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St. Margaret’s School | for girls

Confident girls. Inspiring women.

As Tyme and hours passeth awaye Renewing a Legacy by The Legacy Team: Uma Bhattacharya, Holly Lim, Fiona Rhynas, and Anabelle Welke

In Innovation this year, the Grade 7 and 8 classes have been upscaling the courtyard between the science labs and senior art room and working on making it more appealing. One of the groups, called The Legacy Team, has taken an interest in the history of the sundial. The Legacy Team made a trip to the archives and found out about the incredible history of the sundial. The sundial, circa 1695, was discovered in a Sussex village (UK) antique shop by Mrs. Barbara Barrett, and

This photo (taken at the dedication luncheon in April 1972) from The Daily Colonist article features Mrs. Lena Cotsworth Clarke, who was Gym Mistress at SMS for 27 years and went on to found York House School in Vancouver, and Mrs. Barbara Barrett (née Grant), who was a student from 1920–1927, was very active as President of the Old Girls’ Association, and whose name may be familiar for the library building named for her on campus. The photo also features a young Alexandra Alexis, then student, now Governor on the SMS Board.

given to the school by the Old Girls’ Association in memory of Mrs. Margaret Barton, the school’s first Headmistress. The sundial is set on top of a pedestal made by Peggy Walton Packard, a well-known Victoria artist, who was also present for the dedication ceremony of the sundial. The Legacy Team would like to have the sundial restored to its previous glory before St. Margaret’s Fall Open House (October 2014). After speaking to the Royal BC Museum restoration specialist, they are now capable of restoring the sundial by themselves (with a teacher’s assistance). They would also like to have a plaque stating the history of the sundial and the important message that is currently not legible on the dial plate. This would be important as the girls have been at the school for many years and not known why the sundial is there. The Legacy Team thought that by displaying the history, they could enrich the school population and the greater community about its past.

so does ye life of man decaye


message from the head St. Margaret’s is a community with roots that run deep. Over 100 years based in a city with fewer-than-average degrees of separation will do that to a small school. Pair these historical and situational factors with a reputation that spans the globe and you have fertile ground that has grown this school’s “family tree.” After three plus years with the school, I continue to be fascinated by the stories of those who have been connected to the school for much longer, who have witnessed the school grow and change, and who have grown and changed along with it. Which brings us to the mystical Lifer! Or, as suggested here, just for fun, the Life-her, to describe a student who has spent all 13 formative years of her life and education growing from a confident girl into an inspiring woman at St. Margaret’s School. The Lifer (Life-her), to me, represents a young woman who has embraced the unique opportunities at SMS and has so deeply immersed herself in the culture of this community as to have become part of its essential fabric, and will always retain that special title to reflect the profound commitment of both her and her family. A Lifer was once a rarity, but this year’s graduating class will boast an incredible 12 such Lifers. Given that this year’s graduating class is also the largest in the school’s history (62), it may not come as a huge surprise that it would also contain a record number of Lifers. Considering the combined 156 years of experience these long-time students have accumulated at SMS, we were curious about the unique perspective this group of young ladies and their families bring to the table. Some of their stories are captured in this edition of SMS Spirit. But beyond the relatively elusive Lifer, our community is teeming with members who share profound bonds with St. Margaret’s School.

These stories may reflect their finite time at the school, or might spread out into the community upon their departure. In all cases these stories are rich with fond memories, moments of joy Ms. Cathy Thornicroft, Head of School and triumph, and an appreciation for what the school has to offer. There are intimate connections everywhere you look. The Legacy Team from the Middle Years Innovation class uncovered a perfect example with their sundial project (see facing page). When you start digging through the school’s history, you uncover an unending web of familial connections going back through the decades which I also believe will carry on into the future. So before we begin, I just wanted to acknowledge all those SMS members – staff, students, families, archivists, and alumnae – who have great stories to tell, who are the keepers and creators of our school’s culture, and with whom the SPIRIT team has the delight to connect with while building each issue. We are perpetually uncovering new stories every day. In this Spring issue of SPIRIT, we’ll introduce you to a few of the Lifers and lifelong learners we’ve met. I’d also like this to be an invitation to others to link their story in with our bigger history, for these deep connections are what make our community strong and our legacy long. Keep in touch | | /saintmargarets |


Letters to the Editor: SMS SPIRIT, c/o 1080 Lucas Avenue, Victoria, BC, V8X 3P7

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lifers [life-hers] by Kyle Slavin

It is not too difficult for Emily Van Oosten to think back and remember her first day of kindergarten at St. Margaret’s School. “I came in late because I had sprained my tailbone falling off a swing, and I had had the chicken pox,” she says. “And I remember the teacher had brought in shrimp. We played dressup and I think we learned ‘God Save the Queen’ and we played with blocks.” That was also the day she met Riley van der Linden. “I was really shy and I really didn’t talk to anyone. And then Riley came up and started talking to me. And she ended up being one of my best friends. We became sisters,” Emily says. September 9, 2001 – Day 1 of kindergarten for the 2014 graduating class – was also the day she met Martine Vincent, Sidney Tham, Mina O’Neill-Bains, Ellie MacKay, Olivia MacGillivray, Meg Lovett, Bailey Knight, Marites Frazer, Kelsey Farmer, and Haddas Asfaw.

While the kindergarten class was larger than this group, all 12 of these SMS empowers makeschool girls have spent girls theirtoentire smart choices. We see young girls career at St. Margaret’s. in the Junior School taking early “I think I am very lucky to have had environmental stewardship of our such great classmates over the years,” buildings and grounds and recent Martine says. “Us being togetherthat graduates choosing universities since kindergarten, our of best suit their formidablegroup academic Lifers,The we have grown very closeis goals. Board of Governors – like family.” charged by parents, staff and all of the SMS community to actbetween as stewards That relationship formed the of our girls and of the values we girls is not lost on Richard Vincent, share. We serve Martine’s dad. on committees, make tough decisions, and work to support “I always said, ‘You canThornicroft, go there till Head of School Cathy the day you’re not happy.’ She never and the entire staff. wanted to leave because she is with Cathy has couragegreat and group leads by an exceptionally of girls. example. She is always working That core group of them, the 12 to develop in Lifers, theyrelationships have all maintained this our collaborative cohesive friendship, whichand is extraordinary,” community. example Richard says.Her “I think the of reason the dedicated service to SMS all fibre is there is they have inspires been allowed of us to continue working to make to develop it, in a school where SMS the best it can be forhave our everyone can place have an opinion, girls and the entire SMS community. a personality, but show respect. That is the culture at St. Margaret’s that these 12 girls have grown up with and allowed them to develop into amazing young women.”

Martine says it is hard to look back at 13 years of great memories to pinpoint one outstanding one, but she says a humanitarian trip to Costa Rica in Grade 10 really stands out as a life-changing moment for her. “We went to an elementary school just outside of San Jose and they wanted us to help fix some things up. We got to go into classrooms and teach English,” she says. “That is something my friends from other schools never got to experience. I have been really lucky to have the opportunities I have had here.” Emily, who was recently accepted into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts to pursue acting come September, says while she feels nervous to be moving out of the house in a few months to head to Los Angeles, a completely unfamiliar city, she is confident SMS has prepared her for life after high school graduation. “I’m really nervous about walking into the classroom not knowing everyone and not having them all say, ‘Hey Emily!’ continued on page 4

”[SMS has] taught me how to reach out and connect with people, instead of waiting for people to connect with me.” Emily Van Oosten SMS Spirit | 02

A Lifer's K-12 journey at SMS

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Presenting the

Martine Vincent

Riley van der Linden

Kelsey Farmer

Olivia MacGillivray

Marites Frazer

Emily Van Oosten

continued from page 2

But I know how to handle myself in situations where other people would feel uncertain because St. Margaret’s has put me in those situations to prepare me for life after grad. They have taught me how to reach out and connect with people, instead of waiting for people to connect with me,” she says, adding that the experiences SMS has provided her over the years has helped, too. “We have gone to Africa and Japan without our parents. I feel like the school has made sure we have tons of opportunities to grow independent from our parents so we can handle ourselves as adults.” Daniel Asfaw, Haddas’s dad, says developing that independence was the greatest attribute he has seen in his daughter as she has grown up at SMS. “What stands out is seeing how independent she is. We believed from the start that girls should be very independent and stand on their

feet,” he says. “She is not afraid of anything. I think it comes from her school life there. In any environment she is comfortable. Haddas had the opportunity to be very well rounded because of the St. Margaret’s community – it was not just the academics. That is exactly what we wanted and we got more than we expected from St. Margaret’s.” Mina says the entirety of her education has left her with lasting lessons she will take into adulthood. She feels prepared to take on the endless possibilities her future holds, knowing she has the tools and skills to realize her dreams. “You can do anything. Nothing is out of your reach if you work hard and never let anyone tell you you can’t,” she says. Martine says what makes SMS special is the loving, caring, and supportive environment cultivated within the walls of the school. The sense of

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belonging over the years helped keep her motivated and wanting to come to school every day. “I think it’s the fact that there is a message of being a community, and being loving to one another, and being your own person, and trying your best, and following your dreams,” she says. “That is the message the school conveys to the students. Everyone wants to see you succeed in every aspect of your life.” “St. Margaret’s has changed my life in the fact that I have way more people in my life that I can go to if I need help or support, and I have way more love in my life,” Emily says. She adds that the all-girls environment at SMS makes it a unique and special place to learn. “To be honest, I prefer just girls. It is a more focused environment. There’s not the tension you get when there are boys and girls. There isn’t the struggle for equality, the unhealthy

2013/14 [life-hers]

Sidney Tham

Bailey Knight

competition,” Emily says. “We all understand each other more. We are not afraid to put our hands up and be ourselves full out – there’s no judgment.” For Haddas, that realization of being in a no-judgment environment came early on. “Being the only black student, at first, I felt a little alone because I was sort of the odd one out. But then I realized that practically everyone is colour-blind. I was not judged based on the colour of my skin – it was for my actions and achievements. This definitely made me feel more self-confident, regardless of my background,” she says. With graduation impending, the girls say they are a little apprehensive about what comes next. In addition to some major transitional life changes they will deal with, the 12 SMS Lifers will soon go from having seen each other five days a week for the last 13 years to separation.

Haddas Asfaw

Meg Lovett

“I always feel weird over summer breaks not seeing them because I know that being at school is the safest environment for me; being with them. I feel so supported when I am with them. I wish I could take them to L.A. with me – I don’t want to leave them behind,” Emily says. “We are starting to come to the realization that we won’t be seeing each other as often as we have for the last 13 years and it is kind of sad that we’ll all be leaving each other,” adds Martine. “We are so close. We are going to make an effort to stay in touch as much as possible.” Joyce DeWitt-Van Oosten, Emily’s mom, says she and her husband based their decision to move from the Okanagan to Victoria just before Emily started kindergarten partly so their daughter could attend SMS. “We wanted her to go to an independent school and in particular we wanted her to go to an all-girls school,” Joyce says. “It was primarily SMS Spirit | 05

Mina O’Neill-Bains

Ellie MacKay

looking for a smaller school setting that would be tailored to the learning needs of girls. And a setting that would spend time throughout the years teaching the girls to be confident, to have a voice, to think independently, to feel good about themselves and their decision-making. And St. Margaret’s seemed, to us, to offer all those factors.” Thirteen years later, she – and Emily – genuinely believe SMS was the right decision. “I feel like it’s my home away from home. I feel happy when I’m there,” Emily says. “It is a home. It’s not a school, it is a home.”


Lifers are presented with these special pearls upon graduation.


[life-hers] in residence by Sheryl Zhou

For boarding students, the SMS learning journey begins in Grade 7 or 8. As girls who have lived on campus since they were 12 or 13, and spent their most formative years immersed in SMS life and far from their family, these “Residence Lifers” have a unique perspective to share, captured here by a peer.

Miranda Schell

Yolanda Wen

Phoebe Zhao

Volleyball, skiing, music, and food; our Head Girl loves it all! Miranda has been nothing but friendly since she arrived at SMS, and has made continuous efforts to bond different cultures. Living away from her parents since such a young age, she couldn’t be more grateful to the teachers and House Moms who were forever supportive. She loves the loud but fun-packed residence life, and has become lifelong friends with her four-year-standing roommate. “Always talk about your feelings, and don’t expect much privacy,” Miranda says with a wry grin, “but do know that St. Margaret’s is where you want to make your high school memories.”

Stepping onto SMS school grounds, Yolanda was greeted with friendly smiles and warm words of welcome. Her teachers kindly guided her onto a path of diverse high school life, with rigorous study sessions mixed in with extracurricular activities. She loves to play the clarinet, and has learned the art of sewing. Yolanda says, without hesitation: “St. Margaret’s is always there when I need help, and great House Moms made residence life very enjoyable!”

“St. Margaret’s gave me the chance to change,” Phoebe says adamantly. Residence life gave her personal space to study and innovate, as well as pursue her interests in movies and singing. Having House Moms and teachers by her side made a huge impact on her life, and heartto-heart conversations with her roommates only accentuated her eventful experiences. Phoebe has one prominent piece of advice that all international students might realize only too late: “Communicating with other people is really important!”

Erica Lee (no photo) Erica arrived at SMS for Grade 8, and she was immediately taken by the individual attention offered here. The International English Language program improved her English by leaps and bounds, while presenting her with rare opportunities and peer support. She was encouraged to join the cross-country team, and also began her journey as the lead flutist in the band. “St. Margaret’s has become my second family,” she says with a fond smile, “and I’ve grown to love this dynamic community.” SMS Spirit | 06

The class of 2026 is all smiles as they pose with their fruit tree, one of five

donated by the class and planted on campus. Through the years the class will be able to grow alongside the trees, as both the plants and the girls’ educational journey gradually bear fruit. The deer netting protects the sapling just as the walls of SMS provide a safe environment in which young girls learn their own way and mature at their own pace.

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ConneÀions extends even further back in time. The following personal histories and stories of multigenerational dynasties just go to show that when it comes to growing a legacy in learning, it’s all in the family.

Lifers are recognized upon graduation for their special 13-year bond with St. Margaret’s School. But there are many people in our school community whose his tor y wi th the school

Lucy Lobmeier, Rachel Rushforth, and Sally Tinnis: This trio of SMS parents all met in Grade 8 while attending SMS and became lifelong friends (as did their own parents; in fact Sally’s mother also taught at SMS). Their daughters now attend the school, and Sally’s daughter Annika and Rachel’s daughter Megan are now the same age as Sally and Rachel were when they first met! Residence Families: Most are familiar with the fact that SMS students from Mexico often arrive for only a year’s study at a time. What they might not realize is that some of these students belong to families who have been coming here for years: successive generations of aunts, nieces, and cousins who have all studied at St. Margaret’s, going back three generations!

This “one-year abroad” tradition is common practice, culturally speaking: a year’s immersion in English is invaluable to the student’s learning; however, students generally prefer to return to Mexico to complete high school as otherwise they will be considered international students if returning to apply to post-secondary in Mexico. These kinds of family connections are not limited to Mexican boarders, though; residence has been home to many girls sharing familial bonds from sisters to cousins, and more. Ms. Megan Hedderick: Currently Foundation and Middle Years Principal, also taught in Senior Years, and is an SMS alumna.

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Ms. Bev Waterfield: Currently teaches Grade 6 in the Middle Years, and has been teaching here since 1996. Her mother, Anthea Waterfield, also had a long career with SMS as Junior School Coordinator. The Anthea Waterfield Award was first set up by the Parents’ Auxiliary in 1997 to commemorate Bev’s mother’s retirement, and has continued to recognize an exemplary student in the Foundation Years each school year since. Both Bev and her sister are SMS alumnae, and it was as an SMS student that she first met Ms. Terry Willow (see below). Ms. Terry Willow (see “Behind the Tartan Curtain”, page 21, for an interview with Terry): Currently teaches Grade 1, is an SMS alumna, and her daughter attended the school. Terry has also been with the school for over 20 years.

A number of the administrative team have also had daughters come through the school, among them:

Long-Service Awards (20+ illustrious years at SMS)

Ms. Raj Baidwan

(top of the list with nearly 39 years),

Ms. Jeanine Stannard, Mr. Harry Duimering, Ms. Deb Scott, Ms. Candice Duncan, Ms. Terry Willow, Ms. Rona Archer, Mr. Sean Holland, Ms. Rose Proudfoot, Ms. Patricia Mann.

Mr. Harry Duimering: Science teacher in the Senior Years, has two daughters who are Lifers, both who are now completing degrees in medicine. Ms. Pamela Campbell: Currently teaches Grade 4, and her daughter Gabrielle now attends the school. Ms. Kirsten Millington: Currently teaches English in the Senior Years, and is the daughter of Mr. Chris Millington, a Senior Years Music instructor (currently on sabbatical). Could this be the beginning of a teaching dynasty?

Ms. Judy Coulter: Senior Reception (all three daughters are alumnae: two Lifers, two Head Girls, and one Valedictorian). Ms. Sally Green: Executive Assistant, and her two daughters attended for a time. (This is actually Sally’s 13th time organizing the Closing Ceremonies, which makes her a Lifer in the planning!) She remembers the first grad she organized, and Haddas being the little kindergarten girl with the honour of presenting the guest speaker with flowers. Ms. Pat Tancock: Financial Assistant, is an alumna herself, and her daughter attended. Ms. Gail Bateman: Admissions Assistant, has a daughter who’s an alumna. Ms. Kathy Charleson: Admissions Director, has two daughters who are alumnae.

Ms. Alexandra Alexis: Alumna and member of the Board of Governors. The Alexis family sent five daughters to SMS – of whom Alexandra is the youngest – a total of 65 years of attendance between them all. The school’s dining hall is named in honour of the Alexis family’s dedication and involvement in the school (see the Fall 2012 issue for the complete story).

Our Alumnae: all 106 years of them. We surely could go on, but let these few examples stand as testament to the love that so many people share for this place.

SMS4LIFE Do you have a lifelong connection to SMS? We’d love to hear from you:

Ms. Dana Reid: Science Department Head, and has two daughters, Abigail and Olivia, currently attending the school.

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Alumna Profile: In Conversation

with Ali Lee Interview by Jennifer van Hardenberg SMS Communications Coordinator

Former Malcolm House captain, SMS Lifer, field hockey athlete, sports marketing professional, globetrotter, Top 20 under 40 nominee – and now Alexandra Jamie Lee is off on her next adventure. Between one communications officer and another, I managed to catch up with this Class of 2004 alumna to find out her perspective on transitioning from Lifer to leading in the real world.

photo: Wilfred Lach | Fotographie

JvH: What is your favourite memory of your time at SMS? AL: The special Strathcona trip that Ms. Stannard organized where we flew on a float plane (my first plane ride ever) into Gold River and then hiked Nootka Island for seven nights along the beach. JvH: Were there any specific experiences or lessons learned at SMS that prepared you for where you are now? AL: Other than the high academic setting, SMS really prepared me well for being independent. I had exposure to all sorts of activities that made me the person I am today, and each of the teachers taught me so much more outside of the content of the course. SMS prepares you for life after school, but what you put into the school will be what you get out of it!

JvH: Who do you keep in closest contact with from the school? AL: Ms. Secco. She taught me PE in primary school and coached the field hockey team right up until I graduated. Funnily enough, her daughter, Maddie Secco, now plays for Stanford and the Canadian Senior National Team, and I was Maddie’s first Under-14 BC Team coach and regional coach in Victoria. It’s awesome to see the wheel go around.

professionally. Everything changed when I played for the UVic Vikes and got to play competitively for BC with both the Junior and Senior National Teams. JvH: Bachelor of Science in biochemistry to Communications Officer specializing in sports marketing – that seems like a bit of a detour. What made you change your original path?

AL: I remember in Grade 9 CAPP class I decided to go into forensic genetics or medicine and I stuck on that path until third-year university. AL: My mom played field hockey but I I stayed in science but realized it was was into soccer from age seven and up. something I got good marks in but You can probably ask Ms. Secco, but wasn’t overly passionate about it. So, back then I hated PE. That changed I stuck with biochemistry and then and field hockey and sports was always throughout my time on the National fun, but I never thought I would end Team we were always fundraising. up making a career out of it or play I used my passion for social media, JvH: How did you get into field hockey?

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photo: Armando Tura

photo: Armando Tura

building websites, writing, and photography to promote our team. I picked up odd jobs and eventually I applied for a communications assistant position with the UVic Vikes.

completely different category being only 27, and I think one of five people was under the age of 30. Either way it was nice to be in the same room and category as the others nominated.

JvH: Your job at UVic seems like an incredible opportunity to have brought together several of your passions.

JvH: We hear you are off to a new job in Switzerland! Congrats! Are there specific opportunities, differences, challenges that you are anticipating?

AL: My role at UVic was awesome because I went from being the assistant for eight months to becoming the officer and running the show. I learned so much in a short time. It was incredible to work in sports at my university and be in Victoria where I grew up. It was a dream job for me at the time. I was fortunate to have a great mentor who helped me get caught up professionally in the communications field. Passion, drive, and a keen sense to learn and improve was all that I needed, and that comes from my sports background. JvH: The Top 20 under 40 is an awards ceremony to recognize young professionals who are on a trajectory to become local leaders in their field. What does it mean to you to be nominated? AL: I was just a top 100 finalist, but all of the winners were mostly in their mid-30s with huge business backgrounds like realtors or entrepreneurs. I felt like I was in a

AL: I recently accepted a job as the Communications Officer for the International Hockey Federation (FIH)–that’s field hockey, not ice hockey–based in Lausanne, Switzerland. I have to give up pretty much my whole life, including my various teams, programs and leagues, and my family, my friends, and my puppy. It’s going to be an exciting new world for me, though, because professionally I will get to live abroad, learn a new language, focus just on field hockey, and work at the highest level in my sport. Moving to Europe will be a challenge and it’s very expensive, but it’s nice to live abroad and gain that experience while I’m young. I got engaged this January so it might put some stress on us for a bit until my fiancé can join me in Europe, but we are both definitely excited about this new adventure.

JvH: If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be? AL: Be confident in your decisions, try everything, and take in the amazing experiences that SMS has to offer. So much good comes from the unknown and every challenge has a lesson waiting for you on the other side! Enjoy every moment: The real world is not as much fun as my time at SMS. Thanks to Ali for the taking the time to catch up with us. If you want to follow Ali’s adventures, she plans to be blogging on her website:

SMS4LIFE SMS Spirit | 11

“The active role the girls play in everything that happens... is something I’ve never seen before… I fell in love with that... ” SMS Spirit | 12

Rob Ducharme

Striving to be the Best SMS’s new Senior Years Principal and Director of Instruction by Kyle Slavin

Mr. Rob Ducharme came into education as a career by way of an accident – literally. At 28-years-old he was involved in a crash that left him unable to continue his work as a manual labourer. “It changed my life. That, to me, was the best thing that ever happened to me. That’s when I fully embraced education and realized the power of it,” Rob says. “It opened my eyes in so many ways.” It was during his subsequent time earning a degree in physics and mathematics at the University of Victoria that he got his first taste of teaching, working as a teaching assistant in the Mathematics Department. In this role, he realized that he felt great satisfaction in helping people learn. He then went on to complete a Bachelor of Science and began teaching science and math. In the last two decades Rob has become a respected name at independent schools in Greater Victoria, first at Glenlyon Norfolk School and then at St. Michaels University School. His passion for learning and drive to help students succeed were key in directing his career path from teacher to administrator. “I’m a big picture thinker – that’s something that comes naturally to me,” Rob adds. “One of my strengths is bringing ideas to life and I have been fortunate to work in

schools where I have been able to create structures to support new initiatives so that they’ll be successful.” A former athlete and long-time coach, he also navigated unfamiliar territory by guiding young athletes from Victoria through the application process to play post-secondary level sports in Canada and the United States. He first familiarized himself with that process when he helped his now 18-year-old daughter, Sophia, successfully land a spot on a basketball team; she now plays at the University of Toronto. He then launched this athletics counselling service at his last school having determined there was a demand from families for that support. Also in his previous appointment, Rob spearheaded the development and launch of an online school to prepare students for an individualized, digital learning environment they are likely to experience in university and the workforce. “With growth comes challenges in execution and making things work, but it’s something I really like to do.” When he learned that he and Head of School, Ms. Cathy Thornicroft, shared a very similar vision of education, he knew St. Margaret’s School was where he wanted his career to take him next.

“I’ve been very much a builder of programs and have had the luxury of being fully supported to pursue new initiatives.” says Rob. “Rob brings a skill set that is invaluable to St. Margaret’s,” Cathy says. “His quiet leadership and calming presence complement my style. He is skilled at making the complicated simple, as he is able to pull out the fundamentals and create structures that allow us to be creative and draw from possibilities.” Rob is still less than a year on the job as Senior Years Principal and Director of Instruction. Despite his short time at the school, he’s already been blown away by the supportive educational environment at St. Margaret’s. “One of the things I noticed right away was the active role the girls play in everything that happens at the school. From assemblies to initiatives, the planning and execution are done by the girls,” he says. “I fell in love with that; I have never been in a school where so many students have real responsibilities and real leadership opportunities.” Looking ahead, Rob says that continuing to enhance the leadership program for the girls is a key goal he has for the school. He says he believes his personal and professional philosophy (“How can I make things better?”) complements the successful mindset already well established within the halls of St. Margaret’s. continued on page 14

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Communi continued from page 13

“I want this to be the best girls’ school in Canada. We have to harness people’s strengths to move the school into a better place – that goal wouldn’t change regardless of how much better the school became; you can always improve. I think it is vital to offer outstanding student-centred learning opportunities and to strengthen our leadership program. I think that if we can prepare girls for that next stage in life – for them to be confident, global-minded, and interconnected – St. Margaret’s School can be the very best in Canada.”

You are invited… Annual Old Girls’ / Alumnae Event ‘Citrus Twist’ Luncheon

Saturday, May 3, 2014 St. Margaret’s School, Alexis Hall 11:30am - 2:00pm Come and spend time with your friends, former classmates and SMS staff.

There was a time when once you chose your career you were likely to keep at it for the rest of your life. Not so today, when some sources say a person might have seven or more careers over the course of their life, and millennials in particular are showing a tendency to change jobs as often as every three years. To respond to a changing professional world, SMS introduced a new guest speaker series called Unique Lives inspired by a Vancouverbased public lecture series of the same name and a similar bent. Unique Lives at SMS seeks to introduce students to local professionals who have walked unusual paths and taken big risks to achieve career success. Our first lectures of the series have exposed students to a variety of perspectives and reinforced the need for adaptability and lifelong learning when preparing for life after school. Thanks go to our speakers for sharing generously of their time and passion, and we look forward to our upcoming guests as the series continues.

RSVP to 250-479-7171

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iÙ ConneÀions Name

Jane Ellmann

Shauna Morgan

Gayle Robinson

Business Owner, Muse Winery

Warden, Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre

Business Owner, Robinson’s Outdoor Store

SMS Connection

Has two daughters at SMS, Sarah in Grade 9 and Hayley in Grade 6. Spoke in February 2014.

Spoke in November 2013.

Spoke in April 2014.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

From the time I was in high school on I knew I wanted to own my own business. Initially I thought it would be finance related, but that changed once I got into the hotel business. I became hooked on hospitality.

I loved the outdoors, adventure, and animals, so when I was in high school this translated into me wanting to become a marine biologist. This is where I started my post-secondary education.

Flight attendant or nurse

Was there a “game-changing” moment that altered your original path?

With my degree in finance/ marketing I became a stockbroker. I enjoyed the excitement and had great success until the crash of 1987. I saw many people lose a lot of money. The stress in the firm was huge, and ethically there were situations I didn’t agree with. I began my search for a new profession, got hired by Marriott International, and never looked back.

There were a couple of events that changed my path. I spent a weekend with a friend who had graduated as a marine biologist and was now working in her profession at a fish hatchery. While the work was very interesting, my friend worked on her own and had very little contact with colleagues and others. I realized that I would miss being with people.

A chance to buy into a retail store. It took all the money I had and I didn’t know much about retail. I was afraid I wouldn’t be successful so I worked hard, put in long hours, and found I was good at it. They say if you’re doing something you love, then you never work a day in your life! It’s true and I look forward to getting up every morning and going in to do the very best I can.

What was the most substantial lesson you learned that best prepared you for where you are now?

What I took away from my hospitality experience was to always treat my employees equally and with respect, always hire friendly people, and customer service excellence. It may sound very simple, but in the hospitality business it is all about exceeding expectations and making the simple tasks seem extraordinary.

It is difficult to choose just one lesson that best prepared me, as when I reflect back there were several lessons that have guided me and helped make me who I am today. While I cannot say exactly when it happened, during my university years I learned that you had to be flexible, open-minded, and prepared to work hard for what you want.

You never know your full potential until you take a risk at something new. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from achieving your goals.

Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol


What is on your reading shelf right now?

Chris Hadfield, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy

Jim Collins, Good to Great Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In Don M. Ruiz, The Four Agreements

M. Wylie Blanchet, The Curve of Time

Maurice Herzog, Annapurna SMS Spirit | 15

Happenings With a network that spans over 100 years we realize that we can only hope to relay a portion of the comings and goings of our vibrant community, but here is a small slice of the latest news. We love receiving letters and photos, and would love to hear your news! We welcome contributions to this recurring section. Email us (or nominate others for recognition):

Newest Arrivals: There’s been

a mini baby boom among the SMS staff! Teachers Tristan and Rebecca Clausen greeted their new baby girl, Robin; teacher Amy McKenna greeted a baby boy, Jack; and House Mom Michelle Gay also had a baby boy. Congratulations one and all!

Published: Teachers Ms. Nancy

Pekter and Mr. Bruce McAskill were published in the 2014 edition of the English Journal (National Council of Teachers of English). Their paper “To Be English, Math, and History” and the project it presents offer a fine example of successful interdisciplinary collaboration.

Student voices: Catch students

Liz Lu (Class of 2014) and Lynn Li (Grade 11) in concert with the Victoria Symphony on May 10 and 11 as they perform the Brahms Requiem. An educational milestone: Congratulations to Ms. Lisa Ziebart, SMS Social Studies teacher, for having recently completed her Master’s in Education.

photo: Darren Stone | Times Colonist

A Meeting of Minds…and Heads: We were pleased to welcome back former Heads of School for a reunion with staff and faculty. Pictured here from left to right are current Head Ms. Cathy Thornicroft, Mr. Vic Clayton (1990–2007) and Ms. Linda McGregor (2007–2010).

SMS in the News: Our school’s

approach to STEM in Early Learning has garnered considerable attention in the past few months. See the SMS blog (March 14, 2014) for links to articles featured in the Times Colonist, Victoria News, and Chatterblock. Early Childhood Educators Ms. Susan Middlemiss and Ms. Reesa Vermeulen have been invited to present at the University of British Columbia’s upcoming STEM conference in July of this year. The pair has also been collaborating with Todd Milford, an adjunct professor in the Department of Education at the University of Victoria to write a paper on STEM and the Early Years to be published later this year.

SMS Spirit | 16

In memoriam: In 2013 we said

goodbye to a major figure in our school’s history, Ms. Lorna French (Head Mistress at SMS from 19671976), who passed away this autumn (September 15). Ms. French may be most remembered for guiding the school through its move from the Fort Street campus to its current home on Lucas Avenue.

gsMS Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge, held in schools on November 7, 2013. Reconnecting: In February, we

One step closer to the Winter Games: Congrats to Yun

Wah Choo (Grade 10) and team for their achievement in synchro at trials held just before Christmas. Yun Wah placed third in figures and collected valuable points by ranking in the top 10 overall. There are three more qualifying rounds to go to determine the top 10 athletes who will then form Team BC in the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

were delighted to get a surprise visit from Valerie Peyman (née Lois Valerie Austen-Leigh­—a collateral descendant of Jane Austen) hailing from England. Valerie, who attended SMS from 1939–1941, reminisced about former Heads of School and teachers, and some of the trials other students had endured, such as travelling alone from Outer Mongolia! Said Gregg Wiltshire, Director of Advancement, of her visit, “Valerie was astounded with the facilities provided to the students and delighted with the demeanour of the girls who paused to say hello during her tour of the school.” Our thanks to Lisa Langford for helping us reconnect with Valerie, an indomitable spirit and a great reminder of our school’s rich history.

SMS Olympic Gold: The school

marked Sochi 2014 with our very own Olympics coordinated by Student Council together with teachers. In addition to new events like “teacherbob-sledding” and “floor-skating,” we had very enthusiastic participants showing their house spirit in competitive activities. The timing was such that one of our students scored a tiebreaker in floor hockey at the exact same time as the Canadian team scored in the gold medal game in Sochi! The whole school went into ecstatic uproar and this highly successful event proved to be another bonding moment that SMS students will forever remember. Kudos to the organizers!

photo: Don Denton | Saanich News

Scholarship for Rowing Grad:

Congratulations to Kelsey Farmer (Class of 2014) on the award of a full-ride scholarship that will take her to Boston next year. Keep an eye out for the Saanich News feature on Kelsey (publication date tbd). Students rise to challenge in Math: Congratulations to Erin Yuan

and Lydia Ma (awarded Performance with Distinction – top quartile of all competitors) and to Mina Park and Alexandra Yuan (awarded Performance with Honours – second quartile of all competitors) for their achievement in the Sun Life Financial

Outweek: Outweek continues to

engage students in “challenge by choice” activities, from rock climbing to whitewater kayaking to sailing, to build character and offer bonding opportunities early, each school year. As students prepare to make their selections for activities for the coming year, make sure you watch Grade 8 student Megan Greensill’s video of Outweek 2013, available to view online: SMS Spirit | 17

SMS Students Abroad: This year's

Spring Break adventures included an exchange to Chile to visit our sister school there, Queen Margaret’s British School, while another group of students explored Morocco and Spain. Read the complete SMS Travel Blog online at (date stamped March 17–31).

A Win-Win It all began a year ago: students in the Grade 11 Leadership class were challenged to develop an initiative to engage the rest of the school in community service. Out of this discussion, Service Day was born. Jennifer van Hardenberg Communications Coordinator

Students then sought out causes in the community and coordinated with local non-profits that struck a chord with them. Their peers and teachers were then mobilized and a task force of around 200 people dispersed throughout Greater Victoria to clean beaches and clear invasive plant species; bake for the homeless and spend time with seniors in care; build birdhouses and more. Among the initiatives was a clothing drive and hours spent assembling packages for a spring campaign being run by the local chapter of Women in Need (WIN). Planned and executed by the young women themselves at every stage, this was a prime example of studentled learning and the school motto in action, “Servite in Caritate ~ Service with Love.” Students walked away with concrete skills and greater awareness about the needs of the community beyond the borders of campus. But even after show-andtell was done, the makings of a new partnership were still brewing, and soon enough WIN was back at the school leading Middle Years students in a unit on self-esteem, entitled Beauty from Within.

“St. Margaret’s School has been really supportive of our organization for the past few years, and this year, the students are going above and beyond learning about our organization and programs, as well as spreading the word about what we do,” says WIN’s Executive Director, Clare Yazganoglu. “There is a beautiful alignment between the school and WIN as we continue to support women in our community to become empowered and achieve financial independence and wellness.” Following initial meetings with the school’s administrators, a WIN rep was invited to pitch the fashion show project to the Middle Years Leadership class. The girls were immediately bitten by the idea and set to work brainstorming. “We really appreciate the enthusiasm and eagerness of the students,” says Clare. “When our Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Shoko Sato, visited the Leadership class, she was pleasantly surprised by the numerous hands going up among students to share their great ideas on how to get involved and support WIN.” Aspects of the project have since been woven into the Middle Years SMS Spirit | 18

Skills classes. The Grade 5s have been learning to sew and making stuffed animals to sell at the final show as a fundraiser. Grade 6s have been developing their skills in Culinary Arts to run a bake sale. Grade 7s have been running a clothing drive, performing a skit at Assembly to build awareness for the project, and recruiting donations of clothing items from the SMS community. Grade 8s have used sewing class to upcycle clothing to be modelled in the fashion show, as well as spearheading both promotion of the event and coordinating the production, covering everything from modelling to staging to music. Lofty goals of inspiring a next generation of philanthropists aside, for SMS Leadership teacher Ms. Donna Holmwood the ultimate goal of these projects is to instill a simple love of service. “It just feels good to give,” she says. Donna deflects credit for this or other Leadership projects, though: she is adamant the students own their

success. “It’s all about these kids and what they’ve set out to achieve.” All efforts will culminate on the second annual Service Day, April 11, this year intended to mobilize the entire school population. During the day students will be out in the community doing good deeds much like last year (as a new activity this year Grade 12s have pledged to do random acts of kindness in the downtown core). But after time to reflect and share their experiences at the end of the day, the evening will feature the fashion show and fundraiser with all proceeds donated to WIN. On its own the project is admirable, but it doesn’t stop there. Donna had another brainstorm. Let’s roll back a month. In celebration of International Women’s Day, the school gathered at a special Assembly on March 7 to reflect on the struggles still facing many girls and women around the world. “Donna came to me worried that the idea was too ambitious or too last minute to make it happen,” says Ms. Darlene DeMerchant, Vice Principal to the Middle Years. “But when she explained what she had in mind, I realized we just had to do it. It was too good not to.” Each student and teacher was then given a square of fabric which

they decorated with messages and drawings of hope. “Everyone was so buzzed. It was amazing,” says Donna. “In 20 minutes we went from having everyone seated in bleachers explaining the activity, to everyone on the floor of the gym writing and drawing, and then tidied up and back in their seats.” To look at the squares is very moving to see beautiful handiwork and heart-warming messages the girls came up with on the spot. Next, Donna and a team of volunteers will be undertaking another labour of love to assemble all 350-odd squares into full-sized quilts to be donated to WIN as well. Donna hopes that the quilts can be added to packages distributed through WIN’s New Start Program, which every year helps at least 100 women from transition houses to start a new life by providing them with household essentials.

And it’s so important to demonstrate to these girls the impacts that even small actions can have for others less privileged. While there is much work still to do to improve the status of women in a global sense, there is much we can be doing in our own community.” Says Cathy, “We’re a girls’ school; supporting causes affecting girls and women is just obvious.”

It is hoped that the quilts will be complete in time to display at the April 11 fashion show. From there they will move to be displayed temporarily at the WIN offices before moving on to their final homes. Head of School Ms. Cathy Thornicroft says this is only the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership. “There is a natural affinity between our two organizations in goals and values. SMS Spirit | 19

From Service Day 2013

Lend Your support! To Ensure the Continuum of an SMS Education We can’t do it all without you. Help us achieve our Annual Fund goal of $100,000. Gifts to this year’s SMS Annual Fund will help ensure that as many girls as possible will receive all the benefits of a St. Margaret’s School educational experience. If you are happy that your daughter is able to attend St. Margaret’s School, if you love hearing her talk about her new friends and favourite teachers, if you are proud of her passion for a class, experience, sport, or club, please consider making a gift to the SMS Annual Fund in her honour. Each generation of SMS girls – starting with the first and continuing through all our own daughters and on into the future – carries forward a special mission, one begun long ago by the Fenwick sisters, further honed by our current, student-led Strategic Plan.

Every gift you give to St. Margaret’s “empowers your daughter to chart her own course and shape her own dreams.” Your support benefits your daughter and her schoolmates this year and benefits the world for years to come. Please give to St. Margaret’s Annual Fund and... • Honour our founders’ legacy of bold and innovative initiatives on behalf of girls. • Empower the next generation of bold thinkers, creative doers, and global citizens. • D rive the next steps as we translate St. Margaret’s vision into practice. • Ensure our students leave here as Confident Girls on their way to becoming Inspiring Women.

Why I Give: Belief in Yourself is an important ingredient leading to success in life. St. Margaret’s offered me many educational opportunities that encouraged me to try and be the best that I could be. Success in these experiences gave me increased confidence...I want to give a deserving student with excellent academic potential an opportunity to enjoy the educational opportunities that I benefited from at St. Margaret’s. - Sharon Whittaker-Bleuler, SMS ‘57 and member of the SMS 1908 Society

If you have any questions or require assistance in making your gift, contact Gregg Wiltshire, Director of Advancement

250.479.7171 SMS Spirit | 20

Behind the curtain SMS may be a small school, but it is still home to 184 professionals including all teaching faculty, administrators, and support staff. How to keep all these names and faces straight, let alone understand who they are and what makes them tick? Enter the Proust questionnaire, a series of questions first made popular by the French writer Marcel Proust. The questionnaire may be familiar to you for its use by authors to develop character profiles and its adoption by various magazines and talk shows to interview celebrities and luminaries. Here we’ve adapted the questionnaire and turned it on our faculty. Who knows what we’ll uncover as we go deep behind classroom lines in this regular feature to expose the personalities that make up our school. Our first subject: Ms. Terry Willow, who is herself a kind of SMS Lifer. Terry attended SMS as a student from Grades 8 to 12 – that’s when she met then-student Ms. Bev Waterfield, now part of our Middle Years teaching team, and the two forged a friendship spanning 40 years. But what really seals this teacher’s Lifer status is the fact that her daughter, Robyn, also attended the school, and Terry has now been teaching at the school for 23 years. Having recently returned from a leave, Terry is back to enjoying the unique gifts and challenges of guiding six- and seven-year-olds in learning, and collaborating with colleagues. “I appreciate the dedication of all the teachers here when we all pull together as a team in our busy school.” What do you consider your greatest achievement in teaching? I try to work with each child’s strengths and areas needing improvement, and then continue to build upon them.

If you were to die and come back as an animal or a thing, what would it be? I would be a bird, travelling high in the sky to warm climates for six months of the year.

Which living person do you most admire? My husband, Stan, who served as a peacekeeper during the war in Bosnia, 1994, and an intelligence officer in Sierra Leone, 2002.

Where would you most like to live? After living in BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world other than our beautiful city of Victoria.

What is your greatest extravagance? I love to cook great dinners and serve good wine to my friends and family.

Which talent would you most like to have? I would love to be able to sing in front of thousands.

SMS Spirit | 21

What is your most treasured possession? The photos of my children, and my mother and grandmother’s photos of their years living in India. What is it that you most dislike? Losing a golf game to my husband. What is your greatest regret? Not trying out for the field hockey team at UVic in 1978. How would you describe your classroom style? I have fair expectations for everyone and ask that they try their best as often as they can. How do you think your students would describe you? Hopefully they would say that I am kind with a sense of humour and a slice of fun added in. I am interested in the whole child and respect them for the experiences and knowledge that they bring as six- and seven-year-olds. Who on staff would you like to hear from next? Write to the editor and we’ll put your request in the queue.


St. Margaret’s School | for girls

Spring 2014

St. Margaret’s School 1080 Lucas Avenue Victoria, British Columbia, Canada V8X 3P7 T 250.479.7171

Indicia here The Spirit Magazine is a publication for the entire SMS community: our students, parents, staff, alumnae, and friends.

SMS Spirit Magazine - Spring 2014  
SMS Spirit Magazine - Spring 2014  

Our biannual community and alumnae magazine. Honouring the past; celebrating the present; looking to the future. St. Margaret's School is an...