You've got a friend in me

Twice a year the School publishes its alumni magazine, The TCS News. All members of the TCS community would have received their most recent copy with the cover story “The Secret Ingredient.” This publication is yet another source of immense pride for me and many others associated with the School.

Within each issue of The TCS News there are sections entitled Class Notes and Milestones. These sections provide updates on our alumni, as submitted by alumni. The fall 2022 issue included a broad representation, with alumni from more than 50 different class years submitting updates to their alma mater on their current state, educational pursuits, family developments and career accomplishments. Alumni news spanned from the class of 1947 to the class of 2022 with insights ranging from reminiscent to joyous as witnessed through the inclusion of 14 birth notices, 30 marriage announcements and, sadly, news of the passing of 35 members of our extended community.

In total, our fall listing of Class Notes and Milestones occupied 22 full pages out of the 52-page magazine. That’s an incredible 40% of the magazine! (And it is worth noting that in some issues of The TCS News, these sections expand even further to accommodate the volumes of submissions, sometimes comprising a whopping 60% of the publication.)

I have a few hypotheses why our relatively small in size, but long in history, school enjoys a disproportionately larger Class Notes and Milestones section than other excellent Canadian schools.

First and foremost, from a tangible, organization and leadership perspective, I am very biased in stating that I believe TCS has two of the “best in the business” who solicit, capture and effectively share the alumni submissions included in this magazine with our extended community. So, special acknowledgement to both Tricia Mandryk in our philanthropy and alumni office and Vikki Armstrong in our communications department!

I also believe our year chair model in which we have had one or, more recently, two selected representatives from each graduating class to inform, connect and network with their classmates and then liaise with the School, has had some solid success. Not in each and every year necessarily, but when it works, it really works.

I would also like to think that the School does a better than average job at engaging our alumni through a host of endeavours including, but not limited to: social events including excellent annual, well-attended, branch dinners and reunion weekends; the inclusion of alumni on our board of governors, foundation and body of trustees; a robust alumni website and the BearTracks online networking platform; the alumni mentorship program; Career Nights; ad hoc committee engagement; alumni surveys that solicit opinions and periodic census efforts to collect more recent biographical information and feedback. Again, we are not perfect, but we have received positive feedback on our school’s efforts to engage and stay connected to our alumni who reside across the world.

Overall, our survey results indicate that the vast majority of our alumni rate their experience as a student as very high, regardless of era and graduation year. The bottom line is that these alumni feel that the School cared for them, with most students citing one particular, or a few, adult(s) who had a significant, positive and transformative impact on their lives; in short, our staff and faculty did a great job!

Also, not to be underestimated, I believe that friendships developed at TCS are deeper. Friendships that are more than transactional or of utility; not just friendships of virtue or pleasure. And, more than stage-of-life based friendships.

I am told by literally dozens of alumni each year that their TCS-founded friends are their best friends. Theirs are historical friendships formed over long days and nights, high expectations, successes and failures. The key here, I believe, is that their friendships were formed through thick and thin. Through the difficult times, those bonds were built strong. Of course, there were fun times – lots of them! But, it was overcoming and succeeding against the challenges of a demanding curricular and co-curricular program together, which was the critical element in the foundation of strong, long-lasting friendships.

It reminds me of one of my favourite (albeit, unattributed) quotes that goes something like this: “Everything I didn’t want to do, got me to where I am today.”

Where most of our alumni are today, is a life that includes great life-long friendships, the type of friendships that are worth sharing and celebrating for all time whether in person or at the distance, in the pages in The TCS News.

Now that’s worth noting.

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