A Lifer's Life in Alexandra House

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - By: Kady Singh, Alex House ‘19

My Brentwood journey started at the age of 13 - along with Fiona Kelly and April Lavigne - in Grade 8. I still remember the day that Mrs Patel gave us a tour of all of the houses, giving us a glimpse at what the next four years of our lives would entail. Little did I know that I would soon be able to call Alex House my home away from home. 

On the first day of orientation, I was so excited when I received the news that I had gotten into Alexandra because a lot of the other Grade 8 girls and I had really wanted to be in Alex as, from the outside, it looks like the most interesting house: it is unique, and different than all the other residences at Brentwood.

When I arrived at Brentwood for Orientation, a few of the Whittall boys kindly took my luggage to the steps of Alex House. This simple and hospitable action foreshadowed the kind of community that Brentwood has to offer. Excitedly, I followed the boys into my new home for the next couple of days. When I saw April standing there, we both screamed like two idiots who had just won the lottery as we realized that we were the lucky ones who were fortunate enough to be placed in Alex. After that, we were warmly greeted by Mrs Mais’ boisterous Jamaican accent welcoming us. 

Little did I know how this house would have a huge impact on not only on my life,  but also the lives of all those who have ever stepped foot inside and who called this house their home. The thought of staying over in a boarding house for a couple of days during orientation seemed daunting at first, as I am day student and living in a house full of 70+ girls who were always yelling and loud was not particularly appealing to me. However, when orientation ended, I - like the other day students - didn’t want to leave. 

Girls who were strangers at first quickly became my closest friends and are now girls whom I consider my sisters. 

From the start, I remember being able to tell that Tochi was super smart. She was always there for anyone, especially me, when I couldn’t figure out problems in grade 9 math. She wanted everyone to succeed in their academics, which is very fitting for her role as academic prefect. 

Fiona was always there for people, listening to their problems, even though it was taking time away from herself and her needs. She was always able to care for people and the environment, which is why she rightfully is a SPARC, BEAT rep and Assistant House Captain. 

Valerie was very into dance, which has, in turn, led to great success in Brentwood’s dance program. However, her enthusiasm for Alex House’s Inter-house events and responsible nature led her to become a co-interhouse captain. 

April, being so naturally funny and warm hearted, was a perfect fit for a BEAT rep. 

I remember Thea always having an aesthetically pleasing dorm filled with her own paintings and photos. Her artistic ability makes her perfect for her role as clothing prefect. 

When Hannah came in to Brentwood almost one month before school ended in Grade 9, she was fleeing the Fort Mac fires. She was always so admirably kind and welcoming, even though she was super intimidated coming into a boarding house at the end of the year. However, she never let anything stop her as a she took part in Brentwood’s rowing team and swam outside of the school. With her kind, welcoming and driven character, she is an amazing Assistant House Captain. 

Brentwood has allowed us to excel and display our excellence in various ways, and to influence and inspire younger students to, eventually, do the same. 

Growing and maturing together, I can definitely say that all of the Alex House Grads are ready to take on this new chapter in their lives. Even though we might be facing a new chapter without each other, we will always continue to be there for one another, which is something I am very thankful for. 

In Alex House, I was given the gift of being surrounded by so many amazing people. Looking back on it, Mrs Mais and Ms. Warner have watched us every step of the way, seeing the good, the bad and the ugly. Their supportive nature has created a tight-knit family-like bond that many of the Alex house girls are able to share. 

Before I finish I also want to recognize the fact that Mrs Mais is retiring this year. Thankfully she is still staying at the school as our librarian, but she is leaving a legacy as a houseparent. I think it is safe to say that, however we individually define success, whether it means being socially well-rounded, or wanting to excel in athletics or academics, Ms. Mais has supported us and pushed us to be the best people we can be. She has always made us feel like we have a place and a purpose within the Brentwood community, not only making us feel like we belong here but encouraging us to apply for head prefect positions, athletic captain positions, arts prefects or even a prefect position in our house. She has always displayed faith and given us the confidence that we need in our choices that we make as she has taken time out of her busy schedule to learn about each of us individually. 

It is amazing how much a houseparent can have such an effect on our Brentwood life. Ms. Mais harasses us when our kilts are rolled up too short or when our socks are rolled down, she calls us naughty children and we even get our phones taken away during prep. We may not like those things, but we have nothing but admiration and respect for Mrs. Mais. Alex House, the building, may still remain the same, but there will always be something missing when we come back to visit the house. The house will be in excellent with Mrs. Warner, but the thought of Ms. Mais not being there is something that all of the Alex girls have a hard time grasping. 

Mrs Mais, All of the Alex house lifers would like to give you something that we all made together to commemorate you embarking on the next chapter in life, which includes personalized notes on how you impacted our life and we are forever thankful. Ms. Warner, we would like to give you a big welcome as you are now taking on the role of the official houseparent of Alex house. We are all very happy that you are will be filling the shoes of Ms. Mais. It will be a big role to fill, but we have no doubt that you will soon be the best houseparent on Brentwood campus: just like Ms. Mais. 

Kady Singh, Alex House ‘19 

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