"Shawnigan has been in my life forever. My mom was in the first class of girls that came to Shawnigan. She absolutely loved her experience, and ever since I was young I grew up hearing her Shawnigan stories. When I was in Grade 8, my family started talking about the possibility of me coming to Shawnigan. I was over the moon with excitement, because I had heard all about the place growing up and I so desperately wanted a change from where I was.
By the end of my tour of the campus, I wanted to be at Shawnigan right then and there. I was just in love with everything. From the classes, to the teachers, to the students, it was obvious that Shawnigan was special, and that the people here really care for each other. I knew that Shawnigan was the place for me.
Earlier this month, Mr. Connolly said something in one of my English Literature classes that really resonated with me. He said that at Shawnigan it's okay – and it's cool – to be smart. Throughout my whole life, I always loved school and learning. I was desperate for that feeling of being surrounded by people that loved learning as much as I did. When I came to Shawnigan, I found out pretty quickly that it was cool to take the AP Classes, and to have study groups, and to chat about your homework after class… It was so amazing to be surrounded by people that love to learn as much as me, and whose favorite class is also math, and not lunch.
I love that the teachers are in the House with you. You laugh with them, they tuck you in at night, they feed you… You form such a special relationship with them. They become more than just a teacher, but a mentor and another pillar of support for you during your Shawnigan journey.
Being away from School last year was so hard. There are so many things that make Shawnigan unique and I missed them all. I missed my girls in Strathcona. I missed my schedule, and being busy, and feeling productive every day. I missed sitting in Marion Hall and in Chapel. I missed my little single bed. I missed going on runs in the morning and seeing how beautiful the campus is. I missed being in this safe environment where I can just be myself.
On Opening Day, I just wanted to hug everyone, and even though I couldn’t do that right away, it was enough just to be here, and to be on campus surrounded by so many people that I love. I felt so much relief and happiness on that day.
I know that coming back has been really great for a lot of people. The changes haven’t always been easy, but I hope that we can all just continue to keep a positive attitude. All these changes are definitely different. But different isn’t necessarily bad. I know that Shawnigan will get over this hill of Coronavirus, and that we are going to come out of this as an even better school as we have shown how adaptable we are. The staff and the students have worked so hard for us to be able to be back here. I know that we will get through this together as a community.
At Shawnigan you know you will be well taken care of and safe. Shawnigan is my community and coming back here was a no-brainer, because for the past three years it has been my home away from home. I have received the best education, care and love, so coming back I knew that everything was going to be okay. Also, Shawnigan is my happy place, and where I am able to be my best self, so I knew that with everything going on in the world, being at Shawnigan would be the best decision my family and I could make. I am just so happy to be here. I also think that Shawnigan is a great place to learn about everything that is going on. It opens up our eyes to other things, and continues to educate us on the important issues we face as a world today. I am learning every day how to be a better version of myself so that when I do graduate, I have the skills to help the world, to instruct my own opinion, and to be able to feel confident in myself and my decision making.
I always say to myself, “Abby, the only thing you can be is yourself. You can’t be anything else.” I believe my leadership style is one that makes everyone feel like they can be themselves, and that they have a voice and an opinion that matters no matter what grade or House they are in. I want to do my best to make sure that as many different people’s voices as possible are heard.
I am graduating at the end of this year, and I hope to leave a positive legacy. I have really positive memories of some of the Grade 12s that have been in my life during my time at the School. Their legacy was a kind word, or a smile, or a conversation that had an impact on me, no matter how small.
To the new students: it’s okay to call your parents multiple times a day. Remember to reach out to people, and that it’s totally fine if you are struggling, and it’s totally fine if you feel homesick or super overwhelmed. These are normal things that many people are feeling now, or have felt before you. It’s okay to feel scared, and to be awkward and to cry. Just remember, there’s a whole community here around you that wants to help you learn and grow and become the best version of yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or ask a million questions. You aren’t alone.
There are two prominent things that have evoked strong feelings for me here at Shawnigan. One of them is standing in the Chapel, singing my heart out, and hearing all the other voices resonating around the Chapel. The other is being with all the girls in each other’s rooms, surrounded by so much love, and knowing that they are my sisters and that they will always have my back. Knowing that your House is your house, and feeling that pride and love, gives me such happiness. These are things that ground me and will make me miss Shawnigan every time I think about them.
I love Shawnigan. It truly is my home away from home. I can’t wait to make this year really great. Yes, it’s going to look a little different because we have never experienced this before, but I really like a challenge, and I can’t wait to see what this year will bring and how we are going to come together as a community to support each other through the coming days, weeks, and months. We got this."
- Abby D. '21 (Co-Head of School)