by Katie Simonson
Our Sammy-boy. A young man who we sometimes refer to as the “dad” at Homework Club for his jokes and quirky demeanour is now the proud valedictorian of his 2022 graduating class and we couldn’t be more chuffed about this. Sam was born in Chicago, grew up in North Carolina and moved to Vancouver in 2015. Having been raised by a theologian and pastor, Sam has strong moral roots and a guiding compass that keeps him steady. Since beginning at Britannia in Grade 8, Sam has attended Homework Club and treated our space like a second home. Often with his moppy haired head in a book, Sam’s academic success in the IB program proved that he was a force to be reckoned with and would gladly take on most anyone in a debate about pretty much anything, especially if it was about how many snacks he was allowed to have at Homework Club. If he ever showed up late, it’s because he was training with the cross-country team, a pursuit he has enjoyed all throughout high school. There he met Trevor Stokes, head teacher at Streetfront, our beloved junior alternative program, and a man who is idolized by most and equal to none. In his early years, Sam and his friends worked to build the team and program alike and can now proudly say he has run two full marathons and four half-marathons. Sam is an old soul and considers writing one of his favourite pastimes. He has been a Poetry in Voice enthusiast and was Senior Competition winner in Grade 10.
I had the great honour of placing the valedictory sash around his head and sending him off with best wishes before the grads entered the ceremony. Sam spoke with eloquence, ease and a little bit of sass, playfully poking fun and offering heartfelt words of insight and thoughtfulness. One such quote that stayed with me was this . . .
The essence of what I’m trying to say here is that Britannia isn’t a building. It’s a story. And in the words of writer Sam Wells, “we live our life in stories.” Each of us has come to carry the spirit of Britannia in a beautifully unique way, and as we depart from here to whatever comes next . . . each one of our faces will remain engrained on the diverse fabric of its ongoing life. So congratulations, bruins, not only for grabbing a square with your name on it, but for becoming part of a story with your name in it.
I felt this part truly reflected his time at Britannia and the experience that we try to promote at Homework Club every day when we unstack the chairs, turn on the kettle, open the sign-in desk and let the afternoon unfold . . .
It’s as Evelyn Wang says in the movie “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “we’re all useless alone.” And it’s not just that we need each other, it’s that what it means to exist as individuals is fundamentally bound up in what it means to exist with others. Our future success will not be an individual matter of chasing acclaim or status, but a collective matter of becoming brothers and sisters—defined in the moments where you extend your hand to the vulnerable neighbour, where you service yourself to a community in need. In this case, Bruins, your success has begun at Britannia. And though I can’t tell you exactly what shape success will take in each of our lives, I can tell you that it will be a matter of the family we become along the way, and the stories of love, pain, and laughter we learn to inhabit with one another.