Celebrating Founders’ Day and Our Golden Alumnae

Senior choral ensemble, Ragazza singing the old hymn, Unto the Hills and Blue Skies at the Golden Alumnae Luncheon.

On Founders’ Day, Friday, September 27, alumnae from 1950-1969 were welcomed back to school by student executives. The day began with a tour of the 3rd floor Alumnae Art & Photo Gallery including a stunning exhibit by wildlife photographer, Taylor Green ’10, and a new Museum & Archives displays of sports and drama at York House.

A new archival photo collage, “The Early Years”, celebrating our Founders now graces the old Evans House mantlepiece, in the Parents’ Association Atrium where alumnae gathered for tours.
It’s always fun to find alumnae names on the Honour Roll Board.

Highlights of the Golden Alumnae luncheon included the celebration of reunions and the presentation of the YHS Alumnae Association Lifetime Achiever Award. To mark the special occasion of their 60th reunion, Mary Jean (Cooke) Otway-Ruthven ’59 wore her full YHS uniform. Both class reps, Mary Jean and Valerie (Clark) Roddick ‘59 shared their gratitude for the lovely luncheon and a most memorable reunion, which was very much appreciated by all at their table.

Mary Jean (Cooke) Otway-Ruthven ’59 in her full YHS uniform with Priscilla Clark, Associate Director of Alumnae Relations.
Members of the classes of 1969 and 1959 with fellow Yorkies by the Alumnae Class Photo Gallery.

The Class of 1969 celebrated their 50th reunion last summer. Those from the Class of 1969 who were also able to attend the Golden Luncheon, really enjoyed staying on for the Founders’ assembly. Class rep Natalie Clarke ’69 reported, “We were glad to see the York House values still maintained and to observe the dedication of all the staff and enthusiasm of the girls.”

Grade 3 presenting a most lively, I’m a York House Girl!
Shelley (Bowell) O’Callaghan ’66, 2019 Lifetime Achiever.

Shelley (Bowell) O’Callaghan ’66 received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the YHS Alumnae Association at the luncheon, where she was joined by members of her family and classmates. Shelley is an author, passionate volunteer, and advocate for social justice, who has had 30 years experience as a lawyer and recognized as one of Canada’s leading environmental lawyers.

She inspired all with the sharing of her life’s journey, especially the creation of a charity, Friends for Zambia Twitti School Project, to raise money for the construction of a school for 450 students. Shelley continues to visit the school every year, which now has a sponsorship program to enable disadvantaged students to attend the school. Click here for Shelley’s biography.

L-R Shelley (Bowell) O’Callaghan ’66, Lifetime Achiever 2019; Julie Rousseau, Head of School; Diana (Cliff) Maughan ’70, Past Board Chair; Cindy Charkow ’66; Julie (Samis) Parker ’66; Hilary Johnston ’66; Susan (Leishman) Colquhoun ’66; Molly O’Callaghan and Michael O’Callaghan.
Junior Head Girl, Kate and Vice Head Girl, Hannah.

 

Before the luncheon was over, the Golden Alumnae were warmly welcomed by the Senior School Head girl, Olivia, and both the Junior School Head girl, Kate and Vice Head, Hannah, shared their thoughts on the Founders’ Day theme, “Finding Your True North.”

L-R Olivia, Head Girl; Joanne Lee-Young ’90, Past President, Alumnae Association; Derek Francis, husband of beloved teacher, the late Joanne Francis; Bill Sexsmith, Past Board Chair; Pat Sexsmith, Past Parent’s Association President; Nik Williams-Walshe, Director of Advancement; Nancy Gibson ’67, Past YHS Foundation Trustee; Barbara (Bentley) Hislop ’72, Past YHS Foundation Chair; and Leslie Cliff, Past YHS Foundation Trustee.

The luncheon ended after the most anticipated moment when the youngest Junior school students visit the Golden Alumnae and bring Yorkie chocolates for everyone.

Team of Junior students ready to deliver Yorkie Chocolates.
Junior students meeting the Golden Alumnae.

The luncheon was followed by the annual Founders’ assembly. Highlights included the presentation of YHS Alumnae pins to the Grade 12 grads, and the presentation of two YHS Foundation Awards.

The Caroline Anne Sexsmith Trausch award was presented to Jacqueline, Class of 2020 (center) with parents of Caroline, Bill Sexsmith, Past YHS Board Chair and Pat Sexsmith, Past Parent’s Association President.
The Katherine Manders Award was presented to Akash, Class of 2020, by Stevie Mitchell ’61, YHS Foundation Chair.

YHS Alumnae pins were presented to Grade 12 by the YHS Alumnae Association President and their alumnae sisters, mothers or grandmothers, a most cherished moment for Yorkie families.

Talia received her pin from her sisters, Eliana Horvath ’13, Shayna Horvath ’16 and her mother, Tamara Horvath ’87.
Sophia received her pin from her sister Sydney (Roberts) Socias ’04 and her mother Lisa Greczmiel ’82.
Golnar Khosrowshahi ’89, 2019 Alumnae Special Achiever.

The 2019 Alumnae Association Special Achiever Award was presented to Golnar Khosrowshahi ’89, Founder and CEO of Reservoir, a music publishing company. Golnar was named one of Billboard’s Most Powerful Female Executives and a Billboard Indie Power Player for 2017 and 2018. Furthermore, Reservoir was awarded Publisher of the Year at Music Business Worldwide, the A&R Awards in 2017. As she was not able to attend, a video of Golnar’s speech was screened during assembly. Click here to view the video.

Grade 4 with their music teacher Ellie Jung.

Grade 4’s lively rendition of the York House March and the singing of the school song with the whole school brought back many memories. Alumnae also found time to explore the exhibits from past decades in the YHS Museum & Archives and enjoyed the Class Reunion Photo Boards.

Golden Alumnae chat with the Archivist and Curator, Julie Grundvig.

We look forward to welcoming our Golden Alumnae back to next year’s Founders’ Day.

An Update on a Student Gap Year: Chantel Neubert ‘16

As part of her English 12 independent project, Chantel Neubert ’16 explored the pressure students experience about attending university immediately after high school, and decided to explore additional options.

Deferring her university acceptances for a year, Chantel chose to take a gap year instead, and provided us with a wonderful ‘snapshot’ of her adventures this year!

In her correspondence with me, Chantel expressed excitement and appreciation for the opportunities she’s experienced. She pointed to the importance of fostering family relationships, learning new skills (like cooking from scratch!), putting oneself in uncomfortable and new situations, and staying connected with old friends while making new ones. A few quotes from her:

“I am doing amazing! I am taking a gap year and it is definitely the best decision I could have ever made! I have travelled around Europe and have seen so many new places, cultures and have met so many new people. As well, taking a break has given me a new perspective on university and studying and the fact that there is more to life than just school. I hope that with what I have learned this year when I go to university in September (which I am – I have decided to go to Ryerson for business!) that I will keep those things in mind and take the time to live and experience a great deal of new things, not just school.”

“[Meeting with alumna Laura Fonda ’14] showed me that Yorkies are connected for life. I never really talked to Laura at YHS but we had a great time together in Brussels. It’s important for us to stick together as Yorkies and to reach out to each other, even if we weren’t necessarily in the same grade.”

“Working taught me a lot about what kind of jobs I like and what kind of work environments are important to me. Working is such a great way to learn about yourself!” It also “showed me first hand what works/doesn’t work for a team and also for myself!”

“I lived alone for three months and it taught me to provide and take care of myself as well.”

“I thought, I am doing a gap year to push myself and try new things so why not do something insane! [Skydiving] was a great experience and taught me a lot about myself and it was just super cool.”

To learn more about gap years, take a look at these recent articles from the New York Times:

A College Application Guide to Gap Year Students
Is a Gap Year Worth It?
My Imperfect Gap Year

Tanya Boteju
Senior School English Teacher