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September 13, 2017
Hang onto your 'summer feelings'
The start of the school year has been exciting, warm, inspiring, connected and so much more, as our community comes together for another great year at Branksome. Head girl Astrid Ling welcomed students back to school with these insightful words:

"It's great to see everyone back and I hope that you all had an amazing break. Take a second to think about what made your summer amazing. Was it the sense of relaxation you felt at home? Was it the exhilarating sense of adventure you felt when you were travelling abroad? Or was it the pure joy of hanging out with friends at camp? Whatever the feeling was for you, know that it doesn't have to end with summer. This school year will only be that much greater if you can incorporate relaxation, adventure and fun into your everyday student life. So how will you do that this year? Maybe it's travelling to Branksome Hall Asia, maybe it's starting up weekend jogs or maybe it's attending clan intramurals.

Hang onto the "summer feelings" and this year may surprise you.

Whether this is your first day at Branksome or your last first day at Branksome, you might be nervous, and that's a good thing! As Beyoncé once said, "I think it's healthy for a person to be nervous. It means you care—that you work hard and want to give a great performance. You just have to channel that nervous energy into the show." So whatever your show may be, embrace your nerves and get ready for a performance of a lifetime.

We have many new students and faculty joining the community this year – from around the city and abroad. To our newest members, welcome to Branksome! As you'll quickly learn, our community is a warm and vibrant one. This is because each person brings their unique strengths and, having spoken to some of you yesterday, I know that your contributions will make our community even brighter.

To the Grade 7s: Whether this is your first day at Branksome or you've finally crossed the overpass, congratulations and welcome! You're about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. It will be new and unfamiliar at first, but one of your greatest chances to grow. Keep an open mind and try to talk to new people every day.

Grade 8s: Enjoy your time in the Middle School—it goes by way too quickly. As you get older, more and more students will follow your lead, so model the type of community you want to see in the Middle School.

Grade 9s: Welcome to High School! The world truly is your oyster this year. More opportunities are available to you than ever before and new passions are just waiting to be discovered. It all starts with a leap of faith and a willingness to discover them. Is there a council or sports team you never thought you'd join? Sign up, tryout; the time is now and you won't regret it.

Grade 10s: I think we all forget that the Personal Project is a "personal" project. It's about you and for you. This is your chance to explore an existing passion or discover a new one—definitely don't be afraid to try something you haven't done before. The more authentically you it is, the more you'll enjoy it.

Grade 11s: This year can be daunting because it presents new challenges, but it's nothing you can't handle. If this were any other grade I'd say, don't forget to have fun. But I know this grade knows how to have fun—instead, don't forget to spread the spirit. When times get tough and deadlines seem to pop up out of nowhere, the girls in your grade will become your biggest support system. Rely on your ability to see the fun in everything and celebrate each other's accomplishments.

GYs: From the very beginning, we've been all in this together. We've cried together, cheered our hearts out together and everyone around here knows that we never pass up the opportunity to blast Kanye and dance together. This is a grade who knows how to bring it, whether it's in the classroom or on the dance floor. So GYs, this is it. Our final lap, our last hurrah, our very own High School Musical 3: Senior Year. But despite impending graduation, I know that we're just getting started.

To everyone, I'll tell you what Ms Troy told me before I set out into the wilderness for a month this summer: "There will be good days and there will be bad days." What I learned is it's on the harder days that we show the strength of our community." Maybe your alarm didn't go off, maybe you have soccer practice all evening, maybe you have three assignments to do tonight but you still have to shower (take the shower!) On these days, remember that there is a community of people rallying behind you who want you to thrive and succeed. Take a look around you. There are students, teachers and administrators in your corner, all ready to back you up. This year will be what you make it and you will receive what you put in. So I urge you to confidently seize the day. Join a club you never thought you'd join, try out for the play, apply for an exchange in a country you've never been to, be vulnerable first and introduce yourself to someone you don't know, whether it's a student or a faculty member. Just remember that with you behind you, with the strength of our community behind you, there is nothing that you can't do this year."

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