“It was a crazy idea, starting this school,” Ted Spear said. “But what really made it work in the early years — what really mattered — was having people like Marg Witty on the board. She became chair and her phenomenal personality and her reputation in the community were invaluable.”
The Margaret Witty Bursary Fund has been created by the Witty family in honour and recognition of Marg Witty’s contribution to Island Pacific School and the community of Bowen Island. Over the next five years the donation will grow to $50,000, thanks to a commitment of annual donations from Dave Witty and his children. The Fund will be managed by the Bowen Island Community Foundation and will provide an annual bursary to one or more deserving students of Island Pacific School.
“Marg loved Island Pacific,” Dave Witty said. “She had been taught herself by nuns and she loved the academic freedom of IPS – its emphasis on outdoor activities, the focus on developing critical thinking, and the Masterworks projects for graduating students. She also loved that sports at IPS are inclusive: that both boys and girls are involved, that you celebrate the other team – Ultimate Frisbee, the official school sport, is about everyone having fun.”
Dave says that leaving an endowed bursary is a way to leave a legacy to Marg, a way of ensuring that she will always be a part of this island that she loved.”
As Head of Island Pacific School Ted Spear has watched the institution grow from “a crazy idea,” to an economically sustainable school for children in grades 6 to 9. Marg Witty was a critical catalyst for the School’s development, and as the IPS website noted, “it is small by design and distinctly different.” Small classes, civic engagement and a range of academic, artistic and recreation pursuits are the hallmarks of an education at IPS.
Although fees at Island Pacific are much lower than those for most independent schools, Ted Spear would like to be able to make Island Pacific more affordable, particularly to adolescents growing up on Bowen Island. The Margaret Witty Bursary Fund will help some youngsters to have that opportunity.
“We have some of our kids who have gone on to Oxford and Cambridge, and very good graduate programs, and that’s great,” says Spear. “But that’s not what we’re really most focused on. We want to ensure that the young people who leave our school go on to become decent human beings, that they are intellectually curious –that they know how to ask critical and intelligent questions.”
Marg Witty was pleased that she lived to see her grandson Jett become a student at the school.
“This is different,” Dave Witty says of IPS. “The way that education is understood and delivered here was something that Marg really cared about.”
Donations to the Margaret Witty Bursary Fund can be made through the Bowen Island Community Foundation, and sent to Soren Hammerberg, Chair. P.O. Box 18, Bowen Island, B.C. V0N 1G0. Contributions can also be made through our website at www.bowenfoundation.com.
The celebration of life for Marg Witty will be held at the Lodge at the Old Dorm on Sunday July 5th from 3 to 5 p.m.
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