Inside King's-Edgehill School

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter – Week 6

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Oct 15, 2021 3:01:37 PM


Dear KES Family:

Dr. Stan Kutcher’s official biography on the Senate of Canada website describes him as “a leading psychiatrist and professor who has helped young people successfully manage major mental illnesses. His appointment to the Senate allows him to put his decades of medical, academic and policy expertise at the service of all Canadians.” Invited to the School to speak with our Canadian History and Politics students about Canada’s parliamentary system and the role of the Senate, Dr. Kutcher delivered an informative and enthusiastic address.

What really fascinated me was his quick description about the mental health guide he has recently created for Canada’s public servants in Ottawa. Although it was a quick comment about something he has been responsible for, I wanted to know more. There cannot be many jobs more injurious to one’s mental health than politics. One’s work/life balance would be impossibly skewed, every action and decision would be constantly criticized, and the pressure to make everything instantly better would create tremendous distress. When Nova Scotia’s former Premier stepped away from politics, he expressed the simple sentiment that he was “tired of being blamed for everything.”

Being in politics is a choice. Being a teenager is not. Afterwards, while walking with Grade 10 student Danica Scully ‘22 to Dr. Kutcher’s car, I asked him what advice he would have for today’s students who deal with the relentless pressure of criticism and society’s preoccupation with physical perfection. It was not a simple question and he stopped walking to compose his answer.

His advice to Danica and her schoolmates was in two parts. First of all, he said, “pay attention to where the criticism is coming from.” The source of negativity is important. If it is from someone you know and respect it may be worth paying attention to. Otherwise, you must learn to ignore it and not let it affect you. We all want to be liked, he said, but social media has created an addiction to ‘likes’.  We have to be okay with people not ‘liking’ us. As I listened to Dr. Kutcher I remembered what my son Kyle wrote to me recently: “Haters gonna hate”.  Developing the skill to not let negativity affect us is more important to this young generation than it was when Dr. Kutcher and I were growing up.

His second piece of advice was related to social media itself: “Teenagers must learn to take control of social media, and not let it control them.” This includes turning it off, setting strict filters, and being comfortable blocking would-be friends and followers. The developers of social media prey on the addictive nature of the teenage brain and develop software that creates FOMO (a fear of missing out). Dr. Kutcher was clear that teens need to understand that they are being manipulated and to take control.

As I listened to him, I could hear his vast experience with youth coming to the surface. I was also thinking how important this mental health advice must be for our country’s leaders to heed.

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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter, Campus Life, bemore

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter – Week 5

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Oct 8, 2021 5:38:44 PM

Dear KES Family:

Surfing, making sushi, going to a movie theatre, apple picking, and visiting our mascot Dylan at his farm, are but some of the available activities this Thanksgiving for our students. KES staff member Paul Baumann is performing at the Wayfarer’s Ale Society, and a large group of runners is heading to Wolfville for the Valley Harvest Marathon and the 10-kilometre run. Looking ahead to this weekend, I cannot help but be grateful for all we are able to do here on campus and within Nova Scotia.

A year and a half ago, the pandemic hit us by surprise, descending upon us faster than we could fathom. One day we were reading jokes about the worldwide toilet paper shortage, and the next we were all locked down with many travellers scrambling to make it home before international borders closed. However, as our Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Strang has said, “The pandemic is not done with us yet.” The surprise now is how slow the pandemic is to leave. If a second wave was unthinkable last year in autumn (had the global lockdown and all our hard work been for nothing?), this fourth wave was beyond comprehension for most of us. My heart goes out to all who continue to struggle with the harsh realities of COVID-19.

The thing is, despite COVID…for us this has been a magical start to the school year. The students are focused and engaged. Our teams are winning, the School musical promises to be spectacular, our first report cards are excellent, and we are making arrangements to host a world debating tournament in Halifax in the new year. The spirit on the sidelines for basketball and soccer matches has been nothing short of phenomenal. Two years ago, we raised a record $17,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation with our annual run. This year we have raised over $42,000! Last year we opened the School with 327 students. This year we have 383 of the most wonderful young men and women you would ever have the pleasure of meeting. A new member of faculty penned a Thanksgiving message to me this morning: “I have been fortunate to work in three wonderful schools prior to joining KES, but this community is the warmest and most supportive that I have ever had the pleasure of working for.”

Last week I received an email from a passenger returning on the same flight as our girls basketball team: “We flew on a Flair flight from Montreal to Halifax, on Sunday night. The girls basketball team was sitting behind us, and I just wanted to write you and let you know that their behaviour was excellent, during the flight as well as before and after.”

This Thanksgiving, perhaps more than ever before, I realize just how much we must be grateful for.

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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter, Campus Life, bemore

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter – Week 4

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Oct 1, 2021 6:16:11 PM

Dear KES Family:

Canadians have a reputation for being friendly, kind, and generous. We are teased for saying “eh”, wearing “toques” in winter, and apologizing for frivolous things. Generations of Canadians have been taught that we are a “cultural mosaic”, which means that we are made up of a multitude of ethnic groups living together. Learning the truth about our country’s treatment of Indigenous people has not only wounded our hearts and national reputation but affected the way we see ourselves as well. 

This Wednesday I was hiking up Mount Moses with a group of students and ended up chatting with a wonderful girl from Germany, Patricia Gerlach ‘23. Our conversation swung to the morning’s Truth and Reconciliation presentations. At one point, I mentioned how difficult it was for Canadians to learn about the residential schools for aboriginal children and what happened at them. Patricia was very sympathetic. She knew what I was feeling and exclaimed, “I think every nation has its dark history. Being from Germany I know what this feels like.”

What followed was a meaningful discussion on Reverend Curry’s assertion that morning about how one cannot confess sins for someone else, even though we feel the effects of their misdeeds. Patricia was clear that we have an obligation to ensure that bad things from the past are not repeated.

I would like to think that this week’s reflections on Truth and Reconciliation have provided all Canadians the opportunity to improve. I also hope that the sadness we have been feeling does not become yet another burden that generations of Canadian youth must shoulder. When the time comes to raise our flags again, I trust that we can do so proudly.

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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter, Campus Life, bemore

Heathers: The Musical

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Sep 28, 2021 1:56:24 PM

Senior school students have been hard at work rehearsing for the upcoming musical, Heathers. The production is a dark comedy that deals with matters affecting teens including bullying, suicide, manipulative relationships, and mental health issues. A student favourite, parts of the show have been revised to best suit a school environment. 

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Topics: Campus Life, Arts At KES, ARTS

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter – Week 3

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Sep 24, 2021 5:29:52 PM

Dear KES Family:

The yearbook for last year has just arrived. Once again, editor and librarian extraordinaire Marilyn Curry and her yearbook team have done a marvelous job. The graduation section is particularly interesting, not just because of the candid baby photos next to each grad’s formal portraits, but because of what is written. Class of 2021 graduate Will Zhao wrote: “Just like the Ship of Theseus Paradox, when everything around you changes, would you still be yourself? If you want to know the answer, please go to Room 306 in the Senior building and have a wonderful, splendid, fabulous, extraordinary discussion with Mr. DeCoste.”

I love this for several reasons. Firstly, like Will, I enjoy my conversations with Mr. DeCoste immensely. I am thrilled that students enjoy deep conversations about life with their teachers. Secondly, Will’s insight into his changing environment and self as he enters university is profound. In real terms, he has flipped the paradox around because presumably Will is not changing, just his surroundings. Theseus’ ship was preserved to the extent that so little of the original ship remained the question arose about whether it was still Theseus’ ship. The ancient historian Plutarch describes the debate in his writings. Millenia later, philosopher Thomas Hobbes added to the debate asking if all the original discarded planks and rigging were used to construct a second ship, wouldn’t it have a better claim as Theseus’ ship?

Which brings me to our graduates. Are they the same person they were when they entered the School? Physically, the answer is no. Like the boards on Theseus’ ship our cells are being constantly replaced. For most of us it takes about 7 years for our body to completely replicate itself. Quite literally, I am not the same person I was back in 2014. Physically, I am a facsimile. A clone. But am I me?

Because teenagers are growing so quickly, creating and replacing cells constantly, this process takes less time for them. Depending upon when they arrived at KES, they are quite literally not the same people when they graduate. But, as Will asks of his classmates, “would you still be yourself?”

It seems to me a school whose mission is to change its students is doomed for endless conflict. However, a school that sets out to support students in the discovery of their best and truest selves has a noble mission. No doubt this journey of discovery will have its challenges, its minotaurs and labyrinths, but that is what makes growing up such a heroic endeavour.  

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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter, Campus Life, bemore

Private school language explained

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Sep 22, 2021 4:03:18 PM

If you are sending your child to a private day or boarding school, but never attended a private school yourself then you may feel a little lost when it comes to the terms used when referencing our academic programmes, faculty and systems. This online glossary of private school terms from OurKids.net is a great example of terms used in private schools and what they mean: Glossary of Private School Terms . For example, at KES we have a Headmaster, not a principal. Generally a principal is the head of a public school, while a Headmaster or Headmistress has the same function, but at a private school. 

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Topics: About King's-Edgehill School, Campus Life

KES swimmers make a splash in support of 41st annual Terry Fox Run

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Sep 18, 2021 6:39:38 PM

On Friday, September 17, the King's-Edgehill swim team held a marathon swim to raise funds for this year's Windsor, NS Terry Fox Run. 

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Topics: Campus Life, Athletics At KES, King's-Edgehill School in the Community

2021 Prefect Training

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Sep 14, 2021 1:26:13 PM

This year’s grade-twelve student leaders spent a stormy Labour Day preparing for their new prefect roles. They had the opportunity to attend various workshops and events designed to aid them in their leadership positions. Teambuilding activities, self-care education, and Covid-19 preparedness are just some of the things the prefects learned about throughout the day. This year’s prefects have generated many wonderful ideas and have already set lots of plans in motion, including the welcome games for new student boarders. The training culminated in the students receiving their prefect ties at a lovely barbeque in the Headmaster’s home.  

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Topics: About King's-Edgehill School, Campus Life

Congratulations to the Grade 9 Class of 2021!

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Jun 8, 2021 8:37:49 AM

On Wednesday, June 2 nd, we honoured our graduating Grade 9 Class of 2021.  While the COVID-19 pandemic prevented our 34 Grade 9 students and their parents from gathering on campus to celebrate with our customary Graduation Banquet, technology allowed us to gather virtually and to connect, contribute and celebrate meaningfully together.   A keepsake YouTube video was launched at 7:00 pm (KES time) and students from as far away as 12,000 kilometres watched in real time and joined in the group Zoom reception that followed. 
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Topics: About King's-Edgehill School, Campus Life

It can be very tricky!

Posted by KES Blogging Team on Jun 7, 2021 8:37:00 PM

At the beginning of our distance learning phase, for their Health & Wellness class, the Grades 6 and 7 students were assigned the task of recording their own trick shots. There were no boundaries to their imagination, and they were free to do whatever they wanted, as long as it was fun. It was very entertaining to watch all the creative and fabulous submissions coming in. You can tell that everyone put some thought into their shots, and they tried very hard to be perfect and almost everyone succeeded.

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Topics: About King's-Edgehill School, Campus Life, kespride

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