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.
In many ways, they act as “big sisters” to the Grade 8s.
In December, the Grade 8s told Mrs. Bartlett that they wanted to get the Grade 11s something for Christmas, but they weren’t sure what it should be.
“They love them, and they wanted to make them feel really special,” Mrs. Bartlett said. “They didn’t know what to get them, so they decided to cook a meal for them.”
The 25 younger students did everything to make the meal happen, from deciding on the menu and shopping for ingredients to coming up with a dress code and designing invitations. They rearranged and decorated the upstairs, then prepared a pasta dinner with appetizers, salad and dessert. Entertainment was provided in the form of a curated playlist, live music and even stand-up comedy, and there was a little gift beside every Grade 11’s plate.
“It was all the Grade 8s’ idea,” Mrs. Bartlett emphasized. “They did all of it.”
Asked what the older girls mean to them, the Grade 8s made it clear that the Grade 11s are an indispensable part of their first step on the Shawnigan Journey.
“They’re less like Grade 11s and more like true friends.”
“You can rely on them being there for you.”
“They make you feel safe and reassured.”
“They provide us with a lot of advice and help us know more about the school.”
“Without them, we wouldn’t be as organized. We’d be more lost. We wouldn’t have someone to look up to.”
They even joked that they could manage without Mrs. Bartlett, as long as they had the Grade 11s.
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.
Shawnigan Lake School is an independent co-educational boarding school for ages 13 –18 on Canada’s beautiful West Coast. Our diverse, interdisciplinary and innovative programming helps shape the next generation of global leaders.