Gareth C. '20 (Ripley's) Portland, OR

"Shawnigan becomes such a huge part of your life. We spend 10 months out of the year living, breathing and sleeping the Shawnigan lifestyle alongside our very best friends. In this challenging time, as one of the School leaders, I see one of my most important responsibilities as helping to maintain the incredible community feeling we have. Even though we may not be here physically, that doesn’t mean we don’t care. We will always be here for you.

I remember what it was like when I was going through the first couple of months at Shawnigan as a new student, and trying to figure out what to do. Looking back, I remember the senior students as the people I looked to for guidance. I think it's incredibly important that as a School leader, I am a positive role model, and it is very important that I embody what I preach — I hope that my actions speak for themselves.

What attracted me to Shawnigan when I first came and toured was being able to play hockey, but also the ability to pursue my other passions, and to find new ones. Although I love hockey, I would never say that it is the only thing that defines me. I have lots of other interests, and through Shawnigan I was able to continue playing competitive hockey while also being able to find my passion for music, guitar, and rugby.

Never in a million years would I have expected that I would choose to go to boarding school. My school before Shawnigan had a population of over 2000 students. I was this little grade 9 who was thrust into this massive high school. It was not a great experience, and I definitely struggled to find my place. Despite some worry that Shawnigan might be the same as my old school, those fears vanished because literally off the bat, I had more close friends that I had ever had at any of my old schools. My connections seemed to be immediate, and a lot of that was because of my Ripley’s family.

One of the things that I really love about boarding is all of the relationships that I have been able to make that are so much deeper than a normal friendship. There’s something about living with one another, you develop this trust that just makes your relationships so much deeper, just like being part of a family. In Ripley’s, we talk about everything, just like brothers would. I have lifelong friends because of Shawnigan, and they are people I can trust inexplicably.

I am so thankful that I have been able to spend the last three years living with people from all over the world. As I prepare to enter the world outside of Shawnigan, I hope that these connections and experiences will make me a more compassionate and understanding person.

When we got the news at our playoffs in Penticton that our hockey season was done, it was a pretty emotional time. On paper, it says the season was cancelled, but I don’t think that does justice to the amount of work that went into our season. Our season starts in training camp in August, and ends at the end of March. That’s almost 7 months of working extremely hard, while at the same time developing such strong bonds with everyone on your team, and that’s what made it so tough feeling like all that work was for nothing. It made me realize how grateful I am for the incredible bonds that I have formed through Shawnigan sport. We were a bunch of random guys that formed this team and through the work and adversity we have had to deal with over the course of the season, I realize how much support that we have for one another, and what a special team we were.

Although the season did not finish like we wanted it to, I think we need to remember all the work we put in this season and the seasons prior to get to where we were that day, and we need to be really proud of that. To all of those whose sports seasons, or any activities, have been cancelled, if you are feeling sad, or disappointed, just take a second to remember how special it is that you were part of something so special. Even though the season didn’t end like we wanted it to, the moments we shared together are moments we will remember for the rest of our lives.

There is a fear of the uncertainty of what the rest of the year will hold, especially as grads. I know that we wish we were back at School. I think that when we are feeling sad, or upset, it’s important to remember the good times that we have had with one another. Remember, just because we are not together physically, it doesn’t mean that our time at Shawnigan is over. Our relationships will always remain. Remember, you will always have your Shawnigan family.

To everyone at home, remember that just because we aren’t at School, the Shawnigan community that you are used to does still exist. Yes, it may not be there physically, but it still exists through Zoom, Facetime, text, social media… If you are feeling lonely or need someone to talk to, please reach out. The Shawnigan community is here for you just as if you were on campus. We take care of each other here at Shawnigan."

- Gareth C. '20 (Ripley's) Portland, OR
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Shawnigan Lake School is an independent boarding school for Grades 8-12 on Canada's West Coast. Our modern, diverse and innovative programming helps shape the next generation of global leaders.