I am regularly asked, what makes Crescent different? How are we unique among a class of other great schools? I welcome these conversations because they evoke what parents are looking for in a school and what they are imagining for their son’s education. Often, current and past parents tell me that there seems to be a “special sauce” to the Crescent experience. The first ingredient, I believe, is relationships.
Building good habits. The privilege of pressure. Learning from failure. Earlier this month, our entire school was very fortunate to hear from Hayley Wickenheiser, one of the best Canadian hockey players in history and our 2019 Stransman Speaker. Every part of her speech captivated the boys, and it also reflected the character values we are working to instil at Crescent.
Each start of the school year brings forth memories from our own experience. My first year of high school was anything but an easy transition. I vividly recall my dad dropping me at school with my agenda in hand to find my first class. There was no orientation, no camp program to ease the entry into what would be five challenging but highly memorable years. (Interestingly, the first person I met that day became my best friend and remains so today.) I survived day one but soon, as the enriched curriculum of study piled up, I fell behind and my confidence dwindled. And yet, despite not achieving the overall average my parents or I hoped for at the end of the year, something more important happened in my Grade 9 year. I heard my calling.
We have a saying at Crescent School: “It’s about the boys.” Each year, our closing ceremonies remind us that our work and mission as a school is to support the academic growth and character development of our boys. At Prize Day and Graduation, our boys take centre stage. They gather in front of their parents, teachers, relatives, and friends and are celebrated for their many accomplishments across our full Academic program, especially in Arts, Athletics, Robotics, Business, and Outreach. However, more importantly, they are praised for who they have become. It is arguably the most emotional time of the year.
When was the last time you met someone who changed the direction of your life, your mindset, or your sense of self? Were you ever in the company of a truly special person whose mere presence caused you to be in awe? What impressed you the most about that person? I have been lucky to encounter a few of these people in my life and I remember each first meeting like it was yesterday. One of those moments was the day I met my wife, Heather; it was pure providence. Another was my first class with my favourite high school teacher, Mr. McCann, who posed big questions; it was an immediate connection. A third was the day I encountered Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, a network of communities for people with intellectual disabilities; it was pure reverence.
Recently, I attended an assembly at one of our sister schools. It was a thought-provoking experience. As a class of Grade 3 girls led a full-school reflection on truth and reconciliation, I witnessed the power of student voice, leadership and agency, with hundreds of girls tuned in to messages of respect, diversity, inclusivity and tolerance. I was struck by how much influence these young girls had on the tone and culture of their school.
I never thought it would happen in my tenure: a snow day at Crescent School. Never say never! On February 12, along with all Toronto schools, we closed due to the inclement weather. And while it wasn’t necessarily the quantity of snow that kept us from opening, it was certainly the wicked wind and freezing rain that made commuting a real safety issue. I must say that the snow day was one of my most popular decisions to date.
The December holiday is my favourite time of year. With the school shut down, both physically and digitally, I am gifted with the luxury of time to unwind, rest and relish the company of family and friends in a slightly more relaxed manner.