Inside King's-Edgehill School

Joe Seagram, Headmaster

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Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 36

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Jun 9, 2018 11:13:24 AM

Dear KES Family:


As I had my final meeting with this year’s dynamic Head Girl and Head Boy (Meredith Chambers and Arturo Ramirez), I could not help but feel the heaviness of their emotions. It was not just that they were feeling emotional about the end of their time at KES, that graduation is only a week away, but that they will be missing out on all the great things that are planned for next year. They are excited for the next stage of their own lives but sad that the next stage of the School’s life will belong to others.

There is a lot in the works this summer on campus and some fabulous new programmes at the School next year. I can see how they may feel they are missing out. First of all, construction has already started on the Fountain Performing Arts Studio. This is a 1,100 square foot dance and recording studio which will be home to our new dance programme and dance instructor Stephanie Cummings. It will introduce a whole new element to our performing arts programmes at the School. Additionally, construction for our new all-weather turf field starts on Monday. Surrounded by an eight-lane, crushed-gravel running track (we won’t be able to finish it until we have raised the funds to do so), it will be a huge addition to our recreational and varsity sports programmes as well as our Cadet Corps. The field will be FIFA and World Rugby dimensions and certified.

Sometimes the biggest changes are those which are not “built” but created. For instance, I have been busy this week interviewing girls for our new prep school basketball team. These young women are simply incredible. Motivated scholars and dedicated athletes, they will fill KES with their good humour and energy. Two of the sparkling and happy girls I interviewed this week are six foot four inches tall! All of these students are enthusiastic about working as hard in the classroom as they are on the basketball court.

And then there is the anticipation of having one of the very few licenses to perform “Mamma Mia” next fall, of having a vibrant dance programme, of seeing our debating and robotics programmes leap to the next national and international level.

To successfully survive another 230 years, KES must never stand still. We must constantly grow and evolve. We can stay small but we must always be mighty.

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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter, About King's-Edgehill School

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 35

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Jun 3, 2018 1:57:24 PM

Dear KES Family:

June has arrived!

The last week of classes for this academic year is over and it has been, as usual, packed with activity and achievement. The provincial championships in Track and Field and Rugby are underway – who knows what elation or heartbreak lies ahead? The Junior Rugby Team is away in New Brunswick for The Gathering of the Scots, a fabulous weekend of highland games and Scottish culture in addition to rugby. All our students will be wearing their very own Black Watch kilts this weekend. Great fun!

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Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 34

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on May 25, 2018 6:02:29 PM

Dear KES Family:


It is fitting that during a week when our Commanding Officer walked the aisle of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle with the future Duchess of Sussex, that we celebrated the accomplishments of the School’s 254 Cadet Corps. Indeed, it would have been great if it had been Captain Hynes who gave Meghan Markle away, but it was none other than our other Commanding Officer Prince Charles, the Colonel-In-Chief of the Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment to which we belong. It is a faint connection but, in a wee way, we were all present at the royal matrimonial.

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Topics: About King's-Edgehill School

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

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