Corps News - Current Year
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November 23, 2006 - To many, St. Andrew’s College is known as a top-flight university preparatory school recognized for its impressive athletic programs and exceptional Music, Arts and Drama.
But unless you have witnessed a cadet inspection, music concert or McPherson Tournament, you may not be privy to the hidden gem that lies within – the school’s Bagpiping programme.
This past weekend Robbie Beaton (Grade 11 student from Scotia, New York) and Kegan Sheehan (Grade 10 student from Queensbury, New York) made St. Andrew’s College proud at the George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Piping Competition in Hamilton, Ontario, placing 2nd and 3rd respectively.
“This is a restricted event that invites the 10 leading amateur competing pipers in the world to compete in three events in front of an international panel of judges,” said their teacher Jim McGillivray. “It is wonderful to watch these two very talented young men continue to carry the St. Andrew’s College name to the world’s piping stages!”
McGillivray, the Director of Piping at St. Andrew’s for the past eight years, has taught both boys since their Grade 9 years, and sees great promise for the future. Himself, a double gold medallist and one of the most successful Canadian competitive pipers worldwide, McGillivray is considered one of North America’s leading players and teachers and is a wonderful mentor to these rising stars.
Robbie and Kegan are both fine examples of master jugglers at the school. Not only have both been busy with recent competitions, but both are also involved in sports, clubs and maintaining their academics as well.
Robbie was awarded the Piper’s & Pipe Band Society of Ontario’s “Champion Supreme” award for Grade 1 Amateur solo piping for the 2006 competition season in September, and received notification earlier this month from the Pipers’ and Pipe Band Society of Ontario that he has been upgraded to the Open/Professional competition class. According to McGillivray, this is the top level of open solo piping, and very few make it to this level at Robbie’s age. He also plays with the Toronto Police Pipe Band every weekend, is on the school’s JV Hockey team, and was awarded his scholar tie last week at the school's Academic Assembly.
Kegan was the overall winner of the Nicol-Brown Amateur Invitational Solo Piping Championships in Albany, New York this past September. This is an event that brings together the top non-professional-class pipers from North America. He was in Scotland in August, where he placed 3rd in the MacGregor Memorial Competition. This competition is open to competitors under 21 who have impressive resumes of piping successes. Kegan also plays JV Basketball and 1st Lacrosse at the school, and manages to keep an A average on top of that.
Congratulations to them both – there is no telling what they are capable of during their last two and three years at the school!
Senior Leaders Course (Gr. 12s)
The start up of the year begins with a two-day program designed to build teamwork and refresh skills for our Corps Staff Cadets. This year, the program was held here on campus, utilizing our own facilities.
The 30 Staff Cadets were divided into four syndicates or rotations and covered many practical skills: High ropes program, low ropes, marksmanship, map and compass skills, communication and leadership.
The group reviewed their bushcraft skills spending the night in our own bivouac site, located in the forest past the upper fields. Most memorable was the night game commonly known by the Cadets as “Man Hunt.”
The event was a great
success and those that attended found it to be an opportunity to confirm skills
and to build the bonds with their Corps colleagues.
Operation Black Bear is the annual Silver Star exercise consisting of a two-day adventure based program at Base Borden. The buses pulled up on the Sunday of the Homecoming weekend at 0900hrs, which was a little early for some of the 75 Cadets attending (for some staff too!). By the time we hit Blackdown Cadet Training Centre the Cadets were ready to get into action. We took over our Company lines and issued out the sleeping bags, liners and other necessary items and had a boxed lunch that wasn’t half bad. The afternoon training consisted of four stations: the abseil tower, field first aid, communications/leadership and weapons handling drills. Dangling off the twenty-five foot tower like Spiderman was certainly a thrill for most, however I’m sure some preferred the search and rescue exercise that completed the field first aid section of the training. Dinner was brought in from the mess hall and the Cadets had no problem devouring the fresh rations served by the Staff Cadets and Officers. The evening was completed with a night patrol exercise on camp and pizza arrived in for a late night snack.
Day two of the program offered abseil tower training for those that missed out, as well as a military confidence course (team obstacles) and small bore range training. The Cadets all had an opportunity to fire the Lee-Enfield No 7 rifle (.22 cal) that was commonly in use with the Canadian Army in the Second World War. A little piece of history indeed but the Lee-Enfield is still considered to be one of the most accurate rifles of its kind. A final boxed lunch brought the training exercise to a close and after cleaning up the camp, we loaded the buses to come home.
Operation Highland Laddie once again brought the bushcraft skills of our Red Star Cadets to the test. The Red Star program begins with six weeks of training in outdoor expedition skills. Cadets have been learning about meal planning, equipment preparation, route planning, hiking skills, emergency first aid and orienteering during their Thursday training sessions. The two-day hike puts all these skills into practical application in a real-life scenario. In addition to completing their Cadet training each Cadet will complete their Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze Award in recognition of their hard work.
The exercise began early on a cold, damp Sunday morning as we loaded the yellow buses en route to the start point of the expedition, the Manitou Scout Camp in Milton. The embarkation took a bit of time to sort out as vehicles needed to be shuttled, equipment needed to be checked, walkie-talkies were issued and the Cadets prepared their rucksacks for the 20 kilometre journey they were about to face. Each of the four platoons was divided into two sections of approximately ten, complete with a Staff Cadet team leader. CI Ramon, Lt Zangov, Major McCue and former Cadet CO Mitch Myers rucked up alongside the Cadets of each platoon to ensure that all were safe and on the correct route.
The trails were muddy but the fantastic scenery certainly made up for any hardship felt. The grey drizzle continued throughout the day however we were fortunate that it never poured down, soaking our gear. The sections arrived into the lunch stop area that was at Crawford Lake Interpretive Centre. Although we didn’t have much time to explore the first nations fort, it provided a dry, warm place to have lunch. The afternoon was the most picturesque section of the route as it took us up along the ridge of the Nassagaweya Canyon. In addition to the spectacular lookout points, deep rocky caves were well worth some time to explore. The last section arrived in at 5:00pm to the overnight bivouac site, which was at Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area.
The 5-man crew tents, supplied by the military proved to be extremely warm and durable as the rain kept up and the sun sank along with the temperature. Fires were quickly built and naphtha stoves were lit to prepare the evening meals, which were cooked by the Cadets. Huddling around the fires seemed to be the order for the remainder of the evening, and tired bodies clambered into the tents by 9:00, readily looking forward to some sleep. Captain Steeves arrived in to the camp taking over from Lt Zangov and CI Myers who both had to get back to civilization. The sight of Tim Horton’s coffee was well received by the Officers!
Day two of the expedition brought relief to the conditions and by early morning the sun was shining and the temperatures were coming up. The sections set off on staggered timings starting at 10:00am and the trails were quite different than the rocky cliffs of the first day. Winding through the pines, the Cadets headed alongside Limestone Creek, crossing Appleby line and finishing with a run down the Glen Eden ski hills towards the Halton Museum. The sections were all in by 1300hrs, and ready for a quick lunch and return to home.
A little adversity is certainly good for the soul and the Cadets braved on through some pretty rough weather. Despite the challenges, the Cadets complained little, worked extremely well as a team and were supportive of one another. I think the Duke would have approved of their efforts and I certainly commend all of the Cadets and Staff for a job well done.
Still to come….
Major Brian McCue
September 6, 2006 - Three St. Andrew’s pipers achieved remarkable success in solo and band competitions over the summer, spreading the St. Andrew’s College name across Canada, the U.S. and Scotland.
Pictured at right is Robbie Beaton, an Albany area native who had tremendous success on the Ontario Highland Games circuit. Robbie won the aggregate points total for Grade 1 Amateur (the highest amateur classification) at 4 out of 5 Highland games he played in. This included Maxville games near Montreal, which is the official North American Championship. This makes Pipe Sergeant Robbie Beaton, a Grade 11 student, the North American Amateur Solo Piping Champion!
In addition Robbie’s band, the Toronto Police Pipe Band, captured the North American Pipe Band Championship on the same day, a huge victory for any aspiring young piper. Robbie will be the Pipe Sergeant (second in command) of the S.A.C. Pipes & Drums for 2006-07.
Grade 10 student Kegan Sheehan achieved international success, taking a 3rd place in the MacGregor Memorial competition at The Argyllshire Gathering in Oban, Scotland in August. This is a superb prize for a boy of 15. The competition is open to pipers under 21 who have been able to provide a resume of piping success indicating that they would play well in the event. There were 40 competitors in the event, which is for Piobaireachd, the classical music of the pipes. The tunes range in length from 6 - 20 minutes. The tunes Kegan played were each around 10-12 minutes in length.
Former S.A.C. Pipe Major Andrew Douglas ’03 won this event in 2004. Andrew currently plays in the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, which placed 2nd in this year's World Pipe Band Championship in Glasgow. Andrew also won two major professional prizes at The Argyllshire Gathering, continuing his steady ascent up the competitive ladder.
While both Robbie and Kegan are seasoned competitors, 2006-07 Pipe Major Graham Hynds participated in his first solo piping competitions during July and August. Graham played at three Highland Games this summer and won a prize – either first, second, or third – in each event. This is quite a remarkable achievement for a ‘rookie’ soloist and reflects how well Graham has been developing as a piper even without the added motivation of the competition platform.
While the St. Andrew’s Pipes & Drums is not a competitive pipe band, its pipers and drummers are always encouraged to try their skills at the summer Highland Games in Ontario. Georgetown, Hamilton, Cambridge, Fergus, Maxville: these gatherings feature piping, drumming, pipe band, highland dancing and athletics, massed pipe band and athletics such as ‘tossing the caber’ almost every Saturday during June, July and August.
Director of Piping Jim McGillivray achieved his own level of success in August as well. Mr. McGillivray was one of three judges at the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal competition at The Argyllshire Gathering in Oban, regarded as one of the five top solo piping events in the world. It marked the first time the event has been adjudicated by a North American judge. Mr. McGillivray returns to Scotland in October to adjudicate The Glenfiddich Piping Championship, the premier professional piping competition in the world and generally regarded as the unofficial world solo piping championship.