Heads Up

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Message from Scott Cowie, Head, Senior Division

Scott CowieUpcoming Senior Division Dates:
Monday, May 18 – Friday, May 22: IB2 exams continue
Friday, May 22: Leaving Class dinner – Student Centre, 5:30 p.m.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Mead’s often-quoted inspirational message was brought to life for me yesterday, as I had the pleasure of attending the national finals for the annual Enactus competition. There’s a good chance you may not know about Enactus. I didn’t, until a co-worker brought it to my attention over a year ago.
Enactus is a well-established, non-profit international organization that seeks to address social issues of concern at the community and global level through the initiative and action of student-based clubs in universities and colleges across the globe. As per the Enactus website: “[we] connect student, academic and business leaders through entrepreneurial-based projects that empower people to transform opportunities into real sustainable progress for themselves and their communities.

The competition was fierce, with hoards of students cheering on their respective schools. One standing outside the convention centre presentation hall might have thought they were missing out on an intense game between heated rivals. Yet the commitment and passion exhibited by the final four teams in the province was far more inspiring than any athletic event. These energetic, compassionate young entrepreneurs presented their stories of successful social enterprise to a vast array of executives from prominent national corporations and businesses in the hopes they’ll be able to move on and represent their school at the world competition in South Africa this fall.

Highlights of the most successful initiatives included:

  • The University of Windsor group who partnered with community members in a small village in Johannesburg, South Africa to develop a sustainable water filter made from sawdust and clay (materials local to the village) that have helped to provide clean drinking water for all village residents
  • The St. Mary’s University group that has seen tremendous success in their efforts to help incarcerated women in local prisons transition into meaningful jobs and become contributing members of their community
  • The University of Ottawa group that developed an approach to recycling cigarette butts that has created employment opportunities for people suffering from various forms of mental illness

It was an inspiring afternoon, seeing passionate university aged students committed to making the world they live in a better place.

In case you think “changing the world” is a mindset best suited for young entrepreneurs with ingenious ideas, I draw your attention to a recent article from the Washington Post:

The moving story is centred around Nancy Belmont, a Virginia single mother of three who, inspired by a TED talk she saw, hung a set of huge blackboards in her neighbourhood, outfitted them with chalk and wrote a simple prompt: “I wish I had the courage to…” To her surprise, the boards quickly filled up with responses from community members who exposed their vulnerabilities and shared their secret hopes and desires. Many who wrote on the Belmont blackboards conveyed that doing so was a powerful experience, one that helped them through significant challenges and motivated them to initiate necessary change in their lives.

Our mission statement talks about challenging boys to “make a difference.” I would encourage you to speak to your son about looking for opportunities where he can have a positive impact and about having the courage to take action that will enrich the lives of those in need.

Thanks for reading,
Scott