by Andrea Thomson, Director of Development & Alumni Relations

On the evening of April 2, members of the Elmwood crew, their parents and special guests were invited to celebrate the school’s Rowing Program. Unique in the city of Ottawa, Elmwood is the only school which has its own rowing program. Elmwood is also lucky to have Olympian Derek O’Farrell coaching its dedicated crew, with athletes from grades 9 through 12 who participate in early morning workouts, competitive regattas and international training camps.  

For Elmwood, the Rowing Program has garnered much attention and successes. Several athletes have received full NCAA scholarships based on their skill and dedication, including Abigaile Butler ‘19 (Fordham University), Maya Hembruff ‘23 (University of Rhode Island), Gabrielle Jennings ‘24 (UC Berkeley). These successes are inspiring current crew members to work extra hard so they too could go to prestigious universities in Canada, the US and around the globe. 


A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the 2023-24 Sarah Black Rowing Scholarship to three incredible athletes – Gabrielle Jennings ‘24, Somaya Khosla ‘25 and Madeleine Turner ‘27. There to make the presentation was the award’s namesake, Sarah Black, Elmwood Class of 2007. Sarah discovered rowing at Elmwood in grade 9 and became a world-class rower making Elmwood, and Canada proud. Rowing for Team Canada, Sarah won Silver and Bronze at the 2013 World Championships and was a member of the 2016 Olympic Rowing Team in Rio. Sarah also rowed for Western University and returned to coach their women’s team, winning Coach of the Year in 2019. It was a thrill for crew members to have the chance to meet Sarah and speak to her about her journey from Elmwood, to Western, the World Championships and Olympics. You could see the inspiration in the eyes of these young athletes. 

Our thanks to David and Debra Wu for their leadership support of the Sarah Black Rowing Scholarship and for making this evening possible. The Wu Family’s generous and continued support is so meaningful as Elmwood grows its athletic program, not just in Rowing, but other sports which impact the physical and mental health of all students from Pre-K to 12. 

Our thanks also to alumni parents Derek and Elizabeth Howe who were instrumental in starting Elmwood’s Rowing Program to the parents of crew members who shuttle athletes back and forth early in the morning and stand in the sidelines cheering our crews. Finally, a special shout out to Jacobnsons for their creativity and culinary expertise in preparing the evening’s tasty charcuterie and drink selection. Thank you to Dominique Jacobson and AGM Rachel.