Sunday, 18 June 2017

Heads Up
March 1, 2017

The Rundle Experience
It's the dawn of a new day.  Rundle's youngest students put on their fresh new uniforms, dawn their new Rundle mittens, slip their backpacks on and head to school.

Upon arriving, they are greeted by their teacher at the front door - their day together has officially begun. 

In the morning, they learn how to read, write and perform the basics of math.  They make friends, share adventures and explore the values of kindness, curiosity and wellness.

As mid-morning approaches, recess is upon the students. On the playground, our students learn by falling down and picking themselves back up.  A series of non-catastrophic failures shapes them as resilient and resourceful individuals prepared for the next stages of their learning.

After recess, the students start to develop a better sense of their individual passions in learning.  They complete science fair projects and STEM competitions; they participate in recreational team sports for the first time; and they celebrate cultural events.  In these hours, students also learn about acceptance and diversity.

Lunch arrives all too quickly, and students are officially halfway done their learning journey.  They have graduated from the elementary phases of their learning into a whole new world of adolescence.  The world of clubs, organized team sports, rotating classes and lockers gives them a new sense of independence. 

Character development is now overtly central to their overall development and success.  They are finding their voices and creating friendships that will last a lifetime.

The afternoon seems to pass in a blink. These students have gone from playing with toys to building them. Their minds are inspired and their character is unparalleled.  Each student cheers on the other and celebrates their uniqueness.

Before we know it, those children who were just dawning their new mittens  are all grown up. As they prepare to cross the stage, we sit back and wonder where the day has gone.  

The one treasure we can be sure of is that this journey from morning to night, from childhood to adulthood, from beginning reader to critical thinker, is one to be appreciated and enjoyed. 


On the heels of some of the busiest days for our senior students, I would like to congratulate our Academy and College Grade 11 and 12 students on their spectacular demonstration of learning. This past January, our senior students wrote their diploma exams with poise and confidence. Their achievement is unparalleled. Congratulations to one and all.

Well beyond 95% of our Grade 12s from the Academy and College have already gained acceptance to one or more universities. Congratulations to each of them on their hard work! Last year’s Grade 12s received nearly $500,000 in scholarships. We anticipate we’ll see a similar number this year.

More than anything - we’ve worked together to  graduate happy and well rounded students whose grades are impressive - but the  least impressive thing about them.
"We are all running our own race"
A few weekends past, my wife Sarah, my son Emmett and I entered the Calgary Police Half Marathon Road Race. The three of us opted to walk the 5km route and enjoy the Sunday morning. While walking and observing 5km, 10km and half marathoners it was fascinating to see different levels stamina, varied paces and a wide assortments of running gates. In that moment it occurred to me - “we are all running our own race.”


With each step we took towards our goal of 5kms, the metaphor, contextualized to Rundle College Society, became more and more ingrained and reinforced in my mind.  At Rundle, we can look at this race from many different angles.  Are we in the race for:
  • A personal desire to gain entrance to the university of choice, or perhaps,
  • The race is a place in your life where you feel vulnerable, or perhaps,
  • It is simply learning to spell your own name by the end of kindergarten.  
Each of these goals require each of us to display resilience, perseverance and grit.

The races that we run, on our own and as a member of a team, are an integral part of our human experience.  When we train, learn from our coaches, take care of ourselves; we continually see improvements towards our ultimate goal,  whether it is walking a 5km or running a half marathon.

At Rundle, we hope that we are assisting our students to identify their individual goals, understand their strengths, embrace their personal running ‘gate’ and ultimately meet their aspirations!

To conclude this ‘Heads Up,’ I’d like to highlight some of the events that have either just passed or will be taking place at our schools in the coming weeks:

  • Moves Mountains Breakfast - May 4th
    The Moves Mountains Breakfast brought students, parents and their teachers together to celebrate the often unrecognized achievements that are related to personal grit and perseverance.
  • Track and Field Day
    In late April, Rundle Academy opened our track and field season by braving snow and cold.  What was inspiring about this particular track day is we see all our students, from Grade 4-12, working together to compete and run the events!  The mentorship shown by our senior students inspires our youngest students to put everything they can into running their own race.
  • United Nations Week & Music Monday
    These two celebrations brought together the values of diversity, talent, creativity and togetherness.  Not only were there dozens of cultures celebrated during UN Week, there were dozens of talents shared during the parent appreciation tea and the Music Monday festivities!
  • The Art Show
    The hallways of the Collett School came to life with the vibrant work of our students!  We were able to enjoy everything from a giant adirondack chair that represents the ethos of ‘student first’ to the totem poles and to a recreation of Maud Lewis’ house and studio!  Curiosity was everywhere.
  • STEM Competition - May 12th
    Nothing will articulate our value of ‘be curious’ better than the upcoming city wide STEM Competition hosted at Rundle Elementary this week!  Thank you to all those parents and companies who have come forward to support this initiative.
  • Spring Fling
    For the first time in Rundle’s history we hosted a joint Primary/Elementary dance and fundraiser.  The evening raised nearly $50,000 that will go directly to creating a one of a kind outdoor classroom and patio eating/learning spaces!  Thank you to all parents and staff who gave so freely of their time, talents and treasures.
Junior High
  • Cheakamus Trip
    A few weeks past our Grade 8 College students attended an outdoor adventure camp.  In a day and age where it is increasingly difficult to pull ourselves from our devices, it was encouraging to see our students pursuing wellness through lowtech outdoor endeavours!
  • Feed the Hungry
    In late April we had roughly 150 staff, students and parents come together to give their time and talent to prepare meals for those in Calgary who need them the most.  It was inspiring to experience Rundle’s kindness in action!
Senior High
  • Rugby Homecoming Game - May 11th
    We are already looking forward to seeing our alumni return to enjoy our Annual Rugby Homecoming Game!  With a College/Academy Rugby program that boasts over 100 members, it is no wonder there is energy around this day’s events!
  • CAIS Student Leadership
    A few weekends past we saw 8 College/Academy students travel to Toronto to take in the CAIS Student Leadership conference.  It will be exciting to see where these new found leadership skills will take our student body in the years to come.
I can say with absolute confidence that this is merely a small sampling of the things that have been happening inside and outside of our schools.  In the course of mentioning the above items, I have managed to leave out countless events including Speech and Debate/Reach for the Top travelling to National Competitions, Drama Productions at the Academy/College which involve hundreds of students, National Championships in wrestling, robotics competitions, graduation celebrations at all levels, awards days and nights, soccer, badminton, and ultimate frisbee to name just a few!  There’s no doubt that Rundle continues to succeed in helping students find their passions, inspiring their minds and in creating unparalleled character.

I look forward to seeing all members of our community in the coming weeks as we start to ‘celebrate with them, when they do.’
On The Shelf:

“Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution.” By Brene Brown
“Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy.”  By Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
“Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness and (world peace).”  By Chade-Meng Tan
How does life live?”  - NYT Documentary - an amazing take on our values of Curiosity and Kindness… and it reminds me of the genius of our ‘Wonder Wall’ in our new school.
Rundle College Awards Night
June 14, 2017
It’s nights like these - nights where we come together to celebrate the success of our students that are so necessary to lift our spirits, to further reinforce our belief in the mission of Rundle College Society and to remind us of what success looks like.  Whoa - hold on a minute - did you catch that last point, because as I speak it, it actually gave me pause.  
I’m left with the dangling question - what does success look like?

To be honest, students, parents and faculty of Rundle College, I have to admit I’m a little conflicted when attempting to answer this question these days.
  1. I know success looks like the students who sit in front of me - those who won awards for academics, for their character and for the overall well rounded achievement.   And for this, I applaud each and every one of you - congratulations!

  1. That said, I also know that success may be bigger than a medal, a plaque or a speech.  Earlier this week an article was circulated to me referencing a 75 year research study that has just concluded at Harvard University.  The longitudinal study was looking for the answer to this question, “what is the secret to leading a fulfilling life.”  
    1. Here’s what they found:
      1. “The clearest message that we get from this research is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
      2. The findings go onto say: “It’s not just the number of friends you have… it is the quality of the close relationships that matters.”
      3. Finally, and I might like this part the best, when speaking of quality relationships and the essence of those relationships, the study says, “[the quality of our relationships depend on] how much vulnerability and depth exists in them; how safe you feel sharing with one another; the extent to which you can relax and be seen for who you truly are, and to truly see another.”

So in the spirit of the values of our Rundle community and the findings of true fulfillment.  Students, I implore you to
Come together:
Be Kind to One Another,
Always Be Curious  
and, more than anything,
Be well.  
To be well, you will need to continue to build strong and deep relationships.  
For the Grade 7-8 students - I can simply say - I can’t wait to see you in next years of junior high.  You will soon have the responsibility of leading the junior high into another year filled with growth, learning and laughter.

For our Grade 9 students - please take what you’ve achieved in your junior high years and use the skills and knowledge as a springboard to your important high school years.  The coming three years will be filled with challenges and hard work, but rest assured it is all worth it in the end.  About this time of year, three years from now, each of you will be planning to enter the post secondary institution of your choice.  The journey to that destination officially begins for you in two months.  

Thank you:

  • Entire faculty here at Rundle College - your commitment to each other and your students is unrivaled

  • Parent community - thank you for your ongoing support of all things Rundle.  We have built a ‘one of a kind’ school culture and it has been a team effort.  Your participation in this positive and safe community is not overlooked.

  • Student body - for making Rundle such a great place to work and learn.  

Thank you - and good night.

Grade 6 Celebration
Rundle College
June 2, 2017

My whole life, I’ve been totally enthralled by the idea of superheroes.  Literally, it is the one thing I have always been most curious about.

It all started when I was about 6 years old.  At this age, I had discovered cartoons and comic books.  My favourites cartoons and comics were Hercules, The Incredible Hulk, and, of course, Superman.  Some of my earliest memories were when I wanted so badly to be superman that I used to make my younger brother pretend to be in danger and I would pretend to fly around my backyard and save him.  Now, don’t try this at home, but I actually wanted to fly so badly that I used to jump off the third stair of my house wearing only a grocery store plastic bag on my back.  It never worked.  But truth be told, I think what I loved most about Superman was that he was a normal guy until something bad occurred and then he needed to go to a phone booth, change into his cape and then save the day.  I loved that there was something about his inner strength that made him invincible!

When I was a little bit older, it occurred to me that maybe there were real life superheroes in my community.  I remember a time when my family was in a small car accident.  Within seconds, the police and the fire department arrived and made sure everybody was okay.  It seemed like a miracle that they could arrive so quickly and exude such kindness.  It was shortly after this, that I decided that I wanted to be a firefighter, because they were the true superheroes.  There was something about the kindness the were able to show us, when we needed it most, that made me want to be just like them.
Later in life, as I progressed through high school, my interest in becoming a firefighter shifted.  I think it was mostly because I was struggling with some of my high school classes.  Throughout my struggles, my teachers were always there to help me.  I remember in highschool I would show up to school at 7:15 AM and get extra help from my teachers, just so I would graduate and be able to attend university.  It was my teachers, much like your teachers, that teach us how to reach our potential and remain resilient.  It was their help that inspired me to become a teacher!  To this day, I believe teachers are some of the most amazing superheroes ever!
Which brings me to the fall of 2016 - and up to that point, I have to admit, I still believed teachers were the only true superheroes.  Now to be clear, I haven’t changed my mind - they are true superheroes.  That said, what changed this school year is that I have a brand new perspective on who are superheroes.  I still believe that like superman - superheroes need to have an inner-strength, and like the firefighter, they need to be kind and like the teachers, they need to support us in resilience….. But what I learned this year is that the real superheroes - the most strong, kind, and resilient people in the world, sit here in front of me.  Yes, Grade 6 students, you are the real superheroes.

Grade 6 students, you have demonstrated what it means to have an inner strength, you have come together as a group and are learning the lessons of what it means to be kind to one another and you have demonstrated resilience in the face of the ultimate adversities.   Sometimes, I have no idea how you did it… but I am guessing it must have been your secret superpowers.  
Thank you - and congratulations.  

Rundle College
Grade 12 Graduation Speech
June 6, 2017

Student body, faculty, parents, honoured guests and grade 12 graduates, it is my honour to address you today.  I am really excited to be here to celebrate with you!

I drew the inspiration for today’s talk from a note I recently received from a friend, here’s what it said:

“Today I was biking with my family at Goat Creek Trail and when we were just approaching Banff, I looked up at Rundle Mountain and thought how much it had seen and endured over the years.”

He went on to state:  

“This has been a tough year for the staff and the students at Rundle College, and like Rundle mountain, you have weathered it.  In addition,  like Rundle Mountain, together your community continues to stand strong.”  

After reading his note, I knew what I needed to do today, I need to speak about Rundle Mountain. I thought we might be able to learn something from the history of it’s name, what the climb up Rundle requires from an individual who attempts it and the view from Rundle’s majestic summit.

First, let’s start with the History of Rundle Mountain’s Name:
  • Rundle Mountain gained its namesake from Reverend Robert Rundle and his legacy was the creation of a small church in Alberta around the year 1850.  The church’s purpose was to support a wide variety of people including the settlers, the cree, the stoney and the blackfoot individuals who lived nearby. The church’s goal was to introduce everybody to reading, writing and growing crops.  

  • Over the years the church changed locations and it’s congregation grew.  In the end, it came together with other congregations to form what is now known as the United Church of Canada.  Beyond teaching reading, writing and growing crops - the small Rundle congregation, started by Reverend Robert Rundle, built a solid foundation of relationships and uniting people.

    • Much like the lessons from the small Rundle Church, I hope that at Rundle College in elementary you learned you to read and write, and junior high, if we count the occasional moldy sandwich in your school lockers, some of you have learned to grow crops too.

    • And most importantly, in your high school years you have continued to fostered strong relationships: Graduates, you can mark my words on this one, the greatest gift you will receive from your education and your time at Rundle College are those relationships which united you and provide you with friendship and purpose as you move into the next chapters of your lives.  You will always remember the relationships you’ve formed during your time at Rundle.   

Secondly, Let me discuss the climb up Rundle:
  • To climb Rundle Mountain, the actual mountain, you need to ascend 3255 feet, it is a scramble that extends beyond 6.5 km, one way.  It is an unpredictable ascent which can only be achieved by those who are skilled and who have the stamina to overcome the challenges they face during this arduous ascent.

  • Graduates, on your scramble to the top of your Rundle College’s educational mountain, you have done all the things you would have needed to do if you were seeking to climb Rundle Mountain - you have become skilled and you have demonstrated great stamina.
    • With respect to skill, I want to draw on the work of Cal Newport, in his book, “So Good They Cannot Ignore You.”  What I have learned from him, is that ‘nobody is born an expert, at anything.’  To get good at something, whether you are climbing a mountain or learning to be a doctor, it takes time and hard work.  As you put the time and hard work into whatever you are pursuing, you are developing a thing called professional capital.  In time, and after some hard work, you can then take that professional capital and cash it in for the work or career you always been pursuing.  

    • Now in climbing the mountain, I suggest you also need to show great stamina.  I won’t belabour the stamina part as I suspect your stamina for speeches is diminishing  - but I will say this, I put it into the speech to remind us all, we still have 3 weeks left… so hang in there and keep the energy up for the those inevitable opportunities to demonstrate achievement (aka: your diplomas) and the many celebrations that are yet to come!

Finally: What you see from the summit of Rundle:  
From the top of Rundle Mountain, you get a stunning 360 degree view of the Rocky Mountains and the Bow Valley.  It’s as though you are standing on top of the world.

Today, graduates, you have earned your place on top of the educational world.  You are graduates of Rundle College.  If I might, let me take a second to brag for you, because I know as a group you are too modest to do it for yourself.  In my opinion, here are a few of the items you would see if you took a 360 degree panoramic view from where you sit today:

  • University and College Acceptance Abound: As a group, you have gained nearly 300 university acceptances.  This is a really big number for just 84 graduates.  These universities and colleges range from the top schools in Canada to those around the world, they are both academic and technical, they are big and small.  What the common thread is, they are the universities and colleges of your choice.  Join me in congratulating our graduates on this amazing achievement.  

  • Curricular and Co-Curricular Accolades are literally scattered everywhere: You have earned local, provincial and national praise in areas ranging from volleyball and basketball, to reach for the top, to track, to band, to wrestling, to business competitions, to CAUSE, Prefects and Peer Support, to Golf, to travel to service and to to cohort of students who piloted Rundle’s Leadership Program.  It is literally impossible for us to keep on top of your achievements, if I were to list them all, we’d be here well into the evening, and for the sake of brevity, I’ll just say this, you are simply an amazing group of talented individuals. Once more, please join me in congratulating our graduates.

  • Next, let’s discuss the Scholarship Numbers: Back to academics for a second, and this one may take a few moments to digest, together, the 84 of you you have earned $800,000  in scholarship money to date.  One more time, $800,000,.. Wow.  I fully anticipate, for the first time in Rundle’s history, this number will approach or exceed $1,000,000 by the fall.  Grade 4-11 students - this is a record that will be tough to beat!  I think that’s worth a round of applause too.

  • Finally, if you were to look down from the metaphorical summit of a Rundle College education, you’d see something more often than acceptances, accolades or scholarships, I suspect what you’d see most is exceptional character traits.  Graduates, you are men and women of true character.  The true demonstration of character comes in the smallest of conversations we’ve had over the past days, the times when you’ve stopped in the hallway and asked your teachers or each other, from the bottom of your hearts, “How are you doing today?”  

Graduates, your character will be the trait, along with relationships, skill and stamina, that will differentiate you from everybody else.  I have no doubt, that you are fully prepared to climb whichever mountain lies in front of you, in the next chapters of your lives.

To close, let me re-articulate what my friend said in his letter, “Graduates, you have seen a lot and endured a lot over your years - but, as I address you today, you stand strong and proud.  This is a testament to the strength of each and every one of you, the strength of our Rundle community and the strength of your graduating class.”

All members of our Rundle College Community, please join me in congratulating the graduating class of 2017 - we are so very proud of each and every one of you.