun and a unique experience for me to see what it is like to film and edit green-screened characters for special effects (such as making them fly). It was really interesting to see what such a small team could accomplish with barely any help from actual professionals, but the final product made it seem as if we were all experienced. Everyone involved had lots of fun and even though it was a lot of hard work, it paid off in the end when we got to see the fruits of our labour and really realize how much better we made the play. In the Middle School there were lots of other opportunities alongside what I did for the play, and though I could not possibly take part in them all, having those opportunities available was cool.

What I liked the most about the Middle School was all of the opportunities for service, leadership and enjoyment that all the previous schools I’ve been to did not give me. It is like having a massive platter of food with every different flavour and type, all there for you if you want it. Most of these opportunities were in the form of after-school clubs, but there were also a ton during exploratory block and sports teams. There were leadership councils like student council or committees that pop-up based on events that need to be planned. You are also given an option to be part of Student Ambassadors in Grade 8 or to be a WEB Leader. Though we were provided with lots of opportunities and fun times in the Middle School, I can’t wait to start next year and see what the Senior School has to offer.

My experience at the Middle School was a memorable one and it taught me a lot of things I will need to be successful at the Senior School and in life. Thank you to my friends, family and teachers who helped me. I feel that I am ready to take on what life has in store for me (at least at the Senior School) and it wouldn’t be possible without a place like SMUS always covering my back.

From what I’ve seen, the Senior School is packed with stuff for me to do there. I’m really excited to be transitioning over and seeing what it is like to be in a university-style learning environment. It requires lots of responsibility, but it makes me feel more adult like and more mature. Also, I am excited to see what the new classes are like and how much different they are to what’s at Middle School. I feel I am ready to make this transition though, because the teachers and my friends at Middle School really helped me change for the better, so that I could grow accustomed to changes in my learning environment.

During my time at the Middle School, I have seen myself change a lot thanks to the help of my friends and teachers. The teachers at the Middle School are really quite flexible in terms of homework and supplies brought to class. They helped me realize by the end of this year that in Senior School I need to keep my act together more than before because I won’t be able to just go back to my locker and get something I left there (shout out to Mr. Williams!).

I remember in Grade 6 how my locker looked like a disaster, and how I was barely able to get my backpack out of it at the end of the day without pulling every binder out with it. Mrs. Hyde-Lay really helped my with this by reminding me to clean my locker all the time to the point that I realized that it would just be a lot easier to not have it disorganized it in the first place. Without her motivation, I would probably have lots of problems in Senior School.

And my friends really helped me understand what was going on in class and made me more comfortable with joining in on class activities and other activities in general, and they  also supported me whenever I had tough times. Even though all these great people were all there for me, I also had to learn lots of things by myself by trying.

Overall, in Middle School there were many struggles along with lessons I had to learn. For some of these I really had a hard time and I greatly appreciated the fact that lots of people were there to help me through. I think the biggest lesson I had to learn in the Middle School is to be prepared. In a way it is like life; as a baby everything is there for us in our reach, but as we grow older everything is moved farther and farther away from us, making it more and more of a struggle to get used to doing what it takes to get what we need.

My experience at the Middle School was a memorable one and it taught me a lot of things I will need to be successful at the Senior School and in life. Thank you to my friends, family and teachers who helped me. I feel that I am ready to take on what life has in store for me (at least at the Senior School) and it wouldn’t be possible without a place like SMUS always covering my back.

My name is Georgia. I was new to the Middle School this year and I am going into Grade 9 next year at the Senior School. I have had a great SMUS Middle School experience, one that I believe everyone should have. Many aspects of the school have made this year more enjoyable and comfortable for me, such as the community, the experiences and the opportunities the school provides us with.

Being a new student, there was one main thing that made my year so wonderful: the community that I was welcomed into. Moving to a new school can be very difficult sometimes, but I felt welcomed and supported by everyone. Not only were the teachers the most amazing teachers I have ever had, but the students included me and made me feel at home as soon as I got here.

Moving to a new school can be very difficult sometimes, but I felt welcomed and supported by everyone. Not only were the teachers the most amazing teachers I have ever had, but the students included me and made me feel at home as soon as I got here.

To start, the teachers are impeccable. They taught me in a way that really helped me learn how to learn. That includes taking notes, doing experiments and asking questions. Every teacher’s style of teaching was different in its own way, but that is what made the learning more interesting and fun. The teachers not only taught well, but made you feel welcome and happy to be there. Secondly, the students were lovely. Everyone at the school, even from all different grades, was nice to me. In fact, they are nice to everyone. Everybody is nice to everyone and is friendly with all the students and faculty. The students have a great respect for the teachers and their fellow classmates.

Other wonderful aspects of SMUS were the experiences and opportunities they provided me with. The Middle School experience made me feel a great deal of self assurance and safety as I move forward. I feel prepared to move on to Senior School next year. Rather than going straight from Junior School to Senior School like most schools do, Middle School gives you the chance to become familiar with things that occur in the Senior School, like exams. I have just finished my exams and I am very grateful to have gotten the chance to do them, as it gives me a taste of what Senior School may be like. Helping us prepare was definitely part of the experience, but I do strongly believe that the community has a huge part in the overall feel of the school.

The Middle School experience was accompanied by many great opportunities. Free the Children was a group I joined within the school that helped provide basic needs to people who had nothing. For example, we did a backpack project where my group put together a backpack for the downtown homeless shelter. Doing things for other people and succeeding is a great feeling. Being given the option to participate in these sorts of experiences made the vibe of the school even greater.

Overall, the SMUS Middle School has been a great privilege and I have loved every moment of it. I have never felt so welcomed and accomplished at any other school. Thank you SMUS for providing me with an unforgettable experience.

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