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Celebrating Student Leadership at Branksome Hall’s Installation Ceremonies

Student leadership is an important aspect of student life at Branksome Hall. From Junior School Action Leaders to Prefects, every student has the opportunity to learn and grow in a leadership position, and each fall, Branksome holds its Junior School and Senior & Middle School Installation Ceremonies, kicking off a year of student leadership. 
On September 20, 2023, the community gathered for the 2023 Junior School Installation Assembly to celebrate our Grade 6 students and install them into their new leadership roles. As the oldest on the West side of the campus, these students serve as role models and strive to set good examples for their younger peers who look up to them. Each Grade 6 student assumes a rotating leadership role in the Junior School, not only contributing and enhancing student life for all in the community, but also preparing them for the wide range of opportunities available to them in the Middle School next year. 

After each Grade 6 student proudly walked to the stage to accept their pin, parents and students were heard a speech by Branksome Hall parent and alum Christina FUNG Stennett’93. Christina, a leader in the STEM field, gave a speech on leadership and how impactful the students’ new roles will be for the Junior School community. Attendees also enjoyed an address from Emily MacLean, Head, Junior School, who discussed the importance of student leadership and the meaningful legacy that Grade 6 students will leave behind when they graduate to the Middle School in the spring. The community then heard from Mani, the 2023–24 Junior School Prefect, who told the story of her leadership journey while attending Branksome Hall from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12, and noted that all her previous roles played a part in getting her to where she is today.

The next day, on September 21, 2023, Branksome held its 95th Senior & Middle School Installation Ceremony, carrying on the tradition started by Principal Edith Read in 1928. Grades 7–12 families and community members gathered in the Athletics and Wellness Centre. This year marked Principal Karen Jurjevich’s 26th and final Installation Ceremony as she prepares for her retirement in June 2024. Earlier in the fall, Jurjevich was announced as this year’s keynote speaker, an opportunity to share her lessons about leadership. 

Unbeknownst to Jurjevich, awaiting in the wings were former Head Prefects Priyanka DOGRA’16 and Astrid LING’18, ready to share a special introduction. When reflecting on her experience with Principal Jurjevich, Astrid said, “The word that comes to mind when I think of Ms. Jurjevich is ‘bold.’ Bold curiosity, bold vision and leadership, and of course, bold scarves!” Jurjevich was then treated to a heartwarming compilation of video messages from other former Head Prefects detailing the impact this bold leader had on them. It was enough to make Jurjevich and many audience members tear up, reflecting on the experiences they’ve had and the impactful lessons they have received from her.

Principal Jurjevich then took to the podium to reflect on her time as a leader at Branksome and beyond. The lessons she shared told the story of her life—from growing up in Sault Ste. Marie  to becoming Principal of one of the most esteemed girls’ schools in the city. “I did not arrive at Branksome Hall and step into my role as Principal from a position of expertise. Rather, I came to Branksome to learn and to serve,” she reflected. Within her stories, Jurjevich made one thing clear: becoming an effective leader takes time, competence, curiosity and collaboration, and of course, resilience. “You are all on your own leadership journey, which will evolve as you grow,” she told students. “I know you will embrace all that your school, your community and this big wide world has to offer.”

Club Heads, Clan Leaders, medal winners and Prefects were honoured onstage and installed into their positions for the 2023–24 year. Afterwards, Head Prefect Thea gave her address, filled with humour and hope for the upcoming year. Thea’s speech was all about fun and how it manifests in different ways. From Type I fun (having fun in the moment), or Type II fun—Thea’s favourite type of fun—which is not enjoyable in the moment but can be remembered fondly afterwards. From long, hard athletics practices to writing a challenging essay, Type II fun is always rewarded when one looks back and realizes how far they have come, she noted. 

The Branksome Hall community congratulates all of our student leaders on their new roles, and we look forward to seeing where their leadership paths take them this year.
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LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT
We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.

Setting the new standard for girls' education everywhere takes collective action. From all of us.
 
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