SMUS held the Senior School Closing Ceremonies on Friday, marking the official end of the school year for the Grade 9-11 students. Every year, students are nominated to deliver a speech that recaps their year.
Below, we proudly share insightful, humorous and thoughtful reflections from our student speakers in Grade 9, Grade 10 and Grade 11.
by Deniza Ospan
For many of us Grade 9 students, this was our first year at SMUS. Personally, I anticipated difficulties finding good friends, imagining that there would be a lot of time needed to adjust. I thought it would take forever to fit in and that it would be hard getting used to the kilt every day with those Brown Hall benches. Contrary to my preconceived fears, SMUS proved to be a very welcoming community. In no time, I became “one of them” and embraced the culture, traditions and diversity of the school. Walking into SMUS, I immediately felt the spirit surrounding me.
But what is the school spirit exactly? Is it the uniform we wear? Or is it the cheering that supports us during sporting events?
It is all that, but it is also the doors we hold open, the smiles as we pass, the memories we share and the heart wrenching goodbyes we are facing at this moment. School spirit is the foundation of this community, it is always in the air and supports us through any hardships. It is the positivity of the students and faculty that gives us pride in our school.
The people here inspire each other with their enthusiasm to learn, to succeed, and to make life-changing experiences while creating strong friendships. The bonds between people from all over the world make SMUS a diverse place like none other. Despite living a very different life, I have found so much in common with some of the boarders. Me, a city girl by the ocean, best friends with a small town ski racer from the mountains. I would not have imagined myself telling all my secrets to someone who lives 1000 km away from me and 5000 ft above me. Friendships like ours can be found all over the school. Between classmates, roommates and teammates. The ideas assembled by different minds change individuals into a team. The amazing creativity that can be found at our school enables us to make dreams a reality.
SMUS is all about staying focused on academics, giving it a hundred percent outside of the classroom, creating strong friendships and inspiring others. For us, it was only the beginning, but we are starting to live up to this expectation.
by Will Barry
As I was packing up for the end of the year, putting the six pairs of shoes that I thought I would need in my over-packed bag, I couldn’t help but feel like I was packing a full year of my life into those two plastic storage tubs. And while putting memory after memory into that box, I lingered a little longer on a picture of me from the start of the year, with my out-trip group. Grade 10 is a great year if you want to get out and for experiential learning as a whole, which is something I wouldn’t get if I weren’t at SMUS. As I looked at the picture, I saw I was wearing a sweater I have since grown out of, next to people that I now know scarily well. And I thought about how much progress we’ve made. How much the Grade tens have changed – where we started, and where we are now.
Education, after all, is about growth, and St. Michaels University School embodies that like nowhere else I’ve attended. Anyone here, Grade 10 or otherwise, think about where you were in September. What had you accomplished? What was your attitude towards getting work done? Hopefully, it’s changed. For me and my peers, I’m thankful to say it has. In how to be around people 24/7, how to take calculated risks, manage money when nobody is holding you accountable for how much you spend.
As Mr. Snowden leaves, and leaves a huge change behind him, I remember what he said in his retirement letter: “All human, organic things – schools especially – evolve, and that evolution is not only inexorable, it also leads to a richer, more enduring iteration of that organism. So it will be with SMUS.”
And so it will be with us: change and grow.
It’s important to recognize that it took more than a few people to get us there. To all of the teachers that had a Grade 10 in their class, first, thank you for handling that – and second, I wanted to acknowledge and thank you for caring. You’d be surprised at how valued that is in a teacher. I’ve noticed with every teacher at SMUS – they are passionate about teaching, and it shines through when a student asks for extra help, spends extra time discussing concepts, and gives personal advice.
This year has been exciting in student life – it’s hard to ignore all of the talented musicians, artists and actors that filled our year with some outstanding pieces and performances, and their mentors that made them what they were. To all of our coaches, thank you for building our athletes into what they are. Our athletes have learned and excelled in their fields. It’s comforting knowing that next year I won’t only be greeted by my six pairs of shoes, trying to figure out a way to use them this year, but also by the familiar faces, and a tight knit group of individuals who, like the school, are growing and changing.
by Candy Li
Our Grade 11 year has passed by extremely quickly. I can still remember in Grade 9, my friends were telling me how this year was going to be the hardest one yet. Well, here we are. Looking back at the year behind us, I would like to share some of my thoughts on this “hardest year of high school.” Trust me, it is not as bad as they say it is.
As said before, this year has been one of personal growth. I have done things that I never thought I would be able to do, and I think that all of us have stepped outside of our comfort zones at some point. Whether it was putting ourselves out there to apply for one of the leadership positions, or performing at various school events, such as Keep the Beat. For me personally, some of those instances include going on a service trip to Tanzania, hosting the provincial candidates from our riding, and even this – standing up here. All of these amazing experiences have taught me something in some way, and I think they are well worth the risk of stepping outside of our comfort zone, working towards extending the boundary of that line a little further.
I hope that I can say this on behalf of our whole grade: It has truly been a year of extraordinary growth but we are in no way done yet.
None of what we have done would have happened without the support from our school community, and I am extremely grateful for this sense of family that I’ve found at SMUS. After SMUS Talks, which was a speaking event that featured student and alumni speakers, I said “Thank you” far more times than I can even recall; I was overwhelmed by the amount of support we received. I want to tell those of you who have thought of doing something but have had doubts or fears, go do it! Make a positive impact. And of course, a huge thank-you to all the parents who are always by our sides or just a phone call away, and who unconditionally support us through highs and lows.
I am excited. Truly, honestly, unequivocally excited for the year to come and the challenges that lie ahead. Because I know that whatever life throws at me, or throws at us, the entire community here has got our backs. And I hope that you feel the same.
View all of the photos from the Senior School Closing Ceremonies on the SMUS Photo Gallery.
(photos by Darin Steinkey)