Head Lines: March 2017

This year’s International Women’s Day, themed #BeBoldforChange, highlighted that it is more important than ever that we celebrate and acknowledge the contributions of women around the world in making society a better place for all. At York House, we strive to empower our Yorkies to become confident, happy, and resilient young women. As a result, our girls discover who they are and have the courage to take risks and stand up for their beliefs. I am so proud of our Yorkies; they are confident, passionate, and empathetic students who embrace “Not for Ourselves Alone” by contributing back to the school and beyond. Thank you to our staff and students who came together on March 3 to “walk in her shoes” for Care Canada and show their solidarity for all of the women around the world who struggle to meet their most basic needs.

This term, we have had the benefit of the generosity of so many accomplished women who have each, in their own way, embraced their ability to drive change.

Dr. JoAnn Deak helped us kick off 2017 with important conversations around the strategies we can use to help girls thrive and help them to build their connectedness, confidence, and competence. Our staff had the opportunity to hear JoAnn share her research on the difference in male and female brain development. Her conversations with fathers followed our first “Breakfast with Dads” gave them an important opportunity to understand the critical importance of their role in their daughter’s development. In her conversations with students, JoAnn stressed the importance of sleep and nutrition, taking risks and making mistakes, and developing grit, resilience, confidence, and competence. If you were unable to join us at Tiger Talks, we have captured some highlights from these conversations.

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould

On January 18, we were fortunate to have the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould speak to our Grade 5-7 students. She spoke to the evolution of her political career as an Indigenous woman; first as a Regional Chief for the Assembly of First Nations and now as a Liberal MP for Vancouver Granville, Attorney General of Canada, and the first Indigenous person to be sworn in as the Minister of Justice. A number of the girls asked some very insightful questions. Speaking of her many accomplishments, she emphasized that, in spite of the challenges that women still face in politics, we have an important responsibility to change the conversation around the table. In addition to the positive influence of her mother and grandmother, she also spoke about how her Grade 1 and Grade 12 teachers inspired and guided her.

Alumna Dr. Robyn Woodward ‘72 spoke at Senior School assembly on Valentine’s Day. Her remarkable career trajectory provides a fitting example to the girls about the importance of curiosity, lifelong learning, taking risks, exploring volunteer opportunities, internships, and following one’s passion. Now as an Adjunct Professor in the Archaeology Department at Simon Fraser University, Dr. Woodward is a speaker for National Geographic cruises as an expert in nautical archaeology. You can learn more about Robin’s journey here in a recent interview with her.

On February 28, as part of Black History Month, Canadian athlete, educator and political candidate, Olympian Valerie Jerome spoke to our Senior School students about the challenges that her family faced being black in Canada (first in Winnipeg where she was born and then in North Vancouver). In spite of her family’s many athletic accomplishments (at the age of 15, Jerome set Canadian track records, winning a bronze medal at the 1959 Pan American Games; her brother, was legendary Canadian track and field runner Olympian Harry Jerome and her grandfather, John Armstrong Howard, was Canada’s first Black Olympian to run in the 100m and 200m at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics), her family consistently faced racial prejudice in their own community. Her message was clear; breaking down barriers only comes from love and understanding for one another. This message was one that we shared throughout the Junior School and Senior School the week before as we celebrated a week of “Love & Kindness” and on Pink Shirt Day on February 22nd.

Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, the Honourable Judith Guichon

Most recently, on Monday, March 6, we were pleased to welcome the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, the Honourable Judith Guichon, to meet with our Grade 5, 6, and 7 students as well as our Grade 11 Social Studies students. She spoke of the role of the Lieutenant Governor in the province and shared details of her career prior to this role as a cattle rancher in the interior of BC. She shared a message of the importance of having a voice and ensuring that you hold your elected officials accountable.

Yorkies have been busy this term, involved in school life, whether in their studies or following their passions on and off the field, and I wish to congratulate them all for their accomplishments. This term we were witness to so many of our girls’ remarkable talents. From the girls who participated in the Vancouver Model United Nations conference to those finalists in our annual Cat’s Meow recitation competition and our Junior School and Senior School athletes, our girls consistently demonstrate great poise, conviction, and determination in all that they do. I also want to recognize Grade 11 students, Leah and Saskia, for organizing our first ever YHS Talks and Taylor, Clara, Talia, Erin, and Alex, who bravely shared their personal stories (we have a short clip here from Erin’s talk).

This year’s dramatic production, “Done to Death”, was witty, clever, and thoroughly entertaining! I would also like to acknowledge all of the work and effort that it takes behind the scenes to create such a well-done production. I was most impressed that it was student-led. The students were so grateful for this opportunity and acknowledged how important it was for them that their Drama teacher, Shannon Harrigan, had the confidence in them to do this work. Thank you to Shannon and to all of the staff and students who helped to make this production so successful, whether it was making a cameo appearance onstage or supervising the front-of-house operations.

With so much that has been accomplished in only a few short months, I know that students, staff, and parents alike are looking forward to a well-deserved break over the next couple of weeks. I wish you all a wonderful spring break and safe travel to those of you who are travelling.

Warm regards,

Chantal Gionet
Head of School

Head Lines: December 2016

candlelightsrassembly_13dec2016-1708xDuring the last several weeks of school, there has been much joy, laughter, singing, and school spirit at YHS. I have also experienced for the first time what Vancouver is like when it snows! Many parents and staff enjoyed attending the two Winter Concerts that showcased once again the incredible musical talents of our Senior School students. I wish to thank David Gueulette and Heather Christiansen for their work with the girls to bring these concerts to life.

At this time of the year, we realize how fortunate we are at York House School and recognize the importance of giving back to others that are in need. Over the past few weeks, our students have demonstrated their commitment to “Not for Ourselves Alone” in so many ways. On Sunday, December 11, I had the opportunity to visit Directions Youth Services, an organization dedicated to helping youth in our city, together with our Grade 6 students and parents. In the Senior School, I was able to see Each One Teach One in action at YHS. This is a  community engagement opportunity where our girls and students from St. George’s School, are paired up with younger students from Admiral Seymour Elementary school. These elementary students came to visit their buddies at YHS for the day.

I am sure that many of you are aware of our two Grade 3 girls in the Junior School, Jessica and Anna-Julia, who at a young age recognize that there are too many young people in this city who go hungry every day. They set an ambitious goal and, thanks to our community and the generosity of our uniform provider Top Ten, they raised as much as $10,000.

Our traditional Candlelight Services held at the Little School, Junior School, and Senior Schools were each poignant reminders of peace, joy, love, and happiness. In the Senior School, our girls led by our Community Service Captains, collected contributions of new socks for Vancouver’s Covenant House to support vulnerable youth in the City.

Thank you to everyone who attended our Celebration of Community this year at the Chan Centre. This is the only time that we gather as a whole community to listen to the remarkable performances of our students from Grades 1 to 12. Our Strings Club, joined by Senior School Math Teacher, Whitney Black and our Coordinator of Outdoor Education and Risk Management, Robin Friesen, were a delightful prelude to this year’s production. Hearing beautiful music as we walked into the Chan Centre was much appreciated by all.

I would also like to thank and acknowledge our Music Teachers, Dawn Haylett, Heather Christensen, and David Gueulette for preparing our girls for their performances; YHS Alum Anisha Cheema ‘16 for working with our Senior Improv team; teachers Magali Forte and Colleen Marte for working with our students who read in French and Spanish; and Kathy Kealey, Deputy Head for all of her work in coordinating the entire production. Thank you Head Girl, Maggie, for being such an eloquent emcee for us.

We are pleased to share that the Celebration of Community helped to raise over $1,700 for Quest Outreach Society. I can’t think of a better way to honour our community and celebrate the talents of our students than to come together in this way to celebrate the holiday season.

I want to thank everyone at York House – students, faculty, staff, and parents – for their dedication and commitment to making York House a truly giving community; a community that cares for those beyond our doors.

Our girls have worked so very hard this term in all that they do. I hope that all of our families take the time to enjoy the holidays and take a much-deserved break. I look forward to seeing you all, rested and happy, in January 2017.


Chantal Gionet
Head of School