Commuication Arts

Communication Arts Faculty
Michelle Legassicke

The art of communications has taken root at the School with ever growing Debate, Public Speaking, and Model United Nations participation, a school hosted Model UN.


With several components, including, debate and mock law trials, the program features a breadth of offerings. Students, of all experience levels, receive the support, and opportunities, needed to achieve their best, whether in small-group settings or competing at the national level. All students participate in debate activities, but select areas of specialisation, often in preparation for higher-level competition. Our coaching system provides for leadership within the program, with more experienced debaters, as well as specialist guest speakers, leading workshops and organising special events.

Debating in a range of styles, including World Schools, British Parliamentary, Canadian National, cross-examination and bilingual debate, students compete at the local, regional, provincial and national levels, where Brentwood students won both the Provincials and the Nationals in the 2018-2019 season. All students participate in in-house debates, in preparation for external competition, and have the opportunity to represent their Houses in Inter-House debates, as well as online tournaments against debaters from other regions of the world. Our carefully structured coaching system is multi-faceted, with our most experienced debaters stepping into leadership roles and receiving specialised support from university-level debaters.

This program is ideal for students who wish to improve their communication skills, are interested in weighing conflicting truth claims and are eager to craft well-researched and multi-layered arguments. Consisting of complementary streams and designed to meet the needs of students of all ability levels, the program has something for everyone, so long as they are prepared to put the time in.

Public Speaking & Model United Nations

This course is designed for students wishing to enhance their formal communication skills. We will focus, specifically, on preparation for, and participation in, a range of speaking exercises. These will include: poetry recitation, interpretive reading, impromptu speaking, persuasive speaking, interview strategies and after dinner speaking.

All activities will require thoughtful consideration and implementation of speaking skills and strategies. Students will learn to deliver their ideas with increased confidence and effectiveness. We will focus on projection, enunciation, modulation, pace and tone when speaking in small groups and before audiences. Students have achieved notable success in internal competitions, as well as external events, at the local and provincial-levels, as well as the IISPSC (International Independent Schools Public Speaking Championships).

The Model United Nations component provides the opportunity to debate contemporary and historical issues from a range of international perspectives and delegates learn to find compromise between opposing points of view, prioritizing aspects of greatest importance. Students also have the opportunity to participate in select conferences, including ShawMUN (Victoria), VMUN (Vancouver), NHSMUN and SSUNS (Montreal). ​

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Grade 9 Communication Arts

All Grade 9’s experience Communication Arts as part of their Art rotation. The course develops an awareness of the importance of oral communication and begins to build the necessary skills and confidence to speak well in public. Various activities derived from drama contribute to an atmosphere of trust and cooperation where students feel safe to speak to the class, learn to listen effectively and express their ideas both physically and vocally. Students practise impromptu and persuasive speeches, oral reading, and an introduction to debate.

Ryan Skardal

B.A., B.Ed. (Brandon University) English Department, Advisory, Cross Country

Originally from Manitoba, Ryan attended Brandon University. There, he studied English literature, wrote for the student newspaper, The Quill, and spoke persuasively and sometimes heckled loudly for the Brandon University Debating Society. When Brandon University offered him a chance to study as an exchange student at Tamkang University in Taiwan, Ryan jumped at the opportunity. Upon returning to Manitoba, Ryan completed his teacher training with the intent to explore new places after graduation. Before coming to Brentwood, teaching took Ryan to Kuwait, Hong Kong, and New Jersey. While in America, Ryan presented at a variety of conferences, including the NCTE Annual Conference, the AP Annual Conference, and the National Writing Project Mid-Winter Conference. In spite of his terribly lacking sense of direction, Ryan is a cheerful -- if often lost -- hiker, runner, and traveler. Pleased to have found a beautiful home with Brentwood College School, Ryan can most likely be found wandering amongst the trees or else through the aisles of a nearby library.

Neil Bryant

B.Sc. (Victoria) Chemistry, Science, Debating, Law

Teaching at a school like Brentwood has allowed for a broad population of students to be taught. Neil gets to enjoy instructing solubility a chemistry class, explaining torts in Law 12 class, then heading off talk about logical fallacies in debate class after lunch. Although little in his university bachelor's degree predicted this kind of diversity, he is truly grateful for the chance Brentwood affords him to teach students to look at the world through both molecular, moral, and critically-thought lenses. Occasionally, he also rides a bike for exercise.

Don Armitage

Don Armitage

Technical Director, Theatre

Don has been working professionally in the performing arts for over 25 years. Currently an instructor and technical director at Brentwood College School in Mill Bay, Don has been safely instructing and facilitating young people's involvement in the performing arts for over fifteen years. As a performer, producer, stage manager, sound and recording engineer, lighting designer and technical director, he has worked with such acts as The Barenaked Ladies, Bruce Cockburn, Colin James and with such productions as "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "Hair", "Les Miserables", "Phantom of the Opera", "Wizard of Oz", and "Beauty and the Beast".

Phil Newns

A.R.C.T., R.M.T.  Head of Music. Musical Theater, Concert Choir, Jazz Band, Vocal Jazz Show Choir, AP Music Theory, Administration

Phil is well known as a jazz pianist, vocalist, bandleader and educator. He studied music at the University of Natal in South Africa and later through the University of Toronto. In 1990, as Canadian Champion, Phil represented Canada in the Yamaha International Organ Festival held in Mexico City that year placing 6th in the world. His extensive professional career credits include: 1991 British Columbia Winter Games score, Festival Producer and Corporate Entertainer, Music Director of many major theatrical productions - most recently The In the Heights, Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, and Artistic Director / Producer for Choirs in Concert; a children's charity. Phil is also an accomplished arranger for theatre and dance companies. His jazz bands, choirs, and private students achieve top honors in festivals across Canada each year including the annual Nationals - Music Fest Canada. As a professional musician, Phil can be found on weekends playing piano at venues such as the Ocean Point Resort and the Grand Hotel Pacific in Victoria or with his jazz band "The Hot Velvet Jazz Band" at various events and venues.

Susan Quinton

B.A. (U of Winnipeg), B.Ed. (U of Manitoba), M.Ed. (U of Manitoba)

A drama and theatre specialist from Winnipeg, Susan Quinton immigrated to the West Coast in 2003 to teach English and Drama at Brentwood. With an undergraduate degree in English and Dramatic Arts from the University of Winnipeg and a Master's degree in Education from the University of Manitoba, Mrs. Quinton taught and directed theatre for 26 years at the secondary and university levels in Winnipeg. Her love of the dramatic is only surpassed by her love of nature, the game of tennis, and her family and friends she is encouraging to move to British Columbia. Mrs. Quinton and her husband, Jeff, enjoy the natural beauty of the Cowichan Valley and the weather, which allows them to play outside all year round. She does not miss the snow of her beloved prairie province where she still spends her summers on the shores of Lake Winnipeg.

Neil Bryant

B.Sc. (Victoria) Chemistry, Science, Debating, Law

Teaching at a school like Brentwood has allowed for a broad population of students to be taught. Neil gets to enjoy instructing solubility a chemistry class, explaining torts in Law 12 class, then heading off talk about logical fallacies in debate class after lunch. Although little in his university bachelor's degree predicted this kind of diversity, he is truly grateful for the chance Brentwood affords him to teach students to look at the world through both molecular, moral, and critically-thought lenses. Occasionally, he also rides a bike for exercise.

Rachel Steele-MacInnis

Rachel Steele MacInnis

B.A. (UVic), M. Ed. (Sydney) English, Debating

Growing up in Western Newfoundland, Rachel Steele-MacInnis was inspired by the powerful landscapes and extraordinary storytelling. She completed her schooling in Ottawa and continued her cross-country journey when she chose to complete her undergraduate studies in Victoria. Having set her sights on another, somewhat larger, island, she then moved to Melbourne, Australia, which would become her home of the next ten years. Uplifted by the energy in her classroom, Ms. MacInnis is excited by the insights and creativity of the students she guides. She has travelled widely, but has never escaped the spell that was cast when she first arrived on Vancouver Island. As a teacher of English, Ms. MacInnis often finds herself discussing the significance of setting. She feels very fortunate to find herself in this one.

Tristan Clausen

Wind Ensemble, String Ensemble, Beginner Band, Assistant Director Concert Choir

A true Vancouver Islander, Tristan completed a diploma in classical music at VIU and then his Bachelor of Education from the University of Victoria. Both an instrumentalist and vocalist, he has performed in Victoria as a member of the 5Fd RCA Band and the award winning Vancouver Island Chamber Choir. As a Lieutenant in the Canadian Forces, Tristan has directed both concert and marching bands in parades and ceremonies. He began his teaching career at St. Margaret’s School and has moved on the direct concert bands, jazz bands and choirs of all ages around Victoria. Most recently he served as vocal coach and musical director for a 2015 production of Grease. In his teaching, Tristan focuses on instilling in his students the joy of music making and the self-motivation needed to excel.

Michelle Legassicke

B.A. (Uvic), M.A. (Waterloo) - Social Studies, Debate, MUN, Public Speaking

Growing up on Vancouver Island, Ms Legassicke loved this hub of kayaking, fishing, and outdoor adventures. After completing a B.A. at the University of Victoria, educational and research opportunities took her out east, and further afield around the world. Following the completion of a M.A. at the University of Waterloo and time working abroad in Tanzania, she returned to Canada, settling on the east coast at Dalhousie University to begin her PhD work. While in Halifax, she had the opportunity to design and teach classes in the Political Science and Sustainability departments. She also worked in student life and residences at the University of King’s College. Supported by the Dallaire institute, EUCE, SSHRC, and Innovation grants, Ms Leggasicke’s work took her around the world: conference presentations in Hong Kong and London, research projects in Ghana and Sierra Leone, and travel to Cambodia and Indonesia. She returned to the west coast in 2019 to write her dissertation, and be closer to family, resulting in joining Brentwood as a BFA, working with the debate, Model UN, public speaking, and field hockey programs. After a brief time away to houseparent at St. John’s, she has returned to teach in the Social Studies Department and run the debate, Model UN, and public speaking program.

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