We have reached the end of Term 2 and earned the opportunity to luxuriate in the thought of a two-week Spring Break. The blossom on the avenue around the Richmond Road campus is just a few days away from full magnificence. This is the time when I am repeatedly asked “how has the term gone?” With the benefit of a little hindsight, I suspect that this term will be remembered as the time when the Omicron wave broke over us. I am happy to say that we have surfed it rather than been swamped by it. We continue to count our blessings that no member of our student or staff community has so far experienced more than relatively minor symptoms.
I would like to record particular thanks to Head Nurse Angie Hay and the Health Centre team, who have supported, particularly our boarding community, so magnificently over the last nine weeks. Once again, our staff and faculty have risen valiantly to the challenge of ensuring that the term is not just remembered for the negative aspects of Omicron.
In fact, there are a plethora of successes to report. Over the last few weeks, we enjoyed a wonderful Large Ensembles Concert, held in the Farquhar Auditorium at UVic on February 22. Almost 300 students, well over one-third of the Senior School, performed on stage. The concert was memorable for the quality of performances across the full spectrum of the program. We must pay tribute to Stel.la Guillen Fabregas, conducting large strings ensembles for the first time. All who were in attendance would have appreciated the fine quality of music, and if you weren’t in attendance, you can watch the concert online.
I also enjoyed hosting a reception before the Senior School musical, SMUS Revue ’22, at the McPherson Playhouse. Director Ian Collett, musical director Ian Farish, and choreographer Arabella Martin did a wonderful job interpreting the theme of Jubilee by interweaving some of the highlights of SMUS musicals over the last five decades. The energy, passion and quality of the performances has left an indelible mark on the memories of all who attended.
The end of term has also seen the culmination of the sporting season. We had a record number of basketball teams, both boys and girls at our Junior, Middle and Senior Schools, achieving significant success in their leagues. I very much enjoyed attending the Elk Lake Rowing Regatta on last Saturday, March 5, arriving just in time to see our Women Coxed four surge past Brentwood College to win gold.
Over the course of the last nine weeks – 1,032 hours and 61,920 minutes of term – we have been committed to continuing the rollout of our Floreat strategic plan priorities. We announced the beginning of the Junior School Annex project, due for completion in September 2023, and we anticipate moving to the active construction phase over the spring and into the summer.
Academically we continue to develop plans to enhance our reputation for STEAM. We are also working on our Portrait of a Graduate, to define more accurately the values, skills and experiences we would expect every SMUS graduate to take with them as they move off to broader horizons.
The term will also be remembered for the launch of our new website. The aim was to reduce written content and freshen visual images of the school. Already, the new platform has proved to be popular among our community and those who are considering SMUS. It offers vastly increased functionality and is an attractive window both out of and into the school at the same time.
This provides me with an opportunity to thank outgoing Director of Marketing and Communications, Stuart Hill. Stuart led this project from the start, devoting huge numbers of hours, not to mention his technical expertise to leading his team through to a successful conclusion. On a personal note, I have learned to highly respect and appreciate Stuart’s encyclopedic knowledge and experience of all things related to marketing and communications. We wish Stuart every success as he moves on to explore fresh opportunities and pastures new.
With the prospect of warmer days, together with the opportunity for more time outside, we were delighted to hear that the mask mandate in schools will be lifted after Spring Break. We appreciate some may wish to continue wearing their mask, however I encourage everyone to support this crucial step towards normality. We can confirm that some of the key rights of passage – Alumni Weekend, graduation, and closing ceremonies – will happen with more freedom than has been possible over the last two years. We look forward to sharing more about these events soon.
We will not be communicating day-by-day over Spring Break but will save any key announcements for the next SMUS Weekly on Friday, March 25. Toward the end of the break, please check our COVID-19 response webpage for reminders and details on our current status.
For now, very best wishes for a safe and healthy Spring Break.
Head of School