Letter from Bermuda

from L to R: Deonn Fubler, Lynette George, and Jennifer Harvey, Class of 74

Navigating your way through Bermuda can make you feel the sort of profligacy of Bev Oda: “petrol”, $6 USD a litre, loaf of bread $7.00.

I skipped the orange juice.

Paradise it is, and it doesn’t come cheap.  I arrived last night to host an alum reception where I spent a delightful evening with three OLC ladies from the class of ’74.  They regaled me with their stories of Upper Main, living in what is now Mme. Begy’s classroom.  OLC, Whitby, and Canada were a world far away for three teenage girls from the island. They met at our school and have known each other ever since. And the island being as small as it is (53.3 sq km) the normal degrees of separation are densely compacted circles.

Bermuda – Aerial photo

Bermuda’s relationship with the outside world is an ever-morphing symbiosis.  The place is literally mid-Atlantic in geography and culture.  The accent is a charming patois, more England than America, but US dollars are the currency. Canada is solidly the third country of influence here.  Except that interestingly, while roughly 40% of Bermudians attend Canadian and American universities respectively (with the other 20% opting for the UK), Canadian boarding schools capture slightly more market share than the Americans.

You can live wonderfully well here but if you need major surgery or radiation you’re on a plane to Halifax or Boston.  Education here seems to engender the sorts of feelings it does everywhere, although I was impressed to learn that the Bermuda Ministry has adopted the University of Cambridge diploma.  However, many families want their children to get a taste of the wider world before college or university that is where we come in.

The self-sufficiency and reliance of our residence program is exactly what parents want for their daughters before they leave the island for the next phase of their education.   We are delighted to be back in the business of enrolling students from Bermuda, and I do promise to give an opportunity to other members of our school to visit paradise next year…

Are you “present”? Ideas and strategies for staying on task....”

Maintaining focus for a length of time is indeed a skill.  Some might say with the speed of delivery of information on the television and Internet, retaining focus is becoming a lost art. 

Distractions do abound in our everyday world, but there are methods to bring attention back to one central location.  In class, the teacher may change their vocal delivery, implement technology, use the students’ names to ask questions about the current topic, or even gently tapping the desk.   Out of class, reading for stretches of time, working on a single project at a time, practicing a sport or rehearsing an instrument beyond half an hour are extremely effective.

Awareness or “presence” in class is a team effort.  The teacher can monitor and look for cues, but developing longer times of focus are often built into the classroom planning as the student becomes older.  Presence in class for the student can refer to being alert, relying on proper amounts of sleep, reducing personal “drama” stress, and being prepared for the lesson.  Being present also means having all materials ready, following along with the teacher, taking part in the class, ensuring the homework is understood and of course physically being in class.  I can’t emphasize how essential it is that students attend every class possible. Lateness or being away unfortunately plays a large role in creating difficulties with comprehending the material, group work, and of course is a vital part of socialization.

Related to this, Trafalgar Castle has continued to run the Pursuit of Excellence Programme designed for students who have a heavy commitment outside of school such as dance, music, or sports.  The amount of hours devoted to developing the specific skill is inspiring and often exhausting for the student.  One of the key elements of the programme is developing proactive habits.

When a student has to be away for her Pursuit activity, we guide and expect the student to seek out her teachers ahead of time to discuss the lesson and upcoming work.  If a deadline arises, then the teacher and student negotiate it well in advance; the important component being the planning ahead.  This process, though, is not just for Pursuit students. We would hope that any student who knows of a necessary absence would make these arrangements, too. With the calendar sent out early in the year, our desire is that personal scheduling is done to allow the student to be in class each and every day, unless ill.

If you would like more information about the Pursuit of Excellence, please feel free to contact me.

Mr. Southwell

Fall at the Castle

It's one of my favourite seasons at the Castle! The fall colours are beautiful on campus, and the school is alive with activity...

Turkey Trot

This year's annual Turkey Trot was a perfect launch for the Autumn season. Our Head Girl, Taylor Whyte, gamely (no pun intended) donned the infamous turkey suit and raced around the school, with screaming Trafalgar girls in hot pursuit! The turkey prevailed, as always, and cheered our runners on as they dashed around the Heart in their final lap. This tradition serves to celebrate the opening of the school year--once you've made it to Thanksgiving, I always say, you're off and running!

Resident Travels

This time of year also signifies the start of big adventures for girls at Trafalgar. Our boarders travelled with me and my husband and our daughter, Kylie, over the long weekend to Ottawa. Many enjoyed their first-ever Thanksgiving dinner (we were properly stuffed!), and got a true sense of the North in full Fall display.

Keep an ear open for announcements about our upcoming long weekend trips to Montreal, Quebec City, and New York City--some of these getaways may be open to Day Girls!

Exchange Programme

We are also reminding girls in Grades 9-12 that now is the time to be considering an exchange. Our students travel across Canada from January-March on exchanges, and applications are available NOW from Ms. Schindler. Come early to ensure you get your first choice in destination! 

And there are plenty of adventures available for all interested Trafalgar families willing to host an incoming exchange student! We are keenly looking for families willing to open their homes to students from BC, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Australia.....We even have approximately 65 Aussie students arriving for a 3-day musical tour in March, and we'll need your help!  If you are interested, please contact Ms. Schindler for more details (schindler.christina@trafalgarcastle.ca

New Supervision Policy

Finally, our new After School Supervision policy is in effect. All students in Grades 5-8 must be signed in and settled in the Dining Hall each day by 4:30pm for quiet study and relaxation. Don't forget to remind your daughter to sign out in the Residence Office upon her departure, as well!  If your daughter is going to be at school after 5:30pm on occasion, please let me know. If you are interested in having her join the boarders for dinner on these occasions, please contact Carmen Holland at holland.carmen@trafalgarcastle.ca

That's all for now! I'm looking forward to seeing you all at our upcoming Charity Bazaar on November 3rd! (Stay tuned for more news on that in our next newsletter!)