Inside King's-Edgehill School

Joe Seagram, Headmaster

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Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 33

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on May 19, 2018 1:41:32 PM

Dear KES Family:


It is a happy School today! IB exams are over, the sun is shining, and the quad is full of Frisbees and footballs and smiling faces. There is a feeling of accomplishment and anticipation in the air, and the long weekend starts this afternoon. What could be better?

Humility can be such an admirable and revealing trait. It is not typical in teenagers but when it emerges it is simply lovely to see and hear. Yesterday morning as Grade 10 student Ryan Costello made his way to Chapel, I congratulated him on his Gold Medal performance at the District Championships for track and field. He ran the second leg in the 4 x 100m Intermediate relay. Ryan’s instant response was to give credit and adulation to his relay team members Duncan McLaughlin, Andrew Yearwood, and Josh Mills saying, “I take no credit for our victory. Duncan, Andrew, and Josh are so fast I could have walked my leg and we still would have won.” A lightning fast skater on the hockey team and all-around athlete (also placed in the shot put yesterday), I am sure Ryan’s contribution to the team was far more than a walk.

A rare KES day it is when you don’t have to change clothes at least once. (Quick changes are a little known KES skill.) Yesterday for many, was a four-outfit day (minimum). A humble example would be Grade 11 student Linus Mulherin. He came to School in classroom dress, changed into his formal cadet reds at lunch, jumped into his rugby kit afterwards to hit the pitch against Avon View, and then transformed again to play bass guitar in Convocation Hall for our School rock band Alcazar.

I love Four Pillar days (Academics, Athletics, Arts, Leadership), and yesterday like so many of our students, Linus was swinging from Pillar to Pillar like Tarzan.

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Topics: About King's-Edgehill School

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 32

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on May 13, 2018 8:23:48 PM

Dear KES Family:

We were inspected by the Ministry of Education and Early Childhood Development yesterday. The two inspectors were very professional and extremely experienced educators. They had diligently read through all our submitted policy documents and manuals, our course descriptions and offerings, our faculty credentials and extra-curricular programmes. In short: everything.



However, all they really needed to know was what they learned in the first two minutes of being on campus. After parking their car they were greeted by Chris Northup, our friendly and fabulous groundskeeper and gardener. Full of good cheer and warmth, Chris directed our guests to Marshall House where they met up with me, Derek Bouwman, and Aynsley Sasaki. After a day of touring the School and being spell bound by Efra Gonzalez’s unscripted piano playing in the Performance Hall (they were astounded that students could be trusted to hang out in the music room unsupervised), captivated by Sandy Stewart’s energy and the exceptional quality of her students’ artwork, and enthralled by Mr. DeCoste’s description of fractals and Pollock’s art, they finished up with a glowing report of the School. Hurrah! However, before they departed it was mentioned that everything they really needed to know was captured in their first interaction with Chris Northup. Everything else they did, be it talking with our students in the Student Lounge or feeling the ‘vibe’ in the Dining Hall, confirmed their first impression.


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Topics: About King's-Edgehill School

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 31

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on May 5, 2018 6:49:26 PM

Dear KES Family:

Today is “Star Wars” day. I guess the official Jedi greeting of “May the Force be with you” coincides with May the 4th. Who knew? Only when one attends high school for many years (decades in fact) does one pick up such important cultural references. Hahaha!

Speaking of common knowledge, recent scientific studies have concluded what we have intuitively known to be true. Myopia in youth globally is accelerating at alarming rates. The statistics are staggering. In the USA the number has doubled in the last 30 years. In the UK 50% of university students are myopic. The primary reason is that children are spending more time indoors than ever before and looking at screens of one size or another. Spending 14 daylight hours a week outside will reduce the chances of myopia by 30%. Lots of screen time bad:( Outdoor activity good:).

I think we have all been aware that obesity and diabetes rates in today’s youth are rising at alarming rates, but it was fascinating to watch the CBC stories this week on the correlation between exercise and mental health. The symptoms of depression and anxiety are greatly reduced with exercise. The recommendation is for daily exercise. 180 minutes of physical activity a week can have significant results.

When I was growing up, my mother would kick us out of the house and tell us to “go out and play”. It is probably the best medical advice one can give children. We are so fortunate at KES to have activity built right into our daily lives. This includes teachers and Headmasters. Running around with the rugby team at the end of the day invariably improves my mood. It makes me happy – even when it is raining and muddy. Much of what we do at the School is structured, of course, but there is a significant amount of unstructured fun which occurs as well. It seems that a walk down to Baby Panda is actually good for one’s eyesight and overall well-being. Who knew?

I would be remiss if I did not mention the flip of joy I felt when I learned this week that the School Musical for next Fall is none other than “Momma Mia”. I love that show! Historically, it has not been licensed for school productions and yet we have been able to secure the rights to produce it next year. We have the vocal and musical talent to do it justice, too! For me, it is the ultimate feel-good-happy-cure-for-depression in a single evening ever.

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Topics: About King's-Edgehill School

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 30

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Apr 30, 2018 11:29:22 AM

Dear KES Family:

We all want to be heroes. When the defining moments are upon us, we all want to be the one who has the awareness and courage to step up and do the right thing, to make the big play, to save the day. Until the situation presents itself, we don’t know how we will react, but for sure, there is not one of us that does not hope that when the time comes we will be heroic.
 
Three situations this week:
James Shaw Jr. is being hailed as the Waffle House Hero. Very early last Sunday morning in a Nashville, Tennessee Waffle House, he found himself in the middle of his defining moment: a gunman entered and started shooting the restaurant guests with an automatic rifle. One can only imagine the shock and terror of sound and smoke and screams as the lethal attack took place. In the briefest of moments when the shooter paused to re-load, James Shaw Jr. leaped up, grabbed the rifle and threw it away causing the shooter to flee. James Shaw Jr.’s courage and presence of mind saved the lives of the remaining patrons.
 
I am not a huge basketball fan but I admire the game’s ability to showcase heart and presence of mind. In the last twelve seconds of the Cleveland Cavaliers play-off game against the Pacers this week, LeBron James made a crucial mistake: the game was tied 95-95 and, as he approached the basket, he lost control of the ball, giving the Pacers possession. All the Pacers had to do was control the clock and score once to win the game and go up 3-2 in the series. However, LeBron shook off his mortification for “giving the game away” by blocking the Pacers’ winning shot, regaining possession of the ball, and then sinking an impossibly distant three pointer in the dying second of the game to win. After the match he told reporters that in those last seconds he wanted the ball, he wanted to take that shot. He defined himself in that moment.
 
There was an incident of bullying this week at our School. It so happened that a bystander, seeing what was going on, made an effort to stop the bullying.  In that moment, by stepping up and doing what was right this student defined himself as a young man of courage and heart and presence of mind.
 
The Reverend Curry reminded us in Chapel this week that the root word for courage is “cor”. This is the Latin word for “heart”. Another word for courage is fortitude, the Latin root for which is “strength”. We admire those with heart and strength because they have the courage to do what is right, to do what the moment requires. I believe courage is learned and hope, as our students progress through school and life, that they acquire the awareness of what each moment requires and the heart to act.

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Topics: About King's-Edgehill School

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 29

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Apr 22, 2018 8:57:21 PM

Dear KES Family:


It is good to be home. Not just home-home, but back in the embrace of our KES family of students and staff. I arrived last night at 6:00pm from my eight city tour through Asia and Western Canada just in time to attend the annual Cadet Mess Dinner. Seeing everyone all dressed up and excited for the event was the best return possible.

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Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 28

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Apr 13, 2018 7:34:33 PM

Dear KES Family:


With a population of 25 million people, Shanghai is the largest city in China. Like Mexico City or New York, the sheer size of the metropolis and the density of the people is almost overwhelming. The contrast of elements - from trees a thousand years old to meeting "Tami" the robot at the help desk in the train station - is staggering. Having just finished a visit with families in Jinan and basked in the peace and ancient natural beauty of Confucius’ historic home, Shanghai offers its own steep contrast.

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Topics: About King's-Edgehill School

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 27

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Apr 7, 2018 1:50:41 PM

Dear KES Family:

The Air Canada's Boeing 767 has a capacity of 375 people. Upon arriving in Hong Kong this week, my suitcase was the first in line. How lucky is that? Considering that the flight was full and that many passengers had two or more bags, I figure that my suitcase had at best a 1 in 400 chance of being first. It was marvelous - no anxious waiting period as other passengers collected their bags and left the airport. No wondering if my bag was still in Vancouver. Instead, I was first out of the baggage claim area. What was even better was seeing King's-Edgehill alumnus Thomas Kam (Head Boy in 1982) waiting for me. My mother has always said that it is really nice being picked up at the airport. She is right. Despite my exhaustion and "plane brain", I felt fortunate and buoyant and grateful as I left the airport with Thomas.

Pictured with me at a Rugby 7's game in Hong Kong are Eric McKenna (2004) and Thomas Kam.



The last bit of travel I did on behalf of the School was to Miami where I visited a half dozen schools as part of a facilities tour. Many of the schools were gorgeous and blessed with magnificent venues for athletics and the arts. However, I could not help but notice that every school was hidden behind high walls, security gates, and razor wire (in some cases). All of them had security booths and police cars at their entrances. Visitors must have appointments and must show government issued identification. Each is given a visitor sticker to wear. This includes your name, the date, the time you entered and the time you must have vacated the premises. I understand the necessity for good security, but I could not imagine having the same kind of barricaded and secured enclave at King's-Edgehill School. We have cameras and alarms and night security, and we practice lockdowns as much as we do fire drills, but we don't live in fear. I cannot imagine what it would be like, and I hope we never find out.
Sincerely,

Joe Seagram

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Topics: About King's-Edgehill School

 Headmaster's Newsletter -- Week 26

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Apr 5, 2018 12:00:37 PM

Dear KES Family:

I love being surprised by the students. Whether it is the spontaneous offer by Amy Cornick (2019) of one her delicious homemade Easter cupcakes or seeing lifers Duncan Ferguson and Eric Dufour (both 2018) try rugby in their last term before graduation. It is wonderful when teenagers do the unexpected.

Returning from a holiday, the traditional greeting on campus includes the enquiry: “How was your break?” Time and time again I am amazed by the enthusiasm of the response but also the genuine enquiry back: “And, how was your break, Mr. Seagram?” It should not surprise me anymore, but I still find it remarkable how comfortable and curious our students are with adults. Quite frankly, it is wonderful to converse with young adults who look one in the eye and grip a handshake firmly.

This week my answer sings the praises of the Mexican people Belinda and I met over the break. Taking our first trip without children (or students) since our honeymoon, Belinda and I travelled to the Yucatan Peninsula and took in the sunshine and delights of Tulum, the Mayan Riviera, and the Caribbean. The local people may be diminutive but their hearts are hugely warm, their smiles even bigger and sunnier, and their sense of humour quick and generous. The temples and pyramids are astounding, as are the cultural and scientific elements of ancient Mayan society. Having the ability to make rubber thousands of years ago, they developed games which are similar to modern day basketball and field hockey.

Being away from home always brings an appreciation for the joys of one’s own country. And so, despite returning to a snow storm (even the customs officers greeted us with laughter once we landed in Halifax!) we were glad to be back home on campus. However, a part of me wished that Canada had its own versions of traditional dancing, or songs that everyone knew and could belt out with pride, or that in Canada we were a little more comfortable greeting people with hugs.

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Topics: About King's-Edgehill School

Introduction of our KES Girls' Prep Basketball Programme

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Mar 8, 2018 7:36:00 AM

We are very excited to announce the introduction of our King’s-Edgehill Girls’ Prep Basketball Programme that will begin play in the 2018-19 school year.

The programme will be led by our new Director of Basketball Operations and Girls’ Prep Basketball Team Head Coach Marc Ffrench.

King’s-Edgehill Athletic Director Kim Walsh has been instrumental in the planning and development of the addition to the King’s-Edgehill athletic programme. "We are pleased to welcome Marc to our coaching staff. He believes fervently in our School mission and is an extremely well organized and passionate coach who will inspire student-athletes to “Be More” in all aspects of the KES experience. He is a great choice to instill our School ethos to a new Prep School athletic programme that will enhance our overall student experience at KES."

Mr. Ffrench, who is a Kentville, Nova Scotia native, is a successful high school coach who has been living and coaching in Ottawa, Ontario. His programme at AY Jackson Secondary School has had a strong run including appearing in 2 consecutive NCSSAA Championship games in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

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Topics: Athletics At KES, Athletes at KES

Headmaster's Newsletter -- Week 23

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Feb 25, 2018 8:13:17 PM

Dear KES Family:


Although there has been tremendous drama and excitement this week about the Olympics in Korea, and at KES we have celebrated all our national heroes - be they Mexican cross-country skiers, German hockey players, Russian figure skaters, Japanese skiers, and all our diverse national and Canadian Olympians - there is another movement taking place south of our border worth paying attention to.

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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter

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