The YHS Alumnae Mentorship Program launched online in November and to date, we have matched 24 alumnae based on career journeys and experience. The focus of the program is to connect our more experienced alumnae professionals with our more recent graduates and we’re very fortunate that our alumnae are so willing to give advice and offer their expertise and time. Our motto of “Not for Ourselves Alone” always shines through with our alumnae and their dedication to helping their fellow Yorkies.
Even though we have always provided mentorship opportunities for our grads, this new program ensures that our alumnae are getting matched with follow up and feedback to build the program effectively. Once our mentees are connected with mentors, email communication is initiated and from there, the mentoring process begins.
Alumnae in the fields of law, business, accountancy, graphic design, optometry, film, and the cultural sector are taking part in the mentorship process and we look forward to creating strong links between our alumnae as it moves forward. Time differences notwithstanding, (our alumnae are all over the world), we are excited about the project and to actively see it grow.
For more information about our mentorship program, contact Ita Kane-Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This fall, we’re thrilled to have five alumnae artists exhibiting their work on our third-floor gallery in the Senior School. Topographies: Relationships with Landscape and Geography, brings together work by Ruth MacLaurin ’60, Patricia Hindmarch-Watson ’67, Sally Clark ’71, Nicole Steinbrecher ’06, and Brittne Potter ’12.
In these abstract and representational works, the artists explore inner and outer landscapes using a variety of media including oils, acrylics, graphite, ink, and collage. Sarvenaz Armanat, Class of 1997, assisted Susannah Smith, YHS Museum Curator, in organizing the exhibition. Sarvenaz is a visual artist, a museum educator at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Director of Gallery1515 in the South Granville gallery district of Vancouver.
In the glass cabinet at the south end of the gallery is a “curated closet” featuring highlights from 85 years of YHS uniforms. Here, you’ll find a green blazer from the 1950s, an adorable green gingham junior summer uniform with matching bloomers, the (in)famous 1960s yellow gym romper (the “pumpkin suit”), and the newest addition to the uniform: black tailored pants.
Fall 2017 is the first time that Senior students have the opportunity to wear pants instead of the Black Watch kilt. After a successful student-led proposal earlier in the year to incorporate pants into the uniform, we can now celebrate wearing pants as a practical and symbolic change that reflects our image as a progressive and inclusive school community.
If you haven’t visited the Senior School yet this fall, make sure to pop by soon and check out these visual treats on the third floor!
Alumnae Day 2017 was a spirited and inspirational affair with adventure, travel, and personal safety the focus this year. Dianne Whelan from the Class of 1983 was our keynote speaker and she captivated everyone’s imagination with her tales from her 500 Days in the Wild. Her Trans Canada Trail expedition has become a bigger journey than she ever anticipated and her stories enthralled and animated a very appreciative audience.
Dianne Whelan with classmates Andrea Turton ’83, Andrea’s daughter Annabelle Turton ’22 and Kirsten (Koopman-Sutton) Osterreicher ’83.
Following Dianne’s talk, everyone moved to the Rand Gym to take part in a self-defence clinic by alumna Dr. Emel Zerrouk from the Class of 2004. Emel has been involved with martial arts and self defence all her life and was delighted to share her knowledge with fellow Yorkies. Alumnae, young and old, participated in what was a very thorough learning experience. Emel expertly shared smart tips and worked through various self defence moves and scenarios with the class. Laughter filled the space as everyone engaged with a partner and shared safety strategies.
After lunch, the alumnae art exhibition Topographies was officially launched by our curator Susannah Smith and we welcomed artist Patricia (Symonds) Hindmarch-Watson ’67 to discuss her works on display. Artist Brittne Potter ’12, now based in Montreal, showcased her paintings as part of the exhibition and, while Brittne couldn’t be there, her family, including her sister alumna Alana Potter ’09 attended. Other artists exhibiting included Sally Clark ’71, Nicole Steinbrecher ’06 and Ruth MacLaurin ’60.
Curator Susannah Smith with the Potter family on Alumnae Day
Geraldine Santiago ’83 attended YHS from 1979-83 and was known as being energetic, fun-loving and a good friend. The middle daughter of four Santiago sisters that attended YHS, she was Vice Head-Girl, served as Class President twice and was House Member of the Year. Geraldine was also the recipient of several awards including the Senior Spirit Trophy, Parents’ Association Citizenship award, and the Joan Sorenson Memorial. Once she graduated, her interests turned to Asian Studies when she attended the University of British Columbia to obtain a degree in Mandarin. Always driven to succeed, Geraldine launched her career in real estate and became known for seminars targeted at first time home buyers. Over the past 16 years as a realtor, she has written three real estate reference books for Self-Counsel Press Ltd, entitled, “Complete Home-Buyer’s Guide for Canadians”, “Selling Your Home in Canada” and “Buy and Sell a Recreational Property in Canada”.
Geraldine is also an accomplished painter known for her use of bold colours in oil and acrylic. In addition to solo and group exhibitions in Vancouver, she has also been an Artist in Residence teaching acrylic painting to children from K-12. When Geraldine’s daughter, Luisa, was only five days old, she was rushed to the BC Children’s Hospital with a serious, potentially life threatening viral infection. Their skilled staff, nurses and doctors were able to provide critical services that resulted in her daughter’s full recovery. Geraldine’s desire to give back to these doctors and staff inspired her to use her creative talents to write and illustrate a children’s storybook.
Geraldine published, “Luisa and the Magic Star” in July, 2017, which celebrates Canadian space achievements in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary. Dr. Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman astronaut in space, who makes a cameo in the book, recently described the book as “delightful”. In true Yorkie style, the profits from the sale of the book are being donated to the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and she is already working on a sequel, “The Star Thief.”
Geraldine hopes that her storybook creates an interest in both science and music in children. In fact, the main character is based on her oldest daughter Luisa, who learned to play the violin at the age of five and is now enrolled in an engineering program at the University of British Columbia. Recognizing that, as early as elementary school, many of the science and space picture books for young readers are designed for boys, Geraldine is intentionally introducing strong, relatable, female characters in her books that break stereotypes and gender boundaries.
“When I graduated, I didn’t fully appreciate how much my high school years would influence and shape my life,” says Geraldine. “Over the years, I’ve come to recognize that York House provided me with a solid foundation and the confidence to grow in whatever direction I chose. I also developed a love of learning and self-improvement. As a mother, professional realtor, artist, and spouse, I will continue to grow, mature, and evolve,” remarked Geraldine, “I know that York House has given me the groundwork to flourish. Our school motto – Onwards and upward, not for ourselves alone – has always been my credo.”
Geraldine was delighted to visit York House School on November 2nd to read “Luisa and the Magic Star” and her new sequel, “The Star Thief” to the Grade 3 classes. After the reading, students asked lots of questions and took part in fun word rhyming activities. She hopes to inspire the next generation of children to embrace space and science through her cleverly written and beautifully illustrated books.
On Founders’ Day, October 13, 2017, alumnae from 1942 to 1967 were welcomed back to school by student executives as they arrived to join the whole school for the celebration of the school’s 85th birthday. After assembly, there was much to share about the morning’s festivities at the Golden Alumnae luncheon.
“It was fantastic,” commented an alumna from out of town. “Everyone at the school was so welcoming right from the wonderful smile from the prefects who opened the door. It was fun to be at the 85th Birthday assembly and to see the family alumnae present grad pins. The Grade 4s were terrific with their singing of the School March and their speeches about exploration.” Another remarked, “It was all impressive – the ceremony, the singing of the School Song and general memories about an entire school being together, many of whom sat cross legged on the floor!”
Following the excitement of the morning, the Senior Choral ensemble, Ragazza, set a calm tone for a memorable luncheon with their melodious rendition of Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies. Head of School, Chantal Gionet, introduced the first screening of the 85th YHS Video featuring alumnae through the decades. Each alumna shared their most meaningful experiences from their times including words of wisdom for Yorkies today.
Grace was said by class rep, Nora (Mitchell) Newlands ’67, using the well-remembered words of founding Head of School, Mrs. Clarke, “For what we are about to receive may the Lord make us truly thankful.” Spirited conversations continued over lunch as though no time had gone by since school days. “It was quite something that after 50 years, we could reconnect so quickly and enjoy each other’s company,” mused an alumna from the class of 1967. Another felt similarly, “It didn’t feel like 50 years could possibly have passed since leaving. Oh, to be 16 again and have a couple of years in this new facility with its incredible energy and warmth.” Glasses were raised in honour of 50th through 65th reunions and there was much catching up between classmates and friends both old and new.
There was also the chance to meet some of the youngest students in the school when Junior students brought Yorkie green and gold chocolates to each table. What a wonderful surprise when young Yorkies discovered their alumnae grandmothers at the luncheon!
The day ended with a fun tour of the Senior School and the museum led by Gillian (White) Smith ’81, Parent Association President with Susannah Smith, YHS Museum Archivist and Curator. Many expressed amazement at the design of the building and what they saw—photos from their days at the school, uniforms from the early years and the discovery of the names of their whole class etched in the stairway glass.
Following the tour, alumnae left to continue their reunion celebrations late into the evening. Some were so inspired and energized by this year’s Alumnae Special Achiever, Dianne Whelan’s warmth and courage in her assembly presentation about her Trans Canada journey that they planned to return early the next morning to hear more on Alumnae Day!
To purchase tickets and for more info, click here.
Alumnae Sharing Life Experiences and Career Journeys
Thirteen alumnae came back to York House on May 12th to participate in our annual Career Day. The day started with a panel discussion in the theatre where alumnae discussed life after high school, university, life challenges, and the roads less travelled. This was followed by break-out sessions in classrooms with the Grade 8-12 students where alums presented on their careers and shared their experiences and career journeys. Every year we have an amazing line up of presenters and this year was no different.
Natalee Sinclair MBA from the Class of 2006 is an insurance project manager with Jones Brown inc; Salima Remtulla CFA from the Class of 2000 is a finance executive with international experience directing corporate strategy and building high performance teams, Zoe Alexander ‘02 is a graphic designer working with a tech start up, Taline Arslanyan ‘07, an inside Account Executive at Hootsuite Inc.; Pippa Morgan ’90, is the Executive Vice President, Retail Division of Aritzia, Jasmine Lam ’97 is a GP, a UBC Faculty of Medicine Clinical Instructor and on the Residency Admissions committee, Courtney Lam ’09 is a design assistant with Lululemon, Sarvenaz Amanat ‘97 is a visual artist, works as a museum educator at the Vancouver Art Gallery (2009-present) and is the Director of Gallery1515 in the South Granville gallery district of Vancouver. Nicole Steinbrecher ‘06, a registered nurse who works on an acute medical/surgical ward at Vancouver General Hospital, Rachelle Topham ‘10 is a business development representative who prospects new business for SAP in Vancouver; Robyn Wilson ‘05 is currently the Chief Operations Officer of Venue Kings Ticket Brokers, Inc. in Vancouver and recently named one of BC’s 30 Under 30, Sarah Brayne ‘03 is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin and Jessica Smith ’10 is a midwifery student at UBC who came back to talk about her gap year experiences along with her sister Amelia ’15.
We are very grateful to our alumnae who took the time out of their day to return to YHS and share their stories with our students.
On Saturday May 27th, members of the class of 1987 gathered together to celebrate their 30th reunion. Class reps Anitha (Gondi) Vasireddi and Lisa (Granger) Cunliffe reported, “The evening began with a reception at the Telus Garden Rooftop followed by dinner at Global restaurant. We could not have asked for a more spectacular venue to host our memorable reunion. It was as if time had stood still for everyone as they shared memories, laughs, and stories about each other’s families, lives, and work. We were all happy that a few of our out of town Yorkies made a great effort to attend our reunion including Michelle (Seattle), Maria (Ontario), Vanessa (Victoria), Suzanne (Kelowna), Rande (Ontario), and Mandy (Houston).
A special thanks to our wonderful teachers who were able to make it for this event. It was delightful to see their enthusiasm and interest towards all of us remains the same even after 30 years!” Mr. Doan commented, “It was great to see all of you and hear about what you’ve done in the 30 years after YHS. We teachers meet you when you’re just a few steps along on your life’s path and it is a special treat to reconnect with you and see what you’ve accomplished as you’ve moved more steps down that road. What a great and impressive group of women you are. Congratulations to the class reps for staging the event and my sincerest thanks for being included. It was great fun!”
“Our amazing venue, the Telus Garden Rooftop Garden, would not have been possible without the generous help of Jill Schnarr. Thank you Jill, and thanks to all for coming and making our reunion a great success.”