"Everyone is so nice at Shawnigan. Everyone really works at making everyone else feel included and a part of this community. Even during COVID, when you can’t actually see people smiling as they walk past you because they are wearing a mask, you know they are still smiling at you because everyone always looks you in the eye, or they wave at you. Even during this challenging time, people still care about one another.
I started at Shawnigan in Grade 9 in the Prep Program. At that time, the most important thing for me was improving my English. The Prep Program seemed like the ideal place for me to do that. I thought I was just going to be improving my English, but looking back, I realize that I learned so much more during my year in the program. My year in the Prep School had a huge impact on me and it helped me become who I am today.
Coming from a different country, not knowing anyone, not really knowing the language, and not knowing anything about the Canadian culture, meant that Prep House was the perfect place to begin my journey. From the start, it felt like a family. There were only 15 of us, and we got to know each other so well because we were together all the time.
I am truly grateful that I had Ms. Edgson as my House Director that year. She is the kindest and most caring person and to this day I am so grateful for everything she does. She really helped me in more ways than she knows.
All of our classes were mostly at Prep House, and we had two teachers that worked with us full time. Our classes were very small, and that meant it was a very immersive experience and we got a lot of one-on-one attention which really allowed me to improve my English skills rapidly. The staff really got to know me as a person, and that allowed them to discover how I learn best, which had a huge impact on my learning.
After leaving Prep House, I moved into Kaye’s House. There is one night that really sticks out to me. I had just moved into the House, and everything was new. I was homesick, overwhelmed and stressed. I remember I was crying alone in my room, when a group of Grade 12s found me while they were doing bed time. They immediately started comforting me, and that night we talked forever. They talked to me like a sister, and even though I don’t remember our full conversation, I do remember how kind they were to me in that moment, and from that point on I felt a great sense of belonging and knew that I had found another home.
I love my House. Kaye’s has taught me how to be more open, and I have learned the importance of making people feel as good as they make me feel each day. The people at this school, and in this House, always want to make you feel better, and that’s my goal. I want to help people, and that’s thanks to the help that I received early on in my Shawnigan career.
For one term in Grade 11, I was a leader in the new Grade 8 girls House. I really learned a lot during that term. I learned the importance of listening and how to deal with difficult situations. I learned that being a leader is all about leading by example and about connecting with others. I loved helping them solve their problems, and I loved how happy they made me when they would tell me about their day. Stanton House taught me how important connection is.
The Christmas Party in Stanton was very special to all of us Grade 11s. We didn’t realize until that night the impact that we had on the Grade 8s. When they got up to speak about each of us, I remember crying after I heard them talk about what we had done for them. It felt so good to know the impact we had made. At the end of the day, I believe that those girls taught me more than I taught them. I am so grateful for that experience.
Just like being in Prep House, the Grade 8 House is a great place to start at Shawnigan. It can be a little overwhelming coming into a new school, so starting in a smaller House can allow you to get to know one another better and learn the schedule and routine. It is an experience that you will never forget.
I remember when I first joined musical theatre for my fine art – I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I do remember just how quickly I fell in love with it. I loved the rehearsals leading up to our big performances at the end of the year, and I loved the experience of finally getting to perform on stage in costume in front of everyone. It was exhilarating! That’s why I am still in musical today. The feeling I get from performing on stage is so special. It has also helped me build my confidence and not to be afraid to try something new because you might just fall in love with it.
I also found a deep passion for rowing. I discovered rowing at the end of my Grade 9 year, and I really didn’t enjoy it when I first started because I was scared I would fall into the water! But I discovered that rowing is something that I actually really enjoy because it's a sport where you need to learn to push yourself both physically and mentally. After every rowing session I feel exhausted, but always so happy and proud of what I have accomplished.
A really special thing about Shawnigan are the tutorials. I never had tutorials at any of my other schools. The tutorials allow us to go and talk to our teachers one-on-one for extra help. You really get to know your teachers during those extra sessions, and they get to know you even better as well. They will help you overcome what you might be struggling with, or even give you work that will push you further in your learning if you desire. I really feel like the teachers here care not only about our learning, but about how we are doing. The teachers at Shawnigan really go above and beyond.
I would describe Shawnigan as a very healthy environment to learn. You have the opportunity to really push yourself by taking advanced courses, where you are challenged more in your learning. However, I find that instead of competing against each other in our classes, the students really help each other and work together to solve the problems that we are given by our teachers. We have study sessions and group chats, and we do this because we want to see each other succeed in what we are doing, while continuing to push each other to do our best.
Shawnigan is an amazing place where you are challenged academically, but you also get many different opportunities to try so many different things. Through these experiences, you get to interact with so many different people from different places and grades. If I hadn’t come to Shawnigan, I truly believe that I never would have experienced or learned what I have."
- From an interview with Jenny Z. '21 (Kaye's)