Robert Henderson, Engineer, Sedbergh School Grad

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Q: How has independent schooling helped in shaping you into the person you are today?

A: Sedbergh, as an independent boarding school inculcated a spirit of self dependence, to do things for yourself and to the best according to your ability. Living in a boarding school environment, is no doubt, a bit like living in a very large family, some members are friends, some teach you new and exciting things and some are not so nice, as in all schools, but above all you learn to deal with every single one of your peers. We all like to be part of school camaraderie, for my part learning the application of humor and actively trying to be of happy disposition has made life an easier journey through the mine fields of marriage, children and work.

Q: What life skills did you learn at school?

A: If Sedbergh taught me one thing, it is perseverance. It is all to easy to give up on things that are not always pleasant at a young age, as you know your parents will always support you whatever your choices. Independent school teachers on the other hand push you to focus, persevere and ultimately succeed.

Q: What opportunities have opened up for you as a result of going to an independent school?

A: Independent residential school teachers are clearly a dedicated lot. Life skill sets do not stop in the class room but continue through out the waking day down to bedtime stories of the ancient Greeks and their heroes. It is these teachers in off-class hours that lead young students to opportunities of exploration and what schooling is all about. You want to explore, and not be afraid to do so, they help and make it happen. Thus, to truly recognize a personal opportunity and seize the rings of advantage is in itself the opportunity of learning, as we really never stop learning. Opportunity and its recognition is the purview of independent school's teachers and it follows you the rest of your life.

Q: What is your fondest memory at independent school?

A: There are so many, where to begin? Learning mechanical skill sets in a garage, playing with chemistry, sports achievements, reading alone on a grassy knoll bathed in Spring sunshine, the list goes on. Sedbergh, in my case, is a unique independent school with an outdoors program second to none in Canada. The "Hut Program" is one of the founder's original creative ideas for teaching independence and self reliance. This is where students, for one night a week spend time with their peers in a small cabin in the woods. A bonding of best friends, friends for life, takes place. The program allows personal space away from the school, your own penumbra of imagination, creativity and innocent mischievousness. You cook and keep yourself warm during short winter days with wood fired stoves and carried water. To this day I still like my toast burnt on a stove pipe. You fall asleep dreaming of tomorrow's excitement with your best friends, cutting trees for a good supply of fire wood, challenges of cross-country skiing in abandoned powder snow laden gravel pits, or damming the small rushing stream beside your hut to see if you can make electricity out of recycled bicycle parts, which I might add, requires imagination. A Hut is a wondrous place for all youth.

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