Lane Merrifield has an enviable resume as one of Canada’s leading tech entrepreneurs. He is the co-founder of Club Penguin, the world’s largest children's online social network, a former “Dragon” on CBC’s Dragon’s Den, and the creator of FreshGrade, a learning assessment tool that connects teachers, parents and students to help both personalize and improve learning.
Locally, he founded Wheelhouse, the organization behind the Innovation Centre in Downtown Kelowna, a project that encouraged the growth of the thriving technology sector in the valley. Lane has achieved more than most in his professional life but he says that his academic track record wasn’t necessarily an early predictor of success. One of four high-achieving siblings, “I was by far the worst student in my family,” he laments. “I was a solid C student. I was constantly fidgeting in class and couldn’t sit still to write exams,” he says. “But if I was into the project, I would knock it out of the park. If I could do something creative, I was in my happy place.” (Vancouver Tech Journal May 2022)
So when it came to his own two children, Lane wanted somewhere with a personalized approach to learning in a small setting. “I knew we needed to find a school that, no matter who they are and what their gifts and abilities might be, would embrace them and make them feel supported and cared for.”
After touring Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School and meeting with the former Director of Admissions, Susanne Raye, he knew he had found that place. “It was meeting Susanne for the first time and walking through the doors of the Junior School Building. We said, ‘ok, there is something special here.”
Since then Aberdeen Hall has grown from a school of 70 students in a rented building to a school of over 700 students on a beautiful 44-acre campus adjacent to UBC’s Okanagan Campus.
Parent and community involvement remains at the operational forefront for Aberdeen Hall. A registered not-for-profit charity, the school relies on donations from its parent community to provide enriched resources and opportunities for their students.
“Our curriculum is taught by talented and dedicated teachers and is carefully designed to deliver an enriched and personal educational experience,” says Chris Grieve, Head of School. “Tuition and government grants keep our lights on and cover the basic necessities but our enriched academic programming, arts and character education are made possible through the generosity of our families,” Grieve says.
Lane knows this firsthand. In 2012, Aberdeen Hall’s administration and its Board of Directors approached Lane about funding the school’s next phase of development. He found himself in a position where he could give, and so, he quietly gifted the school a donation that made a real and lasting impact. His only request was that he did not want any recognition or stewardship of his gift until after his children had left the school.
In September 2022, Aberdeen Hall was thrilled to publicly recognize Merrifield’s gift with the dedication of the 'Merrifield Junior School'. At the ceremony, Merrifield acknowledged the role Aberdeen Hall played in his children's, and so many countless others’ education as well as the group of school founders who came before him. “I’m standing on the shoulders of giants who made all of this happen,” he says of the pivotal families who provided significant resources in the school’s early years. “I’m honoured and humbled to have been here at a moment in time when I could make a difference.”
The gesture of stewardship for the Merrifield family is aptly timed as Aberdeen Hall has recently broken ground on its largest and most ambitious project to date: a $12 million Athletics and Wellness Centre dedicated to the physical and mental health of its growing student population of more than 700 students and 450 families.
At Aberdeen Hall, we seek to admit well-rounded students who choose to be at our school. We are looking for students who demonstrate leadership through academic performance, involvement in co-curricular activities and civic engagement. We care about our students and seek those who value education and are prepared to enrich our incredible school community.