Inside King's-Edgehill School

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 24

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Mar 8, 2020 6:55:38 PM

Dear KES Family:

Every now and then I simply have to get out the virtual pom-poms and cheerlead. All week I have had that inner buoyant feeling one gets after being part of something extra-special. The Junior School musical production of FROZEN JR left me, surprisingly, quite emotional. The performance was just over an hour and took us all on a sine wave of emotions and awe. The crowning glory for me took place after the show when the two princesses ( Lucy Goddard and Hannah Stilwell) descended the stage and met with all the little children who wanted to meet them and get a photograph with “the princesses”. It was as magical an hour as the show itself. Hannah and Lucy were simply dazzling, making sure every toddler received a huge hug, sparkling smile, and time enough to bask in the warm glow princesses are famous for. The lines were long but everyone felt special. Loved it!
 
It is hard to believe that the March Break is but a week away and most spring sports start on Monday. The School is an odd mixture of excitement and anticipation today (Friday) as all our skiers and snowboarders, all our wrestlers, both hockey teams, and our Senior Boys’ Basketball team are competing. Given that the entire Junior School is having their Annual Snow Sport Day (in gorgeous sunshine!), it does not seem like there are many of us left.
 
We are so lucky to be who and where we are. Our real concerns here at KES are few. One of our brilliant teachers, Phillip Hadley, reminded us all at our mid-morning staff meeting that many of our students are concerned for their families back home. Some of our Chinese students have parents who live in areas with significant restrictions and because of the Covid-19 virus have not been at work for as much as two months. These are students who will not be travelling home or seeing their families over the break as planned.
 
As we set our sights on a regional or provincial banner, or enjoy a day on the slopes with friends, or revel in the applause after a riveting performance on stage, it is important that we appreciate just how fortunate we are.
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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter Week 23

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Feb 28, 2020 6:42:25 PM

Dear KES Family:

A year ago while in Phoenix, Arizona, I was driving our Girls’ Prep Basketball Team in our big van when I had to stop for a lengthy red light near our hotel. In front of us a tall man crossed the street. He was dancing. Earbuds firmly in place, this fellow was definitely in a happy place as he moved and grooved across the street and down the sidewalk. There are few pedestrians in Phoenix and our dancing friend had the wide sidewalk all to himself. He was really good and we all had a wistful chuckle at how wonderful it must be to be so immersed in the movement inspired by music that it did not matter who or how many were watching. Free of inhibitions, he was happily enjoying the freedom of dance and expressive movement.

I was envious of this fellow. It is a rare moment any of us have when we are our unfettered and true selves.

This week I have witnessed several of these rare moments. They have come when our students have demonstrated comfort and trust in those around them. They represent a huge compliment to all present. An example would be Victoria Dubois (2021) who was as wonderfully emotive playing her flute as she was dancing on stage or singing during the Coffee House. The same could be said of Alissa Pape (2023) whose interpretive dancing was simply magical. There was a moment during the Coffee House when the feeling in the Music Room was uniquely warm and intimate. We could all feel it. Most of all perhaps was Ella Brown (2020)who has been here since Grade 6. Surrounded by the glow of camaraderie and creative expression, Ella danced and sang her heart out with her good friends all evening.

You will see in the photos below some pictures of the Junior and Senior Girls’ basketball teams. Alas, while I was taking the photos, I noticed that their shot percentage dropped. Knowing that one’s Headmaster is taking an action photo might be distracting when one is shooting for the basket! Sometimes we play best when no one is watching.
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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter, About King's-Edgehill School

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 21

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Feb 17, 2020 12:24:00 PM

Dear KES Family:

I watched in awe yesterday as Mya Snarr adjusted the length of string which was wrapped around a donut. I have always loved knots and I marvelled at how Mya tied a perfect upside-down bowline while on her tippy-toes. The occasion? She was customizing the length of string suspending donuts from the ceiling for the Winter Carnival’s donut eating competition.

It is often the little extras that make an event. The Senior Day Boys’ idea to carry the giant marching drum around all day was brilliant. It generated a spirit and tempo that resonated with everyone. Ava Benedict’s original love poem which she read after our Valentine’s Banquet stuck in all our hearts. The love songs and harmonies of Katie Goddard and Sarah Bell brought instant and appreciative applause. During the staff student basketball game Noah Szymanis picked up the microphone and added a colourful and hilarious play by play. Spontaneous fun instantly generated. None of these things had to happen but because they did everyone’s experience this Spirit Week was elevated.

There are times when I am in awe of this young generation. We are so blessed at the School to be able to experience the food of nations and to celebrate the singing and dancing cultures from around the world. As grad TaeWoo Kim said at the end of the fair, “this is all about unity”. At a time when hate crimes are on the rise across the planet, we have a student body that happily shares the love of life with each other. As a staff we have spent this week marvelling at our students and appreciating everything they bring to campus each day.

Spirit Week is designed to help us get through what is normally the drudgery and cold of February. It certainly did its job this year! We have all been energized. We have all laughed and shared the spirit of friendship more than we could possibly have anticipated. I cannot thank every single student and member of staff enough for how they have embraced the activities of this last week.

Below are some of my photos from the week. They express much much more than my words can.

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

Headmasters Weekly Newsletter -- Week 19

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Feb 2, 2020 3:01:43 PM

Dear KES Family:

There are few things at King’s-Edgehill School as unique and memorable as the annual Cadet Mess Dinner. It is a celebration of good humour, of our Scottish Highland roots, our traditions as the 254 Cadet Corps, and of the impressive student leadership at our School. One may not love the haggis (!), but there is much to love about the evening.

Our guest speaker this year was Carlisle Norwood from the Class of 2009. From the moment he sympathized with each student present saying, “I was once a cadet sitting just where you are now saying to myself ‘I hope this speech is short’,” he had everyone’s attention. And he kept it.

Public speaking is as much about delivery as it is about content. Carlisle’s engagingly humble and authentic manner (it did not feel like a speech) gave weight to his words of advice. He prefaced his remarks by articulating the assumption that it must be possible to learn from the experience and mistakes of others so that one does not have to make the same mistakes in order to learn and gain wisdom. His hope for the assembled cadets was that they could learn from the mistakes he had made and the lessons he had learned in the past 11 years since graduating.

I loved the directness of his advice: learn how to speak to people, it is a dying skill. Or, show appreciation to others. Or, don’t smoke cigarettes or Juuls. Or, don’t eat junk food.

At one point, Carlisle quoted the entrepreneur Jim Rohn who claimed, “You are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” He spent some time explaining how important it is to surround ourselves with people who will make us better, with people whose morals and beliefs align with our own. Carlisle’s advice was to be choosy at university. If our grads find themselves surrounded by a friend group that does not align with their morals, etc, Carlisle advised to change groups, to find people who are a better fit. The people around us matter. Ever humble, Carlisle told us that he likes to surround himself with people who are more intelligent than he is. They lift him up and make him a better person.

I was sitting at a table with five 2020 graduates: Madison Taljaard, Max Cole, Will Fleming, Ava Benedict, and Olivia Drava. I could not imagine myself surrounded by more engaging and wonderful young adults. As I looked across from me down the rows of tables, there were Ben Fleckenstein, Evan Logan, Katie Goddard, Ella Brown, Laura Gillis and all the other officers of the 254. I marvelled at how much richer my life is simply because they are in it. Halfway down the long table in front of me was Edgehill graduate Ba rbara (Lynch) Ryan from the Class of 1953. She graduated 67 years ago and just celebrated her 85th birthday(!). After the Mess Dinner it was clear that Barb was feeling the same way as I was about the young men and women around her. She said to me, “You know Joe, seeing these wonderful children gives me hope for the future.”
 
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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 18

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Jan 25, 2020 8:34:05 AM

Dear KES Family:

Generally speaking, a little bit of tension is good. A parachute without tension in its lines will fail. A fisherman who allows slack in his line may lose his catch. A team that is too relaxed will not perform to the best of its abilities.  However, too much tension causes lines to break, athletes to “tense up” and choke, and relationships to erupt into conflict.
 
And so it is with the Coronavirus. We need to be sensible yet sympathetic, confident yet wary, prepared but not pre-occupied.  It is a delicate balance and one can sense the tension that is gripping the globe and starting to be felt in our School.  While I marvel at the intellectual, economic, and political horsepower that is coming together to deal with the virus, my thoughts are with the families of everyone affected.  Even for us at KES, the Chinese New Year is typically a happy celebration. It is muted this year and fraught with concern for family and friends in affected areas. Simple questions like: “Will I be able to travel this March Break?” may not have simple answers.  The answer for most is yes…for now…it depends... This may change. Tension rises in times of uncertainty.
 
While I don’t worry for a second that the combined international resources are putting protocols in place to put this outbreak behind us, in times like this I worry about rising levels of anxiety and fear. These are negative emotions that will affect not only our ability to go about (“to perform”) our daily routines successfully, but will adversely affect our relationships and personal health.  Being blindly optimistic is foolish, of course, but we can be optimistically diligent in how we access information and respond to it. At the School, we are keeping a watchful eye on developments to ensure that everyone in our community remains safe.
 
For the billions of people worldwide who gather with their families for Chinese New Year, this year’s celebration will likely not be the happiest.  Given the current travel restrictions and overall concerns, many will not see their family this year.  Many community celebrations have been cancelled. Streets and squares and gathering places are empty in some parts. Typically, one would wish prosperity, health, success, and happiness to those one meets at this time of year. Perhaps more than other years these wishes are most heartfelt and meaningful. 
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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 16

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Jan 13, 2020 8:28:10 AM

Dear KES Family:

Years ago, on the morning of September 11 th, 2001, my Grade 9 class and I emerged from camping in the northern Ontario wilderness after a week of service: cleaning campsites, gathering garbage, and repairing damaged ‘thunder boxes’ (outhouses). As we waited for our school bus to pick us up, all our thoughts were about food, showers, and clean clothes. Those dreams were quickly shattered when the bus arrived, and the driver told us about the horrible events of “9/11”. As it did for so many, our world changed that day. We lost a kind of innocence. Certainly nothing could have been in greater contrast to the environment we had enjoyed the previous week and the harmony of my international group of 14 and 15-year olds.
 
As we gathered for assembly this week, I pondered the question of every educator: what do I say? Should I mention world events? Is it appropriate to focus on the wildfires in Australia or the extermination of an Iranian general? I don’t believe in a sanitized education but then again anxiety levels in youth have never been so high. It is almost two decades since 9/11. None of our students were born when it happened. Perhaps their childhood was not as innocent as mine. Terror was simply a genre of movies in my day. As for forest fires, I remember learning in school that they were necessary and good. Some species of trees, like the Jack pine, need the heat of the fire to release the seeds packed away in their pinecones. Nobody is saying that wildfires are good anymore.
 
It is a surprise to most students upon their return to the School that the Chapel is still decorated for Christmas and the morning readings and carols are selected to reflect the events which occur after the Birth of Jesus. It is about this time when the three kings or wise men follow yonder star and deliver their gifts to baby Jesus. It is also a surprise to the students to learn that it was at this time in the Christmas story when King Herod orders the death of all male children under two years old in Bethlehem. It is an event described in the Gospel of Matthew known as the Slaughter of the Innocents.
 
It seems that our lives are constantly touched by both joy and sorrow, often in close proximity. To be our best selves our hearts need to be open and vulnerable to experience joy and love, and yet strong enough to withstand those elements which threaten to overwhelm us. And so, what did I talk about during assembly? Inclusion and belonging and social health. We are healthier when we feel like we belong and are accepted as a true friend for who we are. The closer and more genuine our friends, the stronger we will be. We can handle anything together.
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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 15

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Dec 13, 2019 6:34:52 PM

Dear KES Family:

Did you know that the youngest “student” we have on campus is six months old? Yup! Math and Science may not be on the curriculum at that age, but Physical Education is. As such, every Friday morning we host Parent and Tot swim lessons in our swimming pool. It is a delightful and happy time for all: the water is warm, and the Spafford Pool has magnificent windows overlooking the Dill Farm and the distant slopes of Ski Martock.
I have many happy moments during each week, but on Saturday mornings, about 30 Primary, Grade 1 and 2 basketball players (called Little Dribblers) make me smile every time! They come to have fun with basketballs and learn the basics of shooting, passing, and dribbling (of course).

When our KES middle and high school students are not filling the pool or the gym, many others are. Lane swims and aqua fit classes start in the early morning and go until noon. On Sundays, for example, we would have up to a hundred children between 3 and 12 years old taking Red Cross swim courses. It is surprising for some to learn that the community of Windsor and West Hants can take everything from strength and conditioning lessons, basketball skills courses, and swimming instruction pretty much every day of the week at KES. It is also inspiring to see our alumnae enjoying our campus facilities too, including Class of 1953 graduate Ruth (Creighton) Taylor!

Our examination period is almost over and students are beginning to make their way home for the holidays. It has been a most memorable and successful term. Wasn’t it just last week when we hosted the Terry Fox Run? Was Remembrance Day really over a month ago? Can it be that the final notes and verses of Chicago have been replaced by Christmas Carols already?

Time passes and, as usual, I am amazed by all that goes on at our School. A well-deserved holiday is due for all. I hope that everyone in this magical extended family of ours has the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Years.
 
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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 11

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Nov 22, 2019 9:49:42 PM

Dear KES Family:

I was at an education trade show recently, and all the vendors had give-aways. Most of the time the “freebies” were discount Halloween candy but whether the vendors were offering treats or something to wear (like a pin or ball cap), each had something to give to people as they meandered by. I remarked upon it to a friend and was told that studies show if you give something to somebody, no matter how small, they automatically feel beholden to you. In short, the mini Caramilk bar I was eating was a sales tactic, and the guilt I was feeling was not because of its empty calories but because I had taken something and not given anything back.

Fast forward to this week. By courier, I received a really cool book entitled Launch from a uniform supply company. This is a $33 book (before tax) and with shipping represents a significant expenditure.

I also returned to my office one day and discovered I had been given a funky blue chair. It looks a little bit like a blue mushroom. It is valued at about $300 and is supposed to be really good for one’s posture as well as for fidgety students (or Headmasters?) as it swivels, compresses, and wobbles a bit.

I am waiting for the follow-up phone calls and emails from both the uniform and furniture supplier. They are coming for sure. Obviously, I cannot give back the Caramilk bar I ate, but in fairness I did actively reach into the vendor’s candy bowl and scoop it out. Maybe I owe them something? However, what do I do about the book and the chair that are in my office? I never asked for them. Do I owe them something? Are they mine to keep? Do I spend money to ship them back?

The book is a curiosity because it came from a uniform supplier but is not an article of clothing. The chair is from a specialist educational supply company. Does that make a difference? Are these bribes or samples? Or, are they “baubles”: something shiny and attractive designed to get my attention?

I am not looking for a new uniform supplier nor am I in need of new chairs right now, but if I was would I owe these vendors my business? I wrestle with these issues because, well, ethics are important and how I act reflects upon the School and our core values.

There is no doubt that we are all faced with these issues every day.  How many of us use a store or coffee shop washroom and feel compelled to purchase something, or try a food sample in Costco with no intention of purchasing the product? The funny thing is that I cannot even remember which vendor I took the mini Caramilk bar from. Maybe not the best sales tactic after all!
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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter

Headmaster's Weekly News letter -- Week 10

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Nov 16, 2019 9:46:16 AM

Dear KES Family:

Imagine a pink elephant. Picture it clearly in your mind.
 
Now, try not to think about it. Whatever you do, don’t focus on the pink elephant I just asked you to imagine.
Hard to do, isn’t it? That was one of the exercises a group of the staff and I went through this week during our Mental Health First Aid course. One of the topics we covered was stress and anxiety, and clearly one of the hardest things for anyone to do is to stop thinking about something that is “top of mind”. It takes significant mental discipline to put aside things that stress us. Whether it is a parental divorce, a failing grade in a test, or scoring on one’s own net, these things are very hard to ignore. Understanding how life’s challenges can affect the mental, social, and emotional health of our students (and ourselves) is important for all of us.
 
It was beneficial for me and my staff to learn the differences between stress and anxiety and how these things present themselves in our lives. For me, personally, I hear the words stress and anxiety used daily, and almost interchangeably, but not until this week did I fully appreciate how different being stressed is from being anxious. Moving forward, this understanding should help us support our students better.
 
I know how effective support can be in helping someone feel better. I felt it this week and am most grateful for the kindness I received. You see, I hate making mistakes. When I do they are my personal pink elephant, no matter how hard I try not to I think about my mistake(s) and worry about them. Constantly. I can feel my skin flushing, my heart rate rising, and my innards going hollow and sinking.
 
My mistake came on Monday in front of the entire School and all our guests. In the hush and solemnity of Remembrance Day, I misread the Honour Roll.   My eyes, my brain, completely missed the right hand column of Alumni who paid the ultimate price in the First and Second World Wars. When I realized my error, I apologized and read the names I had missed, but I was deeply mortified. When I finished, I could feel that familiar inner worry building deep within me. I felt that I had let the Corps, the faculty, our guests, and the Fallen down.
 
Fortunately, I was immediately swept up in the warmth and reassurance of the KES family. The 254 Cadet Corps had performed admirably throughout the parade and two ceremonies (in Town and on campus), honouring the true spirit of Remembrance Day. As we laid our poppies en masse at the Cenotaph, hugs and happy faces greeted me. I tried to apologize to a group of parents and my concerns were instantly minimized. One lovely soul remarked that I had read the second column seamlessly. And you know what? Because of the warmth of our KES family, my pink elephant pretty much disappeared and I was “good to go” (as Major Hynes would say) for the rest of the day.
 
It is so easy to cast stones when someone makes a mistake. “Rubbing it in” is indeed such a cruel thing to do and yet it seems to be increasingly common. That our King’s-Edgehill School family embraces our community ideals of “gentleness, learning, dignity, and respect” sometimes seems counter-culture and rare. This week I realized just how fortunate we are.
 
It’s hard to comprehend the warmth of the KES community until there is a moment like that.
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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter, Week 5

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Oct 4, 2019 6:47:17 PM

Dear KES Family:

An interesting thing happens when we turn our brilliant LED stadium lights on at night: the light removes the darkness on campus. Sounds obvious of course, but in removing the darkness we remove fear. We also create community and opportunities for joy that did not exist before.

With the turf field brightly lit, the evening snack after prep is better attended. Girls and boys from the satellite houses around the field (Buckle, Vincent, and Vair McLellan) are more likely to make their way to the Dining Hall to join their friends. Although we have street and path lights, the reality is that without the turf’s stadium lights, the walk is darker, the shadows deeper, the trek more intimidating.

Last night after prep, 22 students joined me and Mr. Foley to play touch rugby under the lights. It was glorious fun. Playing with us were not only boys and girls, boarders and day students, but a parade of nationalities: Canada, Ireland, South Africa, China, Japan, Finland, and Mexico. Feeling a bit like rugby stars under the lights, we played until call-up for “lights out”. While we were playing, a single female student ran around the track circling us again and again for the better part of an hour. I marvelled at her, but it was my wife Belinda who remarked how, without the lights and perhaps without us playing on the field as well, it is unlikely this girl would have felt safe running alone in the dark.

The American poet, Robert Frost, once described the nighttime forest as being “lovely, dark, and deep”. However, this is a rare observation. Being scared of the dark is much more common. Scores of writers from Edgar Allan Poe to Shakespeare to Anne Frank (as a teenage girl she wrote how a ‘candle can defy and define the darkness’) have described the night or darkness as anything but lovely.

Our LED stadium lights are the first of their kind in Atlantic Canada. They are absolutely incredible, shining a shadow-less light that is direct and does not bounce or wash across the Town of Windsor and the residential areas adjacent to the School. They use so little electricity that they operate for under $5 an hour. Despite being higher than our tallest tree on campus, they have withstood everything Mother Nature and Hurricane Dorian have thrown at them in the last year.

My appreciation for these lights is growing daily. Their benefits are beyond what first meets the eye.
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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter

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