While our Grade 9 and 10 students are not entering their final year of SMUS or heading off to university, the end of the school year still marks an important transition for them. For the Grade 9 students, it’s the end of their first year at Senior School, and for the Grade 10 students, it means moving on to Senior-level sports, AP classes and a bigger role in leadership at SMUS. Our Grade 9 and 10 Closing Ceremony featured student musical performances, speeches and the handing out of a few awards. Below, four Grade 10 students summarize their year in a speech they shared with peers and parents this week.
Grade 10 at SMUS
by Delphine Ji, Jasper Johnston, Sara Owen-Flood and Sena Youn
School is one big journey and Grade 10 has been one of our most adventurous legs yet. From out-trips to musicals to exams, our grade has pushed the boundaries on what it means to be students. Over the course of our year, we have experienced both triumphs and defeats but we have endured, learned from our mistakes and ultimately became better people. We would like to share with you some of the exciting things our grade has done this year.
Students usually dread going back to school, but this year at least, we could prolong the summer just a little by going on out-trips. The only problem was choosing which activity to join; there were so many options and everyone wants to be with their friends. There were many popular choices such as SALTS, rock climbing and sea kayaking. Though places were limited, everyone was able to have fun in the end – even if we had to survive without showers for almost a week. Out-trips taught us many useful and important skills, and afterwards we could better appreciate the comforts of home – especially flush toilets. That was a great start to the year, but all good things come to an end and eventually, we had to start doing some real school work. When school started, we hit the ground running – some of us literally – as part of the school’s many sports teams, and others figuratively, as they got involved in a myriad of clubs and councils. From the start, it was obvious that the journey through Grade 10 would take us in many directions.
Most of us had already gotten the feel of Senior School sports last year, so we immersed ourselves immediately with strong performances from all of our athletes. Our grade led the junior teams and made solid contributions to more than 14 different sports. During the first term, our teams set the bar high and achieved competitive standings in the ISA, city, Island and BC tournaments. Highlights included the Junior boys soccer team winning ISAs and the field hockey team becoming Island champions. Our grade kept up the high intensity and competitive spirit throughout the second and third terms as our Junior girls basketball team placed first in the city and both the squash and rowing teams achieved impressive placings. Expanding from the Junior level, athletes in our grade were able to play up on the Senior girls soccer team and the Senior badminton team to help them both become ISA champions.
Musically, the Grade 10 students had a dynamic year. Not only were we energetic participants in the Concert band, but in the extracurricular music activities as well. The Swing and Jazz bands had a strong presence of Grade 10s that demonstrated leadership by taking difficult solos, yet staying composed during the recent Jazz Night. Additionally, many joined the Senior Concert band to add to their group, coming to many tiring morning rehearsals and having to practice several hours on their own time. A substantial group of Grade 10s participated in this year’s musical, Spamalot, both in the cast and the pit orchestra.
Boarding at SMUS is a way of life that offers special opportunities to experience different cultures and form lifelong work, study and service habits. Over the course of the year, our Grade 10 boarders have been key contributing members of the SMUS community. In such a vibrant setting, our boarders have had amazing experiences, as they cultivate lifelong friendships. From House Games to the weekly cultural dinners, boarders bring a unique diversity to the school.
As you can well imagine, it’s difficult to cover all of the extracurricular activities of such a diverse grade. Since this was our second year here at the Senior School, we were able to step out of our shells a little more and acquire more roles and leadership positions. Our versatile grade was involved heavily in many areas including school events such as We Day, Keep the Beat, Model UN Conferences and the school’s first Youth Against Local Poverty conference. We also attended weekly club and council meetings, with topics ranging from the Pride Alliance to Business Club to Service Council. With each experience came new friends and memories, yet most importantly, our involvement in the school’s clubs and councils helped foster the supportive community our grade has today.
During March Break, students from our grade traveled far and wide, leaving our mark on the world. To South America, Asia, Australia and Europe we went, on cultural exchanges, service trips and science adventures. With these trips, we spread awareness of our school’s four pillars (service, honesty, respect and courage) and gained an invaluable global perspective. Several students also hosted exchange students in return, which was a valuable cultural experience for the entire school. Diving into the fast moving river which is the third term, clubs, courses and creativity reigned. Each opportunity, both academic and extracurricular, was another brick in the foundation of our grade’s legacy. The start of what is to come in Grades 11 and 12.
Out-trips were fantastic, but for us, the third term offered another occasion for outdoor education: the Experiential Program. Students participate in the regular academic program for the first two terms of the year and the final term runs on an altered schedule with major experiential components. This combines academic learning with opportunities to learn leadership skills, service, environmental ethics, and participation in outdoor activities. Students learned that not only can they help their community as individuals, but they can also expand their scope to a global level. Participants then used the skills they learned and applied them to other aspects of their everyday life. Challenging and engaging, our grade loved the Experiential Program. We recommend that the Grade 9 students consider this opportunity for next year, and hope that those Grade 10s who enjoyed the Experiential Program will take part in the Outdoor Leadership Program offered next year.
Going from Grade 9 to 10 was a major advancement, with increased work, leadership and responsibilities. It seemed not long ago when we first entered the Senior School. Now, our grade being more unified than ever, we head for Grade 11 and will no longer be the juniors in the school. We showed strong leadership in academics, sports, arts and music, which we plan to magnify next year. In Grade 11, we will have more freedom in our course selection and with the help from our guidance counselors, each of us managed to choose 6-8 subjects from the seemingly endless lists of courses. With the introduction of difficult AP courses, another provincial exam, and college applications, our grade will have much to look forward to.
None of this would be possible without the amazing support of our teachers and fellow students, who consistently push us to be our best and pick us up when we stumble. As the year draws to a close, we can stand proud, having completed another leg of our journey, and with only two more years left, we cannot wait for our most climactic adventures yet.