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St. Margaret's School

1080 Lucas Avenue, Victoria, British Columbia, V8X 3P7

Grades (Gender):
JK to Gr. 12 (Girls)
$9,500 to 49,300/year
Main Language:
Avg. Class Size:
10 to 20
Day: 220 (Gr. JK - 12), Boarding: 130 (Gr. 7 - 12)

School Address
1080 Lucas Avenue, Victoria, British Columbia, V8X 3P7

About this school:


St. Margaret's School (est.1908) is an all-girl, day and boarding school located in the city of Victoria, BC. Our unique environment offers rich resources and challenges to nurture each student's development as an individual, and a global-minded citizen. Rigorous STEM-focused academics are paired with leadership and experiential programs designed to build confidence and life skills. Our programs equip girls with the knowledge, attitudes, and courage to thrive - in their studies, their careers and in life. — Visit school website



User-submitted reviews   

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View all 5 reviews
"an exceptionally welcoming environment"
Anthony Lanni - Parent   (Jan 23, 2018)
The school has been an exceptionally welcoming environment for our family. Perhaps most importantly...
"proud to be a part of the SMS community!"
Stephanie Neilson - Parent   (Jan 23, 2018)
All 3 of our daughters very much enjoy St. Margaret's School (SMS) and are very proud to be a part o...
"more of a home than simply a school"
Victoria Lee - Student   (Jan 23, 2018)
St. Margaret’s School is more of a home than simply a school. With small class sizes teachers are ...

Our Take: St. Margaret's School

our takeSt. Margaret's isn't for the faint of heart. The focus of the school is on traditional academics paired with outdoor adventure in order to encourage teamwork, confidence, and grit. The ideal student is a girl who is self-motivated, active, and who has already developed a clear set of goals. Athletics and wellness, service, connection to nature, the arts, public speaking and self-directed study are intended to build character and strength. It's a great mix for girls who thrive on independence and challenge, including the kind of competitiveness that can, at times, be a product of it.

Principal's Message


Cathy Thornicroft, Head of School

Welcome to St. Margaret’s School! This is a community that cares deeply about girls; we have been dedicated to their education, development and well-being for over a century. Together, we help girls become powerful learners with the knowledge, attitudes and courage to thrive – in their studies and careers, and in life.

Our small-scale learning environment provides teachers with the flexibility to personalize learning for each student – building upon individual passions, and challenging each girl to improve her own performance, exceed her own expectations and realize her own potential.

Our academic program is supported by experiential programs that provide opportunities for students to apply their knowledge, take on positions of responsibility and leadership, and develop a desire and a passion for making a difference. Each girl will discover a lot about herself, her peers and the world in which she lives through the experiences she has here.

We believe in the all girl environment, because we see the results every day. Here, girls have the freedom to be daring, explore, try new things and try on new roles. We continually raise girls’ expectations of themselves, and have found that they are more than up for the challenge. They excel academically because they participate fully and enthusiastically in the classroom; they make challenging career choices because they are confident in their ability to succeed in any subject; and they believe in their futures because they are certain of their worth and their potential.

I am continuously impressed by our girls; by their enthusiasm for learning, by their support and encouragement of each other, and by their willingness to challenge themselves. I encourage you to come and visit our school anytime – we would be thrilled to share our stories and our passions with you.


Curriculum Traditional

Primary Curriculum: Traditional

What St. Margaret's School says: At St. Margaret’s School, we seek to empower each girl to set her own course and shape her own dreams. We offer a rigorous STEM-focused curriculum: the acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math but actually represents an inquiry-based method of teaching and learning where traditional separations between subject areas are bridged to forge deeper exploration and understanding of broad topics. In this inquiry-based model, creativity and critical thinking are emphasized. As an international centre for girls’ learning and leadership, we offer rich resources and challenges to support each student's development as an individual, and a global-minded citizen. Academics at SMS are amplified by extensive experiential learning offerings spanning leadership, service, and wellness/athletics to build up confidence, perspective, and life skills. A spirit of life-long learning is shared between students, families, and faculty: our yearly professional development and family workshop series shares the latest scholarship in brain development, teaching methods, and educational trends. Through this innovative approach that our curriculum remains relevant and we engage our entire community in issues affecting girls today.

  • Approach:

  • Pedagogies and subject courses:

  • Mathematics Equal Balance

      These math programs feature an equal balance of “Traditional” and “Discovery” methods.
      Learn about the different mathematics approaches  

    • What St. Margaret's School says: SMS strives to infuse students with confidence, enthusiasm, and a passion for mathematics. Through a rigorous program, students are provided a spectrum of opportunities to reach their full potential regardless of whether or not their career goals require high-level math for entry to university.

    • Textbooks and supplementary materials: This information is not currently available.

    • Calculator policy: This information is not currently available.

    Early Reading Balanced Literacy

      Balanced reading programs are typically Whole Language programs with supplementary phonics training. This training might be incidental, or it might take the form of mini-lessons.
      Learn about the different early reading approaches  

    • What St. Margaret's School says: This information is not currently available.

    • DIBELS Testing: This school periodically uses DIBELS testing to assess reading progress.

    • What St. Margaret's School says: This information is not currently available.

    Writing Equal balance

      Programs that balance systematic and process approaches equally likely have an emphasis on giving young students ample opportunities to write, while providing supplementary class-wide instruction in grammar, parts of sentences, and various writing strategies.
      Learn about the different writing approaches  

    • What St. Margaret's School says: This information is not currently available.

    Science Equal Balance

      Science programs that balance expository and inquiry learning equally will likely have an equal blend of tests and experiments; direct, textbook-based instruction and student-centred projects.
      Learn about the different science approaches  

    • Teaching approach: This information is not currently available.

    • Topics covered in curriculum:

      Subject = offered
    • Treatment of evolution:

      Evolution as consensus theory
      Evolution as one of many equally viable theories
      Evolution is not taught

    Literature Equal Balance

      These literature programs draw in equal measure from “Traditional” and “Social Justice” programs.
      Learn about the different literature approaches  

    • What St. Margaret's School says: This information is not currently available.

    Social Studies Expanding Communities

      The Expanding Communities approach organizes the curriculum around students’ present, everyday experience. In the younger grades, students might learn about themselves, for example. As they move through the grades, the focus gradually broadens in scope: to the family, neighbourhood, city, province, country, and globe. The curriculum tends to have less focus on history than Core Knowledge programs.
      Learn about the different social studies approaches  

    • What St. Margaret's School says: This information is not currently available.

    Humanities and Social Sciences Equal Balance

      These programs represent an equal balance between the perennialist and pragmatic approach to teaching the humanities and social sciences.
      Learn about the different humanities and social sciences approaches  

    • What St. Margaret's School says: We believe in developing the whole student / whole girl and therefore offer an equal balance of perennialism and pragmatism in our humanities and social science program. We focus on teaching big ideas through critical thinking, and logic to support the inquiry-based learning approach here at SMS. We also provide hands-on, real-world learning opportunities through simulations, field trips, and expert guest speakers. In this way students can apply, create true meaning from, and connect more deeply to the content, with the goal of creating informed, curious, and active citizens.

    Foreign Languages Equal Balance

      These programs feature an equal blend of the audio-lingual and communicative styles of language instruction.
      Learn about the different foreign languages approaches  

    • What St. Margaret's School says: Our International English Language (IEL) program prepares students to graduate confident in the English language and to achieve success at universities and colleges in Canada, the US, and other parts of the world. Depending on their English ability, international students may begin the program in dedicated IEL classes or enter regular classes with additional support. Progress through the IEL Program is flexible and dependent on student achievement. Each student is provided with a level of support matching her individual needs and abilities, and each student advances through the program at her own pace. Classes are taught by experienced English Language teachers who teach every subject from an IEL perspective. This means the challenge of learning English does not impede success in other subjects. IEL classes are designed to help students adapt to a Canadian classroom and develop learning strategies that prepare them to succeed in the regular classroom.

    • Studying a foreign language is required until:   10
    • Languages Offered: • Chinese-Mandarin • French • Japanese • Spanish • ESL

    Fine Arts Creative

      Creative arts programs are studio-driven. While historical works and movements may still be taught to add context to the program, students mainly engage in making art (visual, musical, theatrical, etc). The goal is use the actual practice of art to help educate students’ emotions, cognition, and ethos.
      Learn about the different fine arts approaches  

    • Program offers:

      Subject = offered
      Graphic Design
      Visual Arts
    • Visual studio philosophy:

    • What St. Margaret's School says: Starting from our youngest girls in Early Learning, arts education is a priority at all levels of the school, developing appreciation, skill, and creativity. The Arts Program at SMS offers outlets for self-expression and the development of creative interests. It also encourages appreciation for art and builds awareness of art in everyday life. There is an intimacy of knowledge that comes through the study of art; students learn how to observe, listen, and become more thoughtful and reflective. There are a variety of opportunities for performance throughout the year, both within the school and in the community including adjudicated festivals. Each year in the month of May, we celebrate the arts with Fine Arts Week, which involves days of back-to-back events including dramatic productions, an art show, and performances by the choir and band.

    Computers and Technology Medium integration

      Effort is made to integrate the development of digital literacy through the curriculum. However, this is not a dominant focus.
      Learn about the different computers and technology approaches  

    • What St. Margaret's School says: This information is not currently available.

    • Program covers:

      Subject = offered
      Computer science
      Web design

    Physical Education
    • What St. Margaret's School says: The benefits of an active and balanced lifestyle are well documented: students who are active on a daily basis are healthier and perform better academically than their inactive peers. Physical activity is essential to the overall health and wellness of our students and an integral part of each student’s learning experience. There is truly something for everyone and every level of ability: opportunities to compete, play on a team for fun or participate in recreational activities. SMS provides opportunities for daily physical activity through physical education, athletics teams, club sports, intramurals, house challenges and outdoor recreation.

    Advanced Placement Courses
    • AP Studio Art: 3-D Design
    • AP Calculus AB
    • AP English Literature and Composition
    • AP Human Geography

    Sex and Health Education British Columbia curriculum
    Topics covered in sex and health education: This information is not currently available.

    What St. Margaret's School says: This information is not currently available.

    Mostly value-neutral

    By and large, we teach sex education free of any particular moral or ethical standpoint. We try not to impose any particular values or value systems (such as social, political, or ideological values) on our students when teaching sex and related issues.

    Fairly value-based

    Sex education is sometimes taught from a particular moral or ethical standpoint. Sometimes particular values or value systems (such as social, political, or ideological values) are invoked when teaching sex and related issues.


    This includes a range of positions. A traditional approach might, for example, go as far as emphasizing the nuclear family and complete abstinence from sex before marriage. Alternatively, this approach might simply involve placing less emphasis on sex outside of the context of marriage and more emphasis on abstinence. Or finally, it might just involve focusing less on sex outside of the context of marriage.


    This might mean more emphasis is placed on the importance of such things as social equality, diversity, and choice in sex education.

    What St. Margaret's School says: Students need the knowledge and skills to make informed choices about their health and well-being. Sexual health is an important component of healthy, active living, and sex-ed requires a broader framework that expands beyond an understanding of physiology and reproduction alone. Our comprehensive approach to sexual health education incorporates aspects such as the development of positive self-image and the development of rewarding and equitable interpersonal relationships.

    Preschool/K Curriculum Academic

    • Play-based
    • Montessori
    • Waldorf
    • Reggio Emilia
    • Academic

    Academic-based preschools and Kindergartens are the most structured of the different types, and have a strong emphasis on math and reading readiness skills. These programs aim to expose children to what early-elementary school is like. While time is still allotted to free play, much of the day is built around explicit lessons guided by the teacher. Classrooms often resemble play-based ones (with different stations set up around the room), but at an Academic program the teacher leads students through the stations directly, and ties these activities to a whole-class lesson or theme.

    If you want to learn more about preschool education, check out our comprehensive guide. You can also read our in-depth answers to important preschool questions: What is preschool? What are the main preschool programs? What are the main pros and cons of preschool? What do children learn in preschool? How much does preschool cost?  What makes for a great preschool?

    What St. Margaret's School says: A recognized leader in early childhood education (ECE), our unique curriculum focuses on STEM learning through outdoor exploration, play, and the leading methods from a variety of ECE philosophies (including Reggio and Waldorf). In ECE and Kindergarten, we focus on nurturing a love of learning through positive experiences, developing social skills, and building up each girl’s self-confidence. All these experiences come to together to provide a solid foundation for elementary school. Developed by a winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education, our program is led by experts holding advanced degrees in education and ECE.

    Curriculum Pace Standard-enriched

    • Standard-enriched
    • Accelerated
    • Student-paced

    Broadly-speaking, the main curriculum -- like that of most schools -- paces the provincially-outlined one. This pace is steady and set by the teachers and school. The curriculum might still be enriched in various ways: covering topics more in-depth and with more vigor than the provincial one, or covering a broader selection of topics.

    Flexible pacing:

    Flexible pacing style = offered
    Subject-streaming (tracking)
    Multi-age classrooms as standard
    Ability-grouping (in-class) as common
    Frequent use of cyber-learning (at-their-own-pace)
    Regular guided independent study opportunities
    Differentiated assessment

    What St. Margaret's School says about flexible pacing: Multi-age classrooms in our International Language program allow students to advance at their own pace to ensure student success in both English language and subject courses. Independent study is promoted through our Program of Distinction and dedicated time the weekly timetable to pursue inquiry-based projects and areas of passion.

    Academic Culture Rigorous

    • Rigorous
    • Supportive

    A school with a “rigorous” academic culture places a high value on academic performance, and expects their students to do the same. This does not mean the school is uncaring, unsupportive, or non-responsive -- far from it. A school can have a rigorous academic culture and still provide excellent individual support. It does mean, however, the school places a particular emphasis on performance -- seeking the best students and challenging them to the fullest extent -- relative to a normal baseline. High expectations and standards – and a challenging yet rewarding curriculum – are the common themes here. Keep in mind this classification is more relevant for the older grades: few Kindergarten classrooms, for example, would be called “rigorous”.

    What St. Margaret's School says: For over 100 years, SMS has built an international reputation of high academic achievement, but that is only part of our story. Our extensive learning support program, guidance, experiential programs, and ability to tailor to individual learning needs helps each girl reaches her potential. Successful graduation and admission to university is actually a very short term goal for our students. By embedding in our students a an appetite for life-long learning, a love of service, healthy habits, and strong values we ensure each girl has the skills to succeed in her studies, career, and in life.

    Developmental Priorities Balanced

    Primary Developmental Priority: Balanced
    Equal attention is paid to a balance of priorities: intellectual, emotional, social, and physical.

    What St. Margaret's School says: When we talk to parents there’s a common thread to their hopes and dreams for their daughter: more important than marks, they want their daughters to be happy and confident in being themselves. A balanced approach is the only way to build strong girls: head, heart, spirit, and body. Our students are academically strong, creative, and critical thinkers; emotionally intelligent and confident individuals, capable of leading both themselves and others; socially aware and active citizens, motivated to change their community for the better; strong and active individuals, in tune the joys of movement, sport, and wellness.

    Special Needs Support No support

    No support

    St. Margaret's School offers no/limited support for students with learning difficulties or special needs.

    • Academic Support:
      Support Type = offered
      Learning strategy and study counselling; habit formation
      Extra support and minor accommodations for children experiencing subclinical difficulties
    • Mild but clinically diagnosed ADHD
      Support Type = offered
      Extra support
    • What St. Margaret's School says: Our Learning Support team is dedicated to providing the necessary support and challenges needed by each of our students. We work closely with all prospective families during the admissions process to ensure they are choosing a school or program that is able to provide the right support for their child's learning needs, including students with learning disabilities.

    • Support for moderate-to-severe special needs:
      Special needs
      ADHD (moderate to severe)
      Learning disabilities
      Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability)
      Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
      Language Processing Disorder
      Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD)
      Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
      Asperger's Syndrome
      Down syndrome
      Intellectual disability
      Williams syndrome
      Behavioral and Emotional
      Troubled behaviour / troubled teens
      Clinical Depression
      Clinical anxiety
      Suicidal thoughts
      Drug and alcohol abuse
      Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
      Multiple sclerosis
      Cerebral palsy
      Muscular dystrophy
      Spina Bifida
      Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)
      Cystic Fibrosis
      Multiple physical
    • Forms of support delivery:
      Support Type = offered
      A regular class with indirect support
      A regular class with resource assistance
      A regular class with withdrawal assistance
      A special education class with partial integration
      A full-time special education class
    • Additional Support:
      Support Type = offered
      Social skills programs
      Occupational therapy
      Speech-language therapy
    • Summary: Our Learning Support team engages learners at the extremes of the learning spectrum, providing additional help in a skill or subject where a student is struggling, or creating enriched opportunities for exceptional students. The goal is to provide the support and challenges needed by each student individually so that they may experience success at their own level.

    Gifted Learner Support In-class adaptations

    Dedicated gifted programs:

    Program = offered
    Full-time gifted program (parallel to rest of school)
    Part-time gifted program (pull-out; parallel to rest of class)

    Curriculum delivery: Enrichment (The main focus is on enrichment. This means that while students may work at a marginally quicker pace than public school peers, the primary aim is to study subject in broader and deeper ways.)

    In-class adaptations:
    Practice = offered
    Custom subject enrichment (special arrangement)
    Custom curriculum compacting (special arrangement)
    Guided independent study (custom gifted arrangement)
    Cyber-learning opportunities (custom gifted arrangement)
    Formalized peer coaching opportunities (specifically for gifted learners to coach others)
    Custom subject acceleration (special arrangement)
    Career exploration (custom gifted arrangement)
    Project-based learning (custom gifted arrangement)
    Mentorships (custom gifted arrangement)

    What St. Margaret's School says: Our Learning Support team engages learners at the extremes of the learning spectrum, providing additional help in a skill or subject where a student is struggling, or creating enriched opportunities and mentoring for exceptionally students. The goal is to provide the support and challenges needed by each student individually so that they may experience success at their own level.

    Gifted education: If you want to learn more about gifted education, check out our comprehensive guide. It’s the first of its kind: it covers different kinds of gifted schools and programs, and a whole host of issues parents face in finding the right option for their gifted child.

    Homework Policy

    In grade 12, St. Margaret's School students perform an average of >2 hours of homework per night.

    Nightly Homework
    St. Margaret's School0 mins0 mins15 mins15 mins30 mins45 mins60 mins60 mins90 mins90 mins120 mins160 mins160 mins160 mins
    Site Average6 mins7 mins16 mins18 mins24 mins29 mins34 mins40 mins53 mins57 mins69 mins80 mins95 mins108 mins

    Report Card Policy

    How assessments are delivered across the grades:

    Lettered or numbered grades4 to 12
    Prose (narrative)-based feedbackJK to 12
    Academic achievement reportingK to 3
    Habits and behaviour reportingK to 3
    Parent-teacher meetingsJK to 12

    Class Sizes Not available

    This information is not currently available.


    What St. Margaret's School says:
    • Boarding students are required to fulfill minimums of extracurricular involvement to reap the benefits of a broad set of experiences, build a sense of community connection in their "home away from home," and, for our international students, to continue improving their English language skills.
    • Student Council is the heart of our school here. Elected by their peers, these girls play a pivotal role in defining and perpetuating a welcoming and inclusive culture at our school and work cooperatively to run both social and fundraising events for the entire school community, and are in charge of planning and leading our regular assemblies.
    • Our Outreach Committee is very active in engaging in important causes affecting girls and women around the world. Student-run and teacher-mentored, the Committee works to engage their peers by leading homeroom discussions on important issues, and has cultivated partnerships with Free the Children (we're a WE school), and the African Health and Community Project, among other social justice initiatives.
    • As a centre for STEM learning we are proud to be the Vancouver Island home of the First Lego League and host regular robotics meetups and competitions, and are also the Victoria home for Girls Learning Code, the youth arm of the national organization Ladies Learning Code with whom we co-host coding and technology workshops for our own students and the public.
    • Our own 22-acre campus paired with the natural riches and temperate climate of our West Coast location pose tremendous advantages for outdoor education and a great variety of recreational activities all year long.
    • Girls rock! And so does our Rockband, a perennial favourite club that plays at many of our schoolwide events.
    • Our Rainbow Club helps promote an inclusive and supportive community in the hopes of fostering greater equality for one and all.
    • Fostering healthy habits, finding enjoyment in physical activity, and experiencing the joy in belonging to a team are not experiences we feel should be reserved for star athletes. Our Athletics program has enviable participation rates - nearly 95% of elementary school students, and around 70% of our middle and senior students belong to one or more team. That doesn't mean we don't bring home titles: our senior volleyball team recently brought home ISA Gold, our sailing team beat the competition from larger schools, and our school is home to elite athletes competing at high levels in synchro, triathlon, swimming and more.

    • Sports OfferedCompetitiveRecreational
      Field Hockey
      Ice Hockey
      Track & Field
    • Clubs Offered
      Community Service
      Drama Club
      Environmental Club
      Outdoor Education
      Robotics club
      Student Council

    Tuition & Financial Aid


    Day Day (Domestic) Day (Half day) Day (International) Boarding (Domestic: in province) Boarding (Domestic: out of province) Boarding (International)
    Day$11,900 / program$12,800$13,600$14,800$16,380
    Day (Domestic)$18,100$19,000$20,000$21,900
    Day (Half day)$9,500 / program
    Day (International)$20,700$21,200$22,300$24,000
    Boarding (Domestic: in province)$38,600
    Boarding (Domestic: out of province)$42,300
    Boarding (International)$49,300


    Discount TypeEnrollment TypeAmount
    2nd child (sibling)all students20%
    3rd child (sibling)all students40%
    4th child (sibling)all students40%

    Need-based financial aid

    Grade range that need-based aid is offered:
    Percentage of grade-eligible students receiving financial aid0%
    Average aid package size$0
    Percentage of total enrollment on financial aid0%
    Total aid available$0

    Application Deadline:
    April 01, 1969 Repeats annually

    More information:

    Application Details:

    This school works with Apple Financial Inc. for processing financial applications
    Step 1: Apply to St. Margaret’s School Step 2: Apply for Financial Assistance Please read the FAQs about FACS carefully before you begin. You can then apply for financial assistance by completing a Parents' Financial Statement (PFS) with Apple Financial. This requires payment of a non-refundable application fee (CAD $100). You must file a new PFS each year you apply for financial assistance. Step 3: Decision Apple Financial will provide St. Margaret’s School with a recommended level of support for the student. St. Margaret’s School’s Bursary Committee will meet to review all applications. The Committee will review the requested amount as well as the recommendation from Apple Financial to determine an appropriate level of financial assistance for the student. St. Margaret's School will notify you of the award decision once all applications have been processed – typically mid-April. The school also offers up to two (2) $2,500 bursaries for families with multiple siblings attending the school. These Bursaries are meant to help offset the expense of multiple annual tuitions such that you are supported in your choice to have your daughters attend St. Margaret’s School and benefit from our unique educational experience. Please note in applying for this award that a separate application must still be made to Apple Financial.

    Merit based Scholarships

    Lakehill Community Scholarship (Middle Day)
    Amount: $20,000
    Deadline: 04/13/2012
    Eligibility Details: Students grade 4 to 6—

    St. Margaret’s School is pleased to offer two scholarships of $5 000.00 each for new applicants entering our Middle Years (MY) program (Grades 5 – 8). This scholarship will be renewed for every year the successful candidate remains in the MY program, and meets the criteria outlined below. (i.e. up to $20,000 for two students over the course of four years)

    Any new student who is currently in Grade 4 – 6 and has a connection with the Lakehill community (resides in the area, has a connection to or an affiliation with a family or community sports team…) can apply.

    Aligning with the principles and values of the Strategic Plan, St. Margaret's is seeking a well-rounded candidate who demonstrates excellence in a combination of: • Academic achievement • Leadership • Service, in keeping with the school’s motto Servite in Caritate • Extracurricular involvement The selection will be based on all aspects of student life, and will not focus exclusively on academic achievement. In addition, consideration will be given to students who would otherwise be unable to access the advantages of a St. Margaret's School education.

    To continue to receive the scholarship while in the MY, the student must: • Remain in good academic standing • Demonstrate involvement in school and/or local community, and • Adhere to the SMS Code of Conduct, as is expected of all members of the SMS community. 

    Application Details:

    Upon completing the Application package, St. Margaret’s will select applicants for an interview with the St. Margaret’s Selection Committee in late April, early May. A final decision will be made after reviewing both the Application package and interview results, and evaluating them based on set criteria

    For more details, visit: www.stmarg.ca/admissions/scholarships-awards/entrance-scholarships
    Margaret A. Gilliam Scholarship (North American Boarding)
    Amount: $15,000
    Deadline: 04/13/2012
    Eligibility Details: Students grade 6 to 10—

    For new boarding students living in North America, but outside British Columbia.

    St. Margaret's School is pleased to offer the Margaret A. Gilliam Scholarship of $15,000 for a new North American boarding student from outside British Columbia. Ms. Gilliam lives in the United States and attended St. Margaret’s School, graduating in 1955. Ms. Gilliam attended McGill University and Harvard University. After spending more than 30 years as a Wall Street Securities Analyst specializing in the retail sales industry, Ms. Gilliam started her own retail consulting company, Gilliam & Co. Ms. Gilliam has been a trusted advisor to a number of Fortune 500 companies.

    St. Margaret’s is seeking a well-rounded candidate who demonstrates excellence in: • Academic effort • Leadership • Service, in keeping with the school’s motto Servite in Caritate • Citizenship

    The selection will be based on all aspects of student life, not focusing exclusively on academic achievement.

    Application Details:

    Normal Application including: academic reference form, character reference form, report cards and other records. Full details online at https://www.stmarg.ca/admissions/how-apply

    Normal Entrance Exams: Margaret Gilliam Scholarship applicants sit the normal entrance examinations organized by the Admissions Office. These tests consist of objective exercises in English and mathematics and the writing of a given composition. 

    ...in addition to...

    Scholarship Application Form


    One-page composition

    Interview: After reviewing test scores and applications, St. Margaret's School will select applicants for interviews with the Selection Committee in the spring. The interview may be completed by phone or video conference if necessary.

    For more details, visit: www.stmarg.ca/admissions/scholarships-awards/entrance-scholarships
    Centennial Scholarship (Senior Day)
    Amount: $72,000
    Deadline: 04/01/2012
    Eligibility Details: Students grade 9 to 12—

    New day students entering Grade 10. Full tuition fees until graduation. For Centennial Scholars, the Building Fund is waived. The Scholarship excludes other costs associated with a St. Margaret’s education. (Details of these costs are available from the Admissions Office.)

    St. Margaret's is seeking a well-rounded candidate who demonstrates excellence in: • Academic achievement • Leadership • Service, in keeping with the school’s motto Servite in Caritate • Extracurricular involvement The selection will be based on all aspects of student life, not focusing exclusively on academic achievement. In addition, consideration will be given to students who would otherwise be unable to access the advantages of a St. Margaret's School education. To continue to receive the scholarship in subsequent years, the student must: • Remain in good academic standing • Demonstrate involvement in school and/or local community, • Adhere to the SMS Code of Conduct, as is expected of all members of the SMS community.

    Application Details:

    After reviewing test scores and applications, St. Margaret's School will select applicants for an interview with the Selection Committee in the spring. The St. Margaret's School Selection Committee will make a final decision after reviewing both the written component and interview results and evaluating them based on set criteria. 

    Normal Application including: academic reference form, character reference form, report cards and other records. Full details online at https://www.stmarg.ca/admissions/how-apply

    Normal Entrance Exams: Margaret Gilliam Scholarship applicants sit the normal entrance examinations organized by the Admissions Office. These tests consist of objective exercises in English and mathematics and the writing of a given composition. 

    ...in addition to...

    Submit a completed Centennial Scholarship Application Form - please complete the chart, listing any academic awards you have received and your leadership, service, and extracurricular activities from the past two years - you may add additional pages as needed - as well as answering the questions provided. 

    Interview: After reviewing test scores and applications, St. Margaret's School will select applicants for interviews with the Selection Committee in the spring. The interview may be completed by phone or video conference if necessary.

    For more details, visit: www.stmarg.ca/admissions/scholarships-awards/entrance-scholarships
    Internal Awards for Continuing Students
    Amount: $45,500
    Deadline: 04/01/2012
    Eligibility Details: Students grade 1 to 11—

    A variety of awards are presented to current, continuing students in recognition of demonstrated achievement in line with St. Margaret's School's values. Although academics are included in the criteria for these awards, the applicant must demonstrate a desire and commitment to pursue their schooling through to graduation at SMS. Aligning with the principles and values of our Strategic Plan, St. Margaret's is seeking well-rounded candidates who demonstrate excellence in a combination of: • Academic achievement • Leadership • Service, in keeping with the school motto Servite in Caritate • Extracurricular involvement. Awards have different amounts and eligibility requirements based on age.

    Application Details:

    Depending on the award, application and testing requirements may vary.

    Applicants will be evaluated on their application package, a written component, and an interview focused on the four areas outlined in the criteria for choosing a recipient. The rubrics for the evaluation of the three components are available from the Student Services Office.

    Applicants may also be required to complete the following...

    Written Component: On the evaluation day, the student will write an essay on a choice of two topics. The student's written response will form the basis of the written evaluation process. All students will sit their written evaluation during school hours

    Interview: Each student will be invited to an interview with the Selection Panel. Students will be asked a variety of questions that are directly related to the scholarship criteria. The interviews will take place during school hours in late April and early May.

    Complete details on the school website under Internal Scholarships.

    For more details, visit: www.stmarg.ca/admissions/scholarships-awards/internal-scholarships
    Passport to Life-long Learning (Senior Day)
    Amount: $4,000
    Deadline: 04/01/2012
    Eligibility Details: Students grade 12—

    St. Margaret’s School (SMS) is proud of its graduates and recognizes that families have invested significantly in the educational journey of their daughter(s) and have demonstrated a commitment to the values and goals of our all-girl learning environment. The School’s vision, “Confident girls. Inspiring women,” derives from the belief that our girls have the capacity to pursue their goals and dreams with confidence, passion and purpose and as such deserve acknowledgment for their time in the Senior Years.  In recognition of those girls who enter our Senior Years (Grade 9 – 12), SMS is pleased to offer each day school graduate with additional resources/funds to begin the next phase of her learning journey.  Every day student will automatically accrue $1,000.00 each year to a maximum of $4,000.00 – to be presented upon graduation from SMS.   For example, a day student who enters SMS in Grade 9 and remains here until Grade 12 would be eligible for $4,000.00; a student who enters Grade 10, would be eligible for $3,000.00, and so on. This award will be paid out to each SMS graduate as she sets her own course and shapes her own dreams.  These funds can be used towards tuition at a post-secondary institution or a job training program; a Gap Year; or the pursuit of studies, interests, and passions locally or abroad.

    * Graduates will be issued the appropriate tax slip upon receipt of funds.

    Application Details:

    There are no application requirements for this award - all day students are automatically eligible.

    For more details, visit: www.stmarg.ca/admissions/scholarships-awards
    St. Margaret's School
    Amount: $3,000
    Deadline: 04/01/2012
    Eligibility Details: Students grade 6—For the SMS International Scholarships for Grade 6, applicants must be currently in Grade 6 at the school and re-enrolled for Grade 7 and achieved an average or B or higher in all subjects on March report card.
    For more details, visit: www.stmarg.ca/awards
    St. Margaret's School
    Amount: $5,000
    Deadline: 04/01/2012
    Eligibility Details: Students grade 11—Various criteria. Many want a well-rounded student who demonstrates excellence in academic effort, leadership and service to community and in keeping with the school's motto Servite in Caritate, as well as extra-curricular involvement.
    For more details, visit: www.stmarg.ca/awards


    Total enrollment 350
    Average enrollment per grade23
    Average class size10 to 20
    Gender (grades)JK to Gr. 12 (Girls)
    Boarding offered Gr. 7 - 12
    % in boarding (total enrollment)37%

    If you want to learn more about boarding schools, check out our comprehensive guide.

    Student distribution: This information is not currently available.



    Admissions Assessments:

    Assessment = requiredGrades
    InterviewPS - 12
    SSAT (out of province)
    Entrance Exam(s)K - 12
    Entrance Essay
    Application Fee 

    Application Deadlines:

    Day students:

    Boarding students:

    What St. Margaret's School says:


    After applying online (https://www.stmarg.ca/admissions​) please provide the school with all supporting documents as well as your application fee (CAD $225) – your application is not complete until the School receives these items.


    Applications are not complete until the School receives:

    • An Academic Reference – completed by a previous or current academic advisor (teacher, principal, counsellor, etc.). The reference person must return this form directly to St. Margaret’s School.
    • A Character Reference – completed by an adult who is not a relative. The reference person must return this form directly to St. Margaret’s School.
    • A copy of last year’s final report card.
    • A copy of the most recent report card.
    • A photocopy of applicant’s birth certificate, passport, or landed immigrant status.
    • A recent photo of the applicant.
    • TOEFL Junior Standard Test or SLEP Test (International Students Only).


    The placement assessment is used to determine a student’s strengths, weaknesses and readiness to begin classes at SMS. We understand that this can be an intimidating process for students and their parents and do all we can to make the process comfortable and informal.


    Acceptance Rate:


    Type of student St. Margaret's School is looking for: What makes a St. Margaret's girl? Is the Red Blazer in you? Perhaps the best answer to these questions comes from our Strategic Plan, written entirely from a girl's perspective. Read the complete document on our website: https://www.stmarg.ca/explore-sms/glance/strategic-plan As a St. Margaret’s girl... I am open, honest, and accountable, treating all people with dignity and respect. I am encouraged to relentlessly pursue my goals and actively participate to achieve great results. I am genuine, generous, and caring in my relationships and service to others. I lead through my words, my actions, my thoughts, and the support of leaders around me. I am understood and have the freedom to be creative and discover my strengths and abilities. I am eager to take on challenges, learn from my mistakes, and do what’s right in the face of adversity. I see the interconnectedness of the world and understand that my actions have an impact on my environment and my community. Our Core Values: Integrity, Excellence, Service, Leadership, Courage, Global-Minded, Girl-centred. Our Motto: Servite In Caritate ~ Service with Love St. Margaret’s is a global school where girls are nurtured and inspired to become life-long learners. Girls here are challenged to achieve their full potential and contribute to society in a meaningful way. We embrace our motto “Service with Love” in both individual pursuits and shared responsibilities. Our Vision: Confident Girls. Inspiring Women. This is a school where girls who want to change the world become women who do. Our committed staff, beautiful campus, and innovative curriculum create a nurturing environment that challenges students to achieve their leadership potential. Our Mission: Empowering her to set her own course & shape her own dreams. St Margaret’s School values diversity and inspires excellence of mind and strength of spirit. Students here are challenged to take responsibility for their own learning experience, to develop individual worth, academic excellence, personal wellness, connection with nature and service to their local and global community.

    Day Boarding

    Student Entry Points

    Student TypeJKSK123456789101112
    Day Acceptance
    (Acceptance rate)
    Boarding Acceptance
    (Acceptance rate)

    University Placement

    Services = offered
    Career planning
    Mentorship Program
    University counseling
    Key Numbers
    Average graduating class size40
    *Canadian "Big 6" placements14
    **Ivy+ placements2

    *Number of students in 2015 who attended one of McGill, U of T, UBC, Queen's University, University of Alberta, or Dalhousie University.

    **Number of students since 2005 that attended one of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Stanford, University of Chicago, Oxford or Cambridge (UK)

    What St. Margaret's School says:

  • In 2015, the most popular post-secondary destination was University of Toronto at 11 graduates. In 2014, it was University of Victoria at 16.
  • Canada is truly a world-centre for education: You will find our graduates at universities all over the world, however the majority of our graduates choose to remain at the world-class institutions within Canada. Of all university acceptances, 42% come from Canada, 40% the USA, 13% the EU, and 5% from Asia. For their final choice, 80% of our grad choose schools within Canada, 15% the USA, 2% the EU, and 3% Asia.
  • 100% of our graduates receive offers from universities of their choice.
  • Of the 39 entrance scholarships awarded to our graduates in 2014, the largest single award was a full-tuition scholarship for rowing at Boston University, valued at $68,000.
  • Of the 34 scholarships offered to our 42 graduates in 2015, the largest single award was to Boston University, valued at $52,000 - the same graduate was offered a total of $162,000 in scholarships from universities around the world.

  • Notable Alumni

    Alumnus Graduation Year Accomplishment
    Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey 1931 On July 1, 2015, Dr. Kelsey was named to the Order of Canada for her role in preventing the drug thalidomide from entering the United States in the 1960s.
    Gillian Carleton 2007 Canadian road and track cyclist. Carleton won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics in the women's team pursuit.
    Dr. Joyce Clearihue 1943 Forged a career in medicine before it was common for women to do so.
    Margaret A.  Gilliam 1955 After graduating from Harvard University, Ms. Gilliam went on to be a successful Wall Street securities analyst and trusted adviser to Fortune 500 companies.
    Karen Clark Cole 1986 Co-founder and CEO of Seattle-based UX design and technology firm, Blink, and founder of the Girls Can Do event series, a non-profit for girls' empowerment.

    Alumni Highlights

    • Our graduates stay in touch using our private online alumnae network, sharing stories in our biannual magazine, and connecting at yearly alumnae events.

    Stories & Testimonials


    Comparing Early Learning Options

    January is registration primetime for Kindergarten. There is plenty of discourse around what and when a child’s first experience in school should be, but regardless of which thought camp you belong to, registering for school is the start of an important learning journey, and a major transition for families as a whole.

    As children reach age three, families --who are just coming to terms with how fast their little one is growing up, btw-- are faced with a dizzying array of options for early learning.

    Day care vs. preschool, Montessori vs. Reggio-Emilia, part-time vs. full-day options, school-based Junior Kindergarten vs. waiting to start school in Grade 1, public vs. private vs. independent… and so on.

    So what are the differences between these various forms of early learning?

    Unfortunately there’s not an easy answer, unlike some might claim. As any educator, or parents who have already been through the process, can tell you there is huge variance even within each category.

    Preschools can range from a pure childcare option to programs with full-blown early literacy, or second languages like Spanish or Mandarin are taught. School-based early learning programs, like that at St. Margaret’s School for girls, are more frequently curriculum-driven, and while they may share similarities with leading philosophies like Reggio-Emilia, classroom experiences vary from one school to the other. And finally, within any early learning environment, you might have the best, most child-centred philosophy on paper, but if the child is not receiving the individual support and appropriate challenges she needs, it is not a good fit.

    Making broad-stroke generalizations about one early learning approach over another can be perilous, not to mention doing little to honour the field of early childhood education and the professionals who deliver it.

    At St. Margaret’s, we’ve been educating girls and working with families for over one hundred years, and our leading early learning program is widely-recognized. As an independent school (we are a registered non-profit society, i.e., our funding model is different from that of private schools), our performance standards are those of the BC Ministry of Education, our program is certified by a national body, CAIS, and our fees are kept competitive with other early learning options. As Western Canada's only all-girls day and boarding school, we offer empowering education from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12, and opportunities unique to our environment and program.

    Here’s what we know... Continue reading this article on the SMS website.


    Where did the Red Blazer take her? Testimonials from Alumnae in STEM

    St. Margaret’s iconic red blazer represents our school values and mission, and is a symbol that resonates strongly with current students and alumnae alike. In light of the school's recent announcement regarding our status as Canada's first all-girls STEM School, and recent honours of notable alumna, Dr. Frances Kelsey (named to the Order of Canada in 2015), we asked our network of alumnae to write to us with stories of how SMS helped them shape their careers in STEM.


    “My career path has been very organic and winding. I started off in science, working in prestigious laboratories, such as the Genome Sciences Centre, the laboratory that first sequenced the SARS genome. I lived in Tanzania for three months studying the maize value chain there for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I am also now working on becoming more entrepreneurial and starting social enterprises in Africa… Looking back, I realize that SMS ingrained in me the desire to have international friends and an international life. SMS also helped to foster my curiosity and desire for constant learning, which has put me on a winding career and life path.”

    Elizabeth (Beth) Rogers
    Class of 1998 | Freelance Consultant
    BSc in biochemistry and microbiology (University of Victoria); Master’s in Space Studies (International Space University); Sustainable Building Advisor Certificate and Certificate of Sustainability Management (University of British Columbia); International MBA (Rotterdam School of Management)


    “I think that SMS was the right place for me … I learned to define myself based on qualities other than my appearance. Going to SMS, you always have the feeling that greatness is expected of you, and I think that has driven me to aim high and work hard.”

    Bianca Jackson
    Class of 2009 | Master’s Student
    BSc (Honours) in microbiology (University of Victoria); currently a student in the Master of Science in Public Health in Global Disease Epidemiology and Control with a Certificate in Vaccine Science and Policy (Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg)


    “I have travelled to Saudi Arabia and worked as an NICU nurse there, as well as in Turkey, Texas, Florida, Nunavut, northern Manitoba, British Columbia, and Alberta. I'm presenting at an international nursing research conference in Puerto Rico in July. I'm excited to have my boys see me at work as a scientist! I loved the expectation of discipline and excellence at SMS. I felt like I was in an elite group (and I was). Thank you for the sense of tradition.”

    Andrea Sehmel
    Class of 1981 | Nurse
    Master’s of Nursing, Nursing Education and Healthcare Leadership (University of Washington Tacoma)


    “SMS encouraged us to try different things out. You never know if you like something unless you try it! SMS helped me develop confidence and courage to try things… All of this gave me courage and tools to seek out those experiences that I found rewarding in life. I still am seeking new things to learn.”

    Sharon Bleuler
    Class of 1957 | Retired
    BSc in chemistry and math, minor in physical education (University of British Columbia); Master’s of Exercise Physiology (University of British Columbia); Master’s of Science and PhD in psychology (University of Washington)


    “I believe that SMS has the best program in the world, and there was so much to do it was tough to control myself; there was Strathcona, extracurriculars, dormitory life, leadership class, international dinners, relationships with girls, etc. Once you experience all of these in SMS, you can achieve anything in your career path!”

    Gahee Park
    Class of 2006 | Ph.D. Candidate
    BSc in biomedical science (State University of New York at Buffalo);
    Currently: PhD candidate studying cancer genomics (Seoul National University, College of Medicine)


    “I absolutely believe that my St. Margaret's education moulded me into the passionate, hardworking woman I am today. The high academic expectations taught me to strive for nothing but excellence, and now I demand excellence from myself in my studies. “

    Amanda Volk
    Class of 2012 | Undergraduate Student
    BSc in biology, minor in health therapy and chemistry (Saint Joseph’s College)


    “I was inspired by my teachers and peers to study hard at SMS, which left me confident in my academic ability when I began post-secondary education. I was not afraid to challenge myself or to work hard to achieve my academic goals. However, practising medicine requires more than the ability to retain facts. It was through my involvement in clubs, peer tutoring, and interaction with a diverse student body at SMS that I first developed the skills in communication, collaboration, and advocacy that I continue to practise and refine every day.”

    Adele Duimering
    Class of 2007 | Medical Resident
    BSc in medicine (University of Victoria), Medical Doctorate (University of British Columbia); currently a radiation oncology resident (University of Alberta)


    The Head's Tales: Top 10 for 2014/2015

    One of the most favourite things that I will remember from Late Show with David Letterman was his Top 10, which he created to critique a myriad of topics ranging from the silly to pointed commentary.  Just last week, I received a lovely email from a parent, who provided me with her top 60 reasons (which was in alignment with my achieving a recent personal milestone!) as to why she loves St. Margaret’s.  This type of positive feedback, even when we know we can always be better, reminded me that most people want us to be the best we can be and are willing to share ideas about where we excel and where we need to improve.  It takes courage, respect, and a sense of comfort/safety not only to share feedback, but also to receive it in the spirit that is intended.  I thank you for being invested in our success as I know that members of the SMS community want to work with the school so it can “achieve its personal best” – something we continually encourage our girls to do as well. As this is my last blog for the 2014/15 school year, I decided that I would provide my TOP 10 reasons why being Head of School at St. Margaret’s is great.  I hope that these reasons resonate with you!

    Head’s Top 10

    10. Celebrations (No one is ever too old to feel special!)
    Even the adults get to celebrate and participate in birthday parties hosted by their peers at the school.  I can’t think of any place else that could get 400 people together to celebrate a milestone birthday without the “intended victim”  knowing – the ultimate surprise!) 
    (Thank you to the Birthday Club for ensuring everyone feels special during his/her birthday month.)

    9. Outdoor Education (Outweek)
    Where else can learners of all ages come together to learn new skills and to explore new experiences while collectively displaying courage, perseverance, and the willingness to step out of their comfort level?  (Thank you Jeanine, Travis, and all of the teachers who help organize and participate in these activities.)

    8. Campus
    It is hard to imagine a more beautiful school than one that is set on 22 acres of land that has the potential to become a “smaller version” of Butchart Gardens.  Every day, the girls have the opportunity to connect with nature and to test their exploratory skills. (Thank you Frances, Ross, Ben, Corey and Russell.)

    7. Butter Chicken
    The ultimate dish with a reputation of culinary excellence that extends across the country – this is a true statement with no exaggeration. When a chef in Montreal where I was attending the Head’s Conference went head to head with our own Lead Cook, Raj B., as to who had the best recipe, even he conceded that the SMS recipe trumped his recipe!  (Thank you Doris, Raj, Davinder, Daljit, Patricia, Parveen, Dayna, Jaspreet, and Dirlei.)

    6. SMS Community/Family
    This is a place where everyone comes together to celebrate individual and collective successes, find support, and to build connections across grades and across cultures.  SMS is also a place where everyone has a voice and has the opportunity to make a contribution that is impactful and long-lasting.  (Thank you to the PAC, the Board, students and staff, as well as community members/volunteers.)

    5. Engagement
    The connection between teaching and learning is essential for engagement. When student interests are fueled by the passions of their teachers, wonderful things take place in the classroom – everyone gets excited about the work; everyone demonstrates enjoyment and persistence in completing the work, and everyone has a sense of pride in the quality of the work accomplished.  At SMS, one can visibly see both teachers and students learning together and having fun while doing it!  (Thank you to the entire SMS community for believing in what SMS has to offer.)

    4. Leadership from Within
    At SMS, we talk a lot about leadership and provide an abundance of opportunities for the girls to lead in the school and in the community.  SMS also prides itself on the importance of QUIET leadership in developing persons of character, who know who they are, what they want, and utilize their strengths to help others rise up and be successful as well. I love watching the girls from our youngest learners in the elementary school to the oldest students in high school test their confidence in front of their peers.
    (Thank you to members of Student Council who, at the school wide assemblies, remind us of those values – courage, perseverance, integrity – espoused in the Strategic Plan.)

    3. Success Stories in the Making
    I love the fact that every day at school, I get to hear the individual success stories that occur both in the classroom and in the community.  The sense of pride the girls demonstrate as they share what they have learned, what they have accomplished, and what they have overcome is inspiring.  Each one of them outlines the journey as well as the final accomplishment.  SMS is a place where individual differences are nurtured and personal growth is celebrated.
    (Thank you to the students for sharing their successes so openly with us – we truly feel privileged to be part of your stories.)

    2. Passion with Purpose
    SMS is a place where girls are given the space to ignite their curiosity and to discover new things.  From Explorations to Innovations to PoDs (Programs of Distinction), I love watching the students find ways to make connections between play, passion, and purpose.
    (Thank you to the creativity of the staff to find ways of bringing the outside world into the school.)

    And finally, the Number ONE reason I love SMS:

    1. Girls, girls, girls
    Girl power abounds at SMS – student voice, engagement, love of learning, girls supportive and caring of each other – AND it is a place where girls are not given “equal opportunities,” but rather every opportunity to shine!  I absolutely love starting my day with the youngest learners in ECE (who are truly open to possibilities) and then moving through the school and connecting with the older girls (who demonstrate the confidence to make possibilities real). The transition from JK to grade 12 is inspiring.  SMS is a joyful place that has something exciting happening every day.  Girls are always at the core of everything we do.

    On behalf of all members of our learning community, here in Canada and abroad, thank you for believing in an all girls’ environment and entrusting your daughters’ educational journeys to us.  I look forward to connecting again at the end of summer – I will use the coming weeks to collect my thoughts, engage in new learning, and experience all the wonderful things Victoria has to offer.  Have a great summer!

    “The best endings are the ones that lead to new beginnings.”
              Mathangi Subramian

    Read more of Cathy Thornicroft's The Head's Tales on her blog.


    Fact vs. Fiction: Top Girls School Myths

    For parents new to navigating the options offered by independent schools, there are a number of things to keep in mind in your search for the right school for your daughter.

    Kathy Charleson, the director of admissions at St. Margaret’s School, has this advice:

    “Victoria has a handful of very strong independent schools, so it comes down to a question of fit: where is your child going to be given the right kind of opportunities and support to achieve her personal best. Think about your family’s values as well as your daughter’s needs and interests. Ask lots of questions when you visit – both of the staff and the current students.”

    St. Margaret’s School (SMS), has served Victoria since 1908, making it the oldest and only girls’ school in Western Canada offering both day and boarding programs.  Spanning Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12, SMS offers a rigorous university preparatory program with an emphasis on STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and girls’ leadership development.

    Though physically tucked away in a quiet neighbourhood in Saanich, SMS students are often recognized by their iconic red blazers.

    “When it comes to single-sex schools, we find people often have misconceptions,” says Ms. Charleson. Walking onto SMS’s modern and expansive campus, it certainly looks different from what most of us expect a school to look like – single-sex or not. So we asked Ms. Charleson to help separate fact and fiction to dispel some common myths she encounters in her work.


    #5 Myth: Girls’ schools are all Catholic.

    Fact: St. Margaret’s School (SMS) is actually a secular school. Our namesake, Queen Margaret of Scotland (1045-1093), was canonized for her charitable work and is the inspiration for our motto: Servite in Caritate ~ Service with Love.

    #4 Myth: Independent schools only are for privileged kids and troubled teens.

    Fact: Independent schools can have the greatest diversity because their student body isn’t limited to their immediate community. Our students come from diverse backgrounds and join us from all over the world. Parents choose SMS because of our rigorous academic programs, and our ability to customize instruction to support and challenge each child. Families believe in the difference SMS makes in their daughter’s life and development and often make sacrifices in order to send their children to our school. That said, the school also offers a number of scholarships and bursaries to help deserving students access the unique opportunities provided here.

    #3 Myth: Girls’ schools don't have athletics.

    Fact: Our teams not only exist but this year our volleyball team took gold at the ISA tournament and one of our grads was offered a full-tuition scholarship for rowing in Boston.  In addition to PE and traditional team sports, we offer many extracurricular athletics including triathlon, sailing, golf and tennis, and see high participation rates. In fact, as a small school we are able to boast enviable participation rates (as high as 95% at the elementary level) with many students joining not one but multiple teams.  Students have an abundance of opportunities to join a team either to experience a sense of camaraderie or to hone their skills.

    #2 Myth: An all-girls environment isn't necessary for Middle School.

    Fact: The early teen years are when girls are particularly prone to low self-esteem and begin to doubt their ability to compete with boys. It is also a time where hormones and emotional drama comes to the fore. In a girls’ school, this drama is minimized because boys aren’t part of the equation. At SMS girls are never afraid to speak their mind whether it’s raising their hand in class or taking the microphone to lead their peers. It’s like strength-training for girls’ self-confidence. Our new Middle Years program was designed to address the developmental needs of girls at this age.

    #1 Myth: My daughter won't know how to relate to boys.

    Fact: SMS girls have boyfriends, go to dances and have "normal" relationships with the opposite sex.  Grads often report how much they value the opportunity to focus on their own goals without the distractions or extra pressures caused by having boys in the classroom. Though boys aren’t around from 8:30am to 3:30pm, our students interact with male faculty, staff and coaches at the school, and boys are still around after school and on weekends. It’s a girls’ school not a convent.

    In an all-girls environment, students are not worried about what boys will think about them, and shed traditional ideas that they should be demure or don’t have the aptitude for certain subjects or activities. When students look around our school they see other girls excelling in all areas; instead of limits they see possibility every where. It's a different perspective on the world that they carry with them through life.

    Bottom line: this is a community that cares deeply about girls and their long term success.  Girls here are given every opportunity and challenge to excel – the foundation of our mission statement: Confident girls. Inspiring women.


    SMS is still accepting applications for fall 2014. Click here to start your journey.



    I grew up with Dr. Seuss and although his stories on the surface appear whimsical and somewhat simple in text and format, his message is far-reaching, and his final book, Oh, The Places You'll Go! (1990), has been shared with thousands of graduates as they leave school to pursue the next stage of their learning journey.   I remember reading Green Eggs and Ham and only just discovered that it was created when Dr. Seuss was challenged to write a story that relied on only 50 words in total.  Arguably his other most famous story, The Cat in the Hat was written because Dr. Seuss thought the popular Dick and Jane primers (which is how I learned to read) were boring and would not encourage children to repeatedly practise in order to learn how to read.  Who would have thought these reasons would have compelled Dr. Seuss to provide an abundance of witty statements and words of wisdom that would prompt such fabulous story starters or speech topics?

    This past week, students from Grades 6 to 12 participated in our annual Public Speaking contest. The senior English classes chose Dr. Seuss and the actual quotations upon which the students used as a catalyst to write their speeches. Some of the chosen quotes included:

    "To the world, you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world."

    "Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

    "Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope."

    "Today you are You, that is truer than true; there is no one alive who is Youer than You."

    "Why fit in when you were born to stand out."

    "You're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so...get on your way!"

    The presentations were incredible and it was wonderful to see how each speech drew inspiration from these words creating a powerful, personal and engaging message that recognized many of the values that SMS tries to instill in the girls -- compassion, the importance of friendship, appreciation for a simple deed, overcoming fears, learning from mistakes, seeing the positives...

    Public speaking requires people to be able to present their thoughts and feelings in a meaningful way.  The ability to share your ideas/opinions during an interview or give a speech to a large audience requires confidence and significant skill in knowing how to frame your views in a way that engages others. Part of the delivery of an effective speech is to make sure your topic connects with people, your message invites participation, and finally provokes an emotional response from your audience – something the listener can reflect upon at a later time.  Obviously, tone, voice modulation, presence, and body language help get the desired attention.  Great speakers show their passion and make sure the content, and the delivery, resonate with the listeners.  The ability to articulate your thoughts and present them to  others in a somewhat formal way is a powerful and useful life skill -- both in a personal and professional context.   A special thank you to the English Language Department who coordinate the classroom rounds, semi-finals, and finals and to the rest of the staff and the parents for supporting and encouraging full participation in this event.

    Grade 11/12 Winner - Amy Wu
    Grade 9/10 Winner - Sarah Ellman
    Grade 7/8 Winner - Mary Danesh

    Listen to all 11 speech finalists on Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/st-margarets-school

    "People are drawn to and influenced by leaders who communicate authentically,
    connect easily with people and have an immediate impact.”

    ~Muriel Wilkins


    ADVENTURE + ACADEMICS: The Duke of Edinburgh and Keys to Well-rounded Learning

    The teachers and staff at St. Margaret's are passionate about providing our students with a complete education that prepares them to be well-rounded women upon graduation. So we take pride in the fact that many of our girls are ambitious and bold, and choose to pursue extracurricular activities that complement and enhance their education.

    Recent graduates Olivia Belcher-Coward, Laura Sawchuk and Lily Li exemplify that ambition, having earlier this year completed the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Gold program. Each girl spent four years committing the time to earning the award, which is a national program that provides students with opportunities to learn new skills through unique experiences. The program aims to leave the young Canadians who participate with a wide range of life skills and self-confidence.

    "It taught us a lot. We've become the people we are today because of it," Laura says.

    The self-directed program requires that students focus on developing five aspects of their personal growth (outside of academics): service, skill, physical fitness, an adventurous journey and a residential project.

    "It allows them to explore things that are important to them. It's a program that really helps them define themselves," says Ms. Donna Holmwood, SMS senior school leadership teacher. "It encourages them to take a good, hard look at different aspects of their life, and to explore themselves and their potential."

    While working toward earning the Gold Award, Laura spent her extracurricular time balancing homework with figure skating (physical activity), singing (skill) and teaching young girls to skate (service). She also travelled to Mexico to help build a school for children in need to meet the residential project requirements.

    "It was a really great experience, and the program motivated me to take on this challenge, partly because I wanted to complete my residential project, but I also want to make a difference in the world," Laura says.

    "I participated in a service trip to Costa Rica. We had to build a bathroom, we painted, we did lots of work. We even got to teach English to some younger kids," Olivia says of her residential project. Ballet was her physical activity of choice, while piano was the skill she fostered, and she volunteered at a soup kitchen for her community service experience.

    Mr. Gregor Campbell, a now-retired SMS teacher, says the program prepares the girls for life after high school.

    "The kids are proud of their achievements and they put it on resumes and they put it on university applications. I've had university registrars phone me because they want to know more about what the girls did in Duke of Edinburgh's," says Campbell, who was SMS's teacher sponsor for nearly 20 years. "Universities aren't just looking for academics – they want a well-rounded kid. Not just someone who absorbs information quickly and quietly; they want kids who are engaged actively on campus and in their community."

    Donna is a vocal proponent of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, introducing girls to the program in Grades 8 and 9. She says the reason she's such a strong advocate is because she went through the program in high school and she continues to recognize the life-changing benefits it brings.

    "It allowed me to see beyond myself, that it wasn't all about me," she says. "It amazes me when these kids have the awareness of the impacts it's had already. They don't have to wait 10 years to look back on it – they see the impact it's having on them and they're having on the world, and that really speaks to the program itself."

    SMS is a big supporter of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Look no further than our annual week-long Outweek, happening this week. That program has expanded over the years to the point where any girl who participates essentially meets the requirements of the adventurous journey portion of the Award.

    Outweek provides our Grade 6-12 students with opportunities to go sailing, kayaking, canoeing, spelunking and more. Its existence wasn't born out of helping girls meet their Duke of Edinburgh requirements, but rather we see the value in providing our girls with these life experiences. In the case of Outweek, it's an adventure that challenges them in a range of outdoor activities, and sees them work together to build confidence in their abilities.
    "It's good to do something that challenges them, something they haven't done before," Campbell says. "They get the sense that 'I can do this. I can feel confident about this.' And that translates into them performing better in the classroom."

    Both Laura and Olivia recognize how lucky they are to have had the opportunity to go through the Duke of Edinburgh's Award program, and say it's helped prepare them to become leaders in the community.
    "It's contributed a lot to who we are – it's encouraged us to be good people, to try new things, to be confident," Laura says.

    "You have nothing to lose, only a lot to gain. I know I'm going use what I gained from the program for the rest of my life" adds Olivia.

    "It's a phenomenal program. It parallels the philosophies at St. Margaret's to have the girls be independent and explore things confidently," Donna says. "To allow them to find themselves and be well-rounded is really important – it's not just about academics."

    For more information about the Duke of Edinburgh program, check out their website. ...

    Service with Love

    At St. Margaret’s, our values define what we believe in and what we stand for. Values bond us, and also give us a framework for our actions providing us with a common understanding of what’s important.  At last week’s school-wide assembly, the December value of SERVICE was introduced – part of the school's motto and a very timely theme given the seasonal focus on giving, hope, and gratitude. Many people perceive the act of service as a good measure of someone’s contribution to her community or to a particular cause. People are generally quick to respond to those catastrophes that shake our sense of security when they see the helpless or vulnerable people impacted by these situations. We have a tendency, however, to forget that service is more than just responding to a crisis and making a donation in times of urgent need. Service is also about sharing one’s expertise, time, attention, and resources to positively impact the lives of those around us. This could include sharing our knowledge or skills, making connections or just providing a little joy to someone who is lost or lonely. 

    For example, our recent Certification Day, organized by our Leadership 11 class, provided our MY and SY students the opportunity to get training in areas such as Food Safe, Self Defense, and Car Maintenance; all of these areas will give our students additional skills which they can use to help themselves and others in the future. Our Big Sister/Little Sister programs, Peer Tutorial services, and Environmental Club are also just a few other ways the girls at SMS are realizing the value of service within the school.

    Special recognition needs to be given to our Outreach committee and to the Leadership students in grades 9 – 12 who do a phenomenal job educating and involving the girls in organizations that focus on women’s issues locally and abroad. As a "We School", students participate in Free the Children’s campaigns. The students in Leadership 9 hosted Halloween for Hunger (a food drive for the Mustard Seed Food Bank) and the Leadership 11 class is organizing our second annual Service Day out in the community. The Outreach Committee focuses on supporting the Africa Health and Community Program in Nairobi – a group that was brought to our attention by alumna Jessie Singer, Class of 2002. Donations from our Talent Show and other fundraising initiatives throughout the year go to support this great cause. And finally, the students in the Foundation Years continue to support the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island (formerly the Queen Alexandra Foundation), efforts for which they were recognized at last year’s National Philanthropy Day Awards.

    At St. Margaret’s, we define service as more than just raising funds for good causes. We focus on the impact of one’s involvement or engagement in raising awareness and sustaining those efforts or commitment by positively impacting the world around us. Hearing the stories, seeing the hardships people overcome, admiring their optimism in the face of adversity as well as the decency shown to those less fortunate, empower us to strive to make the world a better place. This is done one step at a time and every little bit counts. We also talk about using one’s actions to inspire others to dream more, learn more, and become more. Students at SMS are given the opportunity to experience the joy of leadership in helping others succeed.

    “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
    ~ Mahatma Gandhi

    “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”
      ~ C.G. Jung

    Limitless Learning: An Interview with BC Business

    Recently we sat down with BC Business to talk shop. Here is where our discussion about the school and independent education led us:

    BC Business: Is St. Margaret’s growing? To what do you attribute that growth?

    SMS: St. Margaret’s School (SMS) has been in continuous operation in two Victoria locations since 1908, operating in its current 22 acre campus since 1970. The school is not on a growth cycle as it is committed to continuing to offer both students and staff the many advantages of a smaller school – 380 students – on a spacious pastoral campus. While we remain stable in our student numbers, awareness for the niche all-girl experience at SMS continues to grow. Our Admissions team continues to explore new markets and responds to inquiries regarding the benefits of an all-girl education from interested families, and the girls themselves, around the world.  As represented by the diversity within our boarding population in residence, the world is learning about SMS.

    BC Business: What is unique about St. Margaret’s?

    SMS: We are the only day and boarding school exclusively for girls on the West Coast, and one of the largest and oldest girls schools in Canada. At SMS all three levels of education are offered on a single campus: Foundation years (Preschool – Grade 4), Middle Years (Grade 5 – 8) and Senior Years (Grade 9- 12). Being part of a community of girls from Preschool right through to Grade 12 offers unparalleled continuity in our students’ educational experience, while also providing unique opportunities for mentorship and cooperative learning between age-groups. All aspects of the SMS experience are focused on empowering girls to lead. Our school culture is strongly student-led to the extent that we engaged our student community to help develop our 10-year Strategic Plan which is then written entirely from a girl’s perspective.  Because girls are at the centre of what we do it was only natural that our long-term vision be articulated from their perspective. But it’s more endemic than a single initiative. At a girls’ school, girls are the strongest athletes, the brightest scientists, the most brilliant artists, and the strongest leaders. Girls see that they can do or be anything, and they see it every day.

    BC Business: What makes independent schools particularly relevant right now?

    SMS: In a word: choice.  We think that an effective education system is one that offers families choice among diverse options in order to find a school that is the best fit for their child. For families who may find themselves disappointed by their experience in the public system, the advantages of independent schools are numerous: greater adaptability and agility in their programming; innovation; a culture of excellence; a strong sense of community and history; alumnae engagement; cultural and socio-economic diversity; passionate educators partnering with motivated learners; inter-cultural travel and experience opportunities; an imperative to provide many opportunities for each student to explore and discover her capacities, interests, passions. It’s about more than university prep – we seek to provide life-long learning prep because it isn’t just about getting our students into the university of their choice, it’s about ensuring they have the skills to excel once they’re there, and continue to grow in their careers down the road. Our technological world has changed the way people access and share knowledge, the educator’s challenge is to equip students with the critical thinking, adaptability and character to succeed in this rapidly changing landscape.

    BC Business: How do you measure the value of a parent’s investment in an independent education?

    SMS: Through the eyes of the learner. And by this we don’t just mean the stories told to the parent every day after school, either around the dinner table or over the phone to parents 100s of kilometres away (or not told because teenagers will be teenagers afterall). It must be measured in the differences you can see in your child as their confidence blossoms day by day, year by year. It must be measured in the small personal victories on the playing court, the exam room, the performance hall.  Measured in the vision and desire to use their education to make a difference in the world. It is a balance struck between answering certain parental concerns and answering the long-term goals of the girl herself since, perhaps most importantly, the value is to be measured in your daughter’s ability to choose: an education of her choice, a university of her choice and a career of her choice.

    Visit the BC Business website for the complete November Issue and final feature: Endless Educational Opportunities. ...

    In the News


    July 29, 2015 - SMS Alumna named to the Order of Canada

    Dr Frances Kelsey helped prevent thalidomide from entering the United States, but has remained little known in her birthplace, until now. ...

    August 29, 2014 - St. Margaret's Grad rowed her way to Boston

    Kelsey Farmer, Class of 2014, is off to Boston U on a four-year rowing scholarship valued at $68,000. ...

    August 29, 2014 - All-girls for the WIN: Local students inspired to help women in need

    Service Day at SMS (St. Margarets School) was borne of a challenge: to engage the entire school community and spend a day helping others. ...


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