Blast from the Mack Past
Number one inspections are a tradition at Brentwood that span back to the ages when there were no girls to be seen along the shoreline campus of Brentwood Bay, with perhaps the exception of the school nurse to treat rugby injuries. And now, in our 75/50 anniversary at a very different school that still maintains the same high standards and moral code, number one inspections are not as rare as we would like them to be.
On one sunny Saturday in early June, Mrs. Pennells was welcomed back home to Mackenzie House, where she served as houseparent alongside Mr. Pennells when they first arrived on campus 30 years ago. From the moment she was greeted by former house captain Indré S, she knew she was in for something special.
Walking up the hill to Mack House, the usual casual and uplifting chatter that follows Mrs. Pennells was cut short by her stopping to listen to a sweet melody that was being carried by the morning sea breeze from the front entrance to Mack. As she continued up the hill, the unknown source became identifiable as Kaitlyn S playing a sea chant on the flute. She continued to play as Mrs. Pennells was greeted by Mrs. Flynn, who led her into the house foyer, which was adorned with blooming flowers and was impeccably clean.
The path of the inspection was not one typically taken during a usual number one inspection: generally each room is inspected and each girl greeted. However, given the distinguish history of our guest, Mrs. Pennells only inspected two thirds of the room, as the main hall was avoided to be sure she did not catch a glimpse of the common room, where the Grade 11s had prepared a tea party on her behalf.
The whole house, including duty staff of Mrs. Elmes, Mrs. Jackson, Mrs. Plater and Ava and Sophia, was gathered in the common room when Mrs. Pennells walked in, causing her to tear up slightly. But brave as she is, our stouthearted Head of School quickly recovered and went on to tell stories about girls in Mackenzie when she was the houseparent (two of which currently have daughters in the house), and tales of Mrs. Jackson (who was assistant houseparent alongside Mrs. Pennells when she came to Brentwood at the age of 23, and later went on to become houseparent after the Pennells moved out).
Her anecdotes were enjoyed while girls sipped tea and munched on shortbread, bringing Mrs. Pennells, who was soon joined by Mister P, back to a time when tea was a weekly sitting in Mackenzie. The stories came to a close when the voices of Annie B, Kira C, and Maggie D filled the room with an acoustic rendition of Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up” that featured the Grade 12s on background vocals, and caused a great number of people to cry, though they may not admit it.
Right when Mrs. Pennells thought the crying had come to an end, the downpour returned when little Ava gave her a travel journal, accompanied by a Mackenzie House tie for Mr. Pennells, and a scrapbook that each girl in the house had contributed to.
Needless to say, there was not enough Kleenex.
But, Mrs. Pennells made a recovery as she told us that one of her goals during her time as Head was to create a gender neutral school, which was made possible with the addition of Allard and Hope house. It has been inspirational for many young women to have passed through Brentwood to have a role model such as Mrs. Pennells to look up to, and words cannot describe how we will miss her spirited presence on campus. The best of luck to you both on the next journey of your life; the doors to Mackenzie house will always open for you.
Sarah M, Head of Mackenzie House 2011-2012
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