Grade 8 Students Learn at Leadership Camp

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Last weekend, six Grade 8 SMUS students (along with Mr. Jackson) travelled to Ontario to participate in the CAIS Middle School Leadership Conference

More than 150 like-minded students from Canadian Accredited Independent Schools across Canada congregated at Camp Onondaga (about two hours north of Toronto) for a four-day leadership summit that focused on skill-building, confidence-building and making new friends.

“I found it really fun and it was inspiring,” says Hannah M.

Students participated in leadership workshops that touched on a wide variety of subjects, from body language to problem solving, where they played games and had opportunities to reflect on what they learned.

“My favourite workshop was one where they’d ask us all a question – like ‘Did you come from a city other than Toronto?’ and you’d raise your hand. And he asked us if we’ve ever had a problem. We used tape to see how we connect with other people,” says Ryan E. “It was really fun and cool. I thought it was really deep. I learned a lot.”

The most insightful workshop for many of the SMUSdent participants was the fun and educational “Builders and Bulldozers” game and reflection. Using pylons, builders had to work together to get the pylons to stand upright, while a larger group of bulldozers tried to knock them down.

“It translates to people, too,” says Sam S. about the builders vs. bulldozers concept.

“This changed the way I think about myself, my friends or my family. Builders are people who are confident with themselves, confident with other people, and they don’t tear things down like a bulldozer does. It got me thinking about if I was a builder or bulldozer,” Hannah says.

“I learned that everyone can be a bulldozer sometimes and you should try your best not to be,” adds Sam.

But it wasn’t all workshops. Students got daily opportunities to try new, different and fun summer camp activities, too. They were given plenty of choice, including ball hockey, canoeing and disc golf; but they also had some step-out-of-your-comfort-zone options, too, like the high ropes course, a 70″ swing and ziplining.

“I definitely built my confidence level up quite a bit. The high ropes were so scary!” says Ellie L.

All the SMUS attendees say now that they’ve returned, they have big hopes for taking leadership at the Middle School to the next level.

“I want to take what I learned and make something happen. I think it’s better than just going and doing nothing after, and just not using your skills. I really want to make a difference at the Middle School,” Ellie says.

“I think that the skills I learned can help me be a better friend, be a better teacher if I need to help kids, and overall be a better person,” Sam says.

We’re excited to see how this group of students applies what they learned to make our Middle School community and the greater SMUS community an even greater place!

“I think it’s so important to learn about leadership. There’ll be more opportunities to use these skills in higher grades,” Ellie says. “If you’re interested in learning more about yourself, and the way to lead, and confidence building, you should definitely try to go next year!”

(photos by Zyoji Jackson)


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Tour de Rock Team Rolls in to SMUS

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by Kyle Slavin, SMUS Review blog editor

This week the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team finished their 1,100-km ride down Vancouver Island, but not before stopping in at SMUS for a quick “Hello” and “Thank you” for the fundraising. The team pedalled their way to campus on Thursday morning, where the Middle and Senior Schools greeted them with cheers and support. But it wasn’t until lunch on Thursday that the fundraising began.

T-shirt sales, donut sales, head shaves and leg waxes SMUS-SS-TourdeRock-08were the name of the game, as students donated their money (and hair!) to a great cause: pediatric cancer research.

The Tour de Rock theme continued in Chapel this week, too, as one SMUS employee – me, in fact; the guy who writes the blogs! – had the honour of speaking to students and staff about my experience as a Tour de Rock rider. I was fortunate enough to ride on the Tour de Rock team in 2012, and I’ve since spent time with the new teams in the years since as part of the support crew that helps get them safely from Port Alice to Victoria.

It was an honour for me to share a little bit about my experience with this incredible SMUS community.

Here’s an excerpt from my Chapel speech:

Last week I became friends with Hope. We had never spoken, she didn’t even know my name, and despite this, she confidently came up to me one day during breakfast, tugged on my jacket and asked me for my autograph. She doesn’t care that I’m not an actual celebrity. She doesn’t care that there’s no value to my signature. All she cared about was my Tour de Rock jacket.

Hope is eight years old. She’s hilarious and energetic and unfiltered and bubbly and brave. She also has cancer. She has an inoperable tumour growing up against her heart. But last week, that didn’t matter to her. What mattered to her was that she was the centre of attention. She was the celebrity to the Tour de Rock team, a group of people that she looks up to because she sees them as doing something heroic.

Riding in the Tour de Rock in 2012 was a life-changing experience and has shaped the way I see the world and the way I look at my own problems. It’s kids like Hope, who are way too young to have to know what cancer is and who are way too young to have to know what ‘survival rate’ means, that the Tour de Rock is looking to help.

My job on Tour this year included doing photography, and documenting the Tour de Rock team as they bike 1,100 kilometres, as they stop in 30-plus communities and as they meet children, families and Vancouver Islanders who all have one thing in common: their strong desire to put an end to cancer, specifically childhood cancers.

During the three hours I spent with Hope last Wednesday, she reminded me probably half a dozen times to mail her some photos so she can put them in her scrapbook alongside all of the autographs she was collecting. She also, in that time, decided on a whim that she wanted to shave her head, so she grabbed a toque and passed it around to raise as much money as she could before she went under the razor. She collected more than $300 in less than five minutes.

It seemed strange that someone like her could ever be seen as anything but an awesome kid because that’s the Hope that I saw and that’s the Hope I got to know. You couldn’t wipe the smile off her face because she was having the time of her life playing in the police cars and getting carried around by a bunch of big cops. But, on the flip side, she’s a cancer patient, meaning even though she’s an awesome eight-year-old, her situation has forced her to grow up and experience things no child should ever have to face.

I met Hope on a good day, when she was excited and enthusiastic and seemed to be what I would consider a normal eight-year-old. But her situation isn’t normal. Kids with cancer spend many, many days cooped up in their houses or in a hospital dealing with chemotherapy and radiation. And when she does beat cancer, she could be left with emotional and physical scars, learning difficulties, even PTSD from the experience.

So my Tour de Rock jacket and what it means to a child like Hope is why the Tour de Rock exists. To her, this jacket represents a unified fight against everything she hates and the one thing that I hate that’s growing inside of her.

The Tour de Rock riders don’t ride because they want recognition or glory for the cycling they’re doing. They ride because they have a choice: they can choose to go outside and ride their bikes, they can choose to shave their heads, they can choose to say “Stop!” when their bodies are sore and burning. But a child living with cancer doesn’t get to choose. That’s why I shaved my head. I chose to be bald not because it shows solidarity with the kids who lose their hair during treatment, but because it’s the least I can do to show that I have a choice that can make a difference in their lives.

Childhood cancer is horrible. Meeting kids who are fighting cancer is incredibly inspiring and humbling, but it’s horrible having to meet them under those circumstances. And it hurts having to see parents say goodbye to their child, especially because we know that we’re not going to save every kid. But as much doom and gloom as there is in talking about childhood cancer, I get so much pleasure in supporting the Tour de Rock because I’ve seen firsthand how much joy the Tour de Rock brings to these kids.

A lot of these kids say that their favourite day of the year is when they get to miss school and go ride in the police car as it follows the Tour de Rock team. Last week, Hope was grinning from ear to ear as she sat in the police car and pushed the buttons and gave the riders high fives before they set off in the morning.

I rode into SMUS on my bike, alongside my 16 Tour de Rock teammates three years ago. It still gives me goosebumps just thinking about the reception we received and the level of support we got from SMUS students that year. It was déjà vu for me when the team rode in here this week. I was so happy to see such a level of joy and enthusiasm and energy and support that the school community gave them. There really is nothing more rewarding than seeing kids help kids out of a genuine want to make a difference.

Riding a bike is easy. Battling cancer as a kid, dealing with all that comes with it, and still waking up every day happy as every child deserves to be, that is hard. And until the hard part is over, the easy stuff will continue.

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Junior School Students Lead Delicious Leadership Initiative

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At St. Michaels University School, the leadership program is based on the understanding that every student is a leader and each child is involved in the leadership program. One of the streams of leadership is the service stream and the students participate in service initiatives that involve the entire community.

In addition to these scheduled service opportunities, students have the opportunity to submit a proposal for a student-led initiative if they have a special cause that they wish to support. Every year we have a few such service initiatives approved as a part of the service plan.

The first student-led initiative at the Junior School took place this week, as three Grade 4 girls took it upon themselves to bake cupcakes and hold a wonderful cupcake sale at morning recess to raise money for BC Children’s Hospital.

We look forward to another year filled with opportunities for our children to give back to the community and to the lessons learned from these experiences.

Student Reflection from Bryn, Sienna and Maggie

On Monday, September 28 we had a bake sale and raised money for the BC Children’s Hospital. We wanted to help kids like us but who are in need. On the weekend we baked at our own houses and then we got together at Sienna’s house and decorated the cupcakes. At recess time we held the bake sale. There was a long line but there were enough cupcakes. A lot of people got seconds. It made us feel really good that we could make enough cupcakes for everybody and it was really fun. We are glad to do service that involves our two favourite things – helping people and making cupcakes!

(photos by Gordon Chan)

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Athletics Week in Review: September 30

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School sport in 2015-2016 is under way on many fronts, with multiple teams in action. Performances to date indicate another enjoyable and successful year is in the cards.

Senior boys soccer, having graduated a good number of seniors from the 2014 B.C. AA champions, fields a relatively young team, with two-thirds of the squad in Grade 11. Nonetheless, in a congested first three weeks, SMUS reached the final of the ISA Tournament, with wins over Shawnigan, West Point Grey Academy, and St. George’s, before bowing out to Collingwood. Then in local league play, the group fought off an enthusiastic challenge from St. Andrew’s, with captain Hari Ikonomou connecting from the penalty spot for the game’s only goal.

Defenders Ben Keep and Jonathan Sudul have been in good form, with Jamison Schulz-Franco and Felix Butterfield also playing strongly.

At the Junior level, SMUS has entered two teams in the local competition. Both have played a series of friendlies, with the A team dropping a narrow 2-1 encounter versus Reynolds before bouncing back to defeat GNS. The development squad has featured in two exciting, high-scoring shootouts versus Belmont and St. Andrew’s. Aidan Kerr, Julius Krueger, Owen Weismiller and Emilio Gonzalez-Luna have been prominent so far.

In field hockey, a young but talented 1st XI won all four of its games at the Friendship Cup before then notching wins over Oak Bay (2-1) and GNS (4-0) in league play. Then, in the ISAs played at Crofton House, the team moved smoothly through pool play en route to the final versus Collingwood.

In a dramatic match, SMUS drew level 1-1 early in the second half before goalie Mia Roberts saved a penalty with three minutes to play in regulation time. Then, from a counterattack, Olivia Donald slotted home what looked to be the decisive goal. However, just before the final hooter, the Cavaliers registered the equalizer.

In the shoot out, the teams remained level after five rounds, before Collingwood claimed the winner.

Anna Mollenhauer, Cordel Tromp, Aveen Glen and Chloe Keeler-Young led a strong team effort, with results suggesting SMUS will once again be very much in the BC AA title chase.

The development team, backstopped by Tireny Wuroala, has yet to concede a goal, defeating Oak Bay B and Reynolds 1-0 and playing to a scoreless draw at Brentwood. Emily Wu and Isabela Serhan have paced the attack.

In squash, 28 SMUS athletes took part in the Shawnigan Junior Open. Robert Fisher claimed second place in the U17 Silver Division, while Alex Brown bested teammate Rachel Yuen in the girls’ Silver event. Grace Thomas reached the final of the U19 competition, only to fall 11-9 in the fifth and deciding game.

Many less experienced players received their first taste of tournament action and will be the better for it as the circuit now moves on to the Vancouver Island Open.

Senior girls volleyball, SMUS, led by setter Silke Kuhn, began league play with convincing victories over Claremont and Stelly’s. As usual, competition for the three Island berths to the provincial AA tournament promises to be extremely tight.

The Junior girls performed well at the Brentwood tournament, improving with each outing and upsetting the hosts in pool play. SMUS travels to Langley this week to take part in the Trinity Western University Invitational.

The Grade 9 rugby group had its first action, travelling up Island for exhibition games versus Brentwood and Shawnigan. Jin Woo Park, Tristan Kuhn and Emilio Gonzalez-Luna did especially well, with the team benefiting greatly from the game experience.

In cross country, it has been the Junior School that has set the early season tone, participating in the local ISA races. At Windsor Park, Charlie finished strongly to win the Grade 3 girls’ division.

The next runs were held at Beaver Lake on a longer and more challenging course. Owen, Lucy, Kelsey, Ma’an and Reed were just some of the 45 SMUS athletes who ran well.

At the Senior level, the season opened at Lambrick Park in spectacular fall weather. Chrissa Tromp made an early move and then held on to win the Senior Girls 4k race, with sister Cordel then performing well in the Grade 9 event. Julia Southgate also ran strongly to finish 5th in the Grade 10 race, helping SMUS to a second place team finish.

Michael Wong-Harrison, Aubry Williams and Lucas Simpson paved the way for a second place team finish by the Senior boys, while good balance, thanks in part to Gabriel Reis and Jared Reis, saw the Junior boys top the podium.

Finally, the rowing squad took part in the annual Crabfest Regatta and then the Head of Hamster race. For most, it was the first time on the water in a competitive environment. All learned a lot and enjoyed the experience. The Senior Novice Women’s 8+ and Junior Novice Boy’s 8+ won their events, while Patricia Ye and Franca Pilchner took first place in the Senior Women’s 2X.

As part of team-building and cross-training exercises, some of the more senior oarsmen gained new skills by racing in a dragon boat event. This was a terrific experience, with all involved gaining new respect for paddling.

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Junior School Celebrates New Students at Welcoming Assembly

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Last Friday, the Junior School ceremoniously welcomed all our new students to the school with an address from Head of School Mr. Bob Snowden, our Head Boy and Girl (Grade 12 students Jasper Johnston and Sarah Jones) and handing out bandanas to place them into school “houses”.

“All of our students get placed in one of four houses, named after some of our former headmasters – Parkyn, Quainton, Symons and Tolson, says Ms. Nancy Richards, Director of Junior School. “We have bandanas as a way of identifying which house the students are in and to bring those students together. They’ll wear them at sporting events, house lunches, special events and activities as a way to create enthusiasm and inspiration within their house.”

She says the house system at the Junior School is one that promotes inclusiveness, and celebrating all the new fSMUS-JS-Bandana-05aces at the SMUS Junior School (from Kindergarten to Grade 5 and even new staff members) helps build a strong community.

“It punctuates the importance of belonging to a particular group in support of the greater good of the school,” she says. “It is really important for young people to have that special time to learn about their houses and who they’re named after. Being part of something, feeling like you belong to the community immediately when you start at this school is so important. Through our house system, it’s just another vehicle of having a sense of belonging to this incredibly strong and supportive community.”

After receiving their bandanas, the SMUS Review sat down with some of our new students to hear how they’re enjoying their first couple of weeks at SMUS and what they’re looking forward to now that they are a part of our community:

Harper, Grade 1 – It’s been good because I have friends that I already know, and I have new friends. We play outside together, but some are in a different class. My brother used to be in Grade 1 here and I always picked him up, so I know this school pretty well. I knowSMUS-JS-Bandana-01 where everything is – not everything – but most everything.

Sophia, Grade 1 – Grade 1 is good because I like music. I had music yesterday. I played a game where you sing this song and the wolf is trying to get you. There were only two classes at my last school, only preschool and Kindergarten – this one has lots more classes.

Everest, Grade 1 – I like art class because I’m really good at art because it’s my favourite thing to do whenever I’m bored. I like to do crafts and sometimes I draw pictures of my favourite stuffie, Lotso, which smells like strawberries. I went to school in Ontario. It didn’t have chapel and we didn’t hang our backpacks in a hallway, and we sat in any random chair. In this school we have a chair that has your name on it. I’m excited about sports and the different classes that I didn’t used to have.

Gabe, Grade 2 – School has been good because I’m trying my hardest. Last year I went to school in London. This school’s different because in London, we didn’t take homework every day. I moved to Victoria maybe three SMUS-JS-Bandana-03weeks ago. I like that it’s the size of the UK, and it has less people than all of the countries in the UK. I’m excited about having new friends this year!

Fung-Ei, Grade 2 – Grade 2 is nice because we get to do fun stuff I haven’t done before like drawing ourselves and doing homework. I like PE here, it’s really fun and exciting.

Jack, Grade 3 – At my old school we didn’t have PE, sports club or any of that stuff, so that’s why I like it here. I really like the after school activities, like soccer or running club. I’m excited that I get to do lots of stuff that I didn’t get to do at my old school.

Julia, Grade 3 – It’s been really fun. The people in my class, my teacher, all the activities we’re doing are so fun. I really like doing paper plate symphony with Mr. Hawes. I’m excited about getting to know my class a bit better.

Reed, Grade 5 – I’m making friends and I’m finding it fun. My classes are good, I really like gym class. My school last year was all girls, and we kind of had the same kilts there. I’m liking meeting new friends. I’m excited to go to Camp Pringle (on Friday) because at my old school SMUS-JS-Bandana-04we went to an outdoor place and I liked going there.

Neil, Grade 5 – Grade 5 is good fun because I’m making friends quickly; the children are quite friendly. I was only at my last school for 8 months, and I was in England before that. This will be my fifth school. I think I will stay here a long time. School in England is different because some of the names for classes are different, for instance instead of Social Studies it’s Humanities.

Alex, Grade 5 – Grade 5 has been really good. I’ve made lots of friends already, I’ve even had two playdates with them. There’s lots of things to do, the classes are good, I really like my teacher, I have really good classmates and the work is not too easy, not too challenging. This school is completely different from my last one; it’s a whole different world, but I really like it.

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Exploratory is All About Your Passions and Trying Something New

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The Exploratory program at the Middle School gives students in Grades 6 through 8 a chance to try new things, pursue their passions or further explore something that may pique their interest. Exploratory is class within the school schedule where learning something new takes precedence over grades.

Teachers and students all have a say in what Exploratory classes are offered and how certain classes are run, allowing for a lot of flexibility based on what the students want to get out of the experience. Classes are cross-grade, which gives the older students a chance to model leadership for the younger grades and for those younger students to learn by the example of people close to their own age.

This term – like every term – we’re offering some great Exploratory classes that touch on arts, sports, sciences and more. Here’s a list of the Exploratory options available this term:

Do you enjoy being with children? This Exploratory will enable you to earn a Red Cross “Babysitter Certificate” and give you the confidence and experience to care for children. The course includes:

  • How to be responsible when home alone
  • How to create a safe environment
  • How to cope with common problems
  • Skills to take care of babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and school-aged children
  • Games and activities
  • How to manage a babysitting business (resume, business cards and more!)

Championship Soccer
This Exploratory is open to everyone in all grades. It’s fun, fast-paced and helps you get ready for the school soccer season. Rain or shine, we’ll be out there playing!

Comic Book/Graphic Novel Creation
Bring your artistic talents, your writing skills and your sense of adventure. We’ll be looking at different types and styles of comics and graphic novels and you will get the chance to create your own.

SMUS-MS-1516-Exploratory-05CSI Forensics
Keen observers and young scientists wanted! We will conduct mini-labs and explore other hands-on activities to help us solve a variety of crimes.

Fibre Arts
Learn new skills and hone those you know. Bring your ideas and have fun with crocheting, knitting, dry-felting and more!

Fun Fitness
This is a fun fitness and conditioning program that prepares students for sport and for life. From learning how to properly use exercise equipment to improving form in their sport of choice, this Exploratory class gives students the knowledge and skills to stay healthy and reduce the risk of injury. By learning about the importance of posture, balance, better movement and muscle endurance over strength, students have fun while staying active.SMUS-MS-1516-Exploratory-07

Large-Scale Painting
Working with pencil, paper and paint, students will create themed art for a temporary installation in the Chapel based on a variety of religious symbols.

Lawn Sports
Get ready to test your wits as you strategize your way through an abundance of lawn sporting showdowns: bocce, croquet, horseshoes, ladderball, frisbee face-off and more. (The sport lineup is weather dependent!) No experience necessary – all you need is a positive attitude and a willingness to try.

Make Your Own Movie
Using your own device or one of the school iPads, you will write a script, film and edit a 3-5 minute movie. At the end of the Exploratory we will have a viewing party for all the completed projects!

Middle School Explorers
Each session provides students with wilderness and outdoor training, including reading maps, GPS work, outdoor cooking, tarps and tents, packing for trips, insects, local plants, birds and animals, and survival tips and tricks. This Exploratory is rain or shine, so come dressed for the weather.

Are your days super jam-packed? Do you want to discover new ways to slow down, relax and have fun? We will get to know and love our brains by doing fun and relaxing activities, like taste testing, performing random acts of kindness, yoga, going for walks, and listening to music. Join us for this Exploratory to pause and set yourself up for a fun and happy school year.

Recording Studio Building
Are you interested in all things tech? During this Exploratory, we will be building a recording studio from the ground up. We will be researching products, designing the space, purchasing equipment and hopefully recording a few broadcasts.SMUS-MS-1516-Exploratory-06

Come join the construction crew as we continue building a model of SMUS in MinecraftEdu (then filling it with zombies). New and experienced crafters welcome. There will be plenty of time for play once the construction work is done!

Ukulele Fun
Do you like the sing? Are you looking for a new musical adventure? Then you should learn to play the ukulele. Together, we’ll learn songs that we can perform and share with others.

Ultimate Frisbee
Co-ed teams will make up the exploration of this incredible sport. If you have never played before or if you are an “expert”, join us for Ultimate Frisbee SMUS-MS-1516-Exploratory-08outside in the fresh, autumn air during Exploratory times. You will have an incredible time and learn new skills surrounding this sport.

The woodworking class teaches basic skills using hand tools. You’ll learn to cut, saw, plane, sand and paint using hand tools alone. You’ll start with easy wood projects, such as wood puzzles, and work your way up to more skilled pieces, like toolboxes, birdhouses and locker shelving.

Yoga for Everyone
Come and join this relaxing Exploratory that’s focused on fun, flexibility and fitness. All skills levels are welcome!

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New Head Girl and Head Boy Aim to Strengthen Cross-Campus Community

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We may only be a couple of weeks into school, but some students – Sarah Jones and Jasper Johnston, in particular – have been thinking very seriously about this school year since Grade 11.

Sarah and Jasper were elected Head Girl and Head Boy towards the end of last year and immediately got to work – meeting with students, faculty and staff at the Junior, Middle and Senior Schools; discussing their goals for the school; and aspiring to make this the best school year ever (get it?!) for everyone at SMUS.

The SMUS Review sat down with the student leaders to get to know them and to find out the impact they hope to make at SMUS this year.

Why did you want to be Head Girl?
Sarah – Originally when I thought about it I didn’t really consider myself Head Girl material because I’m pretty involved in sports outside of school. I didn’t think I was involved enough in the student life and the school life to become Head Girl. But I had a few people ask me to run for the position, even people who aren’t necessarily in my close friend group, so then I started really considering the position. And I talked to [last year’s Head Girl] Cindy [Kim] and she made it sound like the perfect way to become involved in the school and contribute to making it an even better place.

So Jasper, is Sarah Head Girl material?
Jasper – She’s going to be a great Head Girl! Who doesn’t like Sarah? She’s always present and is such a powerful, positive force on campus. And she’s always smiling! She is deeply involved in the school community and we all know she’s going to be great representing us.

Why did you want to be Head Boy?
Jasper – I think in part because I had had wonderful experiences with our previous Head Boys and Head Girls. I was really lucky to be in a class with [former Head Girl] Kalkidan [Amare] and Cindy, and I did Model UN with [former Head Boy] Ryley [Erickson] when I was in Grade 9, so it was cool to see how these older kids were such great role models. And I am someone who is quite involved in the school community; I do lots of different things and I really think that, especially to the younger kids who see that, it can be wonderful for them to see that as something they can aspire to, to really get involved.

Why is Jasper a going to make a good Head Boy?
Sarah – He’s gonna be a great Head Boy because he’s super organized and he’s super on top of things, and he literally knows absolutely everything about any aspect of the school – I don’t know how he does it. He has really good relationships with all the teachers and all the students. He also has some really good ideas for the year.

What role do you see the Head Boy and Girl playing in the school community and for the student body?
Jasper – I think that the big thing is the Head Boy and Head Girl are the public face of the Prefect Council and of the Grade 12s. It’s up to that graduating class to set the tone for the year and to really be the role models as a class, not just the individual students, setting a great example for the other grades. Through that, the Head Boy and Head Girl need to keep the Prefect Council upbeat, motivated to get things done throughout the year, and hopefully coming up with some great ideas, or at least helping others achieve their ideas, to make this school year as wonderful as possible for everyone. Regardless if you’re at the Junior School, Middle School or Senior School, we’re the student representatives for the whole school.

Sarah – I’d add that we’ve got some cool ideas to connect all three campuses a bit more and hopefully get the younger kids more familiar with the Senior School campus. Besides being a role model, it’s also about trying to foster that sense of community.

What do you expect will be most challenging aspect of the position?
Sarah – Definitely realizing that we can’t please everyone, and knowing when to do something and knowing when to say, ‘I’m sorry, we’re not going to be able to do that.’ Trying to please and balance as many people’s wants without getting overwhelmed is going to be a challenge. But we’ll have to deal with it and move forward.

What duty, as part of everything, are you most looking forward to?
Jasper – We’re really lucky to have this opportunity and for being given a title, so we want to make some use of it. It’s not the overt, ‘It’s so great I’m Head Boy and Sarah’s Head Girl; go us!,’ but it’s about letting us be there in the background in as much as we can, having confidence in the Prefect Council and the whole school to get things done.

Sarah – Just having the chance to take some of the ideas we have, and some of the ideas other students have, about improving the school, or trying to bring people closer together, and having the ability to do something about it. We’re now in a position where we don’t have to try and tell someone about a cool idea, we’re now in a position where we can make things happen. I think that’s going to be fun.

What kind of ideas do you have for the school year?
Jasper – Something we’re looking at doing is trying to have the Head Boy and Head Girl run assemblies at the Junior and Middle School, too. The idea of that would be to start to get those students knowing what’s beyond their campus and their school; giving them something that they can look forward to as they move up through the grades and aspire to. And also it’ll let them realize no matter how young they are, they’re at St. Michaels University School and they’re doing amazing things that we’re all interested in. Like when the Grade 5 students do their leadership speeches, having us there to say, ‘We’re doing those exact same things and we’re in Grade 12 and you’re only in Grade 5 and you’re already thinking about this – it’s absolutely amazing.” This already is a great community, but really strengthening that further. It’s not up to us – it’s up to the Grade 12s, it’s up to the whole school. If everyone does their part, if everyone makes a little effort, our school will get even that much better.

(photo by Kyle Slavin)

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Grade 6 Outdoor Ed Trips Underscore Inclusiveness and Risk-Taking

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To start the year on the right foot for our new Middle School students, we sent our Grade 6 classes on Outdoor Education experiences last Friday. It was a great way to set the tone for the school year.

“This is the first year we’ve done this, but we saw it as a chance to bring the group together and have them connect with each other,” says Ms. Dariol Haydock, Assistant Director of the Middle School. “Their day started off in the morning at school assembly where we talked about the school pillars – respect, honesty, courage, service, and that, I think, really helped set them up for the day. It’s very important that they’re inclusive with each other, and Middle School’s about taking risks, trying new things and having a safety net when you fall.”

Students had the choice between five fun outdoor options: geocaching, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, film-making, and wilderness survival. Below we asked some of our Grade 6 students about their Outdoor Education experiences.

Student Reflections

“I went geocaching. I had never done it before, but I knew what it was and how to do it. Basically you have a GPS and you punch in the coordinates to a certain cache. The GPS will point an arrow to where you’re supposed to go, how far away you are and your estimated time of arrival. And so you go to where it is and you have to look for the cache. Sometimes it was hidden under rocks, or disguised as a log, so there are more difficult ones and easier ones. It was a fun day. I got to run around with my friends and I learned a lot of new things. It was fun being with my classmates because we had to use teamwork and we got to be outside in the sun. I’d definitely go geocaching again!” – by Alden W.

“I went paddleboarding. I chose it because I’ve done it many times before so I knew I liked it, and I thought it would be cool to see the way the SMUS teachers would teach it to the people who have never done it before. I ended up helping a few people, too. SMUS-MS-Gr6Outtrip-Paddleboarding-EWe got to play games and we fooled around a little, like pushing each other in and trying to all stand up on one board, so it was really fun. I thought it was a really fun experience to go paddleboarding with a whole bunch of your friends.” – by Elizabeth C.

“I did sea kayaking and it was very exciting. We all took double kayaks out onto Elk Lake and went all the way to to Beaver Lake. We played games, played on the playground and got to play in the water a bit. I also got to try out one of the single kayaks. We were in double kayaks, so you have to work together with your partner. I was in front, so I kept having to tell him instructions with the rudder because I couldn’t steer. It’s difficult at first – there was a lot of going in the wrong direction and crashing into lily pads and weeds, but after a while we got into a bit of a rhythm with it. Doing sea kayaking was very good because I got to work on my sea kayaking skills. I learned a lot of having to balance in a kayak and working with someone else. It was very fun because I got to see some of my friends who I’m not in a class with, and I got to meet a few of the new students. My advice for sea kayaking is figure out some way to convey messages back and forth, like a bike hand signal. And give it your full effort; if you just do it half-heartedly it almost certainly won’t work, you’ll just go in circles!” – by Jonah B.

“We did movie making and went to Heritage Acres. First we got into groups and the theme was “Murder Mystery”, so our group made a movie about how on Halloween these Middle School kids get dared to go to Heritage Acres and it’s abandoned. There were a bunch of cool tunnels and bridges that looked like they were broken down, and old buildings. It was really fun because it was really independent, our group had to work without the teachers really helping you – I liked that. We only had two hours to make the movie and 20 minutes to plan everything, so we had to cooperate really, really well to get everything done. Then we had to edit the movies and we watched them with popcorn in the library! It was really, really fun because we got to work as a group, we got to make up a story and a plot, and we got to explore on our own.” – by Paige R.

“Last Friday, I went to the Survival Skills experience. When we got [to Mount Doug] we walked down to the river and we chose a site to build our shelter, and then we built our shelter. I learned that you have a ridge pole and then you lean sticks over it. After we finished we went down to the river bank to learn how to make a fire. We found some cedar bark, took off the inner bit and mashed up all the fibres so it formed this soft pulp (you can’t get splinters from it). This is the tinder. Then we learned two methods – the bow drill method and the char cloth method. We also learned that you have to boil water so it gets sterilized. We learned a bit about plant identification, like if you know which mushrooms are safe you can pick them. Those were our four subjects.

When you’re out in the wilderness, the first thing is shelter. If you don’t make a shelter the elements will get to you. Second or third, fire and water are interchangeable, because you need fire to make the water boil. And then food is next. I learned a lot and it was a lot of fun. I liked going out into the great outdoors. We were in groups to build the shelter and then in pairs to build the fire, so we had to cooperate. You have to be very supportive of each other and help each other out.” – by Calum W.

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Kindergartners Choose What They’re Most Excited About This School Year

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Do you remember your first days of Kindergarten? After a day or two of realizing just how awesome it is getting to learn and play with kids your own age in a really positive environment, that anxiety of saying goodbye to Mom and Dad in the morning fades away.

Now just a week into the school year, our two new classes of Kindergarten students are already arriving at school every day with big smiles and an eagerness to start learning. Now that they know a thing or two about school at SMUS, the SMUS Review chatted with the students about their year ahead.

What are you most excited for about Kindergarten?

Jasper: The gym because I saw the kids playing in it.
Matthew: Going outside because you get to play on things.
Amelia: To wear my uniform, because I’m really excited when I get older to wear the kilt. I want somebody to teach me how to do Highland dancing.
Lisa: Colouring because I like to colour with colours I like.
Farrah: All the parties that we’re going to have.
Hamish: Playing with the toys.
Liam K.: Going to the hoedown at school.
Sidney: The fun days.
Manav: Being big, because then you can grow up.
Sakura: Drawing.
Owen: Magnetic blocks because they can stick to each other and you can build stuff.
Olivia: Playing outside because I like having some fresh air.
Jack: Movie Day, because you get to watch a movie. I want to watch Monsters vs. Aliens.
Liam T.: I’m very excited for holding the stop sign because you get to be a crossing guard.
Maho: I’m so excited for lunch and snacks in Kindergarten. I love to play, too.
Tate: Playing with my new friends.
Michaela: I’m excited because my sister is here. She’s in Grade 5.
Dishanna: Pyjama Day because I get to wear my Mickey Mouse pyjamas.
Katherine: Playing outside because I like playing with the other kids.
Jefferson: Recess because I get to play on the donut.
Addie: Playing with all the toys.
Isaac: Watching a movie.
Stephanie: Pyjama Day. It’s really fun because you get to bring your own stuffie and sit on the carpet with your pyjamas.
Mateo: Being with other kids and playing with them.

And for good measure, we also asked our two kindergarten teachers the very same question.

Ms. Gardner-Hill: I’m most excited about meeting my little children and seeing where they lead us. It’s always interesting. They dictate how the year goes; what is needed and their interests and their passions and their stories dictate what we do. I love to see them learn. They have such passion, they have such enthusiasm at this age. They love being at school, they love being with their friends and they love learning new things. Their growth is amazing to watch, so I’m excited for all of that.

Ms. Lincoln: I’m looking forward to getting to know these 14 new little learners. When I think back to all my years as a teacher, I sort of marvel at these amazing children who I meet in September, knowing the promise that’s there, and then getting to know them that year. I have this great anticipation for meeting new children and finding out who they are.

(photos by Gordon Chan and Kyle Slavin)

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Clubs and Councils are a Great Way to Get Involved

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One of best ways to jump in head first at the Senior School is by joining a new club or council; getting involved in something that interests you or something that you’re curious about will keep you engaged for the whole school year.

This week, we hosted our annual Clubs and Councils Fair; a chance for dozens of the extracurricular groups to recruit new members, and a chance for new and returning students to find out about all of the unique opportunities they have this school year.

Among the Clubs and Councils are some returning favourites, like the Business Club (which runs and operates The Daily Grind, the campus coffee shop), Pride, and the school newspaper (which is being rebranded this year with a new name and logo!), as well as some new clubs that were getting lots of buzz, like the Military History Club, the Tech Club and the History is Awesome Club.

The SMUS Review chatted with some of the teachers and students about some of the clubs and councils they’re offering this year, and asked them why you should join their group.

Mandarin Club
“The Mandarin Club is a great way to learn about Chinese culture, to know all the cool sentences you want to learn in Mandarin and get something on your ROA. You don’t have to come to it every single week, we’re really flexible, and it’s a really cool way to meet new people.” – Ryan

The Book Club
“It’s called The Book Club, so you should only join if you love books. But you should consider joining because it’s a good way to unwind in the middle of the day. We’re not a really stressful club and you get tons of leadership opportunities in helping organize the events that we put on. And it’s a lot of fun reading the books!” – Karen

Student Council
“We act as a link between students and the faculty, and if you ever want anything done on campus, this is where it’s at. We address things to do with the student community and we plan events for the entire school.” – Patty

Service Council
“This is the council that gives you the days to wear civvies to school. You’re not just coming to school in your clothes because you don’t want to wear dressSMUS-SS-ClubsFair-07 shirts or dress pants, but you’re paying to support a cause. Not only is it fun for you, it’s helpful for the world. And that’s important. You should also join because we’re a community, and we organize fun things like Halloween, Christmas and photos with Santa. It’s fun getting to work on an event and put your own personal twist on whatever it is you want to do.” – Aidan

Admissions Student Ambassadors
“You should join because it gives you an opportunity to show new parents and students why and how much you love the school. And it’s great because you get to show people around during your spares!” – Ms. McKay. Watch Shelby and Koby talk about why they were Student Ambassadors.

Green Club
“If you’re passionate about the environment, want to help make the SMUS community green, and get out into the community to make Victoria more green, then you should join this club. We’re connected to the Outdoor Council in the sense that we want to promote the outdoors, but we are looking for a group of students who are action-based who want to go out and do physical change. It’s a brand new club so all ideas are welcome!” – Jade and Simone

Outdoor Council
“First of all, it’s a great opportunity to develop an appreciation for nature by doing a lot of really cool activities, and then getting some opportunities to be able to preserve and sustain nature. The club’s for people who love the outdoors, and want to spend more time out there and want to meet other people who are interested in the same thing. The best part about the club is definitely going on all the cool trips – skiing trips, whitewater kayaking trips, surfing.” – Lucas

School Newspaper
“We’re not going to be called The Ivy this year. We’re having a new name and logo contest as the club starts up. There’ll be comics and horoscopes, photos, interviews, crosswords, lots of fun ways to get involved. And it’s great to get published. There’s something for everyone and it’s going to be awesome!” – Becca

Military History Club
“We’re going to learn about anything from the tactics and strategies of battle to weaponry to the effects of war on cultures and nations. We want to talk about things and analyze things to a high level. It’s going to be driven by the students, so I’m really excited. This is the first year for this club, so I’ll be getting different ideas and learning from what students’ interests are, and taking their passions to another level.” – Mr. Young

Model UN
“It’s a lot of fun. Model UN is a great way to build public speaking skills, learn about international relations, debates, and meet new people with similar interests. It’s a lot of fun debating at the conferences and forcing yourself to think from a different country’s view. Stepping into the role of someone who has to deal with so many challenging issues and actually coming up with real-life plausible solutions is really fun.” – Sara and Jasper

Yearbook Club
“The Yearbook Club is fantastic! And you get to create history at SMUS that people will look back on for years and years and years. It’s so rewarding seeing the new yearbook come out, and seeing all your hard work in print. And Ms. Gillett brings cookies every Tuesday!” – Ms. Bateman

Pride Club
“We promote awareness and social acceptance among the whole community. And we also promote awareness of the different types of people that are out there. We talk a lot about social issues and what’s in the news; the fact that the LGBT community is being more accepted around the world. It’s a safe place, it’s an accepting place and you’re free to say whatever you want. It’s nice how accepting and how welcoming everyone is because we are inclusive, and we aren’t negative.” – Sophie and Alex

Peer Counselling
“Peer Counselling is a great opportunity to connect with other students, and it gives you an opportunity to help others. At the same time, if you’re interested in psychology or learning about the brain we do that, too. And we SMUS-SS-ClubsFair-09focus a lot on learning communication skills and how to work with people effectively; how to better connect with people. It’s fun because you get to learn alongside other great people and build really good skills.” – Olivia and Saje

Tech Club
“Join this club because it’s super educational, it’s useful life skills, and really – forget about the educational stuff – it’s tons of fun. We have amazing technological tools (really, they’re toys) and we get to learn with them (which means we get to play with them). Because it’s a new club it will evolve and morph according to students interests and the skills that they’re bringing in.” – Mr. Steed

Keep the Beat Club
“Up until this year Keep the Beat was part of the Arts Council and we found that it would be better to have a dedicated team focusing on Keep the Beat. This way our club can just focus on activities throughout the year, as well as our big music marathon at the end of May and support something that’s really important. War Child Canada is one of the top NGOs in the world. It helps war-affected children, regardless of what side of the conflict they’re on.” – Ms. Williams

Arts Council
“Join us because you can find art in everything. We help organize the monthly acoustic concerts and we do artist of the month. This year have new ideas, like we want do concerts outside with picnics. We’re a big part of the Keep the Beat, and we help organize a lot of events at SMUS. We’re a really open group and we’re open to everything that is related to art. We’re going to have a fun, musical, artistic year!” – Iris

History is Cool Club
“You should join because it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be student run, it’s going to evolve based on what students want to do and what they want to talk about. We have no idea where it’s going to go and that’s what’s exciting about it. You could get money one day, and we could talk about economic history. You could get food, and we could talk about the history of our country. It’s going to be amazing!” – Mr. Maxwell

Arduino Club
“Arduino is a micro-controller that allows you to do anything in your world. It’s small computer that you can attach temperature sensors, pressure sensors, gas sensors, motors, if there’s some kind of a sensor or device to do something, Arduino can do it. You can build 3D virtual spaces, robots, all kinds of things. And so we’re going to try and cover basic skills like soldering, programming, a little bit about circuits. I’m kind of hoping we have a lot of interest in building a robot and entering competitions against other schools that build Arduino robots.” – Ms. Amirault

Learn more about all of the clubs, councils and extracurricular activities at SMUS’s Junior, Middle and Senior schools.

Check out more photos from the Clubs and Councils Fair at the SMUS Photo Gallery.

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