People and Perspectives
Perspective of a BSS Girl
Lending a hand to peers and persevering through academic challenges
Introducing a recurring feature profiling the perspective of students from across the school on various topics. In this issue we spoke with a Junior, Middle and Senior School student about what the Signature of a BSS Girl means to them.
Libby Dai, Junior School
Just a year after arriving at BSS, Libby Dai entered the Grade 7 Gauss Math Contest – as a Grade 4 student, and ended up scoring in the top 25%. “I did pretty well even though I didn’t have any preparation,” she says. When she entered again in Grade 5, she achieved the highest score at BSS and tied with the top Grade 7 student.
Joining the math club contributed to this success, says Libby, now in Grade 6, but so did her determination to improve her skills. “When I first heard about the Signature of a BSS Girl, I knew I could develop the attributes in myself if I worked hard. I think I have a Growth Mindset now, and more Grit, because sometimes I’d get really frustrated with certain problems, but I’d always keep trying.”
Reflecting on her relationship with her peers, Libby says the group of girls in her grade are always offering to support each other, often studying for tests together. But academics aren’t the only way she connects with the BSS community. She is a member of the Junior School Strings Ensemble, embracing a leadership role playing lead violin. Libby is also on the volleyball and track and field teams, and looks forward to taking on new leadership roles this year. “Since we’re now the leaders of the Junior School, I’m excited about the opportunities.”
Libby and her classmates already have some management know-how from developing a party-planning company last year as part of the new BSS Signature Learning initiative, which focuses on entrepreneurship and experiential learning. “We made a website and had our own email, and we planned the end-of-year party for leaving teachers,” she says. The group plans to continue their entrepreneurial efforts and donate any money they make to charity.
Discovering her voice and never giving up
Dayton O’Donoghue, Middle School
Grade 8 student Dayton O’Donoghue, who started at BSS just over a year ago, says it took no time at all for her to make friends. Many of those friendships started through her involvement with the hockey and track and field teams, where she says she now feels truly at home. “My teammates believe in me, and my coaches make sure I know they’re proud of me.”
Initially, Dayton was afraid she’d feel intimidated and overwhelmed by starting at a brand new school, but it took just a few months for everyone – including her – to forget she was a ‘new girl.’
“At first I didn’t know how I’d cross the threshold as an outsider and join the tight-knit community,” says the Grade 8 student. “But everyone made the transition so much easier for me. Pretty much all the teachers and support staff knew my name right away. It felt like they really cared and wanted to get to know me.”
While the Signature of a BSS Girl is still relatively new to her, Dayton says two attributes spring to mind from her first year. “In the hockey semifinals, a very good team was dominating us. But we fought to the end, and even forced overtime. That’s Grit.”
Off the ice, she’s been happy to discover that every Voice is important at BSS. “I thought my Voice might be drowned out because there are so many strong, smart people at BSS who have been here for years. But I can be myself and share my thoughts and opinions, and everyone is always listening.”
One of Dayton’s goals this year is to continue to develop her organizational skills so she can become an even better student, athlete and leader. “I really want to inspire people like BSS has inspired me.”
Finding community in tragedy and reaching out with empathy
Allison Duckman, Senior School
Allison Duckman has coped with painful loss and personal challenges, yet she’s always found comfort and counsel at BSS. Now, the Grade 12 student is using those experiences to encourage her peers.
Allison’s brother passed away shortly after she began Junior Kindergarten at BSS. “The amount of support I got from my classmates and my teachers was incredible,” she says. “Everyone worked to make me feel comfortable in the classroom environment.”
Yet in the following years she found it hard to keep pace with academic expectations, and in Grade 3 had an Individual Education Plan (IEP) developed for her based on her learning style. It felt like a label she didn’t want, she says. “I didn’t like feeling that I was different from the rest of my peers. But I knew the BSS community cared about my academic success.”
Middle School proved to be a turning point for Allison. Her academic performance began a steady climb after Grade 7, as she discovered her capabilities and became successful in all areas of school life. “I got through the tough times with Grit, found my Voice and built a solid foundation for myself.”
Since then, she’s been a Grade Rep and Langtry House Head, and is now House Prefect. “I love school now, but I still remember what it’s like to feel like an outsider, or be uncomfortable in certain situations,” she says. “I guess I want to help girls see their true potential.”
When Allison first heard about the Signature of a BSS Girl, she remembers thinking it was just a “bunch of words” on banners. “Now I see their meaning, and I see them in me.”
Megan Easton is a freelance writer and editor with a focus on education and health.