Farewell Mrs. Felix
Below is a speech delivered at Assembly by Nurse Donna Decker in honour of a retiring Mrs Andrea Felix.
It is my pleasure and honor to speak about Andrea Felix. It is difficult to summarize all that she has done for Brentwood over the past 18 years in such a short time, but I will do my best.
Mrs. Felix came to Brentwood in 2001 along with her children and Mr. Felix who had wisely abandoned his position at Shawnigan Lake School to start working here. Although Mrs. Felix was still employed off campus, she plunged into the role as House Mom, helping Mr. Felix run Whittall House. Mrs. Felix treated all the boys with great affection; like they were her own children. She continued doing duty and advising in Whittall for 15 years.
In 2002, she joined the staff at Brentwood. She began her legacy of Firsts. She was the first person to officially hold the position of Health and Wellness Instructor, which essentially gave her a blank slate to develop the program into what it is today.
Her philosophy has always been to encourage students to lead and so she quickly saw the opportunity to spearhead the beginning of the Service, Peer Assistance, Resource Counselors (SPARC) program. Initially, the number of participants was limited but they were keen to create activities and support others. Today, the program has grown and 100 students are trained annually, helping to influence and contribute to the well being of all the students at Brentwood.
Service is definitely an important aspect of the program. For example, SPARC started the initiative of making soup for Khowhemun Elementary School, where food insecurity is a challenge. They even grew vegetables in the Felix gardens to supplement the purchased supplies.
There were many other service projects that included helping our local families through the food bank with food, gifts during special occasions, and helping the homeless with essential supplies.
Supported by some Mack girls, Mrs. Felix was the first to start organizing a group of Brentwood students going to the annual Run for the Cure in Victoria. Over the past 15 years, Brentwood has been the high school that consistently raises the most money to support this cause. A survivor herself, she has championed this cause to help support cancer research. Mrs. Felix also started the annual Brentwood Blood Drive, which continues today to be a critical service piece that the school participates in. In addition to all the other commitments, she also started teaching the first AP12 Psychology course at Brentwood and taught it for 10 years.
When a student approached Mrs. Felix years ago asking how the school could help support a LGBTQ alliance group, she immediately recognized how important it was to have a place that was safe and homophobic-free. She agreed and so plans were made to host the first OMNI (Open-Minded Non-Discriminatory Individuals) event at her home. Rainbow cupcakes were prepared for the 12 students that were anticipated to attend. To the group’s surprise, students kept coming, more than 60, to the inaugural event and since then, all sorts of events and initiatives have taken place and continue to expand the mandate of the OMNI group, wonderfully supported now by Mr. Neufeld.
Mrs. Felix is a kind, empathetic, and loving person, always seeing the best in people and wanting to help them. This led to her decision to take a leave of absence and complete her Masters in Counseling. She now has a private practice and has helped guide many students with their, sometimes challenging, adolescent journey.
In the end, we start and end with our own family. And so, we wish Mrs. Felix the best as she reunites, along with Mr. Felix, with their children and grandchildren in Ottawa.
We will miss you. Thank you for everything you have done for Brentwood.
Donna Decker, School Nurse