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Sam Beqaj pays tribute to leaving principal Jim Power

April 25 not only marked the final Leaving Class assembly for this school year, it was also one of the last assemblies for principal Jim Power, who has agreed to take a new job as head of schools at Culver Academies in Indiana.

In honour of everything that Power has contributed to Upper Canada College, student Sam Beqaj gave the following speech in assembly. Here’s the video with full transcript below:

“As all of you know, 2016 marks the last of 12 years for Dr. Power here at UCC. As the first American principal of the largest, and arguably most historically significant, Canadian boys school, Dr. Power brought north the ideals of adding to the feeling of community and the mindset to think big. It was his commitment to fostering a greater sense of community that made his time here so impactful for the students.

“Dr. Power was never one to shy away from the chance to entertain the community. Whether it was starring as Donald Trump in “Stewards Apprentice” or flexing the golden pipes as Bruce Springsteen at A-Day, he relished and often seized the opportunity to promote school spirit in any way.

“His passion for the school can be seen not only by his promotion of school spirit, but also the countless hours spent supporting students as a spectator at a wide variety of different events. This also included sports events where his sons weren’t playing; which, let’s be honest, were far and few between. This speaks to his obsession with community and creating a comfortable environment where everyone feels valued and is properly recognized for their efforts regardless of the activity.

“Over the course of his 12 years, UCC has been through some of the most pivotal moments in its 187-year history. In 2007, following the board’s controversial decision to remove boarding from the school, Dr. Power listened to the voices of the community and thankfully was able to revitalize the boarding program.

“Following this, Dr. Power defined his legacy at UCC through his work with financial aid. On a number of occasions I have heard him say: ‘Any student who deserves to come to UCC should not, and will not, be turned away because of their socio-economic background.’

“Dr. Power understood that a school as powerful and financially successful as ours has a responsibility to think bigger and provide opportunities to those that lie outside our traditional boundaries for admissions. Since 2006, the number of students who receive some sort of financial aid has nearly quadrupled. This can be seen as a true testament to the work that Dr. Power has done.

“While the growth of the financial aid program can be considered one of, if not, his greatest contribution to the school, Dr. Power launched UCC into the modern era and ensured that by the time he left, the facilities were second to none. Countless renovations of the school occurred during his time, including the first and second floor, both boarding houses, and the construction of the William P. Wilder Arena.

“On a personal level, Dr. Power’s commitment to improving the student experience and specifically how we interact with each other is what I admire the most about him. He strived to create an environment that, as he said, ‘celebrate boys’ boyness’ and ‘allows boys to be comfortable in their own skin.’

“His speeches at Monday assemblies were the way in which he conveyed this message to the students. While ranging in a wide variety of topics, based off of countless personal and external experiences, his speeches often included wisdom on the dangers of quick judgments and the importance of humility in life, especially for students at a school such as ours.

“Dr. Power, if there is one thing that I have learned from you through all of your speeches and our interactions, it’s that in life, in order to have successful relationships, as stated in our school hymn, we need to be ‘slow to chide and swift to bless.’

“It’s hard to believe that your time here has come to an end, but on behalf of the entire UCC community, faculty, staff, student body and myself personally, I would like to thank you for 12 great years and we wish you and your family nothing but the best in your future endeavours as you return to your native country, except now with an extra passport.

“Thank you.”

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