Junior and Middle Schools Get Together for a Choral Evening

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It’s a great time of year for concerts. The kids have been practicing and are at the height of their musical ability. Everyone is happy because spring is finally here, and the light in the cathedral is soft and bright for amazing pictures. Last Tuesday, the Junior and Middle Schools got together to perform everything from traditional choir classics to a medley of ’80s pop songs. It was a fun evening of song and costume!

You can watch the concert below, as well as view and download more than 250 images from the show at the SMUS photo gallery. Enjoy!

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Athletics Week in Review: May 22

Congratulations to the 32 SMUS Track and Field athletes who took part in the Vancouver Island Championships May 13-14. Over two busy days, athletes posted 24 personal bests while the SMUS team qualified five individuals for the BC Championship meet in early June.

Those competing in this provincial event include Lucas Simpson, in both the 800m and 1500m, and Jayne Leggatt in the high jump. Silke Kuhn also qualified in the 800m. Conrad Chin threw a personal best in the javelin while Abdul Shokoya placed second in the 200m before dominating a very fast and exciting 100m final.

Well done to these athletes and the rest of the team for their hard work over the course of the season!

In the City Senior Boys AA Rugby final, SMUS, not without a struggle, finally subdued a stubborn GNS side to win 27-14. Aidan Cole opened the scoring from close range, before Warren Marriott also crossed. Two Matty McColl conversions extended the Blue Jag advantage to 14-0.

However, after missing an easy chance to further build the lead, SMUS conceded a try right on half time before then serving up an interception shortly after intermission. As a result, with twenty minutes to play, the score was deadlocked at 14.

However, Marriott then registered his second tally before a McColl penalty goal provided breathing room at 22-14. Josh Graffi completed another outstanding performance with a try right on the full time hooter.

SMUS now targets the BC AA tournament, opening May 23 against Seycove of the Lower Mainland zone. The anticipated return of Mitch Newman should freshen up the back line attack. The Blue Jags then move on to Abbotsford for the final three legs of the competition. The team, knocked out at semifinal level in heartbreaking fashion the past three years, will look once again to take the last step to the gold medal game.

Meanwhile, the Junior XV, fresh off its encouraging victory over Claremont, took on Oak Bay in the City championship. The tries certainly came thick and fast, with the Barbs notching three in the opening nine minutes to go ahead 19-0. However, behind Jasper Bosley, Donovan Sturdy, Bryce Forbes and Gabe Kingsley-Ninyah, SMUS clawed back to trail only 31-21 at the break.

In the second half, while Oak Bay got on the board first, the Blue Jags then put together some excellent multi-phase play to draw level at 36 with three minutes remaining. In fact, SMUS could have easily gone ahead only for two Bosley conversions to rebound off the post.

Extra time may have been looming, but incredibly there was still time for three more tries. Oak Bay, claiming a restart kick and then effectively using its fleet back line, scored the go ahead marker and then added an insurance tally. SMUS finished in style, combining well to go over near the posts, but in the end the Barbs advanced 50-43!

Both teams move on to the May 21-22 Island Tournament at Brentwood.

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Middle School Donations Help Educate Youth Halfway Around the World

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A library, like a yard, sometimes needs a good weeding (but for very different reasons). Unlike unwanted garden trimmings though, books that are no longer needed can be recycled and continue to serve their much-needed purpose elsewhere.

For years, SMUS librarians have partnered with the Victoria-based charity FACES Network Society (Family and Community Education Support) by donating books that have been weeded out of our school libraries, to stock the shelves in libraries and learning centres in inner-city Davao City, Philippines.

Recently, Sarah Craig, teacher-librarian at the Middle School, sent out 10 boxes of non-fiction books to FACES.

“We packed up all the National Geographics, thesauri and dictionaries we had. We don’t use those anymore because they’re all online. I think some of them have been sitting on the shelves here for five, six years and never been pulled out. Instead of throwing them out, there’s a huge need for them in the Philippines, so those books are rejuvenated there,” Sarah says. “That works with our idea of fighting poverty through education and using local resources. Once the books arrive, it’s local university students who use them and teach impoverished children how to speak English and use the books for their education.”

It was teacher-librarian Diana Nason at the Junior School who first started this partnership a few years ago.

“It’s such a good cause. We try and donate every year, because they love to get children’s books,” Diana says. “They’re all still wonderful books, and I’m glad we could find a home for them where there was a need.”Philippines map

FACES has spent the better part of a decade working in the Philippines to build a gymnasium/community centre, a computer lab and a library. In addition to providing the learning material to impoverished youth, the charity has also sponsored children for poor families, enabling them to attend school.

Two years ago, much of the work FACES had done in inner-city rural communities was destroyed by devastating typhoons that struck the Philippines. Since then, the organization has decided to build a FACES Community School, which will include a complete school library – this recent Middle School donation will help fill the shelves there.

Sarah says Middle School students have helped her with the donation process by going through the library catalogue to remove donated books from the system and packing the books into boxes. She says another donation to FACES will likely happen at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year – this time fiction books – and she’ll have students help her select which books they want to see go to a great home in the Philippines.

“It’s such a wonderful organization and such a worthwhile initiative to be able to support students not just here at SMUS, but in the Philippines as well,” Sarah says.

Situated in southeast Asia, the Philippines is south east of Hong Kong and directly east of Vietnam. Barangay Sampaguita is located on eastern Mindanao (large southern island) about 3 hours drive north of Davao City.
You can learn more about the FACES Network Society at 
facesnetwork.ca.

 

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Senior Students Sharpen Leadership Skills at Montreal CAIS Conference

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With an outrageously early wake-up call of 3:45am, four intrepid students and a chaperone embarked on a cross-country journey to the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) conference at Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s School (ECS) in Montreal, Quebec in late April. Once there, they met fellow student leaders from across the country, participated in interactive pod sessions and workshops, volunteered in the community, listened to motivational speakers and developed their leadership skills. There was also an exciting mystery clue activity around the historic city, supper in Old Montreal, and a banquet dinner and dance in a beautiful art gallery.

It is important for the students to understand that everyone is a leader in their own way. Students are constantly changing, adapting and growing and through the workshops and activities, they were challenged to “Find Your Place in the Crowd” by exploring their strengths and challenges, while developing their personal leadership style.

Below, Sena Youn reflects on her time at ECS.

By Sena Youn, Grade 11

Near the end of April I was very fortunate to have been chosen as a SMUS representative for the 2015 CAIS Conference in Montreal. The theme was to “Find Your Place in the Crowd: Explore, Climb, Succeed”. The conference was designed to prepare participants for senior leadership roles in independent schools. Strong schools can inspire strong students who can make a difference in the world. CAIS supports the learning and development of such students by fueling creativity from collaborating with students from all over Canada.

We were given the opportunity to address issues within our community and discuss long-term sustainable innovations. From the rowdy cheers with my pod group to the thought provoking sessions, I had chances to willingly step out of my comfort zone and speak out to the crowd without having to worry about feeling judged. Our pod squads were named President Plum, Governor Green, Officer Orange and Marshal Maroon. After reading the name of my group, I had no idea what kind of experience I was up for. The amiable students from the host school created a welcoming and open atmosphere where making friends was easy. The guest speakers, including Mark Kelly and Marc Garneau impressed everyone with their passion for their professions. Furthermore, my host family was extremely friendly and I had a very comfortable stay. The itinerary was detailed and extensive so everyone was exhausted by the end of each day. During the conference, I made friends with students from all over Canada and created amazing life-long memories in Montreal. Next year, SMUS will be hosting one of Canada’s first Leadership Diversity Conferences and I am extremely excited to be a part of this legacy.

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Building Sweet Friendships on Service Outings to Care Home

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As a part of a school-wide commitment to external community service for all the students at SMUS, the Junior School organizes weekly outings to help at a local seniors’ home. Throughout the second and third term of the year, each class is scheduled to visit the James Bay Care Centre on a Friday morning. The students are involved in a number of activities to contribute to the lives of the senior citizens living in this centre.

Each class has a different focus for their visit and this year the students have already offered a wide variety of activities for the residents of James Bay. The seniors and children have made art together, children have offered musical presentations and they sang together while enjoying some ‘golden oldies’. The residents and children have played games together, written together and read stories to each other. There have been games such as horse racing that have engaged all of the people gathered! Often the children leave a drawing or a piece of writing behind for their new buddy and these are treasured keepsakes on the walls of James Bay Care Centre. Each class has ended the visit by enjoying a refreshment time together.

An important aspect of this service learning is the preparation for the visit during the Life Skills classes and the reflective time when the students return from the visit. Because the Junior School students have been visiting James Bay Care Centre for many years, the Grade 5 students remember the service outings that have taken place each year since Kindergarten. Some students, such as John, have had the same senior buddy each year. He has reflected on his wonderful connection with Betty in the writing below.

The Junior School teachers and students look forward to continuing our association with the James Bay Care Centre and we certainly appreciate this joyful and meaningful experience for both the youngest and eldest who are forming connections.

——

It’s nice that I’ve been going to see the same person I have ever since Kindergarten. The reason I did that was because I actually thought that’s what I was supposed to do. But then when I got older and the teacher said, ‘You don’t have to go with the same person,’ I said, ‘Oh, I still want to go with her, since I feel like I already know her and already bonded with her.’ Her name is Betty.

Sometimes when we go, if there’s people feeling up to it, some musicians from our group will go and play music for them. Then we go to our buddies, read our favourite book or chat. I usually draw. I remember the very first time I went to her in Kindergarten, the big thing I remember is she loved me drawing, so that’s what I’ve done every time. In Grade 1 we made these pecan drawings for our buddies at the care home, and the funny story is she still has the one I made hanging on her wall to this day!

I like going to the care home because there are people there that are so nice to us, and they know so much. I’m curious about lots of stuff, and the older people are, the more they know. It’s nice listening to their stories, because they have some great ones. I think it’s the best field trip of the year because you get to make somebody’s day and your day is made from it because you just made somebody happy. It makes them feel great.

In Grade 4, in the summer, I actually went to visit Betty, so this may be my last time going to see her with the school, which is very sad, but I don’t think it’s going to be my last time seeing her.

(photos by Gordon Chan)

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Students Deliver at French, English Public Speaking Competitions

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Trophy shelves are a little heavier this month for a number of talented SMUS students who spoke their way to a fantastic finish at two recent public speaking competitions.

In late April and early May, Middle School students competed at provincial speech contests in English and French – and many left their event with a medal or a well-earned top-10 finish.

First, six students headed to Vancouver for the Grade 6/7 ISA Speech Competition. While all six did exceptionally well in very tough categories, it was Grade 7 student Amelia who earned a bronze medal for her funny but very true speech called ‘Farewell to the English Language.’ (Read her full speech below.)

Next, SMUS sent a large group of French-speaking students over to the Lower Mainland for the Concours d’Art Oratoire, open to French-speaking and French-as-a-second-language students from B.C. and the Yukon. Grade 6 student Sienna earned a gold medal, SMUS-MS-Concours-Swhile fellow Grade 6 students Stefan, Robson and Marina all finished in the top 10 in their categories. Grade 7 students Angelina and Ava also earned gold medals in their divisions. Emma and Diya, in Grade 8, earned a silver and bronze medal, respectively, in their categories.

The Senior School also sent students to the event and performed just as well. Grade 10 student Oria took home a gold; Grade 11 student Delphine earned a silver; and Jiawen (Grade 9), Libby (Grade 10) and Becca (Grade 11) all placed top 10 in their respective divisions.

“I was very surprised when I won,” says Grade 6 student Sienna. “When I got a ribbon I said ‘Gracias’ instead of ‘Merci’, unfortunately – I spoke Spanish!”

She enjoyed the entire Concours process, including writing her speech in her second language, which she says isn’t much more challenging than writing a speech in English.

“My speech was on ‘The Best Gift’. Recently my grandpa had died and I really wanted to talk about him. There’s so much to say, so I came up with an idea of spending time with my grandpa and grandma and how that’s really fun, how being together is the best gift,” Sienna says. “It’s a little bit harder writing it in French, because English is my first language. But it’s super fun being able to see how far you can go with your second language.”

Amelia’s speech for the ISA Competition, funnily enough, was written and performed in her first language, English, but she spoke about how much she dislikes the English language!

“I’ve always had kind of a hard time with spelling because the English language is so crazy. Like, there’s kind of rules, but they don’t really count for everything,” she says. In her speech, she also takes issue with homonyms, silent letters and nonsensical sayings.

Having competed once before at the ISA Competition, Amelia says she felt a lot more comfortable with the writing and memorization, and focused a lot this year on the performance aspect of public speaking.

“This year I could really focus on my body language – how to stand and how to speak. Like if you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, you’re more confident. I don’t know why. And making eye contact with everybody also helps,” she says. “And when you’re presenting, you have to really known what’s important and what’s not as important, and you really have to emphasize those important words. When you’re doing a speech, you’re really thinking about how you’re saying it, not just the content of it. It’s almost like poetry.”

Congratulations and Félicitations to all of our great speakers!

——

Farewell to the English Language

I have grown up speaking English – I speak it at home, I speak it at school, and I speak it when I play sports. Everything that I do involves English. But in French class, we are not allowed to speak English. So, as I will be entering the French room in a matter of hours, I must say Farewell to the English language!

I must say, I’m not going to miss it. All of the confusing homonyms, weird spelling, books and books of thesauruses, and crazy sayings makes for a very scattered language. Whoever invented this obscure language loved the letter ‘P’ but obviously hated its sound. Why else would there be a ton of silent Ps in words? You may be thinking ‘What do you mean? There are no silent Ps.’ Well let me tell you, there are! To name a few: psychology, ptarmigan, pterodactyl, and not to mention receipt.

I am a horrible speller, but I don’t think it is all me, I can blame it partly on the language. They try to tell us all these rules that are meant to help up remember how to spell things. ‘I before E, except after C’ or ‘If you weigh the height on a weird foreign neighbour.’ Simple enough.

I’d especially like to touch on all the silent GHs. What is up with that? Maybe the creators of the language decided whenever a word didn’t seem long enough, they would add a GH – seems legit.

But enough about spelling (although I could go on forever), next I’d like to point out all the homonyms. As if they couldn’t find enough sounds so that each word has a different sound, but no, there are 6,139 homonyms in the English language. And some of them have three different spellings, they all sound the same, but mean different things.

All these homonyms are useful for one thing though: yes, the one thing that is good about the English language is puns, such as ‘Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 ate 9!’ So it’s not all bad. I mean, who doesn’t like bad jokes?

There are 6,139 homonyms, yet there are 48 sounds that mean happy. Yes, 48! Some of the sounds include joyful, giddy, chipper, gleeful and tickled. Yet, it’s hard to tell if I flew (as in flying) or if I had an illness called the flu.

The word happy does not stand alone; the word sad has 46 other words that mean the same thing. That means that I could say, ‘I am happy, not sad,’ in 1,000 different ways, and yet English is the language of business.

Another very odd, and almost unheard of thing in any other language but English, is a double negative is equal to a positive. For instance, if I were to say that I am not not excited for French class, that would mean that I am excited for French class. What a language!

Lastly, I would like to point out the lovely sayings that we have in our language. We have taken some of our already odd words and made them make even less sense by putting them together in what seems like a random order. For instance, ‘It’s not over until the fat lady sings.’ This phrase is meant to mean that if an activity or adventure is not over yet, then you cannot assume that it will stay in the same state that it is currently in. It has nothing to do with an actual fat lady singing, meaning the phrase is completely useless and redundant.

Another odd phrase would be, ‘I would do it at the drop of a hat.’ Again, this has nothing to do with an actual hat dropping; it really means that one would do something without hesitation.

It is clear why saying farewell to the English language would be something that you should just do when you are going off to French class. Thank you and farewell – or should I say ‘Au revoir!’?

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SMUS’s Club Hub: 30 Hour Famine Club

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SMUS students have access to a wide variety of extracurricular opportunities that interest them. We offer more than 100 fun and rewarding clubs or councils that provide students of all ages with leadership experience, skill development and a chance to contribute to life on campus and in our greater community. The SMUS Review is currently highlighting these extracurricular activities and the passionate students who get involved.

Today, Grade 11 student Jasper Johnston writes about his personal experience with the 30 Hour Famine Club at SMUS, tying the recent famine event at the school with a service trip he took last spring to Recife, Brazil with World Vision.

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by Jasper Johnston, Grade 11

Soldiers marched in the streets, the murder rate spiked and stores were looted across the steamy Brazilian city, where temperatures hovered at 35 degrees, bolstered by the humid Amazonian air.

As chaos reigned in Recife, I remained hidden away in one of the city’s main soccer stadiums alongside 200 World Vision youth ambassadors.

Recife’s police strike had come without warning and at the worst time for us. With the city on the verge of anarchy, the national army had finally intervened to clamp down on illegal activities, leaving our group stranded far from our campsite.

All I could think was: “How on earth did I get here?”

***

As with anything in life, you can never quite know what to expect.

Given my interest in soccer and development issues, I was naturally intrigued by an opportunity to travel to Brazil for the World Vision Cup, where youth from around the world would gather to play soccer and speak out against the violence and inequalities they face in their communities. With the help of my teacher, Mrs. Davel (who has been running the 30 Hour Famine at SMUS for years), I applied for it.

Finally, after weeks of anticipation, I received unexpected news: I had been selected to join the Canadian Delegation going to Recife. Though I was anxious at the thought of having to miss a busy week of school and flying by myself for the first time, I was determined and excited to go on what promised to be a life changing trip.

Little did I know what adventures lay ahead.

Our home for the week was a rural campsite, 90 minutes outside of the city. The campsite was a mosaic of cultures and languages, with people from six continents in attendance: Ethiopia, Canada, Haiti, Australia, Germany, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Ecuador, South Korea, Bolivia, Mongolia and, of course, Brazil.

Perhaps the biggest impact the trip had on me was the connections I made with the other people there, despite some language barriers. In fact, all events and discussions took five times as long, as everything was translated into Portuguese, Spanish, Mongolian, French and English.

Every day, World Vision works to combat hunger, protect children’s rights and bring education to people who might not receive it otherwise. By doing our part, and contributing to World Vision through the annual 30 Hour Famine, SMUS has helped to improve the lives of countless youth around the world. One friend I made, Emmanuel, was an 18-year-old from Ethiopia. It was especially cool to hang out with him because he had once been a World Vision foster child, and it gave me the unique chance to learn about how World Vision operates in villages around the world.

For the first three days of the event, we had insightful discussions during which we learned about people’s backgrounds and views on poverty in their countries.

After the discussions, we started the soccer portion of the conference. Although I was thinking that the humanitarian aspect of the World Vision Cup would be the main event, I was surprised by how serious everyone was about the soccer. Mongolia had over 2,000 youth attend soccer tryouts for the event! I was somewhat intimidated, to say the least.

I was put on a team with five Bolivians (who spoke no English) and one of my cabin mates, Bjorn, from Germany (who spoke English). Despite the language barrier, we had a great time, and got to know each other well. Of course, this was the whole purpose of the event: soccer is a global language that can bridge cultural and language gaps.

On the day of the soccer tournament we were bused into the city, where we played in a large stadium. Our team played in the first match against an Australian and South Korean team. That game was tight for a while, but we ended up winning 10-1, booking ourselves a place in the quarterfinals. Though our team eventually went on to lose (to the eventual champion team from Brazil) in a shootout in the semi-finals, it was fun to be a part of this. The soccer tournament was an incredible experience, as it helped to break down barriers between nations, and gave me the chance to represent SMUS and Canada on a global stage.

In the midst of the tournament, our Canadian organizer, Lon, informed us of some political developments in the region: many public workers, including police, emergency services and public transportation, had gone on strike, leaving the city in disarray. The military was even called in to help quell the looting that was occurring in the streets. It would be another five days until I would learn that during this time, my parents back in Victoria had seen the chaos in Recife on the front page of CNN and had actually contacted the Canadian Embassy to ensure we were safe.

These riots in the streets were directly linked to the problems we had come together to discuss.

Tensions had been building for months across Brazil, as the country prepared to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Many people were upset that, while they lived in poverty due to underpaying jobs, decaying infrastructure and a lack of strong social programs, their country was pouring billions of dollars into building new soccer stadiums. After months of minor displays of protest, the tensions finally came to a head when the police in Recife went on strike, leaving the protests to morph into all-out riots in the streets.

When we finally were able to get into our buses and head back to our campsite, we watched from our windows and saw shanty towns strewn like barnacles across lush hills and soldiers marshaling citizens in the streets. These are some of the realities that people face on a daily basis in various regions of Brazil, and in lesser developed countries around the world.

As the trip drew to a close, we traveled to Recife for a press conference during which we presented our “Letter of Recife” to the media, the United Nations and a Brazilian politician who was there on behalf of the president. Our recommendations focused on how to better the lives of youth worldwide, through improved healthcare, nutrition, education and more.

Looking back one year later on my experience in Brazil, I am thankful for the amazing opportunity that I was given, and am glad that I now have the chance to share my experience with others.

Last month, our school took part in World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine once again, and had one of our best participation rates ever. This year, more than 40 students took part in the event by giving up food or technology for 30 hours, raising more than $1,000, and spreading awareness of the global cause around the community.

At SMUS, we are fortunate to be able to receive a world-class education, which we often take for granted. By raising money and awareness for World Vision, we help to solve issues like those that were discussed in Brazil: giving other children the chance to obtain a proper education, and the opportunity to escape the clutches of poverty. Every day, World Vision works to combat hunger, protect children’s rights and bring education to people who might not receive it otherwise. By doing our part, and contributing to World Vision, SMUS has helped to improve the lives of countless youth around the world.

It is the 30 Hour Famine Club’s hope that this tradition will continue next year and that we will have even more participants and activities. By working together, and each doing our part, we can help to create meaningful change in the world.

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

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Athletics Week in Review: May 12

Senior badminton traveled to Nanaimo last week to compete in the Island Championships. Historically, SMUS has performed very well at this event, and, once again, held the top seed going into the tournament. However, this position would be balanced somewhat by the fact standouts Sara Cui and Theo Wu ​were unavailable, due to Grade 9 out-trip commitments.

Nonetheless, in opening round action, SMUS, led by co-captains Ryan Cui and Airlia Hie, played solidly to defeat Alberni District Secondary 8-3. Then, the team rose to the occasion in its best performance of the season, thumping Oak Bay 10-1. Jake You won both his singles and the mixed doubles matches in impressive style as the Blue Jags moved into the final against Mount Douglas.

Although SMUS had won narrowly twice against the same opponent in Victoria league play, the team, without two key starters, entered this championship match as underdogs. Sparked by Blair Zheng and Renee Guan, the Blue Jags surprised Mount Doug in taking the opening rounds. More good news followed immediately after, as Chad Hou won his singles match. Then, with belief growing, Sonia Sun and Pasit Laothamatas had the games of their lives, vaulting SMUS to a fabulous 7-4 victory.

Coach Jeff Hunt called this Island title “the best all-round team effort in school history.” High praise indeed, as SMUS now heads to the May 28-30 Provincial Championships in Kamloops as the No. 1 seed from the Island.

Senior girls soccer ​then became the sixth SMUS team to capture an Island Senior title this year. The squad negotiated its way through the opening day of play, not always firing on all cylinders but doing enough to down Carihi 2-0 and Nanaimo District Secondary 3-1. These two results allowed the Blue Jags to top their pool and qualify directly for the final the following day versus North No. 1 Ballenas.

In a close and riveting contest, SMUS, producing its best effort of the season, managed to ride a 52nd minute strike by Gabby Freer to triumph 1-0. Aveen Glen, in concert with defenders Taylor Noel, Chloe Fitzgibbon and Sam Biberdorf, smothered the opponent’s star striker, while Anna Mollenhauer was rock solid in goal.

Sisters Flora and Maggie Manson-Blair controlled the midfield, while, up front, Rachel Olson, Siri Knudsen, Robyn Noel and Claudia Wheler constantly pressured the Whaler defence.

The team now moves on the BC AA Tournament May 28-30 in Burnaby.

SMUS rowing took part in the May 8-10 Shawnigan Regatta, where, for the first time in several years, mother nature produced wonderfully warm weather and, consequently, a competition that ran on time.

Pride of place went to the Junior A Women 4+, with Sun-Eui Choi, Acacia Welsford, Juliane Pohl, Julianna Wong and Chloe White capturing a gold medal. A 63-kg crew, they won the open division.

Further congratulations to the Junior A 63kg Women 8+ and Junior B Men 4+ silver medalists, as well as to Valerie Swanston and Radha Raina, who won their Novice B Girls 2X at long odds and were in contention to record an upset win in the final, before being caught in rough water near the finish line. Also just missing the podium were the Junior B Women 4+, Junior A Men 4+ and Junior A Women 1X, while other finalists included Jr B Novice Women 2X, Jr B Men 2X, Jr B Men 8+, Jr A Men 2-, Jr A Novice Women 4X+ and Junior A Men Novice 4X+.

Special thanks to Colin Knightley, out with an injury, who has been so supportive of his teammates on race days, and to all the graduating seniors. Best of luck to the 23 athletes who now continue their preparation for the Canadian Secondary School Rowing Association Championships, scheduled for June 2-7 in St. Catharine’s, Ontario.

For the 1st XV rugby ​team, a May 7 away game to Brentwood, on the heels of the exciting Alumni Day victory over Oak Bay, was always going to be a challenge, and so it proved. Indeed, the hosts carried play for most of the first half, and were very unlucky to go to intermission down 14-0 after a brace of Max Pollen tries.

When a superb length-of-the-field counter attack brought Brentwood back to 14-5, it was game on. Fortunately, SMUS upped its effort and concentration, with Lucas De Vries scoring twice in short order. Further tallies from Aidan Cole, Sam Platt and Owen Sudul, and five Matty McColl conversions added some gloss to a contest that was much closer than the final scoreline indicated.

May 11 then saw SMUS ease through its City semi-final versus Esquimalt. John Cook set the tone early with two short range tries, while Angus Catto and De Vries also notched a pair. Both Victor Rosenberg and Henri Gotzel did well in their 1st XV debuts. The Blue Jags now move to the City final versus GNS on Thursday, May 14th.

Meanwhile, the Juniors backed up their Alumni Day upset of Oak Bay by performing even better in the City semi-final. A wonderful, all-round performance in this game saw the team reverse a league loss to Claremont with a comprehensive 41-12 victory. Donovan Sturdy, Jon Sudul, Sam Kahn, Bryce Forbes and Nick Papaloukas were just a few from a group who tackled bravely from start to finish, and registered some very attractive multi-phase tries.

Finally, in squash, Grace Thomas, following an excellent performance at the recent Canadian Juniors tournament in Toronto, has been named to the National Junior team that will compete at the World Championships this summer in Amsterdam.

Vivat!

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Grade 12 Student Composes a Personal SMUS Musical Journey

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The journey that is high school is unique and very personal for every student. Most don’t express that full experience in a public forum; offering up something tangible that reflects what it’s like to be a teenager navigating their way into post-secondary life… unless you’re Puroshini Pather.

The Grade 12 student shared her intimate journey with her classmates and an audience last week. It wasn’t expressed in the form of a poem or a speech – Puroshini translated her SMUS experience into “Quicksilver”, a piece of music she composed for SMUS’s 60-person string orchestra.

“Being my last year at SMUS, I wanted ‘Quicksilver’ to represent what it’s like to be a high school student here, with the ups and downs of getting good grades, and the bitter-sweetness as one leaves for university and has to leave their parents. And it’s being a little bit uncertain about what the future holds, but also looking forward and being hopeful for a bright future, while remembering the vibrancy of the past,” she says. “I wanted to show what an honour it was to be at SMUS and portray that through my music.” She called the piece “Quicksilver” because, like the element mercury – commonly called quicksilver – high school can be “quick-changing and turbulent.”

Puroshini is no stranger to music composition. For SMUS’s Remembrance Day ceremony in 2013, she debuted her orchestral piece “Hour Glass”. Composing, though, began at a much earlier age.

“When I started playing piano at 6 or 7, that’s when I began writing music. So I started with writing music for the piano, and then from there on it advanced as I advanced. I started playing the violin, I listened to what a beautiful sound a symphony was, and I started writing music for violin and piano. And from then I learned how to mix the flute into that, and it just grew bigger and bigger and bigger, until I realized just how much more I could do with all these instruments if I just overlapped them and created such a full sound,” she says. “The orchestra just lets me do that; it gives me an outlet to move on to bigger and better things.”

She describes her writing process as being more organic, rather than inspired.

“I don’t watch a sad movie or experience something and then write a piece – it doesn’t work like that for me. It’s more… I have a little box in my head and sometimes it lets out good music, and sometimes it lets out Justin Bieber in a really high voice. So I have to know when the music that’s coming out is worth something that could be performed,” she says.

Over the course of a few weeks leading up to the onstage debut of “Quicksilver” at last Friday’s Concerto Concert, Puroshini practiced conducting her classmates performing her piece.

“This school has such a nurturing environment that it really raised my spirits and I just went with it. It’s nice to have [the debut of “Quicksilver”] in a school where your classmates are working toward the goal with you; that made it really nice and comforting to know they were supportive of me,” she says. “I was surprised at how easy it was to just flick my wrist and have them respond; it was such a beautiful feeling for me once I actually made it on stage. When I finally got up there it was like a zen moment; just complete calm and stillness, and everyone was so attentive. It was probably the most beautiful moment in my life so far… but I’m only 17.”

As “Quicksilver” grew in front of her eyes, with the help of her talented classmates, the box in her head opened up again, inspiring her to continue writing.

“Coming back from ‘Quicksilver’, I realized what it truly means to stand in front of an orchestra, and it was actually quite a visual effect. As I was moving my arms, the rest of the orchestra is playing and it was a rippling effect,” Puroshini says, “so I wanted to name this next piece ‘Ripple’ and have it represent each musician’s talents as being part of a sea of music.”

While the Grade 12 student is off to Scotland in the fall to study medicine at the University of St. Andrews, she says music will never not be in her life.

“Music is on par with my passion for science, but science has a slight edge over it because I just think I can do so much more in helping the community. But inspiring people in music is something I will always do,” she says.

“I loved having this experience at SMUS with people who I love and people that loved me. It’s such a wonderful experience to have a family of people who I could communicate with and express the same love of music. They all showed the same amount of passion towards my music as I did, and I was so glad that when I moved my arms I was able to draw that out of them in such a beautiful way.”

(photo and video by Kent Leahy-Trill)

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Junior School Celebrates Being Environmentally Friendly

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Kindergarten and Grade 5 classes are trying to make the world a little greener by drawing environmentally friendly messages on Thrifty Foods paper grocery bags. The bags will then be returned to the Fairfield location, and SMUS-JS-EarthWeek-08some lucky customers will receive the artfully decorated paper bags when they purchase groceries.

“The children thoughtfully prepare the bags, promoting images and messages of caring for our Earth within the community,” said Kindergarten teacher Ms. Margaret Lincoln. Her young students have led this Earth Week activity at SMUS for several years, and this year the Kindergarten students were excited to bring their Grade 5 buddies into the fold to collaborate on the bags (and to create twice as many as usual!).

This was just one of many environmentally friendly initiatives led by Junior School students during Earth Month in April. The school’s Green Team also took on an important leadership role, sharing their knowledge and positive messaging around reducing, reusing and recycling.

The Green Team is made up of 20 enthusiastic students in Grades 4 and 5 who are interested in learning more about what it means to be green, and how they can make a difference in our environment at the Junior School and in their community.

They educate the rest of the school about composting and recycling in assemblies, and they actually empty classroom compost bins each week. It’s a yucky job, but they encourage each other to get it done in order to reduce the amount of litter from the school finding its way into the landfill.

Recently, at the Earth Month assembly, the Green Team had fun reminding student to reduce, recycle and reuse by reading a fun story, playing a video and singing a song entitled “It’s All About the Green” (to the tune of “It’s All About That Bass”). We are all about the green, NO GARBAGE, at the Junior School!

Green Team Reflections

“We may only be about 20 students, but we have an opinion and we are trying to make a difference, and we feel that we are.”

“We observe and try to find ways to make a difference in our environment.” – Makena

“We wrote the song to make an entertaining way to encourage students to think about cleanliness around the school.”

“A good way to remember something important is to get a song stuck in your head.”

“The Green Team makes a difference and it makes us feel proud.”

“If we make others aware, we can stop littering and it will make a difference in our environment.”

“We strive to make a difference.”

(photos by Kyle Slavin; video by Gordon Chan)

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