Five Years in Mack!

Saturday, August 01, 2020 - By: Bridget Madigan, Mackenzie ‘20

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

Brentwood really is a unique school. I didn’t know that boarding schools still existed until my cousin came here. I have been here for five years but for me, my time at Brentwood really started in grade 9 and that’s thanks to Mack House. The campus here is beautiful, but as we all know it is the people that make our experiences. Throughout the years there have been so many staff members who have inspired and encouraged me. We have had wonderful RFAs with Ms Manton and Ms Ramsey as well as Ms Als and Ms Russell and who could forget Ms Hampshire, I know Janessa doesn’t.

Mack is the reason I decided to stay at Brentwood because it was a family where I felt I belonged. Going from a scared grade 9 looking up to our grade 12s like Sarah Ford, the Clares and the always entertaining Anna Hablear, I felt like I had an instant family of older sisters as soon as I stepped into Mack on my very first day. I have learned so much going from a scared grade 9 to an Assistant House Captain while growing with the other Mack Lifers here today.

I remember during Orientation the thing on everyone’s mind was “How do I get a snowball?” My brother had told me to go ask one of his friends, but before I left to go I discovered that Sarah Richards had never seen the Bee Movie before. So instead of asking a cute older Ellis boy to Snowball, Sarah, Ash, Ferrari and I all sat together in Ash’s room and watched the Bee Movie.

Since grade 9 many things have changed. Ferrari and Masha were the roommates sent from hell in grade 9 but this year I roomed with Ferrari: it would be weird if Masha didn’t come into our room for at least an hour to chat each night. In grade 9 Chaya used to clean Janessa’s room almost every single day… and somethings never change.  

Every house has great people and great staff but only Mack has Sue, Robbie and Ms Nasmith. Between Ms Cheung and Ms Nasmith, all of us in Mack have gained two amazing role models and a real family away from home. I don’t think I know anyone who better represents the saying “random acts of kindness” than Gillian Nasmith. She always thinks of her Mack girls first and truly acts selflessly. To be surprised by a tray of lemon squares you didn’t ask for but were delivered just because Ms Nasmith was thinking about you could turn any stressful week at Brentwood around. She supports us and is there for us even when we don’t think we need it.

Every week at Brentwood since grade 9, I along with so many other girls, wait for tea time with Robbie. We drink tea and spill tea and from tea time, Swaziland, interhouse events and duty, Ms Cheung and Robbie have become mom and dad even though Robbie persists that he is “too young to be one of our dads”.

We have the best boys in Mack house. I can’t tell you how many times in grades 9 and 10 I would catch Mariko playing hockey or some other game with Kai and Jay in the hallways. I think as a girl’s house it is very important to have male role models and we could ask for no one better than Robbie. I know in my heart that every student is jealous of our spouseparent and no one could teach us more about what we deserve than Robbie. He has changed so many of our lives and taught all of us how a real man should act.

Finally, Ms Cheung is the glue that holds all of us together. I can’t imagine what convinced her to take care of over 60 teenage girls, but I am thankful she did. It took some time for me to get to know Sue Cheung but once I did I had met one of the most hilarious, caring and amazing individuals. Ms Cheung is a science teacher, a gossip girl, a soccer player, a mom, an inspiration, and the heart and soul of Mack House. She can say more with one look than most people can say with words. I am so thankful that she has been my second mom these past four years and I don’t know what I am going to without her next year.  

5 years is a long time especially at an intense place like Brentwood and I feel fully prepared to graduate, leave Brentwood, and go off to a new school but I don’t think there is anything that can prepare me for leaving Mack. Sarah, Chaya, Ash, Mariko, Janessa, Ferrari, Masha, we did it, but now that we have made it through, the real hard part will be saying goodby to people like Giselle Lawrence, Laurel Calhoun, Jess Beausoleil, Tanya Sheck, Spencer Manton, Soleil Mannion, Amanda Ramundi, Maggie Flynn, Tammie Ramsay, Neil Robinson, Gilliam Nasmith, Sue Cheung and the countless staff members that have supported us through our years. On behalf of Mack House, I say thank you.

Bridget Madigan, Mackenzie ‘20

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