Student Exchanges Offer Cultural Immersion

Dunda_Gate“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”
― Jawaharlal Nehru

Travel can be a powerful form of education, one that we believe is a valuable extension to the experience SMUS offers in its classrooms. Service trips, cultural travel and athletics tours give students a brief window of exploration of the world around them and, in most cases, is the spark that ignites a lifelong curiosity about other places, other cultures, other lives.

The most immersive form of travel SMUS offers is the student exchange. Ranging from four weeks to a full year, an exchange not only gives you the opportunity to experience another culture, but to study and live as part of that culture. The SMUS Review has published many reports from students who have arrived home and have had the opportunity to ponder their experiences and draw lessons from them.

SMUS student Zach Zwicky is currently spending the first semester of his Grade 10 year at Woodstock School in India. He’s also keeping a blog about his experience, which gives us a glimpse into the education that is unfolding for him.

“I’ve been in India for two and a bit weeks now, and it is by far one of the better experiences of my life. I’ve already felt homesick a couple times, but most of the time I’m too busy doing new and exciting (and sometimes boring) things and really have no time to be homesick” – Zach in India

Are you curious about how a student exchange might enrich your education and your life? Learn more on our website and mark your calendar for the Exchange Information Evening in February (February 18, 2015). You can also take a look at the video below.

Photo by Zach Zwicky. Video by Lumera Productions

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Junior School Virtues in Practice

Human Pyramid

by Sara Ritchie, Junior School Learning Resource Teacher
Students in Grades 4 and 5 each spent one day at Camp Pringle on beautiful Shawnigan Lake. With goals of inclusiveness and encouragement, students tried new activities and gained a greater appreciation for the outdoors. It was a very successful experience for everyone involved.

by Audrey, Grade 4
I learned that I can tightrope walk. It was very hard yet exiting and I really enjoyed it. I also learned that I got over my fear of heights. Two things I learned about my group were that Jamie may be small but she’s also very tough. I also learned that everybody struggled balancing on the tightrope.

Two virtues I demonstrated were kindness because I helped people undo their harness at rock climbing and friendliness when we helped people at the mine field game. Two ways I have changed now is because I have gotten over my fear of heights and because I have gotten better at archery. Why I have changed is because I have gone to Camp Pringle.

by Jamie, Grade 4
Yesterday I went to Camp Pringle. What I learned was that I have very good balance because you need very good balance to tightrope walk. It was fun! I also learned that I could climb to the top of the climbing wall. The two things I learned about my group is that Ms. Ritchie liked archery and also that Arjun is very good at tightrope walking.

Two virtues I demonstrated were kindness and modesty. Two ways I have changed was I did not know that I could tightrope walk and I did not know that my leg would not become sore.

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Link Crew Leads the Way

Link Crew is a way that Senior students at SMUS can welcome new kids to the school as well as learn and practice their own leadership skills. A few days before school actually began, a group of Grade 12 students arrived on campus ready to learn new skills in the art of leadership. In the video below, students and an organizer talk about the value of the program and we look behind the scenes of some of the training.

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SMUS in the News: Baart Earns Canada West Star

University of Victoria Vikes News
September 23, 2014

Michael Baart ’14, Craig Gorman ’07
Baart earns Canada West 2nd Star of the Week

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Athletics Week in Review: September 22


Despite the uncertainties created by the public school strike (happily now resolved), the 2014-15 SMUS sporting year is underway, with record numbers having tried out for numerous teams. In the past week, many of these squads made their competitive debuts in either exhibition games or Invitational tournaments.

Without question, there is a great sense of anticipation surrounding Senior Boys Soccer, with SMUS set to field perhaps its most accomplished team ever. A comfortable 4-2 exhibition win over GNS set the table for the September 19-20 ISA Tournament, with the Blue Jags hosting what turned out to be a very competitive and entertaining event.

In pool play, SMUS opened with a 5-0 victory over Shawnigan. Matty McColl and Brian Im each notched a pair of goals, while Kieran Large added a single. Ben Edwards recorded the shutout. Next up was a 3-0 win vs Collingwood, with a second half Graeme Hyde-Lay volley from the top of the box finally breaking open what had been a tight, testy affair.

The following day, not without a struggle, the Blue Jags confirmed their place in the final, dispatching a pesky Southridge squad 4-1. A clever Im chip produced the key goal in the 35th minute, with McColl then completing his personal hat trick following a goal mouth scramble.

In something of a surprise, Brentwood parlayed a late strike to upend favoured St. George’s 1-0 en route to also reaching the gold medal game. The Mill Bay crew then again rode scrambling defence, excellent goalkeeping and some luck to make things interesting vs SMUS. Indeed, though the hosts hit a post, a cross bar and were denied on at least three other occasions by highlight reel saves, in the final analysis a lethal Montgomery free kick in the 18th minute was all that separated the two sides.

The “lethal” Montgomery free kick in the 18th minute.
To download high resolution images from the weekend’s sporting events, take a look at the SMUS photo gallery for Senior boys soccer and Senior girls field hockey.

In the ISA “B” tournament, SMUS played three games, saving the best for last with a shootout win over Stratford Hall after finishing 1-1 in regulation time. Pablo Fernandez and Dimitri Boroto logged a lot of minutes and led by example throughout.

At the Junior level, the team opened its season with a 3-0 victory vs GNS. It now looks forward, in advance of City league play, to its own ISA competition at Shawnigan later this month.

Also in action was Senior Girls Field Hockey. Featuring numerous returnees and some talented newcomers, the squad managed one practice game, a 6-0 triumph over GNS, before travelling to Crofton House for the ISA tournament.

In the past two seasons, the provincial field hockey AA landscape has been dominated by Independent Schools, with SMUS, in the actual BC tournaments, having copped some heartbreaking defeats in the medal rounds. In this year’s ISA event, the team battled Shawnigan to a standstill, but frustratingly failed to convert several grade A scoring chances in going down to a 2-0 defeat. However, the players, with Olivia Donald and Rylee Boyle pacing the attack, then bounced back to beat York House 3-0 and Southridge 4-0.
Flora sweep pushing In the absence of crossover semifinals, the loss to Shawnigan condemned SMUS to the bronze medal match vs Collingwood. The Blue Jags dominated the first half action, but, despite numerous opportunities, had only a Donald goal to show for their efforts. Ominously, Collingwood then came back into the game, pouncing on a loose ball to claim a late equalizer before going on to a 2-1 shootout win.

Nonetheless, though SMUS ended up disappointed with a 4th place finish, there were many silver linings among the clouds! Anna Mollenhauer, Chloe Keeler-Young and Aveen Glen all performed strongly in midfield while Flora Staunau also showed great skill. In addition, the Boyle triplets, Rylee, Jamie and Kasey, proved highly competitive and an inspiration to all those around them. Finally, Mia Roberts, making her first ever starts in goal, displayed real athleticism and will only continue to improve with more experience.

In Senior girls volleyball, SMUS travelled to UBC for a preseason tournament, playing a combination of school and club teams due to the school strike. In a very balanced pool, the Blue Jags defeated Langley Christian Academy 27-25 and 25-23 before dropping two games to York House by identical 25-20 scores. The team then fell narrowly to the Strikers club team, but still advanced to the championship side of the draw by way of countbacks following a three way tie.

In the Day 2 “Power Pool”, SMUS opened with a straight set win over the Bayside club, before falling two games to one to both the Falcons and NAM. Newcomers Silke Kuhn and Thana Fayad confirmed their ability in pressure situations, while returning outside hitters Amy Bodine and Beta Willeboordse paced the attack.

Two Junior girls’ teams were also in action, taking on Brentwood in a series of scrimmages. Jessa McElderry, Kaia Gyorfi and Elise Lincoln were all prominent.

In Squash, 19 players took part in the Shawnigan Lake Junior Open. This competition provided a good platform to see the team’s newest members in action. Overall, there were any number of pleasing performances, starting with Jason Yoo who split his four matches in the Boys’ Gold Division. At the Silver level, Nathan Von Hagen, down two games to one, faced four match points but scrambled back to force, and then win, a deciding fifth game to top his division. Robert Fisher and Leif Skogland also played very consistently in claiming silverware.

On the girls’ side, Uma Hallea won the Silver title over runner up Sun-Eui Choi, with teammates Flora Feng and Rachel Yuen completing the top four finishers. In the Gold event, Grace Thomas lost 3-1 in the final while newcomer Hedvika Suchankova won 11-9 in a fifth game to claim a bronze medal.

As the tournament featured one of the strongest fields in recent memory, the SMUS players performed admirably. The team will be back in action in two weeks time at the Vancouver Island Open, which will take place at Cedar Hill Rec Centre and the school’s own Monkman Athletic Complex.

Finally, the Grade 9 Rugby squad played in a Jamboree at Brentwood, defeating the hosts four tries to two before falling to Shawnigan by a similar scoreline. Ephraim Hsu, whether at scrum half or full back, performed impressively, with Tucker Forbes, Tony Liu, Matt Hagkull and Luke Rainier-Pope among many others who contributed significantly. In both games, the team made every effort to run the ball from everywhere on the field, an attitude which led to a handful of well executed tries.

Other SMUS teams set shortly to begin competition include Development Field Hockey, Cross Country and Rowing.

Photos by Nancy Mollenhauer (field hockey) and Darin Steinkey (soccer)

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The Reggio-Inspired Classroom

by Nancy Richards, Director of Junior School

Thursday night was the Junior School Curriculum Night, an opportunity for parents to not only meet their son’s or daughter’s teachers but to learn how the Junior School educational vision is reflected in classroom programs and aligned with our plans for a new Junior School facility.

Within the framework of the BC Ministry Curriculum and learning outcomes, our vision integrates cutting-edge research on early learning and the brain, 21st Century competencies (collaboration, problem solving, creativity, digital awareness, social responsibility, sustainability and global awareness) and project-based learning, culminating in the best of an Reggio-inspired approach to teaching and learning.

In a Reggio-inspired classroom, children are viewed as having potential, curiosity and great interest in constructing their own learning pathways — the teacher is a nurturer and guide. Children are encouraged to explore their environment and express themselves through all of their “expressive, communicative, and cognitive languages”, whether they be words, movement, drawing, painting, building, sculpture, shadow play, collage, dramatic play or music (to name only a few). Classrooms are organized to support a highly collaborative problem-solving approach to learning and parents are collaborative partners in their children’s learning experience. The environment is seen as the third teacher (with parent as the first teacher and educator as the second teacher) where every space informs learning and the class design encourages communication and relationships. Teachers are understood as researchers and learners as they give careful consideration and attention to the presentation of the children’s thinking.

This year, one of the highlights of the evening was the screening of our new “Joy of Learning 2” video, which beautifully demonstrates the implementation of the Junior School educational vision at the grade 4 and 5 levels through a project-based learning approach (see videos below). Another highlight was when the homeroom teachers met with parents in the classrooms and spoke about how they are applying the Junior School educational vision to their programs. Parents actually experienced the “environment as the third teacher” in the homerooms where every corner was inspiring. They heard how technology is being integrated into children’s work, how brain research is being applied, how units of study are no longer a couple of weeks in length but stretch over longer periods of time to provide greater depth and breadth of learning for students across all the subject areas.

It is indeed an exciting time to be an educator and learner at the Junior School!

Do you want to know more about the Reggio-inspired approach at the Junior School? Take a look at the Parent/Teacher/Student conferences model we use.

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Middle School Soccer: Just For the Fun of It

Fun Team

In extracurricular sports at the Middle School, all students can shine. In Grades 6 and 7, students can join and play on any team – no tryouts are necessary. The goal at the Middle School is to provide an ample amount of athletic opportunities for students over the course of the year. Our main emphasis is on participation, sportsmanship and citizenship. Our qualified coaching staff strive to provide a positive athletic experience for all students at the Middle School. Below, Sienna reports on the beginning of the season.

by Sienna, Grade 6
At SMUS we have a Grade 6/7 girls soccer team. We played our first game today. The SMUS team played against St. Patrick’s at home. It was a close game but we won by one goal, the only goal, scored by Ellie Ross on a pass from Claire Pontefract. It looks like it’s going to be a fun season.

For more pictures take a look at the SMUS photo gallery. Unsure how to download the images? Read the How to Download Images from the SMUS Photo Gallery blog post.
Pictures by Valerie Pike

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A Day Aboard CCGS Tully with Ocean Networks Canada

by Mike Jackson, Senior School Science Teacher

I was invited by Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) to participate as a visiting educator on a one day cruise aboard the CCGS Tully. The day’s mission was to retrieve and deploy several instrumentation platforms that are part of the ONC Venus network in Saanich Inlet. Saanich Inlet is of particular environmental scientific interest due to its low oxygen conditions.

Continue reading

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Roommates

One of the greatest parts of attending boarding school is living with a roommate from another country. Each roommate pair at SMUS is specially selected based on interests, language, country of origin and temperament. In addition to those characteristics, here are seven things to remember that help make an awesome roommate.

1. Be clear from the beginning

Talk to your roommate about personal preferences. Are you an early riser? Does your roommate take a shower just before bed? Do you need it to be 40 degrees in the room all the time? Finding out how your new roomie operates will go a long way to making the first few weeks smoother.

2. Address things when they are little

So you’ve noticed that your roommate unconsciously taps their pen constantly while doing their homework. This may drive you crazy eventually, but it’s not all that serious. If you don’t think you’ll be able to live with it, talk to him or her while the problem is small. If issues are left unsaid they could grow exponentially.

3. Respect their stuff

Perhaps it doesn’t seem that important to ask your roommate if you can wear their Gap turtleneck. You know nothing will happen to it and besides, you’ll wash it or buy a new one if something does happen. What you might not know is that her Great Aunt Mabel (God rest her soul) gave it to your roommate as a parting gift and it can’t be replaced when it accidentally gets torn playing soccer. This is not a great situation and could cause a fracture in the relationship.

4. Be careful about guests

Your friends are awesome. They play Minecraft, can list the relative attributes of 1970s Russian cinema and have impeccable hygiene. However, your roommate may not want people around all the time. Perhaps they can’t stand Andrei Tarkovsky or maybe they are sensitive to perfume. A balance of time in and out of your room with your friends will offer your roommate their own space — a very important thing.

5. Friendly, but likely not best friends

We’ve all heard the Best Man wedding speech, right? “Jimmy was the first guy I met when I moved onto campus and we’ve been inseparable since. I introduced him to his bride, will deliver his children and we’ve bought burial plots next to one another…” That may well happen with your roommate but having that expectation may put some pressure on the relationship. Give it some time. Maybe your future Best Man isn’t the guy you met a week ago.

6. Be open to new things

Have you ever tried kimchi? What about birding? Have you played field hockey? If not, give it a try! This is your opportunity to learn new things and be the person you want to be. It is a chance to mold your values and decide what is and isn’t important to you. It’s difficult to learn those things if you don’t try anything new and getting involved in the activities around campus will broaden your experience and make you more open to the cultural differences you may have with your roommate.

7. Seek advice

There are people all around you with different life experiences, values and wisdom. Talk to them. For example, your houseparents are trained to listen, ask you questions and help you find the answers to issues you face. If you’re having issues with your roommate, don’t fume about them. Ask for help with the aim to solve the problem and solidify your roommate relationship.

There is no silver bullet when it comes to relationships, especially when you’re living with someone you don’t know all that well. If you follow these tips you will likely have an easier time all around and learn to negotiate the ups and downs of life and living in boarding.

Do you agree with these tips? Do you have some “rules” to being an awesome roommate? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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Junior School Serves up BBQ Fun

On Friday, September 5th the Junior School community gathered for a Welcome Back barbeque. Over 500 people, including parents, grandparents, children and teachers gathered to celebrate the beginning of the new school year and to welcome the 61 new students and their families to the community. It was a sunny evening with time to play, visit and enjoy good food — a wonderful start to the year.

Emily in Grade 2 described it this way:

Last Friday there was a barbeque. It was lots of fun. There was lots of food and drinks. The children played together and the grown-ups chatted. There were parachutes — one space parachute and two rainbow coloured ones. It was a really great barbeque!

Grade 1 comments:

“I was playing on the playground with lots of my friends.” – Ellie

“I liked the treats!” – Finlay

“I felt good because my mom came and I liked the treats!” – William

“The playground was open!” – Georgia

“It was fun and I liked the food part. I made cookies.” – Madison

“I played tag!” – Anderson

You can see and download all the pictures from the bbq at the SMUS photo gallery. If you are new or have not used the gallery before, look at our downloading tutorial.

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