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Gryphon Gallery: Why are We Gryphons?

Stuart Brambley, School Archivist
Thirty-six years after the amalgamation of Glenlyon and Norfolk House Schools, it actually took a Grade 1 student to ask “Why do we have a Gryphon?"
A great and rarely asked question that provides an opportunity to tell why our school made a number of symbolic changes to herald in the new era of GNS.

Back in early 1986 and within three months of both founding school societies voting in favour of amalgamating, legal documents were signed, a new Board of Governors was formed and a new name was agreed upon. Several names had been discussed including Norlyon, but the final vote on May 13 1986, split only by whether to use a hyphen or not, sided with Glenlyon-Norfolk School. (The hyphen was eventually removed 20+ years later).

The crest and motto, developed by board member Jamie Henwood, demonstrated a strong loyalty to the founding schools. Following heraldic conventions, the crest became the first emblem of the new school and was immediately represented on ties and blazer badges for the new school year starting in September 1986. 

The motto under the crest combined that of NHS, “Do thy best and rejoice with those that do better”, with that of Glenlyon, “Veritas atque Valor” (Truth and Courage). The result was “Veritate Valore Optime Agis” (Do Your Best Through Truth and Courage). 

Uniforms became the next decision for immediate attention. After consultation with a tartan weaver, a new plaid was developed that incorporated the blue and green of the founding schools, together with white and gold on a grey background, the colour of the boy's pants. The navy blazer completed the Number One Dress code all of which was well received by parents and students alike.

At the Beach campus, an important tradition that also needed changing was the singing of “Glenlyon By The Sea”. Based on Kipling’s “Sussex” poem, the lyrics were created by Florence Simpson. These were updated slightly to recognise Glenlyon-Norfolk by the sea and went through further modifications to represent cultural changes at this campus as it accommodated a younger, coeducational student body. Read more about a recent evolution to when Grade 3 students added a second verse to the song.

Now to that Gryphon question and the school’s mascot. The Gryphon is a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head and wings of an eagle; and sometimes an eagle's talons as its front feet. PE specialists Andrew and Mully Jackson came up with the name. Initially, the newly amalgamated school had no mascot other than the GNS initials. Glenlyon had its Rampant Lion but Norfolk House used the NHS symbol. Mully took charge of the school store and wanted to have logos on the PE strip and sports uniforms. After looking around for ideas, the Gryphon was chosen because it's a mythical creature, neither male nor female, and put it in the rampant pose like the lion of Glenlyon, therefore creating a new but fairly seamless change.

Although originally designed as a symbol for athletics, the Gryphon now represents all members of our school community and is an icon of GNS school spirit.

Glenlyon Norfolk School

Junior School (JK to Grade 5)

Middle (Grade 6 to 8) and Senior (Grade 9 to 12) Schools

We wish to acknowledge and respect the Lekwungen-Speaking Peoples on whose traditional territory we stand, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and Wsáneć Peoples whose historical relationships with the land, where we live, work, play and learn, continue to this day.