Board Trustee, Thames Valley District School Board
Student at University of Western Ontario
President, G.D.H.S. Student’s Council 2003-2004
Upon leaving her busy high school life, Sarah Doub, from Wardsville, ran for School Board Trustee and won the seat. We were impressed with Sarah four years ago when we wrote this profile in June 2004:
Glencoe District High School has always had an impressive group of student leaders. This year, the president of the Students’ Council is no exception. Daughter of Brad and Kathy Doub, Sarah has been extremely busy this year and will return to G.D.H.S. next year for a ‘victory lap’. “Being president and involved in so many things, I don’t think I’m quite ready to head off. I don’t need extra credits; I’m just not done here yet.”
With the all the political pressures facing the high school this year, G.D.H.S. needed an especially strong student leader to voice the concerns of students. Sarah has been the one. Smart, beautiful, athletic, and a born leader, the media has latched on to her as an articulate spokesman for the school and community on Thames Valley District School Board policy issues affecting G.D.H.S. Even during her interview for this profile, she was receiving urgent media phone calls. They refused to wait their turn.
Tell us about your early education.
“I didn’t go to day care or nursery school, but I attended Mosa Central for 8 years. Mosa is a small elementary school… kind of like a mini G.D.H.S. The classes were nice small sizes, and the teachers were awesome. We enjoyed learning at Mosa Central. It was such a great place for me to develop my leadership skills and to establish some wonderful relationships. I was inspired by so many people, and can truly say that my experiences there helped to define who I am today as an individual.
“My Mosa memories follow me everywhere. I was involved in tons of stuff: choir, drama, grad committee, Students’ Council, and sports. I did well in track and field, advancing to the district finals and placing 2nd. I was valedictorian for my class and won awards for leadership, science, and English proficiency.”
Sarah was born a leader. A compassionate child, when there was a chance to help people, she stepped forward. She loves the theatre. As a little girl, she would direct and produce dramas featuring her three younger siblings.
Tell us about your education at G.D.H.S.
“I did not want to go to high school. After graduation, I cried for two weeks. Missing my Grade 8 teacher, I was certain that high school was going to be a terrible place. I had visions of being lost in the hallways, poisoned by cafeteria food, and shoved into lockers… perceptions that my two older brothers did nothing to diminish. My friend and I made “safety plans” about how we would never walk down the hallways alone and would always watch each other’s backs. When I talk to those scared Grade 8 students today, I see myself and reassure them that ‘I was there’.”
At G.D.H.S., Sarah has shone in drama, Students’ Council, prom committee, Gael Force, SAA, volleyball, field hockey, badminton, cross country, basketball, track and field, and of course, academics. She can’t remember her achievements and suggest she send the interviewer her résumé. It is rather a long list.
Why are you coming back for a fifth year?
“My victory lap? I don’t want to leave G.D.H.S. yet. There is so much more to do (and it’s free!) Next year, I’m doing the co-operative program with Mr. Cook in the English department. You’re actually supposed to do your co-op with an employer outside of the high school, but they made an exception for me. G.D.H.S. is where I want to be. I guess I’m a bit attached, huh?
You are active in the struggle to strengthen G.D.H.S. Why?
“I’m a firm believer that the true value of education cannot be found in any text book. Young people are under such pressure to finish school, but I don’t see the need for the rush. We just need to take time to breathe….fly a kite, jump in a puddle, climb a mountain…relax! I would never trade my experience at Glencoe for a bigger school, despite the more extensive programming options. If I was offered the choice between an education at a prestigious private school with all the choice and quality I could ask for, or an education at a smaller rural school, I would choose the latter. The experience I have had at G.D.H.S. has been incredible. Making your way in a big high school is so tough.
“No city school experience can compare to the rural school experience. Class sizes here are so much smaller; it’s so much easier to get involved; and you feel such a sense of belonging. The relationship between students and teachers is closer; you get to know teachers as individuals. You are more comfortable raising your hand in classes, asking for help. The increased comfort level really shows in our class marks. G.D.H.S. has among the highest EQAO scores in the province for literacy and math. We have successful alumni who have accomplished some amazing things. Mr. Ryan Wolfe, one of our physical education teachers, plays on a world-class baseball team. Neil Johnston is playing professional volleyball in Europe.
“Glencoe District High School personifies what education really is.”
What do you think about the current situation?
“It is troubling to see Glencoe come under threat of closure, especially when the School Board has heard the facts and statistics supporting education rural school. Less violence, lower drop-out rates, more opportunities for involvement, smaller class sizes, better student-staff relationships, higher academic results… the list goes on. The Thames Valley District School Board knows all of this, and yet they want us all to be in big schools.
“The TVDSB has created the Foundation Principle of “putting students first” and this is the motivating factor behind all their decisions aimed to improve student learning. With programming and staff cuts, students at Glencoe are not being put first. It’s especially frustrating for me to see the TVDSB administration making all these decisions while they are sitting in their offices. They aren’t here; they aren’t walking the hallways of GDHS seeing the amazing things that continuously happen at our school. Fiscal concerns outweigh student concerns.”
What do you like about G.D.H.S.?
“What don’t I like!? There is such a feeling of unity within our school. It is so cool to know everyone, just to walk down the hallway and say hi to people. At some bigger schools, you’d see a new face everyday. There is a sense of belonging at GDHS. That is so huge. If you were to ask students who have gone here for four years, ‘would you have rather gone to a big school?’ most of them would say no.
“You see it in the community. Our students get involved. They get pumped up. Even if you are in Grade12, you are cool with the grade nines. Big school events are a huge…it’s all a family deal.”
What is so special about small schools?
“Here at G.D.H.S., we feel safe. When we were guests at a London high school recently, a stretcher entered the school while the students walked by like nothing was happening. We were shocked! Students said it was a common thing to see this happen for drug overdoses or intoxication.
“It’s hard to say how much bullying actually goes on because bullying can occur on so many different levels. At G.D.H.S., you don’t see kids gets circle beat. Initiation isn’t tolerated. No one gets shoved into lockers. There are cliques, like every school has, but there are not wide gulfs between them. Even those that don’t get involved, there is a group of you who don’t get involved and you hang out together.
“I don’t know the figures but it is hard to imagine that the big schools can compete with us on criteria such as student participation. We recently had a Keep the Beat dance-a-thon to raise funds for War Child Canada. Over 100 kids participated (out of a 350 student body) and we raised over $3000!!! There were students there from all different sorts of groups in our school, and it was awesome for me to see everyone being so supportive of each other. Like, at one point, each team would go into the centre of the dance floor and do their own little thing, and everyone else in the gym would stand in a huge circle around them and applaud and cheer them.
“The Relay for Life fundraiser for cancer brought in $10,000. I was in charge of organizing the Survivors’ Victory Lap. It was huge to see all the cancer survivors come out. There was one man who had not walked for a long time and he walked two laps! It was a perfect illustration of the sense of unity that our schools shares with the community.”
What are your career plans?
“After I finish my victory lap, I am thinking of the University of Western Ontario. It is close by and a lot of our teachers went there. I want to return to teach English, drama, and maybe phys-ed. I want to write, and definitely want to get involved with theatre arts.
“At Christmas time, I’m going to South Africa with a group of 40 people from across Canada the U.S. to do two weeks of community work through a program called Global Expeditions.”
And your last words for us about today’s students?
“People need to see what youth are doing. The kids who draw negative attention are a very small minority….we do so much more good than bad. Young people are accomplishing some amazing things these days, and are making such huge impacts on the world. What we learn today we’ll use tomorrow…..we are the future leaders of the world.
“There is no other place in the world I would have rather had my leadership experience this year than right here at my G.D.H.S. home. I spent so many hours at GDHS this year… early morning and late evenings. People often questioned if I just pitched a tent in the middle of the hallway at night! Our custodians figured I might as well join the staff and get a salary! But hey, it was my home away from home. Once you become a Glencoe Gael, you are a Gael for life.
“I know that wherever life takes me in the future, I will ALWAYS have green in my blood.”
June 30, 2004
Written with Mary Simpson