Interview with Branksome Hall Alum, Becca Clark
Becca Clark graduated from Branksome Hall in 2017. She says the school instilled confidence in her, and felt like a second home. It offered her many opportunities, from international travel to extra-curricular activities. She is now studying drama, French and business at Queen’s University.
Highlights from the interview
Drama was never really a part of my life until I went to Branksome Hall. I moved to Branksome in Grade 8. Before that year, I wasn’t planning on taking drama—I was planning on taking Art and that was going to be it. But in Grade 8 at Branksome, you had to take Music, Art, and Drama. And I was like ‘Whatever, I have to take Drama, whatever’. And then we did one unit, the Monologue unit, which was the main acting unit, and I absolutely fell in love. The teacher was just amazing, and I still talk to her today. Then I took drama the next year, and I wanted just to make it a part of my life. So that teacher worked with me at least once a week at lunch and just helped me with my acting skills and would film me and research stuff for me and help me write, like, résumés or cover letters, which was awesome. Branksome Hall definitely influenced my choice to take Drama at university because it wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to do something like this.
For me, going to Branksome wasn’t just about ‘I’m going to see my friends tomorrow.’ It was seriously about ‘I’m going to see the building tomorrow, I’m going to see the teachers tomorrow’. They just shaped my entire time there. Every single teacher made every day so much brighter. The teachers are so passionate, and the buildings are so bright. The teachers are so passionate, the buildings are so bright. Even when I go back today, I’m like, ‘Ah, Branksome!’
I really think what differentiates the school is Branksome’s commitment to pushing you towards your passion. For example in the IB program, you have to do ‘CCAS,’ which is an acronym for ‘Community, Creativity, Action, and Service’. Most schools would only have CCAS, which is in Grades 11 and 12. That’s it. Whereas Branksome instills those values in Grades 7 and 8, when you have to do the Principal’s Award. After that, in Grade 9, you start doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award, and then you’re doing CCAS in Grades 11 and 12. So they’re really instilling in you the fact that you have to be doing extracurriculars. Some people might find that tiring—but without them, many people wouldn’t have found what they’re passionate about. They really find your passion at Branksome, and then narrow into your passion, and they offer so many different programs.
Leadership is such a big part of Branksome. They want everyone to be a leader—whether you’re a leader for a small club, or if you’re a leader for something huge. I think everyone at Branksome in some way is passionate about leadership because it’s such a big part of the school. There’s just so much that Branksome gives you, and so many opportunities that they give you, that just lets you be passionate about anything that you can ever want.
Loving, inclusive, and passionate is how I would describe Branksome Hall’s qualities, if it were a person.
Community is an important value of Branksome Hall. They tried really hard to create bonds between students in different grades. It was a goal that they had. Every week, we had Advisor sessions, which were with 10 other kids and a teacher in your grade that you might not have other classes with. You might not be in the same friend group as these other students, but you have been with them every single year since you’ve been to the school. It’s just a nice way to reconnect with some of the people who I wouldn’t have known well otherwise. Branksome Hall tries to make everything super inclusive.
One of Branksome Hall’s main values is to seek to empower the students as young women. They bring in a lot of guest speakers with hopes of inspiring students to strive to reach their aspirations, their goals, to discover passions, to start passions, to complete the goals they are passionate about. I think they really want to make every individual feel welcomed in any category they wish to study, or in any section of life they’re in.
I think that your perspective changes when you go to Branksome. It’s not a school. It’s a home. It’s somewhere that you want to go every day, versus somewhere that your parents drive you to every day because you need to learn.
I would say that the typical Branksome Hall student is driven. I would say that they’re silly—we were always laughing no matter what class we were in. I would say that they are passionate. They want to spark change in their communities.
There’s no doubt that Branksome shaped who I am as a person. I wouldn’t have become the obsessive leader that I am without Branksome. I love being in a leadership role. I wouldn’t have been in Drama without Branksome. And I think I wouldn’t have been as happy as a person as I am without Branksome. You can ask my mom: she always says ‘Branksome was the best thing that ever happened to you’. I just became so much happier. My outlook on everything improved. I was more positive about everything. I think Branksome just made me the positive, bubbly person that I am—excited for life, excited for opportunity, and excited for everything to come.
I don’t think I would want to change anything about Branksome Hall. Everything was perfect for me. I feel silly saying this, but it was perfect. I wouldn’t be the person I am without Branksome Hall.
While I was at Branksome Hall my perspective changed from ‘going to school’ to calling it a ‘home’. Along with many others in my grade, I started crying about leaving Branksome Hall at the start of January of our graduating year, and kept crying till the end of May. And that continued into First Year university, because we still wanted to be at Branksome Hall. Honestly, to capture my obsession with the school, I graduated on a Thursday, and on Friday I was back at Branksome doing ‘Fit Friday’, even though I didn’t need to be there anymore, because we had graduated.
I think that Branksome pushes you to be the best you can be. I think they provide a lot of opportunities for you to make friends, whether that’s in a singular friend group or in multiple friend groups. I think Branksome has a lot to offer, no matter what direction you’re going.
Branksome Hall provides an amazing education. I mean, you’re doing the IB program. You’re at an independent girls’ school. You’re learning things in advance of a lot of students elsewhere. For example, we had an opportunity to do a course in American history, which has really given me a lot of information in my life. I love that I’ve done American history. Branksome Hall pushes your education to a new level, which is definitely another reason why you would want to go there.
I would tell a family considering Branksome that if you are trying to get a new start, if you want to find yourself, if you want to be the best person that you can be, to push yourself to discover new things, discover new passions, meet amazing people, meet amazing teachers and amazing mentors, It think that’s the place you want to be.
It’s the extracurriculars at Branksome Hall that make you have the most fun, and the most spirit. Branksome is a spirited school. They love involvement, they love leadership and extracurriculars. The way to make the most of your experience at Branksome is by involving yourself in different extracurriculars, and finding something that you’re passionate about.