December 2021

Gator Gazette

headshot of laura franks

Message from the Head of Boarding

Laura Franks

Dear Parents,

It has been a busy few months since the start of the school year. Our Boarders arrived on Labour Day weekend and we were able to hold an outdoor Welcome Reception for their parents and families. Although we still have some pandemic measures in place (masking, cohorting, rapid testing) our students have been able to return to a more normal life experience. Both day and overnight leaves are allowed and we have had a number of off-campus excursions, including escape rooms, the Van Gogh Immersive Exhibit, Halloween Haunt at Canada’s Wonderland and the Winter Village in the Distillery District. Classes, extracurricular activities and weekend shopping, dining and outings are all back in person and in full swing. Our Boarders have picked up where they left off in March 2020 and are looking forward to what we hope will be a continued positive way forward through this pandemic.

Our Dons and Junior Don team continue to offer great weekend workshops on Sundays from 3:30 to 5 pm. From crafts, to baking and wellbeing, Boarders have experienced an array of interesting activities as they take a break from their studies to rejuvenate themselves, continue to build close friendships and have a moment to join the community for fun, learning and relaxation. 

The focus of our Boarding Curriculum this year has been a course on Hope and Optimism. Boarders are learning how to develop hope and optimism in order to increase their wellbeing. We began by exploring resilience: the amazing human capacity to bounce back from adversity. Resilience is essentially our ‘self-righting’ tendency and also represents our most potent problem-solving ability. As we continue on in this program, our aim is to examine the potential for building the skills essential for hope, optimism and resilience in ourselves and others.

All the best,

Laura Franks 
Head of Boarding

Inside Boarding

Message from the Boarder Prefect

Jamie W., Grade 12

Hello everyone! I am Jamie and I am so honoured to be your Boarder Prefect for the 2021-22 school year. I come from Hong Kong and this is my third and final year at Havergal. As the Boarder Prefect, I represent my Boarding School friends in the wider school community. I lead an amazing Junior Don team that is composed of Boarders from Grades 9 to 12. Within the team, some Junior Dons are in charge of organizing cultural dinners, while others are responsible for publishing Boarding Newsletters every few months. During our weekly meetings, we come up with fun and engaging events and constantly try to make the Boarding community a comfortable second home for everyone. To further foster a positive and supportive environment, I strive to promote diversity and inclusion within both the Day and Boarding Schools.

Throughout these past three years, I’ve gotten to know the most supportive and loving people in Havergal and formed lifelong friendships with people I can now call my sisters. Thinking back, coming to the Boarding School at Havergal was an easy decision for me to make. I still remember my first visit during the summer of Grade 8. I was instantly drawn to the welcoming environment and knew that this was the place I wanted to grow up in. Coming to the school as a student in Grade 10 was definitely memorable. I wouldn’t say that it was completely easy to integrate myself into a place full of new faces, because like with any new environment, it is difficult to meet new people. Thankfully, the Dons and Junior Dons were really helpful and worked together to make my transition a lot easier. With weekly workshops and various cross-school events, I soon adapted and made new friends within the Boarding School.

My favourite thing about Havergal is definitely the support I receive in the community. Aside from Guidance Counsellors and Social Workers in the Day School, the Dons and Junior Dons work closely to provide the best support to Boarders. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Boarders are separated into four grade cohorts to prevent the spread of infection. Not only does this ensure our physical wellbeing, but it also allows Boarders to form strong bonds within their own grades. Boarders from each grade come together at least once a week for cohort meetings. The Junior Don team also arranges events to encourage interaction between different grades. In addition to the weekly activities that take place on campus, off-campus school excursions are held once every month. Numerous Boarders, especially the new students, find these events helpful in building friendships outside their grades. These events also allow Boarders to experience the upbeat and bustling city culture of Toronto.

To learn and mature in such a loving environment is a privilege and Boarding at Havergal has taught me essential skills I would never have learned in class. I have learned to live with a roommate, prioritize my tasks and even how to use a washing machine. I am eternally grateful for my experience here and I would never trade it for anything.

Interview with a New Boarder

Chloe Y., Grade 10

Kelly: Thank you, Chloe, for coming to today’s interview. It’s our pleasure to feature you in the December newsletter and let others know more about new Boarders’ experiences this year. 

Chloe: Thank you for inviting me too!

Kelly: Let’s start by talking about your first year as a Boarder at Havergal. In what way is Boarding different from what you expected?

Chloe: I thought that it would be hard for me to adjust to a new environment, but surprisingly, my transition was so smooth! All the Boarding staff, faculty and my fellow Boarders were so welcoming and I wasn’t homesick at all. I really enjoy my time at Boarding because I get to be with my friends all the time. I am the only child in my family, so it is interesting to have a roommate who shares a room with me and helps me when I’m in need.

Kelly: That sounds very true. Last year was also my first year at Boarding and I was uncertain about whether I would get used to living without my parents. But the fun activities helped a lot with getting rid of the worries! I had more opportunities to hang out with my friends, so my favourite aspect of Boarding is the activities! What’s your Boarding favourite activity so far? 

Chloe: After two months into the year, my favorite activity so far is the Canada’s Wonderland trip with Upper Canada College (UCC). After a year of COVID-19 restrictions and remote learning, I have made friends with people on social media but haven’t had the chance to meet them in-person. I believe this is the situation of many other students as well.

Kelly: I agree! Why did you enjoy that activity the most? 

Chloe: Wonderland was so much fun and I got to go on roller coasters with my fellow Boarders and new people from UCC. The Wonderland trip with UCC not only provided us the opportunity to meet friends from another school, but also allowed us to go to Wonderland for free!

Kelly: Absolutely, going to Wonderland for free does sound very attractive. So other than Boarding excursions, did you have the chance to hang out with friends on weekdays or weekends?

Chloe: Definitely; we can go and grab a drink from Starbucks after school which is super nice. We also go out on weekends to explore different restaurants nearby. For example, we went to Chat Bar and Meet Fresh on Yonge Street. The food there was incredible and I had lovely memories with my friends.

Kelly: That sounds great. What Boarding activities are you looking forward to in the future? 

Chloe: I would prefer more off-campus activities such as the Wonderland trip and the escape rooms. They were both very thrilling and I think it’s fun for international Boarders to learn more about special activities in Toronto. 

Kelly: I do think these activities are great choices for de-stressing after a long week of school. I am really glad to know that you are enjoying your life in Boarding so far. Thank you for this interview, Chloe!

Chloe: Thank you so much for having me!

Interview with a Returning Boarder

Kerry L., Grade 11

Daphne: Hi Kerry, thank you for coming to today’s interview. We are honoured to feature you as a returning Boarder in the December newsletter. 

Kerry: I am happy to speak with you. 

Daphne: I know that we are both food lovers, so what do you think of the food in Boarding?

Kerry: My favourite food from Boarding is the beef meatballs. They taste super good and I often ask for more after the chef gives me the standard amount she gives to others. I also like the variety of granola bars in Boarding. They are my favourite snacks. 

Daphne: Same! The meatballs are new this year and they’ve also become my favourite food from Boarding. What’s also different this year is having a roommate. How do you feel about having a roommate this year?

Kerry: I love it, because I can have a buddy to talk to and vent about homework. We also have a lot in common which makes having a roommate more fun! We go to Starbucks during lunch and after school, go shopping and study together. She always says that I motivate her to study, while I often ask her homework questions while studying. My roommate and I complement each other and I enjoy it very much!

Daphne: I agree. My roommate and I have a lot of fun too. We often hang out outside campus and do Boarding activities together as well. Being in Boarding for the third year, what has been your favourite activity?

Kerry: My favourite Boarding activity has been building gingerbread houses with my cohort. It gives me a Christmas vibe, which makes me look forward to the Christmas break, where I can reunite with my family and take a break from the exhausting schoolwork. Doing the activities as a cohort is also nice, as I get to spend time with my friends on weekends.

Daphne: I am also looking forward to Christmas and watching the beautiful snowy scenery on the holiday. Overall, what do you like most about Boarding this year?

Kerry: The different off-campus activities that Boarding hosts, such as going to Wonderland and the Christmas Market. Because of COVID-19 restrictions last year, we were not allowed to go off-campus, but we had great activities on-campus. This year, it feels special to have the opportunity to go off-campus again and it is always nice to have a variety of activities in the city. 

Daphne: That is also my favorite part. Thank you for your time, Kerry. I really appreciate your willingness to share your experience and perspective with us.

Kerry: Thank you for having me.

Boarding Program Activities

This year, Boarding is hosting a variety of activities both on and off campus. Throughout these activities, we have received positive feedback from our fellow Boarders. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, we have three cohorts: Grade 9s and 10s, Grade 11s and Grade 12s. Despite being in cohorts, we have still been able to establish a close rapport across grades and cultivate a more caring, united Boarding family.

Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit

Boarders went to the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit. We wandered through 600,000 cubic feet of stunning giant projections that highlighted the artist’s mesmerizing brushstrokes, details and colours, animating the master’s oeuvre and illuminating the mind of the genius: Van Gogh. 

Escape Rooms

Doing escape rooms was also an impressive experience for Boarders. We split up into groups and entered the chosen escape rooms, employing courage, logical thinking or imagination in a limited but highlighted moment.

Thanksgiving Dinner

The Thanksgiving Dinner consisted of juicy roast turkey, stuffing, smooth mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn and pumpkin pie. The Thanksgiving feast by our wonderful kitchen staff was super festive and reminded Boarders to be grateful for everything. 

Halloween Haunt

Halloween Haunt at Canada’s Wonderland turned the theme park into a scream park filled with Halloween attractions that offered unforgettable thrills and unspeakable horror for Boarders. We immersed ourselves in the nightmare of Halloween Haunt, an event where the streets were filled with terror, including hundreds of monsters, terrifying scare zones, ghoulish street performers, live music, thrilling night rides and electrifying live shows. 

Upcoming Events


December 12: Sports Day Workshop

December 14: International Christmas Dinner

December 15: Last day of Classes & Carol Service 

December 16: Boarding Closes at 12 pm


January 3: Boarding Opens at 4 pm

January 21: Off-Campus Excursion: Skating at Nathan Phillips Square

January 26: Last day of Semester 1

January 27-31: Semester Flip (No Classes), Boarding Open

February 1: First day of Semester 2