Parents held their children a bit tighter, classmates forged bonds never to be broken, flowers sold out across the city, and there was a far-reaching, palpable, deep sorrow. More than 20 years later, members of our STS community – alumni, current and former employees, classmates, and of course, more than anyone, the families of the children lost – are still profoundly affected by this event.
As educators, preparing our students for the future can be an intimidating concept. After all, predicting it with any degree of accuracy can be nearly impossible. However, by presenting a challenge, then teaching them how to examine, identify, research, communicate, empathize, and self-manage that challenge, they will be equipped with the versatility and resourcefulness to be ready for every possible future – no matter what path they choose to take.
What do we do well? What can we do better? How do we ensure academic excellence, rigour, and deep learning remain at the core of what we do? And how do we gauge how STS is meeting its mission and value-driven goal of continuous improvement across multiple fields?
The Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) community is proud to celebrate Dr. Dana Lougheed ’90 as the recipient of the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award —the highest honour bestowed by STS upon its alumni.
Genuine, unyielding curiosity, skill and determination, paired with achieving what seemed impossible, characterized Apostoli’s own MYP Personal Project – the inspiration behind establishing this award.
The STS Alumni Association was first established under the Societies Act of Alberta 38 years ago, on May 9, 1984. In addition to regular meetings, the Association’s responsibilities during its first five years included annual events such as the Christmas Reunion and a Polo Tournament, with the Golf Tournament and Grad Luncheon being introduced in the early 1990s. The Alumni Association was dissolved as a separate entity in 1998, at which time it was restructured under the umbrella of STS with Jack Hay serving as inaugural Alumni Coordinator.
Long before the first shovel broke ground on our campus in 1970, a group of visionaries shared a bold idea — and made a commitment to see it become a reality. The Chernoff’s incredible donation, made as part of our Inspiring Possibilities campaign (2013-2018), is a beautiful reflection of these same values. On behalf of the entire STS community, past, present and future, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to the Chernoff family for their vision, faith, and support. You have left a legacy that will bring joy and inspiration for generations to come.
At Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS), we believe we all share a responsibility to help create a more equitable and inclusive society, and as our Head of School, Carol Grant-Watt says, “do good for the world”. As a school, we have a unique and powerful opportunity to create meaningful opportunities to learn, teach, and connect people.
On a recent visit to the School, I stopped by the impressive Nil Nisi Optimum sculpture at the front entrance and found the words ‘Place a dream as the goal.’ It resonated immediately with me, particularly with regards to the founders of our predecessor Schools, as well as to those of Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS).
In each case, family initiative, influence, and resilience brought about the desired results. Strathcona School for Boys opened with eight boys in 1929, just six weeks before the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression. Likewise, St. Hilda’s gained Anglican Church patronage that enabled it to open with 40 students in 1905.
Parents and guardians of STS students, you are the reason why the Parents’ Organization of STS has and will continue to flourish. Every contribution you make on a daily basis, whether it is one hour in a classroom, helping with our special events, donating to our fundraising efforts, being on hand to help at a track meet or field day to simply ensuring that an important message or update is shared with the community, creates ripples of generosity that have helped shape our School into the iconic institution it is today.
Over the years my family, the trees, grew taller and my friend the school grew bigger, and bigger over the years. The Aspen Lodge, outdoor buildings, and entire wings popped up like building blocks for young children to play with.
Research findings demonstrated that even our youngest students could articulate a deeper connection to the campus, a need to steward it, and that the spaces themselves could be known and understood through different perspectives. It is probably no surprise that teachers and students alike reported increased levels of wellness during these experiences as well.
Speech taught me how to harness my natural “motor mouth,” but most importantly, speech afforded me the ability to connect with older students who I knew would support me. Because of speech, I learned to be comfortable in my own skin, “motor mouth” and all. I learned how to deal with difficult social situations, how to approach teachers and adults, how to manage co-curriculars and school work, how to win, and most importantly how to lose. Many of these lessons came from my coaches, peers, and older students whom I looked up too, which makes these memories very special. Even now as I graduate, I am still in contact with those older students whom I formed connections with and I still find myself turning to them for advice about the transition to post-secondary school.
At Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School, one of the ways we view innovation is as a means to add value to our excellent programming. In the Senior School in particular, new programming offerings for the 2023-2024 school year will add value by increasing student choice and enhancing the student experience. Specifically, students can look forward to electives that complete course pathways in Musical Theatre 25/25, Outdoor Education 20/30, Sports Medicine 30, Personal Fitness 20 and Computer Science and Entrepreneurship II.
Why does the Spartan name continue to evoke such powerful emotions two and a half millennia later? The legacy of these legendary warriors has traveled far beyond the battles in which they fought, and their reputation for discipline and total devotion to excellence on and off the field continues to inspire students, and especially athletes, the world over. Sparta’s fame was not built on having the largest army in ancient Greece, but rather the best trained. Formal education began at the age of seven and continued through adulthood as each member was elevated to their fullest potential. Even now, those elite individuals in any industry or walk of life are often referred to as "Spartans".
The outdoor world provides an awe-inspiring, engaging and exacting place to ‘be in the now’. The experiences we have there can yield learning and significance far beyond the particular place, time, and group of people; watching the clouds float slowly overhead on a warm summer afternoon, the endless, mesmerizing pattern of flames in a campfire, the first site of distant, snow-covered peaks as we crest the top of a backcountry pass, the intensity of focus while paddling a rapid or pulling the crux move on a climb. “Be here” they say, “part of this moment’s value and beauty is in the fact that it is fleeting, get preoccupied with the past or the future and you’ll miss it.”
The outdoors are experiential in nature. Just as every living organism grows in relation to its environment, the same is true of a child exploring the world beyond their classroom. The more our students and teachers learn about the outdoors, the more we all realize just how many vital lessons the beautiful and diverse landscape of the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) campus has to offer.
Change is the one constant we can rely on; the world is always in flux. In 2019, blindsided with a new pandemic reality, systemic and societal change demanded that educators and institutions pivot again, and again, to navigate the unknown. Educators manoeuvred through curricula on-line, off-line, and everywhere in between and aspired to be the glue that held learning communities together while navigating an ocean of change. While the pandemic continued on wave after wave, strategic vision planning at STS emerged, morphed, and caught traction despite pandemic struggles and triumphs. The moral imperative for all educators, tapped us on our collective backs; the need for continual improvement beckoned. The need for change, an updated vision, and a new STS strategic framework, was stirring to life.
Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) places the wellbeing needs of students at the center — and it begins with teachers. Walk into any Kindergarten to Grade 12 classroom and you will notice authentic and meaningful connections established between students and teachers. Why? Because at its core, every educational encounter is a relational one that is anchored in trust-building. STS teachers understand the critical role they assume in providing a safe space for students to take well-supported risks in the classroom and on the field. Raising a hand to ask a question in calculus class and trying out for a new co-curricular activity are made possible when students trust the adult overseeing the experience cares about their learning experience.
Students and parents at STS have continued to show strong support for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP), the culmination of the IB educational continuum. Through this Programme, students have the opportunity to go deeper and ask insightful questions, to add to their own perspectives through problem solving, and develop independence and confidence by applying themselves to a wide variety of academic challenges. Not only does this add to their enjoyment of school now, but this leads to success in post-secondary studies and a drive for life- long learning.