THE MAGAZINE OF SHAWNIGAN LAKE SCHOOL
As the School looks toward a year of transition, we wanted to honour the years of service given to Shawnigan by David Robertson. For a quarter of a century, our outgoing Headmaster has led our community through an era of unprecedented change and growth while staying true to the School’s rich traditions. Although his legacy cannot be properly measured without the currency of historical record, we have dedicated the largest portion of this edition to David and his family, in the hope that these stories and images will help to memorialize their remarkable contributions. Also in this issue, we explore the inspiration behind the photographs of a young and talented photographer. The haunting images you will see on these pages reveal a complex emerging artist on the threshold of an exciting world of opportunity. As well, we journey to California to check in with an alumnus who launched the successful robotics program at Shawnigan, laying the groundwork for his own journey to the stars and inspiring dozens of students to follow in his footsteps. The grounds of Shawnigan are famed for their elaborate beauty, and insights from our Head Gardener are certain to resonate with anyone who has enjoyed this amazing campus. Meanwhile, two more of our students, inspired by Coach Michael Johnson, have made Shawnigan their home, opening new doors of possibility and lifting an already impressive squash program to lofty new heights. Special thanks go to Nik West for sharing his wonderful photographs of the Headmaster’s Gala, and to Stephen Lane for his photographs of Dennis Ren in the field. We are very proud to present the latest edition of Black & Gold. Our hope is that this magazine will tell compelling stories of the School you know and love while offering a taste of a future still being created. – Maureen Connolly
Christina Chant Maureen Connolly Jon Zacks
Maria Blake Sarah Nattrass Marlese Plater David Robertson Nicole Ronald-Jones Greg Stevenson
OUR LITTLE PARADISE
A Shawnigan photo essay Talking books with David Robertson
22 LAKE OF DREAMS
Shawnigan’s Head Gardener shares his vision
A new era for rowing at Shawnigan
26 CLEARED FOR LAUNCH
A note from David Robertson
A recent grad reaches for the stars
30 DAVID ROBERTSON
The character you build is yours forever
44 THE HEADMASTERâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S GALA 48 EMERGING ARTIST 54 COURTING SUCCESS 58 ALUMNI NOTEBOOK
An evening of celebration
The creative impulse of Alexis Welch From a small court to big opportunities Updates from our graduates
FROM THE HEADMASTER
To reflect or not to reflect Of all the ills that can befall an unsuspecting leader, what I would call a ‘paralysis of indecision’ is one of the worst. People are always looking for decisions from their leaders – all day, every day, large and small, but that’s precisely why we take the role. Ultimately, it’s the decisions we make that define us all. Against that context, this headmaster finds himself unusually torn as, figuratively speaking at least, he puts pen to paper for the last time in this edition of Black & Gold. Are these parting words of wisdom? Should they try to sum up the last 25 years? What would be most appropriate at this time? The more I reflect, the more I deflect, feeling vaguely akin to that epitome of indecision, Hamlet. Working on the premise that any decision is better than no decision, I will go with my heart. Saint-Exupéry was entirely accurate when he had the Little Prince articulate “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” I think that the success that the School has enjoyed for quite some time now has had an awful lot to do with heart. So it is decided: I want to reflect on the place of heart in the Shawnigan journey. The concept of heart in human interactions is commonly summoned to encompass a whole range of desirable features in our relationships with others. At the very least, it implies kindness, caring, wholehearted effort, enthusiasm and love. From all of those fine qualities, so many other fine outcomes flow, and, among those, a connection that evolves into a real community occurs. Ultimately, a community must have a prevailing culture for it to be relevant and meaningful and even more so with a boarding school community where evolving young people are living alongside caring adults and their families. As I reflect on the journey of the past 25 years, it is precisely that culture of which many of us are the proudest. The respect, the selflessness and the courage have all flowed freely from the essential heart of the School and, of course, aligned with its powerful spiritual ally, the soul; the humanity of the place has been constant and unwavering. From the countless acts of helping others through daily attention to courtesy and warmth on to the moving and memorable sharing that goes on in the Chapel, Shawnigan’s heart has been beating strongly for a long time now. To create a culture of kindness and helpfulness has been the guiding light. There can be no nobler calling. And so I am reflecting, and I’m struck by the significance of the reminders that we all have, often on a regular basis, about the finite nature of everything. Whether it’s encapsulated in the “carpe diem” approach or the “this too shall pass” mantra, we cannot stop the passage of time. Our only choice is to try to be our best selves every day and to help as many people as we can along the way. That’s a life well lived, and I would love for the world to embrace that approach. At least I can hope that the Shawnigan world of staff, students and families – past, present and future – will continue to live with their hearts out front. Yes, I’ll take that scenario – without a shred of indecision. Thank you to everyone who’s had the courage to make this journey with us. The river that we stepped in together is still flowing, and although “it is not the same river and we are not the same people,” what we have shared will stay with us forever, and our hearts will surely remain constant and true long into the uncharted future. We reflect the School, and the School reflects us.
MOMENTS SHAWNIGAN IN PICTURES
WITH DAVID ROBERTSON
STORY BY CHRISTINA CHANT
An avid reader for whom browsing through his extensive book collection is like reconnecting with a group of old friends, David Robertson’s profound enjoyment of reading and literature was originally sparked by listening to stories and plays on the radio as a child. This influential early exposure to the power of storytelling paved the way for memorable teenage reading experiences such as William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids and, later on, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Robertson is an omnivorous reader with eclectic and wide-ranging tastes, from biography and poetry to science fiction and thrillers. Correspondingly, he often has several books from different genres on the go at any one time. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro’s science fiction novel, and Angela Duckworth’s Grit, a non-fiction exploration of the “power of perseverance and passion,” are currently nestled side by side on his nightstand, providing a simultaneously dystopian and dynamic reading experience. He shares the feelings of many passionate and interested readers: that books are vehicles by which we can explore an infinite number of settings, scenarios, emotions and personas, some familiar and some alien. While the idea of experiencing a day in the life of Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, whirling through the excitement of the Roaring Twenties, holds a certain historical appeal for Robertson, it is the novels of John Le Carré and Ian Rankin that most capture his imagination. Both writers craft gripping and unsettling tales characterized by masterful storytelling, moral complexity, and the solitary journeys of nuanced characters such as Scottish detective John Rebus and British intelligence officer George Smiley.
“I’ve read everything that John Le Carré has written as I’m fascinated by espionage (I’m a sort of ‘wannabe spy,’ I guess),” he says. “Similarly, I’ve read every Ian Rankin because he writes as I might have wanted to if I’d had the talent, and he’s a contemporary of mine in every sense.” Beyond the dark corners of espionage and crime that Le Carré and Rankin illuminate so elegantly, Robertson has a particular admiration and fondness for the works of Alfred Tennyson, William Butler Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Robert Burns and William Shakespeare. The latter, as well as T. S. Eliot, represent pillars of the literary establishment whose cultural significance, rich insights and linguistic mastery he encourages every student to explore. He also points to contemporary non-fiction books, including Duckworth’s Grit and Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s optimistic exploration of technological innovation, Abundance, as containing relevant personal, professional and panoptic perspectives that anyone can benefit from. And, should you find yourself with some time on your hands and a hankering for a good yarn, he suggests you look no further than J. R. R. Tolkien. “I read The Lord of the Rings in one very long sitting and loved it,” he shares. With retirement on the horizon, bringing with it an unprecedented opportunity to read frequently and expansively, Robertson will soon have the time to delve into the large stack of books that is awaiting him. On top of the pile is Leo Tolstoy’s social and historical epic War and Peace, which he has held off from reading because he left a leather-bound twovolume set in Scotland that he received when he was 20. “I hope to collect it this summer!” he says.
“I read The Lord of the Rings in one very long sitting . . . ”
. . . from the book jacket
PURCHASE YOUR COPY OF JAY CONNOLLYâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S NEW BOOK Contact email@example.com or call the Advancement Office at 250-743-6235
STORY BY CHRISTINA CHANT PICTURES BY ARDEN GILL
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
Another day begins to dawn, clear, bright and peaceful. A barely perceptible mist rises up from Kaye’s Pond, the glassy surface of which is punctuated every now and again by bubbles from carp moving silently through the depths. It is, as John Steinbeck described, “the hour of the pearl.” In this moment of stillness and tranquility, there is an ethereal beauty to Shawnigan’s gardens. That the effect is serene and the natural response is wonder and reflection is no accident. Since assuming the mantle of grounds manager in 2005, Ed de Melo has worked tirelessly every year to create a thoughtfully curated horticultural canvas that, combined with Shawnigan Lake’s natural beauty, makes Shawnigan’s campus one of the most magnificent in Canada – a campus that is not only the backdrop to a Shawnigan education, but also an environment that forms an integral and influential part of each student’s journey through the School. This symbiotic connection between people and place is at the forefront of de Melo’s thinking about the important role that the School’s grounds play in the lives of Shawnigan’s students and staff. “I wake up every morning anticipating another rewarding day shaping this little paradise we have here at Shawnigan,” he says. “Every day, working together with fellow gardeners, I devote myself to the magic of nature, designing and creating something that can be shared with anyone who wishes to soak up the peace and serenity of our gardens.” From his own experiences, de Melo has a deep understanding of the value of a first-hand connection with
a continuing passion both for Shawnigan Lake School and for gardening, he was presented with the opportunity to take up his current position. The campus grounds that de Melo inherited were, in his own words, “naturalistic and traditional in style.” Using his imagination and knowledge, he started introducing creative annual beds, unusual plants, new trees and perennials suitable for the local growing conditions. “Colour, contrast, smell, purpose, performance and beauty are all main factors in my design choices,” he shares. “I try to create interesting spaces with vibrant themes that will hold up well in the drought conditions we experience from the summer through to the fall.” He credits Headmaster David Robertson as having been a tremendous support over his years at Shawnigan. Robertson’s vision to significantly enhance the campus layout and infrastructure paved the way for an accompanying expansion of the gardens, including the Alumni gardens, the new flagpole garden beds, several House gardens, the Wilkinson Theatre gardens, the shade garden behind the Jim & Kathryn Shaw Library, and the main front gardens. Several other areas of development supported by alumni gifts have also been created during de Melo’s tenure, including the roof and rock gardens, the peninsula, the heather bank and the organic garden. “The gardens have evolved over the years and hopefully always will. Change is, after all, the constant theme in nature,” he explains. Within the context of this garden evolution, de Melo points to the complete redesign of the main building front gardens that accompanied the Centennial renovations as the project he has felt the greatest pride and satisfaction in creating.
nature. As a boy growing up on São Miguel in the Azores archipelago, he worked alongside his grandparents in the family’s orchards, gardens and fields. Later in life, he and his wife, Melanie, made the decision to move from Vancouver to the Island to raise their two sons, Orien and Luka, identifying the Cowichan Valley as an area rich in opportunities for outdoor living. He joined the Shawnigan staff as a part-time maintenance worker in 2002 and knew right away that the School was where he belonged. In 2003, in recognition of de Melo’s impressive work ethic, business studies teacher Gary Dukelow recommended him for a position as a groundskeeper, which began de Melo’s career in the Shawnigan gardens. Over the course of two years, de Melo completed a Master Gardener program at Vancouver Island University to obtain formal certification. Then, propelled forward by a firm educational grounding in horticulture and
“Combining annuals, trees, shrubs and perennials, I endeavoured to create a garden that has balance and presence in every season, from fresh daffodils, tulips, weeping larches, ornamental beech trees and Japanese maples in the spring to the glory of colours and textures among the summer annuals. As the colours change during the fall, the fragrant smell of thyme mixes with pungent cedars under crimson maple leaves and brilliant yellow katsuras, while the winter brings forth the gentle fountain grasses and the beautiful red twig dogwood trees.” For de Melo, tending the Shawnigan grounds is not simply a matter of basic horticulture, although there are some practical elements to bear in mind, from specific themes in certain parts of the campus to the daily challenges presented by local wildlife. “Something I always need to factor in is deer-proofing for our dear deers,” he smiles. “Often we play a game where they
nibble on the tasty flowers, and I try to chase them away while they like to pretend I’m not there.” On a conceptual level, however, he considers a gardener to be a balance of scientist, artist, philosopher and labourer. “I try to keep the constantly evolving characteristics of nature alive and relevant by having a new design every year. While maintaining natural elements like garden beds is an important part of being a gardener, I especially enjoy the creative process of planning and executing each design.” De Melo’s motivation behind creating vibrant, eye-catching garden designs is wide enough to encompass the pleasure that other campus visitors also derive from the gardens, as well as the restorative shift in focus that time walking or working among the plants and flowers can provide. As any student who has been assigned grounds tasks while on Wilberforce will
know, de Melo is quick to provide assistance, advice and a gentle life lesson or two, including the innumerable rewards that come with hard work. “A garden requires patient labour, attention to detail and a willingness to be flexible,” he says. “Nature does not follow a clipboard – a windstorm, a change in temperature, intense rain or periods of drought can change everything overnight – so I believe in being prepared and adjusting course as needed.” “Plants and flowers thrive because someone has expended effort on them, because someone cared. They do not grow simply to fulfil an ambition or good intentions. When you put your heart into hard work like sinking your hands into the soil of the earth, you not only see the results of your efforts pairing with nature, but you also nourish your soul.” 21
Dreams If you build it . . .
STORY BY GREG STEVENSON PHOTOGRAPHY BY ARDEN GILL
GREG STEVENSON, SHAWNIGAN’S NEW DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT, IS A TWO-TIME OLYMPIAN AND CURRENT MEMBER OF SHAWNIGAN ROWING’S COACHING STAFF. HE IS A WINNER OF THREE PAN AM GAMES MEDALS AND MULTIPLE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, AND HE FINISHED FOURTH WITH HIS MEN’S 8+ TEAM AT THE 1996 ATLANTA OLYMPIC GAMES. It was 1996, five months before racing my heart out at the Atlanta Olympics, when I first had the privilege of rowing on Shawnigan Lake. The Frank Read Crew House was brand new, and the National Rowing Team had been graciously invited to Shawnigan’s campus for a much-needed escape from Elk Lake in Victoria, where training had become mind-numbingly monotonous on such a small and congested urban lake. As athletes who were rowing 300-plus kilometres per week, we were elated to find seven kilometres of sheltered water where we could complete our distance training in such a perfect setting. With beautiful scenery, near-exclusive use of the lake, a dedicated Rowing Canada boat bay, on-campus accommodations, and all we could eat in the School dining hall, we had found our rowing paradise! As young men and women who were struggling on a shoestring budget, we were enthralled by the generosity that gave us access to an ideal setting in which to pursue our Olympic dreams. I will always remember walking into Marion Hall and seeing such wonder and fascination in the eyes of the students. As a heavyweight men’s 8+ that spent a lot of time together, we were accustomed to people’s astonishment at our collective height, but this was different. We could feel the impact that our presence was having on those young minds. That first day at Shawnigan also provided us with a first glimpse of the national pride we would carry into the Olympic starting gates that summer. The camp was a big success, thanks in large part to the impressive resources that were, and continue to be, dedicated
to the National Team at Shawnigan. The vision and leadership of Shawnigan Rowing devotee John M. S. Lecky ’57 (Groves’) were realizing rewards for Shawnigan and Rowing Canada alike. Lecky, an accomplished international oarsman in his own right, won Olympic silver at the Rome Games in 1960. His vision for an enduring synergy between our School and Rowing Canada persists today where, like 22 years ago, athletes still carve their red-and-white blades into Shawnigan waters. Shawnigan is gifted with arguably the best rowing venue in Canada. Year-round access to a perfect waterway via an on-campus boathouse is the stuff of dreams for most Canadian rowers. Supporters throughout the decades have also ensured a well-resourced program for Shawnigan students, and teachers and coaches have committed countless hours to lead crews to national titles on a regular basis. With a strategic planning process underway, we enter the starting gates of Shawnigan Rowing’s next cycle of excellence. Surveys have now been collected from hundreds of students, alumni, parents, past parents, and coaches, and we invite all members of the community to participate in the excitement that lies ahead. Through broad-based consultation, input and support, we will create and implement a plan that will enable future rowers, like so many who have given their all on Shawnigan Lake in the past, to benefit from the incredible rowing opportunity that Shawnigan provides. We hope you will join us.
Launch STORY BY JON ZACKS PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEPHEN LANE
On a calm, sunny day in February, a countdown echoes across California’s Mohave Desert. Three . . . two . . . one . . . Launch. A burst of flame erupts from an engine, followed by a quick volley from a fire extinguisher. Despite the deafening roar, you can hear cheering in the background. The launch of Colossus has been a success. Except Colossus isn’t a rocket – it’s the launchpad itself. Created by the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) at the University of California, San Diego, this platform was conceived as a way to allow other organizations to test new technologies. Two and a half years in development, Colossus is the product of more than 15,000 hours of labour and more than $300,000 in capital investment. It is designed to withstand enormous temperature fluctuations and up to 2,000 kilograms of force. The platform was built on a trailer for mobility, and its design was certified by NASA. Colossus is just a platform used to test engines; so on this day, nothing was launched into the heavens. For Dennis Ren, however, it’s the proud end of another long journey. Ren first joined SEDS late in his freshman year. He was the electronics lead on his first project – “Tri-D” – a rocket that housed the first 3D-printed engine ever produced by a student organization. On that venture, he was “pretty much in charge of everything to do with making sure it wasn’t just a big firework.” The project was a big success and earned coverage in magazines like National Geographic and Popular Science, publications that Ren had grown up reading.
Since then, he has become a pivotal member of the SEDS team, culminating in his leadership of the Colossus project. His engineering flair, however, has been drawing attention ever since he first arrived at Shawnigan Lake School. Dennis Ren first entered Shawnigan midway through Grade 9, a shy boy from China whose English proficiency was questionable. His very first class at Shawnigan was woodworking, and teacher Brydon Boyce can still remember it clearly. After watching a demonstration on safety in the wood shop, Ren handed Boyce a piece of paper outlining what was to be his first project. “What’s this?” Boyce asked him. He couldn’t make heads or tails of the diagram and couldn’t really understand whatever it was Ren was trying to explain. So he shrugged his shoulders and offered some mild encouragement. “Go for it.” As the sculpture came together, Boyce was dumbstruck. Ren was building, piece by piece, a wooden model of the Seattle Space Needle. It was a remarkable project, ambitious even for a skilled craftsman. To this day, the finished work lives in Duxbury House, signed and passed down by others who have passed through since. Ren had spent his childhood watching his engineer father tinker with various contraptions, and he was now beginning to seriously tinker himself. Some of these projects were complex. Some were bordering on dangerous. He built an electromagnetic nail gun and a crossbow from scratch. Both were quickly confiscated. His dorm room became his workshop, often with live wires exposed to anyone who might make the mistake of touching them. 27
The Shawnigan administration was, admittedly, growing a little concerned with his experimentation. Some people thought he might hurt himself. Others feared he might blow up the School. For Boyce, however, this was just “Dennis being Dennis.” As time wore on, Ren and Boyce continued to jell. While some people around Shawnigan were wondering about putting a lid on his adventures, Boyce had another concern. Through their many conversations, he learned that the Ren family likely wouldn’t have enough money to send Dennis to university. Boyce began to ask about Ren’s passions and discovered that he had dabbled in robotics in China. Intrigued, Boyce spoke to Purchasing Manager Jerry Kusters about the idea. Two hours later, Kusters had emailed Boyce with a story about a new robotics competition on the go in the area. The timing was perfect. At that moment, Ren was feeling devastated after his latest project, a Tesla coil that was sending sparks flying across the Hobbies Building, had been shut down. Boyce showed the robotics article to Ren and said, “I bet you could do it better than these guys.” Ren remembers how encouraging it all was. “People around me really had a lot of faith in what I could do,” he recalls. Beyond encouraged, Ren was inspired, and he began to canvass the students and staff. Kusters and science teacher Nigel Mayes were both on board. Ren then created a budget, which he presented to the Headmaster. David Robertson still remembers the moment. “I love student initiative, and I love supporting student initiative.” Seeing Ren put action to his ideas is exactly the type of thing that has always inspired Robertson, and he was thrilled to pledge his support as well as the necessary finances. It was, perhaps, Ren’s first venture as an entrepreneur. The robotics program grew slowly at first. It took some time to find the right place to house their workshop. The competition they initially joined turned out to be too advanced, and there weren’t many other kids interested in building robots as a fine art. Ren was also so far ahead of his peers that he sometimes struggled to play in the same sandbox. With determination, however, came astounding success. In their first year – when Ren was in Grade 11 – they qualified for
the Provincial Championships and brought home several trophies. In his Grade 12 year, Ren led a team that qualified for the VEX Robotics World Championships, where they earned the Think Award for excellence in design and first place worldwide for programming. It took a lot of grit to persevere through those early days, but as he led the program from inception to success, Ren was learning about much more than how to build a robot. Boyce had a front row-seat as Ren developed his language and social skills, and he watched him blossom as a teammate and leader. “He just became more well-rounded,” Boyce says. “He was popular. Everybody knew who Dennis was. It really popped him out of his shell.” Combining brains, an extraordinary work ethic and leadership is an exciting prospect, one that Stephen Lane saw first-hand in a recent visit to San Diego. In June 2017, Lane retired from Shawnigan after a legendary career spanning more than four decades. For one of the first journeys of their retirement, Stephen and his wife, Judy, travelled to California to catch up with some of his former students. “It’s absolutely wonderful watching Dennis interact with the Colossus team in the most gentle, encouraging, supportive manner,” Lane shared after the trip. “His co-workers readily seek his advice and guidance and clearly respect him tremendously.” While Ren’s contributions to the SEDS team and the Colossus project have been crucial, his gaze hasn’t been calibrated solely on the stars. Currently in the final year of his electrical engineering degree, he has already completed internships at some of the world’s most prestigious companies. In the summer of 2016, Ren went to work in the manufacturing department at Tesla, helping to build machines that tested parts for quality as they came off the assembly line. “It was super-helpful being in that environment,” Ren says. “Tesla was rapidly expanding at the time, and every day there were new challenges coming in.” For Ren, working at Tesla was like being at his own version of Disneyland as he worked with seasoned engineers, with unlimited resources at his disposal. During a company Q&A, he had the opportunity to interact
with founder Elon Musk, a mind-blowing experience for a college sophomore with aspirations of making the kind of impact that Musk has made. The next year, Ren headed to Apple, where he spent the summer working on the iPad design team. “It was such a fantastic learning experience,” he says, beaming. “Just being able to learn from some of the best engineers in the world, working on products that are so beneficial. It was a very humbling experience.” If the engineering studies, internships and development of space technology weren’t enough, Ren also has his own pet project – the one that could ultimately launch significant investment as well as permanent citizenship in the United States. His company, Apolloptics, is currently developing a computational platform for manufacturers, which he says could fill a need for as many as 90 per cent of factories across the globe. The project comes on the heels of previous setbacks, ranging from solar-powered traffic lights to an attempt to harness the energy of human bodies. His ventures have, so far, always ended in failure – though he doesn’t necessarily see it that way. “I really do invite failure,” Ren will tell you. Every time he has hit a wall, Ren has taken the philosophy that, at least now, he knows where not to go. “It’s through failures that you figure it out,” he chuckles. “The possibilities are endless.” As an
entrepreneur, Ren has developed the system-level thinking that inspires him so much from game-changers like Elon Musk. “If Elon Musk only knew how to build motors, he wouldn’t be on the world stage,” Ren insists. “It’s about how parts of the system interact. It’s tying that to a revenue-making business model.” For Ren, there are two key components to any successful start-up. Part one is seeing the big picture – the system-level thinking he sees in Musk, Steve Jobs and others. The experiences he’s had so far, particularly in the failures he’s experienced with Apolloptics, have helped him to cultivate that type of thinking and to “grow a pair of eyes” to see the opportunities that are out there. Part two is the ability to work with people. “The pursuit of doing start-ups isn’t what you’re working on; it’s the belief that you can do something good. And you need to convince everybody that this is a great idea.” A new countdown is now underway. In December, Ren is set to finish his undergraduate studies, with a world of possibility stretching before him. There is pressure, of course. He has dozens of teammates looking for leadership, a company finding a new gear, and an immigration status that will require stability. He doesn’t sound too worried, though. “My experience in Silicon Valley has given me some contacts.” Dennis Ren has already built a launchpad. Now, the only question is which star he’ll reach out and grab.
Dennis Ren ’14 works with the SEDS team at the University of California, San Diego. 29
he character you build is yours forever. BY JON ZACKS, MAUREEN CONNOLLY AND CHRISTINA CHANT PHOTOGRAPHY BY ARDEN GILL WITH ARCHIVAL SUBMISSIONS BY NICOLE RONALD-JONES
THE PHILOSOPHY OF DAVID ROBERTSON BY JON ZACKS
If you want something to be great, you need everyone to buy in. To share the same values. To have a common vision and shared goals. And it has to begin at the top. Ever since C. W. Lonsdale founded Shawnigan Lake School in 1916, the School has centred its entire educational philosophy on values. Those values were clear in the man Lonsdale was. He bared his soul to those in his charge, and stood as an exemplar for his most cherished ideals. Under his leadership, the students quite literally built their school, mixing academics with hands-on construction of the earliest buildings on campus. They built a school where respect mattered more than background, and where everyone was committed to the same common purpose. His values were also clear in what Lonsdale left behind – in the School itself and also in his letters, relationships, and legacy. Lonsdale insisted that Shawnigan be dedicated to developing young people of character. He created a school committed to a well-rounded approach to education, where athletes and artists and academics are all given the same respect. A school where values are at the very heart of everything. That Shawnigan remains true to this original vision is not accidental. The School has always attracted staff who share this educational philosophy, and for the past two decades, David Robertson has been at the fore. Since he became Headmaster in 2000, students have heard Robertson stand up in Chapel and speak about his values. He begins each year by asking them what kind of school they want. He talks frequently about what kind of people he hopes Shawnigan grads will be. “Excellent human beings are what we want to graduate,” he insists. Words such as “kindness” and “respect” are as constant a presence as the teachers who embrace this way of thinking. “Always look behind you if you’re going through a door” is one of his most famous sayings. “If you’re going to wear a tie, wear it properly” is another. “Pay attention to the details.” In 2003, Shawnigan unveiled one of the many amazing facilities built during Robertson’s tenure. During the construction phase of Marion Hall, the architect raised a concern that students would constantly cut across the grass in the newly formed quad outside. For Robertson, it was never a problem. In fact, it was an opportunity that gave rise to one of his most well-known aphorisms: “Don’t cut corners.” Brilliant in its simplicity, the idea cuts directly to some of his core beliefs about education. Students are welcome, of course, to sit and relax on the grass. Playing on the grass? Absolutely. In the summertime, a rugby ball is never far away. But cutting across the grass? “Cutting across the grass is like cutting corners in life.” David Robertson learned early in life about cutting corners. Raised in Newcraighall, a humble coal-mining town in Scotland, young David saw first-hand the essence of hard work and discipline. For him, however, a lifetime spent in the mines wasn’t an option; in fact, his father forbade it. Robertson was destined to get an education and to make a larger contribution than the coal his family had hauled from dark and dusty pathways underground. It didn’t come easily: Robertson had to work hard to put himself through school and to fit in with 32
those who had an easier route. But success soon followed, in the classroom, in learning languages, and in performing on the stage. More than anywhere, he found success on the rugby field, where he played at the top level for club, university, and national sides. “I loved the camaraderie of mutual respect,” he says. “The unwritten code that comprised all those great values like determination and courage and respect.” Invariably, Robertson found himself named captain of the teams he played for. The ability to motivate young people and help to bring out the best in them would ultimately define his entire life. Rhodri Samuel and David Robertson can still remember playing against one another in a rugby sevens game on the international pitch at Murrayfield in 1981. With a near-perfect photographic memory, Robertson can still picture Samuel’s curly dark hair, the red shirt of London Welsh, and the hallowed field they played on that day. Years later, the two would face each other as high school coaches in Canada, Robertson working at Brentwood College School and Samuel working at St. Michaels University School. In September 1993, the two found themselves at a barbecue for new staff members at Shawnigan Lake School. The Robertson and Samuel families shared an instant connection that developed into a lifelong friendship. Their children grew up together. They spent holidays together. And as the youngsters played in their backyards, the adults would sit and talk about their roots, their beliefs and what they wanted Shawnigan to be. “I felt very close to Dave,” Rhod acknowledges. “I’ve agreed with most of his principles and values in life.” Over time, the relationship between the families became symbiotic. As close friends, Rhod and his wife, Gaynor, know that they’ve played a role in the direction the School has taken. As staff, they know that they’ve always had the unflinching support of the Robertsons. Rhod began his tenure as the Director of Ripley’s House and was in charge of school
discipline for close to a decade. Knowing that David had done that role himself, as Deputy Headmaster, Rhod knew that David would always have his back when the chips were down. Likewise, once Gaynor took on the role of Admissions Director, David quickly became her anchor and safety net. “He’s been in the trenches. He’s rolled up his sleeves and he’s done all of it,” she says. “So when push comes to shove, he’s there for everyone.” Robertson has always maintained an “open-door policy” at Shawnigan, and will always make time, in particular, for students. He wants to help people accomplish their goals. He wants to help them determine who they want to be and how to become it. And he wants to help them figure out what their values are and how to ultimately live by them. At his core, Robertson is a teacher; one who cares deeply for everyone in his charge. For him, the central values have always been human ones. “Caring is probably my number one value,” he says. Gaynor Samuel knows it’s true, and insists that compassion is at the heart of everything he does. His kindness is perhaps best exemplified by the students who have made mistakes, for whom Robertson has gone out on a limb and sought a second chance. These students often turn into the alumni who stay close to the School, and who make every effort to attend functions that they know he’ll be attending. “It’s the unconditional love that he has
for his school, for his staff and for the kids,” Gaynor says. “He believes in everyone.” On Closing Day 2017, the graduating class contributed another chapter to a cherished tradition as they presented Headmaster Robertson with a parting gift. They wanted to show their gratitude and illustrate the type of people they were ready to be. As they approached the platform to receive their diplomas, each one bore a small gold-coloured bracelet. Inscribed on these trinkets was the question they pledged to ask themselves whenever life got tricky. “WWDRobD,” short for “What would D-Rob do?” For 18 years, students at Shawnigan have faced this question and kept it at the forefront of their own minds. The question encapsulates Robertson’s legacy, even more than the buildings and programming he helped to inspire. It’s a legacy cemented in the values of a community. Values that he bought into. Values that he lived by. Values that pushed him to be the best possible version of himself. The challenge for Shawnigan graduates is the same one that he rose to face throughout his life: to articulate their own values, and live by them. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle 33
THE FAMILY OF DAVID ROBERTSON BY MAUREEN CONNOLLY
Through a marriage that has already spanned more than 40 years, a story about David Robertson would not be complete without the perspective of his wife, Lynn. In David’s own words, “She has made me better in every single way as a leader, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a person – Lynn’s love, counsel, (occasional correction!) and support have been absolutely crucial to any success that we have had.” David and Lynn’s journey to Shawnigan began on a rugby field in Scotland in 1986. Coaches from St. Andrew’s College in Ontario suggested that David would excel in Canada. When Paul Kitchen, one of the visiting coaches, returned to Toronto, he referred David to a job opening at Brentwood College School on Vancouver Island, and David applied. Following an offer from Bill Ross, then-Head of BCS, the Robertsons moved to Canada. Though it was a huge change, Lynn was ready for it: “I was excited, and really looking forward to it, even though it meant leaving family and close friends. When we arrived, it was so refreshingly different, because we came from a society that was quite stratified – Dave was a miner’s son, and my parents were more middle class. We could see all sorts of
My parents are truly my heroes. – Suzie Robertson
possibilities here. People were so welcoming. After the first 18 months in Canada, we knew this was where we wanted to make our home. We never, ever thought about going back to Scotland.” Although Lynn’s parents were quite happy for the young couple, David’s parents had their concerns: would they see their children and grandchildren again? Happily, the growing family made it a priority to visit Scotland when they could, and Mr. Robertson Senior put aside his aversion to “aeroplanes” and made the trip to Canada. Lynn came to Canada with some impressive qualifications. She holds a BSc. in Embryology from Aberdeen University and had worked as a lab technician in the Polymer Technology department at Loughborough University. Once the family had settled at Brentwood, Lynn became fully integrated into the staff. “I worked as a lab tech for science classes and helped out in the medical centre . . . and I did flowers – the never-ending flowers!” After seven happy years in the Brentwood community, it was time to move the family again. “When Dave got the Deputy Headship at Shawnigan, I was angst-ridden. It was right at the end of term when the decision was made. When Simon [Bruce-Lockhart] phoned and offered Dave the job, I burst into tears! I was quite settled at Brentwood,
and Shawnigan seemed so different – isn’t that funny? I actually found the change from Brentwood to Shawnigan harder than from Scotland to Canada. I think it was partly because of Dave’s job, because as Jay Connolly once said in a grad speech, he was the new sheriff on the block!” The Robertson children, Suzie ’97 (Groves’), Russell ’99 (Lake’s), and Struan ’06 (Copeman’s), also had to make the journey up the road. “It was challenging being a staff child, as the bar is set a bit higher,” reflects Suzie, the eldest. “Being the Head’s kid or, at my time, the Deputy Head’s kid, was definitely hard work and character building. It got especially challenging if you were sent to his office for discipline!” Despite the challenges, the close-knit community of staff families on campus became a treasured part of childhood for all the Robertson kids. Suzie remarks, “Those special connections will never fade and are something I truly cherish.” When the Robertsons moved to Shawnigan, Lynn started work in the science building as a lab technician. And while David was Deputy Head, the couple hosted many social events. Lynn admits, “I enjoy informal gatherings, where you can actually get to know people.” Lynn paid attention to the interactions around her, though, and remarks that she learned a lot from Joanne Bruce-Lockhart. “I saw how caring she was, for people and the community, and I thought that was a great vocation.” When the time came for David to step into the position of Head, the couple made a conscious decision to put people at ease. “We didn’t want to do the stratified thing that had been so dominant in Scotland. We tried to go in the opposite direction, and that came quite easily to us because we’re not stuffy. We like to get along with people, we like to have a
laugh and we can laugh at ourselves. I suppose we wanted people to see that we were quite real; we were not in any way special or ‘up there.’ ” Lynn’s presence around the School has been felt in many areas, from the organic garden to the back rooms of the theatre, and from the Shawnigan board retreat to the School kitchen. Her influence also makes its way into the Head’s office, especially when she has had a discussion with a staff member who hasn’t had the courage or audacity to bring something directly to the Headmaster. “Sometimes I bring something to Dave that he may not have considered.” Lynn Robertson often roams about the campus under the radar: “I like to go in through the back door of the kitchen into Marion Hall. I know that with the support staff there is a kind of ‘them and us’ attitude, and I want to make sure that people know that I’m not somebody who has her nose stuck up in the air. I will literally talk to anybody (even though Dave says I’m an introvert!). I don’t have oodles of confidence, but I do like talking to people. And it swings the other way, of course – I have made some great friends with board members and their families. What really matters, though, is the students.” Although she gave up her laboratory work when David became Headmaster, Lynn made sure she was dealing with students every day. “I love being on duty in Renfrew, listening to
the girls. I’ve loved being involved in the musical – seeing those kids, who are so young, perform on the stage to almost a professional standard. In all aspects of life here, I’ve enjoyed working with kids and being an academic advisor, even when it isn’t easy and you end up being a little disappointed after they have made a bad decision. I’m like Dave, you know – even if the kids make mistakes, you can’t write them off. They’re just kids. These days, there are so many more pressures on kids.” The Robertson children had their own set of pressures, and Struan, the youngest, recalls the sense of having to share his dad with the School. “I had three siblings: my brother, my sister and Shawnigan. From planning a vacation to celebrations, all three of the siblings were consulted by my parents. And sometimes my parents had to temporarily fill the shoes of a student’s parent. “I remember I came home one night, ready to complain to my dad about how I was being ‘unfairly treated’ by one of my teachers. When I came home, I noticed my dad was in his home office with the door shut. This was rare – his door was always open. I was unhappy, because I was still bristling with indignity, but I later learned that my dad was in his office with a Grade 12 student. My dad had been given the gut-wrenching task of telling the boy that his father had just passed away. “So, I came to understand that, yes, Shawnigan was the other sibling, and that any gripes I had were trivial.
Certain things are just far more important, including my dad being there for a student in desperate circumstances.” Ever since Lonsdale first insisted that he was bringing up boys of character, Shawnigan has tried to mould students into young people with a distinct moral compass. During the Robertson years, the School has been very deliberate, not only in the practice of a values education, but also in leveraging the ideals for marketing and fundraising purposes. In Russell’s words, “My dad will always humbly maintain that being great isn’t something you achieve, but something to aspire to.” In their own home, those same values are paramount. Lynn remarks, “We value communication (talking to each other and being supportive) and loyalty. Showing that you care, going out of your way to do something for each other, and spending time. Honesty is foremost and, of course, humour is always there.” “My parents are truly my heroes,” says Suzie. “They have taught me to always work hard and about the importance of treating others the way you want to be treated, and to treat everyone at the same level, regardless of rank or wealth. They have instilled in me many values, but those that resonate most are the importance of being honest and to be kind as much as you can, which I think is important in today’s world.” Compassion, integrity and commitment are what Struan remembers at home: “While I try to live up to these lofty ideals,
my parents embody them.” Russell emphasizes this point, commenting, “Everyone from close friends through to distant acquaintances has said the same thing to me: ‘Your parents are great people.’ It makes me immensely proud to hear that. They are also great parents. Their love and respect for each other permeates everything.” Being so heavily invested in a community like Shawnigan can put pressure on a relationship. “You do feel as if you are in a bit of a goldfish bowl. I get a bit exasperated sometimes at how the frustrations of Dave’s job affect him, and then that does affect us. Like everybody, we have our days, but we do a lot of joking around and teasing – that’s a very British thing to do. If I notice something or feel that some decision has been made that is purely about the process and I don’t feel it is right for the community, I will say something. He does talk to me a lot about what goes on at School, and I give him my point of view. Sometimes we talk too much about what’s going on in the community, but we are both interested in what’s going on and how people live their lives, and we react to that. I love watching people. Dave says I have an incredible intuition about what’s going on, and sometimes I’ll be the one to say it first. The Head’s job is so complex and he is dealing with so much. I honestly don’t think anyone, apart from the Head’s wife, can appreciate that.”
THE LEGACY OF DAVID ROBERTSON BY CHRISTINA CHANT
As the great Scottish bard Robert Burns said: “Dare to be honest and fear no labour.” There’s no doubt that this maxim reflects David Robertson’s authentic and devoted leadership of Shawnigan Lake School. As a result, not only have his vision and guidance altered the School’s trajectory during the course of his long tenure, but also his influence has been such that the dynamism of the Robertson years will resonate far into the future. For Robertson, the motivation behind committing his professional and personal energy to Shawnigan was clear from the outset: “One of the reasons I stayed here is because I sensed that, despite the rocky patch the School went through in the late ’60s and early ’70s, there was a school from 1916 to 1967 that was founded on all the things I believe in: hard work, honesty, courtesy, and good manners,” he shares. It is this empathetic connection to C. W. Lonsdale’s vision and Robertson’s sustained belief in the founding principles of the School that have led him to drive it forward, ignite the community’s passions, draw enthusiastic support, and give his heart and soul to the mission of making Shawnigan not just a good school, but a great one.
“When we decided way back that we wanted to make this journey from good to great, for me, it was a case of ‘if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it.’ Everything fell from that decision,” he recalls. This momentous decision was the starting gun for a marathon of rebuilding, renovating and reimagining Shawnigan’s campus that characterizes a significant proportion of Robertson’s tenure. From the construction of Marion Hall, the Olsen Academic Centre and the new Headmaster’s House in 2002–03 to the completion of the Sportsplex in 2009–10 and the expansive renovation of the Main Building from 2012 to 2016 – there is virtually no period of his 18-year tenure as Headmaster in which the expansion and modernization of the campus was not on the agenda. When viewed on a large scale, these myriad infrastructure projects are impressive enough, but this list is far from exhaustive. Many other building projects and smaller noteworthy additions, such as John Lecky’s striking stag statue on the east driveway, the eye-catching bronze sculpture of C. W. Lonsdale, and the expansion of the School gardens, have happened around the edges of the more substantial undertakings. These subtler set pieces have combined with the bigger construction goals to elevate the Shawnigan campus to the heights that Robertson dreamed of – a campus worthy of a school that set greatness as its goal.
Yet greatness cannot be found in buildings and facilities alone, as Robertson himself is well aware. At the heart of a great school, particularly in the case of a boarding school, is community. Early on, Robertson identified the chapel gatherings as a potentially rich source of community-building, but it was another idea that required dedication and drive to get it off the ground. “We set about identifying how we could make Chapel a more relevant part of the students’ lives,” he explains. “It was about dialing down the heavy religious component and dialing up the other possibilities: the values forum and the sharing of emotions and sentiments through performances and readings and the regular staple of the Headmaster and Chaplain talking.” The key card that Robertson played was singing. He instinctively knew what science has proved: that group singing and performance can produce powerful therapeutic sensations. The act of singing in a group pulls participants out of themselves, forcing them to co-ordinate their actions with others, sparking activity in a part of the brain that is responsible for a sense of place and belonging, social bonding, trust and co-operation – the building blocks of a strong community. Using the concept of hymn sings and the creation of the House hymns, Robertson set about converting the community to song and that song into a deeply rooted sense of community. “It worked,” he said. “The telling moment was when we took a whole bunch of kids to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Suddenly, they heard 60,000 people singing some of the
hymns that they were singing. And they got it – they were converts by that time.” Robertson’s moulding of the Shawnigan’s Chapel experience is perhaps best characterized as ‘less church, more faith.’ Faith in one another, faith in the community, and faith in the purpose, mission and values of the School. “I’ve never been about doctrine,” he says. “Sometimes the repetition of doctrine can render it meaningless. It’s about getting the kids to dwell in the realm of spirit, feelings and values. I would say that we touch on and deal with values in all sorts of different situations, but what the Chapel does is provide a venue that enhances that intention. It’s conducive to a values-based experience because of its very association with something bigger, something deeper.” If Chapel can assist in promoting the positive values traditionally associated with religion and community, the sports field is a prime venue for students to learn about other important life lessons and character traits, such as handling triumph and defeat, teamwork, respect, discipline, commitment and perseverance. “I’ve always believed that the notion that education only takes place in the classroom is an erroneous one,” explains Robertson. “We need as many venues as possible for these character qualities to be developed. It takes a lot of perseverance to be a first team athlete in a successful program, but it also takes a lot of perseverance to be the lead in the musical. That’s why co-curriculars are so important.” Robertson was able to use sports to his advantage early in his career at Shawnigan. The whole reason he coached Grade 10
boys rugby when he arrived, he shares, was to play an active role in changing the culture of the School. “I thought, ‘The boys are dominating more of the culture than I want. Therefore, I have to change the boys. If I coach Grade 10s, at a time when every boy in Grade 10 has to play rugby in the fall, from day one of their Grade 10 year, three times a week, I have an opportunity to have an impact on the whole male population of Grade 10.’ My tactic was to send them out of that Grade 10 experience with a greater understanding of what we stood for and, more importantly, what we didn’t stand for, having built a relationship on which I could draw in future years.” In addition to tackling a general cultural shift in a positive way, sports were also the means by which Robertson began to challenge and change lingering perceptions about Shawnigan’s co-ed nature. He recounts a seminal moment in his second year at the School, teaching a French class: “I said something about being proud of the fact that it was a co-ed school, and that I wouldn’t have come if it wasn’t. Single-sex schools work, there’s no doubt about that, but I happen to prefer co-ed,” he recalls. “The kids said, ‘Mr. Robertson, this is not really a co-ed school; it’s a boys’ school with some of the nameplates changed. What’s really changed apart from the fact that we have some girls here?’ It took me aback and caused me to engage in some serious reflection about what I needed to do to take this school on its journey to being properly and fully co-ed.”
So he coached girls’ rugby from 1996 to 1999, which gave him an opportunity to connect with the girls, in addition to functioning as an informal barometer of how the School was progressing in its pursuit of a balanced co-ed environment. Outside of Shawnigan’s athletics venues, Robertson continued to push for gender equality in all other aspects of school life. He takes pride in the fact that three of his first four Heads of School were girls, helping to reinforce the notion that this position is held by the School Prefect chosen by the group to lead the group, irrespective of gender. “Are we perfectly there yet?” he queries. “No, but I don’t think there’s anyone that acts like this is a boys’ school with girls grafted on anymore. I really don’t.” Some of the final puzzle pieces are now falling into place: the planned construction of a fifth girls’ boarding house, Elizabeth House, and resourcing for girls’ sports, which is now nearly on par with resourcing for boys’ sports. “Next year, we’ll celebrate the 30th year of co-ed,” he says. “That celebration will be the final acknowledgment that this is, to use Churchill’s oft-quoted phrase, ‘the end of the beginning’; we’re ready to move on to the next phase.” The same year that marks the 30th year of co-ed will also mark Robertson’s first year of retirement and a new era for the Shawnigan community. In February 2000, Robertson’s article “Singing and Other Matters of the Soul” was published in The Report Card. In it he referenced the English novelist G. K. Chesterton’s thoughts on progress: “The fatal metaphor of progress, which means leaving things behind us, has utterly 41
obscured the real idea of growth, which means leaving things inside us.” Although Shawnigan’s reins will be handed over, leaving Robertson free to grow in a new direction, he hopes that the School retains those elements that have powered its evolution into a leading co-ed preparatory school while thoughtfully adding new aspects that help it maintain a positive trajectory in a changing world. For Robertson personally, this next stage of growth will be fuelled by the energy he’s gleaned from his many connections, interactions and relationships with Shawnigan’s students over the years. “I love kids; they’re like an iPhone charger for me,” he says. “When you plug your phone in, you get that little beep or that buzz – that’s what kids do for me. I just have to have a one- or two-minute interaction with them and I feel good. I’ve always been like that. Of course, I’ll miss my colleagues and the people with whom I’ve been engaged in a joint cause, but, above and beyond that, I really will miss the kids. They do keep you young in spirit.”
The advice “You’re not letting go; you’re letting grow” that he has so often given to parents struggling with the idea of sending their children to boarding school, has, of late, taken on a new, more personal meaning. Following advice given to him from an old friend, his own growing into retirement will start with an engineered break. “I’m thinking about things and collecting ideas and not really committing to anything other than the fact that I’ll be in Scotland for a week at the end of August and, in September, Lynn and I will be sipping a glass of Chardonnay somewhere in the south of France. That sounds good, doesn’t it?” he laughs. An eternal optimist, Robertson shares this quality with one of his heroes, Nelson Mandela. Much like Mandela, Robertson’s ability to anticipate the best possible outcome is a driving force that will propel him, with hopeful expectation, on to the next stage, whatever that may be. As Mandela himself said: “Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward.”
More than 250 members of the Shawnigan community packed the Bengal Room at the Empress Hotel in Victoria this April to pay tribute to David and Lynn Robertson. The event was full of genuine emotion, authentic praise for David and Lynn, and moments of tremendous humour. Spearheaded by Kathryn Shaw, the evening also served to raise money for the new Robertson Family Scholarship Fund. The goal was to meet the $1 million mark, but the generosity of the community ended up pushing that figure closer to $1.5 million. Nothing makes the Robertsons more proud than to know that their legacy will include the opportunity for more deserving young people to attend Shawnigan Lake School.
ALEXIS WELCH STORY BY JON ZACKS
VISUALS BY ALEXIS WELCH
It’s the summer of 2016, and Alexis Welch is perched on a craggy mountaintop in the middle of the Canadian Rockies. She has little in the way of supplies: just a tarp, some water and a few warm layers. She also has a CB radio in case of emergency. Other than that, she’s all alone. Alexis is on a solo expedition as part of a three-year program called Awakening Directions. Created for youth ages 15 to 18, this adventure-based program uses experiential learning to help develop key life skills. In year one, students enjoy a group outdoors trip that includes rock climbing, ropes courses, and zip-lining. In year two, they continue to develop outdoors skills, while also completing a 24-hour solo trip. In year three, they develop generosity and leadership skills as they help mentor first-year groups. A cold night spent at a few thousand metres above sea level is a challenging ordeal, meant to foster independence and self-reflection. But midway through the experience, Alexis has a realization she isn’t expecting. “I thought it was going to be this incredible experience,” she laughs, “where you just walk up and this hand from the heavens would reach down and just say, ‘Here’s your scroll. Here’s your destiny.’” However, the hand from the heavens never arrived. The inspiration didn’t come. Instead, Alexis faced a mental block. The creativity that had epitomized her childhood was running dry. Maybe it was the busyness of life at Shawnigan. Maybe it was just a part of growing up. Whatever the reason, her dry spell came as a shock.
Outlasting the night, Alexis returned home only to rediscover her inspiration – this time, not in the form of a mountain or a flower or a creature from her imagination, but in a poem that captured how she felt on that barren, lonely mountaintop. Having grown up in Revelstoke, BC, being in the mountains isn’t exactly a rarity for Alexis. Before 2016, she hadn’t done any solo expeditions, but she had enjoyed all the hiking, biking and skiing that the region is famous for. In Sometimes a Wild God, however, she had found a poem that spoke to her wild side. It’s not animalistic, she says, but rather “raw and unfiltered.” Written by Tom Hirons, this poem helped Alexis to channel the creativity that she thought she had lost. Returning to Shawnigan, Alexis harnessed this inspiration in her writing, her poetry and, more than anything, in the photography that has become her primary passion. Alexis began snapping pictures at around six years old, when her dad first gave her a disposable point-and-shoot. She was always fascinated by the effects that photographers can create, and quickly came to love playing with her images on Photoshop. Over the years, she explored lighting and illusion, and found inspiration in the work she saw in magazines and online. “Alexis is almost more of an artist than she is a photographer,” smiles Al Brunet, Shawnigan’s photography teacher. “I wouldn’t say she’s not interested in photography, because she clearly is. But more than anything, she’s interested in what she 49
can create.” Brunet uses her “Wild God” series as an example of how Alexis often starts with an idea for her photos and then walks backwards to figure out how to produce exactly what she wants. It’s not the most common approach to photography. It’s certainly not how photojournalists need to operate. But her methods match her motivations, and endow her art with personality, story, and humour. For Brunet, Alexis has the awareness required to work in photojournalism and the time and work ethic to master other aspects of the art, including the business skills that modern photographers inevitably need. He also thinks she would thrive in “the crass world of advertising,” given her quick and creative mind. “Right now she’s got the basics, and what she’s got that a lot of other kids don’t have is enthusiasm,” he says. “She’s curious about everything. She wants in.”
That enthusiasm has served Alexis well since she first arrived at Shawnigan in Grade 10. A product of public schools and home-schooling before coming to Vancouver Island, Alexis has plunged herself headfirst into as many of the School’s offerings as possible. When a new student-led debate program began, she helped organize it. When the AAA field hockey team needed a goalie, she strapped on the pads. An indispensable member of Renfrew House, Alexis was named Head of House for her Grade 12 year. For English teacher Cari Bell, Alexis is the quintessential student: one who reads extra books and asks probing questions out of a sincere desire to learn. “Although she works tirelessly and is a top performer in most areas of her very full and well-rounded life, what truly sets Alexis apart from her peers is her genuinely positive attitude,” Bell shares.
Her infectious positivity, academic strength, and well-rounded approach to life made Alexis a natural fit for a liberal arts program after graduation, and in September, she will head to Middlebury College in Vermont. As part of her application package, Alexis submitted her ongoing photographic portfolio, some of which is featured on these pages. As well, she was supported by an earnest reference letter from Bell, who knows that Alexis would make the most of the many opportunities that Middlebury has to offer, and also make the institution better for her presence. In her letter, Bell referred
to Alexis as “one of most passionate and positive students I have ever taught,” and as a young woman who “demonstrates outstanding character, tireless service, and stalwart leadership.” Graduation day is approaching, and Alexis is prepared to step from her foothold at Shawnigan. She has made the most of her time here, and now is set to continue her climb. Her future is still coming into focus, but those around her are filled with excitement for the challenges yet to come and for the ideas, passions, and perspectives that remain, for now, undeveloped.
Sometimes a Wild God, an excerpt by Tom Hirons
The fox in your neck and The snakes in your arms and The wren and the sparrow and the deer . . . The great un-nameable beasts In your liver and your kidneys and your heart . . . There is a symphony of howling. A cacophony of dissent. The wild god nods his head and You wake on the floor holding a knife, A bottle and a handful of black fur. Your dog is asleep on the table. Your wife is stirring, far above. Your cheeks are wet with tears; Your mouth aches from laughter or shouting. A black bear is sitting by the fire. Sometimes a wild god comes to the table. He is awkward and does not know the ways Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver. His voice makes vinegar from wine And brings the dead to life.
STORY BY JON ZACKS PHOTOGRAPHY BY ARDEN GILL
Pop into Shawnigan’s Sportsplex at almost any time, and you will bear witness to something special. Day and night, evenings and weekends, there is a constant buzz as players ranging from young children to Shawnigan’s own students and elite athletes converge to train on its busy squash courts. On competition days, the noise can be close to deafening, as tiny black balls incessantly hammer the end walls like speeding, rubber metronomes. Yet, underneath the thunderous echo, there is a powerful concentration and the pursuit of a single focus. Many of these athletes have grand aspirations. Michael Mehl was a national champion long before he came to Shawnigan. A product of Calgary, Michael has won three consecutive Canadian Under-19 Championships to go with titles he won at the U13 and U15 levels. Success like this does not come without single-minded determination. When he was 16, Michael decided to take a year away from teachers and textbooks to fully focus his attention on developing his game. “I had been exposed to a high level of squash from a young age,” he says. “I decided it was something that I would like to pursue as a career.” In his Grade 11 year, eyes firmly focused on his goal, he rented an apartment in Calgary and lived the life of a squash pro. The result was a rewarding year, full of lessons learned on and off the court. Independent living combined with frequent
travel for tournaments meant that Michael had to learn to manage laundry and bills as well as the length of his backhand. It was an experience he says he wouldn’t trade for the world; however, something was still missing. “I want to have an influence in the world,” he says. “I want to do well in squash because I enjoy it. But I also want to do well in biology and politics.” After a year away from school, Michael decided to hit the books once again. His years on the Canadian squash scene had familiarized him with Coach Mike Johnson and Shawnigan Lake School. He had been in talks with Coach Johnson for several years, and Michael and his family decided that the time was right to enroll him. With racquet in hand, he arrived on campus in September 2016, ready to simultaneously pursue school work and squash. New to Shawnigan this year, Lucia Bicknell has a similar tale to tell. She won her first national championship in 2015 in the U13 age group and her second in 2017 as an U15. Not content with national titles, she has also been making a name for herself on the international squash circuit. When faced with the decision of where she should pursue her final years of high school, she decided that Shawnigan was the right fit. The decision was partly academic and partly based on the inspiring and positive interactions Lucia had had with Mike and Christine Johnson. 55
“He’s coached amazing players. He’s been around for a long time,” Lucia shares. “He understands the game and has had results.” It’s not easy to combine a broad and rigorous educational program with elite athletic pursuits – Michael and Lucia know that as well as anyone. However, the holistic education, lifestyle, and thoughtful coaching are clearly paying dividends in all aspects of their demanding lives. Lucia reports she has seen marked improvements on the court, citing technical aspects such as shortening her swing and playing with better length on the court. Similarly, Michael also talks about length and the movement of the ball on the court, but he notes that his biggest gains have come in his approach to the game and to life. “My training before was pretty spotty. There’s a difference between motivations and habits,” he smiles, knowingly. “Here, it’s all about habits. Those habits have really helped me with my schooling and my squash.” Michael and Lucia are both young and gifted. Their stories are compelling; their futures are bright. What may be most revealing is a characteristic they both share – the aspiration to use squash to achieve success in other arenas of their lives. For Lucia, the dream of playing professional squash is eclipsed by the chance to earn a post-secondary scholarship. “I’ve always wanted to play squash at a university and use squash as a stepping stone,” she says. Lucia is realistic about the fact that squash players in Canada seldom, if ever, enjoy long and lucrative careers. The upside, she says, is that squash is an “undercover sport” that opens doors that other sports don’t – particularly for women. For Michael, enrollment at Shawnigan was part of a larger plan to parlay success on the court into success in life. His hope is to attain success as an athlete, and to use that success to bring exposure and credibility to a budding career. When he says that he wants to have an influence on the world, he knows that squash could well be his vessel. The plan is well underway. In September 2018, Michael will head to Philadelphia to begin his freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania. He will begin in general arts and sciences, though he’s also eyeing the prestigious Wharton School for business. Michael is excited about the pedigree of some of his incoming squash teammates as well as for the depth of opportunities that an Ivy League school will present. For Lucia, there are still two years of high school to look forward to before the wider world beckons. Like Michael, she has ambitions to pursue top-level squash on top of a first-class education. Like countless Shawnigan students before her, she hopes to use sport as an outlet for her athletic passion as well as a means to fast-track her professional goals. In 2003, Forbes magazine ranked squash as the world’s healthiest sport, based on criteria including endurance, strength, and flexibility. While the sport requires fitness and athleticism, it is as much a game for the mind as for the body. Successful squash players are masters of positioning: always returning to the centre; always a few quick steps from where they need to be. With discipline and focus, Michael and Lucia have reached the very top of this demanding game, and in doing so have opened doors to new possibilities. In the Shawnigan Sportsplex, the shining glass courts truly offer a window into the future.
Alumni notebook 1950s
Tom Osvold ’52 (Ripley’s) is still involved with the Board of Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. He shares that the organization is now the largest children’s hospital west of the Mississippi and is the leader in genomic research and medicine. In addition, he was asked in September 2016 to join the City of Escondido, CA, as an art commissioner to help maintain existing art and provide guidance and suggestions for new public works for art. On his 82nd birthday, his wife, Rose, took him to the local airport, where she organized a tour of a skydiving plane. Tom goes on to say that Rose “told a large Aussie to take me up and throw me out. It brought back memories of my time with the 101st Airborne Division. We went up to 13,500 feet, and Bundy, my new Aussie friend, strapped me to his chest and away we went – free falling on a flying wing, which they use today and not the old round chutes. I’m not sure how far we fell, but maximum speed was 125 MPH, and the wind was wild! He pulled the toggles and we stopped falling – dead silence – and I could take in the view over the ocean. Bundy, knowing this wasn’t my first rodeo, showed me how to steer it. He took over the last 50 feet and put me down gently on the grass.”
1960s Karl Anderson ’60 (Ripley’s) recently developed a fishing lodge at Steamboat Bay, on Noyes Island in southeast Alaska, just west of Prince of Wales Island. The Steamboat Bay Fishing Club was featured in Forbes magazine in July 2016. You can read the story online at http://bit.ly/2GQgIf7.
Nick Gudewill ’66 (Groves’) is refusing to slip quietly into retirement. Nick is still full of gusto and has had another amazing adventure. In January 2017, he shipped his BMW 1200 Adventure to Cape Town, South Africa, and, along with a group of other motorcycle enthusiasts, he completed a 13,000-kilometre journey that took them the length of the African continent to Cairo. 58
Gerald Haddon ’60 (Ripley’s) was invited to join the first Canadian around-the-world helicopter flight and the first father-son global circumnavigation (father Bob Dengler and son Stephen Dengler) for the first three days of the journey in the summer of 2017. In celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, the Canadian-made Bell 429 Global Ranger helicopter flew over 38,000 kilometres. Not only did the circumnavigation take the helicopter through Ottawa and every Canadian provincial and territorial capital except Victoria, British Columbia, but the crew also visited many different historic Canadian landmarks.
1970s Rod Noble ’73 (Groves’) would like to spread the word to alumni that he and his partner, Necerita, are operating an Airbnb in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. “It is called ‘Necerita’s BnB Tropical Retreat.’ We would encourage any alumni planning on visiting this lovely part of the world to stop in for a visit. My email address is rodnoble_250@hotmail. com. Also, I would like to pass on my best wishes to the Class of ’73. Finally, I wish to let them know that all is well and life is good.”
Bill Munn ’79 (Groves’) shared an update on his life and career: “I’m writing this from my studio where four new mahogany manta rays are coming along nicely. I studied art at Shawnigan with Lance Bean from ’76 to ’79 and I wasn’t particularly brilliant at painting or drawing, but carving and sculpting came to me through my culinary training and I took to it readily. I learned to carve large blocks of ice and did some lard sculptures. I worked as a chef in remote island locations like Vanuatu, Palau, and Yap, FSM. I visited many other interesting places in the Pacific and Asia and collected many wood carvings. Years later, I gave in to the urge to try my hand at wood carving and my first piece, which was a trio of nondescript sharks, was accepted and sold at the local gallery in Yap. Encouraged by my success, I continued and began to study each species and got more and more anatomically correct. I spent several years scuba diving with sharks and manta rays as well as several thousand other species in the pristine waters of Micronesia. I fell in love with them all. “Carving became my pressure release after working in busy kitchens. Even a couple hours in the afternoon would do wonders, and the bonus was that every piece I put up for sale sold for the asking price. Then I started to get commissioned orders, all the while working long hours in the kitchen. Now, after more than 30 years as a chef, my dream of becoming a full-time artist has been realized. My wife and two daughters handle my website, which you can visit at www.munnoriginals.com.” 59
1980s Salvador Molina Hdez ’85 (Groves’) celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary with his wife, Monica, in June 2017. “We renewed our vows in an emotional ceremony surrounded by our four children and 350 guests from places such as Brazil, the United States, and Venezuela. Shawnigan classmate Peter Ericson ’85 (Groves’) came to Mexico all the way from Singapore! He actually stayed in Mexico for 15 days to travel around my hometown. It was a marvellous party that lasted three full days, full of all sorts of fun activities and celebrations. We feel very grateful!”
1990s Thomas Story ’93 (Lake’s) has been doing well in Dubai for the past ten years and is still working with Emirates Airline as a senior pilot. He met the love of his life, Adele, and was the proudest man alive to have been able to marry her two years ago. The couple was married in Whistler on top of Rainbow Glacier. In November 2016, they welcomed their first child, a beautiful little girl named Skye Olivia Story.
2000s Tony Cape ’00 (Ripley’s) and Carly (Overton) Cape ’01 (Groves’) have been in Chicago for eight years. Tony is a principal at Bain and Company, a management consulting firm. He works mostly with industrial clients on a wide range of projects. Carly has her hands full at home with their four children, Will (6), Rosie (5), Maggie (2) and Jack (born in early March 2018). The family is currently living just north of the city, and Tony shared that they are enjoying suburban life. “It’s not quite Shawnigan, but it’s nice to be a few blocks from the lake.” 60
Nicoli Garner ’94 (Ripley’s) wrote to share this story: “My family and I were travelling through the Empty Quarter (Rub al Khali) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the new year last year. I noticed we brought along one of the SLS Centennial water bottles, so I snapped two quick photos. I hope you enjoy the photos and the far reach of a SLOB.”
2000s Mackenzie Duncan ’01 (Lake’s) and Andre (Junior) Ayotte ’02 (Lonsdale’s) started their own furniture business in Toronto called JM & Sons. “Our business started very organically. We had built a bunch of different furniture for our places over the years,” shares Mackenzie. “Once Junior had finished his first year of his MBA and wanted to try his hand at entrepreneurship, the company was born.” www.jmandsons.com
in Egmont, BC. Alanna is also the proud mother of daughter Raeya. “The Skookumchuck Bakery & Cafe is open seasonally: weekends from Easter on and daily from Canada Day to Labour Day. If you’re in the area, be sure to check our hours and come by for a treat! I also have my own consulting practice, Regenative Design & Development Consulting, which I started in 2010 while completing the Master of Architecture program at UBC. I focus on First Nations community development projects as well as residential and small-scale commercial design. In all my projects in First Nations communities, I use design thinking and creative problem-solving to address the unique challenges that each community faces. While I have lived in BC since 2009, my work still brings me north to my old home in the Yukon, where I am working with two different First Nations governments. It is great to go north on occasion, and I hope to bring more of my work closer to home on the coast over the next few years.”
Nicole MacMillan ’05 (Renfrew) has been living in Washington, DC, for the past eight years, working as a technology consultant for healthcare systems across the country. “I’m lucky enough to get to travel a ton for work and for play, but mostly, I love spending time at home with my sweet dog and exploring DC’s hidden gems and amazing craft breweries!”
Jason Lee ’04 (Copeman’s) lives in San Francisco with his wife, Regina. Jason works at Square, a payments technology company, where he currently leads Investor Relations and the Finance & Strategy team for Payments, and he was proud to have led Square’s IPO (initial public offering) process in 2015. Prior to joining Square, Jason spent several years in the financial services industry at Morgan Stanley and TPG Capital after graduating from University of California, Berkeley in 2008. Alanna Quock ’01 (Renfrew) and fiancé Trevor moved to the Sunshine Coast in the spring of 2015, where they own and operate the Skookumchuck Bakery & Cafe, located at the head of the trail into Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park
Eric Ander ’06 (Copeman’s) co-founded Positive Vibes in 2015, a hat and apparel company that encourages a positive mindset and creates a supportive community while raising funds for cancer. Both Eric and his business partner have been closely impacted by cancer, and they recognize the importance that positive energy plays in the fight against cancer. All of the Positive Vibes products are named after loved ones who battled cancer, exemplifying the qualities that everyone could benefit from embodying. Twenty-five per cent of all profits are donated to the Childhood Cancer Canada Foundation. You can purchase your gear by visiting https://thepositiveleap.com/. Eric also recently had a surprise wedding to Christina Disler at the Teahouse at Stanley Park in Vancouver, where guests thought they were coming to an engagement party and then it turned out to be the real deal!
Kelly Quinn ’06 (Kaye’s) lives with her husband, Chris, in Vancouver and works at the Nurse Next Door head office in human resources. She has been with the company for seven years and recently had the chance to work at O2E Brands (1-800-GOT-JUNK) for a three-month leadership development opportunity. The couple also enjoyed a dream vacation last year: an overdue honeymoon in Italy. They had a great time exploring Rome and the Amalfi Coast and, of course, eating lots of Italian specialties. “For those of you I haven’t connected with recently, feel free to reach out though LinkedIn.”
Adrienne Hollings ’07 (Kaye’s) and boyfriend Brodie welcomed daughter Cambrie Rose Corrigan into the world in January 2017. Cambrie is described as the “happiest, smiliest baby ever!” Outside of being a mother, Adrienne runs her own landscaping business called Everything Grows Landscaping and Design, which she started in 2011. She lives in an off-the-grid home on her family’s property in Shawnigan Lake that she has been building with her dad, Ray (Shawnigan Maintenance Manager) since 2009. Edward Chang ’07 (Ripley’s) and Alex Hutchinson ’11 (Ripley’s) both work for SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts, a hotel ownership and management group. Edward is the director of asset management and has been with the company for three years. Alex joined in November 2017 after contacting Edward through LinkedIn and finding out about the opening. Alex is the co-ordinator of engineering and projects within the asset management team, having graduated from UBC with a degree in integrated engineering. Alex says, “Who would have thought that the two of us would go from Ed leading house meetings in 2007 and walking to Mason’s together on weekends to having workplace meetings together 10 years later!”
Nichelle (Soetaert) Garraway ’07 (Kaye’s) married fellow Oak Bay High School teacher Brent Garraway at Sea Cider in Victoria in July 2017. She writes, “He proposed with the help of some students at the end of the school day – it definitely made for a far more exciting Monday!” Fellow Shawnigan alumna Hanna Davis (’07 Renfrew) was Nichelle’s maid of honour! After the wedding, the couple spent the rest of their summer on their honeymoon, taking in Tofino, Qualicum, Salt Spring Island, Las Vegas and Mexico! She says, “I’m thankful to Shawnigan for inspiring me to do my best to make a difference in students’ lives. I’m very happy teaching at Oak Bay and feel incredibly lucky to be able to do so alongside my husband!” 62
Clarey (Funk) Hodge ’08 (Renfrew) wrote in to share that she moved to London, Ontario, to attend Western University after graduating from Shawnigan. She completed Western’s Nutrition program in 2012 and married Steve, a fellow Western alumnus, in 2013. The couple continued to live in London, where Clarey worked for McCormick Canada, a spice company that makes products such as Club House and La Grille spices. In December 2015, they had a baby boy, Theodore, and Clarey enjoys the privilege of staying home with him full time.
2010s Lisa Jane (LJ) de Gara ’10 (Strathcona) graduated from McGill University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Shortly after she moved on to the University of Saskatchewan to complete a Master of Public Administration degree. In 2017, she was promoted to policy coordinator at Alberta’s Ministry of Infrastructure. “I’m working on some fascinating projects, including developing an all-Alberta method for naming and placing monuments, a repurposing plan for the Royal Alberta Museum’s old site and – probably the least exciting but most important – a provincial strategy for parking,” she shares. Andrew Boutcher ’11 (Lake’s) and fiancée Anick Desjardins were married on May 26, 2018. They live in Aylmer, Quebec, and have two dogs and two cats. Andrew is currently a rugby coach for the Gladiateurs RFC as well as their director of communications. He is also a board member and director of communications for the Liberal Association and works for the Government of Canada as an independent contractor.
Rachel Conconi ’11 (Renfrew South) is working as a financial advisor at Scotiabank in Cordova Bay in a beautiful office on the ocean! She shares that she works closely with individuals and families to improve their financial situation, whether it be paying down debt or investing their life’s earned assets. “I put together mortgages, investment portfolios and complex financial plans. I love what I do and am very fond of the clients and people I work with. If you’re seeking a career path in finance, please do not hesitate to find me on Facebook!” John Lian ’10 (Copeman’s) is a program manager at Microsoft, working on the Azure cloud platform. He lives in Seattle and volunteers with FIRST robotics competitions four times a week. In the future, he hopes to be part of the development of a revolutionary product professionally, and he would like to help more interested youths to engage in STEM education and careers. He would love to hear from any young members of the Shawnigan family who want more information about the field of robotics and programming. Caitlyn Rush ’10 (Strathcona) completed a chemical engineering degree at Queen’s. She worked in oil and gas for a while and spent some time working near Dubai. After switching gears, she is now living in Vancouver and pursuing the CPA designation with BDO in their audit stream.
Julia Szabo ’11 (Renfrew North), now a business development assistant with the Oilers Entertainment Group in Edmonton, Alberta, sent in this update: “After graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo with a Gender Studies degree, I moved to Toronto and began a post-grad program in Sport and Event Marketing at George Brown College. As part of this program, I interned as a marketing and events co-ordinator with the Pinball Clemons Foundation, operated by co-founder Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons and his amazing team. I had the privilege of helping to realize the vision of helping under-resourced youth, both locally and internationally. I hope to continue to actively promote gender equality and empowerment within sports organizations and corporate brands across Canada. I appreciate any opportunity to stay connected with my Shawnigan family. Please make sure to reach out!”
Avi Horwitz ’12 (Lake’s) is now a flooring entrepreneur based out of Vancouver. He has worked on the new Steve Nash gym in Richmond (Unison), the Rolls-Royce dealership (Norson), Pacific Centre’s food court (PCL), and 30,000 square feet in Bosa’s Solo District development (Turner). He recounts that his entrepreneurial motivation is very similar to the motivation that he developed at Shawnigan. “The leadership qualities and fair play that I learned and honed in my five years at Shawnigan are invaluable to me now. Because I’m never one to miss a marketing opportunity, any alumni reading this who are in development, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Avi Horwitz (left) with Macoy Jackson, Mrs. Gaynor Samuel, and Felix Brudler Vanessa (Smith) Kiley ’12 (Groves’) married Brendan Kiley in Mill Bay in 2017. “The wedding was an incredible day, filled with big moments and equally important small moments that made it all the more special. We were joined by our close friends and family at my parents’ house, and it was a beautiful, laidback August evening wedding. We are very thankful our guests could stay at the School, and I was lucky to have three Groves’ girls as my beautiful bridesmaids.”
Julia Szabo with Michael “Pinball” Clemons
Lisa Unger ’11 (Strathcona) graduated from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Arts in 2015 and started her Bachelor of Education degree in 2016. She received her teacher certification and was hired as an English language teacher at a high school in Surrey, where she mainly supports Syrian refugees. She is continuing her education at SFU, taking classes for a post-baccalaureate diploma in Special Education. Amid all of the studying, she has found time to travel to 37 countries and is hoping to make it to 40 soon!
2010s Kevin McKinnon ’13 (Copeman’s) attended Queen’s where he received the Governor General’s Academic Silver Medal, which is the top award for all 2017 graduates. He is now at UC Santa Cruz, pursuing a PhD in Astrophysics and Astronomy.
Rhianna Henderson ’14 (Strathcona) is in her final year of a four-year Nautical Sciences program at the BCIT Marine Campus. “We go to school for six months of the year, and then we go to sea for the remainder of the year to gain sea time for our Watchkeeping Unlimited certificate. In my first year as a cadet, I was employed by BC Ferries, sailing on board the Northern Expedition and the Northern Adventure, serving the northern routes of British Columbia. We sailed between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert, and Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii. I was on board for five and a half months. My second sea phase this past year was with Royal Caribbean, on board the Oasis of the Seas – one of the largest cruise ships in the world, carrying 8,800 people (crew and passengers combined). I spent seven months sailing both the eastern and western Caribbean routes.”
Bayley Wells ’14 (Lonsdale’s) is in the undergraduate Urban Studies program at Brown University, where he is also the class coordinating board secretary, elected to organize social events for Brown’s Class of 2018. “It’s a fun position, and I get to work alongside Jo Issenman ’14 (Groves’).”
Kelvin Tezinde ’15 (Lake’s) recently participated in SpaceX’s Hyperloop competition with the University of Waterloo team, Waterloop. SpaceX is revolutionizing space technology as it designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. In order to accelerate the development of functional terrestrial transportation pod prototypes and encourage student innovation, SpaceX announced the Hyperloop Pod Competition in 2015, which challenges university teams to design and build the best transport pod. Although Kelvin’s team didn’t win (they came eighth), it was a huge honour to be among the 34 teams chosen to compete out of the 150 teams that applied from around the world.
Adam Tassone ’15 (Lake’s) is living in Vancouver and keeping busy with work and school. With the goal of getting involved in property development, he is working in Kitsilano doing some restoration carpentry while taking real estate and carpentry classes in the evenings. “Things are going great. I’m super-busy with school and work at the moment, but that’s how I like it!”
Andrey Petropavloskiy ’16 (Lake’s) is studying at Western University. Andrey and his two roommates launched a radio show called Sound of Science, which is dedicated to science research at Western. The trio have interviewed professors in the areas of neuroscience, biology and psychology on everything from the human brain to artificial intelligence, as well as having sat down with undergraduate researchers to discuss joint stress and prostate cancer. Visit chrwradio.ca or the Sound of Science website at soundofsci.org to hear past episodes of the program.
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Founder’s Day October 19 – 20, 2018 Keep an eye out for more alumni events at www.shawnigan.ca/page/support/alumni
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NOTES This magazine is a regular publication of Shawnigan Lake School. No material from this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written permission of Shawnigan Lake School. ÂŠ 2018 Shawnigan Lake School. All rights reserved. Designed and printed in Canada.