Friendraising and Flourishing
By: Jason Fong '03, former Alumni Association President and current parent
“The STS Alumni Association’s overall mission continues to be one of keeping our more than 10,000 worldwide members connected; both with the School and each other.”
The 2021-2022 school year, which coincided with my second and final year as President of the Alumni Association, saw five decades of STS alumni step forward to celebrate our School’s golden anniversary. This landmark occasion has also given me an opportunity to reflect on the Association’s vital role within the larger Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (STS) community.
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.
From 1998 to 2004, STS began to explore new ways of building stronger relationships between alumni and their families, and former faculty and staff. The Alumni Association wanted to involve alumni in our students’ day-to-day learning, with internships, career days, class reunions, and networking events comprising just a few of the activities. Following a period of transition, the Association was reactivated in 2006 with the goal of actively recruiting members to serve on our Association, which now features 14 members and two Advancement staff members who attend quarterly meetings. As President, it is an honour to sit on the Board of Governors as well.
The Alumni Association, as one of my predecessors pointed out, is about ‘friendraising’, not fundraising. Although we do promote specific campaigns, STS alumni are charged no membership fees to sign up, as we believe that the fellowship and experience they bring to the table is of incalculable value to our association and our current students. As members, we share 117 years of STS history, and countless decades of combined firsthand experience. We host social gatherings and educational networking events that allow alumni to take on a mentorship role for a new generation of students as they prepare to pursue their own career paths.
My desire to serve on the Association was formed by the experiences and life lessons I received as an STS student. In fact, without STS, I would be a completely different person. Taking part in school activities like the Agencies Program, food bank fundraising, and Halloween coin baskets, contributed to a rich understanding of how service and philanthropy can have a positive impact on the world far beyond our campus. I developed wonderful relationships with my teachers and fellow students, and my mentors have never failed to provide me with the advice and guidance that has helped me succeed. Now, I do my best to instill these same values in my own children, both of whom are STS students.
If you’ve ever been curious about our Association, or wondered how you can be involved, there’s no better time than now to join up. Unlike previous years where speakers were expected to travel to Calgary for Spartan Talks, speed mentoring, Distinguished Alumni presentations, or to serve as Speech Day judges, the rise of Zoom and other online options have made it possible for former STS students to donate their time and experience from anywhere in the world. I’m also pleased to announce that, for the first time ever, we now have a sitting Alumni Association member living in Toronto.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the strength and perseverance for which our alumni community is so well known. Although the Fall Fair and certain 50th Anniversary activities were required to pivot online, events such as the virtual wine tasting were attended by a large number of former students, parents and teachers. These activities owe a great deal of their success to the ongoing support of the STS Community Relations team. Be sure to check out the special 50th section of this magazine to see some familiar faces at the in-person events!
As I prepare to pass the torch to new Alumni Association President Aimee-Jo Benoit ’97, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside as well as the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School community as a whole. Aimee-Jo has already proven herself to be a steadfast STS advocate, and a natural leader with boundless energy and a wealth of great ideas, and I cannot imagine a more deserving candidate for the role of President moving forward.
Once again, I would like to thank everyone for making these two years an amazing experience, and I look forward to being a part of the STS Alumni Association for many more years to come.
Welcome! Aimee-Jo (Giesbrecht) Benoit ’97
Aimee-Jo (Giesbrecht) Benoit ’97 began her connection at STS in 1988 in Mrs. Wyatt’s Grade 4 class, one of four Giesbrecht children who enrolled at the School that year.
During her time at STS, Aimee-Jo participated in whatever she could! Musicals, plays, volleyball, basketball, track and field, field hockey, and Outdoor Education – there was nothing that she didn’t have a resounding “yes” to participating in. After graduating from STS in 1997, she achieved her B.A. and M.A. at the U of C in Religious Studies, and has been an active musician in the local and national music scene since 2006. In the summer of 2020, she released “BORJONER” a jazz album with Trio Velocity, which topped the national jazz charts as well as made a number of Top 2020 lists.
As an STS alumna, she has been actively volunteering with the Alumni Events Committee since 2011, Alumni Association since 2016, Co-Chair of the Momentum Gala, and now she happily takes the of President of the Alumni Association. In addition volunteering duties, she is a parent of Eda-Rosalie B. ’27, Francesca, and Simone, and partner to Kristoff Benoit. Aimee-Jo currently works in the Hospitality Department at Mayfair Care Centre, owned by the Bond Family (Rachel ’97 and Joel ’94.)
To get involved with the STS Alumni Association contact:
Brenda Thompson, Director of Community Engagement Brenda.Thompson@sts.ab.ca.