Alumnae Day at York House is always a special kind of day and one that inspires and ignites interest. This year’s Alumnae Day was no exception and we thank everyone who attended.
Connections were made, friendships rekindled, and Yorkie school spirit was very evident.
On Saturday, September 28th, after early morning coffee and baked treats in the Senior School atrium, a large number of alumnae gathered together for a tour of the school. As part of that tour, alumnae were able to view the incredible wildlife photographic exhibition by Taylor Green, Class of 2010. Taylor currently lives up in Northern BC and works as a wildlife guide. Her photographic exhibition is on display on the 3rd floor of the Senior School until the end of the school year.
Before lunch, a lively energizing discussion panel that focused on the theme of “Finding Your True North” was led by four panellists, Shelley (Bowell) O’Callaghan ‘66, Dr. Sari Saunders ‘84, Amanda Weltman ‘06 and Zoe Craig-Sparrow ‘15. Moderated by Head of School, Julie Rousseau, we discovered that for all four of our alumnae, finding their true north or following their life’s passion was a combination of factors that included finding a supportive mentor, a lot of hard work, and a pinch of good luck.
In the afternoon, the second annual basketball game in the Rand Gymnasium was held. Organized by the YHS Alumnae Association, it was an exciting and skillful game. Teachers, past teachers, alumnae, honorary alumni, parents and past parents along with some of our younger Yorkies all joined together to cheer on the teams and it was a very fun-filled event.
On Founders’ Day, Friday, September 27, alumnae from 1950-1969 were welcomed back to school by student executives. The day began with a tour of the 3rd floor Alumnae Art & Photo Gallery including a stunning exhibit by wildlife photographer, Taylor Green ’10, and a new Museum & Archives displays of sports and drama at York House.
Highlights of the Golden Alumnae luncheon included the celebration of reunions and the presentation of the YHS Alumnae Association Lifetime Achiever Award. To mark the special occasion of their 60th reunion, Mary Jean (Cooke) Otway-Ruthven ’59 wore her full YHS uniform. Both class reps, Mary Jean and Valerie (Clark) Roddick ‘59 shared their gratitude for the lovely luncheon and a most memorable reunion, which was very much appreciated by all at their table.
The Class of 1969 celebrated their 50th reunion last summer. Those from the Class of 1969 who were also able to attend the Golden Luncheon, really enjoyed staying on for the Founders’ assembly. Class rep Natalie Clarke ’69 reported, “We were glad to see the York House values still maintained and to observe the dedication of all the staff and enthusiasm of the girls.”
Shelley (Bowell) O’Callaghan ’66 received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the YHS Alumnae Association at the luncheon, where she was joined by members of her family and classmates. Shelley is an author, passionate volunteer, and advocate for social justice, who has had 30 years experience as a lawyer and recognized as one of Canada’s leading environmental lawyers.
She inspired all with the sharing of her life’s journey, especially the creation of a charity, Friends for Zambia Twitti School Project, to raise money for the construction of a school for 450 students. Shelley continues to visit the school every year, which now has a sponsorship program to enable disadvantaged students to attend the school. Click here for Shelley’s biography.
Before the luncheon was over, the Golden Alumnae were warmly welcomed by the Senior School Head girl, Olivia, and both the Junior School Head girl, Kate and Vice Head, Hannah, shared their thoughts on the Founders’ Day theme, “Finding Your True North.”
The luncheon ended after the most anticipated moment when the youngest Junior school students visit the Golden Alumnae and bring Yorkie chocolates for everyone.
The luncheon was followed by the annual Founders’ assembly. Highlights included the presentation of YHS Alumnae pins to the Grade 12 grads, and the presentation of two YHS Foundation Awards.
YHS Alumnae pins were presented to Grade 12 by the YHS Alumnae Association President and their alumnae sisters, mothers or grandmothers, a most cherished moment for Yorkie families.
The 2019 Alumnae Association Special Achiever Award was presented to Golnar Khosrowshahi ’89, Founder and CEO of Reservoir, a music publishing company. Golnar was named one of Billboard’s Most Powerful Female Executives and a Billboard Indie Power Player for 2017 and 2018. Furthermore, Reservoir was awarded Publisher of the Year at Music Business Worldwide, the A&R Awards in 2017. As she was not able to attend, a video of Golnar’s speech was screened during assembly. Click here to view the video.
Grade 4’s lively rendition of the York House March and the singing of the school song with the whole school brought back many memories. Alumnae also found time to explore the exhibits from past decades in the YHS Museum & Archives and enjoyed the Class Reunion Photo Boards.
We look forward to welcoming our Golden Alumnae back to next year’s Founders’ Day.
Rachel Cliff is more known for track and field running but recently, she hit a new Canadian record in marathon running. We caught up with her after her trip to Japan.
Last September you made your marathon debut at the Berlin Marathon, what was that like?
Historically I’ve had more of a track and field background – mostly specializing in the 5,000m to the 10,000m – my focus only started to shift to road races over the past few years, especially in early 2018. By the time I stood on the line for my first marathon I’d raced six half marathons in the span of a year and a half and this helped to make the transition to the marathon a little less of a shock, but it was still a huge learning experience. The workouts were longer and more rhythm based than what I was used to, the fatigue was significant, and I had to learn how to fuel during workouts and racing. I also ran the Berlin marathon after a long track season which was a little risky; I was at the end of my rope fatigue wise and we had to manage that really carefully. But despite all this, the training went well and I felt fortunate to still feel like a “student of the sport” despite being a veteran athlete. The Berlin marathon itself was amazing – it’s a huge world class marathon, the course is beautiful and fast – I don’t think there’s a single hill in Berlin – and the atmosphere was fun. I also ran on the same day that Kipchoge ran the World Record in the marathon and was sitting close to him hours before the race started in the meet hotel (see attached picture). That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience! It’s not my fastest marathon ever but it was a really positive debut.
Setting a new Canadian record is an incredible achievement! Take us through your experience in Japan.
It’s important to note that a lot of work went into getting me to the start line fit, healthy, and ready to compete – not just from me but from a lot people who helped along the way – my coach, physio, strength trainer, sports psychologist, exercise physiologists, support crew (family, friends, husband) and teammates (and I’m sure I’m missing someone in there!!). In hindsight the training going into Nagoya went well, but while I was going through it I was more focused on the process and less on the result so in that sense I surprised myself on race day.
The race was held on a Sunday morning in Nagoya, Japan and I flew there alone on the Tuesday before, arriving the Wednesday night. My coach joined me a day later. Traveling to international races as an invited athlete can be stressful, especially in Japan where the food is a little different form what you’re used to at home. But there was several other athletes from Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, and my coach actually lived in Japan for a few years in the 80’s so we were able to navigate it without problems. The Nagoya marathon is a women’s only race – the largest of its kind in the world – and that was a seriously cool thing to experience. Typically marathons are mixed gender. Because it’s not hard to find a man who can run a sub 2:30 marathon elite females can normally draft off of and work with the men in the race. It’s not uncommon, or in any way unethical, for a woman to have a male pace her through 30k of a marathon, but in Nagoya this was not an option. Every athlete I ran with was a female, the pace-setters who took us through 30k were female, the 14 athletes who beat me were all running 2:26 or faster, which is a solid, world class time for a female. Thousands of fans lined the streets to cheer us girls on. It was a very empowering thing to experience.
I think deep down everyone involved in my training knew I was capable of the result – A Canadian record and a 2:26:56 marathon – but actually pulling it off was something else. After the race it was really nice having my coach there to celebrate with. We had about 24 hours to eat sushi and enjoy some Japanese beer before heading back to Canada.
3. You also finished ninth in the 10,000 metres in the Commonwealth Games last April. What’s your preference?
The marathon and the 10,000m are two very different events and I love them both in their own way. Commonwealth Games didn’t play out as I would have liked but I’ve definitely had 10,000m races on the track which came together and it’s a really fun distance to race. The marathon is largely about the training and details that go into planning for the event, and then on race day you execute your plan and hope that things beyond your control (weather, pace setters, general health etc.) hold together. Of course fitness matters in the 10,000m but it’s more of a pure race – you need to respond to your competitors and make tactical moves intelligently. Running 25 laps of the track (10,000m) and 42.2km on the road are probably pretty comparable when it comes to the mental and physical demands during the race, but the type of pain you experience and focus it requires are completely different. The marathon also takes a lot longer to recover from which is good and bad – it means you can’t do back to back races but you also get to take time to celebrate your achievement after which is something you have less of in the 10,000m. I’m hoping to return to racing on the track this summer and I’m curious to see how I find it after focusing on the marathon for the better part of this past year.
Describe your training regime prior to any major running event?
With the exception of two two-week blocks of rest each year I basically train year round, regardless of the event. The details of what workout and how much volume of running I do each week depends a bit on the event I’m training for – the training program will have more speed for shorter races and marathon training involves a lot more tempo runs and high volume. In general, I run 7-10 times a week, do 2-3 event specific workouts, lift weights and pool run twice a week and do physio drills daily. My total volume varies between 65-90 miles a week depending on if I’m training for a marathon or in the middle of a competitive track season. It’s taken me years to build up to this type of training volume and now it comes fairly easily, but in order to handle it I need to dedicate a lot of time to rest and recovery between sessions.
Give us an insight into your daily eating habits.
I can’t emphasize this enough – training for endurance sport is associated with huge caloric, and micro- and macro-nutrient demands. I work hard on my nutrition and try need to eat healthy, nutrient dense, well balanced meals. It’s important to avoid counting calories, or cutting out entire food groups as in the long run this is not sustainable or healthy. Training for the marathon also requires fueling with carbohydrates during training as you deplete your muscle-glycogen storages in longer workouts, which has been interesting to learn about. Nutrition is very important in sport, and it can be expensive and time consuming to keep up with. In big training blocks I’ve found that cookies are often the most efficient way to get your calories in quick!
Last but not least, as a Yorkie, do you have any particular school memory that ignited your passion for running?
I first joined Cross Country as a Yorkie in grade 4 and, with the exception of grade 9 where I didn’t run track, was on the team every single year from then on! The gym teachers and XC/track and field coaches were all really supportive of my love for running even back then, and are probably a large part of why I’m in the sport now. I have a lot of fond memories from my days of competing as a Tiger, but specifically remember every year Mr. Jackson would design new, special technical shirts for the cross country team so we could be the “sharpest looking team” at zones. I’d look forward to seeing what he’d planned every year! In my grade 12 year our cross country team placed 3rd in the province which also stands out.
This year’s Alumnae Special Achiever, Kirsten Sutton (Koopman-Osterreicher) ’83, describes herself as “an unconventional tech leader.” From a professionally trained chef, Kirsten has navigated a significant career pivot to become one of Vancouver’s most celebrated tech execs. As she commented in a recent interview with Business in Vancouver, “I really love cooking: I love feeding people, which isn’t so different really to what I enjoy now at work: that collaborative environment, working together, creating things that are brand new.” Kirsten is also a mother and her daughter, Olivia in Grade 8, attends York House.
SAP is a global software company with 95,000 employees in 160 countries around the world. In her current position as Vice President and Managing Director of SAP Labs Canada, Kirsten is one of only two female Managing Directors within the global SAP Labs Network where she inspires innovation within the Canadian development organization and manages 3000 employees in SAP’s four research and development hubs across Canada.
She is also the Global Head of Engineering for SAP Jam, leading a multinational development team working on a cutting-edge cloud collaboration software with over 51 million subscribers. Her role gives her a prominent voice in the technology industry. This year, she was recognized as one of Business in Vancouver’s Influential Women in Business and as a YWCA Woman of Distinction, which honours individuals whose outstanding activities and achievements contribute to the well-being and future of our community.
Kirsten actively promotes gender advancement at her company and generously provides both formal and informal mentorship to younger women interested in the technology sector. An advocate for girls in tech, she supports education initiatives like Templeton STEM and GIRLsmart4tech. Last June, Kirsten hosted a “Yorkies in Stem” evening at SAP Labs Canada’s headquarters in Yaletown, an invaluable networking opportunity for YHS alumnae. On YHS Alumnae Day, she participated in the “Breaking the Mold” panel discussion, offering practical steps to confidently navigate and push boundaries.
As a leader in promoting diversity, Kirsten has led the way for SAP Canada’s adoption of Autism@Work, an SAP initiative to hire and integrate 650 individuals on the autism spectrum into the workplace globally. Under her leadership, SAP Labs in Vancouver was recently awarded the Rick Hansen Foundations’ Certified Gold accessibility accreditation, making it the first business in Canada to be recognized. Outside of SAP, Kirsten gives her time as a Director of the Board of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and Science World British Columbia, and as chair of the Minerva Foundation, which provides leadership development programs for women and girls, and partners with organizations to advance gender parity in BC.
In her Founders’ Day address to students, staff, and alumnae as this year’s Special Achiever, Kirsten, proudly wearing her YHS blazer, attributed her success to following an unconventional path. Before enrolling in university for a degree in linguistics and creative writing, she already had 24 diverse job experiences to draw from, including private investigator, retail clerk, instructor of Business English and computers, actor, playwright, stage manager, bartender, chef and technical writer. “YHS had and continues to have tremendous influence on me and was key to who I am and how I succeed today. I didn’t appreciate it then and maybe today you don’t either. The years you will spend here are truly transformative.”
York House, was not only the place where she lived (her family home was formerly located on the school grounds where the gymnasium is now), but a place where she had been able to thrive as her unique self, to express her passion for questioning the status quo and why things had to be a certain way. She always had the insatiable desire to “break the mold,” to be a disruptor, and spin wild ideas. At the time, this was not always so well received as demonstrated from a few report cards, suggesting that she had potential and the ability to be successful, if she avoided the temptation of being easily distracted and spending time objecting to what was happening in class.
Today in her professional life, the Kirsten from 1983 isn’t much different from the Kirsten of 2018. She is championed as a disruptor, who inspires creativity and innovation, and leads her team to think differently, pushing them out of their comfort zones. Kirsten shared the 3 most important lessons she learned at York House:
“1. Be Unique: We are all Tigers (YHS Sports team) here and no two tigers have the same pattern of stripes. Every tiger in the world is unique. Being at an all-girls school wearing a uniform everyday, with everyone looking the same, studying the same subjects, competing in the same sports, engaging in the same shared experiences, you have no choice but to figure out what makes you stand out.
2. Be Yourself: Often girls feel that they have to present themselves in a certain way, like certain things or downplay their talents. To be your best self you have to be your true self. York House was a safe place for me to be me and is a safe place for you to be you.
3. Be Ferocious: We all have fears. It’s what you do with those fears that matters. At YHS you have the chance to try many things you may be afraid of. This is your time to experiment. Sink your teeth in, give it a try and be ferocious. When a tiger wants to be heard, you’ll know it, because you can hear them roaring as far as three kilometer away. Let everyone hear us roar!”
In closing, Kirsten expressed her gratitude for her time at York House and “the unique ferocious tiger that was brought out in me.” She encouraged teachers past and present, “to entertain the innovative, disruptive ideas of your students, as you never know where they may end up and the influence they may have thanks to your influence today.” Based on the spontaneous clapping and laughter of the audience of staff, alumnae and our Golden Alumnae, and students, Kirsten’s inspiring words and great sense of humour, clearly resonated with all who attended this Founders’ Day. Congratulations Kirsten on yet another achievement!
You graduated from YHS in 2007. Where did your post-YHS journey take you?
After graduating from York House I went straight to UBC. I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do, but knew I wanted to study a field related to science and food. In my 3rd year I took an International Nutrition course which got me interested in Public Health, specifically looking at the immense impact nutrition can have on health at a population level. After finishing this course I knew I wanted to work in Public Health. I decided to get my Masters in Public Health Nutrition in The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), where I focused primarily on epidemiological research methods, statistics, and policy. As part of the LSHTM curriculum, I took a position with the International Potato Centre (CIP) where I worked with the sub-Saharan Africa team in Kenya on a unique Bill & Melinda Gates funded project, which was looking at the effects of providing new agricultural techniques on the health status of pregnant women. From there I stayed in Europe for the next 4 years and worked for the World Health Organization in Geneva and The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations in Rome. At FAO I was involved in the nationwide integration of a new indicator: the Minimum Dietary Diversity Women (MDD-W) in the national survey of Tajikistan. We helped build awareness around the importance of eating a varied diet and nutrient dense foods, especially for women of a reproductive age.
Now I’m back in Vancouver and I’ve co-founded Fed, a nutrition startup that produces ready to eat meals. Our meals provide 100% of all your daily nutrients through real food! Fed has allowed me to bring together my passions in health and nutrition, and apply them in a fast-moving startup. Our vision is to improve people’s health at a micro and macro level—all through real food.
What are your fondest memories of York House?
My fondest memories of York House would have to be our yearly camp trips. Every year starting in Grade 5 the whole class would go to a different campsite in BC. Having a sense of independence at such a young age was so exciting and being able to experience that with your closest friends is something I’ll cherish forever.
With your background in nutrition, can you give us three top tips for good health?
Don’t restrict yourself or follow any “rules” or diets when eating, just eat what makes you feel good. Try to avoid eating processed foods and too much meat. Its best to eat more vegetables and fruit. Also try and stick to the 80-20 principle, eat clean 80% of the time and allow for a few more “fun foods” 20% of the time.
Drink lots of water!
Variety is key! Switch it up every day and eat a variety of different foods. It will help you get different nutrients throughout the day.
You moved back to Vancouver from Italy and set up a business? Can you tell us a little about that?
Working at the UN, especially FAO was a great experience! But I felt like I needed to be in a more challenging setting in order to grow as a professional and work on a project that can demonstrate measurable impact in people’s daily lives. While in Rome, I got a call from an old friend at UBC who was thinking about a specialized meal concept, focusing on nutrition and taking a food as medicine approach and he asked me if I want to help. I decided to take a risk and leave my job in Rome; I moved back to Vancouver and we started Fed. That was 2 years ago. We now have a team of 10 people and an entire operation set up from our industrial kitchen to our delivery system. It has definitely been a challenging experience and one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had thus far.
What is your five year plan?
Over the next five years, I’ll continue working on making our vision for Fed a reality. Our goal is to be in five cities in five years, and to have a number of specialized offerings for those dealing with a variety of diet-related diseases such as diabetes.
Irene (Triandis) Harvalias ‘52, was nominated for the Alumnae Association’s Lifetime Achievement award by her class of 1952. For their nomination, they prepared an amazing handwritten book, including many photos of Irene at work in the community and of her exquisite handmade quilts.
When Irene arrived in Vancouver in 1948 from Greece after World War II, she knew no English beyond “hello”, “good-bye”, “please” and “thank you”, and “my name is Irene.” Before starting Grad 9 that September, she recalls having 10 lessons with Miss Langridge. From the beginning of her time at York House, Irene showed remarkable determination and by the end of the school year, she was well on her way to speaking, reading and writing in English and very much involved in school activities.
By graduation she was Vice-Prefect of Iroquois, President of the Drama Club, and was the YHS Chronicle’s Language editor as she excelled in languages. Her remarkable determination was not forgotten by her classmates. Irene attributed her success to the smaller classes, and her wonderful teachers. Her all-time favourite was one of the founders, Mrs. Gerhardt-Olly – Mrs. G.O. as she was called. “She was the best teacher in all my years of schooling, and that includes university.”
Throughout her life, Irene has always striven towards furthering her education and it was heartbreaking to have to return to Greece and not continue on to university. When she was able to return to Vancouver, she attended night school, while her children were little, then went to UBC when they were in school to reach her goal of becoming a teacher. “I taught in three different schools, then went back to UBC and got a Diploma in teaching children with learning disabilities. I taught everything from K to Grade 5, and French to Grade 7. I LOVED teaching and adored my students. I am proud to say that I am still in touch with many of them today.”
L – R Beverley (Graham) Hurd, Bobbi (Pritchard) Coates, Ann (Paterson) Bostock, Irene (Triandis) Harvalias, Marilyn (Pipes) Cassady, the late Pam (Rose) Metal, and Penny (Bell-irving) Wilson.
It was only after Irene retired that she was introduced to quilting. ‘I became an avid quilter and have made hundreds of quilts in the last 23 years.” Irene soon found herself back in the classroom teaching students how to quilt. Her daughter, who was teaching in an inner-city school asked her to teach in her class too, which eventually led to the Maywood Mom’s Monday group of 25 ladies from all over the world. This group is now in its 12th year. Much of the finished work of the students is donated to hospitals, homeless shelters and other deserving places. Through her love of quilting and education, Irene has not only lived the school motto, Not for Ourselves Alone, but also shared it with people from all over the world.
One of Irene’s students, Nirmala Mehta in India, sharing her joy at being able to create a stall of items to raise funds for those in need. Nirmala has been in Irene’s quilting group for three years and has deep gratitude for her ability to make a difference through quilting.
Irene commented, “Sharing my love of quilting has been a great joy to me, and being able to do what I do with my “Maywood Moms” gives me a very good reason to get up and get going every Monday morning. This has been a real “gift” for me, and I am SO grateful that I can still do this little bit. My giving has been my gift to myself!” Congratulations Irene, you are an inspiration to us all!
On Founders’ Day, alumnae from 1942 – 1968 came back to school and were met by student executives before being led on a fun school-wide tour by Laura Edwards ’74, Executive Director Advancement and Gillian Smith ’81, past YHS Parents’ Association President.
The Golden Alumnae luncheon began with the melodious tones of Ragazza, the YHS Senior choral group, led by music teacher Benila Ninan, in the singing of the old YHS assembly hymn Unto the Hills and a glorious rendition of Blue Skies. Head of School, Julie Rousseau welcomed the Golden Alumnae, YHS Legacy Society members, and guests.
“This is a very special day, one that honours our seven founders, trailblazing women, for whom I am truly grateful, who in 1932 had the bold vision to establish this wonderful school for girls.” Mary Raikes-Tindle, niece of founder Gladys (Morden) Jopling, who attended the luncheon commented, “This echoed my sentiments that these seven women, were way before their time and were very courageous and strong to take on such an endeavour.”
Julie introduced this year’s Alumnae Day theme, “Breaking the mold, overcoming obstacles, dismantling barriers and creating opportunities for both ourselves and others. Our founders clearly broke the mold as I am sure they surmounted many challenges along the way to making their dream a reality, this wonderful school for girls that continues to represent excellence in girls’ education, 86 years later.”
Stevie (Bryson) Mitchell ’61, YHS Foundation Chair, led grace in the words of founding Head of School, Mrs. Lena Clarke, and the first course was served, an aromatic squash soup with yam, apple and nutmeg, quite different from the meals recalled by York House boarders. 50th through 70th reunions were celebrated with the sharing of a myriad of memories from earlier times. A member of the class of 1958 commented, “What a wonderful day we all enjoyed. The tour of the school was very impressive and the speeches and luncheon outstanding….it was such great fun chatting with classmates.”
After the luncheon, Joanne Lee-Young ’90, Alumnae Association President, announced the 2018 Alumnae Lifetime Achiever, Irene (Triandis) Harvalias ’52, who has truly lived the school motto, Not for Ourselves Alone, throughout her life and was nominated by her class of 1952. For their nomination, they prepared an amazing handwritten book, including many photos of Irene tirelessly at work in the community and of her exquisite hand-made quilts, as well as those of her many students. Much of the finished work of the students, completed on donated sewing machines, is given to hospitals, homeless shelters and other deserving places.
The nomination book is currently on display in the Museum & Archives display case in the Gail Ruddy foyer as part of a 1950s – 60s Alumnae Special Achiever display. Samples of her quilts are hanging in the Alumnae Art Gallery on the 3rd floor of the Senior School.
Jessica and Sophia, Junior Head and Vice Head girls, shared their thoughts about the Founders’ Day theme, Breaking the Mold, “Mme Curie, Rosa Parks or more recently Malala Yousafzai and Serena Williams. All of these women are connected by a common thread – they broke the mold. These important women have inspired many people here and around the world to act with courage, persevere when times are tough, and be willing to break through barriers that limit us. We too, each and every one of us, can Break the Mold.”
Their passionate address was followed by a lively performance by the Grade 2 girls, who sang I’m a York House Girl to a rapt audience.
Following the much-anticipated delivery of York House chocolates by the youngest Junior students, YHS Head Girl Ava, Grade 12, welcomed the Golden Alumnae on behalf of the student executive and shared a few experiences from her time at the school. Joanne Lee-Young, Alumnae Association President, encouraged all to attend the Founders’ Day assembly after the luncheon.
The highlight of the assembly was the presentation of the 2018 Alumnae Special Achiever award to Kirsten Sutton (Koopman-Osterreicher) ’83. As VP & Managing Director, SAP LABS Canada, Kirsten is one of only two female Managing Directors within the global SAP Labs Network. She is also the Global Head of Engineering for SAP Jam, leading a multinational development team on a product with over 51 million subscribers.
As an unconventional tech leader and executive, Kirsten is also an advocate for girls in tech, and supports education initiatives like Templeton STEM and GIRLsmart4tech and has led the way for SAP Canada’s adoption of Autism@Work, an initiative to hire 650 individuals on the autism spectrum globally. Kirsten was recognized in 2018 as one of Business in Vancouver’s Influential Women in Business and a YWCA Woman of Distinction. All were inspired by her address to the whole school.
Other highlights included the presentation of Alumnae pins, which were given to Grade 12 students. This was an especially memorable moment for alumnae in attendance, who had the chance to give the pin to their sisters, daughters, nieces, or granddaughters.
New on the Founders’ Assembly agenda this year, was the presentation of two new YHS Foundation Awards in memory of two outstanding alumnae, Caroline Anne (Sexsmith) Trausch ’84 and Katherine Manders ’96.
The Caroline Anne Sexsmith Trausch Award was presented to Pepi, Grade 12 and the Katherine Manders award, to Grace, Grade 12.
The Grade 4 student’s energetic performance of the YHS School March and the singing of the school song all together by alumnae, students, staff and guests, stirred up many memories, which will remain with those who attended this special day of celebration.
We usually think of alumnae as being connected to the school’s past. It is true we are the holders of history and tradition. However, alumnae are also very much part of the school’s present and we have an important role in building a community for its future.
This year’s Alumnae Day culminated in an inaugural staff, students, and alumnae basketball match. Players from all generations of Yorkies answered a call for them to be in the gym.
There were two teams, each captained by alumnae, Lisa ‘05 and Jess ‘10. They were leaders in their time at the school and both stepped up early to say they would participate. Other players included alums from a range of graduating years between 1991 to 2017. There were also current teachers and parents, some of whom are alums, as well as current Tigers players in Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12.
Even though it was billed as a fun, exhibition game, it was also as intense and competitive as any Tigers game.
In a display of true Yorkie spirit, at halftime, Head of School Julie Rousseau rallied players and spectators together for a shooting competition and skills demo.
It was so great to see families of alumnae, including parents who gave much of their time and care to the school in a variety of positions in years past, come to watch.
Derek Francis, husband of the late Joanne Francis, a former Phys Ed teacher who was at the school between 1979-2001, delighted in seeing some of the up and coming Yorkie players. Gail Ruddy, former Head of School, cheered as loudly as ever.
The coming together of this event really highlighted how YHS admin, staff, teachers and coaches–especially those who are considered honorary alumnae for their long years of service to the school—stay in touch with and cheer on our alumnae.
Commenting on the game, Amanda de Faye, Class of 2010 said: “It was so much fun to see everyone, meet the girls who are current students and to play in the gym that was a second home to so many of us. Thank you as well for grouping players from the same year. Playing with Jess ‘10 again was magic. I already can’t wait for next year!”.
Thank you from the Alumnae Association to everyone who was part of this. Plans are already afoot for next year’s Alumnae Day basketball game. We’d love to see you there!
This year’s Alumnae Day was a jam-packed event that engaged our alumnae in meaningful discussions, gave classmates time to reconnect, and even asked them to step out of their comfort zones and try something completely out of the ordinary.
Our day started with both a mindfulness session with school counsellor Ly Hoang and recent grad Leah John, Class of 2018, as well as a yoga class with current parentDr. Genieve Burley. Afterwards, alumnae gathered in the Gail Ruddy Foyer for gourmet coffee hosted by Caffee Umbria owned by parent Peter Lee and his barista assistant, Joyce.
After lunch, one group attended a STEAM workshop hosted by Junior School teacher, Jen Sharpe, while another group participated in the improv workshop hosted by two grads of 2018, Anna Everett and Andrea McMinigal. Everyone else went on a tour of the school led by Laura Edwards ‘74.
The basketball game in the gym brought our alumnae back together for the afternoon and what an exciting and intense game it was. Teachers, past teachers, alumnae, honorary alumni, parents and past parents all joined together to cheer on the players and the enthusiasm was palpable.
The day ended on an artistic note with the opening of this year’s alumnae art exhibit on the 3rd floor of the Senior School. Co-curated by Brittne Potter, Class of 2012, and our own YHS curator,Julie Grundvig, the exhibit features five alumnae artists from a variety of classes and embraces the theme of “breaking the mold” through its exploration of a variety of mediums. We hope you will come up to see the exhibit – it’s well worth it!
Thank you for all who attended and made this Alumnae Day one of the best yet!
You are invited back to York House for an inspiring day to connect with fellow Yorkies, meet new members of the community, celebrate reunions, learn something new and more.
A Breaking the Mold panel of speakers, moderated by Julie Rousseau, new Head of School and innovative educator and leader, will include current YHS parent, Kirsten Sutton (Koopman-Osterreicher) ’83, Vice-President and Managing Director, SAP LABS CANADA, Anne Giardini, SFU Chancellor, lawyer, corporate director, author and past YHS parent, and Salima Remtulla ’00, Vice President, Operations & Corporate Strategy at Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel.
Fun hands-on experiential activities will follow in the afternoon with a chance to push boundaries and to see things through a different lens. There will also be tours of the school, the Alumnae Art Gallery exhibit, the Museum & Archives as well as yoga with Dr. Genieve Burley and mindful meditation with Senior School Counsellor Ly Hoang to start the day. Join us for an exciting alumnae versus students basketball game arranged by the YHS Alumnae Association. Come cheer on the teams! The day concludes with the opening reception of the Alumnae Art Gallery Breaking the Mold exhibit. Visit yorkhouse.ca/alumnae day for session descriptions, speaker bios, and to register.