What is your favourite memory of York House School?
After 13 years here, to pinpoint a single memory as the favourite seems an impossible task. That said, one sticks out in my mind as particularly suitable to the question for having encompassed, perhaps better than any other, the many preceding it. Towards the end of one of our chemistry classes this year, our class went on a walk around the school grounds to the junior side – a venture I must admit I have had little impetus to embark on in my high school years. During this rare excursion, I recalled how as a junior track athlete I had once “sprinted” down the track along which we now strolled, rustled through the wood chips which had, invariably and conspicuously, gotten stuck in my white socks (to my mother’s chagrin). Upon arrival at the playground, my now young “adult” friends and I readily resumed the positions on the monkey bars we had abandoned a decade earlier. The moment was one of my most tangible personal experiences of the tension between “continuity and change”, a concept heavily emphasized in high school social studies classes. In those 15 minutes or so, I simultaneously reconnected with the concerns of the self who had last hung on those monkey bars, and appreciated the extent to which York House has figured in enabling me to tackle those concerns, while allowing for some new ones to naturally take over.
Who at York House has influenced you the most and why?
While high school was a time of substantial personal growth for me as for anyone, the most transformative period I recall of my time at York House occurred much earlier in my years here. Specifically, the Grade 2 classroom was the place in which I first found a formidable sense not only of my own individual potential to contribute, but of my own belonging within the classroom, and my ability to connect with my peers. I owe many thanks for this development to my teacher at the time, Ms. Grills (who has since moved to Australia). Ms. Grills created an environment of imagination, inclusiveness, and collaboration in her classroom, in which every student was granted their moments in the spotlight, whether they recognized it as such or not. Not only did her approach compel my once unspeaking seven-year-old self to become an active class participant, but it provided me with some of the most poignant, happy memories of my elementary years.
Why did you want to be Vice-Head Girl?
Throughout my high school years, the capacity of the Student Executive to shape the experiences of students throughout the school – whether through official responsibilities, direct support or through the less concrete, but equally impactful, tone it sets – has been ever apparent to me. As Class President from Grades 9 through 11, I became better acquainted with the specific roles of each Student Executive member, and found the role of Vice-Head Girl particularly well suited to both my skills and interests: as an intermediary between staff and students, an organizer, a leader of the Student Executive, and a support for the Head Girl.
What did you learn from being Vice-Head Girl?
To avoid a multi-page list of life lessons garnered over this past year, I’ll simply name one: the irrelevance of an exec title to acting as an impactful student leader. Certainly, the Student Executive takes on valuable and unique responsibilities within the school and has an automatic platform for initiative. However, the most meaningful impacts I believe I have had as a student leader have been through everyday kindnesses, expressing an interest in the lives of others, particularly younger students, and the positivity which I have endeavoured to bring to my interactions with all members of the YHS community. While I was no doubt propelled to emulate such ideals by an understanding of my exec role, these actions are not ones restricted to holders of any formal title, and they are ones which I will continue to live by in the future.
What are some of the accomplishments of the Student Exec this year that you are most proud of?
In keeping with my last answer, the Student Executive accomplishments I hold in highest regard transcend the tangible “tick-marks” of planning events, running community activities or coordinating the “all-important” exec videos. Instead, I see our greatest accomplishments in the friendly atmosphere we worked to establish within the school, the resulting connections formed between students across grades, and the relaxed and intimate atmosphere I felt we established at many school-wide events. Further, I take great pride not merely in the outward effect our Student Executive had this year, but in the fact that I believe we remained fundamentally honest throughout the process – willing to be openly less than perfect, while never (or at least rarely) anything short of committed to delivering our best, combined efforts.
What words of advice do you have for the incoming Vice-Head Girl?
As a role of both support and leadership, I believe the Vice Head Girl’s most meaningful work is done in offering this support – whether for the Head Girl, exec partners, staff or student body – when it is not asked of you. Actively seek opportunities to assist your exec team, staff and students where you think it potentially beneficial, and show yourself to be an approachable, supportive resource throughout the community.
As your time at York House comes to an end, what are you looking forward to the most?
Naturally, I think one fear many of us grapple with as we embark on our post-high school lives is facing the discomfort and uncertainty that comes with new, less enclosed environments. As much as I share this sentiment, after thirteen years in a tight-knit, supportive environment, I am excited for this discomfort, and the challenges it brings. I am looking forward to demonstrating that the aspects of the student, friend, and leader I am proud to have grown into at York House can extend beyond the school’s walls, if I am dedicated enough to having them do so.
What are your plans for the fall?
I am looking forward to entering the Science One Program at UBC in September.
Read the Q & A with Head Girl Maggie here.