Creating Canterbury Companions
By Caelan Monkman
If you mention the beginning of Grade 9 to most Canterbury students, they would probably cringe and try to change the subject. Most would tell you that those awkward first days of getting lost in the hallways and not knowing anyone are behind them, and they’re happy to say that they’ve changed for the better since then.
However, despite how awkward the first month of high school can be, Canterbury's teachers believe that those first weeks are more beneficial than students might realize.
One of the many teachers who believes in the importance of starting Grade 9 off “on the right foot” is Mike Dearing. For the past nine years, Mr. Dearing has been the head teacher involved in running Chill Camp, a three-day overnight camp that gives Grade 9 and 10 students the opportunity to get to know fellow students in an inclusive and fun environment. In addition to Chill Camp, Mr. Dearing also started Canterbury’s Link Crew program in 2012, and he continues to lead it alongside Mr. Scott Westwell and Ms. Toula Makris.
Although students can sometimes take events like Chill Camp and Grade 9 Orientation for granted, Mr. Dearing can’t stress enough how important it is to make an effort to meet others and put yourself out there at these events.
“People often meet their new best friend or their best friends for the next four years at these events,” Mr. Dearing said. “They come to school after these things excited, excited to see their friends and excited to be a part of things, as opposed to kind of going and being nervous every day.”
To see their eyes light up when they learn something new that interests them is very rewarding."
In addition to meeting others, Mr. Dearing also believes that events such as Chill Camp really help develop the personalities of the Grade 9s.
“In Grade 9, students come and they want to be a certain type of person, and I really like to see that, especially after Link Crew Orientation or after Chill Camp; they quickly realize that they can just be themselves.”
Even outside of events held for the Grade 9s, teachers can notice the impacts that a school like Canterbury has on its new students, and how many of them are enthralled to be surrounded by students who have similar passions as themselves. Beverley Robinson is a music teacher at Canterbury, and she gets to see how students develop over their four years of high school.
“A lot of kids think that when they've made it into Canterbury they have arrived. “To see their eyes light up when they learn something new that interests them is very rewarding,” Ms. Robinson says.
“To see how far they come from September to June is very rewarding. And to see how they bond with each other and support each other is really beautiful.”
She also says that being able to see how comfortably students adapt to Canterbury life is wonderful, and watching them grow both as musicians and people is really unique.
“I love to see how the students change throughout their four years at Canterbury. They become more confident with who they are and how to express themselves.”
Canterbury is a wonderful school community that is very accepting of everyone. Although it sometimes takes longer for some students than others, teachers like Mr. Dearing say that everyone will find their place here at Canterbury.
“I think it's just that sense of community, of when they go from being nervous and not comfortable here to making this a safe place or a second home. When they start feeling that ‘Canterbury is a part of me’.”
Welcome home, Grade 9s.