Headmaster Speeches

List of 5 items.

  • Dr. Tom Matthews - Remembrance Day 2017

    Every year, on November 11th, we remember the Fallen—our 24 Old Boys and 3 Masters who died in the Second World War. We also remember the tens of millions of people, civilians and combatants alike, who have died due to armed conflict since the beginning of the last century.
    We are honoured this morning to be joined by a number of special guests: the Venerable John Stephens, Archdeacon of Vancouver, who graciously is leading our Service; our Board Chair, Mr. Jake Kerr; our Foundation Chair, Mr. Prentice Durbin; the President of the Old Boys’ Association, Mr. Dirk Laudan, and the President of the Parents’ Association, Ms. Rosi Gill; various Board members and other volunteers; Georgians, retired faculty and staff members, including former Senior School Principal Mr. Shawn Lawrence; current parents and alumni parents. I also would like to recognize all of the men and women currently serving their country, as well as those individuals in uniform who are here with us today.
    As well, it is appropriate for us to acknowledge that we are gathering on the traditional unceded territory of the Musqueam First Nation.
    Although the Second World War had a huge impact on St. George’s School, that wasn’t evident in the opening months of the conflict. There was an almost surreal quality to School life during the fall of 1939. The boys went to class, studying the usual range of subjects. They played rugby and cricket, and the term was punctuated by field trips, concerts, and dramatic performances. Surprisingly perhaps, the first House Supper of the war years was described as “a most cheery and enjoyable affair.” The faculty sang “Vive la” with great gusto, and the student skits caused Headmaster John Harker to squirm in his seat, just as they have done for every Headmaster since.
    The first year of the War was marked by a stellar rugby season. Our 1st XV won all 17 of its matches, defeating our chief rival, Shawnigan Lake, for the first time in history by a score of 19-0 in front of a large crowd at the Brockton Oval. Similarly, the boys looked forward to school socials where they practiced the latest dance craze sweeping the Western world—swing dancing. Much as we do today, in preparation for the first dance of the school year, the boys were instructed on how to behave appropriately. Among other instructions, they were told not to smoke on the dance floor, for as one Master noted, “nothing is more likely to jeopardize romance than a cloud of smoke in the face, or some hot ash dropped neatly down the back.”
    The first graduates of the war years were keen swing dancers and talented rugby players, but they were not strong academics. Due to their “spasmodic efforts,” only half of the Grade 12s passed their senior matriculation exams that year. The only consolation was that most of them enlisted in the armed forces, precluding the need to find a university willing to accept them.
    Reading through The Georgian, one can see that by the fall of 1940 the War was having a growing impact on the Saints community. The School’s finances were strained as enrollment declined, and Headmaster Harker struggled to find teachers to replace those who answered the call of King and country. The first evacuees from the UK arrived, and by that time, a substantial number of Old Boys and Masters were in uniform and serving overseas.

    As one Georgian recalled, “we were barely out of St. George’s before we were all in the armed forces, and many of my class of 1940-41 died in the next three or four years.” Amazingly, by 1943, 135 of the School’s 170 Old Boys were in active service!
    The first Old Boys to be killed were George Rasmussen and Bill Tudhope. A native of Nelson BC, Rasmussen drowned when his ship was torpedoed by a German submarine. Around the same time, Tudhope, a former boarder who started at St. George’s in Grade 7, was shot down while flying back from bombing mission over Germany.
    The last of our Old Boys to die was Jim Else. Just a few days before Germany’s surrender in the spring of 1945, the jeep he was driving struck a land mine. Jim was killed, and ironically his wife received the telegram informing her of his death on VE or Victory in Europe Day. So while the rest of Canada was celebrating, she gathered their children in her arms and grieved the loss of her husband.
    Beginning with John Harker, St. George’s Headmasters have attempted on November 11th to answer two interrelated questions. What is the overall significance of Remembrance Day? And more specifically, what is the significance of the Fallen to the young men currently attending the School?
    For John Harker, Remembrance Day was a deeply personal experience. Let’s not forget that he knew the Fallen; either, he had taught them, or they had been among his colleagues. In his speeches, Harker reminded the boys that they were no different from the Fallen. They “were all quite ordinary people from all walks of life,” he pointed out; “some rich, some poor, some bright, some dull, some good and some not so good…they were like you and me.”
    Harker also reminded the boys of the debt they owed to the Fallen. “They fought and died for King and country,” he declared, “as well as for all of us so that we can live in a world free of hatred, tyranny and injustice.”
    And perhaps most importantly, Harker reminded the boys that they had a responsibility to live up to the high standard set by the Fallen. “By their school spirit,” he explained, “those who were here before have blazed a great trail for you to follow…It should be your ambition to prove they did not die in vain and that you, their heirs, are worthy of their sacrifice.” Telling them that they were highly privileged, and “too complacent and self-satisfied,” he urged the boys to become better versions of themselves—what he termed ‘a young man with a purpose.’
    To quote from his 1958 Address: “If you wonder what kind of person” the Fallen “want you to be, or what kind of person the world needs most today, I believe the answer is an educated person. A young man with a purpose…who will think for himself, but with due regard for the views of others; who will work and play hard, and know how to use his leisure; who will be able to enjoy a joke, but will hate cruelty and oppression…a young man of quality—with a sense of conscience, which means a sense of justice; with a sense of compassion…good manners and thoughtfulness for others.”
    Almost 60 years later, John Harker’s words align with the message that I want to share with you this morning. To start with, we must never romanticize war, nor minimize, what Headmaster Alan Brown termed, its “unspeakable” horror. How can we ever comprehend something as evil as the Holocaust, or as horrific as the firebombing of Dresden or the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima? More than 40 million combatants and civilians died during World War I, and it’s estimated that 60 million people were killed during World War II—that represented more than 3% of the world’s population!
    Even those who returned from the War were scarred, both physically and psychologically. Beginning in 1944, my mother worked for the Department of National Defense at Valcartier, near Quebec City, processing veterans returning from German and Japanese Prisoner-of-War camps. Etched in my mind are her vivid and heart-breaking descriptions of their emaciated bodies and battered psyches.
    Let’s not fool ourselves. No matter how hard we try, we can never fully appreciate what it would have been like to have served in the Second World War, or to have been the parent, sibling, or friend of one of the Fallen.
    In recognizing the horror of war, we also must acknowledge the selflessness of the Fallen, while doing our best to be their worthy successors. When Old Boys and Masters signed up to serve in the Second World War, they were well aware of the possibility that they might not return home. The carnage of the First World War had destroyed forever the naïve notion that a modern war would be quick and painless. Everyone knew that there would be massive casualties.
    Like John Harker, I believe that there are important lessons to be learned from the Fallen. Through their commitment and sense of responsibility, as well as their courage, they inspire us to become better versions of ourselves—to demonstrate through our actions ‘the very best of our humanity.’
    Our School’s definition of leadership comes to mind—‘making a positive difference in your community.’ In order to make a positive difference, we must recognize how privileged we are (largely through the accident of birth), and we also must be willing to assume the responsibility that comes with that privilege. To quote an old independent school adage: “Much is expected from those to whom much has been given.”
    Last June, when Greg Devenish, our Junior School Principal, took a group of Grade 7 boys on a trip to the battlefields of Western Europe, they visited a Nazi concentration camp near Breendock in Belgium. This particular camp was used to process Jews and political prisoners before transporting them to the larger death camps in Eastern Europe. The group’s guide had lost an uncle at the camp, and he gave Mr. Devenish and the boys a vivid insight into the horror that was part of the daily routine at Breendock. The long walk between barbed wire set a somber tone, as did the first room they visited that still featured the dreaded SS emblem on the wall. Further visits to the courtyard where prisoners were processed, the barracks, and interrogation rooms moved the boys, causing them to wonder how one human being could ever treat another human being in such an inhumane manner.
    At the end of the tour, the guide asked to say a few final words, and this is the essence of what he said:
    Boys: you live in one of the finest countries in the world. You are a tolerant people. You have laws and courts. Your country liberated my country, Belgium, in 1944. You were true liberators; you didn’t come for conquest or plunder, but to liberate my people. But like all of us, you need to vote and hold your leaders’ feet to the fire. Failure to do so can lead to this. It’s a slippery slope to barbarism; remember Germany was a democracy prior to Hitler's rise to power.
    Most of us have not been called upon to serve in the crucible of war. Nevertheless, we still must serve in our own time and in our own way. Among other things, we have a responsibility to be active and engaged citizens; to keep ourselves informed; to deepen our understanding of key issues; to get involved, to volunteer, and to vote; to have the courage to speak up when others are being maligned or mistreated; to reach out to others; to embrace diversity. Particularly at this pivotal moment in human history, ignorance, disengagement and division are not viable options.
    And, no matter how hard we try, we are like the boys who attended St. George’s during the opening months of the Second World War. We carry on not fully aware of our own privilege, or of the hardships faced by others—whether it’s Muslim refugees fleeing Myanmar, the victims of the brutal civil war in South Sudan, or children growing up in poverty here in Vancouver.
    If we are to be worthy successors to the Fallen, we must do everything in our power to ensure that our lives reflect the very best of our humanity. Moreover, as John Harker suggested, we must be willing to abandon our ‘complacency and self-satisfaction.’ The Golden Rule embraced by all of the world’s great faith traditions comes to mind. If we treat others as we would like to be treated, our lives will tell powerful stories of service and responsibility, of empathy, respect and inclusion.
    To quote from the speech that President Obama gave in Hiroshima at the service marking the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the world’s first atomic bomb:
    The irreducible worth of every person, the insistence that every life is precious, the radical and necessary notion that we are all part of a single human family—that is the story that we must tell.
    Regardless of our cultural background, religious beliefs, or political views, we have a responsibility—a responsibility to serve; to give back; to help make our community, our country, and our world better places. That is how we can express our gratitude to the Fallen. That is how we can demonstrate, in John Harker’s words, that “they did not die in vain” and that we, “their heirs, are worthy of their sacrifice.”
    On this day, we remember the countless millions who have died in war. We remember all who have served or are serving their country. And in particular, we remember the Fallen, our 24 Old Boys and 3 Masters, who did not return home. Our sacred trust is to ensure that their names be not forgotten.
  • Dr. Tom Matthews - Remembrance Day 2016

    Remembrance Day Address: November 11, 2016
    We gather on November 11th to honour The Fallen—our 24 Old Boys and 3 Masters who died in the Second World War. We also remember the tens of millions of people who have lost their lives due to armed conflict since the beginning of the last century, including the victims of the Holocaust. Our purpose is not to glorify war. For as former Headmaster Alan Brown observed in his 1961 Remembrance Day address, the horror of warfare is “unspeakable.” Rather, our purpose is to remember those who died, while yearning for the day when war will be nothing more than a distant memory. We also acknowledge the many men and women in uniform currently serving their country, both here in Canada and overseas.
    We are honoured this morning to be joined by a large number of special guests, including: the Venerable John Stephens ’83, who graciously has agreed to lead our Service; former Headmaster, Mr. Nigel Toy; Board Chair, Mr. Jake Kerr ’61; the Presidents of the Old Boys’ Association and Parents Association; other Board members and volunteers; Georgians; retired faculty and staff members; and school parents and alumni parents. As well, it is appropriate at this time for us to acknowledge that we are gathering on the traditional, unceded territory of the Musqueam First Nation.
    Thinking about the tens of millions of people killed by warfare since 1914, I’m struck by the loss of so much human potential. You see; they weren’t just names or numbers. They were ordinary people like you and me—human beings who loved and were loved—individuals, each of whom was invested with his or her own unique potential. As Times columnist Richard Morrison wrote in an article on gifted musicians who died in World War One:
    How much unrealized genius lies under the rubble…How many dancers, doctors and dreamer never came to be? What might have been had mankind not slaughtered so many of its brightest and best?
    Here at St. George’s, we lost 24 Old Boys and 3 Masters in the Second World War.
    That number may seem insignificant, but it’s disproportionately large considering the small size of the School’s population then. As one Old Boy observed: “We were barely out of St. George’s before we were all in the armed forces, and many of my class of 1940-41 died in the next three or four years.” Amazingly, by 1943, 135 of 170 Old Boys were in active service! The 27 who died were part of a small and cohesive community, and their loss impacted their families and our community in ways that are impossible for us to comprehend.
    To highlight the human dimension behind the statistics, I’m going to tell you the story of just one Georgian. Born in South Africa in 1919, Bill Tudhope moved with his family to Lumby, British Columbia when he was still a toddler. His father, John or ‘Tuddy’ Tudhope, flew a biplane fighter during World War One. He later worked as an instructor for the Royal Canadian Air Force, before flying across the country mapping the transcontinental route for the precursor to Air Canada.
    Bill Tudhope arrived at St. George’s in 1931 as a Grade 7 boarder, and he remained at the School for three years. ‘Tuddles,’ as he was known, was gregarious and well-liked. A keen athlete, he excelled in rugby and cricket, and was a record-breaking long jumper. He wasn’t a strong student, but as The Georgian noted in an article announcing his departure from the School, “there are other things” to “remember him by—sportsmanship, loyalty and good nature.”
    Moving to the UK, Bill completed his education at the Ryde School on the Isle of Wight. He quickly earned a reputation for being good-natured and fun-loving, and he emerged as one of the school’s top athletes. Among other accomplishments, he broke the record for “throwing the cricket ball…a distance of 101 yards.” As well, by the time he was 14 or 15, he was telling his teachers that his dream was to become an aeronautical engineer and to design amazing new aircraft—aircraft that would be able to fly without propellers. During his time at the Ryde School, Bill also met, and in his words, “fell head over heels in love” with a young English woman named Molly Christopher who was from Wimbledon near London.
    In the summer of 1938, believing that war with Nazi Germany was inevitable, Bill decided to leave school and join the RCAF. At the same time, he and Molly got engaged and announced their intention of moving to Canada following the war.
    Inspired by his father’s stories of flying a biplane during World War One, Bill was determined to become fighter pilot. He turned out to be too big to fit into the cockpit of a Spitfire, however, and was trained instead to fly the Handley Page Hampden. The Hampden was a small bomber popularly referred to as “the flying suitcase” because of its narrow, boxlike appearance.
    With the outbreak of war in September of 1939, Bill soon found himself in active service.
    During the Battle of Britain, he participated in a series of dangerous, low-level bombing missions over military targets, some taking place in broad daylight. One mission in particular established him as one of the air force’s most skilled and fearless pilots. On the night of July 20-21, Bill and his crew participated in an attack on German battleships anchored not far from Hamburg, Germany.
    Bomber Command’s official record provides the following description of Tudhope’s heroic efforts:
    Pilot Officer Tudhope was Captain of an aircraft which delivered an attack on enemy warships in Wilhelmshaven Harbour from an altitude of 50 feet. The aircraft was subject to terrific anti-aircraft fire and was badly damaged by a high explosive shell. In spite of this, a second attack was made…one engine was badly damaged and the navigation cabin riddled with holes.
    With a badly damaged propeller and rear rudder, the Hampden narrowly missed a church steeple in a nearby village as it struggled to regain altitude. Miraculously, Tudhope managed to regain control and to fly the aircraft across the channel and to land it safely without a rear wheel or any navigational aids. More than 150 holes were counted on the fuselage of the badly-damaged aircraft when it was inspected the following morning.
    About a week later, Bill Tudhope received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery, along with a congratulatory message from a group of World War I veterans. He also was granted a three day leave, allowing him to see Molly at her aunt’s home near the town of Bath. Over the course of the weekend, a photograph was taken of a smiling Bill with Molly on his lap, and a stern-looking “Auntie” looking on disapprovingly in the background. That weekend in Bath was the last time that Bill and Molly would be together. Two days later, he and his crew took off on another bombing mission, this time targeting an industrial area near Hamburg. When they failed to return, they were listed as missing in action.
    About two weeks later, Bill’s body washed ashore near the village of Kampen in the Netherlands. Recognizing that he was a famous pilot who had been awarded the DFC, the occupying Germans gave Tudhope a full military funeral that was attended by the Kampen mayor and many other villagers. Grainy, black-and-white photographs still exist of a platoon of Luftwaffe soldiers carrying Bill’s coffin from the village church and firing their rifles in military salute as his body was lowered into the ground. There are two stones identifying his grave in the Kampen Cemetery—one provided by the villagers as well as a standard white stone from the War Graves Commission.
    Reflecting on Bill Tudhope’s death at the age of 21, I am struck by the loss of so much potential. Bill never had the opportunity to become an aeronautical engineer and to design amazing new aircraft. Nor did he have the opportunity to marry Molly, and to raise a family.
    I’m also saddened to think of the impact that his death had on his loved ones. Although the historical record doesn’t include any direct commentary from Molly, Bill’s parents, or his sister Nesta, their actions speak louder than words. Just as she and Bill had planned to do, Molly moved to Canada after the war. She never married, and until her death in 1993, her most cherished possession was that photograph taken just days before Bill’s death at her aunt’s home in England. Nesta, Bill’s sister, married and moved to South Africa after the war. She named her first child, a boy, William or Bill after her brother. Several years later, when she gave birth to a daughter, she asked Molly to be the baby’s godmother.
    In 1952, Bill’s parents made the journey to the Netherlands to visit their son’s grave.
    Arriving in Kampen, they went to the police station for directions. A Kampen police inspector named Mannie Koers helped them find the grave, as well as the place where his body had washed ashore. Subsequently, both Molly and Nesta made the pilgrimage to Kampen. Since 1940, Mannie and his family have tended Bill’s grave, and every year, they decorate it with flowers on March 5—his birthday. They also have kept in touch with his family. In 1979, Mannie wrote the following letter to Bill’s mother in somewhat broken English:
    I lay flowers on the grave…. I made a foto of the grave this year I send…It seems a very long time since we meet each other, shortly after the war…I shall never forget that day when you and your husband came to Kampen to see the grave of your son…
    In my mind’s eye, I have this vivid picture of the Tudhopes and Manny Koers standing by Bill’s grave, holding flowers and sharing a quiet moment of grief and reflection.
    Bill Tudhope was just one of the 27 members of the St. George’s community who died in the Second World War. He was just one of the tens of millions of people who have died due to warfare since the beginning of the last century. So much lost potential—so much “unrealized genius.”
    Although most of us will never have to take up arms, I believe that we shoulder a responsibility analogous to the call to service answered by Bill Tudhope and his contemporaries. The old British public school adage comes to mind: “Much is expected from those to whom much as been given.” As members of the St. George’s community, I believe that each of us has a responsibility to make the most of our own unique potential—to be our very best selves—to make a positive difference in our community and to help build a better world. Moreover, every time we speak up for someone who is being bullied—every time we refuse to be a bystander—every time we do something to counter sexism, racism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry—we are answering that call, and in my mind at least, we are honouring The Fallen. And in doing so, we are living the values that continue to characterize this great School—respect and responsibility, empathy and humility, resilience and integrity. I also believe that in our increasingly fearful and fractured world, values such as these are more important than ever.
    On this day, we remember all who have served or are serving their country. In particular, we remember The Fallen, our 24 Old Boys and 3 Masters, who did not return home. Our sacred trust is to ensure that their names be not forgotten.
  • Dr. Tom Matthews - New Parents Dinner 2016

    Good evening, everyone, and welcome. I want to begin by extending a warm welcome to all of the new families who are joining us this year. We are delighted to have you as part of the St. George’s community, and I hope that your first month or so has been a positive experience for you, as well as for your sons.
    Whether you realize it or not, you have done much more than enroll your son in a new school. You also have joined a community, in the truest sense of the word. And in doing so, you are adopting what will become for you and your family a way of life.
    I’m biased, of course, but I love this School. I love our clarity of purpose. We know who we are; we know where we’re going. We are a boys’ school, and we know that as a boys’ school we have a unique opportunity to meet our students’ learning needs. We know that our primary purpose is to build “fine young men”—to help every student to become the very best human being he is capable of becoming—a person of character who will shape a positive future for himself, his family, and the global community. And we know that we need to do this “one boy at a time” because very boy is different—every boy is unique—every boy is invested with his own unique potential.
    We also share the Vision of becoming “Canada’s World School for Boys”—a world leader in the education of boys. When educators from around the world want to visit a school that really understands boys and that has developed the programs and approaches that allow them to flourish, we want St. George’s to be at the top of their list.
    Along with this clarity of purpose, I love my colleagues—the faculty and staff of the Junior and Senior Schools. They are a committed and dynamic group of professionals, and despite our diversity, we are united in a common commitment to the well-being of our students—your sons.
    And finally, and most importantly, I love the students here at St. George’s. Respectful, highly motivated, and fully committed, they love their School. They want to be here, and they want to make us proud of them. What more could anyone ask for?
    I strongly believe that boys and young men need a school like St. George’s more urgently than ever before. Popular culture provides them with few positive male role models, and when it comes to academic success, boys, in general, lag behind girls. As you may know, they are less likely to graduate from high school, and a growing majority of university graduates are female.
    We also need to recognize that the world is a much more complex and challenging place than it was when we were growing up. Change is the only constant, and it’s difficult to envisage what the world will be like in 10 or 20 years when your sons move on to university or begin their professional lives. Within this context, skills such as critical thinking, adaptability, creativity, ingenuity, problem solving, and collaboration are going to be much more important than the ability to memorize and regurgitate factual information.
    Schools therefore need to change, and a concerted effort must be made to prepare young people for the unknown challenges awaiting them.
    Here at St. George’s we believe that we have a responsibility to play a leadership role, both nationally and internationally. We are working hard to implement our vision of boy-centred, 21st century teaching and learning, and in doing so, we are informing practice and inspiring other schools. In late June, for example, we hosted the IBSC annual conference, drawing close to 700 educators from around the world. More than a dozen of our teachers led workshops and participated in Action Research projects, addressing topics ranging from boy-centred instructional practices through to school design and the lessons learned from our two pilot projects—the Grade 7 neighbourhood and the Social Studies Commons.
    In the past few years alone, we have launched dozens of new initiatives—everything from inquiry-based learning in the Junior School through to three new Grade 10 cohort programs in the Senior School—Connect 10 focusing on leadership and global mindedness, Express 10 integrating drama and performance, and Fusion 10, an amalgamation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
    We also are renewing teaching spaces on both campuses (wait until you see the new Grade 5and 6 neigbourhoods!), and we have replaced scores of clunky, old desks with an array of new furniture that is boy friendly and much more flexible in how it’s used.
    Most exciting of all, we are moving forward with our Campus Master Plan, The ONE Campaign and our vision of new academic spaces—spaces that will support our uniquely boy-centred, 21st century approach to teaching and learning—spaces that will create an environment that ensures, for every boy, exceptional learning experiences.
    The commitment that I make to you tonight is that we will do everything in our power, not just to know and love your sons, but also to ensure that they are engaged, both inside and outside the classroom, and that they are achieving to their fullest potential.
    In return, I ask you to get involved and to support the School in whatever way you can.
    Similarly, encourage your boys to engage themselves as fully as possible in all that the School has to offer. I also ask you to avoid the temptation of measuring your son’s accomplishments, or his worth, through his grades or by the ranking of the university to which he is accepted. Remember, as well, that your sons will experience some failures, setbacks, and challenges along the way. One’s path in life is never linear, and it is often through adversity that we learn life’s most valuable lessons.
    And finally, I ask you to give your sons sufficient autonomy, so that they can become increasingly independent and self-reliant in the years ahead. As parents, one of our biggest challenges is letting go and allowing our children to become independent. And beginning tomorrow, one way you can do that is by putting your son on the bus or, depending upon his age, encouraging him to walk or ride his bike to School—you don’t need to drive him to the front door!
    I would like to conclude by sharing with you an experience that I had recently in Victoria when my wife, Sheena, and I went over to the Island to support our senior soccer team in the independent schools’ provincial championship. The boys played exceedingly well, and they ended up defeating last year’s winners in the championship game by a score of 4 to 1.
    It was wonderful sharing in the boys’ success, but my most positive experience occurred after the game when I spoke to the woman at the front desk of the hotel where the boys had stayed for two nights. As I always do when I am at a tournament, I thanked the receptionist and asked for feedback on the boys. Her response was unequivocal. “Your boys were wonderful,” she said. “They behaved like real gentlemen, saying ‘yes, ma’am” and ‘yes, sir.’ We love having them stay at the hotel; they’re the best!”
    I share this story with you not to brag, nor to suggest that our boys are perfect.
    Rather, I want to reinforce the fact that our primary purpose at St. George’s is not to win athletic championships or to get boys into highly competitive and prestigious universities and programs. Our primary purpose is to build ‘fine young men, one boy at a time.’

    In other words, to help our students—your sons—become the very best human beings that they are capable of becoming. And if they win a few trophies and go on to study at leading universities, well, that’s just the icing on the cake.
    Thank you for kind attention; once again, welcome; have a wonderful evening!
  • Dr. Tom Matthews - Rigg Scholarship Assembly 2016

    Last June, I received a visit from a former student who I first met more than 20 years ago when I was a History teacher at Upper Canada College.  At the time, I knew him quite well, as I taught him a couple of courses and took him to Nepal for three weeks as part of a service learning project. He was passing through Vancouver, and wanted to reconnect and introduce me to his wife and three young sons. I gave him and his family a tour of the School, and afterwards, the two of us walked up to The Dunbar where we spent a couple of hours reminiscing about the past and talking about our post-UCC lives.
    At one point in our conversation, he mentioned that it was very important to him that his sons go to a boys’ school like Upper Canada or St. George’s. When I asked why, he responded by saying: “Just because they are boys, I don’t want them to be louts.” He wants them to go to a school, he went on to explain, where they would be held to high standard—where they would be expected to behave well, to do their best academically, to get involved in a wide range of activities, and to benefit from a broad and inclusive education.
    He reminded me that when he arrived at UCC at the age of 14 he was a ‘uni-dimensional jock’ who was interested in soccer and not much else. By the time he graduated, however, he had moved far beyond his comfort zone.  He had developed an appreciation of art, performed in a musical, and played a leadership role in a service learning project, all while maintaining a respectable GPA and leading the soccer team to CAIS championship.  In the end, we agreed that there is something about boys’ schools that empowers boys and young men to challenge themselves and to try things that they might not try at a co-ed school.
    This conversation encouraged me to explore a number of related topics, including the role of the arts in boys’ schools. Among other things, I discovered that boys are far less likely to get involved in the arts than girls, both in the UK and in North America. In co-ed schools, painting, drawing, music, and drama programs have a preponderance of female students.
    In the UK, 60% of art GCSE candidates are female, and girls typically secure higher marks than their male counterparts. In the United States, a number of studies have discovered that the elimination of art, music, and creative programs is having a detrimental impact on boys and their learning.
    One case study, in particular, caused me to sit up and take notice. At a school in Colorado, staff members were distressed to discover that boys were lagging behind girls in reading and writing, even though they had increased the amount of time devoted to core academics. They responded to this disturbing trend by reversing their earlier actions and reintroducing some of the non-academic programs that had been cut to make more time for academics—things such as art, music, and creative movement. Their ‘about-face’ had an extraordinary impact.
    As the school’s principal explained: “The resulting “improvement was not just rapid; it was dramatic. Within a year, the school had closed the reading and writing gap between boys and girls. Scores for girls increased as well. We realized we can manipulate the learning environment in the classroom to make it more conducive to kids…. We gave teachers permission to bring some joy back into classroom.”
    There are some important lessons here. To start with, like Upper Canada, St. George’s is a place characterized by high expectations. We also have developed a school culture in which boys and young men are encouraged to broaden their interests and to explore a variety of subjects and activities, including the arts. As you all know, some of our most popular and dynamic programs are visual arts, music, creative writing, ceramics, acting, and stage production. Moreover, as we refocus our Grade 8 and 9 programs, one of our top priorities is to nurture student creativity. Equally exciting, we are introducing two new Grade10 cohorts next year, including Express 10—a program integrating drama and performance.   
    But we mustn’t be complacent. I would like to see more robust enrolments in some courses, and there is still a tendency for some parents and students to view the arts as lesser subjects in comparison to the traditional academic core. A significant number of students go on to pursue their artistic passions following graduation. However, every year, there are far too many young men who decide reluctantly to pursue other post-secondary programs that are more palatable to their parents.
    I believe that as a boys’ school we have a particular responsibility to provide our students with a vibrant and highly creative arts programs. We also must ensure that the arts aren’t just window dressing. They must be integral to every boys’ experience, and creativity must be nurtured across our curricula, not just within the arts. That’s the only way that we will be able to ensure that you graduate from St. George’s a more creative and more fully developed person that you were when you arrived.
    In conclusion, I would like to express my appreciation to everyone who has contributed to the success of ArtsWeek 2016: Mr. O’Connor, his organizing committee, and all of the students and faculty members who have helped to organize an incredibly rich and varied collection of presentations and workshops; Ms. Kudryk for organizing this Assembly and the luncheon to follow; Mr. Jake Kerr, Mr. Andrew Rigg and his wife, Mary, for their presence; and of course, all of today’s artists and performers. I also would like to applaud all of the faculty and staff members within our arts programs—music, art, creative writing, and theatre—for nurturing the flame of creativity within their students. Finally, I would like to commend all of our Rigg Scholarship applicants, while congratulating all of our award winners.
    It has been a truly amazing week here at St. George’s. All of us have been immersed in the arts in a meaningful way, and we have had the opportunity to experience some amazing speakers and presenters. I can’t imagine a school any more intellectually and creatively alive than Saints has been this week. And let’s make sure that the joy never leaves our classrooms!
    Dr. Tom Matthews 
  • Dr. Tom Matthews - New Parents Dinner 2015

    Good evening, everyone, and welcome. I would like to begin by extending a particularly warm welcome to all of the new families who are joining us this year. We are delighted to have you as part of the St. George’s community, and I hope that your first month or so at the School has been a positive and welcoming experience for you, as well as for your sons.
    Whether you realize it or not, you have done much more than enroll your son in a new school. You also have joined a community, in the truest sense of the word. And in doing so, you are adopting what will become for you and your family a way of life.
    I’m biased, of course, but I have no hesitation in saying that that this is an extraordinary school, as well as an extraordinary community. If there is one thing about St. George’s that I love most, it’s the boys. As we know from our students surveys, the vast majority of them want to be here. They are proud of their School, and they are keen to make us proud of them.
    What more could anyone ask for?
    Our primary purpose here at St. George’s is plain and simple. It’s to build fine young men—one boy at a time. Although we have the most impressive university matriculation results of any school in Canada, our primary purpose is not to get your son into highly competitive universities or programs—places like Stanford, or McMaster Health Sciences, or Oxford, or Queen’s Commerce, or Harvard. Rather, it’s our job to help him become the very best human being he is capable of becoming—a fine young man who will shape a positive future for himself, his family, and the global community.
    I strongly believe that boys and young men need a school like St. George’s more urgently now than ever before. The world is a much more complex and challenging place for them than it was for me when I was a boy. Popular culture provides boys and young men with very few positive male role models, and when it comes to academic success, boys, in general, lag behind girls. In BC, and across Canada for that matter, boys underperform in comparison to girls in virtually every subject. Boys are less likely to graduate from high school. They are more likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability and to be medicated. They are more likely to get into trouble. They are less likely to get into competitive post-secondary programs. And consistently, they now represent a minority of the people graduating from Canadian universities.
    Here at St. George’s, our boys are outliers. They defy these unsettlingly trends and statistics, and in my view, they do so largely as a result of the fact that we are a boys’ school. As a boys’ school, we are uniquely positioned to meet our students’ learning needs, and we are able to do this through our distinctive programs and approaches.
    School culture also plays a key role. This is a school where boys are held to a high standard—where they are expected to do their best—to stretch themselves—to do well, both inside and outside of the classroom. Similarly, they are expected to behave like gentlemen—to embrace our Core Values—to represent their School with pride, dignity and respect.
    They are also are expected to lead from within—in other words, to develop their own unique leadership capacity, so that they can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
    The commitment that I make to you tonight is that we will do everything in our power, not just to know and to love your sons, but also to ensure that they are engaged, both inside and outside the classroom, and that they are achieving to their fullest potential.
    In return, I ask you to get involved and to support the School in whatever way you can.
    I also ask you to encourage your boys to engage themselves as fully as possible in all that the School has to offer. That’s the best possible way for us to embrace them and to provide them with the richest experience possible. You’ll also find that the more you are involved, the more your sons will be involved as well.
    This is an incredibly exciting time to be joining the St. George’s community. Our vision of boy-centred, 21st century teaching and learning is gaining traction, and in the past few years, we have launched dozens of new programs and initiatives—everything from the 1-to-1 Surface program in the Junior School through to Connect 10, a new Senior School program focusing on leadership and global-mindedness. We also have renewed a number of teaching spaces on both campuses, and we have replaced scores of clunky old desks that limited instructional practice with new, flexible and adaptable furniture that also is much more comfortable and boy-friendly. Most exciting of all, we are moving forward with our Campus Master Plan and the ONE Campaign and its promise of new academic spaces for both the Junior and the Senior Schools—spaces that will support our uniquely boy-centred, 21st century approach to teaching and learning—spaces that will create an environment that ensures, for every boy, exceptional learning experiences.
    And as your know, our overriding Vision here at St. George’s is to become Canada’s World School for Boys—a world leader in the education of boys! My dream is that when educators from around the world want to visit a school that really understands boys, that has developed the programs and approaches that allow them to flourish, St. George’s will be at the very top of their list.
    In conclusion, I am going to share with you a comment from our most recent student survey. These words convey the essence of what I consider to be the St. George’s experience:
    St. George’s has given me unforgettable memories, lifelong friendships, and a strong foundation for my future. I know that when I graduate this June, I will look back at my high school years with gratification and be proud to be a Georgian.
    When I came as a new boy in grade eight, I immediately felt the embracing atmosphere of this school. Saints has always been a supportive anchor in my journey to explore new ideas and develop academically, artistically, athletically, and socially. The school has exposed me to unique opportunities such as the Investment Club, the Opus, and student leadership. Playing sports at Saints, especially being involved with the rugby program, has instilled in me our core values and taught me many lessons…The majority of our school’s faculty…has respected my individuality and built a personal connection with me beyond the classroom. Interacting with students who are motivated and have their unique arrays of passions has inspired me to strive for those same attributes and serve as both a leader and a citizen within this community.
    My wish for all of you is that your sons will have a deeply fulfilling experience here at St. George’s, and that in their Grade 12 year, they will be able to say:
    St. George’s has given me unforgettable memories, lifelong friendships, and a strong foundation for my future. I know that when I graduate this June, I will look back at my high school years with gratification and be proud to be a Georgian.
    Once again, welcome to St. George’s. Have a wonderful evening!
    Dr. Tom Matthews

End of Year Speeches

List of 5 items.

  • Dr. Tom Matthews - Address to the Graduating Class of 2016

    Mr. Kerr, Board members, colleagues, parents and other family members, students, graduates: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome, as we celebrate the conclusion to yet another successful school year—the 85th in the history of St. George’s School!
    I would like to begin by thanking everyone who has contributed to the success of the 2015-16 school year: our dedicated Board Chair, Mr. Jake Kerr, and all of our Board members and volunteers; our two Principals, Mr. Kern and Mr. Devenish; and the faculty and staff of the Junior and Senior Schools; Mr. Hesketh and the Harker Hall team; our highly supportive parent community; our School Captain, Ezaan, along with our Vice-Captains, Noah and Raymond; our Boarding Co-Captains, Jack and Jorge, and all of our student leaders; the young men of the Senior School; and, most importantly, the Graduating Class of 2016.
    We had the opportunity at our last formal Assembly to acknowledge individually all of the faculty and staff members who will be leaving us. This afternoon, however, I would like to make a point of saluting our one retiree, Mrs. Heather Schuetze. For more than two decades, she has worked tirelessly on behalf of the boys, most recently as the Head of Personal Counselling.  Please join me in recognizing Mrs. Schuetze, along with everyone else who will not be here when classes resume in September.
    A few months ago, I came across an interesting quotation from the best-selling author Jennifer L. Armentrout. “I understand books,” she declared, but “I don’t understand boys—especially alien boys.” Intrigued, I did a bit of digging and discovered that Armentrout is the author of a series of science fiction novels geared to girls and young women. With titles such as Obsidian, Onyx, and Opal, they feature a young man named Daemon Black—who just happens to be an alien.
    As you already may have guessed, Daemon Black is a rather dark and enigmatic character. Until you get to know him, at least, he comes across as being rude, uncommunicative, lazy, arrogant, uncaring, and even threatening. In other words, “he’s your typical teenage boy,” observes Katy Swartz, the novels’ female protagonist. In fact, throughout the series, Daemon routinely is described in pejorative terms, ranging from jerk and idiot, through to several others that would get me into trouble if I repeated them at a formal occasion such as this.        
    Reflecting on Armentrout’s self-confessed inability to understand boys—especially alien boys— I came to see Daemon Black as a symbol of the way in which boys and young men are so often misrepresented. Think about it for a moment.  The media rarely features ‘good news’ stories depicting young males in a positive light. You would think that every other boy had been convicted of gang violence, dangerous driving, or drug trafficking. To quote from a recent Globe and Mail article:  
    Teenage boys are one of the most maligned demographics in the human species.  Compared to girls, they drive too fast, drink and smoke pot too much, and are more likely to drop out of school.  In the sexual politics of adolescence, they are the aggressors.
    Having worked in boys’ schools for almost two decades, I am puzzled by these misperceptions. Even more distressing is the lack of attention given to one of my major concerns—the chronic and systemic underperformance of boys in schools around the world.      
    Whether he is growing up in Canada, the United States, the UK, Australia, or New Zealand, a boy is less likely than a girl to master core academic skills, to perform well on standardized tests, to graduate from high school, or to pursue his studies at the post-secondary level.  He is more likely to be disciplined for poor behavior, to be suspended or expelled from school, to be diagnosed with a learning disability, or to be medicated for conditions such as ADHD.  A growing majority of the people graduating from universities in the Western world are women.
    The situation is similar in the developing world. According to a recent UN study, educational systems in countries such as Thailand and the Philippines “are not meeting the basic requirements of boys.”  “Boys’ enrolment rates have declined. Many boys are leaving school early. Fewer are continuing on to higher levels of education.” On average, they secure lower grades, and they are more likely to experience physical violence and corporal punishment. To quote a group of Thai educators: “Boys are the group of students in the back of the room that don’t show much interest in learning, in contrast to the more attentive girls in the front rows.”
    A particularly compelling analysis can be found in a report commissioned by PISA, the Program for International Student Assessment.  Drawing on 10 years’ worth of research involving half-a-million students in 65 different countries, it concludes that males are struggling in schools around the world. “Young men are significantly more likely than young women to have low levels of skills and poor academic achievement, and are more likely to leave school early, often with no qualifications,” the report states. “The sizeable number of boys who fail to make the grade in all three core PISA subjects is a major challenge for education systems.”
    According to PISA, many boys simply don’t like school and fail to see its relevance. To quote: “Education systems in most countries appear to be unable to develop learning environments, pedagogical practices and curricula that relate to and engage the interests and dispositions of many teenage boys.” But there is hope. The research indicates that male students can do well and even flourish, as long as they are engaged through meaningful relationships and authentic learning experiences with ‘real world’ applications.”
    So what does all of this mean for St. George’s?  The good news is that our students don’t underperform in comparison to their female counterparts.  In fact, the Ministry data reveals that, for Saints boys, gender is irrelevant in predicting academic success. In other words, our boys do as well as girls in both public and independent schools, and they even do better than boys attending the province’s most elite co-ed schools, both public and independent. As well, many of our boys resist the tendency so pronounced in co-ed schools of opting out of programs such as art, creative writing, drama, music, public speaking, student leadership, debate, and service learning. As odd as this may sound, our students are engaged and achieving, despite the fact that they are boys!
    But we are not resting on our laurels. Our aspiration is to become a world leader in the education of boys. In other words, when educators from around the world are looking for a school that really understands boys and has structured its programs and instructional practices to meet their learning needs, we want St. George’s to be at the top of their list. In recent years, our faculty has been working incredibly hard, fine-tuning our instructional practices and developing new programs that will engage our boys even more fully, while providing additional opportunities for choice, deeper learning, and ‘real world’ applications. Inquiry-based learning in the Junior School; recalibrated Grade 8 and 9 programs; new Grade 10 Cohort programs; flipped classrooms; blended learning; renovated teaching spaces in the Junior School; the Campus Master Plan, and the eventual construction of two new academic buildings on the Senior Campus; these are all part of this exciting, innovative process.
    But don’t get me wrong. We are not ‘dumbing down’ the curriculum; nor are we abandoning our commitment to core academic skills, such as numeracy and literacy. To the contrary, we are expecting more, not less, from our students. We are compelling them to dig deeper and to develop a variety of additional skills, ranging from critical thinking and problem solving through to collaboration and communication. By renewing our programs and instructional practices, we will do an even better job of preparing our graduates for the challenges and opportunities of a complex and rapidly changing world—a world in which change is the only constant.
    And here’s the bottom line. Unlike Jennifer Armentrout, we understand boys—even alien boys. Not only do we understand boys, but we actually like them, and we embrace them with all of their wonder, complexity, exuberance, and potential. I don’t know about you, but I believe that boys can do almost anything—as long as they set their minds, their hearts, and their souls to the task at hand.
    The Graduating Class of 2016 is a case in point.  They have excelled in so many ways during their time at the School, and like Grad Classes before them, they will be inspired to become scholars, artists, designers, writers, entrepreneurs, explorers, musicians, actors, poets, physicians, activists, athletes, and leaders, along with a long list of callings and profession that I’ve overlooked or that haven’t been invented yet.
    My goal for the Graduating Class of 2016 is an annoyingly predictable one. I want you to do well, gentlemen, but I also want you to do good. Whether you realize it or not, you are highly privileged. In comparison to most of humanity, you have been dealt an incredibly good hand in the great card game of life. Your responsibility is to put that privilege to good use, and to deploy it, not just to advance your own interests, but also to further the interests of your community and the world at large. Chart your own course in life, but do it in such a way as to ensure that you are making a positive difference, and that you are always part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.
    Like every great school, we make an unspoken commitment to our students and their parents. We promise that every boy will be known and loved during his time at St. George’s. Graduates of 2016, like you, we didn’t always get it right. But we have done our best, and you should remain confident in the knowledge that you are known and loved.
    As you move on from this time and place, remain connected—with one another, with your teachers, and with me. We are truly interested in knowing how you are doing and in supporting you in whatever way we can. You will always be part of our story, just as St. George’s will always be part of your story.
    As I do every year, I’m going to close with a poem that I’ve selected in honour of this particular Graduating Class. It’s entitled To My Sisters and Brothers, and it’s by John Holmes, who taught English at Tufts University for many years.
    It is too late to use the map
    Our parents used. Lay out your own
    Roads westward, curt and confident;
    Cross mountains and meridians,
    And run to meet your own delight.
    It is too late to follow paths
    Hard-packed by feet a long time dead….
    Under a strong light spread your map,
    And plot the dear essential dream
    In the fierce color of your blood.
    Then say good-bye. Your star is up.
    Trust your own heart to set you free
    Along the curve of time, and go.
    And that’s my wish for the Graduating Class of 2016: that you “run to meet your own delight;” that you plot your own “dear essential dream;” that you do so “in the fierce color of your blood;” and, that you trust in “your own heart to set you free;” “Along the curve of time, and go.”
  • Dr. Tom Matthews - Address to the Graduating Class of 2015

    Mrs. Bentley, Mr. Toy, Board members, colleagues, parents and other family members, students, Graduates: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome, and thank you for your presence at this important occasion marking the conclusion to yet another extraordinary school year.

    I am particularly grateful to those of you have travelled long distances to be here with us today—thank you!
    I would like to begin my remarks by expressing appreciation to everyone who has contributed to the success of the 2014-15 school year:
    • Our hard-working Board Chair, Mrs. Bentley and all of our dedicated volunteers; 
    • My colleagues—Mr. Lawrence, and the faculty and staff of the Senior School; 
    • Our highly supportive parent community;
    • Our School Captain, Quinton; Captain of Boarding, Nic; and all of our student leaders;
    • The young men of the Senior School;
    • And most importantly, the Graduating Class of 2015.
    We had the opportunity at our last formal Assembly to acknowledge individually all of the faculty and staff members who will not be here when classes resume in September.
    This afternoon, however, I would like to make a point of saluting our three much-loved retirees.
    Mrs. Patti Yen is retiring from the Junior School where she taught Grade 1 for 20 years.
    Mrs. Lindi Lewis is retiring from the Senior School where she taught French for 15 years.
    And Mr. Shawn Lawrence, our Senior School Principal, is retiring following 32 years of inspired and inspiring service. I’m particularly indebted to Mr. Lawrence for taking on the role of Senior School Principal and for leading us through a period of change and transition.

    For him, the boys have always come first. He will be greatly missed, and I feel honoured to have served with him during my first five years at St. George’s. Please join me in recognizing Mr. Shawn Lawrence, Mrs. Patti Yen, and Mrs. Lindi Lewis, along with everyone else who will not be here in September. 
    Five years ago, when I first arrived at St. George’s, I spent a lot of time talking to people and learning about the School. I met one-on-one with every employee and began the tradition of having lunch with the Grade 12s. In every conversation, I asked for advice, hoping that I wouldn’t mess things up too much, particularly during my first year on the job. 
    Much to my surprise, the most common response I received was that I should be myself.
    Be yourself,” one boy advised. “Be yourself, and everything else will fall into place.”
    That advice really resonated with me, and I’ve taken it to heart during my time at the School. For better or worse, I have been myself—even at the risk of being lampooned by the Grads at the House Supper for over-quoting Henry David Thoreau or for crying in public (something I’m likely to do a number of times over the course of the next 48 hours).
    Interestingly, that advice aligns perfectly with the most common response I receive when I ask a boy about the School motto—Sine Timore aut Favore (Without Fear or Favor). Over and over again, I’m told that the words on your blazer mean that at St. George’s you can be yourself. You don’t need to pretend. You don’t need to be someone you aren’t out of a fear being picked on or ridiculed. And as one young man explained to me several years ago, that ideal must apply to every boy at the School, regardless of his race, class, religion, sexual orientation, political beliefs, or family background.
    Now, don’t get me wrong. This idea of being yourself isn’t an invitation to narcissism or self-indulgence. To the contrary, if we are genuinely true to ourselves, we should always be striving to become better versions of ourselves. 
    That message also applies to St. George’s. We need to be comfortable with who we are. We are a boys’ school. We believe that boys learn differently, and we are committed to a broad educational experience that includes academics, the arts, athletics, service, leadership, and outdoor education. Our Mission is to build fine young men. In other words, our primary purpose isn’t to get our graduates into highly prestigious and competitive programs and universities; it’s to help them become the very best human being that they are capable of becoming. 
    Our Vision is to become a world leader in the education of boys. My dream is that when educators from around the world want to visit a school that really understands boys and that has structured its programs and its pedagogy to meet their learning needs, St. George’s will be at the top of their list.
    At our very core, we believe that every boy is unique—that every boy is a gift—even on those days when he might be driving us crazy. To paraphrase Dr. Adam Cox, every boy has his own distinctive “seeds of destiny.” It’s our job to help him discover and grow those “seeds of destiny,” so that he can become the very best human being he is capable of becoming—a fine young man who will help to make the world a better place.
    I am reminded of the late Joseph Campbell and his monumental work on the power of myth.

    According to Campbell, the greatest human transgression is what he called “the sin of inadvertence—of not being alert, of not being awake.” Building on that premise, he popularized the idea of ‘following your bliss.’ A difficult word to define, ‘bliss’ has something to do with discovering your innate purpose in life. “If you follow your bliss,” Campbell proclaimed, “you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.” “Opening up to those more meaningful dimensions of bliss,” Campbell concluded, “is simply a matter of letting your life speak.”
    A century earlier, the Transcendentalists offered similar advice. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to change you is the greatest accomplishment,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. “It is easy to live for others; everybody does. I call you to live a life for yourself.”

    And he wasn’t suggesting that we do this in a narrow or self-serving way. As you may know, for the Transcendentalists, integrity and selflessness were all-important. “Be true to your work, your word and your friend,” Emerson added. In other words, each of you should live your life with honesty and integrity, never losing sight of the values that you hold dear. And in doing so, we will become better versions of ourselves—Without Fear or Favor.
    And Graduates of 2015, make no mistake about it. Our messed-up world needs you.
    It doesn’t need a pale imitation of someone else. It needs you with all of your extraordinary uniqueness—your passion, your intellect, and your spirit. The world also needs you as a cohort group with all of your rich diversity. It needs artists and poets; rebels, risk takers, activists and change agents; musicians and athletes; entrepreneurs, lawyers, teachers and healers; historians, writers and journalists; computer programmers, graphic designers and engineers… The list goes on and on, including callings and professions that haven’t even been invented yet.
    My goal for the Graduating Class of 2015 is a simple one. Gentlemen, I want you to change the world. I want you to use your individual as well as your collective gifts to solve the problems that my generation has neither the time nor the ability to solve—problems such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, and ideological extremism.
    I am reminded of Cory Richards and his compelling call to action during ArtsWeek.
    When a boy asked him if he felt that climate change was going to result in the end of human civilization, Richards responded by saying that he didn’t know. “It all depends upon you,” he said. “It depends upon you and the decisions that you make in your lifetime.” In other words, each of today’s graduates has the ability to make a difference, and the cumulative impact of their decisions has the capacity to address the most challenging of global issues.
    Like every great school, we make an outspoken commitment to our students and their parents. We promise that every boy will be known and loved during his time at the School.

    Graduates of 2015, like you, we didn’t always get it right. But we have done our best, and you should remain confident in the knowledge that you are known and loved.
    This Grad Class has a special place in my heart. We arrived at the Senior School at the same time, and we have spent five extraordinary years together. I have in my mind’s eye a clear picture of you arriving as new Grade 8s. Disorientated, frightened, and ‘a wee bit squirrelly’, you probably cried more during that opening week than any other Grade 8 class in the history of the School. But look at you now—confident, accomplished, increasingly self-reliant, as you look forward to your next set of challenges. 
    As you move on from this time and place, remain connected—with each other, which is easier today than ever—with your teachers who are truly interested in the next chapter of your lives—and with me. Touch base with me from time to time, let me know how you are doing. And don’t hesitate to reach out if we can help in any way. Stay close; visit often; and keep this great School with you wherever you may go. St. George’s will always be part of your story, and just as you will always be part of the Saints’ story. 
    In closing, I have a poem that sums up my challenge for you in the years and decades ahead.

    Written by the American poet Mary Oliver, it’s entitled “The Summer Day.”

    I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
    I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
    into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
    how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
    which is what I have been doing all day.
    Tell me, what else should I have done?
    Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
    Tell me, what is it you plan to do
    with your one wild and precious life?
    And that’s what I expect from every member of the Graduating Class of 2015—that you do something amazing “with your one wild and precious life;” that you “let your life speak;” and that you change the world in the process! 
  • Dr. Tom Matthews - Address to the Graduating Class of 2014

    Mrs. Bentley, Mr. Toy, Board members, Mr. Lawrence, faculty and staff, parents and other family members, Georgians, students, Graduates of 2014: Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for joining us as we celebrate the successful completion of the 83rd year in the history of St George’s School.  
    I would like to take a moment express my appreciation to everyone who contributed to the success of the 2013-14 school year: our highly supportive parent community; the wonderful Senior School boys; all of our hard-working volunteers, including Mrs. Bentley and our four Boards; and of course, my amazing colleagues—the faculty and staff of St. George’s School, including our Principal, Mr. Lawrence, and our two Associate Principals, Mr. Collins and Mr. Lee.
    Similarly, I would like to commend the Graduates of 2014, including Matt and all of the Prefects. From day one, they stepped up and set a positive tone for the School, and they should be incredibly proud of their accomplishments in a wide range of areas.
    I also would like to extend my best wishes to a number of faculty and staff members who will not be here when classes resume in September: Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Jamieson, and Mr. Tweedle, who will be on paternity leave; Mr. Atkinson and Mrs. Lewis, who will be enjoying a year’s leave of absence; our departing interns, Ms. Beazley and Ms. Bellissimo, as well as Ms. Rossnagel who will be working in the Junior School; and several faculty members who are leaving us—Ms. Komad, Mr. Mayert, Ms. Mobrhan-Shafiee, and Ms. Lando.
    Similarly, I would like to salute our two faculty retirees—Mr. Muldoon and Mrs. van Rijn.
    A member of the Socials department for many years, Mr. Muldoon has been a kind and supportive colleague and a positive role model to his students. For a quarter century, Mrs. van Rijn has been an integral member of the St. George’s community. Her sincerity, her passion for learning, and her kindness have touched all of us, and she will be greatly missed.
    We also are saying ‘good-bye’ to Mr. Jeff Farrington, our first Director of Learning, who did so much during his two years at the School to advance our Strategic Plan. 
    I’ve been thinking recently about the way in which our lives are enriched by the people we meet along the way. One of the most interesting and inspiring individuals I’ve ever met is Raymond Moriyama. An internationally renowned architect, Moriyama designed one of my favourite buildings, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. Our paths crossed about ten years ago when his firm, Moriyama and Teshima, designed the new Senior School and Athletic Complex at my former school.
    Among other things, Moriyama’s life attests to the power of resilience. Born and raised in Vancouver, as a boy, he faced almost overwhelming adversity. In 1942, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, along with 22,000 other Japanese-Canadians, he and his family were interned in the BC interior.  Because Raymond’s father refused to be separated from his pregnant wife and three children, he was arrested and sent to a POW camp in Ontario. Three years would pass before Raymond would see his father again.
    To quote from In Search of a Soul, Moriyama’s autobiography:
    War is hell. Physically facing an enemy is hell. It is a psychological hell when your own country, the country of your birth, stamps you an “enemy alien,” disowns you and expels you to an internment camp in the mountains far away from home.
    Badly burned as a child when he accidentally upset a pot of stew, Moriyama was taunted by the other children camp in the internment camp who told him that he was ugly, diseased, and worthless. Imagine how devastating that must have been for him—fatherless, friendless, and bullied.  But rather than giving into despair, he channelled his energies into designing and building a tree house, while dreaming of becoming an architect.
    In Moriyama’s words:
    The tree house was a place of quiet refuge and healing. The view of nature from the tree house was absolutely astonishing—the mountains, green and silver, around the river; the whisper of the river and the sounds of night; the crisp night sky and the stars so close.
    Following the war, their property was confiscated, and the Moriyama family was relocated to Toronto. They worked hard to rebuild their lives, but money was in short supply. Some years later, at his high school graduation, Raymond received an envelope from his father. 
    For a moment, he naively hoped that it might contain a cheque for his university tuition.
    Instead, he discovered something much more valuable. Inside the envelope was a poem that his father had written for him—a poem that despite its brevity would inspire him for the rest of life:
    Into God’s temple of eternity, drive a nail of gold.
    Whether you believe in God or not, let your mind swirl around those simple yet powerful words—Into God’s temple of eternity, drive a nail of gold
    For Moriyama, the essence of his father’s poem is that each of us has the responsibility to make our own, unique contribution to the world. Moriyama also believes that it is through life’s challenges that we develop our character and our overall purpose in life. If he hadn’t experienced the hardship of being interned and bullied as a child, he may not have become architect. He probably wouldn’t have developed the humanitarian world view that continues to inform his work. And he certainly would not have designed a building as powerful as the Canadian War Museum.
    A few months ago, while reading Chad Harbach’s novel The Art of Fielding, I came across a passage that reminded me of Raymond Moriyama. Ostensibly a book about baseball, The Art of Fielding explores the meaning of faith, family, and friendship. It also reminds us that a yearning for purpose is common to all human beings. Towards the end of the novel, Melville scholar and College President Guert Affenlight dies unexpectedly and is given an unconventional burial in the middle of Lake Michigan. The following words come from the tribute delivered by one of his friends:
    You told me that a soul isn't something a person is born with, but something that must be built, by effort and error, study and love.  And you did that with more dedication than most, that work of building a soul—not for your own benefit, but for the benefit of those who knew you.
    Guert Affenlight was far from perfect. He learned from his mistakes and life’s challenges, and he built himself soul in the process. That’s the same point made by Raymond Moriyama in In Search of a Soul.
    As we all know, it has been an unusually challenging and rewarding year. For faculty and staff, in addition to our once-in-every-seven-years Ministry evaluation, we prepared our Internal Report for next year’s CAIS accreditation. We also introduced Pearson, our new Student Information System, and we moved forward with several key strategic initiatives, including the introduction of our Faculty Growth & Renewal Program, enhancements to the Advisor Program, and ongoing work on student assessment. No wonder our heads are spinning!
    For the boys, it has been a year of setting ambitious goals, overcoming substantial obstacles, and meeting or exceeding high expectations. The breadth of student accomplishments this year is nothing short of inspiring. Inextricably linked to all of this has been the great strength of character demonstrated by our Head Boy. A lesser man might have crumbled under the weight of what fate sent his way. Not to be deterred, Matthew maintained an incredibly cheerful demeanour, while growing in strength and wisdom over the course of the past nine months.  
    As I mentioned in my opening comments, our lives our enriched immeasurably by the people we meet along the way. Speaking on behalf of Principal Lawrence and the entire Saints community, I have no hesitation in saying that the Grads of 2014 have enriched our lives immeasurably. Thank you, gentlemen. I know that you will continue to make us proud of you, as you make an even greater contribution to the larger world beyond our campus.   
    Graduates of 2014, as you contemplate the uncertainty of your post-Saints lives, remember that adversity and disappointment are an inevitable and often beneficial part of life’s journey. 
    Like Raymond Moriyama, draw upon those experiences and continue the process of becoming the very best human being that you are capable of becoming. Into God’s Temple of Eternity, Drive a Nail of Goldin other words, make your own, unique contribution to the world. And regardless of how small that nail might be, make sure that it is a golden contribution—one that helps to make the world a better place. In doing so, you will continue the process of building yourself a soul—through a combination of effort and error, study and love—not only for your own benefit, but also for the benefit of the people you meet along the way.
    Like every great school, we make an unspoken commitment to our students and their families. We promise that every boy will be known and loved during his time at St. George's.
    Graduates of 2014: Remain confident in the knowledge that you are known and loved. 
    Like you, we didn't always get it right. But we have done our best. Remember us fondly, as we will remember you, and remain connected to one another and to this great School, wherever life may take you. 
    Rather strangely, over the course of the past few weeks, whenever I found myself thinking about the Graduating Class of 2014, one of my favourite poems kept coming to mind.
    You may know it.  It’s i thank You God, by ee cummings.  The first stanza, in particular, reminds me of our graduates and their amazingly positive, life affirming energy. It’s almost as if the word YES oozes from their pours! So, bear with me boys as I leave you with one final quotation:
    i thank You God for most this amazing
    day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
    and a blue dream of sky; and for everything
    which is natural which is infinite which is yes
    Thank you, Grads of 2014, for an extraordinary year.
    Thank you for making our School a better place.
    And thank you for the power of YES!
  • Dr. Tom Matthews - Junior School Prize Day, June 11, 2014

    I recently read an article in the New York Times on the traits that Google is looking for when it hires new employees. One of the surprising things that I learned is that Google doesn’t view someone’s GPA (his/her academic average) as a key predictor of future success. “Good grades certainly don’t hurt,” but Google has identified five other traits that it considers to be even more important.
    To start with, they look at a candidate’s ability to be flexible, to “learn on the fly,” and to “pull together disparate bits of information.” They also look at leadership, but not leadership in the traditional sense of the term—you know, taking charge, holding a formal title, or advancing quickly up the hierarchy. Instead, they view leadership as the ability to function effectively as a team member—to step up and to lead when required, but also to step back and to let others lead when that’s more appropriate. An effective leader, according to Google, sometimes has “to be willing to relinquish power.” Equally important is humility, particularly intellectual humility. “Without humility,” a Google executive noted, “you are unable to learn.”
    So, as you can see, Google views a person’s academic credentials as merely being the point of departure. To quote Google’s VP of People Operations:
    The world only cares about what you can do with what you know…And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavour, it also cares about a lot of soft skills—leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.”
    So what relevance does any of this have to you, the students of the Junior School, and particularly to our Grade 7 Leaving Class? For me, at least, Google’s approach to hiring reinforces the importance of process over product. Sometimes, at schools such as St. George’s, we are too preoccupied with marks. Within this highly competitive environment, students may forget that they come to school, not to get marks, but rather to learn. In our rapidly changing world, the most important skill will be learning how to learn and how to re-learn, sometimes working independently on our own and sometimes working collaboratively with others.
    The article also highlights the fact that our definition of leadership is changing. Leadership isn’t about having a title, wielding authority, or bossing other people around. It’s all about working well with others and helping others to be more effective. And finally, I was struck by the obvious affirmation of our Core Values. From humility through to integrity, the strength of your character will have a profound impact on the quality of your life and your success both in school and beyond.
    In speaking to our incoming Grade 8s, I also want to highlight the importance of gratitude.
    Boys, as you prepare to leave the Junior School, be grateful to your parents, your teachers and your coaches. You’ve worked hard and achieved success. But don’t forget—you didn’t do it on our own. In fact, you couldn’t have done it without the adults who were always there to support you.
    As you make your way through the Senior School, make the most of the opportunities presented to you, both inside and outside of the classroom. Never fall into the trap of being arrogant or of feeling entitled. Do your best to remain humble, and treat others as you would like to be treated. And don’t worry. Along with Mr. Lawrence and his Senior School team, I’ll be there—to help you find your way when you get lost (both literally and figuratively)—to make sure you keep your shirt tucked in and your top button done up—and most importantly, to support you in your transition.
    In conclusion, I would like to thank everyone for an outstanding year. In particular, I would like to express my appreciation to Mr. Devenish, Mr. Sturgeon, and the faculty and staff of the Junior School, along with Mr. Farrington, our Director of Learning, who is leaving us to become the Principal of the International School in Kuala Lumpur. I have enormous respect for my Junior School colleagues. I enjoy working them and greatly appreciate their dedication and commitment. Similarly, I also would like to acknowledge our parents for their support and for entrusting us with their sons.
    Most important of all, I am grateful to you, the boys of the Junior School. As you may recall, back in September, I asked you to do your best. I told you that I didn’t expect perfection, but that I would expect you to do your best—to get involved, to contribute, and to strive for improvement. From my perspective, you have risen to that challenge over the course of the school year. Thank you, everyone, and once again, congratulations to our Grade 7 Leaving Class. Have a relaxing and reinvigorating summer, everyone. I look forward to seeing you in September!
  • Mr. Greg Devenish - Junior School Prize Day Address 2014

    Dr. Matthews, Mrs. Bentley, faculty, parents, Georgians, and to the boys of St. George's School welcome Prize Day for 2014. It is indeed a pleasure to welcome you here where we take this opportunity today to celebrate wonderful achievement in academics, the arts and in sport. In particular, we are here to acknowledge the leaving class of 2014 as they prepare to move up to the Senior School. This class will form the nucleus of the class of 2019.

    This has been an excellent year. There have been Gold Medal performances by the Grade 6 & 7 bands at the recent Kiwanis Music Festival, Bronze Medal recipients in the Regional Science Fair, 1st Place in ISEA Public Speaking, 2nd place in the B.C. Elementary Chess Championships, and a Highest Achievement Award in Math Olympiad Competition for Grades 6 & 7. On the sports fields there were 1st place finishes in ISEA soccer, swimming, cross country running, basketball, and track and field. The Grade 7 Basketball Team was able to repeat as national CAIS Basketball Champions. The Track and Field Team won the B.C. Elementary School Track and Field with a total aggregate score without girls! There have been numerous activities such as recent Grade 6 canoe trips, “IOO Day Celebrations” in Grade 1, 34th St. Georges Scout Trip activities, Arts Week, Model U.N., Wonder Expo, Film Festivals, art projects, an upcoming Grade 7 trip to World War I and II  battlefields of France, and inventions in Grade 5. The list goes on and on and speaks volumes about the commitment made by both the faculty and the boys.

    The core values, respect, responsibility, humility, empathy and resilience remain at the forefront of our value system. “Man of character” nominations boys remain very popular. The boys write about an experience that they have personally witnessed of a student who has demonstrated one of the core values. Here is an example of a boy who recognizes one the core values.

    I nominate “Becks”. (Mr. Sturgeon’s dog. Everyday Mr. Sturgeon brings Becks to school. Becks is confined to an area of Mr. Sturgeon’s office which is an alcove. Across the alcove is a small fence or guard.) On that day I was walking by Mr. Sturgeon’s office and the guard was down and I could see Becks perfectly. I called out to Becks to come. She wagged her tail, got excited but didn’t come and that shows integrity because Becks made the right decision without anyone watching!

    This year has brought forth many challenges for the faculty including curriculum coordinators, new software and growth and renewal. Monday mornings began at 7:45 am for faculty. Over the course of the year each faculty members developed a question on best teaching practice, collected data and then used this in their teaching. At the end of the year they presented their findings to the Junior School faculty. Next year, this initiative will continue along with a review of scope and sequence for all subject areas. I have been never been prouder of the Junior School faculty than this year. During the year end presentations one was impressed by their professionalism, dedication to their craft and a real need to look to improving best learning practices for boys. I would also like to acknowledge the work put in by the Grade 7 Homeroom teachers who were responsible in working with architects and re-looking how space can better be used in instruction. Every Grade 7 boy has had lunch with me and they all commented how terrific the Grade 7 neighborhood had helped them in their learning.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Headmaster, Dr. Matthews, for his support and we do enjoy the time he spends with us every Tuesday morning. I would like to acknowledge Mrs. Bentley, Board Chair,and the Board for their unwavering support. The vision that is clearly laid out in the strategic plan with the four pillars maps out our destination and I am happy to say we embraced those challenges. I would also like to thank the Auxiliary for their generous support for helping funding for phase 1 of the Library this summer. To Justin Del Negro, Head Boy; and Owen Vandenburg , Assistant Head Boy thank you for your leadership. You have led by example and set a very good tone around the school. To all the boys, who have all made gains this year, you are to be commended for a job well done and in particular you have helped raised awareness and funds for many worthwhile causes. With leadership from Student Government, the Junior School raised over $8,000 for building a well in Kipsongol , Kenya. Lastly, I would also like to acknowledge Mr. Sturgeon, the Deputy Principal for his leadership and support over the last year and the entire Junior school Leadership Team.

    We say good bye to Mr. Raham, Mr. Yen and Ms. Macvey. Mr. Raham is returning to his hometown in Oakville Ontario to teach PHE. Ms. Macvey will be attending teacher’s college in the fall and Mr. Yen will be teaching at the Senior School. Mr. Styles will be missed in Student Services and has taken a teaching position at Collingwood School. We want to wish Mrs. Wallace all the best as she will be giving birth to new baby in August. Good luck to Mr. Weber has he is taking a year’s sabbatical to do some travelling in the Middle East. Mrs. Kathy Gordon, who teaches Grade 2, who has been on a year leave, has decided to not return and we want to say thank you for all your efforts after many years of teaching here at the Junior School. To Mr. Farrington; Director of Learning, we want to wish him all the best as he and his family, including Quinn (Grade 1), are heading off to Kuala Lumpur where he will become Principal of a large International school. In the two years since you have been here you have had a profound impact on the Junior School. You have led the Growth and Renewal Plans and have been a wonderful leader for our Leadership Team and the Curriculum Leaders. Mr. Farrington’s passion for best teaching practices came through in all the planning and the Saints community is going to miss him. All the best, Jeff!

    My last words are to the Leaving Class. I certainly have sensed over the last term that you are excited about moving to the Senior School. All of you are well prepared to take on new challenges at Grade 8. These next five years will be some of the most rewarding but challenging times of your life. I will be watching that journey. You have worked hard and as a class you have finished the year on a strong note. Some of the biggest challenges that lie ahead will involve social issues and choices that you will have to make. Some of choices will be very tough and will require some real resolve to make the right one. You are all born with a built in early warning system that immediately alerts us when things are about to grow wrong. If you heed these early warnings and take corrective action, then things go smoothly. If you ignore the warnings, irreparable damage can be done. This early warning system is called your “conscience”.

    One of the great perpendicular chapels ever built is the St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. It was completed in 1528. One of its most remarkable features is the roof. You have to remember that this roof was the largest unsupported roof in the world at that time. In fact when the architects were building it they were worried that once the supporting beams were removed after construction the roof would collapse. The stonework on the walls was solid and the roof remained intact. After 150 years cracks began to appear in the roof. Christopher Wren, who built St. Paul’s Cathedral, was called in to assess the structure. He realized that the walls were pushing out due to the weight of the huge roof. His solution was to insert large bolts of iron that reached across from one wall to the other. This worked, but Weir was adamant that this be monitored. Vigilance was needed. Architects placed nine inch long pieces of thin glass, anchored in blocks of cement at either end, at strategic places on the roof because glass cannot bend. If there is movement in the masonry, the pieces of glass will shatter. This way architects could regularly inspect the structure to make sure it was still sound. This system has been adopted by many architects because they give a warning signal when things are beginning to go wrong.

    So like the glass pieces you have a conscience warning you if something might be wrong. Heed those warning signs and when things don’t appear right take appropriate action.

    Good luck and stay in touch. You have all had a great year!

Notable Speeches

List of 5 items.

  • Courtney Klassen - Remembrance Day 2017

    Remembrance Day. Remembrance. Remember. What is it we are trying to remember? Or when we say “Never Again,” “Lest We Forget,” and “Never Forget.” What is it that we must “Never Forget”?
    I found a few photos while preparing for today. Images that spoke to me about the thin veil that exists between times of peace and times of war. I thought of my visit to Berlin a few years ago, and how but for a few decades of time, the place where I was standing had been either a centre of peace and joy or a place of violence and oppression. These composite images from Normandy represent that. But it needn’t be images from 70 or 100 years ago. The images are fresh in Syria where war rages on, as is this graffiti that I saw in a school in Liberia – left by soldiers who were the same age as you, or younger.
    We’ve come together today to remember that we have seen in our history the capacity for incredible acts of kindness, caring, and humanity. And that we have also seen the capacity for incredible acts of cruelty, hatred, and degradation. We need to remember all of it. We need to make sure that we do not allow those dark times to fall upon us ever again. Whether it is here in Canada, in Europe, in Syria, Niger, or anywhere…
    How do we do remember?
    We make it personal. We gather today to read the names and to see the faces of students and teachers from our own school who died in World War II. These are family members of our own student body. We take this collective memory and we enlarge it by including those known to us who fought and died in any conflict. We look at the wounds that the brutal, cold, bloody hatred of war has inflicted on our own community - and then we vow, “Never Again.”
    We talk about our Core Values. Empathy: feeling the pain, the loss, the struggle of those who have gone to war. Walking a mile in the shoes, not only of the young men and women who fought and died, but also of their families at home, and of those caught in the crossfire, whose homes, schools, and neighbourhoods have become a battleground. Soccer fields turned into killing fields. We try to
    understand – as best we can – what has happened to all of them.
    We talk about another Core Value: responsibility. What does it mean to be responsible? In June of 2016, St. George’s hosted the International Boys Schools Conference, and one of the keynote speakers was Amanda Lindhout, the Canadian freelance journalist who was kidnapped in Somalia in 2008. One of the thoughts that she conveyed on that day was, (if I can paraphrase) “If I know about something, I am responsible to tell others about it.” Another speaker at the same conference, the late Richard Wagamese, said that one of his elders had taught him that “being responsible means being able to respond.” I’ve had those two definitions of responsibility echoing in my mind since that conference. We don’t all have to aspire to write the speech that solves every global issue. We don’t all have to aspire to win the Nobel Peace Prize. But we do have to respond in ways that we are able to, and we do have a responsibility to tell others about the things we have experienced and that we know about.
    I know that many elements of the ceremony we just watched were very Christian, or Anglican in their content. But it needn’t be left there. So many of the philosophies and religions of the world have asked the same questions. The concept of “The Golden Rule” has been voiced independently many times, in many places, in many languages. I know that every one of you has a background that asks this question. “Am I supposed to care about what happens to other people in my world?” I believe the answer is not only yes, but a resounding yes! In this era where we can have instant communication with people in any part of the world, we are part of a global community. What happens to our brothers and sisters around the world is connected to us.
    So I’m asking today that we remember the stories, the names, and the faces of those who have been hurt by war. Let us “Never Forget” what has happened. Never Forget the capacity for evil to take hold, and Never Forget and that we are responsible for each other. And let us also vow to “Never Again” allow war to destroy the world we live in.
    I want to thank you all for being here today. I want to thank Dr. Matthews for his words to us earlier. I want to thank Mr. Devenish, and again my thanks to Sam Brown for sharing his family story with us. Thank you also to the many people behind the scenes who have made all of this possible.
    Courtney Klassen
    Head of Grade 8
    Link to PowerPoint Presentation
  • Christopher Chow and Michael Wu - Coin Drive Speech 2015

    Good morning Dr. Matthews, Mr. Devenish, staff, and fellow students. Over the past few weeks the Grade seven students have been in a fierce battle with each other in a fund raiser for Kipsongol called THE COIN DRIVE. In the coin drive, our goal was to raise as much money as possible. We did this by bringing in bills, loonies, and toonies. There were 4 clear jars, each one labeled with one of the 4 homerooms. To increase the value of a jar we had to put in bills, to decrease the value we had to put in loonies or toonies. For example if BS had a 100 dollars in there jar and DT wanted to decrease the value of the jar, they would bomb the jar with coins. How much money in loonies and toonies were put into the BS jar would lower the value of the jar. At the end of the deadline, whoever had the highest value in their jar would be declared the winner. The grand prize was a pizza party and a casual day. With that being said, the total amount raised by the grade 7 students was drumroll… 3079 dollars! Who won this amazing prize you ask? The grand winner was 7MM. These are the statistics of the amount of money we raised. We would like to invite Mr. Sturgeon to receive this donation towards Kipsongol.
  • Lesley Bentley, Past Board Chair - New Parents Dinner 2014

    On behalf of the board of St. George’s School I’d like to welcome you to the St. George’s Family. Whether you have come tonight from just down the street or half way around the world you are now a part of a family that extends back to our founding in 1930 and finds its members now nestled in truly every corner of the globe. Welcome. We are so glad you are here.
    Twenty years ago my husband Michael and I sat here at our first new parent’s dinner.  Our oldest son Spencer had just entered grade 2  but we were not unfamiliar with the school.  Michael had attended from grades 1 to 12 and upon graduation really had felt he was done with the school for good.  However, as we discussed and investigated where to educate our boys we revisited St. George’s to find a community which had changed and not only kept up with the times but truly excelled.
    Having four boys, three of whom have graduated, we have also come to appreciate how, while the school may not be the best fit for every boy, it certainly can work for many very different types of boys.  The aim of building fine young men one boy at a time is fully embraced from the board through the faculty, staff, coaching staff and administration.  So while we strive to ensure that all boys graduate with the best academic credentials we also know there will be among them fine actors, sportsmen, musicians, painters and more.  But equally importantly, as different as they may be in their areas of expertise we also aim towards ensuring all our grads are young men of empathy, integrity, respect, responsibility, resilience and humility. Remember these words.  You will hear them again and again and you will see them working out in action in your son’s lives more and more as they go through the school. They are our core values.
    We strongly believe these qualities will make for happy, confident, well-rounded boys and gentlemen who will go out into the world to make it a better place for everyone they come in contact with.
    This theme of excellence through constant improvement has really been a hallmark of what we have come to expect at Saints.  Perfection is not expected of the boys but rather constant improvement through engagement, enthusiasm, hard work and honest endeavor and yes, even failure…very often the best teaching tool of all!
    You have joined the Saints family at an exciting time in our life together.  Our most recent strategic plan is well underway and if you aren’t familiar with it I would direct you to the website. It is not just an exciting document, many of the aims are already being realized and you can follow our progress through our annual school report cards.  Our newest report card will be sent home in the next few months. Our comprehensive campus master plan is complete and very exciting and we are well underway in our re-zoning application to the City of Vancouver.  The master plan has provided us with a blueprint for what we want our school spaces to become.  As a board we are very mindful that these facilities our boys enjoy now were not built or paid for by us, but by the past generations of families who have gone through Saints.  We are acutely aware of our responsibility to maintain, improve and enhance these facilities in order to keep the school at the forefront of boys’ education. The breakthroughs in neuroscience and neuroplasticity and the flood of emerging research in boy-specific learning has been the driving force behind both the strategic plan and the campus master plan. Our workspaces don’t look anything like those our grandfathers were in and similarly our classroom spaces need to be suitable to prepare our boys for the life and work they will do. Our rezoning which is expected to be confirmed in the early spring will allow us to make these plans a reality.  Just as past generations of parents and Old Boys have participated in making the school what it is today you, as new parents, will be called on to help in this ongoing process of improvement which will require, just like any soccer game, rugby game or choir event at the school, a 100 per cent community effort.
    Tuition covers only a portion of the day-to-day operating expenses of educating the boys. Program enhancement comes through donations to the Annual Fund which we hope every parent will donate to every year. This fund is on-going and a serious part of supporting the school.
    Our ambition goals in the campus master plan will only be met through an extraordinary effort of everyone here tonight, all those with boys already in the school and those who have come before. This 40 million dollar project will see 2 new academic houses at the Senior School providing state of the art learning spaces for all academic subjects.  This is a critical need of the school as currently 65% of our senior school classrooms do not meet ministry guidelines. Additionally, the money raised will see the completion of work at the Junior School so that every grade will enjoy the enhanced spaces that the grade 7 neighbourhood now provides for those students.
    40 million dollars is a lot of money but together we can make this happen. The school is well positioned with an excellent reputation, very successful academics and college placements, fabulous co-curricular programs in sports, music, drama, the arts and pubic service and no debt. It is the boards clear intention to maintain ourselves as a debt free school. You will be hearing much more about this project over the next few months and we hope that every family will join us in supporting the project so we can deliver a great product in the most timely way possible and completely paid for!
    I’m now going to take a brief moment for a public service announcement. This is an area near and dear to my heart. St. George’s has an excellent bus service! The cost is completely covered by your tuition. The routes extend out all over the lower mainland. There is a morning bus getting everyone here for the regular beginning of the school day and there is an early bus immediately after school and a late bus for after games each afternoon. Our sons have ridden the bus since the very first day it began. Our only son still here took the bus to school on his very first day of grade 1. In fact, on that day Michael and I saw him on to the bus then drove ourselves over to school just so we could see him line up with his class and start school on his first day! No one is too young, no one is too old (in fact a few staff ride the bus). It fosters independence, your boys meet boys through all different grades in the school, it is green and it is the single nicest gift we can give our neighbours around the school. I am sure the traffic around the school has not escaped your notice. We know from the public meetings around zoning it has certainly not escaped our notice. The more boys on the bus the fewer cars, the greener the world the happier the neighbours. Please do look on line, call the transportation department at the school, do whatever you need to do but please do consider having your son arrive at school and get home by bus!
    I now have the great pleasure to introduce to you our headmaster, Dr. Tom Matthews.  Who, I might add, walks to work most days! Dr. Matthews has led the school for over four years. While guarding all the best of our heritage and tradition he has brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise in an effort to ensure we not just keep up with leading schools of the world but really help to form the future of education globally. He is a great advocate for your boys and models our core values to the boys in all he does.
  • Peter Wilken - New Parents Dinner 2014

    Good evening and thank you, Adrienne for the introduction.
    I stand here before you—as our sixth-grader Jack, then in Grade 1 proudly described me to his classmates—as ‘the oldest dad in the school!’ Thanks son – close, but not quite there just yet!
    My wife Regina and I have been St. George’s parents since we moved here from Hong Kong in 2007. Our middle son Paolo started in Grade 7 with Mr. Shin and graduated two years ago, so we have almost a complete experience between two sons from Grade 1 through to Grade 12—and we can relate to new parents who are joining mid-stream as well as those beginning at the start in Grade 1.
    Let me repeat the welcome to the St George’s family to you all and congratulate you on your choice—I am confident you won’t be disappointed. If you’re like us, you’ll have gone through a nervous waiting period after the interview process hoping your son has been accepted. I vividly recall when Paolo was interviewed in Hong Kong. One of the questions he was asked was: What individual most inspired him? You’d think perhaps someone like Nelson Mandela, Bono, even Steven Spielberg…no, the correct answer, yes that’s it…you’ve got it—Jim Carrey! JIM CARREY!! for goodness sake! What were they going to think…that we’d been feeding our boys a diet of Liar Liar and Dumb and Dumber? We looked at each other in dismay. Then, he explained why—because with all the troubles in the world it’s become too serious a place and Jim Carrey with his slapstick, self-deprecating humour helps us not to take life so seriously—good recovery!
    Anyway, you can relax; your sons have been accepted, congratulations. You are now part of the St. George’s family.
    I choose my words carefully, and I mean the word family when I say it; when you join the St. George’s community it really is a large family. And, like any extended family there are close and distant relationships, some people you see all the time and some hardly at all, some you connect with instantly, and others where you might not click so easily, or even have quite different views on certain things.
    And that’s all good. But what all successful families ultimately have is what I call ‘the thread that binds’…a shared common interest in protecting individual family members by building the strength of the bigger family. That strength is built on intangibles like the shared values we engender in our boys: integrity, responsibility, respect, resilience, empathy and my personal favourite (as translated by a first-grader) - humidity! – an apposite error in this climate. It’s also built on tangibles, such as financial strength, in order to provide the type of educational experience the School aspires to.
    I’ve been asked to speak about supporting the School and why that’s important. Well, I can share with you why it’s important to Regina and me. It’s simple really, and actually when I think about it, a little selfish.
    We choose to give to the School because it gives back so much to us. Not just in what we believe is a first-class educational experience for our boys, but also in the rich social community of people that have become close friends. As with most things in life, what you get out is directly proportional to what you put in. We choose to give, because we get it back—with interest—in a myriad of ways:
    • in that momentous moment when your bright but introverted teenager, by his own description ‘on the periphery’ of his grade, finds his place as he holds a packed theatre audience captive with a honey-mustard tenor singing voice we never knew he had;
    • or in that same self-described ‘indoor boy’ recalling his encounter with a wild moose and canoeing 260 kilometres down the Stikine River in Alaska on his Discovery 10 trip;
    • or in the beaming smile of pride from a 10-year-old who’s just been nominated as a ‘Man of Character’ by one of his peers;
    • or the small kindness of Louise Jones reserving a second-hand sweater at the school shop in Jack’s size to replace the umpteenth one he’s lost;
    • or in the simple trust of a friend to share pick-up duties.
    I could have picked a thousand more examples how we get back from the School every day and it wouldn’t begin to cover it. You will, I hope and trust, experience the same in your own unique way. You’ll find it’s not just your own sons’ lives you get involved with but your sons’ friends too.
    As you’ve no doubt been told before, school fees only cover 70% of the costs of tuition, the remainder is made up from donations. We are all beneficiaries of the parents and the Alumni (or Georgians) that have come before us. It is their contributions and legacy donations that have built the facilities and provided for the teaching and learning experiences our boys now enjoy. We feel there is an unwritten responsibility to uphold that legacy and to give back, knowing perhaps, that your own son may not receive the full benefit of whatever results from that giving, but that it is quite simply the right thing to do to.
    I’ve tried to instil in our boys the notion that in life there are Givers and Takers—that it might seem that Takers have the advantage, especially in the short term, but that ultimately it’s the Givers that gain. I happen to believe in the well-worn cliché, ‘what goes around comes around’. What you put out there will eventually come back to you.
    So we give what we can…we give in kind and in cash…but only as much as we can comfortably give. I left advertising a decade ago and some time later co-founded a start-up company in the renewable energy sector—it’s still a small company and some years are better than others, so sometimes we give a little more, others a little less, but we always try to give something. Participation is important.
    We also understand how tough it can sometimes be for parents to keep up with all the appeals, often at a life-stage when the demands of home-building and growing families present enough financial pressure in itself. There are no rules; the Advancement Team are parents too; they understand and empathise—speak with them if you want guidance. Give only what you are comfortable giving—what makes you feel you’ve done the right thing—because that will bring you happiness.
    Giving in kind, through time and sharing knowledge or skills is equally rewarding.
    I have had the privilege to partner with fellow Saints parent Carolyn Kirkwood working with Dr. Matthews and the Management Team to craft and execute a Strategic Plan that will differentiate the School and position it for success in the future. The reward has been in not only feeling we’re making a tangible difference, but in working with a terrific group of talented individuals, led by an empathetic and visionary Headmaster. I feel privileged to have got to know them all on first name terms.
    Regina does the grunt work, of course. She sits on the St. George’s Parents Association Board (the SGPA), is a regular Class Mom, and was Co-Head Convenor with Ming Shen for the Annual Fair for the last two years. As the current incumbents will attest, the latter is virtually a full time job for nine months of the year, with pretty much every waking hour devoted to Fair duty in the run-up. As I said, there are some advantages— every hour your wife is on Fair Duty is an hour less in Holt Renfrew!
    For those of you who don’t know my wife or think that’s a low shot, she recently texted me: “Marriage is a workshop—the husband works and the wife shops!”
    There are opportunities everywhere to get involved with the Saints community: Grade and Class Parents, the SGPA, the Hamper Drive, theatre productions, library and playground duty, and, of course, the Annual Fair that calls for a thousand volunteers every year. And, although the onus inevitably falls on the wives, there are lots of ways for the husbands to be actively engaged in their sons’ school lives as well. Beyond the obvious sports for example, there’s an entrepreneurs group where forums are created for parents to share real-life work experiences…and the Dragons’ Lair for innovative ideas.
    Let me finish by sharing with you the secret to a happy life.
    That headline caught my attention in on online article. It captured the findings of George Valliant, a Harvard psychologist who has spent most of his adult life analyzing the data from the Grant Study—possibly the longest-running longitudinal study in scientific research history, tracking 268 people over 75 years across all aspects of their lives.  Valliant has spent 40 years analyzing this study to determine which factors most reliably correlate with well-being. He’s probably studied happiness longer, and in greater depth, than any other single human being. So, what did he conclude is the secret to a happy life?
    In a sentence:
    “That the only thing that really matters in life is your relationships to other people.”
    Family and community are arguably the two most important relationships. Each of our families is part of the bigger St. George’s family.
    So there you have it.
    Everything you give to support the relationships that mean the most to you is an investment in happiness.
    And what can be more rewarding than helping achieve the goal of building fine young men…one boy at a time… to become fine men.
  • Nicolas Wicaksono - Formal Dinner Speech - September 2014

    Good evening fellow Boarders, House Parents, Faculty, Dr. Matthews, and our most esteemed guests. I hope you know who I am by now, but if you don’t, I’m Nicolas Wicaksono, and it is an absolute honour to serve as your Captain for this year.
    Sometimes I wonder if magic is real. I don’t know if magic exists, but I do know there are moments so miraculous and so amazing that they are called magical. When we help someone else, that warm feeling in our hearts – magical. When you worked so hard for something, and finally get your reward – magical. When I see how quickly, in a few weeks, boys from all around the world and staff, many of who are new to St. George's, act like we have known each other for a lifetime – magical. Once again, Harker Hall is working its ability to transform strangers into brothers, individuals into team players, and in my case last year, the biggest homesick baby you’ll ever see into a happy servant of this one-of-a-kind community. On behalf of the entire school community, welcome new students and faculty to Harker Hall.  For all returning students and staff, welcome home.
    I’d like to firstly address and welcome our new students. These past few weeks, I’ve seen you guys blend quickly into the House. I wish I blended in as quickly as you have. Almost exactly a year ago, I sat where many of you now are sitting. I was nervous. I was afraid. Afraid of all that I had given up in order to come here. However, I quickly realized that while I left many great friends behind, I was welcomed to a family. For many of you, these few weeks have been an ending as well as a beginning. I know that for many, leaving your families and friends is incredibly difficult, but let’s write a new story. The activities we have seen these few weeks are a tiny snapshot of the good times to come. There is so much to do in Harker Hall, in Saints, and in Vancouver. Take advantage of these opportunities, because you’ll remember them forever.
    For the returning students, words can’t express how jealous I am of you. Many of you have spent many years in Harker Hall. Some of you have been around since Grade 7. I wish I came in as early as you guys did. Value your time here. Take initiative to make positive changes. Make our home better. Now, I speak to you not as a student leader, but as a fellow boarder. I know that you have come back only to face some new rules, and many of you have been the ones most affected. I’ve had the privilege to work closely with our House Parents, and sometimes I feel like they might as well be our parents. There are reasons the rules were implemented. It’s not because the House Parents are mean, nor because they’re inconsiderate, but because they care so much for us, more so than we can imagine. So work with them, and work with your peers. They will be some of the most important people in your high school life.
    Finally, for the Grads. This is our final year here at Saints and in Harker Hall. In the blink of an eye, at our Farewell Formal Dinner, we will be seated here, and then we will be on our knees, begging time to stop, so that we can have one last moment to savour. There will soon come a day where thousands of miles and mountains of commitments will stand between us. But this year, the bonds we craft, the memories we make, and legacies we leave, will always keep us together at heart. So here is a challenge for us Grads. Let’s be the most memorable Harker Hall Grad Class in years, and for years to come. Let’s do this, not by pulling some crazy elaborate prank, not by being rowdy, but by being kind to one another. Some of us may feel that a storm called university apps is upon us, threatening to tear us apart. But let’s not forget the brotherhood we share. Let’s help each other out, and help the younger grades make their way to where a lot of you are. Let’s leave a legacy of compassion and care.

    In Harker Hall, we value everyone as an individual and as a community. We know that everyone has individual goals. Whether it is to get consecutive “pentakills” with our favorite League champions, to get “yolked” for a sport, to ace our courses, or just to enjoy our time, please, do pursue those goals. As a community, we support each other and help each other reach new heights. But at the end of the day, the only way forward is together. Take the time to be part of something larger than you and me. Try to talk to as many people as you can. I know that it would be a huge pity if you lost your native languages, so feel free to practice them when you are together with those who can relate to you. But make an effort to include different people, by speaking so that they can understand who you are and your passions.
    We are not just a simple sum of different cultures and interests; we have the chance to build a new culture. A culture of togetherness and inclusion. And that is something so incredibly special. 

Senior School Captain Speeches

List of 5 items.

  • Xavi Delgado, New Parents Dinner Speech 2016

    Good evening Dr. Matthews, Mr. Kerr, Mr. Kern, Mr. Devenish, members of the Board, and of course, you: the New Parents of St. George’s.
    On behalf of the entire Senior School community, welcome. My name is Xavi Delgado, and alongside Vice Captains Rhys French and Jared Bakonyi, I have the honour of leading the school for the 2016-2017 school year.
    Tonight, really, is a win-win situation for everyone here. We, the speakers, get to formally welcome you into the crazy, diverse, epic family that is St. George’s. Consequently, you, the parents, get a glimpse of the key players that help drive the direction of the School and pave the way for your boys.
    This is a school where traditions and values run deep; a place where new students are welcomed with open arms and immersed in the surplus of experiences it offers. Every boy, regardless of age or time here, wears their uniform with pride.
    Of course, in such a place, it’s not uncommon to find ideas and catchphrases that morph into school-defining clichés. One that I never really gave much thought to until last year is the School’s mission statement: “Building Fine Young Men”.
    If you’re anything like me, that phrase prompts a number of questions. Namely, how does this place turn its students into fine young men, what is a fine young man, and, of course, how can you, the parents, aid your son in his process to becoming a fine young man?
    I think the answer is best shared through a personal story.
    St. George’s offers 20 Grade 10 students spots in the Discovery 10 Program, which ventures on numerous Outdoor Education trips throughout the academic year. The final trip, a 20-day hiking and kayaking trip on Vancouver Island, is the culmination of the skills the boys gain throughout the program.
    I remember the day I left for the year-end trip when I was in Discovery. I’d said my goodbyes, loaded my bag on the bus, and 12 hours later found myself at a campsite in the middle of nowhere, miles away from the comforts of home. I am, admittedly, not an outdoors person, and even after seven months of being on the program, I still didn’t feel at home in the wilderness. I missed my bed, my computer, and my clean bathroom.
    But on top of that all, I missed my family and the community I’d left behind. Although I was surrounded by 19 other boys, on that first night, I felt alone.
    But later that night, I found a piece of paper tucked in between my sleeping pad and food kit: it was a letter from my mom. Although I struggle to recount specific details of that letter, one part has stuck with me to this day.
    At the bottom of the page, she wrote: “Take the time to spread your wings and fly.”
    Because really, ladies and gentlemen, that’s what the goal of this community is. “Building Fine Young Men” does not mean the School uses cookie cutters and molds to make athletes, artists, and scholars: it means it provides each of us with the tools we need to develop and grow.
    And that’s why we boys love this institution so much. Every boy understands that at this school there is no pressure for him to be a doctor or lawyer or diplomat or businessman. If he chooses to go down that path on his own, the School will support him, but he could just as easily and impressively be an artist, a writer, or an athlete.
    And so, I’d like to end off with three main points to consider:
    Firstly, school is incredibly hectic. In the age of AP courses and honours classes, students often lose themselves in their abundance of schoolwork and extracurriculars. Your sons will inevitably get lost at some point, and feel confused and alone like I was on that first night of the trip. Always be willing to lend a hand and steer them in the right direction, because it can truly make a difference.
    Secondly, St. George’s is a mountain with many, many paths to the top. There is a seemingly infinite number of experiences your son can partake in, and the Discovery Program is just the tip of the iceberg. No two boys will encounter the same crossroads or overcome the same obstacles, but they all reach the summit at some point. Allow them to explore these paths early on, as it’s these journeys that define their character throughout the rest of their lives.
    And lastly, let your son go. Take a step back. Give him room to breathe. Let him learn to spread his wings and fly.
    Thank you so much.
  • Ezaan Mangalji, Valedictory Speech, 2016

    Good afternoon Dr. Matthews, “Colonel Kern”, members of the platform party, lovely parents, texting siblings, friends, staff, younglings (my fellow students), and most importantly, Graduates of 2016.
    I would first like to say that this is a huge, huge honour for you all to be here listening to me – what a treat for you! I had originally planned to go all “Ted Talk” on this speech: strutting around the stage, visuals, lights, the whole shebang. However, while competing a couple of weeks ago in one of St. George’s most valued, most competitive, and most gruelling sports, “Full Contact Cricket”, I fractured part of my pelvic bone. I was performing the most strenuous move in the sport – running…and that, everyone is why you stretch before you exercise. A quick thank you to everyone who has carried my bags and apologies to all those who get trapped behind me in the hallways.
    Today is our Graduation. A celebration, a reflection, a rite of passage, and a transition for 163 of the finest young men in town. With the warm company of our family, friends, and mentors, we part ways with what has been our home for the past five years, more or less for some.
    Soon we’ll be released into a world where we have to care about gross things like responsibility and actual deadlines. No longer will we be free to shatter glass doors in the Grad Lounge like Owen Pitblado, “permanently borrow” supplies from art rooms like Curtis Ho, or send mass emails about bringing fat stacks for Samosa Sales. We’ll be moving on to a fresh start with unknown possibilities. And I’m incredibly proud to say that our very own Thomas Espig will enter the fashion world next year to run his Yale 2020 department store. Eventually, everything is going to change for the boys sitting on my right, but the future is still far off. Instead of worrying about our terrifying future without Saints, let’s take some time to relax, flip this around, and deconstruct where we are and what the Class of 2016 has become.
    Now, how do I condense all the memories, achievements, and raw awesomeness of this band of brothers into one little speech?
    As generations of Head Boys have before me, I first turned to short stories, fables, adages, and quotes. I racked my mind and scoured the deep web for some sort of substance that could encapsulate the uncanny demeanour and adventurousness of the Class of 2016. I stumbled across a splendid children’s story titled “Two Silly Goats”. It was…uuuuhh…interesting. The story unfolds like this: two goats lay on opposite ends of a narrow bridge. The goats vie to cross first but neither goat yields to the other so both get stuck in the middle of the bridge. The goats immediately begin to fight, causing both to fall into the river and drown.
    Hmmmm . . . Now, after reading this, I realized that this was a dumb story and had absolutely no connection to our grade. But in all honesty it gave me some guidance and insight on how to commemorate this Class today. See, we’re not a moral ending to a fable. We’re not a metaphor, and we’re definitely not a short story.
    I once talked about how going through this School is like driving a car, and it is in some ways and isn’t in others. I could compare us to a tree, while we head in different directions and places like branches, our roots will always remain at St. George’s, ever sturdier through camaraderie. I could try to categorize our cliques, but the borders between them are fuzzy with various friendships. I could try and contort what we are in any which way to fit into one of these metaphors, yet what I’ve realized is the only way to personally describe us 163 men is as “the Class of 2016”. The last class lucky enough to have Mr. Palmer as a Head of Grade twice. The first class to be targeted ­for five years ­by 21st century learning. A class relatively light on suspensions, but high on shenanigans. The only class NOT to put holes in the Grad Lounge and to turn the Staff Lounge into a 1’ x 1’ closet.
    We are merely our own selves, and there are no neat metaphors that can fetter us, nothing that can completely encapsulate what we are.
    Let me explain more: as a class, you could argue that we are nothing special, ­nothing makes us stand out for comparison. We created nothing that others hadn’t done before. Yes, Liam Ross managed to hit a foosball so hard it flew out and smashed a TV—and then a week later he somehow won an even bigger and better TV in a raffle. Yes, we have Vancouver’s most talented craner, Ben Kirsh; and yes, we had the entire rugby squad dye their hair blonde, only to be forced to dye it back a week later. But as a class, together, we haven’t set any major records, we broke few rules, and we didn't create a clear, lasting legacy.
    See—but what we did do, something that makes us incredibly unique in our own way—something many people are still trying to figure out how to do—is be ourselves, in a way that no motivational speech can teach. Through adversity, we learned to embrace our own inherent strangeness to become genuinely ‘lit’ people. We became a living oxymoron: a ‘group’ sworn to respect our ‘individuality’. Yet our individuality, ironically, is what tied us together. That showed itself in our grade’s efforts to make Spirit Week, Arts Week, Grad Prank Day, and other celebrations into the best they’d ever been. Fundamentally, it means we are accepting of ourselves and each other. It may not be something remembered by this school or by other grades, but it will certainly be something remembered by us.
    In today’s world, people try hard—and I mean desperately hard—to carve out some niche for which they can take credit: most likes on Facebook, highest Instagram follower ratio, best cricketer in the province—anything that’ll bring them recognition. But our grade isn’t like that: we did not work to be remembered and recognized, we worked for each other and for what we personally found meaningful. These silly goats figured out how to be awesome.
    But this lovely bunch of boys here would have never gotten this far if not for the guidance of some special individuals and groups, who recognized us for who we are, and did their best to foster that uniqueness and help it grow along with us.
    To our parents—thank you for your money. To our siblings—­thank you for taking our money. But more importantly to our families—­thank you for being our rock for the past 17 years. Today is just as important for you as it is for us. Congratulations for finally getting rid of us—but don’t get too excited now, oh no, we’ll be back to reclaim our homes in four short years.
    To the support staff we don’t always see—thank you for completing the most daunting task at the school: feeding us. Despite all the shade we throw at Sodexo, you never fail to keep us well nourished. Thank you for keeping our classrooms clean, for keeping this field so pretty, and for keeping us safe. You’re the backbone of the school: everything would fall apart without you.
    To our teachers and coaches—thank you for helping us transform from foolish little Grade 8s to bigger but equally foolish Grade 12s. You’ve been both our mentors and our friends, a feat which makes you truly special. We will never forget the many ways you went beyond the call of duty, treating us like actual individuals so that we could be ourselves.
    To everyone’s homie, Mr. Palmer—we were first blessed upon you five years ago during your final year as Head of Grade 8. And now after all these years, as Head of Grade 12, you get to see us cross the stage. I hope you are proud of who we’ve become because so much of it is owed to you. You’ve managed to precariously balance kindness and sternness in your actions and you’ve become a role model to us all. And most importantly, thank you for letting us make your dog Jackson our grade mascot and therapy dog.
    To the Gare Bear, Mr. Kern—I use that nickname because everyone here knows just how heartfelt and kind he is—it’s 5-­1 for me right? If you're wondering what that is, it’s the score in the Mangalji v. Kern Ping Pong Series—clearly he’s not very good. Joking aside, I wanted to thank you for never ceasing to grin while bobbing your head. I can truly say that even though it’s your first year as Principal here, you’ve been remarkable. I thank you for the way you engage in conversation with us and your general openness to debate and change—you’re not afraid to try new things, and that sir, is why you have earned our respect.
    To Dr. Matthews—support can mean so many things to so many people, yet for DTM, its unconditionalness—I don't think that’s a real word, but I just created it for you. Your unconditional acceptance of every boy that walks these halls makes your support so special and so unifying. Thank you for taking the time to sit down with every Graduate over lunch. You truly know how to win over our hearts—­free food. We will miss your leadership.
    To the younglings in Grade 8 to 11—you should feel honoured, you’ve witnessed greatness. Soon enough you’ll be on these bleachers yourselves; don’t waste the time you have left at the school. Thank you for an awesome year, treat this place right when we’re gone, and don't forget to ‘throw some respek’ on our class.
    To the Prefects—um, I think you have to have done something to be thanked. Just kidding, thank you for being an outstanding team and all your hard work this year. Noah—thank you for being an amazing Deputy Captain and always being willing to lend a hand to whoever asks for it. Raymond—for the times you’re actually at school, thank you for always putting in your full effort. It’s been a privilege to work with all of you this year.
    To St. George’s School—on behalf of the entire Graduating Class, thank you. We owe so much to the doors we’ve been walking through for the past five years. No, not those awesome glass doors to the Socials Commons, or Dr. Matthews’ huge wooden ones—I mean the doors that opened up
    worlds of possibility. Doors that taught us self-confidence. Doors through which the unspeakable energy and undying camaraderie of Saints permeate. Thank you for being accepting of the different styles, quirks, passions, values, ethics, and personalities of every boy here today. Thank you for valuing us, and seeing the importance in fostering our peculiarities and strangeness which make us special, and cool, and unique. We’re all born with a hint of strangeness, and we can either choose to embrace it or not, and, as I believe I heard Dr. Matthews quoting Emerson one day: “Who so must be a man, must be a nonconformist.” This School teaches us to be different, to be the best we can be, without sacrificing our honour, our integrity, and our own beliefs. St. George’s allows us to learn to embrace this quality. Is it because boys learn differently or is it because everyone learns differently? For at Saints this is a concept that is not merely allowed, but expected and cherished. At our School we celebrate diversity every day by creating a community of support and acceptance for students who accept tradition, and believe in the values and motivations of the School, even as they challenge the shapes in which these traditions come and directions in which they lead. We see every open door as an opportunity and at Saints there is no shortage of doors.
    Finally, to the Class of 2016—­despite the countless class hours you skipped to play smash, ping pong, foosball, or just sleep in the Grad Lounge, we still made it here today. It’s pretty surreal, eh? I’d like to thank each and every one of you for making our high school experience so memorable. Our class spirit has radiated through the classrooms, halls, and fields of St. George’s for five years now, and I can truly say that our collection of wacky, quirky, and downright awesome personalities has left a Gabe Atkinson-sized imprint on the School. Your friendship and all the memories we created have made this the best year of my life. I hope I’ve served you well.
    This year's Graduating Class and all to follow: remember this. Be you, your genuine self. To seek to be what others think is worthy is to rob you of what it is that makes you unique in the first place. Be humble, appreciate those around you and the community you are in, and be happy, for you are already unique in your own way.
    The Class of 2016 rarely sought “greatness”; we simply sought to be ourselves: to look at our image in the mirror and not only to be accepting of what we saw, but also to genuinely embrace our own reflection. And to us, that’s the only quality we have ever needed to stand out.
    Thank you. 
  • Ezaan Mangalji, Opening Assembly Speech, 2015

    Good Morning Dr. Matthews, Mr. Kern, members of the platform party, faculty and staff, and my homies—my fellow St. George’s students.
    Whether you are continuing your journey here at Saints for another year, or embarking on a new one at your first formal assembly at St. George’s, I’m honoured to offer you a warm welcome to the Senior School.
    Back up with me to the beginning of my journey, all the way back to 2013—my Grade 9 and first year at Saints. I walk into the school slightly terrified, but bright, excited, ready to make new friends, and to learn in a brand new environment. It should be a simple transition, right? But what the heck is a “Games Choice”? Unfortunately I lack a few key pieces of knowledge about the gruesome race to sign up for the best activities—I make my selection at 7:01, a mere 1 minute after the portal opened, only to find that every sport has been filled except for Rugby 9. Hyped for the first practice, despite my lack of choice in the matter, I excitedly buy all the gear I need. So what was wrong here? Oh ya, I forgot that I was a whopping 90 pounds and stood at a threatening 4’9”. Even gravity and high protein milk couldn't stretch me out as I hung from a bar in my room. I still hadn’t progressed past the “literally blown away in the wind” stage of growing, and quickly became known as the “short brown kid” by the entire Grad Class of 2013.
    So at the first practice, despite my quick reflexes, amazing stutter-step abilities, and Indian swagger, I was clearly the worst player on the team. I got absolutely pummeled, driven, and beaten—I remember at one point, Sam Turner actually picked me up and began using me as the ball. Now although Rugby 9 was a tough physical challenge, it was extremely valuable for my mind—shout-out to Resilience! It was the first time I’d become part of a community, and while I didn’t stay in Rugby the following year, valuing the preservation of my life, the experience cemented my inclusion in this wonderful community we call St. George’s School. I became accustomed to the support, love, and camaraderie we share at Saints, the pride we have for the school, the passion and empathy we all have towards each other, and the ability to hold each other in high standing no matter what may happen around us.
    So the message I’m trying to communicate is both complex and simple at the same time: don’t be afraid to get involved with different parts of the School, engage yourself, and find your passion, you’ll soon find yourself growing – not in the physical sense – but as a person. And what this really boils down to is that if you’re you, and you put yourself out there, the community of Saints will support you along the way. Throughout your journey here, you’ll find that faces change, walls change, and even courses change, but the one thing that remains the same is that you will always be part of and accepted in this family of brothers we call St. George’s.
    With that being said, although I may not be as wise as Dr. Matthews or Mr. Kern, and I certainly haven’t included the same volume of quotes, allow me to provide some directions through the confusing road map that can be the Senior School.
    To the Grade 8s: I wasn’t at Saints in Grade 8 so I got nothin’ … Just kidding, I’ll still try to share some thoughts. You’ve all just begun your journey here, so hop in your metaphorical cars and start heading places. Head down as many roads and strange paths as you can, take the time to explore the landmarks—and if you aren’t quite comfortable with metaphors yet, by that I mean different classes and activities. Don’t live in fear of crashes or mistakes, you may get dinged along the way, but it’s nothing a little paint job can’t fix. Try and kick off the journey with a bang like I did with Rugby: although it was frightening, it’s now a memory that’s permanently branded on my grad jacket with a beautiful patch saying “Rugby 9 Vet”. But take some pit stops along the way, whether you take a break at the cricket cages, or the swimming pool. It’s beautiful and interesting everywhere you go—the specific activity doesn’t matter, the fact that you’re doing it does. Maybe you’ll take a detour to Latin or German, but always remember don’t stray too far from the road. And by that I mean if you come anywhere near the Grad Lounge – the Grad Gestapos Gabe Atkinson and Jake Hauser will crush you.
    To the Grade 9s: All I have for you is Mr. Healy’s saying: “Fraternity”. But seriously, now is the time to catch up with some friends along your drive, develop bonds with each other and see where they fit into your journey. Maybe take the time to speed a little or hop on a motorcycle, you’ve still got a little bit of a “get out of jail free” card with the teachers. Either way, it's not too early to get really connected to facets of the school, nor is it too late to try something new. And remember, it's not a racethere's no right way through the meandering streets you get to explore.
    Grade 10s: You’re halfway done! Start beginning to figure out which roads and paths you love, and take the time to find your speed and pop on cruise control. Although you’re following people along the road, now is the time where you may find other people following you. But there's a still a lot of land to explore so keep on chugging through, and if you start to feel yourself accelerating, make sure not to blur past the scenery!
    Grade 11s: Yup, this one sucks. This is by far the hardest part of your journey here, so don’t overload yourself! Begin to stop taking those extra pit stops or breaks, try to keep on moving. To steal Mr. Fredeman’s quote,” You’re in the driver's seat now,” and this is truly where you’ll have to make the tough decisions. You may come to a couple of forks in the road, try to take one that has a clear destination in sight. You’ve explored a lot since you started your journey, so take the time to reflect on where you’ve been. But remember, hundreds have made the journey before younot an identical one, but everyone's survived and thrivedenjoy the fact that you are now mature enough to face those forks and make those decisions yourself.
    To the crazy boys back there, the Grads of 2016: The destination is in sight! We’re finally leading the pack, but we can only do that as a whole. Now, I’m right here with you, revving my motorcycle alongside the best group of guys I could imagine. All I know is we are in the home stretch, and although we may have different destinations in sight, always remember where and how each and every one of us began our journeys: together and here at St. George’s school. Things might slow down, but use that speed you’ve got to make the most of the time you have left—don’t coast by the sights, use your freedom to engage with them.
    Staff: you’re miles ahead of us! But we’re catching up, so watch your tail!
    As we all proceed on our journeys, independent but never alone, take the time to remember that we are all a community and we’re on the bus together.
    We, together, are St. George’s and only we together can keep those wheels on this huge bus going round and round.
    Let’s go the distance boys!
    Thank you.
  • Ezaan Mangalji, New Parents Dinner Speech, 2015

    Good evening Dr. Matthews, Mr. Kern, Mr. Devenish, members of the Board, and you, the annoyance of my childhood, parents.
    I’m just kidding. I love you all. Whether you’re beginning your journey at Saints as a Grade 1 parent or nearing the end with your son in Grade 12, it is my pleasure, from the entire Senior School community, to offer you my warmest welcome to the community and this huge family we call St. George’s. And that’s what this community really comes down to: family. You’ll soon find that other parents become your cousins, other boys become your own, teachers become your crazy uncles and aunts that you can’t get rid of, and you get stuck with Dr. Matthews as your wise old uncle (although he’s really not too bad). You see, St. George’s has an interesting way of drawing you in, it’s always changing and adapting, intriguing you with new opportunities, providing you with a second home, and it will always find a way, whether you want it or not, to steal your heart. But before we get into the deep stuff allow me to share a story.
    Now, back up with me to the beginning of my journey, all the way to 2013 – my Grade 9 and first year at Saints. I walk into the School slightly terrified, but bright, excited, ready to make new friends, and to learn in a brand new environment. I sign up to play Rugby 9, a prided sport at Saints, but probably not the wisest choice for me. Hyped for the first practice, despite my lack of choice in the matter, I excitedly buy all the gear I need. So what was wrong here? Oh yeah, I forgot that I was a whopping 90 pounds and stood at a threatening 4’9”. Even gravity and high protein milk couldn't stretch me out as I hung from a bar in my room. I still hadn’t progressed past the “literally blown away in the wind” stage of growing.
    So at the first practice, despite my quick reflexes, amazing stutter-step abilities, and Indian swagger, I was clearly the worst player on the team. I got absolutely pummeled, driven, and beaten—I remember at one point, one of my friends actually picked me up and began using me as the ball. Now although Rugby 9 was a tough physical challenge, it was extremely valuable for my mind. It was the first time I’d become part of a community, and while I didn’t stay in Rugby the following year, valuing the preservation of my life, the experience cemented my inclusion in this wonderful family we call St. George’s School. I became accustomed to the support, love, and camaraderie we share at Saints, the pride we have for the School, the passion and empathy we all have towards each other, and the ability to always hold each other in high standing.
    So the message I’m trying to communicate to you parents is both complex and simple at the same time: don’t be afraid to let your son get involved with different parts of the School, let him engage himself in something as crazy as Rugby 9, let him find his own passion, and you’ll soon find him flourishing in ways you would’ve never expected. And what this really boils down to is that if you allow your son to be himself, and encourage him to put himself out there, the community of Saints will support him along the way. Every single person in this family has an integral role in making your son’s experience the best it can possibly be, it’s the boys, the faculty, the School, and most definitely, it’s you.
    You, the parents, have brought your son into this wonderful community for a reason, so let him pave his own path, and find his own identity in this vibrant community. Aid him along his journey, and help him make his own decisions. However, remember that what your son is involved in doesn’t particularly matter—I mean, he can even do cricket—but the fact that he is involved in something does.
    Basically, all that I’ve said blows up to these three main points:
    Firstly, release your child to the School. Let him explore what’s available at St. George’s, and let him evolve and grow into the fine young man that he is.
    Secondly, as we all grow apart on our own journeys, independent but never alone, take the time to remember that we are all a family whose roots remain as one, together, here at Saints.
    And finally, welcome to St. George’s School. It has been wonderful to see you all here, and I am hyped to see all of you see your sons flourish throughout the year.
    Let’s keep this family we call St. George’s glowing and growing,
    Thank you and have a lovely evening.
    Ezaan Mangalji ’16
    School Captain 
  • Quinton Huang - Valedictory Speech 2015

    Good afternoon Dr. Matthews, Mr. Lawrence, Mrs. Bentley, Mr. Toy, members of the Platform Party, faculty, staff, students and fellow Grads of 2015.
    I feel honoured and incredibly grateful for this opportunity to speak to you on behalf of my classmates to my right. In truth, however, I have been both eagerly anticipating and dreading this speech, and what it represents, since the beginning of the year.
    Graduation is a celebration of our St. George’s journey, in the company of the friends, family, and mentors who have made it special. It is our promotion into the next gradenot a numbered one in the high school education system, but one that introduces us to the adult world, full of responsibilities and unknown possibilities.
    Graduation is also when we leave our lives at St. George’s, as we know them, forever. This means a fresh start, with new friends and adventures, but it also means parting ways with the ones we have here, a second family. We will live in the present, and time will take these people and these moments and fix them in our minds as fond memories.
    So, graduation is both an overture and a finale; a new beginning and a funeral.
    To capture this zeitgeist, this two-faced spirit of graduation, is at the heart of every valedictory I have come across.
    How should I capture it then? How should I commemorate our story here and connect it with the world which awaits us?
    I could, for instance, take us on a trip down memory lane. Under the steady guidance of Mr. Devenish and Mr. Toy, our Junior School years were filled with far more fun than we realized then. A certain wanderlust guided us through the playgrounds and forest during recesses; that same restlessness drove us to explore the school and to take advantage of all the opportunities we could find.
    But then we came into the Senior School. A class that started with just 19 students rose to more than 160 by the beginning of Grade 12. As our class size changed, we changed too. For one thing, many boys, especially the formerly short among us, zoomed up in height in a curious new phenomenon called puberty. Spencer Louie’s voice has gone down several octaves, while Matthew Lee…still has plenty of time to start developing a baritone sound. Some things might never change, though. In a couple years’ time, the only shirt that can fit Jayden Bloom will probably still be five sizes too small.
    I could talk about what legacy we’ve left at St. George’sbecause we have left behind a terrific trail of stories and legends in our wake. I’m talking beyond the provincial sports titles, national academic distinctions, and prolific university acceptances. A fantastic Student Expo, featuring our very own Zedion. A stunning Rigg show. Romeo and Juliet. The ‘Hunger Games’ House Supper skit. Krispy Kreme donut sales. Smokey McLean with his smoke machine (nobody will ever forget that). Each One Teach One. Saints Conference. Grad Band and Jazz Combo. Alley Outreach. Student-run senior assemblies. Investment and Business Club. VMUN. Our Grad Prank Beach Daybananas and emergency showers included.

    Context is important though. Dig deep enough, and you’ll find that the Class of 2011, the Grads when we were in Grade 8, had more than 36 suspensions on their docket in a single year. It makes our record this year pale in comparison.
    And even if the things we’re able to leave behind stretch out to infinity, these achievements themselves mean only so much. Flip through yearbooks past, or look to other students around this city or country, and you’ll realize that we are not alone, nor the greatest, in awards or distinctions, initiatives, or events. We’ve had our share of tough losses and disappointments, as well.
    But what does make what we’ve done special is the fact that we acted with our own grit and determination. It is this perspective of excellence, of trying one’s best and helping each other succeed, which I have seen embraced everywhere from Schoolreach tournaments to provincial Rugby matches, Yearbook photo meetings to Basketball games. As Philippe de Coubertin, a founder of the modern Olympic Games, said, “The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”
    I could say “we are the future,” but then I’d be a little concerned about the future. For all the awesome things that we’ve accomplished, and all the potential and talent we have, I have some not insignificant doubts. Let’s recognize a few facts here: Jeff Lee will never attend an assembly willingly in his life, though eventually we’ll all be shopping from the Apple Stores which he runs. Charley Zhang will never need to pay for heating gas, because he already has so much heat inside of him. Chock Lopez will shed a tear once in his life.
    You don’t need to have your finger on the pulse to know that Michael Hougen will find every single excuse possible to miss any of his university classes. Uncharacteristically of the Athletics department, they had to ban Michael Hougen from ab-blasting because of overuse of the Fitness Centre during class time. Apparently, he justified it by asking Dr. Matthews whether maintaining his health was more important than the pursuit of his studies. It’s a good thing they banned him too, or else none of his essays in History 12 would ever have gotten started.
    I could talk about how we as a grade formed “a cohesive unit” in our last year, as many School Captains have in the past. But this would be a half truth. Talking about our diversity and individualism would also be missing the point.
    The imprint of the Grad Lounge and Grad events on our school lives has definitely bonded us together more closely than ever. But, refreshingly, we weren’t all on the same track, all of the time. Our class was somewhere in between the extremes of monolithic on one end and cliquey on the other. We were more than willing to support those whom we didn’t know as well, and we were devoted to our own close friends as we strived to strengthen those relationships right until the end of the year. But we never, ever missed an opportunity to stick up for another Grad.
    Peer through the aperture of our year and you’ll see what I mean. I remember “the boys” dropping in for their first visit ever at a Winter Band Concertthough in return they expected a marching band at the Rugby game against Shawnigan Lake.

    We all have a little spark of joy inside of us, and we chose to share that limited light with each other as much as possible. We celebrated the diversity we sharedno matter whether we were from just around the block or across the Pacific Ocean, whether we played for Canada or Mexico, or we weren’t involved in any competitive sports at all, whether we were gay or straight, bi- or pan-, whether we were the first to jump for the Nintendo controller, or we preferred to keep to ourselves.
    I could tell you, as Dr. Matthews usually does, to remember the School fondly. But, while hanging on the last edge of our pivotal years at Saints, I think we’d agree that we will do much more than that. We know that St. George’s isn’t the walls of the building behind us, nor the class timetable or even the curriculum. St. George’s is ultimately the people herethe collective result of this entire community of students and teachersand in leaving we take a part of St. George’s with us wherever we go.
    When we encounter adversity, we’ll draw from the lessons and values we’ve learned here. When we meet new people and join new communities, we’ll instil the same sense of fraternity and caring that we’ve enjoyed here. When we eat at our college cafeterias, maybe we’ll even devise a food rating system based on precious metals and, without any proof whatsoever, convince the entire campus that they’re eating one rank below prison food.
    Our time here at St. George’s still has a lot to give us, even beyond graduation. The ripple can be more important than the initial wave.
    I could use the ever popular stock phrases: “We did it! We’ve done it! Despite the unsanitary amount of hours of Super Smash Bros. logged on the Wii U, we actually graduated.”
    But to do so without qualification neglects the enormous support we have received over the past five years and beyond to get to this point.
    First and foremost, to our parents and grandparentsthank you for being there throughout our entire lives. Thanks for pushing us when we needed a push, for picking us up when we were down, and for having so much patience for us. Thank you for enrolling us at Saints. Today is your day just as much as it is ours.
    To our teachers and coachesthank you for imparting your passion to us, for being our mentors and friends, for looking out for us when we needed help. The amount of sheer dedication you have in the face of the amount of trouble we cause in your classes is awe-inspiring. We will not forget you.
    To the staff behind the scenesthank you for feeding us, keeping our classrooms clean and safe, making the fields green, and ensuring our letters, marks, and transcripts got where they needed to go. Custodians, we’re really, really, really sorry about the Grad Lounge.
    To Mr. Palmeryou are tireless, benevolent, and humble. You’ve stuck by our side as both our Head of Grade 8 and our Head of Grade 12. The incredible commitment that you have demonstrated to us has touched us all, and without you, our graduation would simply not be possible. Thank you for seeing us all the way.
    To Mr. Lawrencewe are proud to be graduating with you this year, even if you had to repeat some 30 years at this School in order to get to this stage. Your perpetual optimism and warm openness are things that we have come to identify with Saints itself. You and we may leave Saints, but know that a part of Saints will always be with you, and a part of you will always be with us.
    To Dr. Matthewswhen we were new to this campus, you were new to it too. We grew up in the Senior School together. Throughout that time, we’ve come to know you as someone whom we could always ask for help, someone interested and supportive of each and every one of us. Thank you for your leadership, your kindness, and your encouragement.
    To the younger gradesthank you for the memories on the bus, in class, or just around in the hallway. Remember us, but don’t feel constrained within what we’ve done or said. Chart your own path; write your own story…except if it involves mass email surveys. Grade 11sor rather, incoming Grade 12sgood luck.
    On a more personal note: to the Prefectsthank you for being an outstanding team. I’ve learned so much from you and have been humbled by your company. In particular, Reedyou’ve been an amazing and thoughtful co-leader, and it’s been a privilege to work closely with you. NicolasI have always looked up to you and your leadership, and this year has been no different.
    To the Gradsthank you for placing your trust in me and for welcoming me with open arms. Getting to know some of you better and watching you guys in action, whether it was at the Boarding House, on the Band Tour, at Burnaby Lake or at the boathouse, have been some of my best memories this year. Your friendship and kindness have affected me greatly, and I hope that I have been able to be of service to all of you this year.
    So, I could say or do any of these aforementioned things – but what I will do is this:
    I would like to quote, of all things, a funeral elegy – one of the most famous poems of the ancient Roman Catullus.
    It’s not all that morbid, I assure you. From its last line comes the name of a modern military custom, the ‘Hail and Farewell,’ which celebrates, honours and well-wishes the departing most senior leaders of a unit as a new senior group is invested.
    Loosely in English, the line goes:
    “And for evermore, my brother, I salute you and wish you well.”
    The original Latin reads:
    “atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale.”
    And is that not, after all, what a valedictory is supposed to be?
    So, Grads of 2015, this is it. We’ve come to the end of our story, and the end of this speech. We’ve sat through the funeral and the new beginning. Cheers to the outstanding year, the lasting friendships, the stubbornness of our brotherhood. Good luck to all of you, wherever you may go. We’ll miss each other.
    I offer you these parting words:
    “atque in perpetuum, fratrēs, avēte atque valēte.”
    “And for evermore, my brothers, I salute you and wish you well.”
    Thank you.

Junior School Head Boy Speeches

List of 5 items.

  • Andy Duan, New Parents Dinner Speech 2016

    Good evening parents! Welcome to St. George’s! I’m glad to see you all!
    I see some very familiar faces and lots of new faces. Some of you might be wondering who I am. My name is Andy Duan and I am the Head Boy of St. George’s Junior School. I represent the School by acting as a role model for my fellow peers. I want to instill in your children the traits that make a St. George’s boy great: respect, responsibility, empathy, integrity, humility, and resilience, all while having fun and being yourself. I also go to special events for the school. (And, YES! today is a special event!)
    Some of you might be extremely stressed out right now. “Oh No! I have to pack my son’s gym bag, uhh I need to pack his lunch too?” I know how you feel, getting us ready for school is like a marathon! I even have to pack my brother’s stuff, which teaches me respect for all of you and responsibility. It also teaches me to be positive during any experience, which makes me more resilient.
    Some of you might be worried about your son at school. Is he making friends? Is he learning? Is he happy? Well, we are all very humble and can relate well to new circumstances, in others words, we really do empathize with our fellow peers. We will always help someone when they need it. I remember when I was in Grade 3, and I saw someone get badly hurt, by accident. I went to help, and I know all of my fellow peers would do the same for anyone in need.
    As St. George’s boys, we respect each other, are responsible for each other, empathize with each other, we work as an integral, resilient team together. So, just like any St. George’s boy, your child is in safe hands.
    Thank you all and have a wonderful dinner.
    Andy Duan
    Junior School Head Boy 2016-17
  • William Xie - New Parents Dinner Speech 2015

    Good evening Dr. Matthews (Headmaster), Mr. Devenish (Junior School Principal), Mr. Kern (Senior School Principal), Mrs. Bentley (Board Chair), Board members, Georgians, and parents.
    Welcome everyone to this year’s New Parents’ Dinner! How is everyone doing tonight? My name is William Xie and I am the Head Boy of the Junior School.
    I assure you, this year is going to be an amazing year for your son. I’m sure you’re excited and a little bit nervous for him, but don’t worry; he is in great hands. We’ve got dedicated teachers to guide him through the school year! It’s ok, take a few deep breaths. He’ll be fine!
    I am a ‘Lifer’. I came into Saints in Grade 1. I still remember everything, from my parents forcing me to stand at the School’s sign to take a picture to shaking hands with the Headmaster and the Principal in the Tie Ceremony. I still remember thinking the School was like Hogwarts from Harry Potter, like most people still do. I was just a young boy going to school. I was nervous. I had literally no idea what was happening. At recess, I didn’t know what to do. I felt alone. But then, a couple of boys came over and invited me to play. I smiled. And that’s how I ended up here today. Because of my classmates and teachers I have had six great years at the School. I am confident your son is going to have the best school experience ever here at Saints. It doesn’t matter if he’s not that social, or if he’s shy. People are here for him, because we are all part of a community at Saints.
    The key to successfully entering the School is to get involved in the extracurricular activities. I can tell you right now there are lots of things to do, particularly for boys in Grades 3-7! The School has a wide range of clubs and sports. There’s Soccer, Swimming, Rugby Club, Volleyball, and whole lot more! These are now posted on the School’s website. But if your son isn’t really into sports, there’s also other opportunities like: chess, choir, the play, Model UN and later in the year, Jazz Club! But please, if your son doesn’t feel like doing any clubs for the first term, don’t push him. We all understand that he still may be getting comfortable in his new surroundings and still needs a little bit more time. And, maybe later he’ll start trying out the clubs! As long as he’s comfortable with it. But encourage him later in the year, when he’s more familiar with life at the Junior School.
    School values is another key part in making the Junior School a better and suitable environment for students to learn. The six core values we have are respect, responsibility, resilience, empathy, humility, and integrity. Each core value helps us develop into better students—into better boys and ultimately into better men. The core values impacts us so many ways. It helps create a more respectful and mature manner in class. The core values teaches us important lessons in life. Every Friday morning in Chapel, Mr. Devenish always tells us stories about people who struggled in life but kept going and never gave up on pursuing their goals. Mr. Sturgeon announces the “Man of Character”. These boys are nominated by their peers who have witnessed them demonstrating a core value. If you look in the front foyer, boys have completed various pieces of art on the core values. However, we are not perfect, and from time to time we stray from the core values but we do get support to get us back on track.
    Ultimately, we would like to thank you, the parents, for allowing your son to come to the School. Your son still may not understand how much he should be grateful for this opportunity, but in the future, he will. No matter if your son is Grade 1 or 7, they are members of “Saints”. On behalf of the students of the Junior School I would like to welcome you to the School and the journey you are about to begin. If you have any questions I am more than happy to stay around after dinner to meet with you.
    William Xie
    Junior School Head Boy
  • Kevin Li - Graduation Speech 2015

    Good morning Dr. Matthews, Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Devenish, Mr. Sturgeon, Mrs. Bentley, dear parents, grandparents, staff, students, and my fellow graduates:
    My name is Kevin Li—hopefully, it's not news for those who are present here—and I am honoured to be speaking on behalf of my classmates on this particular occasion. This day is indeed special for the leaving class, for their families, and the teachers who can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
    Even though I have only been here for two years, it has been long enough to have made an amazing impact on my life. Indeed, Junior School has been the most important part of my life so far, so I do find it extremely challenging to sum up the whole year in just a few minutes.
    Seven hours a day, five days a week, forty weeks a year - at the beginning of the year, it seemed that Grade 7 would be a slow and long journey. But oh boy, how fast the days flew by! As we looked forward to all the challenges that lay ahead of us, it did appear a little daunting at times— a huge mountain that lay ahead of us to climb. However, our dreams for success enabled us to conquer these challenges. A year of challenges met, mountains climbed, and summits surmounted!
    Personally, graduation is a time of emotional conflict, since it is the time when the realization kicks in—we are about to leave the Junior School. Instead of us being sentimental here, let us instead refresh our memories and remember those unforgettable experiences and special moments that we shared together.
    We should all be so proud of our academic successes this year. What is the first thing that comes to my mind? My memory is saturated with buoyant recollections—there were events, which not only managed to make our eyes radiant, but expanded the boundaries of the familiar world, adding to our understanding. From our Science Fair projects to our Alphabiographies and, most recently, to all the hard work we put into Civilization Week.
    I believe every one of us would not forget the pain we endured coming up with a Wonder Expo topic, but we also remember the triumph we enjoyed when we actually survived this tough task. I was one of the lucky few to have the opportunity to go to the Greater Vancouver Regional Science Fair to present my science innovation. I will admit: it was among my Top 5 most memorable events ever here at school.
    It is worth mentioning that our academic excellence only captures a small part of our successes this year. Such a great number of delights: the early morning Clarinet Choir rehearsals, sports practices and those freezie sales on hot and sweaty days. It may sound like simply a daily routine, but, guys, admit it, we now already miss those days. The trip to the Kiwanis Music Festival and coming back home with a Gold standing, was another milestone achieved. Last but not least, the Coin Drive was another highlight of this spectacular year. Our grade raised over $3000 during our coin drive to support the people in the small village in Kenya, called Kipsongol. These unforgettable experiences served as a means of rallying us in order to reach the mutual goal.
    Anything I forgot to mention? Yes, our sports! Time spent on the sports fields and in the swimming pool resulted in a great number of victories. I simply can't help noting that the Swim Team was outstanding—it's not surprising that they won the Provincial Championship along with breaking many school records. Not only did our athletic success come from the pool, but after many hours of hard work and training, our Grade 6 and 7 Rugby and 7A and B Basketball Teams rose to the top and won the ISEAs, which was quite an achievement.
    Remarkably, as the leaders of the School this year, the Grade 7 class has exemplified many core values and has been a continual role model to the whole school. Dear volunteers, especially to all of the Grade 7s, it would have been absolutely impossible for Jeevan and me to have managed those events without your support.
    At Saints, we are so fortunate to be surrounded exclusively by caring people that are always there for us and ready to give a helping hand. Our parents, friends, teachers, administrators, even the bus driver and the lady who serves us our lunch, have played a vital role in helping us get where we are now. On behalf of the Grade 7s, I would like to express gratitude to Dr. Matthews, Mr. Devenish, Mr. Sturgeon, all of the St. George's staff, and our dear parents. Because of your guidance and mentoring, we are now ready to move on to the Senior School and begin the next chapter of our lives. More importantly, all of you have made it possible for us to navigate through all the challenges and come out of them stronger and becoming finer young men.
    I would now like to dedicate this moment to address some last words to the Grade 6s. Today, the baton is being passed down to you. Please embrace the changes and your new responsibilities as the leaders of the School next year. For our part, we will enter the Senior School life—we will gain more experience, acquire more profound knowledge, and will contribute even more to the social life of the community.
    To end, I would like to share with you a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”.
    Let’s bear in mind our school motto: Without Fear or Favor. Be brave enough to pursue our dreams, until we succeed. Once again, congratulations, thank you for your attention, and have an eventful summer! 
  • Kevin Li - New Parents Dinner 2014

    Good evening Dr. Matthews, Mr. Devenish, staff members and parents,
    My name is Kevin Li and I am honoured to be addressing you at this time as the Head Boy of the Junior School for the upcoming year. I would like to take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to everyone, and especially to our new parents.
    It is a pleasure to speak to you all today, and I would like to share with you this evening some of my experiences here at St. George’s.
    Having been asked to make a speech today, I asked my parents why they had chosen St. George’s school for me. My dad explained that they had first visited the school on an Open Day two years ago and had been shown around by some of the students. Their quiet self-confidence, persuasiveness, good manners, and interest in us had impressed my parents so much, that on leaving, my mom said, “If this is the kind of young man this school produces, this is where I want my son to go.”
    Much like your sons, I was a new boy at the School last year, so I can remember my first days at St. George’s very well. When I first arrived, I was terrified to go through the doors of the castle, and enter a school where no one knew me. I was worried about many things, such as would I be able to make friends? Would I be able to keep up with the homework? Last of all, would I be athletic enough for this competitive school?  Throughout my first few weeks, there was always someone to point me in the right direction and I would like to thank all the teachers and old boys for making my first few weeks a great one.
    Our School offers a very good education not only for the higher grades but also for the Junior School.  The teachers are very positive, and—finally—they make learning fun for the picky me. Although I was assigned much more homework than I had in my old school, I think the homework is very important because it helps us build a solid foundation for learning. We do a lot of interesting projects that really open our minds and teach us to think outside of the box. I think the most exciting part of my school year is being provided one-on-one computers every day to help us learn in greater depth.
    Besides academics, St. George’s also has a strong tradition in fine arts. Programs include Arts Week, the school band, school choirs and much more. Drama always plays a huge role at St. George’s. Every year, many students will join the school play. The stage productions are always performed to the rest of the school, and I am really looking forward to watching this year’s play. I, myself, am involved in the Junior School Band. I enjoy playing the clarinet and, personally, the highlight of my musical year in Grade 6 was to participate in many band competitions.
    St. George’s School is not only known for its strong academics and fine arts, but also for its impressive athletics program. We have a record-setting history in many sports at the Junior School. These flags on the wall are many of the records we have set here at the Junior School. In addition to that, as many of you have noticed, there are way more PE classes at Saints than many other schools. For me, I have five hours of PE classes every week and you might think that this is just a waste of time—why can’t my son just learn more math or science? But I actually learned a lot of skills that are impossible to learn in classrooms, like teamwork and determination, and most importantly, I learned how to survive in 2 K endurance runs.
    Many teachers’ jobs extend beyond teaching from 8:00 to 3:00 because they also teach many extra-curricular activities. Extra activities are always being planned and are varied. In the Junior School, we offer clubs from dance to chess to cross-country. There is always something that appeals to each student’s interests. I have enjoyed taking part in cross-country, the clarinet choir and many clubs, and in the process I made a lot of friends and I really had fun.
    For all of the reasons I’ve mentioned to you plus many more, St. George’s is one of the leading independent all-boys schools in Canada. Although I have been at St. George’s for a short period of time, I have really enjoyed being part of our wonderful school community and I have no doubt your sons will have similar stories to tell in the future.
    Thank you all for listening and have a great evening! 
  • Justin Del Negro - Graduation Speech 2014

    Good morning Dr. Matthews, Mr. Devenish, Mr. Lawrence Mr. Sturgeon, Mrs. Bentley, parents, grandparents, staff, students, and my fellow graduates.
    I am honoured to be speaking on behalf of my classmates on this special day. A big thanks to everyone for taking time out of their day to share this important occasion with us. And happy birthday to Declan Kingston, who officially becomes a teenager today.
    I remember when my sister was graduating from Grade 7 four years ago. When she found out my dad couldn’t make it to her graduation ceremony she burst into tears. I thought to myself, really, what was the big deal? To me graduating meant just moving up another grade, the exact same thing she had done for the last 6 years!
    Well, here I am, standing at my own graduation, and I get it, it is a big deal. Today is the day that our Grade 7 class leaves the junior school behind. This chapter of our lives is over. Attending the Senior School, which had always seemed like a distant event, is now just a few months away.
    Graduation holds many emotions for me. Pride is one. We should all be so proud of our academic accomplishments - from the Wonder Expo, to alphabiographies and more recently, to that brutal weekend, just before the start of exams. We were given a taste of what it would be like to prepare for Senior School exams each year… for the next 5 years.
    Of course, Grade 7 hasn’t been all about schoolwork. We have learned together in many other wonderful and unforgettable ways.
    Our Grade 7 year started unlike any other – exploring the brand new Grade 7 Neighborhood. Mr. Marshall liked to compare the Neighborhood to an agora in ancient Greece. Historically, an agora was an open space where citizens could gather to hear civic announcements, gather for military campaigns or discuss politics. However, our Agora was more a venue where 12 and 13- year old boys held chair races, dodge ball games, dance performances and delicious potlucks. Later, in Greek history, the Agora was the marketplace of a city where merchants would gather to sell their wares. But I can assure Mr. Devenish and Mr. Sturgeon that no sale or barter of drinks and snacks ever took place in our Agora.
    The Neighbourhood brought the Grade 7s together, and also taught us responsibility. We learned to take care of a communal living space, and if anyone saw how messy our 6TB cubby area was last year, they would know that this was a valuable lesson.
    But to talk only about what we learned at Saints during the 8am to 3pm school day would only capture a small part of what our year has been. The early morning band and clarinet choir practices, after school play rehearsals and sports team practices all provided great learning opportunities, not to mention unforgettable memories. For me, the highlight of my year was travelling to Toronto for the CAIS soccer tournament with my teammates. I will also never forget spending my 13th birthday on an overnight class field trip. My friend, Michael Foxcroft, surprised us with cans of San Pellegrino, and homemade muffins for all of us to share in celebration.

    Playing on the 7A basketball team with some of my 6 feet-tall classmates was memorable, for me. I know that I will always have my big brothers looking out for me at the senior school.
    The class of 2019 had many successes. Our Grade 7 teams were the ISEA champions in soccer and swimming and CAIS champions in basketball. In track and field, our 4x100 team, consisting of Justin Litherland, Justin Scott, Thomas Chen and Jason Chen –appropriately named the “Justin Chen” team, broke the saints 4x100 record. Our Grade 7 band came home with a gold ranking in the Kiwanis Festival, and the combined Grades 6 and 7 teams won first place at the ISEA Public Speaking Competition.
    As Grade 7s, we were given the opportunity to be leaders of the school and we rose to the challenge. Our enthusiastic wing leaders and spirit leaders have been commendable role models throughout the year. We were never short on student volunteers and I would personally like to thank all of our Grade 7s for their willingness to help all year. Owen and I could not have managed without your help.
    As Kevin Durant said in his MVP acceptance speech this year, “When you have people behind you, you can do anything.”
    At Saints, we are so lucky to have such a dedicated and caring group of staff, teachers and administration behind us. On behalf of the Grade 7s, I would like to give special thanks to the following people:
    • Mr. Devenish, our no. 1 fan. Thank you for attending so many of our games and events and showing us how much you care. It is incredible to see how much pride you take in all of our achievements.
    • Mr. Sturgeon, our vice-principal. Thank you for running the Student Government and leading our assemblies with humour and wit.
    • Our Grade 7 teachers, thank you for sharing with us your passion of learning, and for never failing to be great role models.
    • And to all the staff and administration that makes the Saints world go round. Thank you for making this school the extraordinary places that it is.
    • To all of our parents, none of us would be here without you. Thank you for making everything possible.
    A last word to our Grade 6s, remember to embrace the responsibility that comes with being Grade 7s next year, but don’t forget to have fun. To quote Mother Teresa: “Yesterday is gone and tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin!”

    Thank You
Founded in 1930, St. George's School is a world-class boys' university preparatory school, offering a day program in Grades 1-12 and an Urban Boarding program in Grades 8-12. With 1160 students, 110 of whom are boarders from over 20 countries worldwide, St. George’s School is a vibrant community committed to authentic learning.
St. George’s School
Junior Campus: 3851 West 29th Avenue, Vancouver, BC Canada V6S 1T6
Senior Campus: 4175 West 29th Avenue, Vancouver, BC Canada V6S 1V1
604-224-1304 | info@stgeorges.bc.ca