Head Lines: November 2017

Head of School, Chantal Gionet, with Head Girl, Saskia on the first day of school

This school year is a special one, as we mark York House School’s 85th anniversary. We have much to celebrate as a school community. Thank you to our Parents’ Association, the Alumnae Association, and the York Rose Ball Committee for throwing us a spectacular birthday party at the York Rose Ball. At this year’s Founders’ Day, we chose the theme of “exploration” to honour our seven founders and this year’s Alumnae Special Achiever, Dianne Whelan ’83, who is an explorer, award-winning Canadian documentary filmmaker, author, and multimedia artist. Our Head Girl, Saskia compared our founders to explorers who were ahead of their time – they were visionary and had courage, grit, and a true sense of adventure.

If our founders were here right now, they would be smiling with pride knowing that the small Canadian school for girls that they founded in 1932, continues to provide a progressive education and has grown to be a modern, innovative school that provides a world-class education for our girls today. Our students and alumnae exemplify passion, purpose, and strive to be the best that they can be at school, in their careers, and in giving back to community.

As we gathered for this year’s Golden Alumnae Luncheon to celebrate the classes of alumnae from 1942 to 1967, we are reminded of the spirit of exploration embraced by so many of our alumnae around the world. We were proud to celebrate our alumnae across the decades with a video sharing some of their most vivid memories of their time as students at York House School.

We were very fortunate that Dianne Whelan ’83, was able to take time away from her trek across Canada along the TransCanada trail to speak to students, alumnae, staff, and parents as part of our celebrations. We were inspired by her courage, determination, and stories of the importance of our human connections, the environment, and following your heart. If you were unable to be there with us, I encourage you to read this short interview with Dianne. We greatly appreciated her generosity of time and spirit.

Our Outdoor Education Program, an important part of students’ learning at York House School, provides students from JK to Grade 12 with a myriad of outdoor education opportunities throughout the year. Outdoor experiential learning promotes exploration and self-confidence, and time spent in nature improves concentration, reduces stress and anxiety levels, leads to better balance, fitness, and resilience. It’s incredible to watch our girls grow through these experiences!

This year, our Outdoor Education Coordinator, Robin Friesen, has expanded our programming to include Forest Days in Pacific Spirit Park for students in Grades 1 to 4. She also revised the Garibaldi trip for Grade 10 students to allow for richer learning and deeper connections. These students were separated into three smaller groups that embarked on three separate trails led by expert guides. Our students are amazing as they venture into new territory while away from home on these trips.

Once again, I appreciated the time I had with the Grade 8s at Manning Park as a way to connect with the girls and get to know them outside of the school environment; we learn so much about each other and ourselves. We are equally thankful for the 20+ teachers who give of their time, away from their families, to guide our students on these journeys.

While participating in the Advanced Outdoor Education trip to Clayoquot Sound this past June, Grade 12 student, Camryn, created an amazing video which we plan to share on our public facing website as it is truly that good! Her stunning footage and skillful editing have resulted in a video that captures the spirit of the trip as well as the beauty of our province. I hope you take the time to watch it – I know you will be impressed!

Our athletics teams continue to impress whether it is on the volleyball court, in the pool, on the track, or on the field. Thank you to all of our coaches and to our Athletics Director, David Prissinotti, and Athletics Coordinator Brent Jackson, for getting our students off to a stellar start. Go Tigers, Go!

Our STEAM program in the Junior School continues to engage and challenge our girls to explore concepts in new ways. If you haven’t yet had a chance, I encourage parents to drop by the Junior School and see the transformation of the Atelier into the new STEAM lab complete with two new 3D printers, user-friendly storage and work spaces, and new tools for woodworking and building.

Our Junior School teachers have been working collaboratively to create cross-disciplinary projects that explore looking at problems, using the Design Thinking model, while meeting the current curriculum goals. Following a cross-curricular approach, the Grade 5s are currently exploring accessibility in a way that addresses their learning outcomes for science, language arts, social studies, and physical education. I am so looking forward to seeing the presentation of their work later in the month.

There is no shortage of activities at York House. I am sure that for our new families that we welcomed this fall, it might seem a bit overwhelming. In addition to participating in any of our school events, I encourage you to take the time to connect with one another and ask us any questions you might have of us. I am continuing to host informal Coffee Mornings throughout the year, which I hope you will join. This is a wonderful opportunity to get to connect and get know one another better.

Increasing the number of student scholarships is a priority for York House School. I am happy to share that this year, we have an unprecedented number of scholarships available for students who may not otherwise be able to attend York House School. As word of mouth is truly our most powerful marketing tool, I hope that you will share this information with families whose daughter would benefit from attending our school. The deadline for our scholarship applications is December 15, 2017.

Our first Tiger Talks for the year will be this coming Thursday, November 9, with Dr. Lisa Damour, the New York Times best-selling author of “Untangled”. We are very fortunate that she will also be meeting with Grade 6 & 7 students, Senior School students during a special assembly, as well as faculty and staff.

I hope to see you around the school and hope that you will take advantage of this great opportunity to hear from a celebrated author and psychologist, Dr. Lisa Damour.


Chantal Gionet
Head of School