News Archive

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  • September

    Canadian Universities Event Comes to Shawnigan

    Shawnigan students had the opportunity to connect with post-secondary institutions from coast to coast on Tuesday when the School hosted the Canadian Universities Event.
    Nearly 50 universities, including some of the top schools in Canada, set up tables in the new gym, and students were able to ask questions and learn about what Canadian universities have to offer as they plan for life after their Shawnigan Journey.
    Students in Grades 10, 11 and 12 were invited to attend, and a few eager Grade 9s dropped by the event as well. The first hour of the three-hour session was also open to students from other schools in the area, which drew another several hundred students.
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  • Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

    Environmental Science 11 students got an up-close lesson about ecology and the wildlife of Vancouver Island this week when The Raptors — a conservation centre for birds of prey located north of Duncan — paid a visit to campus.
    Ms. Ali Ballantyne’s class has been studying food webs, trophic levels and ecology, and she felt that an encounter with some birds from The Raptors would help give the students some direct interaction with key part of the food web, contribute to their sense of place, and provide them with a memorable experience as part of their Shawnigan Journey. It was also an opportunity for students to see some career and volunteer options they may not have considered.
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  • Making Choices at the 360 Fair

    There was something for everyone in the Quad last Friday.
    360 is Shawnigan’s co-curricular after-school program, and the annual 360 Fair gave students an opportunity to check out this year’s offerings — 31 in all — before deciding what option they want to pursue.
    360 operates separately from regular classes, but is a vital part of the Shawnigan Journey that helps the School develop well-rounded individuals. It started with a focus on fine arts, but has evolved over the decades to include a wide range of activities, from Astronomy Imaging & Outreach and Grassroots Service to Homework Helpers and Search & Rescue.
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  • National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

    Dear parents and guardians,

    Shawnigan Lake School is joining others across Canada in observing Truth and Reconciliation Week, which began on Monday, September 25th. Like many Canadians, we are emerging in our journey, and we entered this week humbly as we seek to learn about the legacy of residential schools in Canada and to celebrate Indigenous cultures.

    Many of our international parents express an interest in learning more from the School about Truth and Reconciliation Week in order to engage their children in meaningful conversations going forward.
    Members of our Indigenous Advisory Committee (which brings together student, staff, alumni and Board representatives) have prepared some events for this week, with many of them planned for Saturday, September 30th – Canada’s second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (previously known as Orange Shirt Day).
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  • Shawnigan Student Wins International Policy Award

    A Shawnigan student has emerged as a rising star in the field of global policy-making after winning a prestigious competition run by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for European Policy Analysis.
    During the summer, Grade 11 student Desi S. submitted a paper to CEPA’s Policy Pitching Competition, which was open to anyone between the ages of 16 and 26. Her submission, which focused on the threats to global supply chains with particular consideration for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, was announced as the overall winner of the competition this month. As the winner, Desi had the opportunity to take part in the 2023 CEPA Forum this week, with the theme of “Winning the War. Winning the Peace.” On September 26, CEPA released Desi’s virtual conversation with Stephen J. Hadley, a former US National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush. Moderated by Maggie Miller, a cybersecurity reporter for Politico, Desi and Mr. Hadley discussed the subject of Desi’s paper, as well as the challenges and opportunities for the next generation of national security policy-makers.
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  • Starting the Season with Sports Camps

    Athletes on several of Shawnigan’s competitive teams got a jumpstart on the fall sports season with a series of training camps on campus last weekend.
    The field hockey, U18 female Prep and U15 boys’ Prep ice hockey, and volleyball teams all arrived at the School a few days early to shake off the rust, bond as a team, and prepare for competition that will be starting before they know it.
    Field hockey got off to an “amazing” start, according to head coach Mrs. Andi Conroy. The talented group returning from last year has been bolstered by some international students and some strong juniors coming up. The Grade 12 leadership is “stronger than ever,” and team spirit is on the rise thanks in part to some valuable bonding time on the Thunder Rugby canoe.
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  • Inter-House Competition Kicks Off

    One of the most important traditions at Shawnigan kicked off for the year as students packed the fields for Inter-House Volleyball on Sunday, September 10 and Inter-House Track and Field on September 17.
    Inter-House competition is woven into the fabric of the Shawnigan Journey, uniting Houses as teams in friendly battle against one another, and bringing the School together for a series of spirited events over the course of the school year.
    “Generally, inter-House is a community builder,” said Mr. Matt Clinton-Baker, Assistant Head – Student Life. “It’s a really good representation of what makes Shawnigan special, with the whole school doing the same thing at the same time.”
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  • Shawnigan's Amazing Race

    Grade 9s got their first introduction to Shawnigan’s fundamental Beyond the Gates program this week through our own version of the Amazing Race.
    Beyond the Gates is an initiative that takes the Shawnigan Journey off campus and into the rugged woods and bounteous waters of Vancouver Island, helping to connect the classroom curriculum with the real world and giving the students unique shared experiences. For this exercise, students remained on campus, but the skills they learned will certainly prove useful when they do exit the school grounds.
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  • Opening Address to Students and Staff – Academic Year 2023-24

    I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome back our returning students after the summer break and to extend a huge welcome to all the 200 new students and staff in Chapel today.
    For many of you, this is a new campus and new adventure with fresh challenges to face. There will be moments when you are lost, unsure and a little wobbly over the next couple of days and weeks as you learn the rhythm of Shawnigan.
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  • Prefects Get the Year Under Way

    The Prefects for 2023-24 were selected last spring and started working toward their new positions before the previous school year ended, but their work really got under way with the Prefect induction weekend.
    Induction weekend started on Friday with a session about mental health literacy and safeguarding, and some preliminary discussion about the schedule and goals for the year.
    “We have a diverse but cohesive group,” said Mr. Matt Clinton-Baker, Assistant Head – Student Life. “They complement each other well.”
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  • June

    Darrin Austin

    Shawnigan legend Darrin Austin is retiring after 32 years of teaching at the School! In his years at Shawnigan, Darrin has held more roles than we could possibly list, including math and science teacher, coach, House Director for both Junior House and Lake’s House, Director of Athletics, Risk Management, and so much more! Thank you, Darrin, for your dedication and service to the School.
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  • Alumni Notebook - July 2023

    May Golf Event

    In late May, an alumni-organized Golf Meetup was hosted in Vancouver, led by Board Member and alumnus Ed Steidl ’91 (Copeman’s). The event was of a smaller scale than the former Shawnigan Golf Classic but served as a springboard to plan and build the future of alumni golf at Shawnigan.

    On a beautiful Thursday afternoon, alumni along with current and former staff came out for some friendly competition at the University Golf Club. The team of Conor Finucane ’00 (Copeman’s), Giuseppe Laudisio ’99 (Copeman’s), Gianni Laudisio ’01 (Duxbury) won the golden hoodies (in lieu of the traditional gold blazer) with the best score of the day, and the remainder of the evening was spent reconnecting as a group over dinner.

    More photos taken at the event can be found on our alumni online community Shawnigan Connect.

    If you are interested in learning more or serving on an Alumni Golf Committee to help plan and organise future events, please reach out directly to or
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  • Head of School’s 2023 Closing Day Address

    The commission for me to give a short Head’s Address at this Closing Day, I know, fills you all with dread: “He’s going to talk about Latin mottos, Greek mythology, Shakespeare, Canadian literature — or cherry trees on campus at length again… once was enough at Grad!”
    But never fear — not today!
    I was thinking of basing this closing address on soccer as June 24 is an auspicious day — it is, after all, the day that Lionel Messi was born.
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  • Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day

    Shawnigan marked National Indigenous Peoples Day on Wednesday, June 21 by celebrating our own Indigenous students, the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional lands our school is located, and the histories, traditions, and cultures of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people across Canada.
    In the Chapel gathering, Ms. Jen Manuel, Head of Indigenous Initiatives and Engagement, spoke about what it means to be an ally to Indigenous people. Although Ms. Manuel is not Indigenous herself, she has spent significant time living and working in Indigenous communities, and has Indigenous family members.
    “It is my hope that as you learn and grow — and especially to our Grade 12s leaving and going off into the world — that you will choose to stand beside Indigenous People as an ally,” Ms. Manuel said. “Today as we celebrate strength, connection and belonging, I encourage each of you to choose to be an ally today and every other day. Because if not you, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?”
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  • Beyond the Gates Capstone Expedition

    The phrase “There is more in us than we know” has been a running theme at Shawnigan this year, with the quote from German educator Kurt Hahn featured prominently in students’ Gold Books.
    A group of Grade 9s found out this month that there is definitely more in them than they anticipated when they took part in the Beyond the Gates Capstone Expedition to the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Eight students completed the 10-day trip, which included kayaking the Broken Group Islands in Barkley Sound and hiking about half of the West Coast Trail.
    “We kind of underestimated ourselves,” Quincy H. admitted. “We wanted to push to get to places. It was fun to just power through.”
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  • The Joy of Inter-House Competition

    A year of intense competition wrapped up on Tuesday, June 13 with inter-House soccer — the last inter-House event of 2022-23.
    In perfect weather — a huge improvement over the drizzle that dampened inter-House rugby a few days earlier — Groves’ won the girls’ soccer competition and Ripley’s prevailed over Duxbury on the boys’ side. It marked one of the first opportunities for Grade 8s to come out and compete for the Houses that they have been assigned to for the remainder of their time at Shawnigan. As with all inter-House competitions, soccer was highly competitive, but staff made sure to put an emphasis on sportsmanship and respect.
    After soccer, the last numbers added to the overall totals were the academics, led by Lonsdale’s and Groves’. The overall title on the girls’ side went to Strathcona, with 194 points to 187 for Renfrew. Lonsdale’s was the top boys’ House, with 216 points to 179 for Duxbury.
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  • Performing Arts Fair: 10 Days of Music and Drama

    Students, staff, and members of the Shawnigan Lake community have been treated over the last several days to an abundance of year-end performances from our talented drama and music students.
    The Performing Arts Festival kicked off on Thursday, June 8 and will run until Saturday, June 17, with presentations from curricular and 360 groups nearly every day, and something for fans of all sorts of music and theatre.
    The Theatre Company curricular class took the Hugh Wilkinson Theatre stage first, with performances of the plays 7 Stories and Mere Mortals: one showing last Thursday and two more on Friday.
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  • Sorting Hat Ceremony: 'We Let the Hat Speak Their Fate'

    The House a student is assigned to for their time at the School is a fundamental part of their Shawnigan Journey. For students completing their Grade 8 year in either Stanton or Levien, the Sorting Hat Ceremony is a highly anticipated event in which they will learn where they will spend the next four years of their time at Shawnigan.
    Boarding Houses are special homes away from home for our students, and the students they live with and the House staff become family for them during their time at the School.
    The Sorting Hat is a way that the School has embraced the many ways in which the campus is compared to Hogwarts from the Harry Potter universe. Students take turns sitting under the hat and are told their House assignments. Separate ceremonies are held for the boys leaving Levien and the girls moving on from Stanton, presided over by Director of Admissions Mrs. Gaynor Samuel and Head of School Mr. Larry Lamont.
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  • Celebrating Our Five-Year Graduates

    There is something special about spending five years at Shawnigan Lake School. Students who start at Shawnigan in Grade 8 and remain here all the way through graduation at the end of Grade 12 have a unique relationship with the School. It is a tradition at Shawnigan to celebrate those unique relationships with a special event every June.
    This year’s 5 Year Dinner was held on Wednesday, June 7 in the back gardens of the Head’s House. Students gathered for photos with School photographer Ms. Arden Gill, followed by words of welcome from Head of School Mr. Larry Lamont. Dinner was served in small groups, and the groups were given a series of questions (“Table Topics”). After dinner, the group — which consisted of 29 students as well as their advisors and some other staff members — reconvened before advisors presented their advisees with a special gift from the Head’s Office.
    One of the 29 five-year students, Elani S., took some time to reflect on her five-year Shawnigan Journey and how both she and the School have changed over that time.
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  • 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.
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  • June Sports Update: Iron Women Strike Gold!

    Shawnigan has had lots of athletic success to celebrate in the last two weeks, including three medals at the BC School Sports provincial rugby championships in Abbotsford that wrapped up on June 3, and strong results at the national rowing regatta and provincial golf championships.
    Seeded first going into provincials, Shawnigan’s senior girls’ rugby team — known as the “Iron Women” — dominated the 2A girls’ tournament. Shawnigan opened with an 84-0 win over North Delta last Wednesday, then blanked Abbotsford 77-0 in the semifinals on Thursday. Finally, they defeated D.W. Poppy 22-5 in the gold-medal match on Saturday.
    “The Iron Women really came together to finish the season on a high,” senior girls’ head coach Ms. Shannon Atkins said. “They executed perfect rugby the whole tournament and that was because of the extreme effort that all 38 players put into improvement. We are so pleased with the passion and dedication that each player exhibited.”

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  • This I Believe

    Always an emotional event as students share their raw feelings in front of their classmates, this year’s “This I Believe” evening of speeches in the Chapel was especially poignant as it marked the final English Department event for Mrs. Cari Bell, who first brought the program to our School and is retiring at the end of this school year.
    On Tuesday evening, Grade 12s gathered for the annual evening of speeches in the Chapel. Inspired by the 1950s radio series by the same name, “This I Believe” sees representatives from each English 12 class present short speeches, which were originally given to their classes. The speakers on Tuesday were nominated by their classmates to speak at the evening event — a private experience shared only by the Grade 12 class and invited teachers.
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  • Sport Village Grand Opening

    A gift of appreciation to our students and the Shawnigan community for their perseverance and support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sport Village formally opened on Friday, May 26, bridging the space between the Charlie Purdey Arena and the Sportsplex and providing a vibrant space where students can connect, relax, and stay active through a variety of recreational athletic pursuits.

    The Sport Village includes spaces for beach volleyball, basketball and soccer, a synthetic ice surface, an obstacle course, and a gazebo. It continues the transformation of the area inside the West Gate that has also included improvements to parking facilities and other beautification efforts. The Sport Village serves as a health and wellness-focused response to the COVID era, a thank-you to the students and the community, and part of Project Future’s commitment to health and wellness.
    The project is the result of the generosity of our Board of Governors, and the efforts of our Maintenance and Grounds teams, as well as the Athletic Department.
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  • Grade 9 Boat Race Sets Sail

    What might first appear to be simply a fun morning on the water is actually an important part of the Shawnigan Journey and the Health and Career Education curriculum.
    For the seventh year, Grade 9 students took part in the annual Boat Race, designing and building their own watercraft out of recycled materials found around campus — and a few bought items — then attempting to sail them, with all team members on board, a short distance into Shawnigan Lake, around a buoy, and back to shore.
    While the end results are mixed and the morning is hectic, noisy, and, most of all, wet, it is actually a valuable learning experience for the students.
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  • Health and Wellness Survey

    Results from Shawnigan’s 2023 Health & Wellness Survey show that the School is moving in the right direction with regard to the wellbeing of the student body — a paramount aspect of the Shawnigan Journey for all students.
    This is the third year the School has conducted the survey, asking students about everything from academic support to stress and bullying. More than 500 of our 545 students replied to the questions, giving us valuable insight that tells us the School is doing the right things.
    “There’s an upward trend,” Counselling Team Leader Mrs. Erica Plater said. “We’re doing better each year. It’s not hugely significant, but we’re going in the right direction.”
    Read More
  • May

    Congratulations 2023 Graduates!

    The Coast Mountains were graced with warm, sunny weather last weekend as our Grade 12s, their families, and a contingent of staff members travelled to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler for an epic Grad 2023 celebration last weekend.
    The festivities kicked off on Thursday evening with Parents & Friends Night on the hotel’s rooftop terrace — an opportunity for families and staff to gather in a less-formal atmosphere. Guests enjoyed a buffet catered by the hotel while surrounded by images taken by School photographer Ms. Arden Gill. Nametags featured swatches of colour representing families’ House affiliations, and the evening included a raffle for Shawnigan-themed prizes.
    Friday saw some students off to appointments as they prepared for the big night, while others relaxed by golfing with their Houses or found other ways to enjoy all the amenities the town of Whistler has to offer. Students then gathered outside the hotel prior to the ceremonies where they had House photos taken, followed by a photo of the entire graduating class.
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  • Shawnigan Night of Dance

    A pair of sold-out shows delighted audiences at Shawnigan’s Night of Dance last Wednesday.
    The event consisted of two shows, put on by dancers from Shawnigan’s curricular fine arts and 360 groups, as well as children of staff members, who presented three of the 23 performances in each show.
    The dancers had been preparing since January for the Night of Dance, and the results were spectacular.
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  • BC Student Film Festival

    Shawnigan’s young auteurs made their first marks on the cinematic scene last week when they participated in the 2023 BC Student Film Festival alongside their peers from across the province.
    Grade 11 and 12 students from the curricular Film and Television program and students in the Film 360 group sailed across the Georgia Strait on the Queen of Cowichan last week to attend the festival hosted by Capilano University in North Vancouver. The crew of 27 filmmakers and three staff had an early start on Friday morning and arrived at Capilano’s Nat and Flora Bosa Centre for Film and Animation for a full day of everything film.

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  • May Sports Update

    The 1st and 2nd XV boys’ rugby teams and the Iron Women girls’ XV hosted a trio of games last Friday (May 5) to go along with the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new stone pathway at the Derek Hyde-Lay Rugby Pavilion. The 2nd XV got off to a rough start in the opening match before mounting a tenacious comeback, while the Iron Women and the 1st XV won their Stadium Series matches, which will help determine their rankings going into their respective provincial championships.
    The Iron Women prevailed 21-5 over Langley’s D.W. Poppy, the defending AA provincial champs, to continue their perfect season and are now ranked No. 1 in BC. “We have some very skilled and experienced players that are fantastic leaders who guide the more inexperienced players daily,” head coach Mrs. Shannon Atkins said. “This inclusive way to learn has been very beneficial to us.”

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  • Shawnigan Lake Regatta

    The weather was staggeringly hot, but the water was calm last weekend as Shawnigan hosted more than 600 athletes from schools and clubs across BC for the annual Shawnigan Lake School Regatta, an event the School has been running on an annual basis since 1962.
    It isn’t often that a regatta this size gets all its races in without a hitch, but the cooperative conditions made for a smooth event this year.
    “It was a fabulous weekend through and through,” commented rowing coach and science teacher Mrs. Erica Hamilton, who led the team that organized the regatta. “Rarely do you get a regatta that runs precisely on time for 118 races in a row. We were blessed with the most beautiful weather.”
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  • Tim Murdy Receives Citation of Excellence

    Mr. Tim Murdy, Shawnigan’s Director of Sport and longtime rugby coach, added another honour to his mantel last weekend when he was presented with the Citation of Excellence Award from BC School Sports.
    Mr. Murdy was one of three coaches from across the province who received the award at the BCSS Awards Dinner at the Hilton Whistler on Friday, May 12. According to BCSS, the award recognizes “outstanding coaches and their distinguished contributions to their sport and athletes. The recipient of this award guides student-athletes to success through the philosophy of fair play and sportsmanship for a sustained period, while displaying values consistent with BCSS and school sport.”
    Always humble, Mr. Murdy said he was caught off guard when the honour was announced last month and is quick to point out that he is not the only person responsible for the success of his teams over the years. He has been fortunate to work with many good programs, and says that the support he has received makes winning championships more rewarding because more people are invested in it.
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  • Return to the Wild

    The time came last week for thousands of fish raised in Shawnigan’s Mark Hobson Hatchery to be released into the wild.
    Months after they were propagated from fish caught in nearby Shawnigan Creek, more than 5,000 coho salmon fry were released into Hartl Creek, which cuts across campus, by students from Science 9 and Environmental Science 11 and 12 classes. Since last fall, the tiny fish have been growing under the watchful eye of those students until they were ready for freedom.
    The eggs that were fertilized last fall hatched into alevin — a phase where they are still carrying yolk —  then grew into fry in March, at which point they were transferred into larger tanks, a process known as “ponding.” Once in those tanks, the fry needed to be fed. This year, the School tried a different process, feeding the fish by hand, which seemed to work well as the fry grew strong and healthy. Despite a couple of setbacks in the form of pump failures, the hatchery still produced several thousand fry to help replenish the wild population.
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  • The Morning Bell Brings the Broken Hearted

    Shawnigan was fortunate last Saturday to host the book launch event for The Morning Bell Brings the Broken Hearted, the second novel for adults by Ms. Jennifer Manuel, an English teacher and the Head of Indigenous Initiatives at the School.
    Ms. Manuel’s 2016 debut novel, The Heaviness of Things That Float, won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, which is awarded to the best work of fiction by a resident of BC, and her follow-up was highly anticipated.
    The Heaviness of Things That Float was an important book to me, and I have called it my heart,” Ms. Manuel has said. “I call this book (The Morning Bell Brings the Broken Hearted) my soul.”
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  • All Aboard for Beyond the Gates

    Our Grade 9s took to the seas this week as the Beyond the Gates program enjoyed a series of excursions aboard the tall ship Providence.
    Built in Denmark in 1903, the ship originally served as a civilian vessel. It was chartered by the Royal Danish Navy during the Second World War, then commandeered by the German Navy. Repatriated by Denmark after the war, it returned to civilian life. It first sailed to the Pacific Northwest in 1979, then worked as a cargo vessel in the Caribbean in the 1980s. The Providence returned to BC in 1988, started working as a charter ship in 2005, and now offers both experiential adventures and cargo services throughout the Salish Sea.

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  • Peer Tutoring Gets a Makeover

    As students have been going through AP exams this week, it’s doubtless that several of them are benefitting from Shawnigan’s peer tutoring program.
    Academic Prefect Max C. made it part of his mission this year to improve peer tutoring. In previous years, the program has “fizzled out” early in the year, but with so many students willing to step up to help out their classmates, he wanted to reinvigorate the process.
    “We are lucky enough to have motivated people who want to help,” Max says of the 20 or 30 students who sign up to offer their help as tutors.
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  • Robotics World Championships

    Shawnigan’s first trip to the VEX Robotics World Championships since 2017 was an eye-opener — in more ways than one.
    A team of four students — Tye E., Aniela H., Kyan M. and Ben P. — travelled to the 2023 tournament in Dallas, Texas last month, along with three staff members. They were first blown away by the atmosphere at the enormous event, then amazed by the calibre of the competition.
    “It was definitely a world championship,” said Mr. Paul Doig, science teacher and Head of Digital Innovation and one of the staff members who made the trip. “The kids walked into the arena and were just in awe.”
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  • Junior Soul Seeking Fair

    The Main Building was buzzing on Monday as students in Grades 8-10 presented their Soul Seeking projects to their peers and staff members.
    Students have been working on their projects since October, and the final results were displayed throughout the library, Mitchell Hall and the Friesen Centre on cardboard trifolds and laptop computers. The students have spent the last six months exploring topics they are passionate about — with research, mentorship and reflection as key components of the journey — leading to an incredible variety of projects.
    Some students certainly felt nervous as they prepared to present the results of their Soul Seeking journey to staff and students, but they quickly recovered.
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  • April

    Earth Week at Shawnigan

    Leading up to Earth Day, celebrated around the world on Saturday, April 22, Shawnigan marked Earth Week with a series of events coordinated by the Sustainability Council to get the School community thinking about ways to make a positive change in the environment.
    Earth Week began with Vegetarian Day as head chef Mr. Dustin Setso treated students and staff to a day of vegetarian food: scrambled eggs and vegan sausage for breakfast, vegetable samosas, dahl and poppadoms for lunch, and a lovely butternut squash ravioli for dinner.
    “No chicken in sight all day!” commented Mr. Mark Swannell, who guides the Sustainability Council.
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  • Fishing for Knowledge

    Something fishy has been going on at Shawnigan this week.
    Environmental Science 11 students — with the help of a couple of Grade 12 classes — have been studying the aquatic population of Shawnigan Lake, performing an assessment of the lake’s fish stock and biodiversity.
    Grade 12 classes put nets in the water for 24 hours — in two locations: one shallow and one deeper — pulling them up on Wednesday morning, then removed the fish from the nets. The following day, Grade 11 classes weighed, measured and dissected the specimens, noting the detailed information, including species and sex.
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  • Livestreaming Enters a New Era

    A months-long renovation of the vestry room in Shawnigan’s Chapel has given the school chaplain a more comfortable space to prepare for services, improved the School’s livestreaming capabilities, and provided students with access to industry-standard technology.
    Audio-visual technician and communications associate Mr. Elliot Logan started work on the project last fall, with the aim of giving the space a modern look while bringing the livestreaming infrastructure in line with present-day specifications.
    After the space was renovated, Mr. Logan brought in a new counter and cupboards and a closet for Rev. Jim Holland. Couches, chairs and a table turned a corner of the space into a “green room” — a place where students can collect themselves before performing in front of their classmates.
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  • Reflection – April 2023

    As the world continues to open up following years of pandemic restrictions, the School has begun to travel further afield – from the prairies to California and, over Spring Break, it was my distinct pleasure to accompany some of Shawnigan’s first overseas trips since March 2020.
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  • Storytelling and Self-Love with Kung Jaadee

    Everyone has tens of thousands of ancestors, Kung Jaadee told students from several classes during a presentation in Mitchell Hall on Thursday afternoon, who walk with us every day. Those ancestors love you, no matter what. They lived through times of war, disease, and other turmoil, she added, but they also lived with a lot of love, and you are the evidence.
    A professional storyteller, educator and published author, Kung Jaadee belongs to the X̱aayda (Haida), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) First Nations. She is the author of children’s books and curriculum textbooks, and recently worked as the Vancouver Public Library's Indigenous Storyteller in Residence.
    Kung Jaadee shared with the students the history of her Haida name — it means “Moon Woman,” and was presented to her at her great uncle’s memorial feast by her cousin, Crystal Robinson — and told the story of her clan, the Raven clan, and how it miraculously survived the 1862 smallpox epidemic that devastated the Haida.
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  • Alumni Notebook - April 2023

    Latest Alumni Profiles

    See below for excerpts from two of our latest alumni profiles to be published on the website. Do you know someone who we should be featuring? Let us know here!

    Change-maker Alumni Profile: Lisa Jane De Gara ‘10 (Strathcona)

    This Change-maker Alumni profile features a conversation that took place last year with Lisa Jane De Gara ’10 (Strathcona) who has had a career in political science, has worked with government institutions and in public policy, was a key part of a COVID response effort, and who currently leads a team that provides supports to immigrants and refugees in Northern Alberta communities. The following is an excerpt from the interview:

    "I think on health care, there’s a story I feel quite proud of. One of the communities that we serve has no physicians currently accepting new patients. Not a single one. We went through all the conventional modes of trying to seek support, but unfortunately in rural Alberta right now there just are not enough doctors and there’s not a lot we can do.

    You know, maybe I could credit my time at Shawnigan; I said I’m not gonna take no for an answer, I don’t think that’s acceptable, I’m gonna continue to push. So I reached out to one of our independent providers, and I said, I know you’ve been able to deliver vaccines to newcomers – are you able to do other family medicine? Would you like to drive down for the day just to do a family medicine clinic? Much to my delight, she agreed."

    Read the entirety of the interview here: Change-maker Alumni: Lisa Jane De Gara ‘10 (Strathcona)
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  • Announcing the Next Heimbecker Chair for Experiential Education

    Shawnigan is delighted to announce that Dr. Alexei Du Bois has been appointed as the next Heimbecker Inspiration Chair for Experiential Education for 2023-24.
    The Inspiration Chair enables the School to bring an outstanding local, national or international educator to Shawnigan for a period of time. The recipient is expected to inspire our community, provide fresh perspectives on education, encourage innovative and inter-disciplinary approaches, and uniquely contribute to our students’ experience of the Shawnigan Journey.
    The creation of the Heimbecker Inspiration Chair for Experiential Education is a tangible commitment to Shawnigan’s strategic plan, Project Future, and the strategic pillars of “Inspiring Academic Excellence” and “Innovating for Co-Curricular Distinction.” The inaugural Inspiration Chair (2022) was held by Mr. Tom Hall, former Head of Geelong Grammar School’s world-famous Timbertop Campus (Australia) and now Vice Principal of GGS.
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  • Easter Weekend at Shawnigan

    Staff members and their families, local parents and families, and students who remained on campus over the long weekend were treated to an Easter Brunch in Marion Hall, prepared by Mr. Dustin Setso and the Food Services staff.
    Mr. Setso says he aims for the “wow factor” when he prepares big holiday brunches, and this was no exception, with tables piled high with omelets, bacon, hashbrowns, and seafood platters, among many other delights. That’s not to mention the 30-foot long dessert table, capped off with a towering chocolate fountain.
    It takes about three days to get everything ready for a brunch that size, says Mr. Setso, but it’s worth it.

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  • A Peek Into School History

    Most students at Shawnigan have heard the tale of Billy Brooks.
    As a first-year student at Shawnigan in the mid-1920s — when the School served students even younger than the Grade 8s of today — Billy penned a letter to his parents, lamenting his homesickness. A copy of that letter has survived until today, giving students an insight into how their predecessors felt a century ago. Doubtlessly, many of them can relate to Billy’s feelings of loneliness.
    This year’s Grade 8 students were reminded of young Billy last week when they were given the opportunity to tour the Shawnigan Lake School Museum, where his letter is among the first exhibits that visitors get to see. The tour is part of a larger introduction to the School’s history that every Grade 8 gets to experience.
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  • Bruce-Lockhart Fellowship Update

    Now in its second year, the Bruce-Lockhart Fellowship for Academic Excellence has provided a series of opportunities for our students and the School community to broaden their horizons into aspects of academics that may have previously received less attention.
    The Bruce-Lockhart Fellowship was created to bring in an outstanding local, national or international educator to Shawnigan for one year, with the mission of inspiring the community, providing fresh perspectives on education, encouraging innovative and interdisciplinary approaches, exposing students to high-level academic pursuits, and uniquely contributing to their experience of The Shawnigan Journey.
    The Fellowship was launched in 2021-22 as part of Project Future, and named for Mr. Simon Bruce-Lockhart, who served Shawnigan as headmaster from 1990 to 2000, and his wife Joanne, who taught at the School from 1990 to 2007. The first recipient of the Fellowship was Ms. Lisa Jokivirta, a social justice educator and English teacher whose work contributed to Shawnigan’s relationship with and understanding of our Indigenous neighbours.
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  • March

    CSSHL Playoffs

    A single shot was all that separated Shawnigan’s Female U18 Prep ice hockey team from the Canadian Sport School Hockey League championship in Penticton earlier this month.
    Shawnigan squared off against Rink Hockey Academy Kelowna in the CSSHL championship final on March 16 and took the game all the way into overtime before ultimately falling 4-3 and settling for silver.
    All four Shawnigan Prep teams qualified for their respective championship rounds based on their results during the regular season. The U18 girls had the best finish of the four, while the boys’ teams had mixed results in their tournaments.
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  • EDGE Trip to Costa Rica

    A core piece of Shawnigan’s experiential learning program, EDGE (Engagement, Development, Gratitude and Experience) has been taking Shawnigan students off the beaten path and out of their comfort zones on outdoor adventures that combine service, experiential education, community-building, reflection, and leadership for nearly 20 years.
    EDGE started as a humanitarian response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Students travelled to Thailand for several years to work in isolated communities. Since then, they have visited other countries, such as China, Zimbabwe, Argentina, South Africa and Ecuador. Over Spring Break, 12 students travelled to Costa Rica along with staff members Ms. Katrina Cholack and Mr. Galen Loiselle, for the first EDGE trip since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
    The contingent left the School on March 10 for the Guanacaste province in northwestern Costa Rica, an area replete of contrasts as the local residents deal with poverty while living near posh resorts that elevate the cost of living. Unlike previous EDGE trips to Costa Rica, which saw the students visit multiple locations, they spent most of their time in one location, leading to a deeper, more immersive experience.

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  • World Travellers: Spring Break Tours

    For the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shawnigan students were able to take advantage of Spring Break to travel outside the country.
    Students engaged in several trips abroad, learning first-hand about other cultures, visiting consequential locations, and experiencing the world, all while representing the School exceptionally well. The forays included an exchange trip to France, an historic rugby tour, and an eye-opening exploration of some of Canada’s most important sites of the two world wars.
    The exchange trip to France saw students once again hosted by families from Lycée Sacré-Coeur in Angers. Three staff members — Mr. Graham Linn, Mr. David Hyde-Lay and Mrs. Rayna Hyde-Lay — accompanied 15 students on the excursion, which was more of an immersive experience in French culture as opposed to a sightseeing tour.
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  • Robotics Team Bound for Worlds

    Throughout the competitive robotics season, Grade 12 student Kyan M. has been wearing a hand-me-down hoodie from the 2017 VEX Robotics Championships, the last such tournament that Shawnigan attended.
    Now he can get a hoodie of his own.
    Kyan and his teammates — Tye E., Aniela H. and Ben P. — have qualified for the 2023 VEX Robotics World Championships by winning the Excellence Award at the Vancouver Island Robotics Championship hosted by Brentwood College School last weekend. This is the first time Shawnigan has qualified for Worlds since 2020, and the first time the School will attend the event since 2017, as the 2020 event was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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  • Teaching Robots to Dance

    Grade 8 students are teaching some orb-shaped robots to dance — preparing balls for a ball, you could say — as they tackle robotics and coding in science class.
    The students are working with Sphero BOLT coding robots, coding their movements using an icon-based system on their smartphones and tablets. The idea is to teach them the basics of coding, working up to a presentation on the final day of the unit when the robots will perform a “dance,” which will be judged by members of the housekeeping staff.
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  • Vancouver Model UN

    A group of 20 Shawnigan students connected with more than 1,500 of their peers from around the world last weekend at the 22nd annual session of the Vancouver Model United Nations, the largest high school student-organized MUN conference in North America.
    The group included a pair of award winners, as Findlay H. and Ivana W. were named Outstanding Delegate in their respective committees. Findlay received the honour for representing Jamaica in the Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC), and Ivana was recognized for representing the Netherlands in the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (SOCHUM).
    “It felt great,” said Findlay, a Grade 10 student in his second year at the School and first year of MUN. “I worked really hard to be as prepared as possible. My whole life, I’ve loved public speaking and I’ve been told I’m talented at it, and it was a really pleasant surprise when I ended up winning.”

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  • Who Is Your Starter? Introducing Shawnigan's Take on Pokémon

    “Gotta catch ’em all!”
    The slogan of the Pokémon international media franchise was appropriate in more ways than one as Shawnimon cards hit the commissary shelves this week — and sold out almost immediately, leaving many hopeful collectors empty handed.
    If you’ve been a kid or had a kid — or both — any time in the last 25 years, you’re almost certainly familiar with the phenomenon of Pokémon. The global sensation has now received a Shawnigan-flavoured reboot that proved more popular than anyone could have envisioned.
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  • Pi Day Celebrations

    Pi Day 2023 took place exactly one week before the official day – Pi Day is officially on March 14 (3.14), and always falls over Spring Break. PI-natas, co-curricular activities, a special Pie lunch, and our third Annual Pi Recital Contest were the highlights of this year's celebrations.
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  • Secret Garden Dinner

    It takes a village to build a garden.
    The Secret Garden Dinner, a fine dining experience and a fundraiser for the EDGE (Engagement, Development, Gratitude and Experience) Spring Break service trip to Costa Rica, was the brainchild of Grade 12 student Josey L. and served as the culmination of her Soul Seeking project, but dozens of people — students and staff — helped to make it a reality.
    “It wasn’t just my project. It was our project,” a grateful Josey emphasized. “I might have initiated the idea, but I can’t take all the credit.”

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  • Soul Seeking Fair

    Grade 12 students’ Soul Seeking projects came to fruition this week when they presented the results of their hard work to staff members and fellow students.
    Soul Seeking projects take a variety of forms — students can pursue nearly anything they are passionate about, with research, mentorship and reflection components — and fulfill the capstone requirement for graduation in BC. On Monday, the oldest students presented their Soul Seeking projects in the library before presenting again in their advisory groups. Although the library presentations were an important step, they were marked on their presentations to the smaller groups.
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  • Ski Week 2023

    It was with a mix of anticipation, delight, and uncertainty that the Shawnigan community departed for Manning Park on February 12 for our first Ski Week since early 2020. One of Shawnigan’s most cherished and longstanding traditions, this year’s Ski Week was particularly special not only because it marked our post-pandemic return, but because it meant we had reached a milestone.
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  • February

    ISABC Leadership Program

    On Thursday, January 23, more than 115 students from 27 schools across the province including seven Grade 8 students from Shawnigan, gathered on campus as we hosted the second stage of the Independent Schools Association of BC (ISABC) Student Leadership Program.
    The theme of the program this year is Managing Our Energy to be Connected, Creative and Confident Leaders. According to the ISABC website, the program focuses on “building a culture where leaders manage their energy that allows those around them to be inspired by a sense of possibility. When leaders have energy they are more creative, anticipatory, connected with those around them, nimble to make change and most of them are having more fun!    
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  • Shawnigan Presents The Addams Family

    In the uproarious musical The Addams Family, patriarch Gomez Addams faced the challenge of keeping a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia, in order to keep the trust of his daughter, Wednesday. While we can’t reveal how — or if — Gomez endured that challenge, we can confirm that the cast and crew of Shawnigan’s production of the show weathered some challenges of their own to pull off a series of three spectacular performances at Victoria’s McPherson Playhouse on February 9, 10 and 11.
    In addition to a compressed timeline — this year’s musical was staged several weeks earlier in the school year than past shows have been — the cast and crew had to deal with a wave of illnesses in the fall, and the many other commitments of Shawnigan students, but when the curtain rose, they were more than ready.

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  • February Sports Update

    It was a bittersweet night last Saturday as Mr. Darrin Austin coached his final high school basketball game, guiding Shawnigan’s senior girls’ team to victory over Queen Margaret’s in the final of the Independent Schools Athletic Association Tier 2 championships, which Shawnigan hosted. Shawnigan also defeated Fraser Academy and Glenlyon Norfolk School on their way to the title. The senior girls also came out on top as hosts of the Stag Classic a week earlier, defeating Ballenas Secondary, Gulf Islands and Duncan Christian School, thanks to strong performances from several players.
    The senior boys’ team travelled to Edmonton last weekend to play games against some strong Alberta squads. Shawnigan, an AA team in BC, played a practice game against St. Peter the Apostle Catholic High School from Spruce Grove, the top-ranked AAA team in Alberta. Next came Paul Kane High School from St. Albert, an AAAA school with one player already committed to the University of Alberta. Shawnigan held their own, ultimately coming up short by three points. Finally, they faced the Good Hoops prep team, which includes several older players back for an extra year of high school before moving on to university. The teams divided the game into quarters, with Shawnigan winning one of the four. The prep coaches expressed interest in some of the Shawnigan players, as did some university scouts in the stands. On February 16-18, the senior boys will travel to Comox for the North Island championships at Highland Secondary. If they place in the top four there, they will move on to the Island tournament hosted by St. Michaels University School in Victoria on February 23-25.
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  • WorkBC Find Your Fit Tour

    Students had the opportunity on Tuesday to learn about in-demand careers that they may not have previously considered when the WorkBC Find Your Fit Tour visited campus.
    The Find Your Fit tour has been travelling around BC since 2010 highlighting high-demand, high-opportunity jobs in the province, ranging from computer programmer and civil engineer to chef and human resources professional to automotive service technician and air pilot.
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  • Taking Aim at Biathlon

    Thanks to the combined efforts of a staff member who happens to be a competitive biathlete and the Beyond the Gates program, several Shawnigan students had the chance recently to try a new sport.
    New to the students, at least. Biathlon has a long history, and has been part of the Winter Olympics since 1960. Cross-country skiing is a long-standing part of Shawnigan’s annual Ski Week at Manning Park (which returns on February 12-17 after a three-year absence), and the School did have a rifle range for decades, which now houses the robotics program, but this marked Shawnigan’s first foray into the sport (in recent memory, at least), and was definitely the first opportunity for any of the students who participated.
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  • Welcoming Home a World Champion

    Students lined the lane from Renfrew Road to the Main Building on Wednesday afternoon to welcome back Shawnigan ice hockey player Morgan J., who helped Team Canada take gold at the 2023 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship, which wrapped up on Sunday, January 15.
    Morgan, a Grade 11 student and the leading scorer of Shawnigan’s U18 Prep girls’ ice hockey team, was the lone Vancouver Island representative on the Canadian team, which clinched gold by beating host Sweden 10-0 in the tournament final.
    “It was amazing,” Morgan recalled. “I was still in shock, even a few days later. I couldn’t believe it: ‘I’m in Sweden and I just won a gold medal.’”

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  • Holocaust Remembrance Day

    Holocaust survivor Alex Buckman returned to speak in Chapel last Saturday as Shawnigan observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
    Marked every year since 2007 on January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day memorializes the killing of six million Jews — two thirds of Europe’s Jewish population — and millions of others, by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. It offers a chance to reflect on the lessons of the past and understand that genocide does not happen on its own and begins with the seeds of discrimination, racism and hatred.
    Mr. Buckman survived the Holocaust as a child in Belgium, spending the war in an orphanage and only learning after it was over that his parents were betrayed to the Gestapo and murdered at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

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  • Taking the Plunge with Scuba

    A new addition to the 360 (arts and activities) slate is making a splash at Shawnigan this year.
    There have been a few ups and downs for the scuba program in its first year, but the cohort of seven students who are participating are enjoying it as they take a deep dive into a new experience.
    The School has dabbled in scuba diving in the past, but not within the last two decades, said Mr. Galen Loiselle, a long-time Shawnigan teacher and an experienced diver, who made the effort to bring the program to life this year.

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  • January

    Grade 8 Gratitude

    A crisp, black tablecloth. Twinkling lights overhead. Handcrafted bruschetta served on a charcuterie board.
    The Grade 8 girls of Stanton House went all out last weekend as they hosted a dinner to show their appreciation to the Grade 11s who have been such an important part of their first year at Shawnigan.
    In addition to the House staff, led by Mrs. Rainbow Bartlett and Ms. Vikki Agate, the Grade 8s are watched over by a group of Grade 11 students, 14 in all, rotating through the House two at a time. The older girls, who come from different senior Houses and have to interview for the privilege of helping out in the Grade 8 House, serve a variety of different roles at Stanton, helping with everything from homework to sports to baking. They are familiar faces for the younger girls as they adapt to boarding life and the Shawnigan campus, and next year, when this year’s Grade 8s move into their senior houses, they will help them make that transition.
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  • Ringing in the Year of the Rabbit

    Shawnigan welcomed in the Year of the Rabbit on Sunday, January 22, with a dinner and performances marking Lunar New Year.
    Students, largely from Ms. Sandy Sun’s Mandarin classes, organized the event in Marion Hall to share and encourage appreciation of their cultures by sharing performances of music, dancing and kung fu, including a traditional Chinese lion dance.
    Celebrated in China and other parts of eastern and southern Asia, and by members of the Asian diaspora around the world, Lunar New Year marks the beginning of the lunar calendar. It is one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture.
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  • University Guidance: Preparing for Life Beyond Shawnigan

    When a student’s Shawnigan Journey comes to an end, they need to be ready for the next stage of their education. That’s where the University Guidance Office comes in.
    “We’re here to support students’ plans for life beyond Shawnigan,” Director of University Guidance Mrs. Hannah Gottfried explains. “What are their next steps? And how can they meet their goals?”
    The Guidance Office works with students, families and teachers to plan a path to success — however a student might define that — in advancing to post-secondary pursuits. The bulk of their work is done one-on-one, especially starting in Grade 11, helping students make plans and personalized timelines, and create balance and reduce stress wherever possible as they think about everything from deadlines, scholarships and moving into residence.
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  • Releasing the Rhythm

    Shawnigan students started the day, the new year, and the new term in energetic fashion on Tuesday, January 10 with an interactive performance by Daniel Duggan of Rhythm Resource, a BC-based percussion artist, who guided about 200 students on a captivating journey around the world using various forms of percussion.
    In addition to stomping, clapping, and body percussion, the students learned about and had the opportunity to try out drums and other percussion instruments from locales like Bali, South Africa, West Africa, Peru and Brazil. The students explored rhythms ranging from samba and flamenco to African folk songs and Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” as they transitioned through diversity, unity and synergy. The students were even coaxed into doing a little bit of singing and dancing.
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  • Serena Z.'s Golden Voice

    It’s no stretch to say that Serena Z. has a golden voice.
    The Toronto-based Royal Conservatory of Music presents a gold medal in each region of Canada every year to the student receiving the top marks in their discipline and level. In November, Serena learned that she received the BC and Yukon gold medal for Level 8 voice for the 2021-22 academic year. And, as no one achieved the benchmark in levels 9 or 10 or the diploma program, Serena’s gold in Level 8 was the highest medal awarded for voice last year.
    The RCM conducts exams at 10 levels, as well as diploma exams. The BC Government counts Level 8 as a Grade 12 school credit.
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  • Emotional Winter Classic Just Part of a Busy Stretch for Ice Hockey

    The action on the ice took a back seat at the Canadian Sport School Hockey League’s first-ever outdoor ice hockey game.
    Shawnigan’s U17 Prep boys’ team squared off with Coeur d’Alene Hockey Academy in the open-air arena at Sun Peaks on January 6, and while it was a league game with points in the standings at stake, the results were secondary to the game’s other purpose — as a fundraiser for Hockey Fights Cancer.
    “Hockey was incidental,” Shawnigan U17 head coach Mr. Jeff Compton commented.
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We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional lands and waterways we live, learn and play. We are grateful for the opportunity to share in this beautiful region, and we aspire to healthy and respectful relationships with those who have lived on and cared for these lands for millennia.