York House students, staff, and members of the community gathered together on Friday, October 13 for our annual Founders’ Day assembly celebrating our 85th birthday.
With this year’s theme of “exploration” in mind, Head Girl Saskia opened the assembly with these words: “Eight-five years ago, seven women believed that women’s education was a priority. At that time, this was certainly not the most popular of thoughts, let alone something many people actually acted on. Which is why it is so important for us to thank them, because without their bravery we wouldn’t be sitting here, all having received an amazing education. Their bravery allowed them to explore a very uncommon idea that we are enjoying the result of today. These women were explorers in their time.”
Six Grade 4 students (Keira, Kelly, Fiona, Peyton, Hailey, and Cameron) were invited up to say a few words on what exploration to means to them. Dianne Whelan ‘83, the 2017 Alumnae Special Achiever and explorer in her own right, provided this year’s formal address. Each year, the YHS Alumnae Association awards this honour to someone who has made a difference in her chosen field, in the lives of those around her, or for the greater good of the world community.
Dianne, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and author, is travelling across Canada along the Trans Canada Trail, the world’s longest network of recreational trail, covering 24,000 km and 13 provinces and territories. Since July 2015, she’s hiked, biked, snowshoed, skied, and canoed “The Great Trail”, while she’s filming her next adventure documentary, 500 Days in the Wild.
Reflecting on her journey so far, Dianne shared advice for young and old Yorkies alike. She described witnessing a storm while backpacking. “On the surface it looks like every tree stands alone, but underneath the ground, every single tree is connected with its roots to each other. And that’s why in a big storm, despite the branches blowing all over the place, none of them fall down. Underneath they support one another. We are that forest. All of us here today, we are all connected through this experience of this all-girls’ school — you are never alone. York House is still a deep root in my tree. Beneath the surface, we are all connected and that’s what makes us so much stronger.”
Founders’ Day is also particularly special day for our Grade 12 students as they were officially welcomed into the YHS Alumnae Association. As per tradition, alumnae mothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, and fathers (YHS had boys at one time) are invited to present their graduating Yorkie with their alumnae pin. After 10 years of service at York House, staff members become Honorary Alumnae. This year, alumnae pins were presented to Teacher Librarian Philip Coates, French Teacher Eileen Jensen, and Social Studies Teacher Chris Cropley. Kira Tosefsky ‘17 was also presented with the Governor General’s Award for 2016-17, which is awarded to the student graduating with the highest grade point average. She is currently studying at Science at UBC.
Alumnae from our chapters around the world also shared birthday video messages. Alumnae continued the birthday celebrations at our Golden Alumnae Luncheon.