September 5, 2002. Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” was sitting atop the charts, kids everywhere were anxiously awaiting the release of the second Harry Potter movie, and the first season of American Idol had ended the night before. (Yep, now you feel old!)
But more importantly, it was also the first day of Kindergarten for the eventual graduating class of 2015. Twelve students who started at the Junior School that day have spent their entire education at SMUS – and in a little more than a week, those student lifers who have been together since Day 1 will graduate from SMUS.
In late May, a group of lifers headed to the Junior School for one final goodbye – a Lifers Lunch to spend an hour with the Kindergarten students (the Class of 2027), eating lunch and playing on the playground for the last time. It was also a chance for them to say goodbye to many longstanding teachers and staff at the Junior School who’ve watched them grow up.
Below, two of the Kindergarten lifers, Mike Edwards and Sage Friswell, reflect on their time at SMUS, their memories of their early years, and they look ahead to what’s next.
Looking back on the first day of Kindergarten, I remember clearly walking into a room with a group of other kids just as timid as I was, not knowing what to expect. Thirteen years later, this group of 12 “lifers” is set to graduate as part of the Class of 2015.
The time has flown by since then and I have had many great experiences over the years that will stay with me as I move on from SMUS. To name a few, Mr. Barber’s PE classes, time in the computer lab with Mr. Chan and learning how to play the viola with Mrs. Smith are some of my fondest memories from the Junior School. Many of these memories came back a few weeks ago when I had the opportunity to attend the Lifers Lunch, where all of the Grade 12 lifers visited the Junior School to eat lunch with this year’s Kindergarten class.
I consider myself very fortunate to have been a lifer at a school that has given me so many opportunities. I have benefited from a number of outstanding teachers in the Junior, Middle and Senior Schools and have learned many valuable skills along the way, which will be of great use as I move on to the next stage of life. I have also thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the welcoming SMUS community for 13 years, an aspect of the school which I will certainly miss. Above all, I have had the privilege of developing many strong relationships with students and teachers alike.
It is particularly interesting to me to look back on how our current grad class gradually came together over time. With many additions to the Class of 2015 especially in grades four, six, eight and nine, it has been a neat experience to watch the expansion of the grad class take place having been a part of it from the start. And while many of my closest friends came to SMUS at different points later in the timeline, there remains a unique connection between this group of lifers knowing that we were the original members of a graduating class of 160.
My very first memory at St. Michaels University School is actually one that I recall from the summer before I started Kindergarten. I remember my mum and older brother, who was in Grade 2 at SMUS at the time, telling me all about the “headmaster”, Mr. Snowden. I was confused and scared, as they told me the stories that he told in assembly. In my mind when I heard the word “headmaster”, I saw a scary three-headed man with an office full of heads. Needless to say on my very first day of school I was quite relieved to meet the real Mr. Snowden.
Being a lifer is unlike any other experience. You have the opportunity to see a community grow up together. Before you even know what change and development of a community is and looks like, you start to realize how the school and your classmates are changing and evolving – for the better! All the little kinks in the system become sorted out, and the old relationships continue to thrive while new ones begin.
While I don’t know a life without SMUS, during my time here I have gained so much that I am unsure I could have gained anywhere else. I certainly learned, grew and experienced, but not all on separate occasions with different people in different classrooms. With SMUS I was able to learn, grow and experience things at the same time, with hands-on learning opportunities that opened my eyes and expanded my knowledge. Having done all these things simultaneously I was able to have a concrete learning of the material or of general life skills.
What I will truly miss most out of anything from these past 13 years are the family-like relationships that I have built with friends, teammates, coaches and teachers. The community network of endless support that has always had my back – I think this will be a hard thing to come by in any other place or school that I attend.
As far as my future plans go, I will be attending the University of Victoria in the fall in the faculty of Social Sciences and hope to complete a kinesiology undergraduate degree and go on to complete a master’s degree in physiotherapy! However one thing I have learned in the past 13 years is that you need to be adaptable, and quick to respond and react to change if you hope to go anywhere. So as of now, I feel more ready than ever to tackle life head on as it comes.