Torch - Fall 2013


Traditions: Linking Our Past With Our Future

By Susan Pink

T raditions play an important role in the development of any organization, and for Havergal they continue to shape the school. “Traditions help to maintain the identity of the school and to provide a link between all those who have been here. They bond us through shared experience,” says Brenda Robson, who has played an integral role in supporting many of Havergal’s traditions. The former Dean of Students, Brenda worked with students for 42 years before retiring from teaching in 2005; she currently works as a Development Associate with the school’s department of Advancement & Community Relations. Havergal’s traditions help to build community and keep the school’s mission and values at its core. The school has many traditions that have withstood the test of time including: Carol Service, House Shout, Founders’ Day, Candlelight, Graduation, Grandchildren’s Party, Celebration Saturday, Prayers and Houses. “Although we have had some traditions from the school’s inception, we are also constantly updating and adding new traditions to school life,” says Brenda. “It’s an ongoing process; however, it’s not just about the little changes. It’s about preserving the essence of who we are as a school by ensuring that our mission lives on in everything that we do. Through tradition, we can keep the essence of the school running through its veins.”


The Assembly Hall at the Jarvis Street location

As Havergal’s oldest tradition, Prayers continues to be an important part of the lives of the Upper and Junior Schools.

The tradition of Prayers began when the school first opened in 1894—it was a daily meeting of the whole school community in the Assembly Hall. Back then, First Principal Ellen Knox led Prayers by offering an opening prayer and reciting a Bible verse that the entire school memorized in five minutes and repeated in unison twice. Miss Knox then played a hymn on the organ and a guest speaker—often a missionary—spoke to the students. Everyone would exit from the hall as Miss Knox played a march or an opera selection on the organ. Today, Prayers continues to be a thoughtful, reflective time, which is an important part of our students’ educational experiences as it supports and builds both an individual and collective sense of spirituality. Prayers celebrates the seasons of the Anglican Church as well as numerous faith traditions that represent the diversity of the school’s community. At Prayers, students, faculty and staff are prompted to reflect on questions and to come to their own conclusions. Sometimes guest speakers are invited to explore

important life questions; at other times, the questions come from the school’s interesting and engaged community of students, staff and faculty, who share their own experiences with the school on various topics. Most often, Upper School students begin and end Prayers with wonderful musical performances. The Junior and Upper Schools host Prayers three mornings a week, under the direction of The Reverend Susan Bell in the Upper School, and Andrew MacDonald, the Lay Pastoral Associate, in the Junior School. “Prayers is the common experience of every Havergalian and is always a part of reunion weekends,” Brenda says. “Although some students may not appreciate traditions such as Prayers at the time, in retrospect as Old Girls they grow to value them.”

The Brenda Robson Hall, where the Upper School gathers for Prayers three times a week


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