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Families celebrated their graduates during our outdoor Convocation ceremony on June 16, 2020.

EMBRACING THE EXTRAORDINARY

By Jennifer J. Pawluk, Communications

On April 6, 2020, we resumed classes following spring break, but, instead of returning to school as expected, we pivoted to a fully remote learning environment thanks to a variety of online educational experiences with Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Seesaw, YouTube, and other distance education tools. To paraphrase an unexpectedly apt Balmoral Hall School slogan, we were seeing ourselves like never before!

We kept surprising ourselves and each other with curiosity, creativity, innovation, resilience, and grit. On April 8, we celebrated International Day of Pink virtually, as students shared their photos via social media. On April 18, we broadcasted the first episode of our employee-produced podcast, What Makes You Say That? On April 20, we invited our school community and friends to find inspiration in our all-new remote learning hub. On April 22, we celebrated Earth Day virtually with a variety of outdoor learning activities worldwide. On April 23, we launched a community business directory to support small business owners with connections to Balmoral Hall School. On April 29, we asked the BH family to support our efforts to protect frontline workers by making reusable face shields right here in Benidickson Centre for Arts & Design.
 
We also began hosting a series of virtual events with topics ranging from yoga to haircuts so far. School tours and interviews with prospective families are happening exclusively online. With applications for financial aid reaching an all-time high, a generous family offered to match all donations made to a new emergency relief fund up to $50,000. 
 
And all this was just happening behind the scenes while teachers and students engaged in the process of remote learning day by day! Those of us who had not been directly involved in our virtual classrooms were continually awestruck by your enthusiasm, your dedication, and your inventiveness. On May 11, the first group of eight girls and two early childhood educators returned to Balmoral Hall School as we reopened the BH Beginnings childcare centre.

Also in May, parents had the opportunity to connect with Head of School Joanne Kamins through a Zoom series, “Koffee with Kamins.” Following Victoria Day, we began solidifying our plans to close the school year after weeks of determining the event calendar for unique virtual celebrations of school traditions such as prefect elections, our Doll Assembly with alumnae, Convocation, and Graduation celebrations. May 29 brought us a historic first, a virtual Doll Assembly. Thank you to the employees who volunteered to deliver 35 mini-me dolls, which were lovingly handcrafted by Grade 11 students and graduates’ younger siblings, so that they could be held close as we shared a series of delightful videos celebrating this important tradition — a Balmoral Hall School rite of passage from student to alumna. While 10 international graduates watched together on Teams and saw their dolls on-screen, they were later delivered for these girls to cherish forever.
 
The first week of June saw employees return to Balmoral Hall School, preparing to bring the year to a close on a positive note while ensuring everyone’s health and safety. Since we were able to return in small groups observing physical distancing protocols, we were reminded of the importance of face-to-face connection. Welcoming all our two- and three-year-olds back to the BH Beginnings childcare centre, being able to celebrate Kindergarten to Grade 11 students’ last day of school, and applauding our graduates’ many accomplishments while continuing time-honoured traditions left all of us frequently misty-eyed.

On June 16, we held Convocation on-campus instead of at Westminster United Church like usual, and we were blessed with a sunny, beautiful day for this one-of-a-kind outdoor celebration, which we live-streamed on Zoom from the steps of Aikins House. Click here to listen to Katheleen Eva ’11, who delivered her address to the graduates remotely.

With indoor gatherings of up to 50 individuals permitted in the summer months, we planned an intimate Class of 2020 Graduation Dinner on July 22 at The Fairmont Winnipeg while parents were to join the celebration remotely via Zoom.

Meanwhile, conversations between Balmoral Hall School faculty, staff, students, parents, and alumnae throughout June and July inspired all of us to think deeply about what it means to be an antiracist ally, to uphold Balmoral Hall School’s Respect for Human Diversity Policy, and to stand in support of our Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) colleagues, students, parents, alumnae, and friends. We curated a list of resources to share with the BH family so that together we can continue to support antiracist learning. 
 
In challenging spring and summer seasons, which not only changed girls’ education as we know it at Balmoral Hall School, but also fortified our mission to inspire the imagination and courage to excel, to reach, to lead, and to care, we embraced the extraordinary — together.

How we respond in a crisis teaches us who we are, what we value, and how we grow.

Through all this, we strengthened our commitment to the very best educational experience Balmoral Hall School can offer, including sustained learning relationships, an effective academic curriculum, on-campus as well as off-, two-way communication with community stakeholders, and shared resiliency among us.
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Balmoral Hall School

630 Westminster Ave. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada  R3C 3S1
Tel: (204) 784-1600 | Fax: (204) 774-5534 | info@balmoralhall.ca
Charitable Registration No. 12994 3932 RR0001
Our mission at Balmoral Hall School is to inspire girls' imagination and the courage to excel, to reach, to lead, to care.

We are an independent day and boarding school, offering an exceptional all-girls education from child care, starting at age 2, to Grade 12.