Torch - Spring 2018

In this issue, we focus on embracing change, promoting well-being and providing support at Havergal.

H A V E R G A L C O L L E G E S P R I N G 2 0 1 8

Embracing Change, Promoting Well-Being & Providing Support


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Graham Powell Robyn Spector Sandra Sualim Karen Sumner Mekhul Verma

Yvonne Chow Alison Crocker Hailey Eisen Jennifer D. Foster Helena Follows Pearl Goodman Barb Hill Leslie Hood Warren Lang Debra Latcham Garth Nichols Natasha MacParland Maggi Patterson Diane Peters Leah Piltz

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THANK YOU We would like to thank all members of the Havergal community who participated in interviews, submitted articles, contributed photographs and reviewed articles.

The information contained herein may not be published without permission from Havergal College.

CONTRIBUTORS Mary Ashkar Melanie Belore Suzanne Bowness Naomi Buck 1990

Table of Contents


Principal’s Message Adjusting the Sails


Snapshots Photos of Life at Havergal

10 School Profile

A Team Dedicated to Well-Being 12 Message from School Leaders Weathering Life’s Storms 16 Feature Story Support from All Sides 27 Message from VP, Student Engagement and Experiential Development Understanding the Five Domains of Leadership 28 Forum for Change Students Act Now: Girls in Action 30 Travelling Beyond HC Experiential Learning Lessons 32 Advancement & Community Relations Building Healthy Bodies and Minds 34 Traditions The Evolution of the Uniform 36 Farewell Saying Goodbye to Our Retirees 38 HCPA The Role of Parent Engagement Through the HCPA 39 Old Girls News Reconnections 40 Reunion Update Celebration Weekend 2018

Front cover: Grade 12 student Chelsea Dumasal in the Upper School hallway. Inside front cover: Grade 2 students conduct a French survey about music.

1451 Avenue Road Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5N 2H9 Tel: 416.483.3519

CELEBRATION SATURDAY S e p t e m b e r 2 9 9 a m t o 1 p m Join Us For

Events include face painting, games, pumpkin decorating, live and silent auctions, a haunted house, food vendors and more!

Proceeds from this event support our community partners.

Principal’s Message

At Havergal, we help students cultivate true resilience by using self-knowledge to make choices.

Adjusting the Sails Helen-Kay Davy

H ow do you navigate life? Are you so comfortable with risk that you keep on going right through a storm? Some know they need time to think and plan, and they would rather find safe harbour and set off again later, when the winds have died down. In this issue of Torch , you will hear from our students about how they adjusted their personal journeys in the face of something new or a difficult challenge. You will see from their stories how, in these moments, the girls truly learned about themselves. At Havergal, we help students cultivate true resilience by using self- knowledge to make choices. Meanwhile, all of us here learn to be part of a culture that supports others in charting their own course, their own way. We explore these ideas in Prayers and in conversations, indeed in any place where we come together and hear different viewpoints, and reflect on their meaning to ourselves and others. Right now, educators around the world are grappling with the issue of smartphones in schools. Like any debate, there are pros and cons.

Instead of decreeing rules about mobile phone use outside of our classrooms, we are taking a thoughtful and inclusive process to finding a solution. We have created a working group involving faculty and students that will gather input from staff and parents. With this feedback, we will develop an action plan that is right for Havergal. As part of our strategic plan, and to help better understand mental and physical wellness, Havergal is piloting the Ontario Physical and Health Educators Association’s Healthy Schools Certification, which is a comprehensive benchmarking program that evaluates a school’s approach to wellness. This initiative also includes student involvement as part of the process. We all feel freer to make tough choices when we are supported, no matter what our decision. At Havergal, we embrace life’s complex and sometimes difficult and messy moments as we help nurture each other in these moments and navigate onward.




1. Junior School students cheer on the Gators at Hockey Day 2018. 2. Parents learn about Internet safety at the HCPA Annual Luncheon. 3. So many treats to choose from at this year’s HCPA Bake Sale. 4. The Havergator makes an appearance at Hockey Day 2018. 5. A group of Senior

School students host this year’s Blind Date with a Book event.











6. Students are honoured at the Winter Athletic Assembly. 7. Parents discuss literature with their 8. Students perform at Lunar New Year Prayers at the Upper School. 9. Grade 8 students dress in purple for this year’s Grade Cheer Off. 10. Kindergarten students dress up like pop stars during Spirit Week. 11. Members of the Senior Choir perform at Senior School Music Night. daughters at the Family, Fiction and Food event.






12. Junior School students lip-synch. 13. The Rev. Canon Kevin Robertson (Archbishop of Toronto’s Anglican Church) hosts Junior School Prayers. 14. Spirit Prefects dress all in silver for Grade Cheer Off 2018. 15. Folk singer Craig Cardiff performs for the Junior School. 16. Grade 8 French students write haikus in calligraphy. 17. The Middle School Players present Alice in Wonderland .








A Team Dedicated to Well-Being: Meet Havergal’s Wellness Centre Staff By Hailey Eisen


School Profile

I t’s a Tuesday morning after a long weekend and the Havergal Wellness Centre is relatively quiet. Before long, however, students begin to trickle in. There are upset stomachs, itchy eyes and the emotional strain of starting back after a long weekend. No matter what ailment a student is dealing with (mental, physical or emotional), they can expect to be greeted with warmth and understanding from the nurse on duty. “Our goal is to create a safe space for students,” says Sharon Miller, one of the nurses whose responsibility it is to offer support and health care to both Day and Boarding students. Between 8 am and 4:30 pm every day, there is always a nurse in the Wellness Centre, armed with basic remedies from bandages to eye drops, equipped to handle a medical emergency and available to sit and listen when a girl needs to talk. An integral part of the Student Support Team—which includes Guidance, Learning Support, Social Work and other members of the administrative team—the Wellness Centre and its nursing team play an important role in the lives of Havergal students. From allergy awareness, to first aid and CPR, to infection control and education, to headaches and cramps, Miller and her team have experience dealing with it all. “After-hours one of us is always on-call for the Boarding students,” explains Miller. This, coupled with the services of a physician who holds a clinic once a week, rounds out the Wellness Centre. “Our doctor happens to be an Old Girl, so she gets the girls,” Miller says. “She’s lived the experience.” Just beyond the Wellness Centre are three bedrooms, where Boarding students can stay if they’re not well enough to be in class. While Day students typically go home when they’re feeling unwell, Boarders know they have a comfortable and supervised place to recuperate. “If I’m worried about anyone or want to keep an eye on them, I have them stay here with me,” Miller says. Miller and her colleagues (part-time nurse Bonnie Best, as well as casual relief nurses Rachel Blanchette and Carm Frasca) feel personally responsible for the health of the Havergal community. It’s apparent in the way they talk about their roles and how they greet patients when they come to the Wellness Centre. Miller and her team also provide a connection between the school and the Boarding students’ families in order to insure they’re always aware of their daughters’ wellness and any treatment being administered. After 13 years with the school, Miller knows what to look for when it comes to physical and emotional well-being and she’s always on top of new research as it becomes available. “Something we deal with frequently are concussions,” she explains. “There is much more awareness today about the signs, symptoms and treatment than when I started in this role.” Havergal has partnerships with two concussion clinics in Toronto: the David L. MacIntosh Sport Medicine Clinic at U of T and the

Their knowledge and experience mean that we never have to do any guesswork, knowing we have them on call to answer any questions we, or the students, may have.”

—Natalia Stewart, Head of Boarding

Women’s College Hospital clinic. “A concussion impacts a student’s ability to be at school and requires a return-to-learn plan that’s a partnership between the parents, school and clinic,” Miller says. “We’re lucky to be working with these clinics, as both groups are involved in research around women and concussions—and provide many great resources for our girls and their families.” Mental health, stress and anxiety are also on the nurses’ radar. Creating a quiet space for students to retreat to when needed and knowing they have someone who will listen and talk with them is extremely important. “Whether we’re coaching them on breathing, helping them download and use a mindfulness app or working with tools they’ve been given through guidance and social work, we provide a safety net for students experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety.” There’s also a focus on diet and nutrition, especially for the school’s Boarding students. “With students living here from around the world, there are often dietary changes that the girls are facing,” Miller explains. Whether it is choosing healthy foods or staying hydrated, the Wellness Centre team is there to help. “Our nurses provide wonderful support to the students, as well as to the entire faculty and staff,” says Natalia Stewart, Head of Boarding at Havergal. “They’re an integral part of our school. Their knowledge and experience mean that we never have to do any guesswork, knowing we have them on call to answer any questions we, or the students, may have.”


Message from School Leaders

Weathering Life’s Storms The resilience that protects students against adversity must be taught

By Michael Simmonds and Kate White

“ Human resilience is not innate—it is a learned trait. As a school, we consider it essential for thriving.

“ Dr. Michael Simmonds, Vice Principal School Life & Operations and Kate White, Interim Head of Junior School. not innate—it is a learned trait. As a school, we consider it essential for thriving. Consider the behaviours of a resilient student: she overcomes disappointment, learns from her failures, perseveres when faced with difficulty, copes with loss, becomes an adept problem-solver, believes in her own competence and finds the positive in life. These traits do not guarantee the highest test scores or admission to the best university, but they do ensure that students don’t feel easily overwhelmed, fear hard work, blame others for their mistakes, lack confidence in solving their own problems or adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms. The world has changed. Children are less likely to play outside until the street lights come on or engage in games they have created themselves. They are more likely to be supervised and programmed. While there is nothing wrong with joining the local soccer league, there is evidence that today’s kids live within a narrower social world—and emotional spectrum—than in the past. Given that healthy emotional development requires risk, misadventure, conflict and failure, it is short-sighted to deprive them of these experiences.

Y ou may be familiar with a Japanese proverb about bamboo. There are a few translations, but here is one version: “The winds may fell the massive oak, but bamboo, bent even to the ground, will spring upright after the passage of the storm.” Despite its somewhat delicate appearance, bamboo’s flexibility provides it with a toughness that heavier substances lack. Building engineers refer to this as tensile strength, which is the amount of stress or stretching a material can withstand before breaking. Bamboo has a greater tensile strength than steel. We often define a strong person as unyielding in response to external forces. Certainly, inner strength is rooted or anchored to a person’s family, culture and values, but research tells us that personal resilience comes with flexibility. The oak, rigid and intractable, is broken in a storm. The bamboo stands tall again once the wind tires itself out. At Havergal, we help our students to develop like the bamboo by focusing on resilience, which is the capacity to bounce back from adversity and adapt to change. Think of it as mental and emotional tensile strength. Unlike the bamboo, however, human resilience is


The idea is not to eliminate opportunities for disappointment or smooth over the consequences of failure. It’s to focus on the development of flexibility and hardiness. It’s to foster a toughness of spirit with mental suppleness. Losses are a certainty in life, but resilience is not. That’s what we’re teaching when we expect students to be responsible for themselves, experience the natural consequences of mistakes, solve their own problems and advocate for their best interests—all with the support and guidance of adults who understand child development and believe that kids are capable. In the Junior School, our focus on developing resilience begins with teaching the language and habits of self-regulation. Girls learn to recognize their emotions, reflect on where they come from and make a plan to go forward. As they become better at monitoring and controlling their thoughts and feelings, they also become more adept at managing the various demands of the world. They can calm themselves down when upset, develop greater impulse control and locate their motivation for success within themselves— rather than outwardly in pleasing parents or teachers. As further support, Junior School teachers engage students in mindfulness practices to help the girls understand themselves more deeply. Students use breathing techniques when checking in with themselves: Where am I? How am I? They may use their mindfulness strategies before a test to achieve a state of calm or afterward if they’re worried about their performance. They learn

how to quiet their minds and bodies before or after strenuous events, including conflict with others. In addition, students often work with teachers as a way toward developing greater self-regulation. They identify a few personal challenges for the year, come up with a plan to address them, identify the markers of success and assess themselves as they proceed. They are coached by their teachers to set realistic goals and apply themselves in reaching them. Goal-setting is an incremental step along the path toward self-reliance. Because Havergal focuses as much on academic excellence as on personal development, it’s essential for students to know themselves, reflect on their identities, plan for big challenges and set goals for their future. We spend a lot of time helping students in the Junior School understand that greater self-regulation leads to greater life success, including in academics. The ability to understand and control thoughts and feelings improves attention, working memory and impulse control, all of which lead to better academic achievement. Self-regulation also helps students to bounce back from disappointment. They can navigate through a poor test result, a forgotten assignment or a loss on the field without catastrophizing or becoming defeatist. Instead, their message to themselves is: I’ll be okay; I have what it takes; I can try again . They can get back on their feet. They can bend without breaking.

Photography Club members experiment with different techniques.


Report on the Junior and Upper Schools

Old Girl Ronée Boyce 1998 (right) returns to Havergal to speak at Prayers about her career as a concert pianist and how dreams, dedication and drive, as well as overcoming disappointment, helped to shape her as an artist (with Prayers Prefect Anne Broughton).

In the Upper School, students take on greater responsibility in developing their inner strength and resourcefulness. In some ways, their tolerance for failure needs to grow as their social dynamics become more complex and academic demands increase. A girl who lacks faith in her ability to solve problems or overcome disappointments is going to avoid challenges and difficult conversations. She is going to look for the easier path, which— in the end—makes for a harder life. We encourage our older students to advocate for their own learning and talk to teachers directly about any concerns. There is a place for parents in that conversation, but it’s mainly to coordinate. The hard work has to come from the student or she will not learn to stand up for herself. Recently, one of our Grade 8 students was upset with a teacher and felt her learning needs weren’t being met. The student was coached in how to talk directly to her teacher about her issue. After that conversation, the teacher and student met with a member of the school leadership team to develop a strategy in moving forward. The student learned how to deal with authority and negotiate for her interests. In the end, everyone involved in that situation had be flexible. It was a lesson in resilience all around. Schools and teachers—not just students—need to adjust the sails of change. Being rooted in

Havergal’s enduring values of integrity, inquiry, compassion and courage allows for many ways to bend toward a student. If anything is a constant, it’s change. The Senior School recently experienced a superb moment of change led by a small group of Grade 10 students, with the support of Head of Senior School Gillian Martin. In the place of our usual morning Prayers, students offered spoken presentations on the topic of mental health. Personal stories were shared, a respectful conversation was held and tough questions were asked. Does the school do enough? Should students listen more to each other? There was some risk involved in departing from the Prayers format. It had not been done before. Again, we had to adjust our sails. But there was flexibility in form, not in values. That assembly embodies something we strive to teach our girls: learn how to adjust and adapt. Know what to do when what was true yesterday may not be true tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Step into your courage. It takes practice, but these are important qualities for all of us—school, faculty, students and parents. Parents also have a role to play in teaching resilience. Their daughters sometimes feel the pressure of being in a top-tier school and can respond by seeking perfectionism. The problem is that the


Grade 11 student Quinn Danniels speaks at Prayers about the resilience of her cousin, who became a Paralympic athlete after an accident left him paralyzed.

perfectionist is risk-reluctant and failure-averse. In striving to be perfect, she cannot tolerate any setbacks, errors or disappointments. Ironically, it’s this very intolerance that will get in the way of her success. One knock and she’s down for the count. If failures are avoided in high school, they will overwhelm her in university. University counsellors are seeing record numbers of anxious students who cannot cope with adversity. Here’s how parents can help: don’t smooth over the bumps in a child’s life. Psychologists use the term “over-parenting” to describe people who overprotect their children. The children have not experienced sufficient independence in decision-making and in facing the consequences of their sometimes misguided actions and choices. Not surprisingly, over-parented children have not practised all that lies at the heart of resilience: independent problem-solving, dealing with failure, facing tough choices, living through consequences and getting back on their feet by their own power. Resilience is not just a skill for students. Certainly, schools and teachers must continue to grow and change as well. As a community, our role is not just to prepare young people for the next test or grade, but also for life.

“ A girl who lacks faith in her ability to solve problems or overcome disappointments is going to avoid challenges and difficult conversations.


Feature Story

SUPPORT FROM ALL SIDES Boosting wellness at Havergal

By Suzanne Bowness

A sk a Havergal student what community, friends and support. Of course, that looks different in every grade. When kindergartener Emily Aggarwal points to a picture of her parents and siblings in her classroom’s Family Book , you see where support begins at home. And you only need to hear Grade 6 students Hannah Lee and Emily Zhao finish each other’s sentences in discussing their joint project to realize the importance of supportive friendship. Grade 12 students Alex Salom and Sarah Zhao share stories with an easy rhythm and you see the importance of peer she likes about her school and top answers include words like

support in achieving a common goal like the Tokens 4 Change fundraiser. In all these stories, a sense of active community support rings through. Havergal’s current strategic plan Havergal 2020: Our Vision is Limitless formalizes and reaffirms the school’s commitment to support students in every way: by encouraging balance, belonging and engagement. But it’s in the informal stories of goals accomplished and projects in progress that this mission comes to life, how the spectrum of initiatives that reveal support, including physical, emotional, social, mental, cognitive and spiritual, is all around.




Wellness Prefect helps others find their joy

Wellness Prefect Haley Walker is passionate about health and well-being.

G rade 12 student Haley Walker has long known that her ideal sport is running. A competitor at the national and provincial level in cross-country and indoor/outdoor track, Walker plans to continue at the varsity level, with a dream to represent Canada internationally. While she’s eager to talk about her favourite sport, as Wellness Prefect she doesn’t expect everyone to follow in her footsteps. “Because I’ve had this positive experience with athletics, I think it’s really important that I help others find a similar physical activity. Being active is a beneficial way to increase your happiness. If everybody could find any type of physical activity that they really enjoy, that would be my ultimate goal,” Walker says. In her role as Wellness Prefect, Walker has already initiated several health-related activities, including a forum on mental health that helped students and faculty

share ideas. “The best way to come up with ideas is working together because you can always come up with something together that’s better than what I’m going to come up with on my own,” she says. Other projects include Havergal’s involvement in Pink Shirt Day held back in March to raise awareness about bullying and ponder ways to focus on kindness. “Being kind and having gratitude can ultimately make a lot of people happy and feel really good about themselves, so I think that contributes to health and wellness,” says Walker. Though Walker is a top athlete herself, her philosophy on wellness is broader. “Having that balance in your life, whether that be doing some sort of extracurricular that gives you satisfaction or being able to be happy at school and having enough time to do your homework and see your friends. That’s what wellness means to me.”

Being active is a beneficial way to increase your happiness.

—Haley Walker, Wellness Prefect


EMOTIONAL Support Emotional awareness from Kindergarten through Grade 12

Senior Kindergarten students Emily Aggarwal and Mia Tang are proud of their work on display in the Feelings Gallery.

T he Kindergarten classrooms at Havergal are busy, but in talking to Senior Kindergarten teachers Usha Shanmugathasan, Melissa Hickey and Michael Webb, you realize it’s a place of balance and order, too. At the far end, there’s a busy makerspace, where girls enthusiastically turn cardboard boxes into everything from vehicles to clothing. Adjacent, there’s a cool art studio, where students trace princesses and unicorns from intricate templates using iPads hooked to video cameras. At the opposite side of the room is the Peace Corner. That’s where a girl can self-select to go if she’s feeling sad or just out of sorts, to hug the furry Peace Bear or read a book or

students recognize their own emotional journeys through the day.

just hang out with a friend. And the Peace Corner faces a sandbox, where she can return if she’s feeling more energetic. Around you can go, through the various zones that suit different moods and ambitions. Emily Aggarwal and Mia Tang are two Senior Kindergarteners who helpfully walk visitors not only through their space, but also through the curriculum. First up for show and tell is a set of bowls with bottoms coloured to represent different emotions. Since the start of the school year, each of the 17 kindergarteners has put a rock labelled with her name into the bowl that represents her feelings, from happy to angry to confused to silly. The bowls help their teachers get to know them and help

Tang brings a folder with stories on turtles, and it is clear that one of her talents is writing. She knows to bring out that book as an example of something that makes her feel happy and proud. Aggarwal, in turn, is pleased to show visitors an art project that she and her peers created called the Feelings Gallery. Aggarwal’s drawing features an energetic circle on one side and purple, red and hints of yellow peeking through. All of these activities and the accompanying discussions flow from a learning unit on emotional self-regulation where students


A Commitment to Mindfulness: Dr. Ian Chen

New to the Board of Governors this year is Adolescent Medicine Specialist Dr. Ian Chen. His expertise in teen health and brain development is an asset to the Board as they make various health and wellness decisions for the school. Dr. Chen advocates the idea of mindfulness to parents as a way to negate some of the negative side effects of technology on brain development: “The constant stimulation of the brain does not provide time to digest and process a constant stream of information. This is why there has lately been a lot of interest into mindfulness... I think we can all benefit from taking part in some activities with our friends and family, without the presence of technology and simply enjoying their company, leading to more meaningful and genuine connections. This will be a difficult task for many in today’s world; however, this will facilitate healthy teen brain development.” The Board is pleased to have Dr. Chen as a member this year, as he is a great wellness resource. “It’s very refreshing to see that Havergal College is a school that greatly values the holistic and overall development of the students alongside academic and co-curricular development,” Dr. Chen says.

Chelsea Dumasal leads a discussion on mindful language with her peers.

says Dumasal. As soon as she starts listing examples, you realize they are pervasive everywhere in today’s society. “For example, often I hear people say: ‘My OCD is kicking in,’” says Dumasal. “That really bugs me because OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder] is a real illness. Likewise, another joke that I hear is: ‘Canadian weather is so bipolar,’ but that trivializes mental illness. If someone’s trivializing your illness that you live with every day, you can imagine how they would feel.” After brainstorming with Havergal’s Social Worker, Angie Holstein, Dumasal created a lesson plan on mindful expressions for the Teacher Advisor program and also organized a Safe Space, which was a student-led discussion on the topic of mental health. “The conversation was great,” says Dumasal. “I feel like everyone there was actually passionate about this topic and I found a lot of insights.” Dumasal hopes that by raising awareness of this issue at Havergal, her peers will be more mindful about the language they use and the effects of it on those living with mental illness.

learn to give names to feelings and recognize that a day can be filled with different ones. Shanmugathasan says she likes to use the phrase “What emotions visit you?” and adds that teachers don’t expect students to be happy-go-lucky all day long. Instead, they’re taught to be mindful of what strategies might help them to feel better, from a moment in the Peace Corner to a hug from a friend. Grade 12 student Chelsea Dumasal is a science enthusiast whose interests include Havergal’s Volleyball and Ultimate Frisbee teams, the Senior Choir, the club and the school newspaper Behind the Ivy (of which she is Editor-in-Chief). She also has a passion for mindful language and has been creating opportunities for like-minded students to come together to talk about their ideas on inclusive expression. But her latest goal is to make Havergal more mindful. “I’m trying to urge the community to be aware about the language they use in reference to mental illness,” Boosting mindful language in the Senior School


SOCIAL Support

From social giving to educating the community to LGBTQ+ trail-blazing

Grade 6 students at the Red Door Family Shelter with their donations.

S ocial support at Havergal means many things. It’s having friends who you know will support you through anything. It’s taking stewardship of an event and making it the best ever. It’s knowing if you come up with an idea for a giving project, you can find the support to make it happen. When Grade 6 students Ava Daniel and Emerson Southam started collecting clothing and other essentials for the Red Door Family Shelter, they started with a box so big they never thought they would fill it. They did. “I actually had to crawl inside of the box to get all of the stuff out because it was so big and we filled it right to the top,” says Southam with pride. The girls chose the Red Door as their fundraising destination because it supports all types of families. Working with their classmates, the girls assembled everything from hats to mitts to scarves, assigning the collection of each to different grades and classes. Alongside the other members of their organizing team (Scarlett Nowakowski, Fiona Bellamy, Aryana Kay, Nicole Gong and Kirsten Griffin-Sobotik), the girls also got to visit the Red Door’s sorting facility and asked questions about the shelter. Once they had finished collecting donations, the girls decorated shoeboxes for the recipients. “We made them all pretty and packed everything in and off they went.

We asked everybody to bring in at least one shoebox and then we had one recess when 42 girls came and started wrapping all the boxes,” says Daniel. By the time they finished, there were 80 boxes! Daniel says she liked the whole process of helping others. Southam adds that she also liked the fact that the project was supported, but the students had a lot of freedom to tackle it on their own. “I liked that it was just us. The teacher helped, but it was all us kids. It wasn’t the teacher who said, ‘We’re going do this, and then this. And then we’re done.’ It was actually us who did it,” says Southam. Spoken Word for Tokens 4 Change As important as starting something new is stewarding an existing success. This year, Grade 12 students Alex Salom and Sarah Zhao participated with their peers in Tokens 4 Change, a city-wide fundraiser that Havergal joined in 2013 to raise money for Youth Without Shelter. On one of the coldest days of the winter this year, they stood on a street corner at the Yonge and Eglinton asking for change while performing spoken word poetry. They describe it as difficult and eye-opening. “It gives you a sense of what being ignored feels like,” says Salom. “When somebody just walks past you as if you weren’t

standing there. And you’re performing and people are walking because they are more concerned about getting to work.” She adds that the scenario was made even more real by an actual homeless person sitting across from the group also asking for change. “That kind of just put it all into perspective as to why we were doing this.” With the goal of providing homeless youth with TTC tokens so they can get to school or work, the Havergal participants also gained something from this experience. “As the girls learn about youth homelessness, they are motivated by the knowledge to promote change,” Senior School Drama teacher Risa Morris explains. “Representatives from local youth shelters led workshops about youth homelessness for our students.” In the weeks prior, spoken word artist Lamoi Simmonds led a spoken word workshop at Havergal to help students write and learn to perform their own works, part of a unit in drama class called Theatre as Activism. “I really love slam poetry,” says Zhao. “It’s a great combination of writing and drama while getting a message across. I think it has so much potential to be emotional and it really hit home with me.” Salom, who was directing and stage- managing school plays in the same term as the fundraiser, agrees. “I am always drawn to the ones that have a message. I watch a lot of ones that deal with either sexual


Fletcher is a trailblazer at Havergal. Previously, the only formal outlet for LGBTQ+ students was the regional gay-straight alliance (GSA) that includes several local independent schools. Although a member of the GSA and grateful for its support, she believes that there is room for further discussion at Havergal specifically. For Pride Week, Fletcher and her team held a design contest to create more personalized Havergal stickers and posters that replace the generic LGBTQ+ flag stickers already in the Senior School. Other activities include speaking at Prayers, a dedicated space where students can post their LGBTQ+ questions, a student council conversation forum, where students can bring questions about sexuality and gender, and a dress down day. Fletcher says she hopes the activities raise awareness and kindness toward this community. “We just want equal rights and representation. Even though it’s 2018 and we say we should be accepting, it’s still not a safe world for many people,” she says. This is what motivates Fletcher to boost awareness at Havergal. “I’m lucky that I have a school, a family and an amazing group of friends who support me and that’s the difference.”

Students perform their spoken word poetry for Tokens 4 Change at the Upper School.

approached the Prefect and her supervisor, who both gave her enthusiastic support.

assault or gun violence in America. So, when I had the opportunity to do something about homeless youth, it really fit into, I think, what spoken word is, and how essential it is to carrying out that message that you want people to hear.” Trail-blazing LGBTQ+ support at Havergal Grade 11 student Ellie Fletcher is a self- proclaimed “science nerd” and competitive rower on the Havergal team since Grade 9. She plays flute in the Symphonic Band and is co-head of Music Connects, Havergal’s initiative to play music at a seniors’ residence for people with dementia. She identifies as bisexual and helped organize Havergal’s first Pride Week in April. The effort began when Wellness Prefect Haley Walker sent out a survey about LGBTQ+ issues, which got Fletcher thinking. “As a member of that community, I noticed a huge deficit in how we talked about these issues,” she says. So, she

Fletcher says the overarching goal of her committee of about 20 students (Fletcher is eager to share credit and says she has assumed the role of spokesperson in part because not all of her colleagues are out) is to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ issues and reduce stigma. “How do we make people feel more comfortable, talk about gender, combat heteronormativity, combat language use that ostracizes groups of people?” says Fletcher, in naming some of the important topics they hope to address. She says that while she knows most are not trying to be deliberately hurtful and that their comments come from ignorance, language use at the school can tend to normalize heterosexuality, everything from people asking what boy a student will take to the school dance, to younger students making comments that reveal internalized homophobia. For me, pride at Havergal conjures up images of diligently planning Pride Week, sharing my experience with people, buying tons of candy for every committee meeting and relishing moments of vulnerability and solidarity. It is a chance for me to not only be comfortable in my own skin, but also to see that I am able to empower other people. The Pride Committee is important for people like me, for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community and for members of Havergal because it is dauntless in its attempt to erase prejudice and actively create a better future. Pride exists not only outside the closet. It exists everywhere, if you care to bring it.

Members of Havergal’s LGBTQ+ group create a new pride logo to raise awareness.

What Pride Means to Me Written by an anonymous student

When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

It’s impossible not to be afraid. It’s impossible not to falter. Having to hide my sexuality at home is scary, but being part of initiatives to promote LGBTQ+ visibility at Havergal is the most liberating and meaningful thing I have ever done. When people have to conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity at home and elsewhere, it is easy to perceive the world as a giant closet and lose sight of hope. The initiatives at Havergal aim to prevent that.

—Audre Lorde


MENTAL Wellness and other movements for mental health

From left: Emily Zhao, Julianna Botros, Taylor Mackenzie and Hannah Lee discuss launching in the Junior School.

J has found a place at Havergal! Founded in 2010 by Eric Windeler and Sandra Hanington in response to the loss of their son Jack, this mental health awareness organization now boasts over 150 chapters across Canada. At Havergal, the chapter founded last year is now helmed by Grade 12 student Taylor Mackenzie and Grade 11 student Julianna Botros, who are both passionate about the issue. “People have this big value for physical health but don’t treat mental health or mental illness the same way. So, it’s finding an equilibrium,” says Botros, who recently earned a mental health certification and aspires to volunteer with Kids Help Phone. “The whole message behind is getting young leaders to bring the message to other young people,” says Mackenzie.

how exhausting it is to feel that you have no one to turn to,” she says. Botros says she also started a discussion informally with her sister and classmates in the Junior School. “Especially to a kid, it’s more important that they recognize on their own what they’re feeling. To actually be able to express that to an adult,” she says. MacKenzie agrees. “A lot of times, mental health is treated like it’s a mature topic or only older people can handle it. But I’ve known several people even in the Junior School and especially Middle School that struggle with their mental health.” Yet another project for the group is posting mental health-related questions on a glass expression wall and asking students to respond. Again, it’s the power of dialogue about these issues. “I think the best way to learn is for people to hear it from their own peers,” says Botros.

This year, Havergal’s chapter includes 30 members, who meet weekly both for event planning and discussions. They also organized a summit with 15 area schools and participated in the organization’s annual fundraising ride. Havergal’s chapter also organizes several events at the school. This year, they held a day of silence to honour those who feel they have no one to talk to about their mental illness. Over 30 students (including Botros and Mackenzie) participated in the event, which involved being silent the whole day, communicating only by white board. MacKenzie says the emotional toll was surprising. “I found it difficult. I’m generally a pretty talkative person, so I constantly felt myself wanting to say something and thinking, ‘Oh wait, I can’t.’ By the end of the day, I was so tired it made me realize

TABLE OF CONTENTS | SPRING 2018 • TORCH 23 moves into the Junior School

the winter term their schedules conflict, so they are continuing the project development after school in the library. “It’s like our own two-person little SIT,” says Lee. Beyond Jack Beyond, mental health support moments also happen in other ways at Havergal. Grade 8 student Katie Stock discussed how she participated in morning wellness activities, from mindfulness to martial arts and yoga, with her classmates in the Middle School. “This morning program is a great day to start the day relaxed and awake,” says Stock. Stock says that the activities help her learn about herself and ways that she can unwind to become focused for the day. “Personally, in the mornings I am very groggy and these wellness days relax my body and help wake me up. I have found that these activities have allowed me to realize how I can be calm throughout any stressful times,” she says. Stock, who already plays soccer, volleyball and rugby, is also involved as an Executive Member of the Middle School Student Council. She says she loves being involved at the school. “At Havergal, we have countless new opportunities where we can learn new skills or help others develop theirs. Havergal is such a supportive community; everyone encourages you to follow your passions and supports you through all the ups and downs,” she says.

Depression can affect anyone. And that’s a lot more dangerous, cause it’s a lot more widespread instead of keeping itself into one age group.

This year at the Junior School, Grade 6 students Hannah Lee and Emily Zhao are also raising awareness about mental health through While they started last fall by researching mental health issues in the Student Institute Team (SIT), the pair quickly identified as a way to connect with the issue. Already, they’re writing an article on mental health that they plan to distribute in the spring along with a keepsake like a button or a bookmark. Clearly good friends, the two practically finish each other’s sentences when talking about the subject, sharing statistics and facts impressively. They are both adamant, too, that this is an issue for their peer group. “After having really bad emotions for a long time, they can eventually imprint on you,” says Zhao, noting that many younger students tend to bottle their emotions. Lee adds that it’s also about developing language to address depression and anxiety. “If you have depression when you’re younger and you’re not informed about it, you may not be able to identify it. They might think that it’s normal to feel that way even. But depression is something that you should get help for.” Zhao agrees. “Depression can affect anyone. And that’s a lot more dangerous, cause it’s a lot more widespread instead of keeping itself into one age group.” Both girls add that they’re happy for the support of the teachers in SIT, although in

—Emily Zhao, Grade 6

Staff member Carina Virtucio leads Middle School students through an introduction to Muay Thai, a form of martial arts.



Skills-building to boost life beyond Havergal

Old Girl Stephanie Higgs 2017 uses the skills she learned at Havergal in her post- secondary school life.

O ld Girl Stephanie Higgs may have graduated from Havergal in 2017, but she still uses the supports she learned in her new life as a first-year undergraduate in Communications Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. Arriving in Grade 7, Higgs chose Havergal in part for the supports offered for her diagnosed learning disabilities. She quickly threw herself into a range of co-curricular activities that, over the years, included badminton, tennis, skiing, field hockey, swimming, spirit leader, school council and Middle School Prefect. Long-standing activities included volunteering for sports camp Jumpstart and leading Best Buddies, which pairs Havergal students with intellectually challenged students from area schools for activities from baking to movie nights. Higgs took over leadership of Best Buddies

At university, Higgs has brought her confidence with her. “I learned to have the authority and the voice to say, ‘You know what? I am struggling with writing this paper, so I’ll go to the writing centre,’ or going to my professor’s office hours, asking for help from any of the older students or adults. That’s definitely how Havergal helped me transition to university,” she says. She also hopes to carry the giving she learned at Havergal into a career in marketing at a non-profit organization. She already volunteers at Laurier with Right to Play, a non-profit that supports kids to play sports in developing countries. As representative for Class of 2017, Higgs carries fond memories of her high school years. “At Havergal, they really do value listening to you, whether it’s an idea you have or something you’re struggling with.”

in Grades 11 and 12 and she is still in touch with her partner student today. Higgs was elected as one of the Middle School Prefects in Grade 12, a full-circle moment. “Ever since I started in Grade 7, I looked up to the Prefects. I knew I wanted to not only be a Prefect, but I was also interested in working with the Middle School students ideally because they made my transition so much easier,” says Higgs. “As someone needing a lot of support in my learning and academic experience, I felt like it was a way to give back.” Higgs says she’s also helped immensely in university by habits established under Havergal Learning Support teacher Carrie Steele, who she recalls visiting almost daily. “I would have comfort in knowing that I was cared for and looked out for. There was always going to be a solution,” she says.


SPIRITUAL Support A new chaplain maintains reflective focus

The Rev. Stephanie Douglas joined Havergal in fall 2017.

W hen the opportunity arose last October to become the new Junior School Chaplain, Rev. Stephanie Douglas says Havergal’s holistic view of education is what drew her in. “It’s not just about academic excellence, but it’s also this approach that is committed to the healthy physical, emotional and spiritual development of girls. Havergal’s mission statement, strategic plan and the way it lives out its values were really attractive to me,” she says. With more than 18 years of experience as a pastor, doing everything from managing the business side of a church to leading Sunday worship, the bulk of Douglas’ work has been focused on children and youth. She’s even pursuing a doctorate with a research focus on the spiritual formation of children. While her formal role involves leading Prayers and teaching religious education

kindness, respect and empathy in the real world. One example of this is asking the students to think about how they can show courage or kindness on a daily basis. She’s pleased when she hears about conversations from Prayers being continued in the classroom and even at home with parents. “The value of chaplaincy and Prayers is that it’s an enrichment and support of the work that the faculty are already doing,” she says, adding that her role also helps to build a common moral vocabulary that advances as students progress through the grades. “Investing as much time as Havergal does in reflection provides great value,” says Douglas. “I think the advantage of Prayers is the opportunity three times a week to come together to chew on big ideas. We sing. We pray. And we just enjoy being a learning community together.”

classes, she sees herself as part of the wider team. “Although I have this set-apart function (I dress in black and I have a white collar and I am an Anglican), I work as part of the faculty team, with each of us dedicated to student development,” she says. Douglas is also responsible for developing a character education curriculum for the girls at the Junior School. This is largely done through messaging at Prayers, although she also incorporates this into the religious education curriculum. She takes cues from teachers and even enlists student insights. In January, for example, the Grade 2 students helped with a presentation about one aspect of hope: how we live when things are not yet the way we want them to be. She likes to get practical in her discussions about how to live out virtues like courage,


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