May 2023

Inside Havergal

Katrina Samson

Principal’s Message

Dr. Katrina Samson

What a year it has been! At all levels of the school, we’ve relished in our first full year of in-person learning since the pandemic, and the feeling is joyous. From academics to co-curriculars, it’s evident that being together enhances the learning experience for students from JK to Grade 12.

While we worked to “build back better” when resuming our in-person curriculum, the students are the ones who brought their enthusiasm and openness to truly make this year one of progress. From our JK and SK students exploring collaborative play, to girls throughout the grades returning to their favourite sports and clubs or venturing out to try new things, it’s been great to see such a level of interest and engagement. Socially, too, there’s been a renewed interest in peer-to-peer school events, from dances to tournaments—it’s been wonderful to return to the on-campus experience that we all missed.

Beyond campus, students are also reconnecting with our community. Our Grade 6 students, for example, participated in a service learning experience at Holland Bloorview, in which they explored issues around ableism and designed assistive technology games that they were able to share with children at the centre and collaborate with on improvements.

Another group that has impressed us with their resilience is our Grade 12 graduating cohort. Recently, we’ve seen Grade 12 students presenting their final Global Learning and Leading Diploma research, Chemistry students sharing their poster projects, and students showcasing their final academic art and music performances. The high quality of work was only matched by the thoughtful and generous feedback they provided each other.

To me, these academic culminating events are just one reflection of the overall character of this graduating class. They made it their goal this year to set a tone of optimism, spirit and inclusion. As a class, they are always looking for ways to come together and model belonging for their younger peers. Whether it was Beatstock, athletic assemblies, athletics games, Relay for Life or COSSOT social events, this graduating class did a great job of modelling what it is to show up and inspire their younger peers with their social leadership and school pride. As a cohort, their experience as seniors in high school was so significantly disrupted: they had to hear about and borrow from past generations what these years should feel like, and yet they managed to also craft their own version of the graduate experience. That takes courage and creativity.

As the Grads move into the next phase of their journey post-graduation, I hope they take time to reflect on the momentum they created here and how they will build on it as they venture forward individually and together as Old Girls/Alums! When they reflect on their accomplishments, I suspect they’ll find much to draw on from their experiences together and be able to envision for themselves a future that’s full of the same energy they’ve manifested for all of us this year. In this, our last edition of Inside Havergal for the 2022-23 school year, I want to thank you, our community, for your support of Havergal, your belief in our mission and your championing of our girls!


Debbie Simpson headshot

Message from the Board of Governors

Debbie Simpson, Chair of the Board of Governors

The end of another action-packed school year approaches; seems like the blink of an eye and here we are, the last Inside Havergal message from the Board for the year. It has been a spectacular year so far with the restart of all our sports and social activities. For this, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the Havergal community, Dr. Katrina Samson, the Senior Leadership Team, faculty and staff, as well as to the entire Board of Governors and Committee members for their unwavering support in ramping back to the amazing full Havergal experience that we all know and love. 

In keeping with the school’s heritage of traditions, the Board invited student leaders to the April meeting to share their perspectives on the year. We were joined by Claire Radin (School Captain), Beats Tura (Sports Prefect) and Maddy Cunningham (Wellbeing Prefect). Claire, Beats and Maddy enthusiastically spoke of the main focuses for this year’s student leadership team: improving bonding between grades; creating a sense of belonging for everyone; sharing their love for the school; encouraging spirit and participation; soliciting and elevating student input focused on inclusivity and leveraging solutions-based feedback; helping new students join the community; and honouring and celebrating traditions. This year’s leaders created a sense of belonging for everyone and opportunities to be heard while elevating a strong emphasis on wellbeing.  

It was inspiring to listen to Claire, Beats and Maddy’s enthusiasm and fresh approach to broadening the leadership base to make all this possible. This year’s leadership team has encouraged and supported our students in raising funds and awareness for Kids Help Phone’s Hockey 4 Health campaign leading up to Hockey Day 2023. With their admirable commitment to having a long-lasting impact, the Class of 2023 Grad Gift Fund will be dedicated to professional development for faculty in the area of mental health. It was not only a pleasure to have these outstanding young leaders join us at the Board meeting, but it was also a learning and truly insightful experience—thank you Claire, Beats and Maddy! Please share our gratitude with the whole student leadership team.  

As this school year heads to a conclusion, Dr. Katrina Samson and her team have completed the first year we have been fully open since 2019. It has been so wonderful to see treasured events return such as Celebration Saturday, in-person Carol Service and the whole school participating in Founders’ Day, as well as sports and performing arts scheduling and inter-school trips like CAIS basketball and OFSAA. It’s so magical to have our community back and celebrating together again. The Senior Leadership Team and some of our community have been working hard on the Strategic Framework, which will be rolled out to the wider community by the fall of 2023. The Board has been engaged in this process and is delighted with the progress and the work that has been done over the past year; personally, I have not seen such an inclusive, thoughtful and engaging approach. Members of our leadership team are champions of Havergal’s values of integrity, inquiry, compassion and courage. As strong advocates for the advancement of young women and children, we can feel the benefit of the team’s focus on innovation, wellbeing and experiential learning—many thanks to everyone who has been involved so far.

Last but certainly not least, I would like to acknowledge our 2023 Grads. We are thrilled that you can celebrate your accomplishments with the meaningful traditions of this milestone and take with you cherished friendships and valuable learnings. As you embark on this next chapter, please know you will forever be a part of the Havergal community and fabric. As you venture beyond the ivy, our very best wishes and immense support and cheers accompany you on the road ahead.

As always, no message would be complete without a polite reminder that for any donation inquiries, please reach out to Havergal’s Executive Director of Advancement, Annette Paul ([email protected]), to find out how you can participate.

Best wishes to everyone for an amazing summer ahead!


This Month

An Announcement from the Board of Governors

As the final school semester nears its end, we reflect upon our accomplishments over the past year before turning the page to a new chapter in September. Simultaneously, our Board of Governors also turns the page as current Board Chair, Debbie Simpson, will transition her leadership role to incoming Chair, Jill Fraser (Class of 1987).

Debbie joined the Board of Governors in 2014 and assumed the position of Board Chair in September 2020. During her tenure, she has been steadfast in her role, steering us through the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic in concert with our Senior Leadership Team (SLT), supporting the transition and onboarding of two principals, as well as guiding our capital infrastructure projects through completion and opening in the fall of 2020. Most recently, she contributed to a successful visit with the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) Peer Review Team and championed the strategic planning process. Her open, transparent and decisive guidance has seen Havergal through key milestones, while her excellent governance lens ensured the Board remained focused on strategic matters and fiduciary oversight of the school. Prior to her appointment as Board Chair, Debbie served as Chair of the Financial Sustainability Committee of the Board for four years as the school’s Master Plan came to fruition. We sincerely thank Debbie for her incredible leadership and dedication, despite a demanding professional workload, and are pleased that she will remain on the Board of Governors. 

Following the Annual General Meeting in late September, we will officially welcome Jill Fraser to the role of Board Chair. Jill has served on the Board of Governors since 2018 and is currently Chair of the Planning and Priorities Task Force, which oversees the strategic planning process. Jill graduated from Havergal in 1987 and her daughter is a graduate of the Class of 2021. She is a partner at Aird & Berlis LLP and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and Financial Services Group. In her role as Board Chair, Jill will be focused on ensuring the school’s long-term strength, reinforcing the Board’s role in providing strategic oversight and supporting the SLT with launching a new strategic plan in the fall. Jill has more than 25 years of experience practicing law, and we look forward to the expertise and leadership she will bring to her new role on the Board. 

Students of different ages posing in a group photo.

Celebration Saturday Save-the-Date

You’re invited to Celebration Saturday, a day filled with fun, community and purpose!

Join us on Saturday, September 23, 2023, from 9 am to 1 pm on campus for an action-packed day that has lasting impact.

The entire Havergal community, including students, faculty and staff, Old Girls/Alum and parents are welcome to attend this all-community event.

Experience fun activities, delicious food and great music while raising funds to support our community partners and showcasing our school’s mission, vision and values. This event is the perfect opportunity to connect with peers from different grades, strengthen our sense of belonging and demonstrate our commitment to community outreach, partnership and support.

Stay tuned for more details and mark your calendars!

A Year of Prideful Joy at the Junior School

Kate White, Head of Junior School

As we approach our final weeks of school, we reflect on what Dr. Samson describes as “prideful joy.” This marks the first time in three years where our students, families, faculty and staff have been able to come together in-person for the full school year. It has most definitely been a year of “building back” across all areas of Havergal life. 

Academic Learning

We have taken full advantage of our beautiful learning spaces in the new building, allowing our teachers to plan even more engaging and enriching programming for our students. Some highlights of this include welcoming a number of artists in residence such as Marissa Magneson, a Cree-Métis artist and educator; Dr. J.S. Kofi Gbolonyo, Lecturer in African Music and African Studies And Director of UBC African Music and Dance; Mitch Bondy, a musical clinician who worked with our Primary Choir; and Marjie Chud, a professional theatre artist and artist educator. In STEM, through a process of inquiry, students in Grade 5 found two separate solutions for identifying black plastic so that it could properly be recycled. They presented their work not only to the Junior and Upper School during Prayers, but also to Toronto’s Deputy Mayor. Students in Grade 1 integrated the arts, math and science to design and build their very own dream bedrooms. Students in Grade 6 partnered with the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Centre to co-create midway games that were fun and accessible, while students in Grades 2 to 4 visited Variety Village to learn more about accessibility in sports.  

Co-Curricular Experiences

We have been able to offer a full range of co-curricular opportunities through performing arts, athletics and club programming, with our highest registration numbers yet! Our Primary and Junior Choirs absolutely shined in this year’s Christmas Concert at St. Paul’s Bloor Street church, and we had over 60 students participate in the Junior School Musical: “101 Dalmatians,” both on and off stage. Our athletics program was a rousing success this year, with students participating in everything from multi-sport, to swimming, cross-country, track and field, soccer, softball, volleyball, basketball and, for the very first time this year, Ultimate! And, who can forget the Junior School Hockey Team winning their half-time game at the Mattamy Centre on Hockey Day, or their historic time playing in the UCC annual boys school hockey tournament (and coming out undefeated)! Finally, it was such a pleasure to have students take part in a wide array of clubs, where they honed their coding skills, learned the art of public speaking, tried out new recipes and so much more!

Community Building Events

Finally, it was such a thrill to bring back and start new traditions that served to bring our community together across the bridge. Hana Ley, our Junior School Prefect, and Ms. Watt were instrumental in finding ways for us to connect and really feel like a whole school, from JK to Grade 12. This included: impromptu dance parties at morning drop-off, Upper School students regularly presenting in Prayers, arranging for our Grade 5s to present their incredible Flash mob in Upper School Prayers, accompanying our kindergarten students to the Boarding School for trick or treating, bringing back the Haverbuddies’ pen-pal program, organizing the Kindergarten-Grad Tea and helping us practise the Junior School Cheer for House Shout.

As we look forward to next year, we are grateful for all this year has brought and are eagerly anticipating what lies ahead.

Grade 8 students wearing purple and performing a cheer.

A Year of Opportunities at the Middle School

Cissy Goodridge, Head of Middle School

As I reflect upon the past year, I am delighted to share the accomplishments of our students. With pandemic restrictions lifted, we have returned to regular school life and our students have seized the opportunities available to them.

One achievement is the growth of our co-curricular program. Across all areas, our participation numbers reached an all-time high. Walking through the Middle School hallway, you would be struck by the atmosphere—filled with the sounds of laughter, music and students preparing for their French conversation tests. 

Outside, the fields are alive with soccer matches, field hockey games and the ever-popular Ultimate matches. We are proud of our U13 Softball Team, who faced an unexpected challenge when their league folded early in the year. Thankfully, they were able to join the U14 league and went on to secure third place in the championships. Our U14 Softball Team claimed first place! It was a fine finish to a rocky start to the season. The successes continued as our U13 Basketball Team took first place in the CISAA championships.

In the Arts, our students showcased their talents in two drama productions. Our fall show featured more than 70 student participants and our spring mini musical revue saw the participation of over 40 students. These productions not only provide a creative outlet, but also serve as a means for our students to connect, forge new friendships and explore their artistic abilities. This year, our music program continued to excel, with the band returning to competition and an outstanding spring concert that featured the talents of every Middle School student.

With the return to regular programming, so too has our Exchange program. This year, some of our Grade 8 students travelled to Edinburgh (Scotland), London (England) and Rickmansworth (England). Students who went on exchange also hosted their exchange partners here at Havergal. 

During our Form time, students engaged in various wellbeing activities. Whether it was working with our Drama specialist Mark Uhre—who taught students how to use their voice to resolve conflicts—or learning about envy or procrastination, students were able to take away important life skills that could be used immediately. Form time also served as an opportunity for connection and fun, thanks to the efforts of our Student Council. They organized a multitude of enjoyable activities, including door decorating contests, cookie decorating sessions and a movie night.

As we say goodbye to the year, we celebrate the activities that have expanded our students’ experience beyond their academic classes. These experiences nurtured new friendships, created lasting memories and provided invaluable life lessons. We look forward to the 2023-24 school year and all the possibilities it holds for our students.

Grade 12 and 7 students together at Grad Hunt.

Rekindled Connections in the Senior School

Deirdre Timusk, Head of Senior School

Reflecting on the past year at Havergal, the Senior School perspective highlights a multitude of memorable events that brought the community together. From Hockey Day and Semi-Formals, to the cherished traditions of Carol Service and Celebration Saturday, students were happy to be reunited with familiar faces from the Junior School as well as alumni and newcomers. Yet, amidst these grand occasions, it was the smaller, often overlooked moments that truly defined the essence of Havergal.  

Rekindling connections took centre stage this year with each grade embarking on a camp adventure. Havergal students discovered they did not know as many students in their grade as they thought they did. Whether the students went to Campfire Circle, or Camp New Moon, students embraced the opportunity to make new friends and deepen existing friendships. As Grade 11 student Callia astutely noted, “I am finishing off this school year proud to say that I have expanded my circle of friends, gone out of my comfort zone and met amazing new people along the way.”

These connections are what make Havergal special. Seeing the bonds that develop between the Grade 12s and the Grade 7s over the course of the year amplifies the distinctive character of our school. Serving as role models for both our Middle and Junior Schools, our senior students embody the spirit and enthusiasm that define Havergal. Nowhere is this more evident that during House Shout, a spirited gathering that unites the whole school community in celebration. 

Looking back over the past year, it is clear that Havergal’s magic lies not only in the large events but also in the smaller, daily interactions that enrich the lives of students. Those moments of laughter in the hallway, sitting in the quad in the springtime or cheering on one of our performances or games are what help to connect us to each other and make Havergal a remarkable place to learn, grow and belong. 

Group photo of the Marguerites of the Class of 2023.

Top Ten Life Lessons to the Graduating Marguerites*

Junior School Teachers Raeme Lockington and Britney Coleman

*A Marguerite is a Havergal student who has been at Havergal since JK, SK or Grade 1. These students have spent the last 12 to 14 years learning together.

On May 2, we had the distinct honour of sharing some life lessons with this year’s Marguerites at a celebration commemorating their time at Havergal. These lessons were inspired by our fond memories of our time with the graduating class while they were in the Junior School.

At this event, we offered the following words of wisdom we think will guide them in their future endeavours: 

  1. Never give up. Just ask the 2015-16 U11 Basketball Team (made up of this year’s Marguerites). The members of this team were down 0 to 9 at halftime in their championship game. They came back and won 10 to 9! This goes to show that even if something feels impossible, persevere and stick with it. 
  2. Always be willing to help others in need and have the courage to ask for help when you need it. 
  3. No matter where you are off to next year, know that your family is always here to love and support you. Remember the Grade 5 trip to Algonquin when we had to rub some of your backs at night while you shed tears of homesickness? Distance and time is only temporary. Your families will be with you near and far.
  4. Be flexible and demonstrate a positive mindset because it will get you through (almost) anything! Remember our Number Talks and Monthly Mindset themes? Take this learning with you. See situations from as many angles as possible and have an open mind when approaching new situations. 
  5. The lessons you learned in the Junior School will guide you in your lives forever; be kind, be courageous, stand up for yourselves and others, and be a good friend.
  6. Know when to use your voice and don’t be afraid to speak up.
  7. Show gratitude in the simple form of notes and emails. The fact that we have kept many of our cards from years past shows how meaningful they can be to someone. Writing a card or an email to express thanks goes a long way. 
  8. Stay in touch with your former teachers by visiting the Junior School. You will always be warmly welcomed. Maintaining these relationships is such an important life lesson and it means a lot to the people who have watched you grow into the accomplished, compassionate, talented and capable young women you have become.
  9. Tell the people you love that you love them. Express how you feel for those who bring joy and meaning to your lives. You won’t regret it. 
  10. Finally, never forget: We love you Marguerites! Best of luck as you depart Havergal and head off into the world to do remarkable things. 


Ms. Lockington, Ms. Coleman and the rest of your Junior School teachers 

Green & Gold Shop Summer Closures

The Green & Gold Shop will be closed for the summer starting on Friday, June 16 until Tuesday, August 8, 2023. It will also be closed on Friday, September 1 for the long weekend.

Please ensure you order any necessary uniform items before the shop closes to ensure you have it for the first day of school.

Moms’ Night Out Recap

On Wednesday, May 24, many Havergal moms gathered at CIBO Wine Bar for the HCPA’s annual Moms’ Night Out (MNO). This lively, sold-out event gave people the chance to catch up and make new connections while enjoying drinks and appetizers. Use this link to see photos from the event (passcode: Havergal). 

Many thanks to MNO Cho-Chairs and Vice-Chairs Mary Dean, Mekhul Verma, Zubina Mawji Dahya and Nadene Riopelle. Not only did they plan a fantastic evening, they did so under pressure after their first choice of venues fell through. If you have feedback or ideas for next year’s MNO, please share with Zubina ([email protected]) or Nadene ([email protected]).

Pre-Loved Uniform Collection

Wednesday, June 14

Don’t miss your last chance this school year to clean out closets and donate gently loved uniforms items. On Wednesday, June 14, volunteers will be in the drop-off lane of the Upper School to take your donations from 7:30 to 8 am. Alternatively, you can drop items off in the Ellen Knox library from 8:30 am until 12 noon.  

Donating gently-used uniform items that our children have outgrown and purchasing second-hand items is a great way to reduce our carbon footprint and raise money for the HCPA at the same time. 

We gratefully accept the following items (please ensure all are in good condition with no stains/tears):

  • tunics
  • blazers
  • skirts
  • kilts
  • pants
  • dress shirts
  • polo shirts
  • sweaters
  • sweatshirts
  • jogging pants
  • gym uniforms

Upper School Used Textbook Collection

Wednesday, June 14

On Wednesday, June 14, the Canadian School Book Exchange (CSBE) will be at Havergal to accept donations of used textbooks and other books (including novels, cookbooks, coffee table books, etc.). Volunteers will be positioned in the drop-off area of the laneway from 7:30 to 8 am to collect books right from your car or you can bring your books directly to the Ellen Knox Library from 8:30 am until 12 noon.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Visit the CSBE website
  2. Log in to your account and navigate to “Sell My Books.”
  3. Click “Intake/Drop Off.”
  4. Print the QR code.
  5. Place the QR code in a sealed box with the used textbooks you wish to sell.
  6. On Wednesday, June 14, please drop your books off at the Upper School as instructed above.
  7. You may also click “Print & Ship” and follow the instructions if this date does not work for you.

Please ensure your textbooks are placed in a sealed box with the Return Authorization Number and/or QR code slips inside. For multiple boxes, please place a printed copy of the QR code in each box. Your personal books (e.g. novels) can be simply packed in a box–no QR code is required for these.

Inside Focus

Goodbye to Havergal and the Class of 2023!

Claire Radin, School Captain 2022-23

It feels strange to be writing a goodbye letter to the place where I have grown into the person who is writing this. A million things rush through my mind. I am not ready to leave; I will miss all these people. I don’t know who I am without this place. I cannot wrap it around my head that my time decking myself out in green and gold has come to a close. The end has been hovering over me since the beginning of the year, with my Grads, crying together at Campfire Circle because of the collective realization that everything this year would be our last. 

To say goodbye to Havergal is to say goodbye to a childhood full of laughing at each other and ourselves, learning how to become the people we want to be and just living life in the good old days.

To the school:

Thank you for turning me into a person I am proud to be. The older students and my teachers taught me to have respect; the people in my grade taught me how invaluable friendship is; my classmates taught me about teamwork and how hard work can also be a lot of fun! Having the chance to grow up in an environment where it is cool to try, to be smart and to be spirited is something that I will always cherish. 

To our teachers:

I cannot thank you enough! Thank you for all the after-class conversations, for the advice, for accepting the nicknames we coined for you and for calling us out when the “senioritis” peaked. A special thank-you should go to Ms. Marshall and Ms. Pang for keeping our quiet room secrets.

To the student body:

Your love and gratitude for each other, your teachers and staff, and our lovely school has made being inside these ivy walls for the past nine months extremely special. I am always inspired by your intellectual curiosity, enthusiasm and love for each other and for our school. It has been so nice to be around people who also want to be at school and love Havergal. I will miss losing myself in the sea of green and gold. 

To my fellow Grads:

Grads, thank you for the best times of my life and for giving me 120+ more siblings. It makes me so sad that we won’t be together as this exact group again for a while. I will always miss walking into the Grad Common Room and joining a random conversation, submitting every English assessment in the class before that in-class deadline, and coming together on the first day of summer break to “pass the torch.” I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to get to know such a thoughtful, intelligent, fun-loving, hilarious group of people.

From the copious tears about graduating and multiple teachers needing to convince us that university will be fun, I think it is safe to say that Havergal will be dearly missed by us Grads. 

You meet so many people who say high school wasn’t their time or place, and it definitely can be a difficult time and there is a lot to figure out, but I think it is a wonderful thing that high school can also be a time you loved and had some of the best memories and we are so fortunate. 

I am so excited to see the places we go and the people we become. Gators forever!


Meet Our Faculty & Staff

Mohammed Abdul-Ghani

Director of Facilities

Mr. Abdul-Ghani joined Havergal College in July 2022 as the Director of Facilities. He has had a progressive career in healthcare Facilities Management, with roles at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and, more recently, with Sinai Health System (Mount Sinai Hospital). He has managed the construction of multi-million Public Private Partnership (P3) contracts, developed objective capital spending plans and supported the facilities master planning team.

Mr. Abdul-Ghani brings an excellent skill set to Havergal College, including: mentoring and leading a multidisciplinary team, managing large-scale facilities in a 24/7 environment, as well as planning and executing a variety of capital projects. He has vast amounts of knowledge in operations, maintenance and energy management. Over the years, he has fostered and developed strong working relationships with consultants and contractors to meet many challenging facilities needs and sustainability goals. As part of his commitment to operational excellence, one of Mr. Abdul-Ghani’s goals is to help Havergal College achieve its sustainability goals and provide the students with a safe and comfortable learning environment.

Mr. Abdul-Ghani holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto and is a licensed Professional Engineer in Ontario. He also acquired the Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate, and became a Certified Energy Manager (CEM) to enhance and expand his skill sets.

In his personal life, he has a strong passion for health and fitness. He is also a big fan of soccer, which he plays as a holding midfielder or as a right winger. Mr. Abdul-Ghani watches the Premier League and is an Arsenal fan. One of his bucket list items is to travel to England to watch a soccer game.