Alumni Weekend: Not Just For Alumni


by Gillian Donald, Alumni Associate

As the Easter weekend begins, we are only two weeks away from another major event: Alumni Weekend (May 2-4). Despite its name, our parents, students, staff and faculty are all encouraged to come out and enjoy the many activities on offer (see photos from last year above).

Saturday is the big day for families and staff. At 10 am, we have a pancake breakfast and then open up our inflatable games and face-painting booth (primarily for kids, but some Senior School students managed to have some fun with them last year). By noon, we’ve opened up the International Marketplace and are serving a barbecue lunch on the field. As usual, we’ll also have some tasty culinary offerings from around the world and a few of our talented students will sing or dance (or both) to keep everyone entertained.

One of our new events this year is an alumni rugby game, where Oak Bay and SMUS players of yesteryear will get a chance to compete once again. Our Senior girls soccer team and girls field hockey team will each take on an alumni team, while students and alumni squash players will compete in a tournament. Our first XV rugby team will wrap up the sports side of the afternoon with a game against Oak Bay and on Sunday morning, cricketers of all ages will be on the field.

You can see the complete schedule on the alumni website. We hope to see you there!

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The Leadership Puzzle

Leadership puzzle

Every student at SMUS is a leader, but each one will have to figure out what kind of leader they will be and how they fit in to our community as a whole.

In boarding, leadership skills are often grown through participation in the house community. Working closely with the Director of Residence and the senior house parents in the running of the houses, all Grade 12 boarders play a role in the leadership of the house and all boarders are expected to be active citizens within the community. This process begins long before Grade 12 and, by the time these students have reached Grade 11, they have begun identifying their strengths and using them to contribute to their house and the wider community.

In the spring term of each year, all Grade 11 students attend leadership training and meetings. For some houses, preparing for Grade 12 might mean an organizational meeting to chart the course for the next year while other houses retreat off campus to reflect and plan.

Recently, Symons House Grade 11 students participated in a day of bonding, team-building and planning at a cabin on Shawnigan Lake. Bolton House Grade 11 students did an overnight camping trip to a secluded island to practice their skills and reflect. A Harvey House tradition is to hike up Mt. Finlayson to get back to nature.

In the next few weeks Timmis, Barnacle and Winslow will follow, all in an effort to set the tone for next year and strengthen their houses.

Here is what Chris Bateman, senior house parent in Bolton, wrote about their retreat:

The Grade 11s of Bolton House were off on the third annual Bolton Leadership retreat. It was the second time the retreat had been an overnight trip.

Travelling by water taxi, the group stayed on a picturesque little island in the beautiful Gulf Islands. With spring flowers in full bloom and raccoons, mink, seals, Canada Geese and many shorebirds as companions, the group bonded through leadership initiatives, discussion, survival skills, cooking and by relaxing around the campfire.

The five practices of leadership that we espouse in the residential curriculum are “model the way”, “inspire a shared vision”, improve the process”, “enable others to act”, and “encourage the heart”. The boys displayed many of these qualities during the trip and I am sure will continue to grow as leaders as they now assume formal house duties.

We woke to a beautiful sunny morning and were treated to a pod of orca whales on our way home. It was a great break from the busy pace of term three and the leadership of the house is set up very well for next year!

Take a look at the video below to get a sense of the Bolton House retreat.

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Easter Arrives at the Junior School


Easter is a fun holiday for our younger students and our Junior School teachers arranged some exciting craft opportunities just in time for the long weekend.

The Grade 1 class made beautiful chicks and little baskets, while the Grade 2 class made some more traditional Easter eggs using candles, dyes and wax. The Kindergarten students celebrated the holiday by making bunny masks and hopping about from classroom to classroom wishing everyone a Happy Easter!

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Athletics Week in Review: April 16

Pushing hard to win


On April 12, the SMUS rowing team attended the Maple Bay Regatta, competing against local clubs Maple Bay, Nanaimo and Victoria City in addition to regular school rivals Claremont, Brentwood, Shawnigan and Gulf Islands.

A gorgeous sunny day hinted at favourable conditions, though by lunchtime a gusting wind made racing more challenging. Fortunately, the white caps were soon replaced by smooth water as the regatta got back on schedule.

On the day, SMUS placed 15 crews on the podium, with the Boys 1X, Boys 2X, Boys 4X, Womens 8+, Mens 8+, Lightweight Mens 4X and Novice Mens 8+ collecting gold medals.

The developmental Girls 4X+, Lightweight Men 1X, Novice Boys 4X+ and Lightweight Girls 2X all finished second in their respective races, while the Boys 2X, Lightweight Mens 4X, Lightweight Boys 2X and developmental Boys 8+ placed third.

Overall, it was a successful day of racing. In the team competition, the boys finished first and the girls third. Overall, SMUS placed third.

Congratulations to all the athletes who took part and thanks to the parent support group. The team is next in action April 25-27 at the Brentwood College Regatta in Mill Bay.

Track & Field

The third invitational meet of the Victoria Track and Field competition took place April 9 at Centennial Stadium. Atypically, the weather was actually warm and sunny, which made for a most enjoyable afternoon. Notable efforts from Laura Woods in the Senior Girls 800m and Conrad Chin in the Junior Boys 200m resulted in silver medal finishes, while Megan Harrison and Lisset Cabrera ran strongly to place 5th and 6th in a very competitive Senior Girls 3000m race.

The next meet is set for April 16th, with defending provincial 100m champion Saeed Shokoya scheduled to make his season debut.

Senior Girls Soccer

Thanks to a three goal blitz in the ten minutes immediately before half time, the girls claimed an important 3-0 league win over GNS. Robyn Noel, Colleen Wong and Yasmin Roudsari paced the attack, with Wong and Sam Biberdorf combining in goal for another shutout.

Then in the 24-team UVic Invitational tournament, the team took its opener, dropping Ballenas 1-0 thanks to a Wong penalty kick and solid goalkeeping by both Shinai Sorensen and Anna Mollenhauer. Moving to the championship side of the draw, SMUS then lost 1-0 to Mt. Douglas, controlling play but falling victim to an opposition marker in the first minute.

Then, up against Kelowna, a Wong goal in the 14th minute staked SMUS to a 1-0 lead, but the Owls came back with two of their own to advance 2-1.

Another Okanagan team, Mt. Boucherie, was the next opponent, with SMUS out of the blocks to claim a 3-0 victory. This resulted in another match vs Mt. Douglas. Two goals by Wong and another by Mia Roberts confirmed a 3-1 win.

Throughout the week, the back line of Jenna Dhillon, Sam Colby, Izzy Gudgeon and Ali Murtland performed particularly well, with the last named tournament MVP at UVic. Sisters Flora and Maggie Manson-Blair were also very steady in centre midfield in all the games.


Senior badminton players had two very important league games, first hosting Mt. Douglas on April 8. In a very spirited affair, SMUS came out ahead 8-3 thanks to notable performances by Jill Ding, Kyle Tang and Hank Wei.

SMUS then met arch-rival Claremont on April 10. While in previous years the team had never fared particularly well in the Spartans’ gym, a wonderfully balanced effort this time produced a 9-2 victory. Chad Hou, Jessica Jiang and Airlia Hie led the way.

With the wins, SMUS now holds top spot in the league and can solidify its position with more strong play in the coming weeks.

Senior Rugby

Fresh off the Boot Game victory against Oak Bay, a Senior rugby squad entered the Vancouver Island 7s competition on April 13.

Though missing a good number of key performers, the group played reasonably well in compiling a 1-1-2 record. However, losing out on a try countback following a 12-12 draw vs Brentwood meant SMUS just missed out on a top-four finish. Zack Kahn led from the front and registered five tries in the two games he played before sitting out with a bruised thigh. Matt Rud also ran strongly, while others – such as Angus Catto, Warren Marriott, Diego Olivares and Michael Cernucan – took good advantage of the extra playing time on offer.

The full 15-aside team now looks forward to a Thursday, April 17 lunchtime clash with defending AA champion Collingwood. Kickoff is set for 12:30 pm.

Rowing photos by Stephanie Anter.
You can now watch the 2014 Boot Game on SMUSTube!
Download high resolution pictures of the Maple Bay Regatta and Senior girls soccer vs. GNS in the SMUS photo gallery.

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Middle School Rugby: Home & Away Recap

The Middle School spring rugby teams played their second round of games this past week.

The Grade 6 team showed tremendous improvement from their first match, scoring several fine tries in their game at Lansdowne. Sascha Skoronski led the attack, while Jake Ritenour and Adam Roberts shone on defense. The Grade 7 side had its ups and downs hosting Cedar Hill. However, there were some very positive elements in their play and Lucas Bosley led the play, ably supported by Ben Shaw.

The Grade 8 teams form two evenly balanced sides, with one team away this week to Glanford and North Saanich and the other hosting Lansdowne and Bayside. Once again, there was real development in ball handling, tackling skills and reading the game. Ethan Hersant, Adam Moulden, Nick Papaloukus, Alex Calderon and Grade 6 Joshua Mao performed particularly well.

The season continues with games each Tuesday and Thursday up to the Victoria Day long weekend.

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Brain Awareness Week: Senior School

It was a busy week at the Senior School with many opportunities for both students and faculty to expand their understanding of the human brain as part of Brain Awareness Week. On Monday, AP Biology and AP Psychology students heard from Dr. Eric Chudler (University of Washington). The campus was also visited by lots of friendly canines thanks to the Pacific Animal Therapy Society, who demonstrated how animals can reduce our stress levels.

On Wednesday, Frank Kros spoke to all students about how their brains function and gave a lunchtime talk on the link between leadership and brain research. He also gave a talk for faculty (The New IQ: Understanding Executive Function Skills Inside and Outside the Classroom) and parents (Inside Information for Parents: Childhood Foundations of Adult Happiness).

The week wrapped up with a Brain Bowl competition on Thursday and an acoustic concert and brain food barbecue on Friday.

Special Guest: Frank Kros

by Charlie White, Grade 12

Mr. Frank Kros spoke to the Senior School students today about how to maximize our brain’s potential when it comes to learning and studying. His lecture was very entertaining and interesting! Mr. Kros’s energy, enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge about the brain’s power was inspiring. He explained how as teenagers we are incredibly fortunate because our brain is rapidly maturing right now, and we are more educated about the brain than ever before.

He taught us the least effective, moderately effective and most effective study techniques. I was surprised to learn that re-reading and underlining text and the use of mnemonics or memory aids are among the least effective methods of studying, whereas the most effective techniques are creating flashcards and taking practice tests. He also recommended “cross training” our brains by studying one subject for a short period of time and then switching to another subject. This “cross training” allows the brain to focus for longer periods of time and to create connections between different academic subjects.

Mr. Kros also taught us how to listen using the HEAR technique. He explained to us that we should Halt (stop all self talk and inner thoughts), Engage (turn towards the speaker), Anticipate (anticipate what the speaker will say next) and Replay (immediately replay what the speaker said in your mind as fast as possible). These simple tasks help our brains in receiving and holding onto information.

We also learned that as teenagers we need 9.25 hours of sleep and that during sleep our brains convert short-term “working” memory to long-term memory that we can then recall as needed. Mr. Kros was an incredibly informative and engaging speaker. I feel that, as students and teenagers, there were many valuable points from his presentation that we can apply to our daily lives, in and out of the classroom.

For more about Brain Awareness Week, take a look at a video from our first Brain Awareness Week.

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Brain Awareness Week: Middle School


Many of the Brain Awareness Week events at SMUS focused on research, what we can do to improve our learning and how our brains interact with the rest of our bodies. The week included special lectures and a very literal approach to understanding the brain by Mr. and Mrs. Jackson.

On Monday, students in Grades 7 and 8 heard a talk from University of Washington professor Dr. Eric Chudler, which included a segment on animal brains. This was helpful for some of our Science students who completed a hands-on study of sheep brains later in the week. As you’ll see in the video, interested students learned how a brain fits into an animal’s head, how much the brain weighs, their relative size compared to a human brain and much more — all with the opportunity to handle the brains themselves.

Do you want to learn more about the brain? Find out how students in Grades 9-12 spent their Brain Awareness Week or take a look at a video from our first Brain Awareness Week.

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Brain Awareness Week: Junior School

Heather Clayton presents Journey Into The Brain as part of Brain Awareness Week at the Junior School

by Tori, Grade 5
This year Brain Awareness Week was lots of fun and I learned so much. I enjoyed learning about how my brain works and what is good for it. In every morning assembly we would learn something new, like on Monday we met Dr. Eric Chudler, who told us about the brain’s job. On Tuesday, we read a book, which told us about the parts in the brain and what they do. On Wednesday, we talked about mindfulness and how it affects your brain. On Thursday, we talked about how exercise and laughing are really good for your brain and on Friday, we watched skits and we sang a song together called “Catch a Brain Wave”. This week was so fun and I can’t wait for next year.

by Amalia, Grade 5
Something that I took away from Brain Awareness Week was how important it is to have fun. I realized how much my friends mean to me because I always have so much fun with them and I learned how important that is for my brain, because when you have fun, dopamine and serotonin (chemicals in your brain) get released and they lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is a chemical that kills neurons. After this, I will remember to always have fun!

by Logan, Grade 5
As I write this at the end of Brain Awareness Week, I look back and think that I will take away the fact that dopamine, serotonin and endorphins are all very good chemicals that release when you’re happy and laughing! One favourite moment was singing “Catch a Brain Wave” with our kindergarten buddies.

by Sienna, Grade 5
This year Brain Awareness Week was very fun, but the thing that I enjoyed the most was the skit that Caoimhe, Emily and Claire (the evil cortisol) did together. It was really fun because all the school was laughing together and that releases dopamine.

by Stefan, Grade 5
This year Brain Awareness Week has been fantastic. I have learned so much from it. On Wednesday, we had an assembly on mindfulness with different strategies for being mindful. On Thursday, we went to the beach to be mindful. It’s amazing how many more small details you notice when you carefully turn your head instead of your eyes. We had an amazing time listening to mindful sounds. The other thing we learned was to walk quietly in nature so we don’t disturb the animals around us. During Brain Awareness Week, we also learned about chemicals in the brain. Dopamine occurs when you laugh and exercise. This week was great and I really enjoyed it.

by Divyesh, Grade 5
My favourite assembly of Brain Awareness Week was the dopamine assembly because we got to watch Just for Laughs Gags and the teachers danced with the students. I liked it because it was very different. Something that I took away from this experience was that laughing releases dopamine and seratonin, which are chemicals that make you feel good. Laugh a lot, it is good for you!

Kindergarten Reflections

“My brain helps me to draw. It gives me ideas. It also helps me to move.” – Preeya

“My brain sends messages all over my body.” – Ethan

“My brain can help me decide if I want to eat my cake first or last. It helps me taste the cake and move the spoon to my mouth.” – Ridley

“My brain is helping me to pick a pet.” – Cindy

“My brain tells me when something is hot or cold.” – Gillian

“My brain helps me to choose things to do.” – Parker

“My brain helps me to move with it’s cerebellum.” – Josie

“My brain helps me be creative.” – Tommy

“My brain helps me keep my balance when I ride my bike.” – Sammie

“My brain was smoother when I was little and now has more bumps.” – Nancy

“My brain sends messages to my hand when something is hot or cold.” – Quinn

“My brain works even when I sleep.” – Sophie

“My brain helps me choose what I’ll have for dessert after supper.” – Henry

“My brain helps me balance.” – Annie

“My brain has neurons that send messages to my body.” – Rayan

Want to learn more about the brain? Find out how students in Grades 6-8 spent their Brain Awareness Week or take a look at a video from our first Brain Awareness Week.

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SMUS Keeps the Boot


On a perfect evening for rugby, in front of a large and boisterous crowd of some 800 at UVic’s Centennial Stadium, the SMUS 1st XV upset the form chart with a thrilling 23-14 Boot Game win over favoured opponent Oak Bay.

The “Boot”, played for between the two schools since 1995 and sponsored by SMUS alumnus and four-time Canadian World Cup star Gareth Rees ’85, remains one of the highlights of the annual sporting calendar. This year’s contest, with SMUS now leading the series 10-9-1, certainly did not disappoint.

Indeed, SMUS was hot on attack in the opening minutes, playing at speed, spreading the ball wide on every possible occasion and severely stretching the opposition’s defense. A Michael Baart penalty goal in the fifth minute was a deserved reward for this early pressure, with the lead then extending to 10-0 when flanker Saeed Shokoya thundered home from 40 metres out after more multi-phase play.

Oak Bay fought back, but could not break a resolute SMUS defense. When Aidan McCleary powered home for a try, with Baart adding the conversion and then a second penalty goal, the scoreline moved to a quite unexpected 20-0.

The second half was also packed with drama. SMUS took the initiative, making multiple line breaks in the first 10 minutes but failing to make the last crucial pass with overlaps beckoning. Baart did add a third penalty goal, but the 23 point margin could, and perhaps should, have been more.

Inevitably, the momentum shifted, and, in the game’s final quarter, a desperate Oak Bay took control and dominated play. A converted try took the scoreline to 23-7, with a second tally and the extras soon to follow. With several minutes still left on the clock, it was now 23-14. SMUS defenders were literally out on their feet, with only some desperate scramble defence and hurried clearances keeping the Barbarians at bay.

Then, it was all over. One last tackle, one last turnover and one last kick to touch brought the final whistle from referee Dan Beattie.

In what was a comprehensive team effort, props Noah Pryce-Baff and Dante Morandin set a solid platform against much bigger opponents, while hooker Mac Valentine, deputizing for the injured Matt Shin, took Man of the Match honours with a sterling all-round display. Likewise, locks Matt Rud and Aidan McCleary enjoyed their best ever performances in a SMUS jersey, with captain Zach Kahn and fellow flanker David Boroto running miles in both attack and defense. Off the bench, newcomer Warren Marriott also did extremely well, coming on late in the first half when the influential Shokoya had to withdraw due to a hamstring strain.

In the backs, scrum-half Carson Smith performed wonderfully, forming a solid halfback partnership with Graeme Hyde-Lay. As advertised, centres Mitchell Newman and Max Pollen ran strongly and tackled ferociously. On the outside, Owen Sudul and Jacob Wilson-Potter both ran cleverly and dealt efficiently with a whole series of blind side attacks and high kicks. At fullback, Baart put in some telling long punts, and crucially kept the scoreboard ticking over with perfect place kicking.

Michael Cernucan and Liam Catto also made second-half appearances and did their part. A handful of players did not see game action, but were very valued for their roles in the training buildup for the game.

With the win, SMUS should move up the BC AA rankings, with a chance to make a further statement April 17 when #1-ranked Collingwood pays a visit.


Thanks to Bob Lin and Kent Leahy-Trill for the photos, which are available in the SMUS photo gallery. Read more about the game in the Times Colonist. Watch the game below:

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SMUS in the News: St. Michaels beats Oak Bay to claim Rees Boot

Times Colonist
April 10, 2014

St. Michaels beats Oak Bay to claim Rees Boot

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