VSS (Very Special Spencer)

Very Special Spencer Crew What a week! Today's final day of presentations took me further west than I've been this trip - past Esquimalt toward the western flank of Vancouver Island to Langford and Sooke - very different terrain and a really beautiful drive. At this point, I've done presentations at perhaps a few hundred different schools across the country. Of course, they're all different and they all have similarities but I find it so interesting how each school develops a unique character that makes itself apparent in a variety of ways: the look and feel of the school, the ease with students laugh and participate, the confidence with which they ask questions, the amount of discipline staff feels compelled to apply, the relationship apparent between students and staff. And sometimes you just come upon a place that has a very special feel and everything about that school seems to reflect that unique character. That was Spencer Middle School in Langford this morning. The students really responded to the presentation, of course, but things really bloomed during the performance pocket. They had arranged quite a line-up of players - including Trisha Judar (pictured, holding Voyageur) accompanied by Essencia Leandro (front row, second from left) and Chloe Leclair (far right) on vocals and piano; teacher Jason Chan (pictured, holding the frets) did a solo instrumental blues piece; and the finale was lead by shop teacher Merv Pasay (pictured, with the giant moustache) accompanied by Duey (between Trish and Merv), Martina (far left) and...well...the WHOLE SCHOOL in a song that Merv wrote and that the school has been singing for years: "Spencer, Have a Beautiful Day". The sound that came back from the crowd during the sing-a-long sections was epic!

Once the assembly was done and I was all packed up, vice-principal Jennifer Nixon (pictured, back row right) took me on a little tour of the school on the way back to my car. It was interesting enough architecturally - a kind of wheel hallway built around a circular atrium - but even more interesting were the Rube-Goldberg-style installations in the hall, above the lockers and along the walls: a harmonium requiring two people to operate, colourful bike wheels formed into crank operated cogs, an animated model school bus - even the huge multilingual welcome sign at the entrance to the school - all created by Merv and his shop class students. Fanciful and delightful but each one a demonstration of mechanical or architectural principles. This Dr. Seuss quality combined with my experience at the assembly was further articulation of the unique character of the school and proof that, as the Spencer motto says, it's "A Great Place for Learning".

Thanks to principal Terry Honer (back row, left), all the staff and students for giving me a chance to learn in your environment too!

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