Located in the city of Victoria, St. Michaels University School is a coed boarding and day school with a global reputation for academic excellence. Students from around the world are challenged by an extensive curriculum, including Canada’s most established Advanced Placement program offering 27 courses. Intellectual stimulation combined with exceptional athletics, arts and leadership programs make SMUS the place where motivated students cultivate their full potential in everything they do.
The Our Kids review of St. Michaels University School
The academic atmosphere at St. Michaels is supportive and progressive, beginning with a Reggio Emilia program that sets a tone of curiosity and collaboration that is carried through the upper grades. That said, the boarding program sets the foundation for the school, establishing a community of service, involvement, and excellence not only in students’ academic life, but in their social lives and physical health as well. The program of pastoral care is broad and robust, something that derives in part from the context that the boarding program provides. The motto of one of the two founding schools is retained today: “nothing is great unless it is good.” That’s telling. Care and support are considered to be as important as challenge and excellence, and students are encouraged to engage with the entire spectrum of curricular and extra-curricular programs. The ideal student is one able to thrive in a rich, challenging, diverse academic and social atmosphere.
Bob Snowden, Head of School
We at St. Michaels University School are happy that you are interested in joining us. Please speak to as many people as you like and ask as many questions as you can: this is a great place to go to school.
The main aim of St. Michaels University School is to pursue academic success in an environment where the character and self also grow. Between kindergarten and high school graduation, students are going to learn a great deal about the world, about other people, and about themselves. At SMUS we are committed to the notion that this exercise is an active rather than a passive one. Good students will feel comfortable here because it's quite alright to excel; in fact their peers expect and admire it. Our classrooms, libraries, hallways, dining hall, and residences all buzz with activity. This is normal; in the words of the SMUS Mission, this is the behaviour of young people fully engaged in their path toward higher learning and life.
Our school is a community. Both boarding and day students form friendships they will maintain for their entire lives. The motto of one of the two founding schools, University School, is mens sana in corpore sano: "a healthy mind in a healthy body." After class, therefore, we expect our students to play on a team, act in a play, perform service in the community or join the orchestra. We expect students to serve others. Many of these pursuits are recreational in nature, but many reach a very high standard and are recognized locally, provincially or nationally. Our students like to do well and are proud of their school.
Many of the most important lessons – both intellectual and personal – challenge students to go beyond limits they may have become comfortable with. Like learning to ride a bicycle, education can involve numerous attempts before we see the smile of success. We who teach have to be sympathetic and attentive to the whole effort, rub the bruises and put our students back on whatever bicycle they are riding at the time – whether it's calculus, field hockey, serving others or introductory violin – and stay with them until they get it right. SMUS has such teachers. They have written books, directed professional drama, won national teaching awards, and coached representative teams. They form a gifted and dedicated faculty who provide the structure, stimulation and challenge that young minds need.
Above all, we care deeply about the kind of people our students become. This is implicit in the motto of our other founding school, St. Michael's, nihil magnum nisi bonum: "nothing is great unless it is good."
You are very welcome to visit the school and get to know us as well as you can.
What SMUS says: SMUS's curricular approach is a blend of traditional, which ensures success in provincial and AP exams, and progressive enhancements that allow students to dive deeper into topics and find their passions. This is achieved through inquiry-based learning, which speaks to learners' natural curiosity, and project-based learning that gives opportunities for them to express creativity. Additionally SMUS is an innovator in experiential programs - ensuring students of all grades gain hands-on experiences outside the traditional curriculum, including outdoor education, leadership and service. SMUS is also a committed champion of personalized learning, shaping education around the needs and interests of each student.
These math programs feature an equal balance of “Traditional” and “Discovery” methods.
Learn about the different mathematics approaches
What SMUS says: At all levels, SMUS follows the provincial curriculum but adds enrichment using real world examples, problem solving and project work. Where possible, SMUS connects mathematics to other subject areas. At the Junior School, there is a strong focus on building foundation skills and math fluency through the exploration of number concepts, patterns and relations, spatial sense, and statistics and probability. By Middle School, students are continuing to develop concepts and skills, while emphasizing real world applications of mathematical ideas. At the Senior School, skills and concepts are developed in several different ways - numerically, graphically, algebraically, and written. After the Grade 10 level, students can choose which stream of mathematics best suits their post-secondary needs. As well, we have three levels of Calculus available to students. This includes two levels of AP Calculus to again offer the best possible preparation for university.
Textbooks and supplementary materials: There are no set texts but teachers make use of Maths Makes Sense, Quest 2000, McGraw-Hill and calculus texts from Stewart and Prentice-Hall. This is supplemented by iPads, laptops and other technological resources. Students can also enter mathematics competitions.
Calculator policy: At the Junior School, there are no calculators except where they are part of a personalized learning program. In the Middle School, calculators are introduced as a tool. By Senior School, authorized graphic calculators are a part of the curriculum but there are several chapters without calculators.
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 SMUS says: This information is not currently available.
DIBELS Testing: This school does not use DIBELS testing to assess reading progress.
What SMUS says: This information is not currently available.
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 SMUS says: This information is not currently available.
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: At the primary level, integrated learning - connecting science with language and mathematics - strengthens understanding of different concepts. By Grades 3-5, students learn lab procedures and the scientific process through an inquiry-based approach. In Middle School, many of the concepts and skills students learn are gained through "hands-on and minds-on" experiments and inquiries. Accordingly, Middle School Science classes take a variety of forms including: experiments, guided inquiries, student-designed investigations, mystery guests, field trips and field work. At the Senior School, the required science courses are more expository. Students interested in marine science can take an elective course. At the Grade 11 and 12 levels, students choose from several options and motivated students are offered the opportunity to enroll in advanced courses which prepare them for the Grade 12 Advanced Placement program.
Topics covered in curriculum:
Treatment of evolution:
|Evolution as consensus theory|
|Evolution as one of many equally viable theories|
|Evolution is not taught|
These literature programs draw in equal measure from “Traditional” and “Social Justice” programs.
Learn about the different literature approaches
What SMUS says: The English department offers a variety of courses that address the interests and needs of the students. For capable students, we offer the chance to look at the traditional canon, where they study works ranging from the Anglo-Saxon Period to the 20th Century, which can lead to AP Literature and AP Language. These courses, particularly AP Literature, are usually theme-based and seek to address a common question or subject, for example: literature of the road, literature of the absurd, indigenous literature and black humour. We also offer a course in creative writing, in which aspiring authors can receive guidance in writing their own poetry, short fiction and dramatic monologues, and meet visiting authors. In the years, that this course has been running, SMUS students have won many provincial and national awards for their writing.
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 SMUS says: This information is not currently available.
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 SMUS says: This information is not currently available.
These programs feature an equal blend of the audio-lingual and communicative styles of language instruction.
Learn about the different foreign languages approaches
What SMUS says: This information is not currently available.
Languages Offered: • Chinese-Mandarin • French • German • Japanese • Spanish • ESL
These programs have an equal emphasis on receptive and creative learning.
Learn about the different fine arts approaches
Visual studio philosophy:
What SMUS says: This information is not currently available.
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 SMUS says: This information is not currently available.
What SMUS says: It is clear from the most cutting-edge brain research, that exercise during the school day is critically important to support optimum brain function in our students. At SMUS, our physical education program is focused on using exercise to help students learn. Our philosophy articulates it best: SMUS Physical Education Program aims to maximize students’ physical, emotional and academic well-being through exercise, while developing the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary to support a healthy, active life. Our PE classes are high-energy, supportive environments inspired by a team approach and engaging modern workouts. Students learn how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, while cultivating character through a variety of team and individual experiences, as well as different skill acquisition activities.
Approach to teaching religious and secular curricula
|Completely segregated |
We completely segregate or separate secular and religious curricula. We don't teach them together or combine them in any ways.
|Mostly segregated |
We mostly segregate or separate secular and religious curricula. We teach very few, if any, secular and religious subjects together, and we don't combine them in any significant ways.
|Completely integrated |
We completely integrate the secular and religious curricula. We combine the teaching of religious and secular subjects for the entire, or almost the entire, day. Almost all of our units integrate secular and religious instruction.
|Mostly integrated |
We have a highly integrated curriculum. We integrate most of our religious and secular subjects. We teach a few secular and religious subjects on their own, though.
|Not applicable |
This doesn't apply to us because we don't have a religious curriculum.
Approach to teaching religion
|Scripture as literal |
Our religious scripture is a factual text that is literally the word of God. Our task is to understand it and clarify its meaning.
|Scripture as interpretive |
Our religious scripture, while the word of God, is open to interpretation and discussion.
What SMUS says: This information is not currently available.
Play-based programs are the most common type of preschool and Kindergarten, and are founded on the belief young children learn best through play. Largely open-ended and minimally structured, play-based programs aim to develop social skills and a love of attending school. “Pre-academic” skills are taught, but in a more indirect way than at, say, an Academic program: through children playing in different “stations” set up around the classroom, which children choose on their own volition. Stations often contain an indirect lesson or developmental goal. Play-based classrooms are highly social and active.
What SMUS says: The SMUS Kindergarten program is an inquiry and play-based progam inspired by the Reggio-Emilia philosophy. At SMUS, the child is a collaborator at the centre of their learning with teachers and parents acting as partners and guides. SMUS cultivates a joyful learning experience, fostering curiousity and a love of exploration, which includes the use of nature and the environment as a third teacher. Children benefit from small class sizes, two teachers to every classroom, and additional, specialist teachers in music, PE, library, French and art.
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 style||= offered|
|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|
What SMUS says about flexible pacing: This information is not currently available.
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 SMUS says: SMUS's academic culture is more supportive until grade 10. After which, students prepare for exams and university entrance, and the culture naturally becomes more rigorous.
What SMUS says: SMUS provides opportunities and feedback that supports students in becoming self-aware, both in terms of what they value and the role they can play in the world. Equally, the program positions students to be curious about those different from themselves, so that they learn to openly listen in a way that builds understanding of other perspectives. Finally, SMUS offers the reflective and technical tools to help students navigate those differences in a way that enhances the lives of all involved.
SMUS offers limited support for students with learning difficulties or special needs.
|Support Type||= offered|
|Learning strategy and study counselling; habit formation|
|Extra support and minor accommodations for children experiencing subclinical difficulties|
Summary: This information is not currently available.
What SMUS says: This information is not currently available.
SMUS offers a high degree of support for gifted learners.
Dedicated gifted programs:
|Full-time gifted program (parallel to rest of school)|
|Part-time gifted program (pull-out; parallel to rest of class)|
Curriculum delivery: Acceleration and enrichment (There is an equal emphasis on acceleration and enrichment.)In-class adaptations:
|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 SMUS says: This information is not currently available.
In grade 2, St. Michaels University School students perform an average of 15 mins of homework per night.Nightly Homework
|SMUS||0 mins||15 mins||15 mins|
|Site Average||7 mins||15 mins||17 mins|
How assessments are delivered across the grades:
|Lettered or numbered grades||4 to 12|
|Prose (narrative)-based feedback||K to 12|
|Academic achievement reporting||6 to 8|
|Habits and behaviour reporting||6 to 12|
|Parent-teacher meetings||K to 12|
This information is not currently available.
|Track & Field|
|Day (Domestic: in province)||$17,235||$19,665||$21,410|
|Day (Domestic: out of province)||$22,020||$24,455||$26,200|
|Boarding (Domestic: in province)||$47,075|
|Boarding (Domestic: out of province)||$51,865|
|Discount Type||Enrollment Type||Amount|
|2nd child (sibling)||all students||5%|
|3rd child (sibling)||all students||5%|
|4th child (sibling)||all students||5%|
|Grade range that need-based aid is offered:||K to 12|
|Percentage of grade-eligible students receiving financial aid||20%|
|Average aid package size||$11,685|
|Percentage of total enrollment on financial aid||20%|
|Total aid available||$2,260,000|
February 12, 2016 Repeats annually
This school works with Apple Financial Inc. for processing financial applications
Families interested in applying for financial assistance must complete the online application form, which you can access on the Apple Financial Services website. The online application provides instructions and help as you fill out the form. Once you have completed the application for financial assistance on the Apple Financial Services website, you will see directions for forwarding tax (and other) documentation.
|The Best School Year Ever|
|Eligibility Details: Students grade 8 to 12—|
To be eligible to enter the Contest, you must be a resident of Canada or the United States and be between grades 8 and 12. You can find the full eligibility criteria on www.bestschoolyearever.ca
|Application Details: |
See the website: www.bestschoolyearever.ca
|For more details, visit: bestschoolyearever.ca|
|Eligibility Details: Students grade 9—|
Show us your Spark! SMUS is looking for five day students entering Grade 9 to become a Spark Scholar and receive a scholarship worth $40,000 ($10,000 renewable for each year of Senior School).
|Application Details: |
Visit the webpage for more information.
|For more details, visit: www.smus.ca/admissions/scholarships/sparkscholars?utm_source=ourkids&utm_campaign=sparkscholars&utm_medium=profile|
|Average enrollment per grade||Varies|
|Gender (grades)||K to 12 (Coed)|
|Boarding offered||Gr. 8 - 12|
|% in boarding (total enrollment)||N/A|
|% in boarding (grade-eligible)||40%|
|Interview||K - 12|
|SSAT||8 - 12|
|SSAT (out of province)||8 - 12|
|Entrance Exam(s)||1 - 12|
|Entrance Essay||1 - 12|
Please visit www.smus.ca/admissions for more information.
Type of student St. Michaels University School is looking for: The profile of a SMUS student is that they are curious, passionate and ambitious. This means more than just academic success - it means challenging yourself in all areas. As a student here, you will be expected to engage in arts, athletics, leadership and volunteering. You will need to be open to new experiences, to meeting people from different walks of life, and to taking on leadership responsibilities. Admissions staff are looking for students that fit this profile and who will bring their passion and energy to the benefit of all in the school community.
Student Entry Points
|25 - 30||0 - 5||0 - 5||0 - 5||0 - 5||0 - 5||10 - 15||5 - 10||5 - 10||5 - 10||0 - 10||0 - 10||0 - 5|
|5 - 15||25 - 35||30 - 35||15 - 25||0 - 5|
|Average graduating class size||158|
|*Canadian "Big 6" placements||51|
*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. Michaels University School says:
|Steve Nash||1992||Professional basketball player (two-time NBA MVP) and philanthropist.|
|Kenneth Oppel||1985||Young adult and children's author - famous for the Silverwing series. Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award in 2007.|
|Stewart Butterfield||1991||Founder of Flickr, entrepreneur and businessman.|
|Leslie Hope||1982||Actress - famously playing Teri Bauer in the Fox TV show 24.|
|Rachel Curran||1990||Director of Policy in the Canadian government, reporting directly the the Prime Minister.|
|Simon Ibell||1996||Founder of the iBellieve Foundation.|
When Caitlin Farquharson ’10 thinks back to her time at SMUS, there’s one highlight that really stands out: her Grade 10 year.
That was the year, 2007 to be exact, that the school launched a pilot experiential program. Taking a group of Grade 10 students out of the regular curriculum for ten weeks in the spring, the pilot’s first group of 20-or-so student participants had the opportunity to expedite their in-class learning to make way for some unique experiences, like hiking the West Coast Trail, learning how to repair a bicycle and writing songs to perform as part of a rock band.
“The outdoor element was what attracted me to it. I came to SMUS from Banff, and I really enjoyed that part of my education there, so to be able to have that opportunity in Victoria with the school was pretty enticing,” says Caitlin, who graduated in 2010. “I liked the different experiences you’d get to have, while still being in an academic environment. Also, the timing of that program was pretty interesting: you’re right on the cusp of really having to buckle down for academics for university, but you’re still academically advanced enough that taking a semester of an experiential program isn’t detrimental.”
The pilot program was deemed a success and continued to attract a capacity group of students in subsequent years. While the outdoor element was just one piece of the experiential program, feedback from students who didn’t sign up indicated they, too, wanted out-of-the-classroom learning, but there was a misconception that outdoor education was the focus and they didn’t want to spend so much time learning in nature.
Becky Anderson, Director of Leadership Development, recalls those students telling her, “I like the idea of getting out of the classroom and exploring different areas, and I really like the idea of being with my classmates in a different environment,” but not everyone gets excited at the prospect of spending a week sleeping in the wilderness.
“So we asked, ‘What are you interested in then?’” Becky says. “We learned there are kids who really know what they’re interested in and they would just like to spend more time out of the classroom getting to focus on that. And there are lots of kids who have no idea what they’re interested in, and they’re having to make pretty big decisions in a couple of years that guide them into possible future careers, but they haven’t really had too much exposure beyond their academic experience.”
While the original Grade 10 program, which ran until the 2014-15 school year, became known for its outdoor education offerings, its scope reached far beyond that. Students participated in experiential afternoons to gain hands-on skills, such as bike mechanics, sewing, organic gardening and painting. The outdoor expeditions were another part of that experiential learning piece, as students gained firsthand leadership, teamwork, perseverance and goal-setting skills.
“I didn’t take away a huge academic benefit from it, but the educational value in terms of being a human being, and getting life experience, and learning how to problem solve, and learning life skills that aren’t easily taught in a classroom far outweighed what I may have missed in a math unit,” says Caitlin, now 23 and working for an investment firm in Vancouver.
In September the school took a big step forward by offering an experiential program to all Grade 10 students. The new Grade 10 Experiential Program centres on providing students with a variety of opportunities to get outside of the classroom to learn and to apply what they’ve learned in a classroom setting to real-life experiences (and vice-versa).
“It’s about exposure to interest areas and making real-world connections with the academic foundation that students have been given,” Becky says.
What that means is students can choose to pursue opportunities that are based on their interests or curiosities. Experiential learning is being applied in myriad ways, from a weeklong outdoor trip earlier this year to integrating an experiential unit into all the Grade 10 subjects.
Last Friday, the entire Middle School spent the day out of the classroom and lent a helping hand in the community. Community Service Day at the Middle School is a wonderful tradition, where students go to retirement homes and schools, parks and greenspaces to give back in any way they can.
“We’ve done this Community Service Day now for several years now, and it’s our way of connecting students to the larger community and to help them understand the needs that exist outside their world,” says Mr. Xavier Abrioux, Director of the Middle School. “I think at this age, particularly, a day like this is a great example of how they can experience what it’s really like to make a contribution and to understand different perspectives that help give them a greater sense of the community that they live in.”
This year, nearly 200 Grade 6-8 students and teachers headed out to remove invasive species in parks, pick up trash along the Galloping Goose trail, run games and activities at local schools, make and serve food to homeless youth and adults, lend a hand at the local food bank, spend time with the residents at retirement homes, and much more.
There is a conscious effort at the Middle School to provide meaningful service – that involves more than just showing up and lending a hand. Students are involved in Planning, Action, Reflection, Evaluation and Celebration, as it relates to Community Service Day, to help build a true sense of ownership of their community contributions.
“You try to help instill in students a sense of purpose; that they can make a difference. This is an age where their sense of themselves becomes increasingly important, and they’re able to handle and better understand different perspectives,” Xavier says. “And this way, they also get a sense of contributions that they can make beyond this day to get a broader understanding of what it means to be part of a community.”
Below, we share some student reflections from Community Service Day.
“I made a difference in the place I visited during Service Day in a few different ways. The first part of our day of service was making muffins, as well as organizing socks and toiletries to hand out at an organization called Out of the Rain. This organization is mainly for youth who need a place to sleep and eat. We did not hand out the things we made and put together, but instead went and handed out food and drinks to people on the streets of Victoria outside of an organization called My Place (a homeless shelter for people of all ages). People were very appreciative of this, and it made me feel really good about myself, and my day! We then came back to the school, and had a very informative lecture from a volunteer at Out of the Rain. We gave her the muffins, the socks and all of the toiletries so she could hand them out! I had a really fun day with my friends helping out in my community, as well as making some people’s days a little bit brighter and better!” – by Charlotte C.
“For Service Day, I was part of the Eco-Warrior group. We started off the day with rethinking our school recycling program. We began to redesign the Tower of Power labels and researched the garbage program. Next, I began to work with my group to build the garden beds behind the playground. We were successful in completing two garden beds. After lunch we went to Browning Park and removed invasive species such as blackberries and ivy. We made a huge difference to the environment, hopefully helping it regrow to its original state. I learned about different types of native and invasive plants, and their origins. I learned about different types of solar energy and different garbage programs within the municipalities. An overall lesson that I learned was teamwork makes everything easier.” – by Christian T.
“On Service Day, the Free the Children service group baked about 150 chocolate chip muffins and gathered all 458 pairs of socks that were donated at the Middle School. There were also toiletries donated at school, and we stuffed all of them in the socks. We donated all of the muffins, socks, and toiletries to the Out of the Rain youth shelter. After that, we went to My Place, where homeless people live. We met with a homeless person and he shared his experience with us. Then we set up stands outside, and served hot chocolate and muffins to people who walked by. I really thought that Service Day was a great opportunity for us to become more aware of our community and help serve the community, We got to understand more about the experiences of some people who are less fortunate than us. In the future, we should keep helping to raise awareness of homelessness, and take action on anything that will help end it.” – by Susan G.
“At Woodwynn Farms, I helped to mulch trees and protect them from diseases. At Our Place, I helped clean up tables after they had served lunch. Helping the community is very tiring, but fun. I learned that homeless people need a friend, because they would have someone to watch over their items and have someone who could shine light in a dark time.” – by Darius R.
“My service group joined with another group and we went to Mount Tolmie to pull out invasive weeds called Daphne Laurel and ivy. These plants are very aggressive and they are not native to the area. These plants are bad for the environment. For example, ivy is horrible for the trees because they cling themselves to trees and end up suffocating them! I am very happy that we helped our environment by trying to get rid of the invasive weeds. We did not get all of the weeds, but we definitely made a difference.” – by Alex B.
“We went off campus to provide service to My Place today. In the morning, we baked muffins and sorted the socks that we had been collecting as a school. Our goal was to collect 200 pairs of socks, but we got over 450 pairs! We gave the socks and muffins to a guest speaker who came to talk to us about Out of the Rain youth shelter, for youth 15 to 25. We set up a hot chocolate stand in front of My Place, and gave out muffins, hot chocolate and chocolates. I learned a lot today. I learned that homeless people need support. I learned that even just saying, “Hi” as you pass by someone on the street will make them realize that they aren’t invisible. There are many things we can do to help. Something all of us can do is donate socks and basic necessities to the homeless. Socks are very important to homeless people because of how much they walk around, with sometimes no shoes at all. I think that there are many things we can do to make this issue be less common.” – by Flynne G....
Grade 5 students at the Junior School, under the leadership and guidance of Mr. Gary Barber, spent the last 10 weeks researching, studying and learning all things Olympic Games and Olympism.
Gary has been working closely with the International Olympic Committee on helping to further develop the Olympic Values Education Programme and create a learning experience related to the Olympics that can be taught in classrooms around the world. Our Grade 5 students helped pilot the educational program.
“As a teacher, I’ve always wanted to share Olympic values – which are the Pursuit of Excellence, Friendship and Respect, with the children,” Gary says. “The essence of the program is giving them activities to explore various elements – the torch, the Olympic truce, the dove as the symbol of peace, the Olympic oath, influential athletes in history, the way the Olympic Games have transformed countries and cultures, and have brought people together.”
The students also touched on the challenges of the Olympic Games, such as cheating and intolerance.
“The program tries to develop skills based around the Olympic values that extend into their lives. We want to empower them to make good choices, learn how to be a good friend, accept and value differences and diversity, and respect themselves and others,” Gary says. “Many of these elements are embedded in our school’s mission and vision; it’s not much of an extension of what we cherish at SMUS.”
Tangibly, the Olympics were integrated into history, social studies, art and English lessons.
Last Friday, the Olympic program culminated in a day-long event at the Junior School. During the day, the students shared their work and what they’ve learned with their younger schoolmates. In the evening, parents were invited to the school to see the students’ learning in action.
Each of the Grade 5 classes presented a play: one on the history of the Ancient Olympics and one that was a courtroom drama related to doping at the Olympics. Parents and audience members then played the role of jury, and had the opportunity to debate and discuss the question: Is cheating in sport ever justified?
The school was also honoured to welcome five professional athletes (three who have competed at the Olympics, and two who are training for a spot on Team Canada for the upcoming Summer Games in Rio). The athletes were Adam Kreek (Olympic gold medalist rowing 8s), Hilary Stellingwerff (Olympic 1,500m runner), Dave Calder (Olympic silver medalist coxless pairs), Rachel Francois (runner) and Thomas Riva (runner). Deanna Binder, a longtime International Olympic Committee education consultant, was also in attendance to impart her knowledge.
We wish to congratulate the Grade 5 students and Mr. Barber on organizing and hosting an exceptionally informative and entertaining event!...
Mr. Giggles, Cottonball and Fluffy are the three newest members of our Grade 2 population, after the trio of baby chicks hatched in class Tuesday morning. The egg hatching project is part of a larger study on life cycles of different living things, including humans, chickens, ducks and plants.
“The kids will remember this their whole lives. They’ll never forget raising chicks and ducks in Grade 2; they’re watching life happen before their eyes,” says Grade 2 teacher Ms. Nina Duffus. “If you read a book about a chick they won’t remember it. They just learn so much more by experiencing it firsthand and by doing it.”
Grade 2 students returned from Spring Break to find fertilized eggs incubating in both classrooms. Three of the first set of eggs – the chicks – hatched this week, while the hope is that up to seven duck eggs will hatch next week.
[Grade 2 baby chicks] “They’ve been watching the eggs, they watched them actually come out of the shell, we’ve been reading and watching videos and learning about what will happen and how it changes,” Nina says. “They’re learning about life and death. We’ve already opened one that didn’t make it – a beak came through but it died before it hatched – so we see what it’ll look like as it was ready to be hatched.”
In addition to the excitement around the arrival of the chicks, and the optimism surrounding next week’s ducklings, the students are also learning about the life cycle of a bean plant.
“They have all planted seeds and are watching their bean plants sprout and take off every day, too. Generally they would be quite excited about watching their plants grow, but the plants are definitely taking a back seat to the chicks,” Nina says with a laugh. “One of the kids said breathlessly after we planted the seeds, ‘Chicks and plants? Grade 2 just can’t get any better than this!’”
As part of the life cycles curriculum, students are learning that all living things have a life cycle; they learn that offspring eventually look like their parents (but not always at birth); they compare the needs of humans, chicks, ducks and plants; and they learn what is necessary for life and to sustain life.
The students are learning about the in-class incubators and heaters, and how the technology takes the place of the mother for the baby chicks.
Nina says the classes will keep the chicks and the ducks as long as possible, before the chicks are returned to farms up-Island (where their eggs came from) and the ducks are brought to a different farm.
“They are just so engaged by this, and not only the Grade 2s, but the whole school,” Nina says. I arrive in the morning and kids from all grades are watching me get out of my car because they want to go inside and see the chicks. After school we have parents and students from all grades coming in – it’s really become a community project.”...
Our school recently received some truly outstanding news from the College Board: we have been ranked the number-one school in Canada for âequity and excellenceâ in the Advanced Placement® (AP) program.
Compared to nearly 600 Canadian schools, SMUS scores highest in the country for student access to the AP program combined with the exam results they achieve. Worldwide, SMUS ranks in the top 60 of 18,000 schools that offer the Advanced Placement program, which offers high school students college-level courses and the chance to earn university credits.
"We are extraordinarily proud of the equity and excellence ranking not only because it reflects another impressive performance by our students, but also because it shows we are achieving our goal of encouraging as many students as possible participate in the AP program," says our Head of School Bob Snowden. "Every year more than 200 of our students challenge themselves with AP courses and exams. That is phenomenal for a school our size and this ranking confirms that SMUS is by far the leading AP program among Canadian schools."
SMUS is the second largest AP school in Canada in terms of the number of exams taken. In the last school year, 133 out of 136 students in the graduating class took at least one AP exam. In addition, 98 SMUS students achieved "AP Scholar" status including 24 National AP Scholars, the most prestigious title awarded by the College Board to Canadian students. SMUS offers 27 Advanced Placement courses, including Human Geography, Psychology, Microeconomics/Macroeconomics, Calculus and Chemistry.
"SMUS pioneered AP in Canada as the first Canadian school to offer the program in 1978," says Mr. Snowden. "It offers students flexibility and choice in creating a program of study that reflects their passions, and itâs widely accepted in colleges and universities across North America as well as internationally. Because we expect all of our students to apply to universities both within and outside of Canada, we have made it an academic priority to have a strong AP program.
"The success of our students in the AP program is a tribute to their talent and hard work, and confirms the value of integrating the AP program into our overall academic approach," says Mr. Snowden. "Encouraging and enabling our students to set their sights high and seek advanced placement in colleges and universities is part of our commitment to seek the excellence in all of us and provide outstanding preparation for higher learning and for life."...
Summer on the Island may have been short on heat, but campus was smoking over the Labour Day weekend. Temperatures in the mid 30s greeted the newest cohort of boarding students, who were eager to see their dorm rooms and settle in to boarding life. My wife, Laurie Parker, is the Senior Assistant house parent in Timmis House, so she is close to the action. She says the most frequently asked question of the weekend was "Is this what the weather is always like?"
Admissions, Brown Hall and the house staff provided a warm welcome with dinners, BBQs, tours and words of advice. A whirlwind bus tour of Heirloom Linens, Mayfair Mall and Staples ensured everyone was hot on the trail of the essentials for their new dorm room. The new boarder orientation drew 150 people from four continents and 12 countries. SMUS will have to do some flag shopping because the group included our first boarding students from Poland and Belgium. Other flags flying on campus for this school year include the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Taiwan, Switzerland, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Mexico, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Germany, China, Brazil, the British West Indies and the United States.
The most anticipated event of the weekend wasn't the Link Leader activities led by Keith Driscoll or the first meal in Brown Hall, it was, of course, roommate introductions. It is a nervous time for the students because they will spend the next eight months in close proximity to one another. One of the greatest aspects of boarding is learning to live with people you've never met and take the opportunity to expand your understanding of other cultures. This weekend will include our opening Chapel Service and House Games, house picnics and all sorts of ice-breaker activities. It is a full slate for the weekend and we are expecting great weather again.
Both the Middle and Senior Schools welcomed their newest members with student-led programs designed to help their younger peers quickly settle into SMUS. Grade 9 students took part in the Link Leader program while Grade 6 students completed Where Everyone Belongs (WEB). WEB focuses on helping students get to know each other, team-building and orientation. The Grade 8 leaders are paired up with a small group of students who can turn to them throughout the year for help and advice. After some fun and games in the gym, the small groups broke off to complete exercises surrounding personal goals and their hopes for the year. Link Leader helps students settle in a similar way. The games for the Grade 9 students focused on lessons to cope with life at the school, including demonstrating the challenges of multi-tasking. Given the size of the SMUS campus, a tour was a very practical way to help new students prepare for the next four years. See photos...
The first week at a new school tends to be overwhelming, and my first week at SMUS was no exception. Had someone told me eight months ago that I would be moving to a new school a continent away from my parents at the end of the summer, I would never have believed them. I recently repatriated to Canada after living in Ireland for three years and Iâve never boarded before, so I was prepared to be unprepared. However, despite the hours of orientation and information meetings, I began to feel at home very soon after moving into Timmis house. From the house parents to the other students, everyone was very welcoming and I quickly hit my stride. Name games, house meetings and weekend activities quickly dissolved any anxiety I had coming into this experience. In fact, finding my classes was the only real snag, and I only failed to do that once. Of course, they keep us busy here. I havenât even had time to be homesick. I canât speak for the experiences of the other new students, but my first week was made immeasurably easier and more enjoyable by the work of my teachers, house parents and upperclassmen. Thanks to them, I find myself looking forward to the weeks to come. Watch video...
Unlike many, the Ivy League schools haven't always been my dream post-secondary institutions. In fact, I hadn't considered them as a viable option at all until quite recently. The reason for their descent from a number of mythical words with grandiose connotations (roll the words Harvard or Yale around in your mouth for a second) to the realm of reality, for me, comes down to becoming more informed. Informed on what it really takes to get into an Ivy League. How their need-blind policy works. What they look for in an applicant, and how they weigh the different aspects of your application. Despite this information reinforcing the idea that these schools are highly selective and wade through enormous pools of applicants before they choose those fit to enter their doors, I began to consider them as an option. Read more......
This week was another fabulous SMUS Spirit Week, with some amazing new events. In assembly on Tuesday, the entire school was dressed in their most colorful house gear. To kick off the competition, each group had to send their most promising members into competitions for having the longest air, being the shortest girls, or creating the best original cheer. At lunchtime, the competition centred around eating. A chilly November day added some extra obstacle to a slurpee-eating competition, and four students had so much school spirit that they entered an onion-eating competition. On Wednesday, students dressed as staff members, donning everything from lab coats to outdoor adventuring gear. At lunch, there was a challenging game of jeopardy, where students and teachers tried to answer questions from âWhat is Lady Gagaâs real name?â to âName pi to 15 decimal points,â which Grade 10 student Richard Cunningham did. Thursday, the Arts and International Councils combined to host an acoustic concert. Students, dressed as hipsters, performed all kinds of music. From Chinese and Armenian songs, to unique instrumentals, to English songs from international bands, like Swedenâs The Tallest man on Earth. The week will officially wrap up on Friday, with a spirit-themed school dance. Photos ...
The AP studio art course is different from regular art courses in several ways. Unlike regular art courses, it consists of three portfolios to submit to the College Board. That is not the only difference. AP studio art is divided into three big categories; 2-D design, 3-D design, and drawing. Each student is recommended to choose one of the categories. Each portfolio is divided into three section; breadth, concentration, and quality. The breadth part requires the students to show the ability to use various materials and handle various subjects. The concentration aspect is where the students choose a single subject and show the development of the idea throughout the 12 pieces. Then quality is judged based on five of your best pieces, which you send to the College Board. I chose to do 2-D design as my portfolio. I took the course for two years and for my first year, I mostly concentrated on creating pieces for my breadth. In class, students are given more freedom to choose the medium or subject, which allows the students to experiment with their ideas and find the best medium that suits them. This advantage allowed me to be more creative in my work. In my opinion, the most challenging part of AP studio art is the concentration portfolio. It not only requires many pieces, but also needs to show progression in each drawing. My concentration topic was the eye. My first motivation for choosing the subject was the alienation between the actual eye and the thinking that goes on behind the eyeball. Then I developed it into the idea of supervision, which came at about my 4th piece. As my ideas progressed, even the shape of my pieces changed. For example, one of my pieces that show the inside of the eyeball was drawn on a partially round paper, instead of a rectangular one. Another turning point was when I decided to focus on the exterior of the eye, instead of the interior. I wanted to show something about assistance for the eyes, such as makeup, glasses, lens, sunglasses, goggles, etc. In various ways, I tried to show different aspects that are related to my subject. Although my first concentration piece was about alienation of the eye, my last concentration piece was assistance the eyes get. I thought about the idea for my concentration as I progressed. AP studio art definitely is more challenging and time-pressured compared to a regular art course; however, it is a course worth taking. The course allows you to experience different aspects of the art course and allows you to be freer. ...
On October 20th 2010, the Grade 9 students came to school, dressed in casual clothes, excited about the Grade 9 conference. The conference, or the G9 as many of us called it, was put on by a select group of Grade 12 leaders. We started the day in our wonderful chapel where we were sorted into about eight small groups and each group was given a color. The groups were carefully chosen not to be our normal group of peers. In our first group meeting, we played silly games, learned everyoneâs name, and made up a cheer for our group. After that we made our way through four stations, which were set up throughout the Senior School. At our first station, we were each given a foam mask frame and a bunch of markers and cut out shapes. We had to develop a mask which reflected and described our personality. We also played a game designed to reveal our identity and learn more about each other. Our second station was designed like a trivia game to give us the skills to survive in the Senior School. We learned all sorts of valuable information such as: What is Mr. Common known for? Who are the two female teachers who demand respect? Who are the teachers most likely to take your non-school hoodie? What spot on campus is not the place to hang out? Our third station really pushed us to trust. We were put into pairs (keep in mind we were not with our regular peers) and one of us was blindfolded. At first our partners held our hands and led us around. By the end of the activity, we trusted our partners enough to be safe running in the field and climbing up a small set of stairs. Our fourth station informed us about all the exciting opportunities available at the Senior School. There are numerous clubs and councils for everyone; sports, music, drama, academics, chapel, and service. All of these activities help to make the SMUS community a wonderful place. The highlight of the day was our G9 pizza lunch where we were special enough to clear out Brown Hall for. Of course that cheer we made up in the morning had to be performed. It was a great day had by all and we learned a lot. We learned the basics about life at the Senior School and how to survive it. More importantly, we were given the opportunity to step outside our comfort zone and self-reflect. We learned about trust and leadership. We learned about others and the whole experience brought us together as a Grade 9 class. ...
One thing I certainly love about SMUS is that people here are always open to and interested in discovering new cultures. Being the only two Russian students here, me and Anastasia decided to show and tell as much as we could about Russiaâs distinctive and exotic culture and so, encouraged by Mrs. Zapantis, we came up with this idea about traditional dance. Staging it was new but such an exciting experience! We are very much obligated to all our friends from different countries who volunteered to help us and demonstrated their dancing skills on the stage! Thereby, after only four rehearsals our international mix of Mexican, Korean, Chinese, Canadian, German, British and Russian students worked out perfectly and performed with great success on the 1st of May! I hope everyone liked our amateur piece of art. by Karen Korfmacher, Grade 11 boarder from Germany As part of the International Council, I was thrilled about the International Extravaganza for Alumni Weekend on May 1st. Not only because of all the amazing international food and goods at the market, but also because I knew that my Russian friends Anna and Anastasia would put together a group of people to perform a Russian Dance. Therefore, I was really excited when they asked me to join the group. Unfortunately, we were kind of short on time, so that we only had four rehearsals before the actual performance. But as Anna was such a good â and strict â teacher, we made it in time. And even though it was a little bit stressful due to the time pressure, we had an awesome time learning the Russian Dance! Then the 1st of May cameâ¦ and we were all kind of nervous. But on stage, all nervousness was gone and we just enjoyed the great performance! It was a great success and so much fun performing with a group of nine people from seven different countries and cultures! And I would instantly say âyesâ again, if one would ask me to join a group to perform an international dance! ...
Heads bowed and necks white with sunblock, the group of intrepid explorers trudged up the beach diligently, their feet sinking into the soft white sand. A frigate bird flew overhead, its inflated red pouch in full view as a strange rock-coloured marine iguana exhaled a spray of saltwater but neither creature elicited much interest from the group. Meanwhile, a lava lizard hunkered down on a lava rock, as further down the beach, a sea lion raised its flipper lazily as it basked in the sun. The guide signalled and the group came to an abrupt halt, craning their necks as they tried to see what lay in front of them. âWhat, what is it?â they grumbled impatiently. Then they saw what the fuss was all about â a small flock of flamingos striding regally through a shallow lagoon, ignoring their presence. Was this some sort of big budget nature documentary? Or some sort of exotic walk-in zoo? No, it was the 2010 SMUS Ecuador and Galapagos trip! Held over Spring Break, the trip was truly unforgettable as it allowed participants the chance to explore one of the most biodiverse countries in the world: Ecuador, home to about 15% of the worldâs known bird species and over 16,000 plants. The best part was that we had the privilege of being accompanied by SMUSâ very own Mr. Michael Jackson, who is one of the foremost experts on the Galapagos Islands (his book is even used as a reference in training local Galapagos tour guides). Accompanied by Mr. Jackson and Ms. Tobacco, six SMUS students and two parents set off on a three-week adventure through Ecuador that included excursions to the Ecuadorian highlands, Amazon jungle and the Galapagos Islands. The trip started with a gruelling day-long plane ride that took us to the capital city of Quito from Victoria. From there, we ventured into the cloud forests â so named for the foggy mists that typically blanketed the area. To our delight, our lodge turned out to be a haven for birds. We manage to spot just about every bird in the forest from the luxury of our own hotel lobby â from tiny hummingbirds that buzzed past our heads to a pair of colourful aracaris (mini toucans) and even an owl. Over our short stay at the cloud forest, we made an early-morning trek to spot the elusive Andean cock-of-the-rock, became friends with vibrant butterflies and were dazzled by a stunning array of endemic orchids. The cloud forest was a great introduction to Ecuador, as the next stop was the remote Cuyabeno wildlife reserve nestled deep in the regions of the Amazon jungle. Our journey into the jungle involved a jeep ride followed by a ride in a dugout canoe from which we saw wasp nests, monkeys, macaws, and toucans. We even managed to spot the elusive pink river dolphin (which turned out to be more grey rather than pink). Over the four nights that we stayed in the rain forest, it rained almost constantly. Itâs one thing to be caught in a measly Victoria drizzle, and another to be caught in a horrendous torrential downpour. Everything was so wet, yet that did not dampen our spirits. There, we hiked forest trails, fished for piranhas (Ms Tobacco caught a catfish instead!), visited a native village, went caiman-spotting (ironically, the caimans came to our lodge), were almost frightened to death by a lobster-sized grasshopper, and got to channel our inner Tarzan as we swung from vines and swam in the lagoon. The best part was that the lodge we stayed at was very open air, so we really got the chance to experience nature. Even the rainforest creatures decided to pay us a visit â from frogs in our showers to whopping spiders on our mosquito nets and a boa constrictor behind the kitchen. After the rainforest, we briefly visited the Otavalo area, home to the famous Otavalo market and some of the oldest haciendas (former colonial Spanish estates) in Ecuador, before heading off to the Galapagos Islands. Over 600 miles from the mainland, the equatorial islandsâremoteness, frequent volcanic activity and location have made it one of the most unique places on the earth. Once there, we joined up with two other couples and boarded the MV Daphne, our floating home for the next week and a bit. We toured from island to island and were truly amazed by the sheer multitude of animals and plant life on the mostly barren landscapes. Whether it was observing the imposing orange land iguanas on Santa Fe island or walking amongst vast seabird colonies, we were struck by how close to nature we were as we say creatures living, dying and carrying on with their lives without giving us the slightest bit of attention. We saw so many things, from penguins (fun fact: the Galapagos Islands is the only place in the world where penguins nest above the equator) and giant-tortoises to fighting marine iguanas and even an unfortunate dying heron. We were lucky that we arrived during the so-called rainy season (it rained all of 20 minutes while we were there) so the islands were reasonably lush and it wasnât so hot. It was also the start of the mating season for the frigate birds and the blue-footed boobies so we were treated to some awesome mating displays along the way. Not to be forgotten are the fantastic snorkeling opportunities we had, which allowed us to swim with sea lions, spot sea turtles and even catch a glimpse of a hammerhead shark. It was truly a mind-blowing trip. At the end of our journey, we were all a bit sad to leave as we had all grown to love the country and its diversity so much. We left the country with heavy hearts and even heavier bags, still unable to believe what an incredible trip we had had and what amazing experiences we had shared. I strongly urge all SMUS students to go on future school trips to the Galapagos â it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave you all eager to go back someday. ...
Island Sampler by Meredith Witoski, Grade 12 trip leader On Wednesday, September 29th at 7:45 am, I boarded a school bus with my Island Sampler Grade 11 outdoor trip group and I had no idea what to expect from the next five days. I have been fortunate to be able to take part in the Outdoor Leadership program offered at SMUS during the last year. It is through this program that Iâve had amazing experiences such as building a snow kitchen in Manning Park, outback skiing during the May Long Weekend, and getting to better understand and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us in BC. As the final part of this program, the Grade 12 outdoor leaders are assigned to either a Grade 10 or 11 outdoor trip. My trip was the Grade 11 Island Sampler trip. I loved the outline for this trip because each day was something different. We had a day of wilderness learning, which included a blind walk through the forest in our bare feet, and a berry walk where we learnt about the different gifts of the natural vegetation on Vancouver Island. Another day was our sea-kayaking day; unfortunately due to the weather we werenât able to kayak. However, we took water taxis over Meares Island, which is an island in Clayoquot Sound near Tofino, BC. On Meares Island, we went on a nature walk and had a great lunch. On the second last day, we went surfing on North Chesterman Beach, with Pacific Surf School. Everyone was super excited for this day! They all got into their wet suits and marched down the beach. Scuba Diving by Rio Hong, Grade 11 boarder As the days came closer and closer, I only got more excited and nervous about my trip. Although SMUS gives outdoor trip opportunities for all grades, I decided to choose something new and very interesting. When I first got the list, all the different trips felt quite appealing, yet the scuba-diving trip stood out the most. I have never attempted such experiences in the past, only heard from others who have done it and found it fascinating. My chance finally arrived; when I read the trip details, I only fell more and more deeply attracted to diving. Still, this was only a portion of the joy and entertainment I received through the whole challenge. For the first two days, our group went through the introductory lessons of scuba diving. With us were two local professional divers. They were not only well-prepared for all the different uncertainties that could have taken place, but also very friendly and willing to be with us. The other three days of the trip were spent at a nearby ocean. To be honest, we did see lots of amazing sea creatures and other random things in spite of the relatively cold, Canadian water! As we completed more and more ocean dives throughout, the group, full of new divers, felt more comfortable in the ocean and no longer required much aid from the professionals. In the end, we completed four ocean dives in total and received a PADI Scuba Diver Certification. After coming back, I now see this opportunity in many different perspectives: a brand-new, brilliant adventure, a fun and easy way to meet friends, a great start of the school year, and perhaps an opening to my future, life-long hobby! I am definitely grateful that SMUS offers its student such activities. It is literally a perfect blend of educational journey and some fresh air. ...
The annual Cross-Campus Strings Concert took a different turn this year, expanding its scope to include everything from the Baroque era to modern rock. Opening with selections from a classic concerto, composed by the distinctly Baroque G.F. Handel and performed by the Senior School String Orchestra, the concert went on to feature students from Grades 4-8. From Robert Smithâs elating âEvening Alleluiasâ to Shirl Jae Atwellâs dramatic âDrifen,â students from our Junior and Middle Schools delivered tight, professional performances of many challenging pieces. The last number of the night featured the Senior School Orchestra alongside electric guitars, drums, and a synthesizer. Together, they brought a modern concerto, originally written for Eric Clapton by Grammy Award-winning musician Michael Kamen, to life. The piece was picked out by avid guitarist and Grade 11 student Brian Christensen, who contributed a strong solo on the raucous finale, alongside Rowan MacKenzie, Oliver Brooks, Andrew Taylor and Leo Marchand and the truly powerful orchestra. See video ...
St. Michaels University School is pleased to announce the appointment of Heather Clayton as Director of Learning, a new administrative position created by the school. In recent years, it has been a formal priority of the SMUS strategic plan to implement significant enhancements in teaching and learning, a consequence of landmark advances in the last 25 years of research about the brain and about how students learn. At SMUS this has led to a focus on differentiated learning, more current and effective assessment and evaluation practices, and a collaborative professional environment. The creation of the role of Director of Learning recognizes the need to continue this evolution as a cornerstone of the school's approach to learning. Therefore, SMUS has decided create this role for a knowledgeable professional who is well-versed in the research and dedicated to differentiated learning as a central theme in our goal of pursuing academic success in an environment where the character and self also grow. When she starts her new position in September, Heatherâs responsibilities will include an examination of the applicability of brain-based learning research and best practices to SMUS, and the development and implementation of a plan to support teachers in their professional growth. She will also suggest appropriate modifications to the curriculum and recommend how best to meet the needs of learners in a demanding academic context where the fundamental goal is outstanding preparation for higher learning. Heather is currently employed by the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board in Peterborough, Ontario as an instructional leadership consultant. In this role, she has worked collaboratively with teachers, parents, administrators, and provincial representatives to support learning through professional development sessions, professional learning communities, conferences, and team planning with a focus on student success. A keynote speaker and facilitator on learning strategies, assessment, differentiated instruction and brain research, Heather has travelled across Canada and the US, training teachers and administrators. As the Canadian trainer for Dr. Kathie Nunley, a foremost expert on the links between brain research and classroom instruction, Heather also taught layered curriculum as one method of differentiating instruction. Heather has worked as both an elementary and secondary school teacher in Canada and Australia. She has received undergraduate degrees, diplomas and certifications from University of Waterloo, University of Toronto and Queenâs University, and her masterâs in leadership from Royal Roads University. ...
April 9, 2010 They say that once you go to Africa, you are changed forever. I completely agree. This spring break I had the opportunity to discover life in the African country of Ghana. I can honestly say that it was the best experience of my life. I changed in so many ways that I am still unsure how to express it with words. I could tell you all of the things that we did while we were there, what life is like in Ghana, and about all of the things I experienced, but I wonÃ¢ÂÂt. The one thing that I realize during my time in Ghana, is that you canÃ¢ÂÂt understand what Africa is like until you go there. I could write a 5000-word essay describing life in Africa, but I would never be able to fully express and capture the truth about what Africa is like. We stayed in a small village in the eastern costal area (the Volta Region) in a village called Atorkor. While we were there, we created a library from the 1500 books that were donated by a group of people in Tennessee. We ran out of shelves by about day fourÃ¢ÂÂ¦and by the last week, I started to hate books. Yet, at the end of the day when the school let out, kids would swarm into the library to read and sign-out books. It made emptying and sorting through every book and cockroach-filled box worthwhile. To the kids in Atorkor, a library is something that they have never had; they have never seen a room full of books before. When I tell people that I worked in a library my entire spring break, to them it doesnÃ¢ÂÂt seem like I really did a lot, but they werenÃ¢ÂÂt there to see sixteen-year-old kids get excited about picture books. Like I said before, Africa is not a place that you talk about, rather it is a place that you go to discover something about the world and about yourself. Seeing a kid become so excited about a book, about being able to play with a real soccer ball or seeing a picture of themselves is something you donÃ¢ÂÂt see in Canada. In Ghana, they donÃ¢ÂÂt take anything for granted, they appreciate the little things, they work together and they seem to always have a permanent and sincere smile spread across their faces. I hope that one day I will be able to return to Africa because it is in my blood for life. Ghana has become a part of who I am, and I will never forget the experience that I had during March break of 2010. ...
Chris Darimont â92, an alumnus of SMUS and an award-winning conservation biologist, returned to SMUS to talk about his latest research on humanityâs effects on evolution. In addition to his public talk, Chris dropped in on a few classes. Currently featured in Macleanâs magazine, Chrisâs latest work suggests humanity is causing rapid evolutionary changes in many species. His findings have shown that creatures from fish to rams are changing in size, altering travel patterns, and reproducing earlier in order to adapt to humanityâs presence. Typically, in the wild, a deer or stag that is smaller would be a likely target for a predator, due to their being weaker than the rest of their herd. In contrast, a human hunter would be more likely to target a larger animal, because of both hunting regulations and the desirable size for keepsakes such as antlers. The way these patterns are impacting evolution, is that the survivors of predation determine which characteristics are passed on â namely, their own. For example, under many current fishing regulations, younger fish must be tossed back, but older ones are allowed to be kept. Thus, fish that reproduce at a younger age are more likely to be able to reproduce before they are caught. Since humanity is responsible for as much as 80-90 percent of the annual harvest in some animal populations, their impact significantly outweighs that of natural predators, and animals are adapting to make themselves less likely targets for humans. Rams, for example, are producing smaller horns, making them less attractive to hunters. In salmon populations, the spawning fish who head back to breed later in the season are more likely to be caught than those who arrive first, so they are heading back earlier and earlier each year. Though humanity impacts animal species in a number of ways, such as altering natural environments, Chrisâ research shows that the populations that are targeted for predation adapt much more quickly than animals affected in other ways and even faster than animals living in the wild. However, his research also suggests that while animal populations change rapidly in response to this predation, once the predation ceases, animals are slow to rebound. In general, animals that reproduce at a young age produce much fewer offspring than they would at a more mature age. So, when animals adapt to harvesting by reproducing when theyâre younger, they donât produce as many young, and not only does it take longer for the population to return to its original size, but without the impetus of predation, the population will take even longer to return to its original rate of replenishment. Because of this, Chris believes that the best way to combat these effects is to alter the size and age of the animals we harvest as well as decrease our harvesting of animals as a whole. His research has also been featured in the Times-Colonist and Discover Magazine, which named his work one of the top 100 stories in 2009. ...
On January 20, 2010, Ms. Van Alstineâs Grade 8 science classes filed into the science lab to complete a cow eye dissection. Iâm sure the only thing going through most of the students minds were âI wonder how it will be?â At first it was almost like the cow itself was looking at you, but after removing the cornea from the eye things started to get better. I found it helpful, and interesting to actually get to see the eye as a 3D diagram, everything was much more clear and easier to picture. As we kept dissecting, the eye was almost in layers. First the cornea, then the iris and sclera, then the lens, vitreous humour and, finally, the retina and tapetum. After the steps of the dissection were over Ms. Van Alstine graciously let us explore all aspects of the eye, which included exploring with the vitreous humour, a Jell-o like substance that gives the eye its shape. Although dissecting a cow eye might not appeal to everyone, trust me it was a great experience. See photos ...
December 1, 2009 On Thursday, November 26th, students and staff gathered in the rainbow-clad gym for SMUSÃ¢ÂÂ first ever Pride Day. Catchy tunes could be heard from DJ LegitÃ¢ÂÂs masterful remixing abilities, varicoloured balloons filled the air, and there was present an almost tangible spirit. Students supported the building of the South Island Community Pride Centre by purchasing t-shirts (designed by recent SMUS grad Shun Kinoshita), mocktails, popcorn, and baked goods. A highlight of the event was a debut performance by the schoolÃ¢ÂÂs newly-formed hip hop crew the 2ne Ups. The intricately choreographed moves left the audience awestruck; the 2ne UpsÃ¢ÂÂ performance brought fourth even more pride from the student and staff body. In addition, on display were the new collection of Pride Alliance resources, allowing the attendees to browse books and pamphlets on gender and sexual diversity. Moreover, at another table, a few students had crafted a banner on which students and staff could sign their names and handprints to show their support for the Pride Alliance and the diversity of our community. The idea for Pride Day arose last year, when the Pride Alliance group decided that we wanted to raise more awareness in the school of LGBT issues. The group spent the entire term planning for this day, and managed to raise quite a lot of funds to assist the Pride Community Center in Victoria, especially with its youth programmes. The day before Pride Day, the Pride Alliance also organized a chapel presentation. Three speakers from the local pride centre were brought in, and they delivered extremely articulate and meaningful recounts of their own experiences of "coming out"ÂÂ as a gay, lesbian, or transgendered individual. This presentation left a very powerful message of acceptance and inclusion to resound within the school community. SMUS has come so far in the past few years in terms of the awareness of gender and sexual diversity. Two years ago, the Pride Alliance did not exist. The founding group agreed (and the group still does) that the existence of the Pride Alliance at SMUS was long overdue. SMUS has gone from having no pride group at all to having an entire day focused on celebrating the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity. From this diversity, we believe that our school is able to reach a place of mutual understanding and acceptance. The Pride Alliance group truly believes that educating and promoting awareness of acceptance and understanding is how we will continue to create a safe and inclusive environment in our community for all. The Pride Alliance would like to extend an immense thank you to everyone who helped make this day so successful. From allowing us precious gym space, to baking cookies, to running to Hillside mall for giant-sized balloons, many people were involved in organizing this special day. This article will also appear in the December issue of The Ivy. ...
November 27, 2009 Watch videos from the SMUS Recitations My heart is pounding. I have to remind myself that I love my piece in order to calm myself. The seat to my right is empty. In a few seconds I will stand and speak. She sits. Three deep breaths. As I introduce my recitation, the anxiety starts to fade. As I say the first words, all things are forgotten and passion starts to flow. The crowd is silenced, and I tell my story. My memory is solid, not hesitating between stanzas, and too involved in my character to even think about the possibility of forgetting. I finish to the applause of an enthusiastic crowd. I sit down, immediately wishing I could go again, loving the thrill and all the audienceÃ¢ÂÂs attention. I watch as the next performer introduces himself, and goes through the same emotions that I just did two minutes ago. His performance appears flawless, and he sits down, smiling at his performance. This solution of anxiety, excitement and enthusiasm created an evening of spoken word that was truly exceptional. I chose my piece, Ã¢ÂÂOn Human PotentialÃ¢ÂÂ by Brendan McLeod, because I was passionate about the topic. It was a message against homophobia, done in a brilliant way, involving humor. After I had memorized it, I was able to give all my effort to involve the audience through actions and dynamics. It seemed as though everybody else also really enjoyed sharing their recitation. I was only able to stay for half the evening, but I thoroughly enjoyed those who I saw perform. Jeremy Fairley did a hilarious poem by Shel Silverstein, which could be interpreted as just a light and funny story about two old generals, but I thought there was an underlying message against war. Colin Hawes defined the Canadian clichÃÂ© Ã¢ÂÂeh?Ã¢ÂÂ in his monologue, to which the audience roared with laughter. These are just two examples of how amusing the evening was. Recitation night was a very enjoyable experience, from both an audience memberÃ¢ÂÂs and a performerÃ¢ÂÂs perspective. Mr. YoungÃ¢ÂÂs introduction was clever and funny, which set a relaxed mood, allowing performers like me to become less nervous. Everyone was supportive, and really watched in awe as students preformed their work of art; spoken word. Each student had a different impact on the audience. Sometimes the audience laughed, at other times was silent, other times scared, but always listening, anticipating the next words. I look forward to at least attending next yearÃ¢ÂÂs recitation evening and experiencing more spoken word. ...
November 17, 2009 The Student Theatre Society was formed four years ago by an enterprising group of students and their diligent teacher representative. Since the very beginning, students have run the society almost exclusively; a director (in this case, Sophia Bryant-Scott) will put forth a proposal for a play, audition students to play the roles and employ others to work with lighting, sound, props and makeup. In four years, we have conquered wild comedies, a heart wrenching documentary, and some quasi-Shakespeare. Now, we take on something entirely different - fire and censorship - with Fahrenheit 451. This year's play is a far cry from what we've done so far. The topics of media, literature and censorship hit close to home, and the words of C.R. Faber (Will Jevne) and his daughter Clarisse (Sky Richards) convinced us how important it is to address these topics. After the interpretation, the challenge of producing the actual play emerged. For one, our main character Montag (Richard Boness) hardly ever leaves the stage, and his anti-hero/villainous counterpart Beatty (Brian Christiansen) has a complicated character and a five-page monologue. Characters have been mentally destroyed by the media, most notably Montag's wife, Mildred (Maddy Goodman). We have a dozen people who literally play old books; you will find both Tolkein and Tolstoy on our cast list. A mechanical hound was created entirely from art by Megan Parker and a sound clip courtesy of Oliver Brooks. And, of course, there'ÃÂÃÂs the tricky combination of lighting-sound-acting that we'ÃÂÃÂve employed to convince you of fire. That's what I personally love about our theatre society -Â anything difficult to produce is handled creatively and quickly by students, and you never know who'Âs going to come up with what. Our process is about focusing on emotion and character rather than structure. From the response we'ÃÂÃÂve had in the past, this alternative method produces unexpectedly well-received results. We hope to see you in the audience! See photos... ...
September 17, 2009 It was an exciting morning on campus as Steve Nash, SMUS class of '92, stopped by to talk to some his former teachers, answer questions from current students and visit his former athletic stomping grounds. Students from all three schools cheered for Steve as he took the stage, introduced by his former coach Ian Hyde-Lay. Steve, who was in town to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Victoria, spoke to students about what it takes to achieve excellence, how he stays in shape, his commitment to improving the world through his foundation, and whether or not he can make a slam dunk (he can). See photos... ...
House Olympics started off with the classic pre-game "surprise" water balloon fight, where we all attack the other house for a while, until we are all thoroughly wet, and then launch into a round of cheers and skits by each house. The first event was an obstacle course, a race of balance, flexibility, chopstick skills and water jug tossing. Barnacle took first for the boys and Symons snagged a first place for the girls.
The next event was the egg toss, and this year the eggs were tossed especially far. Timmis stole a first place in this event, even beating some of the boy's houses, and Timmis' brother house Bolton also managed a first-place finish. The third event was the "Clapping Game," a contest of mathematics, speed, and luck. The idea of the game is to clap if a number is a multiple of three or ends in a three. This was the game for the mathletes in the crowd. On the girls' side, Symons Super Stars were once again victorious, and again Bolton Penguins for the boys' side.
The fourth event was the "Mystery Relay," and it was organized by our school's very own environmental guru, Mr. Craig Farish. You guessed it; it was an environmental relay that consisted of making a list of 10 things that are good for the environment and a recycling sort. Timmis House won for the girls by a landslide with a combination of running speed and environmental knowledge, while Bolton proved to be the most environmentally-conscious boys' house.
The final, but most anticipated event was the annual tug-of-war. Harvey House and Barnacle House started the first battle of strength, and broke the rope! The director of boarding, Mr. Hall, tried to fix the problem by tying the two haves together, only for the rope to split into two for the second time. Tug-of-war turned out to be a bust, so Timmis and Bolton brought out their remaining reserves of water balloons and the House Olympics were brought to a close with a splash. ...
A full boarding scholarship worth $50,000 is up for grabs at St. Michaels University School, one of Canada's top boarding schools. ...
Experience the beautiful campus here at St. Michaels University School by taking a guided virtual campus tour. ...
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