February 2024

Inside Havergal

Message from the Principal

Dr. Katrina Samson

February is often associated with the “blahs”—a time of year in Canada when the dark skies and cold weather leave people feeling a little down, looking longingly towards the springtime. At Havergal, however, we combat those February blahs with a healthy dose of green and gold spirit! From our youngest Gators to our Grads, Spirit Week at Havergal is met with great enthusiasm. New students, faculty, staff and parents get to experience first-hand one of the distinguishing Havergal qualities—our unmatched school spirit. The highlight of the week was undoubtedly Hockey Day, where this year more than 800 students and huge numbers of faculty, staff, parents and Old Girls/Alums joined to cheer on our Gators as we took on Bishop Strachan School in this annual tradition celebrating girls in sport and school spirit.

This year, thanks to some parents and the perseverance of our Upper School Athletic Director, we had three players from Toronto’s PWHL team—Jess Jones, Jessica Kondas and Emma Keenan—join us for the ceremonial puck drop. In speaking with the players before the game, they were blown away by the excitement (and volume) of the crowd. For me, having them join us during their inaugural season highlighted the difference we are making at Havergal—that is, showcasing the strength and passion of women and girls who are making a positive difference in the world. If anyone ever questioned the interest in women’s sports, all they had to do was experience the excitement in the Mattamy Centre—from the hundreds of signs made to support athletes on the ice, to the creative chants designed to cheer on our Gators —the power of women and girls was on full display. For girls, their moment to be at centre ice, centre court and centre stage has most definitely arrived! 

Despite the healthy competition throughout the week, the true meaning of Spirit Week is a celebration of community and togetherness. The pride in our school, the connection between students who know what it means to work hard and play hard, to support one another in excelling, to strive for excellence, these are the sentiments that bond our girls together, shape our community and make Havergal like no other place on earth. Thank you for all of your support this month.

The end of February also marks the time we welcome new members to the Havergal community. Our Admissions team has been working non-stop to meet prospective families and share what makes Havergal so special. Thank you to the countless volunteers who helped with school tours and shared positive experiences about HC with prospective families. We’re excited to welcome an incredible group of students to Havergal and see how they will contribute to the Havergal spirit!


Headshot of Diane Jeffreys

Message from the Board of Governors

Diane Jeffreys, Chair of the Financial Sustainability Committee

The Board of Governors’ Financial Sustainability Committee has the primary mandate to safeguard the long-term financial sustainability of Havergal College. As Chair of the Financial Sustainability Committee, I have the pleasure of working in partnership with an engaged group of volunteers, as well as Havergal’s Chief Operations Officer, Laura Sims, and the Executive Director of Finance, Johann McCormack.

Our committee members include current and past parents and leaders in the community. We look to involve a mix of individuals with a wide range of backgrounds and financial experience. This provides the opportunity to bring a diverse perspective to discussions and broad insights in support of the financial decisions the school makes.

The Financial Sustainability Committee is working with the Planning & Priorities Taskforce and Havergal’s Senior Leadership Team to ensure the financial plans are in place to support the long-term strategic direction of the school.

Working with the school’s Chief Operations Officer and the Executive Director of Finance, we continue to focus on overseeing and monitoring Havergal’s financial plan, both short and long-term. This involves balancing the interests of multiple stakeholders, including students, parents, staff and faculty, and—like all good financial plans—is a balancing act requiring careful consideration of a series of trade-offs. The topics that we regularly discuss include:

  • Capital spending that invests in the campus to maintain and enhance our facilities in support of our strategy and programs.
  • Short and long-term financial plans and the funding required to support the wide variety of programs that are fundamental to the student experience at Havergal.

As the Chair of the Financial Sustainability Committee, I am happy to report that Havergal continues to be financially strong, benefiting from a disciplined, responsible and thoughtful approach to fiscal responsibility.


This Month

US and JS Athletic Recap Winter 2024

Anna Bartlett, Junior School Athletic Director, and Carla Di Filippo, Upper School Athletic Director

As Athletic Directors, we are constantly impressed by the level of participation of our students. We are a school of “do-ers” and this is highlighted in the Athletics program. 

This winter, we were thrilled to host 26 sports teams in the Upper School, with 426 participating athletes, and 15 teams in the Junior School, with 155 students competing in one (and sometimes two) of these teams! There is nothing that brings us more joy than seeing the increasing demand for sporting opportunities for women and girls. 

Here are some athletic highlights for the year so far:

  • Our Upper School D2 Hockey Team placed second in the CISAA regular season, even though it was only in its second year of existence. The team competed in a 3v3 tournament hosted by St. Anne’s School. 
  • We’ve also seen a huge surge of interest in rugby at HC, with more than 30 students registered for winter rugby training. 
  • We’re proud that our school is leading the way for girl’s squash. After applying pressure on the CISAA to make squash an official league for girls, Havergal is making this happen by providing support for the sport through the convenership of the league. Havergal just won the first ever CISAA “A” Flight championships!
  • At the Junior School, there are a record-breaking nine Volleyball Teams for students in Grades 4 to 6, with more than 82 students participating in the sport. Here’s a photo of all of our JS volleyball players this year:

Being a part of a team has so many benefits and seeing high participation rates makes us proud as educators. We know that students who are involved in athletics gain confidence from not only the skills they learn during a season, but also from the support and encouragement they gain from having a strong social network made up of coaches and teammates. Students who develop healthy, active lifestyles when they are young benefit from these skills throughout their lives.

Havergal's D1 Hockey Team at Hockey Day.

Havergal Loves Hockey Day!

At Havergal, Hockey Day is more than just a hockey game. It’s a day where students, teachers, staff, Old Girls/Alums, families and friends come together, dressed head-to-toe in green and gold (quite literally) to show our support, gratitude and love for everything HC. There is no force greater than the HC spirit. The vibrant energy, unity and sense of belonging is present each and every day at our school, but Hockey Day is when we get to show the world how we live these attributes and what it truly means to be a Gator! 

At its core, school spirit is more than just cheering for sports teams or participating in pep rallies; it’s about cultivating a deep connection to one’s school and embracing its values, traditions and community. This year we hosted more than 800 Havergal students from Grades 4 to 12 at Mattamy Athletic Centre, where we cheered on the Gators. 

Even though we lost the game, we still won the day. We could not be more proud of how our team represented our school and played their hearts out, supporting one another from start to finish. For the fans, it was a treat to watch the athleticism of one of the most beautiful sports in the world. At a time when women’s sports are breaking records in viewership and ticket sales, Hockey Day also demonstrates, once again, that women belong in sport. Thank you, HC, for demonstrating class, inclusiveness and spirit on Hockey Day.

It’s definitely a Gator thing! 

Nicole with a friend at Hockey Day, cheering on the crowd.

Spirit Week Message from the Clubs and Spirit Prefect

Nicole G.

As I look back on my 14 years at Havergal, it’s hard to believe that they’ll soon be coming to an end. From my first day in Junior Kindergarten until now, my fondest memories have always been centred on the spirit that defines our school.

One particular event that stands out is Spirit Week. I may be biased as Clubs and Spirit Prefect, but it really is the best week of the year and it’s incredible to see everyone in the community embrace the fun by dressing up in their craziest outfits. The sight of students dressed in their head-to-toe colourful outfits, all coming together to cheer as loudly as they can, always amazes me. There is a sense of unity that flows through these ivy walls; whether it’s because of the energetic cheer-offs or the collective enthusiasm during assemblies, there’s a fantastic sense of togetherness that’s truly inspiring.

This past year, I decided to run for the Clubs and Spirit Prefect role for the 2023-24 school year because of my passion for fostering unity and excitement within our community. Events like Spirit Week have a significant impact on us students by providing a real sense of belonging and helping us create lasting memories.

I will never forget my first Spirit Week Assembly: I was four years old when all the Prefects came to the Junior School and taught us the school cheer for that year. Ever since then, I knew that spirit at Havergal is more than just a tradition; it’s a fundamental part of what makes us Gators; it’s what makes this community so strong and our school experience truly special. 

As I prepare to move on to the next chapter of my life, I’ll always cherish the memories of cheering in a crowd of green and gold or shedding tears during my last hockey day. Go Gators!

Gator Gala 2024 logo

Get Your Gator Gala Tickets Today

Ticket Sales Close Friday, March 8!

Do you have your tickets for this year’s 2024 Carnival Gator Gala? Tickets are $150 each for all Upper School students and their adult guests (one parent or guardian per student) and include a choice of delicious Brazilian inspired meal options, drinks, dancing, a photo booth, plus a few fun surprises! Get your tickets today—sales close on March 8!

Purchase your tickets here

Can you donate to the Gator Gala Silent Auction or to the event Swag Bags?

The auction offers something for everyone, with all proceeds going to the HCPA to support community engagement initiatives and school priorities. Amazing silent auction items include tickets to sporting events and concerts, art, jewellery and unique experiences like tours or “behind-the-scenes” opportunities at workplaces or venues. For silent auction donations, please contact Jenn Ocampo-King at [email protected] or Donna Wilson at [email protected]

Swag bags are a fan favourite of Gator Gala attendees. If you would like to help take this year’s swag bags to the next level, please consider a donation. Potential options could be lip gloss, high end snacks, sunglasses, mini beauty products or any other item you feel the girls might like or that represents the Carnival theme. For swag bag donations, please contact Jeanette Lawrence at [email protected], Shelagh Carnegie at [email protected] or Kara Kennedy at [email protected].

Thank you for your support!

HCPA logo

HCPA Nominations for 2024-25

Next month, the 2024-25 Havergal College Parent Association (HCPA) nomination process will begin. This is a great opportunity to get more involved with the school and join our dynamic, fun and engaging parent leadership team! Watch for an email next month that lists all open positions. 

The HCPA is committed to an open, transparent and inclusive process and encourages you to self-nominate or nominate someone who you think might be interested. In the meantime, for more information on our process, please reach out to the HCPA Co-Chairs ([email protected]).

JS A-mazing Race logo

JS A-mazing Race

Save The Date: Sunday, May 5!

The A-mazing Race is always one of the highlights of the year for our Junior School and this year will be no different! On Sunday, May 5, students and their partners (an adult over the age of 21) will join us on Havergal’s campus (outside, if weather permits) to engage in friendly competition with their House teams. In addition to participating in a series of games and challenges, participants will enjoy snacks and refreshments, and—most importantly—have fun while connecting with other members of our JS community. 

More details to come.

Save the Date for Moms’ Night Out!

Mark your calendars for the HCPA’s Moms’ Night Out (MNO) on Thursday, May 23. This year, our organizers are planning something a little different for this popular annual event—you won’t want to miss it! One thing that will stay the same is that the evening will feature food, drinks and the opportunity to catch up with friends, old and new. Watch for the official invitation in early April. 

Inside Focus

The crowd at Hockey Day wearing green and gold and cheering their hearts out.

The Power of Havergal’s Green & Gold

Krista Koekkoek, Vice Principal of Student Life and Wellbeing

I have just come up for air after my first Spirit Week at Havergal College. It was a whirlwind of dressing up, cheering on and participating in the fun inter-school competitions that can help remind us of what really matters in our schools. No, it’s not necessarily having the most Party City accessories to match your grade’s dress-up colour or winning the infamous Hewitt Cup game versus Bishop Strachan School, although those are great highlights. As someone tasked with thinking about wellbeing for our students and its intentional development in our school, for me, Spirit Week brings to life the true power of community and the potential of its collective impact.

Let me explain.

We all yearn to belong. It’s no surprise that this feeling of genuinely being a part of a community is considered essential to us feeling well. When we are valued for our strengths, we feel seen. When these strengths intertwine with those of others, an unstoppable synergy emerges. True wellbeing is cultivated through both appreciating individual contributions and embracing the power of the collective. A definition of true belonging that struck a chord with me, which I’m quoting from author and inspirational speaker Brené Brown, is the ability to “share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone.” 

So, what did I see this month? How were Havergal students both standing confidently alone and united as one?

  • Our annual Upper School Grade Cheer Off: We saw students emerging as leaders in rallying their peers, creating lyrics and choreographing set pieces. Then, standing together as a grade in front of their school, singing louder and prouder than I have ever witnessed.
  • Hockey Day: There were leaders on the ice and in the crowd—and everyone had their own sense of style—but all of it was green and gold. Our cheers were uplifting, in praise of peers and regardless of the score; the school emerged as victorious.
  • What about our Junior School House meetings? The Grade 6 students planned and executed the House meetings—a leadership moment they won’t soon forget. And do you know who was in the crowd? The Upper School House leaders who came to cheer them on and be a part of the meeting; a testament to the interconnected nature of our community.

In essence, wellbeing is realized when individuals embrace their authentic selves, finding confidence in both collective endeavours and solitary pursuits. This vibrant spirit is alive and thriving at Havergal, nurturing young women who are poised to make a difference. Go Gators!

Grade 6 student leaders holding up signs with their names.
Grade 6 Junior School House Leaders.

Meet Our Faculty & Staff

Carla Di Filippo

Upper School Athletic Director

Ms. Di Filippo (also known as Ms. D.) has the privilege of providing opportunities for girls to play sports in the hopes they discover a passion for physical activity, which for her is one of the most rewarding careers in the world. 

Sports have been an integral part of her journey since childhood, when she was a competitive swimmer, specializing in the 400m IM, 200m Breaststroke and 800m Freestyle. During her undergraduate years at McMaster University, her dedication to swimming led to numerous achievements, including winning three Ontario University Athletics championships, receiving co-MVP recognition in 2001 and earning Academic All-Canadian status in 2000 and 2001. Following the conclusion of her swimming career, Ms. D. discovered Ultimate (Frisbee) and instantly fell in love with the sport. The spirit of the game, coupled with the athleticism it demanded, captivated her instantly.

After learning that Ultimate hosts a World Championships and is a part of the World Games, Ms. D. dedicated much of her free time to trying to make the national team. In 2012, one year after having her first child, she was named to the Senior National Team, where they finished third at the World Championship in Japan! This experience sparked a realization: there was a shortage of women coaches in the sports realm, a gap that Ms. D. felt compelled to fill. Thus began her transition from player to coach.

Over the years, Ms. D. has had the privilege of coaching elite athletes from across Toronto and Canada, both on club teams and national teams. Among her proudest moments are clinching the World Championships in 2016 (triumphing over the USA) and co-coaching the World Games team in 2022 in Alabama. To be recognized three times as Coach of the Year by Ultimate Canada has also been a tremendous honour for her.

Ms. D. is currently coaching the Women’s Senior National Team, who are competing at the World Championships in the Gold Coast, Australia, in late August 2024. She is greatly looking forward to this national team cycle and competing on the world stage one more time this summer!

As Ms. D. continues to navigate her coaching journey, she remains steadfast in her commitment to empowering young athletes, instilling in them the values of teamwork, dedication and sportsmanship. Her experiences, both as a competitor and a coach, have reinforced her belief in the transformative power of sports and the profound sense of fulfillment that comes from nurturing the next generation of athletes.

She is grateful every day for the opportunities Havergal College provides for students and the school’s belief that girls and women deserve the same sporting opportunities as men. Every day she gets to live out her dream in a place that shares the same passion, demand for opportunity and, most importantly, spirit of sport.