Founders’ Day 2021: Happy 89th Birthday YHS!

This year’s Founders’ Day celebration was a hybrid event with our Grade 2, Grade 4, Grade 11, and Grade 12 students gathered in the Odette Tognetti Theatre along with a small group of specially invited guests and staff. Other students and staff in the Little School, Junior School, and Senior School were able to watch this hybrid ceremony live from classrooms. As schools throughout BC have been returning to more normal activities, it was wonderful to be able to gather together, even if in small numbers. 

In light of this partial return to normal, the theme of “connections” was chosen for this year’s Founders’ Day. Six of our Grade 2 students shared how important “connections” with their families and friends are to them. Our Head Girl, Sophie, Grade 12, and our Junior School Head Girl, Jamie both spoke eloquently on this theme and shone a spotlight on how we are now more aware than ever before of the importance of making lasting connections with each other.

Courtney (Smith) Cousineau ‘99, President of the YHS Alumnae Association, presented Stevie (Bryson) Mitchell ‘61, with a beautiful bouquet of flowers to acknowledge her selection as this year’s Alumnae Lifetime Achiever. A formal presentation of this award will be given to Stevie at this year’s Golden Alumnae Luncheon on May 6, 2022.

Our Class of 2022 graduates were buzzing with excitement to be in the theatre together this year to accept their YHS Alumnae pin. A longstanding tradition, we were delighted to be able to invite alumnae with a connection to a student in the class to present their pin to them. 

Staff who have been with York House for 10 years were also presented with pins as Honorary Alumnae. Congratulations to Danuta Adzinska, Celine Foucher, Hanan Kaddage, and Ita Kane-Wilson.

Stevie (Bryson) Mitchell ‘61, Chair of the YHS Foundation, also presented two awards in memory of two outstanding York House alumnae.

The Caroline Anne Sexsmith Trausch Award was created by her family in memory of Caroline (Sexsmith) Trausch, from the class of 1984. Known for her Yorkie spirit, Caroline participated in almost every team and club from debating to basketball. Her education, especially her study of French at York House, along with an MBA from Harvard University, allowed her to live and follow a diverse and successful career on three continents and ultimately in Paris, France. This year, the Caroline Anne Sexsmith Trausch Award was awarded to Ava, Grade 12.

The Katherine Manders Award is in memory of Katie Manders, from the class of 1996. Katie had the life-long challenge with FSHD, a genetic muscle disorder (facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy) and navigated her career path with the support of her YHS teachers to reach her cherished goal to become a doctor. She met her challenges with awe-inspiring determination, courage, and persistence. This year the Katherine Manders Award was presented to Sayde, Grade 12. 

Live performances included our Grade 4 students performing the York House March, our Poet Laureate, Maggie Gr. 10, wrote and recited her poem “crystalline raindrops”, and our vocal ensemble Ragazza closed the ceremony singing From a Distance before leading the audience in Happy Birthday (to YHS) and the school song, Onward & Upward.

crystalline raindrops

the intricate patterns of a woven web
with raindrops suspended, among diaphanous lines
threads, so thin and delicate, carrying bonds of H2O, of
glittering crystals, ever so slightly balancing in what seems
thin air 

like each raindrop jewelled on a spiders web,
we balance on silk lattices, interlaced with our core values, of

Not, for ourselves alone.

each strand of the exquisite web weaved by connections we each form
held by not chemicals within science, but friendships and close-knitted ties

suspended between trees, air gently
breathing life into its veins, ruffling patterns of connection from one end to another,
held by the tip of its kaleidoscope leaves,
green fade to orange 

no matter rain, wind, thunder, or glazing heat
the web remains, draped upon a luscious green
of trees that surround the streets, of
pine, arbutus, maple and cypress,
all crested upon the house colours of joy,
behold growth and change, even the shift in socks,
encompassing home

remember the past that constitutes us, of
long-lasting traditions carried down the line,
let the crystals on a spider’s web not be a phenomenon in nature, but
something we each cast, in all our lives. 

Maggie, Grade 10