Simon Ibell 1977-2017
As many will know from our website, or their own relationships in our extended SMUS family, Simon Ibell died this past weekend of complications arising from Hunter’s Syndrome, the affliction he has endured all his life, and which he outlasted far beyond the predictions of doctors, partly through the efforts of specialists and his determined family, but also through his own indomitable spirit and focus on his abilities rather than his disabilities. Simon’s last year at the School was my first; I got to know him increasingly well over the years, more recently through the work of his foundation raising money for research and treatment of rare diseases. I attended the funeral yesterday in Toronto, where it was largely alumni who filled the church, and where Ian Hyde-lay read the Lesson. I last wrote about Simon over a year ago and much has been written in the last few days. Rest in peace.
This morning I and my wife Joan had one of the best experiences of our lifetime. Here is the thank you I wrote to our students for this incredibly touching occasion:
Well! This morning’s assembly was incredible! One of the best assemblies ever! You made a retiring Head of School very happy.
I hope you didn’t mind having the start of your day delayed this morning. By doing so you created one of the most wonderful memories someone in my position can have. They say that the best things in life aren’t things, but experiences – and this assembly, with the orchestra, the singing, and the time and attention you all gave to the occasion for your retiring Head of School – was for me one of the experiences of my life.
Mrs. Snowden and I had no idea anything was happening this morning, until about 15 minutes before, when all we knew was that SOMETHING was happening. To arrive and perceive the focus and quiet of the assembled staff and students was startling, and once again I was impressed with how our staff and students can rise to an occasion and make it magical.
It was magical. To see you all in the gym, to hear the orchestra perform – and then to see the staff and students rise and sing the School Song supported by Tim Williams’s spectacular arrangement was just too much – it was breathtaking in the extreme. When I think of the care and attention and effort it took to put together this event – and to put it together secretly – I can’t thank you all enough for this very, very fine extended and elaborate gesture.
Mr. Geddes said some very thoughtful and meaningful words. I don’t know if any of you were in the Junior School when I used to make a point of teaching the words of the Mission to the students and rewarding them with a pen if they memorized it. The offer is still open, by the way. But the Mission has always been a guide for our School, and for me, personally. You’ve heard me mention it often enough, I know. Today was one of those days that proves we do seek the excellence in all of us: the orchestra, the singing, the attentiveness of you all, and the spirit of our School all were celebrated and proudly on display.
I hope that you also remember this day, and remember how much I and Mrs. Snowden were touched and moved by your thoughtfulness and your collective voice. Our School is a school we can all love and be proud of.
This past two weeks must have been the busiest in the School year – until you think about any other two weeks. Right now we have our Senior badminton, Senior boys rugby, Senior girls soccer, Senior track and field, and our rowing crews away at Provincial or National Championships. Even arriving at this level of achievement is an accomplishment many schools would give their eye teeth for. Our Junior, Middle and Senior School musicians have been engaged in a Choral extravaganza (Grades 4-8), Jazz Night (Grades 6-12), Cross-Campus Band Concert (Grades 6-12) and Concerto Concert (Grades 9-12). The Junior School is performing Beauty and the Beast under the guidance of Brandon Hawes and just about every staff member in the Junior School. One of the catch phrases of our Annual Fund is “opportunities for excellence”. It is evident such opportunities are alive and well.
Annual Fund achieves!
Donors are attached to the School because of the past, but they give because they believe in its future. Thanks to our generous donors and their belief in the future of the School for surpassing this year’s goal of $1.5 million in this year’s Annual Fund. Thanks also to Shara Campsall, our Director of Annual Fund, and her colleagues in Advancement: Barbara Toller, Gillian Donald, Peter Gardiner, Hailey Smith, Nicole Laird and Myra Inglis. A job incredibly well done.