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25 Years of Southridge

Southridge was founded on the desire to make a difference

Since it first opened in 1995, Southridge has stayed true to the original goal of its founders: to create a school community that would develop people who would help to make the world a better place. 

It was a simple idea, rooted in strong values and vision – but bringing it to life would require more determination, perseverance, and work than any of the founders could have initially envisioned. Without their commitment, Southridge would not exist today.

The genesis of an idea

During the 1993 public school teachers’ strike, a group of parents decided to explore other options for educating their children. They invited Alan Brown, who had been a long-time Headmaster at St. George’s School, to speak to their group. During his talk, Mr. Brown described what a new independent school in South Surrey might achieve – developing character in children, in addition to academic excellence – and his vision inspired the parents to start organizing. 

Mr. Brown joins the team 

After choosing “Southridge” as the new school’s name, the parents began to search for a building site.
They found a location in the spring of 1994 and invited Mr. Brown to tour it with them. It was turned down for re-zoning by the City of Surrey, but Mr. Brown was so taken with the beauty of the site, and the school he could envision on it, that he agreed then and there to become Southridge’s first Headmaster. 

For the next year-and-a half Mr. Brown worked tirelessly alongside the parent group, to attract more families to the project, and to acquire funding, land, and zoning for the new school. He proposed the school motto, “Let Every Spirit Soar”, and it became the group’s guiding vision for the kind of school they wanted to create.

Throughout 1994, nearly two dozen possible sites for the school were turned down by Surrey’s Planning Department. In November, the group found the school’s current site on 160th Street. Their application to have it re-zoned turned into a grueling, seven-month process – one of the most politically contentious in years. read more...

For the last twenty-five years Southridge has been shaped by a simple idea, rooted in strong values, vision, and the desire to make a difference - but bringing it to life required more determination, perseverance, and work than any of the founders could have initially envisioned. read more...

Mr. Brown’s reputation as an educator, the strength of his vision, and his ability to inspire others, attracted nearly all of the school’s first families and teachers. As the founding Head, Alan Brown established many of the values and traditions that make Southridge the school it is today. read more...

One of Alan Brown’s promises to Southridge’s first Grade 9 class was that they would have a proper Senior School building from which to graduate. In November 1998, the solid yellow cedar doors of the new Senior School, carved by artist Grant Faulkner from 1,000 year-old wood, swung open. read more...

The final piece of the puzzle

In 2002, the school purchased seven acres of neighbouring land. Over the next couple of years, the school created two new playing fields, a garden, additional parking, and set aside three acres for future building. 

When the school opened its doors for its eighth year in September 2003, it had reached maximum capacity of 684 students. Southridge had come of age.

Shifting the focus

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By 2003, with all of the necessary facilities in place for a first-class learning environment, Bill Jones, Southridge’s second Head of School, was able to help guide the community as it shifted its focus from building facilities, to achieving its mission statement.  

A Southridge education had always been built on four pillars: Academics, Athletics, Arts, and Service. At Southridge, the concept of a well-rounded education was always based on more than academic success. At Southridge, leadership skills, character, and passions were developed both in and outside the classroom. Whether playing on a team or in a band, fundraising for a worthy cause, camping, kayaking or snowshoeing, students were supported in developing the interests and gifts that would help them find their unique place in the world.

Mr. Jones encouraged the students to think of themselves as global citizens, and he helped to develop and expand initiatives such as the Student Exchange Program and Service Trips. The Athletic and Arts programs continued to grow and thrive with the school. School sports teams competed at Provincial Championships, the school’s band and jazz ensembles competed at festivals, and the arts program sent graduates into some of the most prestigious arts and design universities in the world. 

During this period, Southridge began to focus on developing innovative programs and teaching methods that would not only help students continue to thrive academically, but that would develop well-rounded graduates with the skills, character, and confidence to realize their full potential, and make a difference in the world.

Bill Jones recognized that technology would be at the heart of any innovative learning environment, and in 2005 the school’s laptop program was implemented, eventually expanding to include all students in Grades 5 to 12. By then, plans were also underway to introduce the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program in the Junior School – a natural fit for Southridge’s student-centred approach to learning. 

The Service component of a Southridge education was always recognized as an essential – even defining – part of the Southridge experience. Students practiced service to each other, to the school, and to the larger community. read more...

By 2008, one year after Bill Jones retired, Southridge was accredited as an IB World School, offering both Primary and Middle Years IB Programs, and joining a larger, worldwide community of learners. read more...

In 2014, the school realized that they needed to develop a long-term plan for facilities that would support their ambitious educational goals, and the “Campus Master Plan” was the result. read more...

25 Years of Developing Strong Minds and Good Hearts

In 2020, Southridge is celebrating a 25-year-long tradition of developing students with strong minds and good hearts who make a difference in the world. Just as we did in 1995, we’re still charting a course in education that no other school has ever drawn.

From the original group of 181 students, we now have more than 1,000 alumni: compassionate leaders, dedicated volunteers, and caring individuals who make a difference in their families, workplaces, communities, and on the world stage. “Great schools are measured not by the accomplishments of their students,” noted Mr. Stephens, “but by the lives led by their alumni.”

From the original group of committed parents, we now have a legacy of strong community support, as Southridge families continue to come together to forge friendships, support the school, and accomplish great things as a community. 

From the original dream of Alan Brown and the founding families – which had no buildings, no teachers, no students or staff – we now have 17 acres of land, thriving Junior and Senior Schools, 680 students, 114 faculty and staff, and a school with a solid foundation of academic excellence, fiscal stability, strong governance, and committed community. 

As Alan Brown said upon his retirement in 1999, “May Southridge continue to prosper. Of course it will.”

Southridge Foundations