Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Students find their passion at Windermere high school


It’s hard to believe that my husband and I will soon become empty nesters. It’s been a long haul. We’d settled in the neighbourhood over 20 years ago, raising two kids here.

Words. Source: Vancouver School Board

Windermere’s motto “Facta Non Verba” means Actions, Not Words. Images source: Vancouver School Board

Now my youngest, Kate, will graduate this June from Windermere Secondary and leave home in September for university – and a life on her own. She follows her sister, Claire, who graduated from the same school three years ago and is also studying away from home.

We didn’t think twice about sending our kids to Windermere; after all, it was just a five-minute walk from our house. We also believe in public education. Still, we didn’t know what to expect from this small east Vancouver school.

We needn’t have worried.

Windermere Secondary is a neighbourhood gem.

Windermere High School

Sure, as Claire noted in her graduation speech, the bell doesn’t always ring on time and some windows are boarded up. But she received a tremendous learning experience as part of Windermere and its Leadership program, and by extension, she became part of a group of students who were active in the community. Claire learned a different point of view from the mainstream, learned to think on her own and take action, learned to be a leader – all qualities that have been invaluable in her adult life.

Claire describes a friend who volunteered with the school’s lifeskills class and discovered the rewards of helping students with disabilities. Her friend has gone on to study and work in the field, following her passion that she first found at Windermere.

More recently, another student was one of the lucky few to take part in the High School Science Week at St Paul’s Hospital’s Centre for Heart Lung Innovation as part of her career exploration experience. “I was happy to learn most of the students were from schools in the area and I was proud to represent Windermere,” she recalls in a report. She got to “play” with damaged organs, including hearts and lungs. “I felt like a kid in a candy store for the whole day!”

Which takes us back to Kate. Windermere gave her the opportunity to excel in sports and to volunteer as a score keeper and as an arts and crafts instructor to elementary school students. Most surprising to us, though, she found her passion the day she walked into her Grade 8 science class.

Today physics is Kate’s favourite subject, and she does well in chemistry, biology and math. She may study engineering. As someone who couldn’t understand physics and could only learn chemistry and calculus from good teachers, I can see that Windermere has excellent science and math programs.

As parents we put a lot of trust in the teachers who lay the foundation for our kids to succeed in life. Windermere has taught so many of our kids to be good citizens, to aim high and to dream that they can improve lives and, perhaps, even save the world.

Thank you.

Julie Cheng has been the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News for almost 10 years.

Windermere stories

Over the years the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News has published many stories about Windermere high school. A quick search on leads you to stories that reveal:

Windermere staff are amazing:

Indigenous art project at Windermere: Reconciliation from the ground up – May 2017 issue
Judy Payne one of Windermere’s secrets to success – May 2015

Windermere students speak up about social justice:

Multinational corporation pays $15 a day for Hope water – Jan. 2017
Homelessness Action Week, October 12-18, 2014 – Nov. 2014

The students take action for the environment:

Windermere students celebrate Earth Day – Apr. 2017
Windermere students race to save the planet at the Great Climate Race – Dec. 2016

The students are everywhere in the community:

Windermere Organic Garden Team grows fruit, veggies and community – Nov. 2016
Celebrate Canada’s 149th birthday at Youth Celebrate Canada Day – July 1! – Jun. 2016

They learn to be strong and have a creative voice:

Film by Windermere Girls Group: Girls Are Just As Strong – Dec. 2016
Renfrew-Collingwood high school students create original play about addiction – Apr. 2017

Create Your Canada winners off to Ottawa

Create Your Canada Windermere winners

Windermere students June Lam and Gaelan Emo are off to Ottawa to see their bill introduced in the House of Commons by MP Don Davies. Photo courtesy of Don Davies, MP

Congratulations to Windermere students Gaelan Emo and June Lam for winning the Create Your Canada contest sponsored by Don Davies, the member of Parliament for Vancouver-Kingsway. Gaelan and June will travel to Ottawa to hear Don Davies introduce their bill in the House of Commons.

“This is a great way for youth to share their vision for our country,” says Don Davies. “I think it’s also a fun and engaging introduction to Parliament and the legislative process.”

Gaelan and June were chosen for their idea to create a tax incentive that will encourage food producers, suppliers and retailers to donate perishable food to charities. Way to go, Gaelan and June! To learn more about this competition, visit

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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October 2013 issue of the RCC News is here

The new issue is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

Renfrew-Collingwood Community News October 2013

Read RCC News October 2013

Get your issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Medical marijuana coalition fights repeal
  • Your family tree – Tips for free research
  • My life in art by Janet Lee
  • The value of heritage: A vintage photo comes to life
  • Nasib Singh: A cup of chai on rainy days
  • Introducing intercultural connectors to get the community moving
  • The girl who ran away to the circus – And stayed: Tuedon Ariri’s journey from Collingwood to a famed circus school

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email The deadline for the November issue is October 10, 2013.