Inside King's-Edgehill School

Headmasters Weekly Newsletter -- Week 10

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Nov 10, 2018 9:04:52 AM

Dear KES Family:

There is a glorious scene in Tom Hanks’ film Castaway when, after having crashed and stranded on a desert island, he is able to get a fire started. He jumps up, arms raised, and shouts, “I have made fire!” His triumphant shout demonstrates the relief and power he felt. The fire represents life and warmth and light in the darkness. “Making fire” is empowering. It feels good.

I saw that same joy this week when watching our students learning how to make fire using flint and steel. It is a survival skill taught in cadets by one of our Science teachers, Eric Kershaw. In a safe clearing in the School woods, he showed students how to gather tinder, birch bark, dry twigs and larger sticks. He showed them how to start with the smallest of fuel at the bottom and how to feed a flame from the top with larger sticks once the fire started. He showed them the balance of air, fuel and heat that are necessary to keep a flame going and growing. Hearing him and Alex Arki (Class of 2019) discuss the physical principles of radiant heat versus convection, how heat rises and creates its own internal current, was a perfect example of practical learning.

When a spark flies off the flint and steel and creates a small flame, there is an instant ‘Tom Hanks’ moment of elation. Losing the flame is almost sad. Not being able to create one in the first place is unbearably frustrating. Few things are worse than striking and striking and seeing the sparks fly but nevertheless producing nothing. There is technique involved, of course, but somehow the students who were able to master it seemed endowed with a magical ability.

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

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 9

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Nov 3, 2018 9:56:58 AM

Dear KES Family:


I think it is the Holiday Inn which has the marketing tag line: The best surprise is no surprise. When it is a good surprise though (like a chocolate on your pillow) one’s heart cannot help but do a little happy dance. The last week has been full of happy surprises.

Inspired by Linus Mulherin and hosted by the Prefects and Mr. MacLean, Monday night’s Haunted House in the Athletic Centre was sensational. Imagine yourself being greeted by a psychiatric nurse (Joanna Bond) and being led through a tour of an asylum by a team of schizophrenic orderlies and lunatic inmates in the dark recesses and underbelly of the Athletic Centre. One change room had been transformed into an operating theatre. Between flashes of strobe lighting one was assaulted by the screams of the poor patient (Rayannah Hwang) and the hideous cackles of her surgeons. My spine shivers with the memories.

I should never be surprised again by the thought and effort our food services put into the feasts we enjoy, but Tuesday’s Halloween spread quite literally ‘takes the cake’. I took photos to share with you which you can see below. How much fun it is for everyone when the kitchen staff are all dressed up and the Dining Hall has been transformed into a festival of ghoulish and gastronomic delights!

Our dance troupe became a flash mob during Tuesday night’s dance, jumping on stage and performing an original zombie inspired interpretive dance. I was happily surprised to see everyone on stage, including faculty member and dance coach, Ms. Cummings.

Also surprising has been the number of guests joining our evening training sessions for Mount Kilimanjaro. I would not have thought anyone would want to join us but we have had Brisnel and Righo, Montse and Lindsay, Eva and Andrea, Linus and Mr. Dietrich (just to name a few). The boot camp sessions are lung busting, leg burning workouts, but we are getting more and more students out every night. Most nights we have 20 to 30 participants!

The Girls’ Hockey Team is raising money for, and awareness of, Breast Cancer with a Pink in the Rink event. (They play at 5:00pm on Saturday night in Brooklyn.) The last I checked they raised almost $1,000 yesterday through their bake sale and dress down day. Wow!

One of this week’s happy surprises was to learn that not only will we be able to dress almost the entire School in Cadet Reds (see the photo below of everyone assembled on the Field of Payne!), but that our Colour Party and Honour Guard opened the Canadian National University Rugby Championships at Acadia last night. Our RSM Sophie Fraser was in command and she had the packed stadium silent (5,000 people) and at attention for the opening ceremonies! It was a proud moment for all our alumni, students and staff present.

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

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 8

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Oct 27, 2018 11:56:03 AM

Dear KES Family:


The faculty meets briefly every morning at break to share in a cup of coffee, some light conversation, and announcements. We may bring up a student issue or performance but more likely those conversations are held on Wednesday afternoons when we all get together for that express purpose. As we went through our individual student concerns this week, one of our teachers related a student response regarding an assignment that was not completed. I may not have the wording exactly correct but the response was a polite, “I am sorry I don’t have it done but to do so would have required an effort that would compromise my wellness.”

Ten years ago this kind of student excuse would have produced peals of laughter. “Wellness” would not have even been considered a proper word, let alone a state of being to protect. This week my own, and the faculty’s reaction, was subdued and thoughtful. After all, we try and take wellness seriously here. There was not one of us in the room who has not, at some point, so been overwhelmed with life’s obligations that we knew any more work would compromise our wellness. Normally, we would say we were too busy to finish, or we were too tired to get our work done. However, wellness describes a balance between physical and emotional and mental health. I would never want it to be an easy excuse, but the reality is that there are times in our lives when we simply have to say “enough” or “Stop, I cannot do anymore”.

To paraphrase Robert Frost, we all “…have promises to keep, And miles to go before we sleep.” Sometimes the woods are invitingly “lovely, dark, and deep” and all we want to do is rest and sleep and forget our labours. There are times when, if we don’t rest, we won’t ever have the energy to finish the journey and fulfill our promises. Part of a good education is discovering what you can do and what is simply too much. Part of a good education is gaining an appreciation for one’s limits, and learning how to maintain balance in one’s life. I love teenagers to achieve more than they ever thought possible, but I also recognize that our “Be More” philosophy creates a “Do More” environment. Sometimes more is too much.

Good coaches and teachers demand a lot from their athletes and pupils. It was Robert Browning who wrote that “Man’s reach should exceed his grasp”. I agree. Sometimes, though, we need to have a firmer grip on reality, take a break, and gather our strength for the rest of the climb. It is a skill to know when.

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

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 7

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Oct 20, 2018 9:00:40 AM

Dear KES Family:

It looks like the official sod (or perhaps sand would be a better word?) turning ceremony for King’s-Edgehill School Abu Dhabi will take place next month. Although King’s-Edgehill is not providing the capital to construct the new campus, we are responsible for everything from overseeing the design to the day-to-day operations. All the necessary permits and license have been procured and we anticipate a September, 2020 opening. As we will open with our Primary and Pre-Primary school, I have been touring recently constructed and furnished primary schools to see in person what the latest trends are in early childhood education.

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

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Week 3

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Sep 21, 2018 5:54:48 PM

Dear KES Family:

The cross-country team had finished its first-ever 3,200 meter workout around the “Track of Payne”, the Boys’ Soccer team was holding onto its second-half lead over Avon View, and about half the School was watching happily as they sat on and around the circle of boulders that line the field and track. It was then that Grade 10 student River Qi decided to run laps around the track. Although, on a glorious sunset summer evening Lindsay Hogan and Aria MacDonald had the first official workout on the track, River goes down in history as the first student to run around it for fun.

River is a strapping young man from Jinan, China. He is not a classic runner, but he gamely made his way around and around, and with each 400 meter lap, warm-hearted and enthusiastic cheers would erupt from his fellow students as he ran by. I loved every second of the entire afternoon and what it represented for our School.

In the week it has been finished, our grand-new facility has hosted three soccer games (all victories!), dozens of pick-up rugby and soccer games, and hosted a dancercise warm-up for over 600 people at the annual Terry Fox Run! Although we will need to raise some money before we can finish the track (proper asphalt and rubber surface with lane markings etc), it is already proving to be a transformative area of the School. Anything that promotes our sense of community, anything that enhances our physical and emotional wellness, is a welcome addition to KES. I could not be happier with the way the Track of Payne ( soon to be dedicated to Guy Payne – KES track coach for the last 51 years) is shaping up.

Sincerely,

Joe Seagram

This week in Photos

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

Headmaster's Weekly Newsletter -- Volume 9, Issue 1

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Sep 7, 2018 5:16:17 PM

Dear KES Family:

The story goes like this: “Gordo” (Gordon McKenzie) has been working as a custodian at King’s-Edgehill School for twenty-five years. There is not much he has not seen or done in his time here. He is universally loved, and legions of alumni will describe their hours of restorative service with him as some of their fondest memories of their time at KES (even if they were in trouble and removing gum from the bottom of desks as a consequence).


After all these years, Gordo exclaimed that he had a “first time” this week. Yup. He had just finished cleaning a classroom at the end of the school day when one of our young students, in his first days at KES, said hello and thanked him for cleaning his classroom. This was the first time a student had thanked Gordo for the cleaning he does every day.

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

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

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

KES Headmasters Weekly Newsletter -- Week 6

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Oct 13, 2017 5:08:02 PM

Dear KES Family:

Friday the 13th? Good thing none of us are suspicious. :) 

The first frost of the year was glistening white on the ground and rooftops this morning. It is rather magical seeing the sun rise and watching its warmth melt the frozen dew. I realize that no Canadian enjoys scraping their car windshields – especially on a dark and chilly morning – but there is a freshness to a snapping cold autumn morning followed by brilliant sun and vivid colours that are good for the soul.

The students have that same warming ability. No matter what may happen or what my mood might be, at some point in the day the warmth and humour of our students will lift my spirits. Some highlights this week include   Riley Coe’s  classic eye-roll and communication with   CBC’s Trent McClellan  who was interrupting her debate during filming of "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" on campus. Riley was poised, polite and composed despite being on camera and harassed by one of Canada’s foremost comedians.

Another moment would be running into   Andrew Atwood on Monday night in the Athletic Centre. In an effort to exercise off some of my Thanksgiving turkey, I had headed over to the gym. Being a holiday weekend, I had not shaved for three days. In a classic reversal of roles, Andrew happily pointed out my fledgling beard, but was quick to mitigate my embarrassment by stating that it looked good on me. Hahaha! I love these moments.

After a few years absence, I am back in the classroom teaching one section of Grade 12 English. The course theme is good and evil and our current text is   The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is the highlight of my day. Inevitably   Quynn Rusaw  or   Heather Stanton  or   Nathan Danquah  or   Maverik Skeans or   Sharon Estrada  (or any other member of the class), will say or write something insightful and positive about what we are studying. Yesterday alumnus   Anthony Archibald (1990-93)  visited the School as a guest speaker in   Mr. Avila’s  Business class. He loved it. He felt the same energy and sense of fun I always do.
 
Life on campus definitely has its ups and downs, its chilly and challenging moments. However, the warmth of the students is always uplifting.
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Topics: Joe's Journal -- Weekly Headmaster's Newsletter

KES Headmasters Weekly Newsletter -- Week 5

Posted by Joe Seagram, Headmaster on Oct 9, 2017 3:11:15 PM

Dear KES Family:

A group of nine international education consultants came to the School this week.  Representing nations from Brazil to Russia, our visitors started their cross-Canada tour of boarding schools in Victoria, British Columbia, last week.  We were their 17th school in ten days. 

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

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