A Life Aboard HMCS Rogers

Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - By: Declan Sanders, Rogers ‘20

The following was delivered at the Lifers’ Dinner in late May, 2020.

Brentwood has changed all of us. It certainly has changed me and taught me things that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I never really imagined quite how I would feel or what I would say when my five years at Brentwood were coming to a close, as they are now, but I think I am able to speak on behalf of all you Lifers in saying that I am truly thankful.

The circumstances involved with Covid 19 which brought our school year to an end have most definitely caused us some sadness and reflection. After all, we have been waiting for this time in our lives from the day that we started at Brentwood. However, when something that is out of our control like this affects us, it is critical that we try not to dwell on the past or future but instead focus on things that we can control such as our current attitude and outlook.

I know that our senior year will not simply go by unnoticed. Graduating from Brentwood means a lot to us, and the teachers and other students know this. Rather than making this speech about the sadness of this situation I am, instead, going to focus on telling you about what made our Brentwood experience so amazing as Lifers in Rogers House.

After starting my Brentwood experience in Grade 8, I joined Rogers where I would stay for Grades 9-12. On Orientation day, the eight other grade nines and I soon found out that Mr Snow wasn’t a guy to mess with but over the years we have learned how kind hearted he really is. I appreciate his support for and kindness toward me and my family over the past year while we have been dealing with a difficult situation.

I remember the very first assembly as I sat nervously beside other lifers Kenton, Thomas, Michael, Evan and Egor, and the other grade 9s including Mauricio, Gabriel and Seb. We were all a little nervous but also excited to be joining a boarding house and starting high school. Over the years, this group of boys would become like a family to each other as we grew together and worked our way through challenges and conflicts but also many laughs and good times.

Although I started Grade 9 sharing a room with Egor and Evan which was an interesting start, I later switched into Kenton and Mauricio’s room as we were starting to form a strong friendship which has continued over the years. Grade 9 was a year filled with growth and memories for all of us. Pranks, disagreements and the odd fight between Gabriel and Seb and Michael and Thomas and advisors with Mr Langer and Finnegan are a few of the good times that I remember. I know that the boarders would have many more memories like this.

Throughout the entire time in Rogers, one thing that these boys definitely learned, especially this past year, was how to be gracious losers. We were definitely never at the top in interhouse. We always looked forward to the awesome house outings which included paintball, flying squirrel trampoline park, movies, and even the Duncan pool. Rogers boys never failed with house clothing by getting everything from custom bath robes to varsity jackets this year. Being a part of the Rogers tradition has been a privilege.

As a day student, my experience was different from the borders. I could stay at the school as long as I needed or wanted to and then I was lucky to be able to return home to a private and quiet space at the end of the day. In grade 9 and 10, I did not spend a lot of time in Rogers. I remember many older students in Rogers wondering who I was and if I was actually in Rogers when I would appear on a house outing. One special thing that came with being a day student was the ability to have boarders stay with me on breaks or on weekends.

In Grades 11 and 12 when I began to get more involved in the house and build more connections with older and younger students something seemed to switch on in me. I became a leader. In grade 12, I returned as an Orientation Assistant and I was really able to make connections with the new students beginning their journeys at Brentwood. I remembered being in their exact same position when I had started in grade 9 and this allowed me to see problems through their point of view. I recalled a senior student who had acted as a mentor for me when I first joined Rogers House. As grade 12s, we have all been happy to have the opportunity to do the same for younger students.

I would like to acknowledge the Rogers duty staff who made these four years possible. Without their tireless efforts and truly caring hearts, I really don’t think we could have been as successful as we are now. Long and meaningful conversations about life with Mr Snow, being whipped into order by the motherly Mrs Whitney, and having my first dinner with the boys at Mr Thomspon’s are three special memories that resonated with me from the duty staff. Along with these three, I would also like to thank Ms Coy, Mr Griffiths, Mr Prokopchuk, Mr Armitage, Mr Hernandez, Mr Langer and Mr Fillion who have worked with Rogers House. I am also very thankful for our cleaning staff, and in particular Holly, who went above and beyond in her care for the house with her attitude and for making amazing apple crumble on Saturdays for the house.

Even if this is somewhat cliche, I am confident that I speak on behalf of this year's graduating Rogers Lifers and the entire graduating class in saying that these past years at Brentwood have been some of the best of our lives. In particular, I'm sure that we will not forget the friendships that we’ve made and the opportunity to be a part of such a unique experience.

Declan Sanders, Rogers ‘20

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