May 2024

Inside Havergal

Headshot of Katrina Samson.

Principal’s Message

Dr. Katrina Samson

At Havergal College, we believe in the boundless potential of girls. Our goal is to cultivate an environment where girls are empowered to become the changemakers and leaders of tomorrow. To achieve this, we are committed to providing unparalleled opportunities through innovative programs, state-of-the-art facilities and a rigorous academic curriculum. These elements are crucial in equipping our students with the skills and confidence necessary to make a significant impact in an ever-evolving world. 

Our new strategic plan, Empowering Excellence, has been designed to create an environment where if girls can dream it, they can do it. Our programs are developed to inspire and challenge our students. From STEM initiatives to arts and humanities, we ensure that every girl can explore her interests and discover her passions. Programs like our leadership workshops, micro-credentials courses and community partnership initiatives are crafted to foster a sense of responsibility, creativity and resilience. By participating in these activities, our students not only gain practical skills, but also learn the importance of collaboration, empathy and ethical decision-making.

In tandem with our robust programming, our facilities play a vital role in supporting our educational mission. We are blessed with a beautiful 22-acre campus in the middle of the city. We are beneficiaries of the generosity of those who have gone before us and supported Havergal’s mission with their time, talent and treasure. And now, we look toward the future and what facility upgrades and additions will ensure that we can give every girl the best opportunity to dream, discover and learn. For instance, over the next 18 months, we are aiming to meet the demand for athletics opportunities—a demand driven by our girls in a post-pandemic world. As we watch women’s sports start to (finally) take off in our city with the introduction of the PWHL, and the announcement of pro sports franchises in soccer and now basketball, we know the demand for girls’ participation in sport will only continue to grow. At Havergal, we have always known that sport offers the chance to develop critical skills like confidence, teamwork and grit. With the generosity of our community, we hope to make significant enhancements to our outdoor athletic and play facilities, including a new artificial turf field and seasonal air-supported dome; enhanced outdoor racquet sports facilities for tennis and pickleball; improvements to the grading of our grass fields; and new outdoor seating and gathering areas. We encourage all members of our community to get involved in helping transform tomorrow at Havergal. Keep an eye out for information about how we hope to ensure Havergal remains Ahead of the Game.

We are also planning for further enhancements to our academic learning spaces—honouring the beauty and history of the architecture on campus while investing in cutting-edge technology, modern science laboratories and dynamic learning spaces that encourage innovation and exploration. These facilities support our goal of providing students with hands-on learning experiences, from conducting scientific research to developing digital solutions for real-world problems. The physical resources at Havergal College are more than just buildings; they are the foundation upon which our students can build their dreams and ambitions. And, we are readying ourselves to transform these spaces to meet the changing needs of students, ensuring they are prepared to excel in university and beyond.

At Havergal College, we understand that the future will be shaped by those who dare to innovate and lead. By creating a supportive and stimulating environment, we empower our students to envision and enact positive change. We are proud of our role in nurturing the next generation of female leaders who will undoubtedly transform tomorrow.

Thank you for your continued support and partnership in this vital mission. Together, we are paving the way for our students to make a meaningful difference. 


Jill Fraser

Message from the Board of Governors

Jill Fraser ‘87, Chair of the Board of Governors  

It is hard to believe that we are almost at the end of another fantastic school year. This will be the last Inside Havergal message from the Board for the year. I would like to express my sincere 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 continuing to embrace the 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 Fiona Shen (School Captain), and Khushi Sharma (Student Prefect). Fiona and Khushi enthusiastically spoke of the main focuses for this year’s student leadership team: School Spirit—promoting pride, unity and a commitment to Havergal’s values; Empowerment and Growth—celebrating individuality, promoting risk-taking and shifting away from a perfectionist mindset; Wellbeing—prioritizing student wellbeing by encouraging healthy balances; Inclusivity and Diversity—cultivating an inclusive community; and Transparency and Communication—being transparent and inclusive in decision-making processes and ensuring open communication. It’s clear that this year’s leaders created a safe space for everyone to be heard while elevating a strong emphasis on “just being you.”

It was inspiring to listen to Fiona and Khushi speak passionately about their key successes through diversity and inclusivity. Examples include encouraging students to wear clothes they are comfortable in at social events and to be themselves, and increasing communication through platforms such as Chomp Chat, anonymous feedback forms, Cappy Corner and collaboration. 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 insightful experience—thank you, Fiona and Khushi! Please share our gratitude with the whole student leadership team.  

As this school year heads to a conclusion, so many exciting events have taken place this year that have strengthened the deep affection our students, staff, faculty and community have for our beautiful school. It has been wonderful to see so many in our community take part in Havergal’s cherished events such as Celebration Saturday, Carol Service for the Upper and Junior School, Hockey Day and Founders’ Day, as well as sports and performing arts scheduling and inter-school trips such as CISAA basketball and OFSAA. 

The Senior Leadership Team has continued their work on the Strategic Framework—Empowering Excellence—which was rolled out to the wider community in April of this year to overwhelming positive feedback. The three pillars of Connection, Wellbeing and Belonging; Future Ready; and Transforming Tomorrow will be a road map for the school’s strategic priorities for the years to come, ensuring we continue to be a world leader in girls’ education.

Last but certainly not least, I would like to acknowledge our 2024 Grads. As you step into this new chapter in your life, we hope that you carry with you the lessons you’ve learned, the friendships you’ve built and the strength and passion of our community within the Ivy. Look to the future and be ready to face new challenges, continue learning and being inquisitive, and make a positive difference in the world and in the lives of others.

As always, no message would be complete without a gentle 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

  • Grade 4 students with a Battery Recycling Bin at JS Earth Day Prayers.
  • Middle School students wearing Number One Dress.

Preparing Young Women to Make a Difference

By the Heads of Schools (Junior: Kate White, Middle: Cissy Goodridge and Senior: Deirdre Timusk)

This year, Havergal has continued to create opportunities for students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 to make a difference and to take on an ever-changing world with confidence, resilience and global-mindedness. One of the areas we wanted to highlight is through the development of leadership skills. 

In the Junior School

In the Junior School, students are often drawn to action when they see an injustice, or identify an area for change. For example, this year’s Grade 4 classes led the charge on Earth Week and proudly hosted climate change workshops, running “Take Action Letter Writing Sessions” to politicians, starting a battery recycling program and participating in “Fast Fashion Sewing Circles” to repurpose old clothing. Inspired by this, a group of students in Grade 2 then started a club to pick up trash at recess, to ensure the grounds of the school are treated with respect. It’s truly incredible to see the ripple effect that “making a difference” can have on a community and it is our hope that examples such as these continue to inspire our students to take action.

In the Middle School

In the Middle School, Grade 8 students have the unique opportunity to lead our Middle School assemblies. Through this process, they learn about leadership as they choose a theme and implement the event, honing their ability to plan, collaborate and communicate effectively. This program not only showcases the students’ organizational and public speaking skills, but also brings a sense of unity and excitement to our mornings. This hands-on experience empowers them with confidence and provides a natural stepping stone to the leadership opportunities that will become available to them in the Senior School.

In the Senior School

What leadership looks like for each individual is different and is built upon the person’s values as well as learned skills. In the Senior School, we both strategically plan to help students develop their leadership skills and seize organic opportunities when students come forward with new initiatives. For example, every Grade 12 student participates in the Core Strengths program, which provides our graduates with the self-knowledge, skills and strategies to be high achieving, confident and effective leaders in their futures. Additionally, when students express a desire to create and lead a new mentoring program, we support them in turning their ideas into action.

Through these kinds of experiences, students not only enhance their communication, collaboration and problem-solving skills, they also cultivate the confidence needed to advocate for change, both at Havergal and beyond. Moreover, these opportunities empower students to champion causes they believe in, helping them to develop resilience in the face of challenges while on their journeys to becoming women who make a difference.

U20 Rugby team playing.

The Transformative Power of Pushing Physical Boundaries

Tamara Curtis, Upper School Health and Physical Education Teacher

Imagine being tasked with creating a tough, gritty and resilient young person. Would you do it by avoiding adversity, denying risk or removing obstacles?

If we want our daughters to persist in the face of setbacks, they must learn how to embrace failure. Building resilience has a price and, as caregivers of young people, we need to decide if we’re willing to help them pay that price—and if it’s worth it.

Havergal famously challenges “what will you do?” If we believe young people can make a difference, we must then embolden them to be strong, creative and ferocious in the face of opposition; however, we are also conditioned to avoid hardship and failure, when possible. Transformative growth happens when we step outside our comfort zone, and pushing physical limits is offered in some unique ways at Havergal. 

Confidence and growth are earned in doing hard things. One way we enable and prioritize this is the Grade 9 triathlon (swimming, rowing/erging and running). This difficult challenge is undertaken after setting fitness goals, collecting fitness data and training rigorously over the course of 10 classes. This journey requires sweating, pushing physical limits and working hard. At the beginning of this process, students say “I’m not going to be able to do this,” or “I can only do the bare minimum,” or “This is too hard!”

Then comes the transformative growth, bit by bit. When they begin in earnest to track their progress, adopt a growth mindset and put in the hard work, students then say: “I think I can do a higher level,” or “I’m faster than I thought I was” or “I worked really hard today…. do you see this sweat?”

They ultimately all win the race because they pushed themselves and accomplished a hard thing and recognized their increased capacity for discomfort. As their outlook and confidence begin to soar, this “very scary” and “impossible” triathlon becomes a source of pride. The transformation is palpable and powerful. The support and encouragement of classmates is raucous as they achieve their goals together.

Another transformative opportunity offered at Havergal is through our U16 and U20 Rugby teams. Playing rugby is a uniquely powerful experience requiring months of intense training, overcoming the little voice in their heads that tells them they shouldn’t be doing this, “it’s too scary,” that culminates in their first fierce tackles and the gratification and celebration of their power and physicality. There is great power in girls protecting and battling with and for their teammates.

These monumental confidence-builders have enormous potential for a ripple effect, inspiring girls to continue to break down gender stereotypes, step into non-traditional roles and value their physicality and capacity to be strong and do hard things.

Grade 1 student with a Prefect walking and holding hands.

Empower Our Future: Support the Havergal Fund!

In preparation for enhancements in the 2024-25 school year, your contribution will directly impact our ability to expand scholarship programs, enhance academic offerings and invest in cutting-edge resources and facilities. Learn more about how to support the Havergal Fund by visiting our Donate Today page.

Grad Gift Fund

This year, the Class of 2024 is poised to become the second-largest Class Fund in the history of Havergal College! Our Grade 12 students have chosen to support the Accessibility Initiatives Fund, an area of support that holds special significance for them. Every dollar raised will enhance our efforts to create a more physically accessible school, ensuring that all members of our community can fully engage and participate.

Help the Class of 2024 leave a lasting legacy behind to benefit future generations of Havergal students here

Employee Giving 

As we approach the end  of the academic year, we reach out to all staff and faculty, inviting their support for the Havergal Fund.

This fund plays a crucial role in enhancing the educational experiences of our students by providing opportunities for enrichment and growth. The Havergal Fund supports key priorities such as student financial support, learning resources, wellbeing initiatives, faculty excellence and co-curricular programs in the arts, athletics and global education.

Please use this form to set up your ongoing payroll deduction or click use this link to make a one-time donation. If you have any questions, please contact Alisha Coroa at [email protected].

Where There’s a Will There’s a Way

On Friday, May 3, the Ellen Knox Society learned about the process of leaving a bequest in their will or dedicating life insurance to Havergal College. Special thanks go to our esteemed guests, Jordana Talsky and Peter Crossgrove, who provided invaluable insights on how to make a Planned Gift to Havergal College. Their guidance on contributing through bequests, wills and life insurance helped to ensure that one’s legacy can continue to benefit the school for generations to come.

View this 32-minute session here.

For your convenience, see the timestamps below:
0:00 – Land Acknowledgment
0:54 – Welcome and Introductions
2:06 – Housekeeping Items
2:35 – Estate Planning, Wills, Bequests, Charitable Donations: Jordana Talsky
15:05 – Life Insurance: Peter Crossgrove
20:19 – Question Period

Find our Legacy Planning Guide here.

Inside Focus

Class of 2024 group photo in front of the BioWall.

Goodbye HC!

Fiona Shen, School Captain

When tasked to write a goodbye letter, I couldn’t believe that our year had come to an end. So many emotions, memories and thoughts flooded my mind, but I couldn’t articulate them into words. I can only say I am not ready to say goodbye. Goodbye means leaving the place where laughter surrounds you in each corner you turn, where you get lost in a sea of green and gold and where you can make mistakes; it’s like a second home. 

To Havergal

Thank you for making me into the person I am today and for empowering me to find my voice for advocacy issues. I am forever thankful to have grown up in an environment where trying, caring and putting in effort are things that are celebrated. 

To Our Teachers

Your guidance, wisdom, humour and unwavering support during the stressful time of university applications have made all the difference. You are the brutally honest friends we all need. From calling us out when “Senioritis” peaked to encouraging us to push through our final assignments, you’ve kept us grounded and focused. Thank you for the countless after-class conversations, the invaluable advice and the patience you showed as we navigate this challenging year. Your dedication and acceptance have shaped us in ways we will carry forward throughout our lives at university and beyond. We are forever grateful for the environment you created within your classrooms, whether it be in the B hallway or the new building, where we felt inspired and empowered to be our best selves. 

To The Younger Students

As you navigate your journey at Havergal, I encourage you to embrace every opportunity that comes your way. Whether it’s striking up a conversation with someone new, attending TA sessions in the morning or showing your support for our athletes, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort. It’s in these moments of exploration that you’ll truly come to understand what makes Havergal so special. 

To My Fellow Grads

I remember when we were younger, sitting at the front of the Brenda Robson Hall, wishing we would become Seniors in their white blazers leading the school, and now, we’ve become those leaders ourselves. Since the first day of school this year, the thought that every experience was a “last” has only deepened our connection as a grade. From our last first day, Celebration Saturday, Carol Service, Grade 11/12 dance, Hockey Day, Diversity Week, Founders’ Day to our last Earth Week, our bond grows stronger with each milestone. This year, we’ve formed unexpected friendships and shared countless laughs and tears, especially in the Grad Common Room (GCR) where the laughter echoed, GCR fines were abundant and the sound of knocking from Grads who were locked out were constant. I will always remember the night we sang Halo together at Campfire Circle—120+ flashlights, wide smiles and voices came together that night. 

Some people say they peaked in high school with a hint of sarcasm, but I can genuinely say that I peaked in high school because this remarkable group of people made my experience unforgettable. We’ve witnessed each other’s growth and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for us.

Although our time at Havergal may be coming to an end, the memories, lessons and friendships we’ve formed will stay with us wherever we go. We carry a piece of Havergal with us as we set forth into whichever part of the world. So, perhaps this isn’t a goodbye letter after all. Maybe it’s simply a “see you later” from the Class of 2024.


Meet Our Faculty & Staff

Headshot of Kirsten Uhre

Kirsten Uhre

Director of Guidance—Student Support

Kirsten Uhre joined Havergal in September of 2017 as a Grade 9/10 Guidance Counsellor. She has more than 20 years of experience as an educator and has taught both in Canada and the United Kingdom. Ms. Uhre spent 16 years teaching English and social science and was the Head of Learning Support at Royal St. George’s College. She has always been passionate about supporting students as they navigate the complexities of adolescence and plan their future pathways.

Ms. Uhre has a Bachelor of Honours with a double major in psychology and English. She completed her Postgraduate Certificate in Education from the University of Exeter, UK, and a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership and Management from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. She has completed additional qualifications in Guidance, Psychology of Wellbeing and is a certified Core Strengths facilitator.

At Havergal, Ms. Uhre’s role as Director of Guidance—Student Support, is to champion the social, emotional and academic growth of students while providing leadership and direction to the guidance counselling team and social workers. She works closely with the Vice Principal of Student Life and Wellbeing to educate the Havergal community about wellbeing and best practices to support student success. She brings strong leadership and coaching skills to this role and loves working with students to support them in exploring their interests and furthering their academic goals. This year, Ms. Uhre particularly enjoyed facilitating the Core Strengths program with the graduating class of 2024.

Ms. Uhre appreciates the collaborative passionate group of counsellors who she works with each day. In her downtime, she reads avidly and enjoys cooking, baking, exercising and spending time with her family and their new puppy. She is devoted to engaging with her neighbourhood community and volunteers her time as an executive member on the Board of Directors of the John Wanless Child Care program.