I am Shawnigan

Henri G. '23 (Co-Head of School and Head of Ripley’s House)

“I am so grateful I came in Grade 8 and can be called a Shawnigan lifer. Fun fact: I actually redid Grade 8 and that means I have now been at Shawnigan for six years. 
Before coming to Shawnigan, I was attending a school on the mainland. I didn’t feel like I fit in, so we decided to visit some boarding schools in Vancouver and on the Island to see if we could find a better fit. Shawnigan was the last school we visited, and I automatically knew that this was the place I wanted to be – I felt like I was home.
When I first walked into Ripley’s House – my new home away from home – I remember vividly the boys who welcomed me. They welcomed me like I was already one of the family, and to this day, I have always tried to replicate this feeling with the boys who join us each year. It is always a priority to me that everyone feels like they are welcomed and have a place here in our home.
There were so many senior students during my Grade 8 and junior years who really helped me fit in and set the tone for what my Shawnigan experience would become – a welcoming, inclusive, supportive, and fun home away from home. Being a junior for so long was not a negative experience whatsoever. I do like being in Grade 12, but those early years were so cool, and I definitely felt the support of all my brothers and the staff who were wonderful mentors to me during those formative years. 
Some of my favourite memories at Shawnigan revolve around Ripley’s. Inter-House competitions are some of my greatest memories. Walking up the hill decked out in our blue and regalia and running onto the field is still one of my favourite things, and that feeling and the energy of being surrounded by my 50 brothers is something I won’t forget. Birthdays are another one of my favourite moments, when we gather in the House to celebrate one of our brothers and spend time hanging out – those are some of the best conversations I have had and where I have forged new friendships with people from different grades and backgrounds. 
To be honest, I was a bit homesick at the beginning of my Shawnigan experience, but that’s normal. Soon, I found my core friend group, and the adults at the School were so welcoming and understanding and I was able to lean on so many people who helped me adapt to Shawnigan life faster than I ever could have thought.
Academically, I think what is so great about Shawnigan is that your teachers are always there to help you; from late-night tutorials, to time after school, or even at lunch if I ask for help or guidance, I can always find it. You are surrounded by people who want to see you succeed in the classroom, and in all areas of life at Shawnigan.
I feel ready academically, but I also feel ready for life after Shawnigan. I feel like I have gained a lot of independence. At boarding school, you have to take ownership of your own decisions, and the experience of trying so many new things and putting myself constantly outside of my comfort zone is definitely something that I know will help me post-Shawnigan. I feel like Shawnigan has prepared me well for life after this place.
My biggest passion is rugby. I grew up watching my dad playing rugby, and I also played a bit, but when I came to Shawnigan, that is when I decided I really liked the sport. I wanted to do whatever I could to be successful, but most importantly to be a part of the team. My rugby journey has progressed through the incredible coaching I have received, but most importantly through the teammates who make me want to go to training every single day. When it's a contact sport like rugby, I truly believe it's a special bond that you don’t get in many other sports. Rugby is taken seriously at Shawnigan; we practise hard, we watch film, we live and breathe the sport every day. The guys on the team are some of the nicest and hardest-working people I have met at Shawnigan, and that creates a culture where you want to be here working with these people with the goal of lifting up another championship banner. 
One of the greatest things about playing at Shawnigan is being surrounded by many people who are very successful at the sport. Our coaches, Mr. Williams and Mr. Doyle, have taught me a lot of skills both on and off the field that have helped me tremendously in my rugby journey. The players, and the calibre that we play at, create an environment you definitely want to be in.
I have had a lot of incredible mentors during my time at Shawnigan – my greatest one being my advisor, Mr. Graham Linn. He has taught me both inside and outside of the classroom. One of the greatest things he reminds me to do is to always take some time to enjoy life. He’s helped me to find balance during my Shawnigan life. One of the special things about Shawnigan is that there’s someone out there for you to turn to when you need it most; whether it's an adult or a friend, you aren’t alone.
I hope that as Head of House I am perceived as a guy who looks out for everyone – and that everyone has felt that I deeply care about each and every one of them, because I truly do. I hope they see me as a caring leader who always tried to do what was best for each of them. As a school leader, I hope that I have been someone who is compromising, and who has always pushed to make Shawnigan better and a place where everyone feels at home, like I did when I came in as a new Grade 8 student. It has been an incredible honour to help lead – I am grateful to everyone who has trusted me to do so and has supported me through it all. 
My advice to new people that come to Shawnigan is to be grateful for every day you have at Shawnigan because before you know it, you will be graduating. Take all the opportunities you can, and don’t just stick to what you are good at – always try new things, because you might just find your new passion.
When I graduate, I will be carrying with me the support of the people I have met here, and I know that, no matter where I am in life, I will be able to reach out to any one of these people. I am so grateful for the chance to come to Shawnigan. I am grateful that I seized the opportunity to come here when it was offered to me by my parents. Shawnigan is more than just a school, it’s a place where you create friends that become family.”

-Henri G.  
Co-Head of School and Head of Ripley’s House

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