Inspiring artist and filmmaker Dianne Whelan ‘83 returned to York House for the school’s 90th-anniversary celebrations on Alumnae Day
On the 90th anniversary of York House School, alumnae and special guests were welcomed back for a morning of celebration and reconnection on Alumnae Day, Saturday, September 24th. Welcomed by our new Head of School, Deryn Lavell, alums gathered together for coffee generously sponsored by Caffe Umbria.
Following a heartwarming introduction by classmate Kirsten Sutton (Koopman-Osterreicher) ‘83 and her daughter, Olivia in Grade 12, keynote speaker Dianne Whelan ‘83 took to the podium. An hour of tremendous storytelling captured our imaginations as Dianne took us on an epic overview of her six-year adventure traversing the 24,000 km Trans Canada Trail. Travelling by foot, bike, canoe and snowshoe, Dianne also managed to shoot a documentary along the way.
A filmmaker, artist, and adventurer, Dianne is ultimately a gifted storyteller and a compassionate community builder. Joined by her parents, John and Geraldine and her sister Nicole, Dianne wowed the audience with footage from her travels and reflected on the many lessons learned over the journey. She also announced that her documentary film project has received funding and in a deal with Elevation Pictures, they will assist with the theatrical release of 500 Days in the Wild in Canada.
Following Dianne’s keynote presentation, Jaclyn and Ruby, two Grade 12 students from the Green Club, conducted a very lively and engaging Q+A with Dianne. Together they posed questions about both the physical and mental challenges that Dianne faced on her six-year journey, the wisdom she gained along the way, and ultimately, what she learned about herself and her place on the planet.
The YHS Alumnae Association hosted the launch of an exhibition of new paintings on Thursday, September 22nd. Entitled “The Power of Trees: Returning to Your Roots”, the artist Marni (McLoughlin) Sheppard ‘89was in attendance in the Alumnae Art Gallery space and she was joined by her classmates from the Class of 1989 along with many family and friends.
The collection of paintings features eight portraits of trees representing the four Houses of York House School: Pine, Arbutus, Maple, and Cypress. By painting two trees of each species the artist’s goal was to capture and ignite a dialogue between these paintings and the viewer. It was a very special gathering of a community coming together to support one of their own.
The paintings in the Alumnae Art Gallery on the 3rd floor of the senior school will be on display during the school year.
On Founders’ Day, Thursday, September 22nd, alumnae from the classes of 1950-1972 were finally welcomed back to school after a three-year hiatus. Greeted enthusiastically by student executives, the day began with a tour of the 3rd floor Alumnae Art Gallery’s stunning exhibit of paintings byMarni (McLoughlin) Sheppard ‘89 and a new Museum & Archives display featuring the evolution of York House’s historical buildings over the past 90 years.
There was a wonderful sense of occasion as alumnae and special guests returned to the Golden Luncheon in the Gail Ruddy Foyer and many classes celebrated special reunions.
In particular, alumnae from the Class of 1970 celebrated their 50th year reunion and enjoyed staying on for the Founders’ Day assembly to witness their classmate, the Honorable Associate Chief Justice Heather (Fidgeon) Holmes ‘70 receive the 2022 YHS Alumnae Special Achiever Award.
The YHS Chamber Choir, led by Music Teacher, Ms. Benila Ninan, welcomed everyone with a performance of the York House hymn “Unto the Hills’, a York House tradition, followed with their version of “My Baby Just Cares for Me”, a song made famous by the one and only Nina Simone.
Other highlights of the luncheon included the Grade 2 students performing “I’m a York House Girl” (parody of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl”) and a special visit from an excited group of Grade 1s who presented Yorkie chocolate to everyone. Thanks in particular to their teachers and the Grade 7 helpers who accompanied them.