Building Lasting Friendships is Intrinsic to Boarding Life

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This is the second 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.

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by Alessandra Massa

When applying to the Best School Year Ever contest, it is important to think about what your life would look like as a boarder and how you will adapt to living away from home. Adapting to living away from home and my day-to-day life at SMUS have been much more different than what I imagined they would be like. It was much easier to transition into boarding than I expected, all thanks to the amazing house parents and boarding friends (especially those in your boarding house). Here is just a small list of the many amazing things I have experienced thanks to boarding at SMUS.

As a resident of Symons House, I have been boarding since early September. I love my roommate, Aline, a Grade 12 student from the Yukon who is passionate about science and medicine. Having a roommate is so much more than just sharing a room with a classmate. I could not imagine adjusting to the day-to-day boarding schedule without the help of my roommate. Aline is the head of Symons House and has been really helpful in answering any questions I have about classes, house activities or anything SMUS related because she has been going to the school since Grade 10. She was also a large part of me joining the field hockey team because she has been playing on the senior team and shared stories with me about how fun and rewarding field hockey is for her.

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I like the structure of daily scheduled quiet time when I can plan to do my homework and focus on my studies. I have appreciated and taken advantage of having my teachers in such close proximity and being able to study with fellow boarders. Walking to class is an unexpected pleasure, especially when it comes to maximizing my breaks to get my homework done. I enjoy Thursday nights when we usually have a house meeting and share snacks.

I love the camaraderie of my fellow Symons House boarders. I love the way the boarders interact with our community through active community service, where we grow closer as a boarding house, a boarding community and as a part of the greater community in Victoria. I really enjoyed participating in the local 5K run, the leaf rake and I look forward to more opportunities to represent boarding out in our community. On Saturdays the house parents take a group of girls to a local shelter or food pantry to serve food, which is something I really look forward to, especially as my American Thanksgiving approaches, which is a time when I enjoy helping others who are less fortunate.

I cannot say enough great things about the cultural diversity that I experience in boarding. Back in Texas, when I think of diversity, I think of differences in colour, which is something I rarely experienced. Knowing that so many kids from so many countries apply to SMUS, where they know they will receive an outstanding education, is a wonderful commonality to share. Building friendships with like-minded students who come from all walks of life and corners of the earth is not only inspiring, but also a window into what my future might look like.

Living in Symons House has given me so many more opportunities to connect with and experience the cultures of my fellow boarders. Whether it’s sharing traditions, learning about foods, or experiencing different viewpoints and ways of processing information, being around so many different cultures has broadened my world views. Learning about the challenge of safety on the streets in Sao Paulo from a Brazilian boarder or watching my boarding community support fellow Best School Year Ever winner Santiago Mazoy after learning of a hurricane that damaged Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where he has family, I appreciate that our differences are what make a boarding education at SMUS so rewarding.

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

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Last week, Best School Year Ever runner-up Silke Kuhn wrote about what she loves about being a SMUS boarding student.

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Gold Medal Victory for Senior Boys Soccer Team at Provincials

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With ISA, Colonist Cup and Island trophies already on the mantel, the Senior boys soccer team traveled to Burnaby November 17-19 to compete in the BC AA Championship.

A slow start in the opener versus Caledonia of Terrace gave some cause for concern, but eventually, following a Matty McColl goal, SMUS settled down to produce its usual effective short passing game. McColl then completed his brace, while striker Brian Im and midfielder Santiago Mazoy added singles. In truth, only a lack of finish kept the score at 4-0, with several grade-A second half chances flying over the bar from very handy positions.

Next up was Southridge, with the White Rock independent coming off a 3-0 upset of fancied McNair.

In this game, looking to take a stranglehold on the pool standings, the Blue Jags opened in blistering style, notching three goals in short order. While the Storm clawed one back after the break, SMUS then added another pair in a comfortable 5-1 win.

Despite the two wins, SMUS still needed at least a point to ensure first place in Pool A and a berth in the tournament semifinal. A different starting line-up perhaps contributed to a sluggish start against McNair, with the game scoreless at intermission. However, some tactical changes then provided the desired result, with a four-goal blizzard in seven minutes immediately after halftime ensuring a 5-0 victory.

All this set up a highly anticipated matchup with Pool B winner Archbishop Carney. The Coquitlam-based squad, BC bronze medal winners a year ago and returning numerous high level Metro players, were in impressive form. In one of the best matches of the tournament, Carney displayed wonderful skill levels, maintaining possession for long periods of time. However, anchored by Harrison Giles in goal and with the back four of Ryan Cui, Jonathan Sudul, Michaelangelo Cernucan and Jason Scully all at the top of their games, SMUS coped quite comfortably for the entire 70 minutes.

Indeed, sitting back and waiting for counterattack chances, the Blue Jags could easily have managed more goals than they scored. First, McColl hammered home a powerful 20-metre drive before Alec Keech, thanks to sheer hard work and good anticipation, forced a turnover from which Im delivered the killer blow. SMUS won that game 2-0 and moved on to the final.

Sa-Hali of Kamloops, which had moved impressively through its group without conceding a goal before dispatching Brookswood with relative ease, seemed to be considered by many slight favourites in the championship match. Yet, with SMUS displaying the same defensive grit and organization evident versus Carney, the Sabres were consistently frustrated, mounting only one really dangerous scoring opportunity. Nonetheless, for the full 80 minutes, the numerous long, high balls peppering the Jags penalty area were a cause for concern.

For SMUS, the key breakthrough came in the 28th minute, when a pinpoint corner kick by Kieran Large found Callum Montgomery. The midfielder soared over two defenders to head home powerfully into the bottom right corner of the net.

In the second half, still up 1-0, the Blue Jags played patiently, waiting for additional opportunities. With Sa-Hali pushing forward, some cracks began to appear in its defence, with Im, at the near post, nearly finishing off an excellent Owen Sudul cross. Minutes later, McColl beat multiple defenders to the byline only to see his pass through the crease somehow fail to connect with a teammate. Then the Sabres goalie reacted superbly to block a McColl redirection. Finally, Im, on a breakaway from midfield, left the keeper for dead only to see his shot come back off the left post.

But then it was over, as one last long clearance took the ball away from the Jags’ penalty area. The referee blew for full time and five grueling games in just over 48 hours came to an end. For SMUS, after so many close calls in a dozen provincial final and semifinal appearances in various sports in the past few years, this finally was the desired breakthrough.

Im, McColl, Large and Montgomery performed to the standard one would expect of elite players. All displayed great skill and composure. This, in turn, rubbed off on the rest, who more than did their part. In addition to those mentioned earlier, Max Pollen ran miles in attack, proving to be a constant nuisance to opposition defenders.

Over and above SMUS taking home the coveted BCSS championship banner, McColl and Im shared the Golden Boot as top scorers, while Montgomery was named tournament MVP. Cernucan was a popular selection to the Commissioner’s XI, while Giles, had he played in all five tournament matches, would have shared the Top Goalie award.

Yet, individual accolades aside, most importantly this was first and foremost a team victory. Congratulations to all the players and coaches on a well-deserved BC AA title. ​

VIVAT!

View more photos of the Senior boys soccer team at the BC AA Championship at the SMUS Photo Gallery.

(photos by Toni Sudul and Yao Cui)

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A Sanctuary of Experiential Learning: Swan Lake Christmas Hill

Microscope Discoveries is a school program offered at the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary.

On a warm but rainy fall morning, Grade 6 students put on their rain gear, took up their bug catching nets and headed for the boardwalk. There they discovered all sorts of critters they may not have even known existed, especially in our Victoria waters. Renée Cenerini, program manager at Swan Lake, then taught the students how to stage slides and take a closer look at what they found.

In the video below, you’ll see what experiential learning looks like at the Middle School and perhaps discover a few things you didn’t know about this urban nature sanctuary.

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Celebrating Basketball with the SMUS Community

The 2014-2015 basketball season gets underway Saturday, November 22 with a Celebration of SMUS Basketball, a full day’s worth of games featuring SMUS athletes from Grades 1-12 and a visit from some talented alumni.

“Thanks to the generous support of the Alumni Association, the day has become a highlight of the SMUS sporting calendar,” said Senior boys coach Ian Hyde-Lay. “Not only are we able to showcase our own teams, but we also get to welcome home our grads, all of whom starred for the school in years gone by.”

The Senior boys, set to begin the year ranked BC No. 1 at the AA level, again look strong. Seniors Jason Scully and Graeme Hyde-Lay were provincial all-stars a year ago, while Jake Wilmott, Max Pollen, Matty McColl, Liam Catto and David Lee likewise return. Callum Montgomery, fresh from being named MVP at this week’s successful BC AA soccer tournament, should also figure prominently.

The Alumni can also count on some serious firepower among its ranks. Danny Boticki (’99), after a brilliant SMUS career, went on to a Division 1 career at Idaho State University before spending a decade in Europe at the professional level. Matt Rud (’14) is making great strides in his rookie season at Simon Fraser University, while Mark Yorath (2013 provincial All-Star) and Georgios Ikonomou (2013 AA Defensive Player of the Year) will also be on the court.

On the Senior girls side, Mia Roberts, Aveen Glen and Chloe Keeler-Young are just three of a talented group of grade 11s moving to the senior ranks. They will join Emma and Sarah Loughton as part of a deep and capable back court.

For the Alumni, look no further than Jo Holdsworth (’96) and Kim Lobb (’99), both of whom starred at school before joining the UVic Vikes program and becoming CIS National Champions.

Coach Hyde-Lay also looks forward to watching the stars of tomorrow. “It will be terrific to get to the gym early on Saturday and watch the young athletes from both the Junior and Middle Schools in action. They are all getting an early start in the sport, which is so important.”

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Schedule of Games (Saturday, November 22)

Junior School
9:00 am, Grades 1 and 2
10:00 am, Grades 3, 4 and 5

Middle School
9:00 am, Grade 6/7 girls intra-squad
9:50 am, Grade 6/7 boys intra-squad
11:00 am, Grade 8 girls vs. PCS
12:15 pm, Grade 8 boys intra-squad

Senior School
11:45 am, Junior girls intra-squad
12:40 pm, Junior boys intra-squad
1:40 pm, Senior boys B vs. Alumni B intra-squad
3:00 pm, Senior girls vs. Alumni (8-minute quarters)
4:30 pm, Senior boys A vs. Alumni (10-minute quarters)

All games are in the double gymnasium at the Senior School.

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SMUS Students Recognized for Leadership in Philanthropy

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On Tuesday, students from our Junior and Senior Schools were recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals during the National Philanthropy Day Awards ceremony at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Our Junior School was a finalist for the Youth in Philanthropy Award ages 5-10, while members of the Senior School’s Break the Cycle of Local Poverty group were a finalist for the Youth in Philanthropy Award ages 11-18. While neither group won their category, just being a finalist in two categories was an honour, and acknowledges that the work our students do to benefit the community does make a genuine impact.

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by Ava and Jonah, Grade 5

At the Junior School we are interested in philanthropy because we want to help others and make a real a difference. Our school expects that each student is involved in all areas of leadership and service. We learn that every child can be a leader in the school.

Our school enjoys our “All Souped Up” event when we celebrate our 100th day of school and load all the cans of food that we collect onto the Mustard Seed truck.

An important part of our service program is when each class visits the seniors at the James Bay Care Home.  We enjoy spending time there and classes have been visiting for the past six years. We play music, sing, read and play games with the seniors. All of the students like to see that we are making the seniors happy during our time there. It makes us happy too.

Our Grade 2 classes are in now in the middle of their annual gingerbread project and they baked thousands of gingerbread cookies to sell last week. They have chosen a local charity and they will be making food hampers for that charity. Also our Grade 5 classes are getting ready to fill stockings for children in Victoria to receive at Christmastime.

One of our favourite service opportunities is raising money to buy a stable full of animals for families in Africa. We all do extra jobs around the house, like folding the laundry and washing dishes. This December we will all be involved in this project. It will be exciting to find out which new animals we are able to buy for the stable this year.

In our school, if a student comes up with an idea for service that connects to their learning, then they are given a chance to lead this service project. For example, last year some Grade 1 students led a “Nets for Malaria” project after they studied mosquitoes. They raised money to buy nets for children in affected areas. Even the youngest people can make a real difference in the world.

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by Rebecca and Kasey, Grade 12

Break the Cycle is made up of 30-plus students who work together addressing local poverty by focusing on three main pillars: Education, Direct Action and Adopt Our Village.

ESMUS-YouthinPhilanthropy-BreaktheCycle-01ducation is learning about the issues we are tackling, and spreading awareness within our school and community. Last November, we organized our own two-day “Youth Addressing Local Poverty” Conference. We had over 200 participants from all around BC at the conference learning about local poverty issues. Thirty local experts such as Rev. Al Tysick (from the Dandelion Society), MLA Andrew Weaver and keynote speakers Shane Koyczan (spoken word poet) and Free the Children co-founder Marc Kielburger shared ideas, listened and created possible solutions with the students.

For us, Direct Action is engaging through direct service with the people who are dealing with the issues we are tackling. This includes serving chili to the less fortunate on cold winter afternoons downtown as well as helping out at the soup kitchen at Our Place.

Adopt Our Village is a concept in which we use grants from foundations or fundraising to support local organizations that are giving a hand up rather than just a hand out. For example, last year, through our work with the Toskan Casale Foundation and Victoria Foundation’s Vital Youth programs, we were able to distribute $7,500 worth of grants to Extreme Outreach, the Rainbow Kitchen and the Dandelion Society. Last June, we participated in an event called Canstruction, where we built a 10’x 10’x 8’ artistic sculpture out of cans. After they were displayed in Mayfair Mall for a week, all of the 3,000-plus cans were donated to the Mustard Seed.

We’re all so motivated to continue with this work because of the change in our community. Hopefully in 10 years’ time when we look back at Victoria it will be a completely changed place because of our positive impacts.

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And congratulations to the Chwyl family (Ed, Mary, Brendan and Christina), the latter two being SMUS alumni, for winning the Generosity of Spirit Award, sponsored by the United Way, for their long list of incredible contributions in time, resources and expertise to make a difference in the Greater Victoria community.

Thank you to the Association of Fundraising Professionals for sponsoring the National Philanthropy Day Awards. Thank you to the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island for sponsoring the Youth in Philanthropy Award ages 5-10 category, and to TELUS for sponsoring the Youth in Philanthropy Award ages 11-18 category.

(photos by Nancy Richards and Kevin Cook)

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Bonjour, Montréal! Middle School Soccer Competes in Quebec

SMUS Under 13 soccer team in Montreal

A few weeks ago, 15 of our Middle School boys travelled to Montreal to compete in the CAIS U13 Soccer Tournament. Our team, comprised of Grade 6 and 7 students, headed to Quebec on October 20.

Because this year’s tournament didn’t start until October 23, we spent the first couple of days together as a team enjoying Montreal and getting ready for the tournament. Highlights of those days included visiting the Montreal Science Centre, attending a hockey game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Detroit Red Wings at the Bell Centre, and playing an exhibition game against St. John’s-Ravenscourt School from Winnipeg.

The soccer tournament ran from October 23-25. We were lucky to be placed in a pool on the first day where the games took place at McGill University. Two of our three games that day were played at the Percival Molson Memorial Stadium at McGill, home field for the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes. We played very well that first day, winning two of our games, which qualified us for the championship round (top 8 teams in the tournament). The 3-2 win over host Selwyn House School and, in the last game of the day, a 6-1 win over Royal St. George’s College (Toronto) were definite highlights from that first day.

On the second day, under mostly pouring rain, we played three more games (two more at McGill). And while, defensively, we played very well, we just couldn’t put the ball in the net. As a result of two scoreless ties against St. John’s-Ravenscourt and St. George’s School (Vancouver), and a 1-0 loss to Hillfied Strathallan College (Hamilton), we ended up in third place in our pool and tied for fifth place overall (out of 18 teams from BC, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia) at the tournament.

The tournament wrapped up with a friendly game on the final day, and then it was time to head home. After being away for six days, and experiencing lots of soccer, the boys were a tired bunch when we arrived back in Victoria late on October 25.

A highlight of the trip was the three nights the boys spent being billeted by families from Selwyn House. One family hosted five of our boys! From start to finish, it was a trip that members of the team will undoubtedly remember for years.

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Athletics Week in Review: November 18

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In frigid conditions at UVic’s Centennial Stadium, SMUS Senior boys’ soccer ​captured the prestigious Colonist Cup, defeating arch-rival Oak Bay 2-0 on November 12 in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd. A further sizable audience watched the game via live stream online.

The team’s preparations were given a jolt just minutes before kickoff, when centre-back Graeme Hyde-Lay suffered an ankle injury in a freak accident. This necessitated a rejig of the starting lineup, with Callum Montgomery moved from midfield to defence and given the task of shadowing Bays’ danger man Charlie Miller.

After a nervous feeling-out process, the game settled down as both squads had half chances to open the scoring. One Matty McColl effort was well saved, while Brian Im blazed over the bar from a free kick.

After a scoreless first half, in which the Blue Jags had the slight edge in play, things warmed up considerably. Finally, after shooting high on a chance from directly in front, Max Pollen capped an industrious evening’s work by chesting home from close range in the 59th minute after a goal-mouth scramble.

In search of the equalizer, Oak Bay then turned on the pressure. A wicked drive from the top of the box was only just denied by a superb Harrison Giles save. More pressure then produced other anxious moments, but the SMUS defence held firm. Then, with only minutes to play, Im found space just inside the penalty area. His accurate shot found the bottom left corner of the net and confirmed a hard-fought, but well-deserved, victory.

The team is now competing at the BC AA tournament in Burnaby as one of the top seeds. On Monday, the Blue Jags defeated Caledonia from Terrace 4-0, Lower Mainland foes Southridge (5-1) and McNair (5-0). With the two wins the team moved on to the semifinals Tuesday afternoon against Archbishop Carney. The Blue Jags won that game 2-0, and are now set to make a finals appearance Wednesday morning against Sa-Hali. Vivat!

SMUS hosted the AA Senior Girls’ Island Volleyball Championships on November 14-15. On Day 1, following a solid win over Kwalikum, a nervy comeback versus Pacific Christian School and a loss to powerful Ladysmith, the Blue Jags finished second in its pool.

The next morning, the team overcame a slow start to oust GNS 15-13 in a very tight quarter-final match before falling to Brentwood in the semifinals. This placed the squad in the bronze medal contest versus Woodlands, with the third Island berth to the BC Tournament at stake.

The visitors captured Game 1 of the best-of-five before SMUS then scrambled back to prevail 25-22. Unfortunately, Woodlands captured the key third set and then rode this momentum to victory.

However, all is not lost. The Jags are playing their best volleyball of the season, and now travel to Vancouver November 21-22 to compete in a six-team wild card tournament. The winner of this event gains the last berth to the provincials.

Congratulations to all on their Island tournament performance. Seniors Jen Shan and Keeley Copeland provided fine leadership, while power hitters Taylor Noel and Semele Smith moved up from the junior ranks to add depth. Setter Silke Kuhn had the distinction of being named to the All-Star team.

See more photos of the Senior girls volleyball team in the Island Championships on the SMUS Photo Gallery.

(photos by Kyle Slavin and Jeff Taylor)

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Middle School Choir Joins Victoria Symphony to Remember World Wars

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From the balcony of the majestic Royal Theatre, as Maestra Tania Miller conducts her Victoria Symphony on the stage below, the melodic voices of our Middle School choir above beautifully complement the live orchestral music.

Thirty-two SMUS students lent their voices to last weekend’s two performances of Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem”, performed alongside the professional orchestra, soloists and 165 members of the Victoria Choral Society and Vox Humana Chamber Choir.

“They did exceptionally well,” says Middle School choir teacher Duncan Frater. “It’s difficult music – they’re singing in Latin – but they did a terrific job.”

Britten’s “War Requiem” is the product of the 20th-century composer’s convictions as a pacifist, growing up in England between the First and Second World Wars. Britten was commissioned to write a piece to celebrate the consecration of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Coventry, England. The result was a bold 90-minute piece that combines music and poetry (in Latin and English) that explores the ideas of loss and reconciliation.

According to the Victoria Symphony’s program notes, the role of the Middle School choir (originally performed by a boys’ choir) in the piece is to be “more remote, more unworldly. There is a suggestion of angelic voices from on high dispassionately maintaining the ritual of the Mass while more lives are needlessly lost – a disturbing aural image.”

The performance and words sung by our students was a heartfelt reminder of the tragedies of war, leading up to Remembrance Day.

“The SMUS choir was stunning up in the balcony. They sounded like the innocent and untouched souls that Britten intended for them to symbolize,” says Tania, the Victoria Symphony maestra. “They performed beautifully and brought with them dedication and a committed spirit which was wonderful to experience.”

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Reflections from students

“It was really cool to perform with the Symphony and the older choirs. It pushed me a bit out of my comfort zone because I got to perform with so many people I’m not used to working with. The toughest thing was I didn’t know what any of the words meant until the day when we saw the subtitles in English. A lot of what we were singing in Latin was sad; it had to do with lost lives and symbolism of war. It deals with some really mature subject matter.” – by Emma, Grade 8

“I liked it all because you’re kind of part of everything and you were part of the whole musical experience for the audience. I know my parents were sitting at the bottom and they said it sounded like we were angels because we were coming from above.” – by Nadine, Grade 7

“It was really good because it was unique. We were the only ones that got to do this. I liked performing with all the musicians; they were really supportive and they said really nice things to us. It was fun.” – by Divyesh, Grade 6

“I thought it was amazing to have this opportunity. I was really thankful and grateful for it because I don’t know a lot of people who get to sing with the Symphony. And it’s not often you get to see the Symphony play and rehearse. That was amazing.” – by Claire, Grade 6

“To sing with the Symphony was really amazing. It was a slightly breathtaking experience, being there, singing with all these musicians and the other choirs. Also I thought it was really neat that they got us kids to sing really dark lyrics. I really liked that we got to see these musicians doing this performance for tons and tons of other people, but then you realize that you’re performing too, you’re not there to watch the Symphony.” – by Max, Grade 7

“One of the best moments in the whole thing was sitting, waiting for the hardest part of the piece that we had to practice lots and lots and lots. And seeing Tania Miller turn around and give us that big cue, it was so awesome. We could see her, she was the size of a little ant, and she was giving us this huge cue, and we had to sing at the right time with the right words in sync with everyone. It was really difficult but nailing it both nights in a row was really awesome.” – by Amalia, Grade 6

See more photos of the Middle School choir rehearsing at the Royal Theatre on the SMUS Photo Gallery.

(photo by Kyle Slavin)

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A Lesson in Baking, Math and Altruism

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The sweet smell of fresh gingerbread cookie dough filled the hallways of our Senior School this week, as Grade 2 students rolled up their sleeves for an amazing cause. Their little hands, brandishing rolling pins and star-shaped cookie cutters, spent hours rolling and cutting the dough in an effort to raise money for women in need in downtown Victoria.

Grade 2 teacher Nina Duffus says the cookies have been an annual Christmas tradition at SMUS for 16 years, when she began working at SMUS. The students prepare all the cookies themselves; they measure out ingredients for the dough, roll it out, cut the cookies, decorate them with icing and a Smartie, count and bag the treats, and sell them throughout the SMUS community.

“It’s a math-slash-business project as much as it is a service project. It touches on mathematics (measuring, counting, graphing), language arts and that social good piece,” Nina says. She also bakes a few dozen gluten-free gingerbread cookies, so members of the SMUS community with dietary restrictions are able to support the students’ endeavours and enjoy the tasty holiday goodies!

The Grade 2 classes raised $2,910 this year, selling out all 1,746 of their cookies.

Instead of simply donating the money to a local charity, Nina and fellow Grade 2 teacher Pam Yorath have their classes spend the money on purchasing goods that make the holiday season brighter for those less fortunate.

“I don’t want kids thinking you can always just throw money at a cause to find a solution to a problem. I’ve always looked at sweat equity instead,” Nina says.

Next week the students will head to Fairway Market to shop for food to build hampers that will be donated to clients of Sandy Merriman House. The students learn about perishable versus non-perishable food, as well as how to shop for healthy foods.

Thanks to the staff at Brown Hall for their support in the kitchen, the many Grade 2 parents who helped along the way, and Fairway Market for its continued support of our annual gingerbread cookie fundraiser.

See more photos of the Grade 2 students rolling dough, and baking and decorating gingerbread cookies at the SMUS Photo Gallery.

(photos by Gordon Chan and Kyle Slavin)

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Vibrant Boarding Community is My Second Family

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This is the first 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.

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by Silke Kuhn

251 kids. 21 countries. 1 community.

This is the vibrant community that awaits you as a boarder at SMUS.

The variety of people from a variety of walks of life form this sort of support network for you, as a student, as a boarder, and as a human. It’s a place full of friends: a place of old friends, new ones, life-long friends, running buddies and science lab partners. It’s a place of classmates and roommates, teachers, mentors, leaders, advisors, and a place of support-givers. And this place with these many different people has become like a home away from home, not because of my cozy room or the red brick buildings or the impressive campus, but because of the people – my second family.

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Personally, I find it exceptional that so many people can contribute something unique to create this diverse community. Everyone brings an aspect of their ethnicity, their own story to SMUS when they board. The multiculturalism is amazing, and helps you gain an understanding and appreciation of the world’s people.

The situations you encounter while boarding are valuable, because they help push you outside of your comfort zone. Perhaps it nudges you to befriend people you would otherwise ignore. Through moments like these, maybe during out trips, or the Terry Fox Run, or house games, I have met many fascinating people and formed lasting connections.

And I find it good to observe our ever-transforming world, but even better to experience the transformations happening within. And on campus, I’m able to gain a new understanding of our society and form new world views, as well as look inside myself to see my role in the boarding community.

The boarding community will push you. It will stretch you to consider who you want to be. It will teach you about humans, about the world and, most importantly, about yourself. You find refuge in the fact that you know these people are going through the same things you’re going through – just a teenager, blissful, sometimes a little shaky, finding your way through this seemingly endless maze of adolescence. No, you’re not alone. Yes, we’re all just as lost as you are. And yes, we’ll find our way out one day. But that’s not today. And until then we’ll keep on our trek, creating adventures and memories in the maze.

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

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