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

Head Lines: June 2017

ChantalGionet400pxOnce again, it has been another exciting year at York House. I am particularly proud of the accomplishments of our students whether it has been in athletics, in the classroom, on the stage, or out in the community in service to others.

I want to recognize the 2016-2017 Student Executive for all of their hard work, school pride, and the maturity and leadership they have demonstrated throughout the year. They should be particularly proud of the role that they played in the introduction of pants to our school uniform. The process leading up to this decision underscored the importance of student voice and having the opportunity to contribute to conversations relevant to the school community. Students were also instrumental in the introduction of the first YHS Talks which gave students an opportunity to present on topics that they are passionate about to their peers and stimulated some important discussions.

In the Junior School, the introduction of the STEAM Program led by Jennifer Sharpe, STEAM Coordinator, has been transformational for our students and teachers. Jennifer has been working hard throughout the year with both teachers and students to create rich learning opportunities across the grades through cross-disciplinary project-based learning that encourages curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. Regardless of what grade your daughter is in, I encourage you to view some of the incredible projects that the girls have completed and shared with us this year such as the Gr. 1 Light & Sound Project, Grade 2 Arbutus Corridor Exhibition, the Grade 3 Landforms Project, the Grade 4 Exploration of the City of Vancouver, the Grade 5 Body Worlds Exhibit, the Grade 6 Biomimicry Design Challenge, and the Grade 7 Civilizations Project. I am sure you will be just as impressed as I have been by their enthusiasm, passion, and engagement in their learning that each of these projects has unleashed in these girls! It really is quite remarkable!

I want to thank all of the parents who attended our Coffee Mornings throughout the year. I truly appreciated the opportunity to get to know you better and discuss what is happening in your daughter’s grade. I look forward to continuing to get to know you better as we work together in partnership to support your daughter in her learning and development at York House School.

Our second year of our Tiger Talks speaker series welcomed leaders in education such as Dr. JoAnn Deak, Dr. Alex Russell, and Garfield Gini-Newman. I have heard from students, teachers, and parents alike that they have enjoyed the conversations that these speakers have generated. These discussions are so important in supporting our shared desire to empower our students to become confident, happy, and resilient young women.

We are sad to say goodbye this year to two staff members who have contributed a great deal to our school community over the years. Grade 6 Teacher, Christine Addison, is retiring from York House after 31 years and Lana Gustavson, who has supported our Advancement efforts over the years, will retire after 23 years. We thank them both for their dedication and commitment to the school and wish them all the best as they embark on a new and exciting chapter in their lives.

We are always sad to say goodbye to our graduates but excited for them as they begin their post-secondary careers. We are proud of all that they have accomplished in their time at the school and know that they are on to even greater opportunities. While not all of our students have decided on where they will study and some may take a well-deserved Gap year, many of our students have received offers from the universities of their choice in the USA, Europe and Canada – including Cornell, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Pomona, London School of Economics, and Edinburgh University in programs such as Hospitality, Commerce, Engineering, Veterinary Medicine, Architecture – to mention just a few. Many of our students have received scholarships to various universities, including the prestigious Chancellor’s Scholarship from Queen’s University. We very much look forward to hearing how the future unfolds for our newest alumnae and all that they will accomplish!

Thank you again to our faculty and staff for all that they do to support our students’ learning as well as the role that they play in encouraging the girls to take on new challenges and discover their passions.

For those of you who enjoy reading in the summer, here are a few of the books that we have suggested throughout this past year to families and friends:

  • Stressed Out Girls, Helping Them Thrive in the Age of Pressure by Dr. Roni Cohen-Sandler
  • Girls will be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters by Dr. JoAnn Deak
  • How Girls Thrive by Dr. JoAnn Deak
  • Drop the Worry Ball by Dr. Alex Russell and Tim Falconer
  • Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour (Lisa will be joining us next year for Tiger Talks)

I wish everyone a wonderful summer with family and friends and look forward to seeing you back in the fall!


Chantal Gionet
Head of School