Head's Closing Ceremonies

Monday, July 25, 2016 - By: Bud Patel

Head of School Mr. Bud Patel, July 24, 2016

For any of us who follow the news and read the global tea leaves, we are left with the realization that we are living in an era of EXTREMES. No longer does lukewarm do. We need something scolding to singe our increasingly numbed nerves. What jolts us from our sleepy lives now are offensive rants, demeaning personal attacks, and the loudest voice in the room.

This can often be done in the name of a supposedly noble cause - greatness. But even the self-proclaimed “Greatest of All Time”, Mohammad Ali, admitted that his bravado was nothing more than a show. His true gift was the light he shone on the social issues of conflict, race, poverty and religion, touchy subjects in any arena. He realized that greatness was not an outcome, a set of numbers, or accolades; striving for greatness, instead, was the key. And while we bracket greatness on years, seasons, terms, weeks, performances, and days, Ali’s lesson was that the journey of greatness is a lifelong endeavour – in his case 74 years – that meanders between ups and downs, good times and bad times.

So in this bombastic milieu of chest pounding and name calling, how does rationale, methodic, and even polite discourse take place? While it is easy to blame the Internet, social media, and increasingly short attention spans, it is our willingness to give in to these extremes that bears much of the responsibility.

For students, there are many questions.

  • Do I stand up to intolerance and divisive language?
  • Do I make it all about MY needs? MY university admission? MY marks? MY medals? MY performance?
  • Do I accept responsibility for MY actions?
  • By just being under this tent, Do I embrace MY fortunate place in this world?

These questions are posed every day - not only on this campus and by our students, but by us all and in every aspect of our lives.

Yes, 2015-16 will have it’s special place in the history of this school.

A new boarding structure with renovated facilities provided a launch pad for the Brentwood experience. But after the dust settles and we look back at the championships played, concerts performed, debates won, photos taken, and exams written, what do we see? As Head, I could wax boastfully about the record-setting achievements listed in your program. And yes, while these high profile accomplishments are headline worthy, there are so many small quiet stories that underpin, at least for me, the essence of the Brentwood experience.

Let me share some excerpts from five letters I received this year that perhaps best summarize the Brentwood that I know.

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Dear Bud:

The Hope girls donated their open house funds from this year to Khowhemun Elementary. This is a very underserved school, as you know, which Brentwood has been working with for many years. Our SPARC students go there on a weekly basis to work with their students. The principal identified the need of having "big-kid" positive role models for the students at Khowhemun and our students have really been able to fulfill that need this year.

Another need that had been identified was a maker-space facility that includes a lego wall for the smaller children in the school. That’s where the Hope House donation went. When I presented gift this to the principal on Friday he became emotional and was incredibly thankful. Karen was very clear that the house does not want any formal recognition for this donation. (Sorry Ms. Hedquist and the Hope House Girls.)

I am truly humbled by the generosity of this incredible community, and feel blessed to be a part of it.

Warmly, Nurse Jasmin

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Hi Bud:

I had the distinct pleasure of bringing up 28 boys and girls from Shoreline Middle School to Brentwood yesterday for some rugby fun. Kids from Bayside, Lansdowne and Colquitz joined in with teams from Brentwood. I think close to 20 games were played.

It was simply awesome for our kids. Phil Smith did a great job hosting, the kids got fed gourmet food in that spectacular dining hall and the rugby was great. I think we may have accidentally pushed our luck with numbers for dinner though as we ended up having over 50 so the hospitality from Brentwood was far and above the call.

Please convey our thanks to Phil, the kitchen staff and anyone else who helped make the day such a great experience for our kids. It was truly memorable for them and provided a very positive message for some kids who often need just that.

The kids have suggested it would be great to invite the Brentwood team down for some rugby and a salmon feast put on by the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations - a great idea and one we will try and follow up on next year as it is now our shout ☺

Thanks again Bud - super appreciated.

Tom Woods

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Dear Mr. Newns,

I want to thank you all for the concert the other evening. Parents and parishioners together were well entertained by the students and, no doubt, a good time was had by all. The hard work that has obviously been put into the performance was rewarded by a delighted audience.

I would also like the school to know that over $500 was raised which will be shared by the CMS Food Bank and the refugee family from Syria that St Peter’s and St John’s churches are sponsoring.

We hope you will come again next year and ,once again we thank you on behalf of the community.

Yours truly, Tony Turner.

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Hi Mr. Patel:

I just want to tell you how awesome my teachers are. During exam review, they went out of their way to give us tutorials and review sessions in the evenings and even on Sunday. I can’t believe that we have such committed and inspiring teachers. I love Brentwood!

Thought you should know.

Smiley face, hearts, smiley face

Anonymous…

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And, finally, …

Dear Bud,

My siblings and I are quite overwhelmed by your wonderfully kind gestures and condolences for the passing of our father – Mr. Richard Whittall – founder and governor of the new Brentwood here in Mill Bay . I know he would be thoroughly flattered by the praise and honour that you bestowed upon him.

Many years ago, he said that Brentwood should forget about an old man like himself. He felt that he was now irrelevant to the success and future of Brentwood. The College had grown up.

Yet, about the same time, he made a confession, indeed, a rather serious confession to me: Brentwood had saved his life during World War II. He was convinced the academic and athletic discipline that only a school like Brentwood could have given him was responsible for his survival when he found himself in harm’s way.

He was an RCAF pilot in the elite Pathfinder Force on the Bomber Command that suffered an appalling causalty rate of 60%. He treated his crew members as if they were his personal 1st XV. He’d cancel their leave to train them – perhaps a heavy price for a battle-weary crew to pay but they all survived. He twice received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Brentwood was with him on every mission during this terrible period, and also throughout his long life.

Beginning with my grandfather, Norman Whittall, and my father, my family has supported Brentwood in the past, and fully intends to continue doing so in the spirit and memory of my father. He was determined to see young people receive the quality of education that he gratefully received.

On behalf of my family, wishing you and everyone at Brentwood well.

Gratefully, Gerald Whittall

These five stories speak more to the HEART and SOUL of Brentwood than any accomplishment or self-congratulatory chest-pounding. HUMILITY combined with a QUIET CONFIDENCE is the magical elixir that is Brentwood. For that, I am most proud.

Congratulations and thank you to the staff, faculty, and students for holding our torch so high in a year that we can look back upon with fondness and the satisfaction of a job well done.

Thank you, Brentwood! 

Head of School Mr. Bud Patel, July 24, 2016

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