SMUS in the News: Mike Fuailefau and Canada Rugby Team Reaches Semis at Hong Kong Sevens

Times Colonist
March 29, 2015

Mike Fuailefau ’10
Canada makes Bowl semis at Hong Kong semis

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Student’s Connection to Vanuatu Strengthened By Natural Disaster

It was just last summer that Grade 9 student Finn Goodyear and his family were on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu. There, they stayed in a small village with his aunt and uncle, Dr. Andrea Lewis and Dr. Sean Cruz. These two Victoria-based physicians were stationed on Tanna for six months as part of the Victoria-Vanuatu Physician Project (ViVa).

“We got to go into the hospital and watch my aunt and uncle doing medical rounds with all sorts of patients. One the greatest experiences I had was going to the village of Yakel, which is a fully traditional village where the women wear grass skirts and the men wear nambas, their version of underwear,” Finn recalls. “We were in Yakel  because my aunt and uncle had to travel out to certain villages to provide them with medical care if (patients) could not come to the hospital.”

For 24 years (until January of this year), ViVa sent Vancouver Island doctors, like Finn’s aunt and uncle, on six-month work terms to Vanuatu to staff the Lenakel Hospital and fill the position of Medical Superintendant or Medical Officer for Tafea Province.

Tanna was hit by a devastating cyclone earlier this month that destroyed much of Lenakel Hospital and the medical equipment inside. ViVa is now raising money to replace the hospital roof and the lost equipment as soon as possible.

“The people of Tanna were so amazing; they were so happy and giving with what they had. They allowed me and my family into their community and I was given the chance to experience their culture. I want to be able to give back to them through fundraising money to rebuild their only hospital,” Finn says. “Rebuilding the hospital would give the people of Tanna a chance to get back on their feet, from major injuries and sicknesses, and allow them to start rebuilding the island.”

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SMUS’s Club Hub: Math Challengers


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, we meet Saje (Grade 9) and Alison (Grade 8), who both participate in Math Challengers, a club for Middle and Senior School students in grades 6-9.


What is the Math Challengers club?
Saje– Math Challengers is a club that prepares us for the Math Challengers contest. We meet once a week and we practice some of the questions, and learn different strategies and ideas. We’ve worked on factorials and geometry, polynomials – just a whole bunch of advanced math concepts we don’t necessarily do in class that will probably be in the contest.

Alison– The contest covers all different kinds of questions. There’s a couple of different sections and in each section there’s a couple of questions that get progressively harder. So at the beginning it’ll ask, “How many diagonal lines are in this pentagon?” and then at the end it’s like, “Find the area of a triangle, where there’s a square inside it, and a circle inside that, and you’re only given the circumference of the circle.” It’s tough, but it’s fun.

What is the Math Challengers contest?
Saje– Regionals happen in February at Camosun and teams of five from different schools compete. First you write two individual contests, and then you write a group contest with your team of five. The top 10 individual scores go to a face-off round, and then the top two teams go to Provincials, which is held alternately at UBC and SFU. This is my third year in Math Challengers and I’ve been to Provincials twice. It’s a really neat experience because it’s a travel opportunity that isn’t for sports or service.

Why did you join Math Challengers?
Alison– Because I like math; it’s fun. I’m probably alone in that for most of my grade, but I like it because there’s a lot of patterns in it. Also last year my teachers were bugging me about joining because I’m good at math, so I did this year.

Saje– I joined Math Challengers in Grade 7 because my homeroom teacher urged me to. I was doing Grade 8 math at the time so I joined and it was a great experience, and I’ve wanted to stick with it ever since.

What’s the time commitment like?

Alison– We meet once a week on Wednesdays at lunch. But you do the work at home, so that changes every week. You’re supposed to only spend 1-2 minutes on each question.

What do you enjoy most?
Saje– I like that this is a unique opportunity that the school gives. With a sports team you would train and you would travel and go to a competition. This is the same thing, but with math. I think it’s special to get that opportunity to travel with someone more academic.

Alison–I like the way Mr. Williams teaches. And I like the fun applications you do with math because it’s different than what you’d do in a usual math class.

What do you learn?
Alison– You learn more creative ways of solving problems, different types of problems, and how to use the math you already know to solve problems. You learn funky things like, yah, there’s the Pythagorean Theorem, but there’s also 30-60-90 triangles, and stuff like that. It’s a neat extension of what you learn in class.

Saje– I’ve definitely gained more math skills. There’s tons of things I’ve learned with this club that hasn’t even been in the curriculum yet. And you learn how to work with a team; definitely for the co-op competition, which is the team of five, that takes a lot of teamwork, it’s quite long and takes a lot of collaborating.

Would you recommend other students join Math Challengers?
Saje– Absolutely. I would recommend anybody who has any interest in math to come and try it out, even if they come to some meetings and learn new ideas without going to the contest. It’s still a good idea to learn new things and get the experience of being in a club.

Alison– Yes, if they feel like they can kind of think outside the box and do the trickier math problems. But if you feel like, ‘No, I hate math; it’s not my thing’ then don’t join.

SMUS students performed exceptionally well at the Vancouver Island contest in February, with five of our students (Larry Y., Sam S., Wilson Y., Alex Z., and Cindy L.) named among the top 10 competitors in the Grade 8 division, and five students (Saje, Ji Hee C., Tony L., Theodore W., and Jared R.) named in the top 10 of the Grade 9 division. These two SMUS teams will travel to Vancouver on April 11 to compete in the Math Challengers provincial contest. Good luck!

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

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The Wizard of Oz Comes to a Close


It took a lot of brains, heart and courage from everyone involved to stage such a big production, and after more than half a year of working hard on the Middle School’s The Wizard of Oz, it’s come to an end.

Staging a biennial Middle School musical means our current Grade 6 students will have another opportunity to perform when they’re in Grade 8, and our Grade 8s performed Annie when they were in Grade 6. With Oz now in the history books, the SMUS Review asked some of the Grade 7 actors to reflect on their one-and-only experience putting on a Middle School musical at SMUS.

Student Reflections

“It was a lot of fun. I think it was really great to get to connect with the other people who had leads and were involved in it, because a lot of them I wouldn’t get to spend time with otherwise – that was really fun. I feel kind of sad now that it’s over because I won’t get to see all those people all the time any more. I liked playing an angry SMUS-MS-WizardofOz-Aold lady yelling at people; that was really fun for me. I liked the significance of my role because the reason Dorothy was going down the yellow brick road was to go home to Aunty Em. The first night of performing, I was really scared, but I was so excited and so happy when we were done the first night and it was all okay. It was scary seeing all those people out there, but I find it actually scarier to perform like this for a small group when I can see everybody; when I look at a big audience and they’re all in the dark, I see them as an object and I can talk to them as an object. I was really glad my family came to see the show; when I came home after the last night, they had all signed a card and got me flowers. I definitely would love to try out for another musical and be a part of it in whatever way I can. It was just a really great experience. I loved last week when we were down at the McPherson. That was probably the funnest few days of the whole school year!” – by Ava (“Aunty Em”)

“I love acting, so just being able to get up on stage and act feels great. Getting on stage for the first time for a lot of people was amazing. I tried out to be Oz because I wanted to try out for a lead, but I’m not a big fan of singing SMUS-MS-WizardofOz-Jso I didn’t want to be one of the three leads. I liked both my characters because they’re weird and eccentric and fake. Rehearsing was fun because although we had a brief description of the characters, Mr. Frater likes to have the characters evolve a bit. They were absolutely hilarious because I had to snort as the professor, and people would be laughing out loud in stitches. It was always really fun to be the professor because the moment you laugh everyone would laugh, and it’s great to make other people laugh… with you, not at you. I would say to anyone that would want to be in a musical, definitely try out for a lead even if you’re scared because it’s so much fun being a lead. It’s fun being the chorus and singing songs, but it was just amazing being a lead. We had so much fun and it was all really awesome.” – by Jasper (“The Wizard and Professor Marvel”)

“The whole experience of being in the musical was something so SMUS-MS-WizardofOz-Mamazingly unexpected. I didn’t realize it would be so much. I just thought it was going to be this little school play and it turned out to be this big production with dancers and musicians, and there were microphones and huge crowds of people – it was amazing. I loved rehearsing with the other people. In the beginning everyone was nervous, but we just started to figure things out and we started to bond together, and by the end we are all friends and hanging out at school. I’ve been watching shows at the McPherson since I was younger, and I’ve always wondered, ‘What do they do to prepare?’ Now I’ve realized what it takes! Being on stage there was amazing. When I walked out, everyone was smiling, it made me feel so good and the adrenaline rush was amazing. I made so many good memories being part of the musical. I’m going to definitely try out for musicals at the Senior School. Even though this is the only one I get to do at the Middle School, as long as I get to do something like this again, I’m fine. This was probably one of the best things that I’ve ever done; of all my dance performances and singing, the musical really stood out for me because it was just so much fun learning these lines and portraying another person, and getting to do this with my friends and see each other’s talents.” – by Meaghan (“Glinda the Good Witch”)

SMUS-MS-WizardofOz-C“It was so great to be able to spend time with my classmates putting together such a big show and a final product. There were so many people involved in it, from the actors to the costumers to the set people, and it was such a great experience to work as a team. I played the Guard; he’s very quirky and whenever he walks in the room, he has to do a little dance. It’s a very fun and enthusiastic character. It was fun being a part of something where people were supporting you everywhere. I’ve been in many musicals before, and it’s always fun doing them. One of the funniest things that happened was in dress rehearsal during the final black-and-white scene in Kansas; Connor, who plays the Tin Man, came out half silver because he couldn’t get his makeup off. It was so funny. Everyone on stage was laughing and they couldn’t even say their lines. I thought it was such a great experience to share what you’ve worked on over the last couple months with an audience.” – by Christian (“Oz Guard”)

Check out all the photos from the Middle School’s performance of The Wizard of Oz at the SMUS Photo Gallery.

(photos by Kyle Slavin)

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SMUS Students Earn Perfect Scores on Advanced Placement Exams

Grade 12 student Nick Scholz and 2014 grad Jennifer Park achieved something quite rare last year.

The two students are among only 285 in the world to earn a perfect score on an Advanced Placement (AP) exam in 2014. Jennifer and Nick both earned every point possible in the multiple choice and free-response sections of their respective exams.

Jennifer, who is now a freshman studying at Duke University, achieved a perfect score on the AP Macroeconomics exam. Nick got top marks on the AP German Language and Culture exam.

“I took 10 AP courses at SMUS between grades 10 and 12, and I graduated with 12 AP credits,” said Park, a longtime Victoria resident. “Taking these advanced courses at SMUS made my transition into university much smoother and gave me a breadth of knowledge that couldn’t have been obtained from standard high school classes.”

Taking these advanced courses at SMUS made my transition into university much smoother and gave me a breadth of knowledge that couldn’t have been obtained from standard high school classes.

Given there were only 285 perfect scores out of more than 4,000,000 AP exams written in 2014, it is extremely rare for a high school student to earn every point possible on these university-level exams.

SMUS is proud to be one of only 26 schools worldwide with two or more perfect exams in 2014. Nearly 20,000 schools participate in the AP program.

“We are incredibly proud of Jennifer and Nick on their outstanding achievements, as well as the more than 230 students at SMUS who challenge themselves every year by participating in the AP program,” said Head of School Bob Snowden. “The success of our students in the AP program is a tribute to their talent and hard work, and confirms the value of integrating the AP program into our overall academic approach.

In 1978, SMUS became the first school in Canada to offer the AP program. The school remains one of the largest AP schools in Canada, in terms of the number of exams taken each year. In 2012, SMUS was named the top school in Canada for “equity and excellence” in the AP program.

“Encouraging and enabling our students to set their sights high and seek advanced placement in colleges and universities is part of our commitment to seek the excellence in all of us and provide outstanding preparation for higher learning and for life,” Snowden said.

SMUS offers 26 AP courses, including Human Geography, Psychology, Microeconomics/Macroeconomics, Environmental Science, Comparative Government and Politics, Calculus and Chemistry.

“I think the AP Program is very useful, especially for students who are aiming for high-ranking universities, and especially for those looking at U.S. universities,” Park said. “Not only does success in an AP course provide a boost to your application, it allows you to skip university-level intro classes and jump straight into the more interesting upper-level classes.”

SMUS’s AP Numbers
(AP considers a score of 3, 4 or 5 on an exam a “success”)

• 234 SMUS students wrote 572 AP exams in 2014.
• 88% of SMUS AP students earned an exam score of 3 or higher (success) in 2014; 7 points higher than the B.C. success rate (81%) and 27 points higher than the global success rate (61%).
• 265 SMUS students in Grades 10-12 currently (2014-15) take at least one AP course.
• 149 out of 160 students in SMUS’s 2015 graduating class currently take at least one AP course.
• 29 SMUS students received National AP Scholar awards in 2014, awarded to students who receive scores of 4 or higher on five or more AP exams, and have an overall average of at least 4.

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Model UN Competitions Are Fun and Rewarding Experiences

by Jonathan Mostovoy, Grade 12

Last weekend I attended the Canadian High School Model United Nations (CAHSMUN) in downtown Vancouver. Being a veteran at these types of conferences, and having attended this conference last year, it was incredible to see the skills that we taught in our Adventures in Public Discourse club being practiced in real life.

It became common practice for our delegation to get together after our committee sessions and commend one another on how we were able to push our agendas in each respective committee. The level of excitement within each of my fellow delegates’ post-conference deliberation was extraordinary.

Just at this conference, I saw all 21 of my fellow delegates step out of their comfort zone in some way. For some, it was by getting their first UN resolution passed; for others, it was trying a new tactic to whip enough votes for an imminent vote; and for those new to Model UN, it was their first time getting up in public and voicing their respective country’s position. No matter how each person stepped out of their comfort zone, I can confidently say that whenever somebody did take this leap of courage, the rewards were great.

My first experience with structured public discourse was when I when in Grade 9 when my history teacher, Mr. Goodman, recommended I participate in the annual Model Commonwealth conference held here at SMUS. It was at this conference where I was first exposed to the many adversities a real-life ambassador would face. Remarkably, however, dealing with such adversities actually became a rewarding, fun and great learning experience – I was hooked.

Since my first Model United Nations experience, I have become enamoured of public speaking and lobbying. Because of this interest, I fully immersed myself in the Adventures in Public Discourse club. As one of the heads of this club, I now help to design weekly workshops to further develop my peers’ public speaking, teamwork and critical thinking skills. The act of designing and carrying out United Nations simulations for others has taught me the importance of collaboration when dealing with real world problems. I have come to relish the act of sharing my experiences in debate and consensus building with the newer team members in our club.

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Grade 4 Students Teach Mindfulness at the Senior School


by Ms. Heather Sandquist

Mindfulness has become an integral part of many of the classes at the Junior School. A number of teachers incorporate various mindful activities into their daily schedule. Students can be found practicing breathing exercises, trying yoga poses, visualizing and indulging in mindful eating. After practicing mindfulness on a regular basis, students find that they are better able to manage themselves throughout the day.

This week we were invited to teach mindfulness to Grade 9 and Grade 11 students at the Senior School. Some of my Grade 4 students led the older students through a variety of mindful activities ranging from a visualization, mindful eating, yoga, mindful quotes and drawing. It was empowering for the Grade 4 students to lead older students. They loved this leadership opportunity and I was immensely proud of them. It was an amazing opportunity for me to be in the background and watch the children demonstrate their passion for mindfulness. They hope to lead again in the near future.

Student Reflections

“Mindfulness to me is being peaceful and letting go of everything in the outside world. Teaching to the Senior School students was important to me because I am passionate about mindful time and I think that everyone should do it at least once a day. I read out mindful quotes to the Senior School students and then had them write or draw their feelings, emotions or thoughts on a card. Some students wrote various words, such as peace, calmness and luminous. They seemed to enjoy this time because they were quiet and layed down on the carpet in a large circle. I enjoyed this experience. It was fun and it felt good to be teaching other people.” – by Lauren

“Mindfulness to me is calming. It helps me recuperate and regenerate. It helps me take my mind off of stuff. It keeps me present. Teaching to the Senior School students was important because I can teach people to be mindful. It is something that I like to do so it was important for me to teach this to others. I led mindful eating with the Grade 9 students. I gave the students Life Savers candy. It went well. I had the students sit in a circle and simply focus on the taste and sensation of the Life Saver. Some students laughed; perhaps it was something new for them. I don’t think they do mindful eating very much. I think it went well and would love to have another opportunity to teach others. I would love to teach at the Middle School where my sister is in Grade 6.” – by Cole

“Mindfulness to me is a way to calm myself when I am feeling really excited or my thoughts are going in different directions. It calms me and brings me to the present moment. Teaching to the Senior School students was important to me because I wanted to try teaching older people other than my peers. I wanted to experience the difference of teaching Senior School students and teachers. I taught a series of mindful yoga poses. I explained and modelled each pose and discussed the value of how they help become mindful. Overall the students did pretty well. They participated and were respectful. Now that I have taught the Senior School students I feel more experienced in mindfulness because I have taught mindfulness to different types of students. It was really fun!” – by Josie

“Mindfulness is important to me because it is a way to wind down after recess or when I am physically active. It really works for me because I have a really busy schedule with sports. I need something to calm me down and to help me rest. It is really important to me because I really need it. Teaching to the Senior School students was important to me because it was a way of showing how passionate I am about mindfulness. It is also just a way to make me feel really proud of myself. I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. I thought it would be awesome to teach mindfulness and to plant a seed in their minds. I prepared a visualization that I called ‘the special tree house’. I got that idea from a visualization that I taught my mom. I also offered the loving kindness metta and did the closure piece. I think most of the Senior School students enjoyed this experience. To some it seemed like it was something new to them. When I got up to teach it was different than I thought it would be. The students were were way bigger and I think that I would probably teach again. It felt really good when I was finished. I really enjoyed the experience.” – by Emmett

(photos by Gordon Chan)

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SMUS in the News: Slack, the App That May Finally Sink Email

New York Times
March 11, 2015

Stewart Butterfield ’91
Slack, the Office Messaging App That May Finally Sink Email

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Talented SMUS Athlete Represents BC at Canada Winter Games

by Grace Thomas

Competing in the 2015 Canada Winter Games was one of the best experiences of my life.

I started playing squash about five years ago. I had always played a lot of sports – soccer, cross-country, track and field, and competitive swimming – and at that time I had just stopped swimming and was looking for something to fill the many hours I had been spending at the pool. I started played recreational squash, but soon found I really enjoyed it and wanted to play competitively. SMUS-Squash-GraceThomas-SN.jpgEventually I gave up my other sports and committed most of my free time to training and competing in squash.

The process for making the BC Canada Winter Games team took me more than three years. Each year there are requirements to fulfill that included tournament and training camp successes. The BC “squad” started out with eight boys and eight girls. Each year the players with the lowest ranking would get cut from the team. Since I had won provincials and had done well at National events, I had a good chance of making the team. In December 2014, the team was announced with four boys and four girls. I had never represented BC in a multi-sport event before, so this prospect was really exciting for me.

We arrived in Prince George on Saturday, February 21 and started the team event on the Sunday. We were seeded second, so we had fairly easy matches until later on in the week. All of our matches were on a full glass court. On a glass court, you play with a white ball instead of a black ball so it’s easier to see. It was my first time playing on a full glass court so it took a while to get used to. We played Manitoba in the semifinals and won 3-1. We then played Ontario in the finals. With close matches from everyone, we ultimately came in second. Silver medal for Team BC!

Every single match I played was memorable; we met new people every day and invited them to come watch us play. Every game I played, all my teammates came to watch and cheer. Some BC athletes, spectators and volunteers from other sports came to cheer us on, too.

Competing at the Games is much different than regular tournaments. Tournaments are usually three days long, and sometimes four if it’s a national event. Although we do train and travel as a team at SMUS, squash is not normally a team event; squash players compete as individuals. At the Games, we did everything as a team: travel, eat every meal and watch every game. We compete as a team so that each win or loss by an individual team member contributes to the outcome of the team. Also, the level of play was generally higher compared to provincial tournaments. Many kids train for years to make their team for Canada Games.

I met so many new people from different sports at the Games. The nine days I spent in Prince George went by way too quickly. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I will never forget it.

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Students Make Meaningful Connections to Local Charities


A trio of students earned $5,000 for the Bridges for Women Society last week as part of a service project in their Planning 10 class, in partnership with the Toskan Casale Foundation. Anna Mollenhauer, Jade Robinson and Oria James chose to advocate for funding for Bridges

“In an all-girl group, we felt that choosing a society that deals with women would be appropriate. We also all know women who have gone through trauma and know how much a society like Bridges has helped them get their lives back on track,” Oria said.

SMUS has been involved in the Foundation’s Youth in Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) since 2007. Each year, all Planning 10 students get exposed to service by learning about local issues and advocating for a grassroots Victoria charity. After multiple rounds of group presentations, three student groups remained last week for the final presentations, vying for the $5,000 for their charity of choice.

The other two groups in the finals were advocating for the Victoria Therapeutic Riding Association and the Dandelion Society. A panel of judges, including Senior School service leadership students and MLA Andrew Weaver, deliberated on all three worthy presentations before choosing the beneficiary.

“My whole idea on service is to make it meaningful,” said Director of Service Mr. Kevin Cook. Integrating YPI into the Grade 10 curriculum allows students to be exposed to the idea of service, while recognizing the needs of our community, Cook says. “It’s a good thing for them to do; to make our kids get outside their own bubble, and move away from their first world problems. It helps them connect to their cause and the community. Even the kids who don’t win are now better people because they’re exposed to a part of Victoria they’re not normally involved in.”

Anna, Jade and Oria say they got more out of this service experience than they originally expected. Getting an opportunity to do a site visit to Bridges to see the society’s work in action opened their eyes to just how much good comes from the organization.

“It feels amazing to earn this money for them, knowing that so many more women can be helped,” Jade said.

Carrie Everett, coordinator of Bridges’ mentoring program, says it was exciting news to hear that the girls’ presentation successfully earned them the money.

“It’s very heartwarming and encouraging to have the students at SMUS choose Bridges. It means that youth in our community are learning about and engaging with important local social issues,” she said. “It’s evident that our agency has been chosen for a reason – the issue is close to their hearts – and it reminds me that violence against women is felt across generations and that all individuals are able to be a part of creating a healthy community, no matter how young or old.

“$5,000 is a very significant amount of money. Our core funds support our essential services, however needs of our clients go beyond what our basic funding allows. Additional funds support us to keep our cupboards stocked with healthy breakfast and lunch foods,” Everett added. “Currently we’re planning to relocate to a larger office space – more women than ever are accessing our services and we have outgrown our current location. I can imagine that the funds from the Toskan Casale Foundation will support us to move into a larger office with more counselling and workshop rooms.”

The trio of students say the biggest reason they worked so hard and advocated so strongly for Bridges is because they chose a charity that fights for a cause they’re truly passionate about.

“Love your charity,” Anna said, offering advice for the students who will participate in future YPI presentations. “In the end, there will be sports tryouts and exams going on at the same time, and what will get you to the end is knowing you’re doing it for your charity because you love it so much.”

The Toskan Casale Foundation runs YPI which, as detailed by the organization’s mission statement, provides “secondary school students with a hands-on, reality-based experience … which gives them the skills to assess the needs of their community and make grants to grassroots, community-based charities meeting those needs.” YPI grants nearly $1 million to Canadian charities each year, on behalf of students across the country.

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