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Grade 12 Retreat Returns to Bard on the Beach

GNSGNS photo
For the first time since 2019, GNS’ Grade 12s returned to Vancouver for two days of bonding, teambuilding, workshops and theatre. The group took in renditions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet at Bard on the Beach in Vanier Park.

The Class of 2023 left the Pemberton Woods Campus in the early morning on Friday, September 9 and made their way to the mainland via a bus, ferry and another bus. Checking into the Holiday Inn just south of downtown, they started their trip with a catered lunch before separating into groups to discuss what the collective grad year should include, represent and mean to them. 

The Grade 12s were accompanied by Mr. Doug Palm, Mr. Harvey Thorau, Mrs. Rebecca Nielson, Ms. Adrienne Smook, Mr. Clint Lundgren, Ms. Jamie Elbert, Mr. Jordy Moughtin and Indigenous Educator, Mr. James Taylor.

“This Grad Class is special, and they should feel special and important,” explained Mrs. Nielson. “We want to do things with them that allow them to grow as leaders and showcase their skills and develop themselves so they’re ready for whatever the future brings.”

Prior to breaking for dinner, the students participated in a workshop led by Mr. Taylor then went on a fun photo scavenger hunt in the city blocks around the hotel, collecting images from a variety of creative categories. During this activity, a smaller group of Theatre 10 and 11 students arrived in tow with Mr. Robert Marthaller and Ms. Cathie Thijs to join the 12s for the remainder of the trip.

An evening showing of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a huge hit, and was unanimously praised by attendees from all three Grades.

“It was really, really good,” remarked Faye Dryden ‘23. “The sets, the costumes, and the acting were really well done and it was great to watch.”

Saturday featured a special visit from Fight Directors of Canada, where all students enjoyed a  Shakespeare/Stage Combat workshop, learning how to safely and respectfully engage in physical acting within Shakespearean text.

Before heading home, a visit to Granville Island for lunch and a matinee performance at Bard on the Beach was also thoroughly enjoyed by the group.

“The highlight of the trip for me was Romeo and Juliet; I just thought it was great,” said Keenan Warhurst ‘23. “It’s a well-known play but I loved how they acted it out.”

Grads weren’t able to go on this specific retreat for the last two years, and the group appreciated having the opportunity to participate.

“A lot of the time we see each other but it’s in more of a class setting, which isn’t the same as being together just to have fun,” noted Maddy Kelly ‘23. “Being in a large group can be a bit chaotic, but I think it was nice that we got to do this.”

Callum Shillington ‘23 added “I just really enjoyed being able to spend time with my friends and getting closer with some of the people I didn’t know as well. Doing those Grad activities really brought us together.”

Having Theatre 10 and 11 students join for part of the trip added another bonding dynamic for the Senior School as a whole.

“We were very fortunate to have the younger student come along to join the Grade 12s for the two shows and the acting workshops,” expressed Ms. Smook. “A really big part of their curriculum is to see live theatre at a high caliber.”  

“The costumes, the casting, the lighting, the set, everything was just phenomenal and you can tell the actors put a lot of effort into it,” affirmed Ryan MacPherson ‘25. “And spending time with such a big group of students was super fun for everyone involved.”

Thank you for representing our school in Vancouver, Gryphons! We’re wishing you a great year ahead! Highlights of this year’s trip can be seen below: