York House celebrated Pride this month! Our focus throughout June has been to strengthen inclusivity, acceptance, celebration, and a sense of belonging for people of diverse gender and sexual identities, with activities that uphold our school values of respect and empathy.
In advance of Pride month, the Junior School SOGI Club worked with the Senior School GSA and our Communications Department to develop a logo for Pride Month. All agreed that the logo needed to be as inclusive as possible, with the incorporation of a progressive Pride flag, while also being personal and representative of our amazing community.
For the month itself, our Senior GSA organized activities and resources to help learn and celebrate, including book suggestions, rainbow treats, Pride trivia, and a screening of the documentary “Disclosure“.
Students were invited to wear their brightest colours for our Senior School assembly, where our new YHS Pride logo was introduced. Students were also encouraged to bring $2 for Qmunity.ca, a non-profit organization based in Vancouver that works to improve queer, trans, and Two-Spirit lives. An Alum Pride Panel featuring 10 YHS Alums was held after school on June 6.
Junior students participated in Pride-themed button-making. There was also a “Come As You Are Day” where students wore clothing they felt was comfortable and reflected their personality. For “Rainbow Day”, students made chalk drawings at Recess and each grade wore a different colour to make an all-school rainbow. There were also various age-appropriate in-class activities as well as a fantastic assembly where we revealed the new York House School Pride logos to our Junior School students.
An absolute highlight of this past week was our launch of a Women and Leadership Speaker Series at YHS on Tuesday, November 30. On this day, Dr. Indira Samarasekera and Dr. Martha Piper joined our Grade 10-12 students and faculty for a rich conversation about their book, Nerve: Lessons on Leadership from Two Women Who Went First. They spoke with our Senior students about stories, experiences, lessons and growth as leaders of two public research universities in Canada. Among her many achievements, Dr. Samarasekera served as the President of the University of Alberta and is a current member of the YHS Board of Governors. Dr. Piper served as the President of the University of British Columbia. We are fortunate to have had them join us in lively discussion about finding the nerve to step up and lead.
Canadian leaders, co-authors, and dear friends, Drs. Samarasekera and Piper engaged in a lively interview with three YHS student leaders. Sophie, Finny, Diya had read their book ahead of time, prepared questions, and facilitated a dynamic conversation that inspired much conversation in the hallways afterwards. We learned about Drs. Samarasekera and Dr. Piper as teenagers. We learned of their very different journeys to leadership. If you know them, you will know they are fine storytellers who share insights in very relatable and human ways. Students, faculty, and administrators have spoken of how animated and human the experience was, and how privileged we are to have learned from these two prominent leaders in Canada.
A very special thank you to Dr. Samarasekera and Dr. Piper for joining us this week. Thank you, also, to Sophie, Diya, and Finny for your fine leadership this week. Please stay tuned for future speakers in this series who will engage students across the school and families as well.
Assistant Head of School