Founders’ Day: A Celebration of YHS History

This year York House staff and students joined in a virtual celebration of Founders’ Day on Friday, October 2nd to honour our past and look to the future. Julie Grundvig, Junior School Teacher Librarian, started the celebration with a beautiful virtual presentation that showcased our rich history and early focus on exploration and risk-taking.

Themed around STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math) and exploration, Head Girl Lauren spoke of the things we have discovered about ourselves during the current global pandemic and the words of wisdom shared with her in her interview with Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s Chief Medical Officer; and a reminder of how our Founders’ encouraged Yorkies to try, fail, seek, and discover. Several of our Grade 3 students shared about what exploration means for them and the ways that they have been challenged to explore in the work they do in the Junior School in STEAM. Mme Julie Rousseau spoke of the importance of being curious, posing questions, and find solutions to problems as key to discovering the world around us. Courtney (Smith) Counsineau ‘99, President of the Alumnae Association, introduced this year’s Alumnae Special Achiever, Saara Bhanji ‘03. Saara shared her heartfelt journey of personal exploration that led her to create AWARE, a feminist organization that provides young women with opportunities for self-development, leadership and activism.

Note: Each year at Founders’ Day, our graduating class is presented with their alumnae pins to formally welcome them to the Alumnae Association. This year, we have postponed this presentation to the end of the year where graduates will receive their pins as part of their graduation ceremony.

Celebrating Founders’ Day and Our Golden Alumnae

Senior choral ensemble, Ragazza singing the old hymn, Unto the Hills and Blue Skies at the Golden Alumnae Luncheon.

On Founders’ Day, Friday, September 27, alumnae from 1950-1969 were welcomed back to school by student executives. The day began with a tour of the 3rd floor Alumnae Art & Photo Gallery including a stunning exhibit by wildlife photographer, Taylor Green ’10, and a new Museum & Archives displays of sports and drama at York House.

A new archival photo collage, “The Early Years”, celebrating our Founders now graces the old Evans House mantlepiece, in the Parents’ Association Atrium where alumnae gathered for tours.
It’s always fun to find alumnae names on the Honour Roll Board.

Highlights of the Golden Alumnae luncheon included the celebration of reunions and the presentation of the YHS Alumnae Association Lifetime Achiever Award. To mark the special occasion of their 60th reunion, Mary Jean (Cooke) Otway-Ruthven ’59 wore her full YHS uniform. Both class reps, Mary Jean and Valerie (Clark) Roddick ‘59 shared their gratitude for the lovely luncheon and a most memorable reunion, which was very much appreciated by all at their table.

Mary Jean (Cooke) Otway-Ruthven ’59 in her full YHS uniform with Priscilla Clark, Associate Director of Alumnae Relations.
Members of the classes of 1969 and 1959 with fellow Yorkies by the Alumnae Class Photo Gallery.

The Class of 1969 celebrated their 50th reunion last summer. Those from the Class of 1969 who were also able to attend the Golden Luncheon, really enjoyed staying on for the Founders’ assembly. Class rep Natalie Clarke ’69 reported, “We were glad to see the York House values still maintained and to observe the dedication of all the staff and enthusiasm of the girls.”

Grade 3 presenting a most lively, I’m a York House Girl!
Shelley (Bowell) O’Callaghan ’66, 2019 Lifetime Achiever.

Shelley (Bowell) O’Callaghan ’66 received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the YHS Alumnae Association at the luncheon, where she was joined by members of her family and classmates. Shelley is an author, passionate volunteer, and advocate for social justice, who has had 30 years experience as a lawyer and recognized as one of Canada’s leading environmental lawyers.

She inspired all with the sharing of her life’s journey, especially the creation of a charity, Friends for Zambia Twitti School Project, to raise money for the construction of a school for 450 students. Shelley continues to visit the school every year, which now has a sponsorship program to enable disadvantaged students to attend the school. Click here for Shelley’s biography.

L-R Shelley (Bowell) O’Callaghan ’66, Lifetime Achiever 2019; Julie Rousseau, Head of School; Diana (Cliff) Maughan ’70, Past Board Chair; Cindy Charkow ’66; Julie (Samis) Parker ’66; Hilary Johnston ’66; Susan (Leishman) Colquhoun ’66; Molly O’Callaghan and Michael O’Callaghan.
Junior Head Girl, Kate and Vice Head Girl, Hannah.

 

Before the luncheon was over, the Golden Alumnae were warmly welcomed by the Senior School Head girl, Olivia, and both the Junior School Head girl, Kate and Vice Head, Hannah, shared their thoughts on the Founders’ Day theme, “Finding Your True North.”

L-R Olivia, Head Girl; Joanne Lee-Young ’90, Past President, Alumnae Association; Derek Francis, husband of beloved teacher, the late Joanne Francis; Bill Sexsmith, Past Board Chair; Pat Sexsmith, Past Parent’s Association President; Nik Williams-Walshe, Director of Advancement; Nancy Gibson ’67, Past YHS Foundation Trustee; Barbara (Bentley) Hislop ’72, Past YHS Foundation Chair; and Leslie Cliff, Past YHS Foundation Trustee.

The luncheon ended after the most anticipated moment when the youngest Junior school students visit the Golden Alumnae and bring Yorkie chocolates for everyone.

Team of Junior students ready to deliver Yorkie Chocolates.
Junior students meeting the Golden Alumnae.

The luncheon was followed by the annual Founders’ assembly. Highlights included the presentation of YHS Alumnae pins to the Grade 12 grads, and the presentation of two YHS Foundation Awards.

The Caroline Anne Sexsmith Trausch award was presented to Jacqueline, Class of 2020 (center) with parents of Caroline, Bill Sexsmith, Past YHS Board Chair and Pat Sexsmith, Past Parent’s Association President.
The Katherine Manders Award was presented to Akash, Class of 2020, by Stevie Mitchell ’61, YHS Foundation Chair.

YHS Alumnae pins were presented to Grade 12 by the YHS Alumnae Association President and their alumnae sisters, mothers or grandmothers, a most cherished moment for Yorkie families.

Talia received her pin from her sisters, Eliana Horvath ’13, Shayna Horvath ’16 and her mother, Tamara Horvath ’87.
Sophia received her pin from her sister Sydney (Roberts) Socias ’04 and her mother Lisa Greczmiel ’82.
Golnar Khosrowshahi ’89, 2019 Alumnae Special Achiever.

The 2019 Alumnae Association Special Achiever Award was presented to Golnar Khosrowshahi ’89, Founder and CEO of Reservoir, a music publishing company. Golnar was named one of Billboard’s Most Powerful Female Executives and a Billboard Indie Power Player for 2017 and 2018. Furthermore, Reservoir was awarded Publisher of the Year at Music Business Worldwide, the A&R Awards in 2017. As she was not able to attend, a video of Golnar’s speech was screened during assembly. Click here to view the video.

Grade 4 with their music teacher Ellie Jung.

Grade 4’s lively rendition of the York House March and the singing of the school song with the whole school brought back many memories. Alumnae also found time to explore the exhibits from past decades in the YHS Museum & Archives and enjoyed the Class Reunion Photo Boards.

Golden Alumnae chat with the Archivist and Curator, Julie Grundvig.

We look forward to welcoming our Golden Alumnae back to next year’s Founders’ Day.