Making World Connections Through Service Learning

With Hank

This past week, Ridley was honoured to welcome Marie Da Silva, the founder of The Jacaranda School in Malawi, Africa and 2008 CNN Hero, to campus to share her mission and inspiring story. This visit marked the beginning of what we hope will be a strong relationship between our schools.

The Story of Jacaranda School

After losing fourteen family members to HIV, Marie Da Silva felt compelled to devote her life to improving conditions for orphans in Malawi; many who are impacted by the AIDS epidemic and poverty. In Marie’s eyes, the key to making a difference was to offer these children an education, nutrition, home support and proper health care.

In order to set her philanthropic plan in motion, Marie first needed a source of funding. To finance the early Jacaranda School – which was started out of her childhood home – Marie took post as a nanny in Los Angeles, California. For years, she sent the majority of her wages back to Malawi and little by little brought her passion to realization. After her mother agreed to allow Marie to use her home as a basic school house, Marie set to work seeking support, student teachers and materials.

Over the years since the Jacaranda School was simply a hope, it has developed into a place where orphans and young students come to realize a better life.  The developing, multi-building school now has more than 400 students enrolled. These young boys and girls (50/50 male and female population) often walk more than an hour to attend school each day.

Marie has worked selflessly to ensure that basic needs are met so that students, can focus on learning, reach post-secondary studies and break free from constraints. She has incorporated a fully staffed heath clinic where HIV medicines are dispensed, provides two nutritious meals of porridge daily, has four libraries, offers micro-loans to mothers so they may earn for their families, and also provides a nurturing safe-haven where children are distinctively supported. Most amazingly it only costs roughly $20 CDN per month to educated a student, provide him or her with nutrition and HIV medications.

A Ridley Connection

After being named a CNN Hero in 2008, Marie received well-earned recognition for her work in her home country. Marie and the Jacaranda School is now even receiving the support of global figures, such as Madonna.  Marie’s selfless dedication caught the attention of Mr. Rob Burke. Mr. Burke, Ridley teacher and CAS coordinator, has known Marie for seven years and has made 12 trips to Malawi. While at the Shanghai American School, Mr. Burke was actively involved with volunteering and organizing support for the Jacaranda School. He distinctly recalls a friend of his describing Marie as, “a woman with inner steel, wrapped in silk, with a heart three sizes too big,” with which he wholeheartedly agrees.

Marie expressed that she thoroughly enjoyed meeting students and staff at Ridley College and appreciated the warmth and kindness shown to her while she was here. The mutual feeling of gratitude and respect was obvious.

Girls doing their PYP Project on Marie Grade 3

“Meeting Marie Da Silva and being involved with The Jacaranda School has changed the course of my life and possibly for more than 250 students that have experienced the magic of Jacaranda.” – Mr. Rob Burke

Mr. Burke’s dedication to The Jacaranda School and Foundation was recently acknowledged, as he was awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers. This prestigious award, which he will be presented by the Governor General of Canada, is given to an individual who has significantly contributed to a local or global community.  We hope Ridleians will congratulate Mr. Burke and be motivated by his example.

March Break Service-Learning Trip

Upper School students will have an opportunity to make a difference and contribute when Ridley makes its inaugural visit to The Jacaranda School over March break. This service-learning trip will take place March 9th–25th, 2017.  Registrants will have an opportunity to experience, first-hand, how Marie’s lifelong mission has improved the lives of so many in her home country. If students are interested in joining this trip, please contact Mr. Rob Burke before November 15th at  A limited number of spots are available.

If you would like to make a donation to The Jacaranda Foundation, please visit





Students Explore the World of Visual Art on Annual Fieldtrip


On Tuesday, October 18th, the Grade 9 Visual Arts classes ventured beyond the Marriott Gates, to explore visual arts in a new, interactive environment.

To begin their day, the students travelled to the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH). The AGH is Southwestern Ontario’s oldest and largest public art gallery, and contains over 10,000 works of art. During their morning visit, students explored the gallery’s collection with the help of their guides, and examined how artists employ composition strategies and perspective in a variety of media. Highlights of the tour included a special exhibit on the progression of sculpture since the French Baroque period, and Canadian abstraction.  Following the tour, students worked independently to develop a series of drawings and journal entries in their sketchbooks, connecting what they’ve learned during their visit, to their inclass studies.


The afternoon was spent at the Burgoyne Outdoor Education and Research Centre (BOERC), where students explored drawing and painting en plein air. The weather was warm and sunny, and a blustery “breeze” kept us all on our toes! The fall foliage was at its peak, and students created observational drawing studies of leaves, and watercolor landscape paintings.

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Now that the students have returned to the classroom, they begin their unit assessment project, Perspective in the Landscape. Their recent field experiences and newfound knowledge of artistic techniques and media will aid them as they work toward completing their project.

– Katie Marrone, Department of Visual Arts

Ridleian Wins We Charity Youth Award

Photography by Linda Roy/Ireva Photography,
Photography by Linda Roy/Ireva Photography,

Ridleian, Xavier West ’20 has been a dedicated advocate for Me to We since he was only 10 years old. Me to We (formerly Free the Children) is an organization that sets out to empower youth to change the world. Once Xavier discovered Me to We, a fire ignited within him to make a difference.

When he was younger, Xavier would frequently listen to Me to We cofounder, Craig Kielburger, as he recalled stories of his service trips to poverty-stricken communities. Hearing these stories inspired Xavier to see what he could do to help. It began small; asking not for toys at Christmas, but for a goat to be given to a family in need – A goat can provide a family in the developing world with both a sustainable source of income and nutritious milk. Xavier realized that while he had all the toys he could ever want, a roof over his head, and a full fridge, there was a family somewhere in the world that didn’t share the same luxuries.

It was then that Xavier’s goal grew and he set out to complete all five pillars of Me to We giving. The five pillars are education, water, health, food and opportunity. Each pillar contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty in developing communities around the world. The first pillar on Xavier’s list was education. Xavier was determined to raise enough money to build a school in Kenya.

He remained devoted and inspired for the four years of his fundraising campaign, even attending the Take Action Camp, where he was able to interact with like-minded individuals share his story, and see where he community service could take him. After selflessly collecting cans, hosting garage sales and rallying his family, friends and the community to help him reach his goal, Xavier raised $11,000. The collected funds were used to build a school in Kenya from start to finish, which Xavier also helped build on site. For this Grade 9 student, this was a chance to see the impact he was making on these communities and gave him the opportunity to experience, first-hand, what his fundraising efforts had accomplished.

Xavier says the most touching moment of his trip was meeting a mother, who showed him and his family what life was like in her community; taking them on a water walk, showing them her goats, and taking them to her home, which she built herself.

“The way she was talking was just so inspirational…she says this magnificent house – that isn’t that big – is amazing, and yet we’re worried about the luxuries that we have, that aren’t even close to what they have.” – Xavier West ’20

When Xavier returned home, the summer was nearing its end and he was about to begin the next chapter of his life – high school. This transition is a big step for students, made even bigger by the fact that Xavier would also be beginning his Ridley journey. ¬Xavier wanted to attend Ridley for the exceptional education that the school could provide, but upon arriving, he realized that this was also a place he could further his commitment to action and service. With Ridley’s own commitment to service, each House on campus is associated with a charitable organization that they support and raise funds for over the course of the school year. Through this programme, Xavier discovered how he could impact his local community, in addition to his efforts abroad. For a student so dedicated to transforming the globe, Ridley was the perfect fit.


On October 19th, Xavier was presented with the We Charity Youth Award during the 12th annual We Day. This award is given to a child, aged 13-17, who has contributed to Me to We and the fight to end poverty in an inspiring way. In addition to his acknowledgement on stage, winning this award means that Xavier will be able to experience another service trip and he’s setting his sights on Nicaragua.

Xavier’s journey does not end there. He plans to continue to complete all five pillars; doing his part to contribute to Kenya’s food sustainability, clean water availability, health care, and income opportunities, followed by aiding all of Me to We communities.

“My end goal is to do all five pillars in every community that Me to We is associated with.” – Xavier West ’20

To students who are seeking inspiration to make an impact of their own, Xavier says this:

“Do something you’re passionate about. It doesn’t matter whether the cause is big or small, they’re all important. There are so many problems in this world and if we all help, maybe one day all these problems can be solved.” – Xavier West ’20

Read the Canadian Living article.

Get to Know Your Prefects: David X. ’17

Introducing David Xue ’17 – a Prefect who discovered what it means Screen Shot 2016-10-05 at 10.08.16 AMto become a global citizen. Hear how he adapted to life abroad, and discovered comfort, confidence and culture within the Marriott Gates.

Why did you choose Ridley?

I chose Ridley because of its size. I am talking about the perspectives of cultural diversity, the physical size of the school and its open-mindedness to connect to the global society. This year alone, Ridley welcomed students from more than 44 countries, which is a perfect opportunity for us students to interchange our cultural practices and get comfortable with becoming a global citizen. On top of the rare cultural diversity offered by Ridley, the school itself is 90-acres, which is spacious and gives plenty of choices for sports, activities and scientific research. Lastly, Ridley’s mindset is in line with what I am looking for; the motto is “may I be consumed in service”. I have always been looking for the connection between Chinese culture and western culture; through the humbleness of the motto, I have found the commonness.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?

Of course I felt prepared coming to Ridley! Although it was quite scary to think of coming to an English-speaking country for the first time in Grade seven, I managed to watch all of the ‘Harry Potter’ movies and five seasons of ‘Friends’ during the summer of 2011 in preparation…I would say if you are an international student, definitely try to get a good grip on English conversations before coming to face the academic demands. However, there is no need to panic; the students and faculty here are very friendly and are more than happy to help us through the bottleneck of overcoming the difficulties of the language.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?

To me, every single faculty member I know is unique, and very important. Mr. Hutton, Mr. Bett and Mr. Jones are my parents abroad and keep me safe. My teachers are absolutely experts at every subject and are awesome friends that I know I could feel comfortable talking to whenever I encounter an obstacle. The nurses and sewing room members keep me healthy and classy, respectively. Therefore, I am equally thankful to every single one of them.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?

As an international student, my greatest challenge at Ridley was stepping out of my comfort zone and blending into the Canadian culture. The difficulty in language was minor; it was the decision of whether or not leaving the herd of Chinese speaking students, step into western culture and make friends from other countries, the most challenging. I have to admit that it was a hard time in the beginning; most of the times I did not understand what my peers were talking about. However, I soon adjusted myself to learn things my Canadian friends would be interested in and had made myself a part of the international community. I would say that the decision I made five years ago was absolutely beneficial to my global perspective.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?

My greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley would be the appointment as a Prefect. At Ridley, being a Prefect requires high academic performances, the trust from the student body and faculty, and the ability to be highly responsible. I am grateful that Ridley has gradually shaped me into a person that is seeking knowledge and willing to contribute. Therefore, I think prefectship is just a reflection of the cumulative efforts I have made from my five years of experiences here.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favorite Ridley experience has been joining and enjoying the competitive sports programme. I have been lucky to have played so many sports that I would have never had a chance to play before, such as softball, rugby, basketball and soccer. Not only was I able to play with my fellow peers, but the athletic department would always organize road trips to schools in the province and we were able to compete against them… I think to some extent, the sports programme at Ridley has created a bond between us and the school; it gives us a sense of pride. Thus, I enjoy and will never forget the experience of playing competitive sports at Ridley.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favourite part of Ridley life is knowing that I can put my head on the pillow at the end of the day and feel safe. At Ridley, any adult is approachable and is there to support us. When we experience homesickness or illness, the Head of House’s door is always open for us. Whether it was Ms. Thacker driving you to the health centre at 3:00 in the morning, or Mr. Jones trying to console you after a breakup, Ridley is a place that any of us could open ourselves up and it is guaranteed that we will be supported. Ridley is my second home.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?

I am most excited for planning the future activities for the student body. The Prefect team this year is dedicated to focusing on student lives, and I am very excited about the upcoming events, such as Saturday activities, house competitions and semi-formal dances.


How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Well, I have to say, basically in every way. Academically, the full IB programme challenges me to take risks and step up to become a global citizen. Athletically, Ridley reminds me to always keep myself fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the rest of my life. Aesthetically, Ridley gives me opportunities to take on several musical instruments and provides me abundant art supplies to express myself in the universal language. Lastly, the faculty members act as role models and always keep me positive, which I will do the same to others in the future.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to pursue further education from a university in the United States. I am glad that the guidance counsellers are experts at Ridley, to help me through the difficult process. I would like to pursue my degree in either architecture, law or chemistry because I am absolutely excited about chemical reactions, designing buildings and defending a case.

On top of that, I will keep playing the violin because it has become my companion during my time of homesickness.

Although Ridley has given me a breathtakingly fresh and exciting experience, I also had some times of hardship. First and foremost, homesickness… So I found a place to heal my homesickness – the basement of the Second Century Building, where I could play the violin. There, I enjoyed playing music, because not only the sound of music brought me happiness, but also it became a friend to me. From then, I knew that I could always retreat from the fast pace school environment to slow down and balance myself with healing music. This helped me to overcome another obstacle – stress… When things are overwhelming, I just clear my mind and play music for an hour. Trust me, after concentrating in my violin piece, the overwhelming assignments did not seem impossible anymore! Of course, music is only one of the ways that could help you through your difficulties here at Ridley. There are many other options such as painting, filming, and meditation club that you could enjoy in order to feel the flow and find your centre.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

I would say definitely seize every opportunity you can, because Ridley provides us privileges that other schools do not offer.

The Globe and Mail: September 29th, 2016

How one boarding school helps homesick students

By Paul Attfield

Homesickness can be one of the hardest things to overcome at the beginning of a boarder’s life at school, whether one’s parents are half an hour or half a world away.

As a result, Ridley College, a boarding and day school in St. Catharines, Ont., has introduced an orientation to help minimize the effects of homesickness. After a two-day spell where the students’ parents are present to help their children settle in, all the Grade 7 to Grade 12 students – basically all the boarders – are taken to Muskoka for two camps. There is a boys camp and a girls camp and it involves three days of team building, bonding, swimming and camping.

“We do that because we think you’re not ready to start learning if you’re homesick or if you don’t know anybody and you feel disconnected,” says Edward Kidd, headmaster of Ridley. “It truly is a miracle, kids come back from camp and they feel like they have a friend, they feel like they’re part of it.”

In addition, each child has “a constellation of about 10 adults,” according to Mr. Kidd, such as teachers, head of house, residential dons and coaches, to provide support for issues that arise. He also feels that modern technologies, such as Skype, helps students stay in regular contact with their families.

David Robertson, headmaster of the private boarding and day school Shawnigan Lake College in B.C., says the incidence of homesickness isn’t as bad as it used to be.

“Boarding schools in general are warmer environments than they were 30 years ago in every sense of that word,” he says, adding that his school places a big emphasis on activities and sports to bring students together and distract them, which plays a big role in minimizing homesickness.

That community feel can go a long way to eliminating or at least minimizing any longing for parents and home.

“By living at boarding school I found a lot of people who have the same experience as me, who came from a country that’s really far away from Canada as well, and I actually found a lot of comfort [in that],” says Elaine Wang, a Grade 12 student from Shanghai who attends Havergal College, an independent all-girls boarding and day school in Toronto.

Read the online article.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Shaun D. ’17

Introducing Shaun Donnelly ’17 – a Prefect who learned the value of Screen Shot 2016-09-28 at 10.19.48 AMspontaneity and risk-taking during her time at Ridley. Read how she grew and discovered who she is by stepping out of her comfort zone.

Why did you choose Ridley?

Three of my older siblings attended Ridley before me, which made me very aware of the incredible range of opportunities, programmes, and facilities that would be available to me. This is the main reason why I chose to enroll; though the sunny and college-like atmosphere of the campus was also very appealing.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?

I did have some sense going into Grade 9 (my first year at Ridley) that it would be quite the challenge and a significant step-up from elementary school, but I figured I would eventually adapt to the extra demands. I didn’t feel prepared, but I felt prepared to be unprepared. 

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?

My favourite teacher is passionate, committed, patient, enthusiastic, wise, entertaining, and treats teaching as a vocation. To be completely honest, I really can’t pick one because they’re all like that.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?

The greatest challenge I have faced thus far at Ridley was the transition from Grade 10 to full International Baccalaureate (IB). Going into Grade 11 (year one of IB) I knew that balancing the added demands of IB, such as an even more rigorous curriculum, night classes, and the extended essay – along with being a member of the rowing team – would be a lot to manage. This schedule was indeed very overwhelming at the start, but the skills and knowledge that I acquired by working through this challenge made it more than worth it.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley? 

My greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley has been my development into the person I am today. My personality going into Grade 9 was very simple; I was very shy and obsessed with perfection… The prospect of me ever even applying for prefectship seemed absolutely absurd in my mind at the time. Throughout the past three years, I have been forced outside of my comfort zone and humbled by the increased difficulty of my classes and athletic pursuits. I tried a number of new things, such as debate team, Mandarin class, and meditation, and discovered new passions (computer programming and rowing). These experiences taught me the value of spontaneity and risk-taking. Even if your leap of faith turns out to be a total failure, you’ll certainly learn something or at least have some fun trying.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My absolute favourite Ridley experience has been rowing. I joined the rowing team in Grade 10, and despite all of the sore muscles and blisters, it has been incredibly fun. The rowing team is like one big, crazy family; through training together, sometimes between three and four hours a day, we have become so close. Highlights of my Ridley rowing experience have been travelling to Miami for our annual March break training camp and to Philadelphia to race in the Stotesbury Cup Regatta – the world’s largest high school regatta.

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What is your favourite part of Ridley life? 

My favourite part of Ridley life is the diversity. Having friends from all over the world is truly fascinating and enlightening. In a world riddled with conflicts and prejudice surrounding cultural and racial differences, it’s refreshing to see such a diverse population living together in this little community, becoming as close as family.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?

I am most excited to use this position of influence to serve as a role model for younger students and show them the value of taking advantage of all that Ridley has to offer. Of course, Prefects do get to do a few especially fun things. Of these, I was most excited to light the fire and lead the cheering at Snake Dance. 

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How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley has molded me into a person who I hope could survive quite well under the wrath of the “real world”, and I attribute this development to the ongoing challenge that is the rigorous Ridley schedule and its high-functioning environment. I was forced to break out of my shyness, taught the value of professionalism, and encouraged to develop a certain boldness, that I see serving me well in all kinds of situations. I learned the importance of preparedness, but also came to understand the role that feeling and seeming confident plays in success, even in times when one does not feel completely prepared.

What are your plans after graduation?

Following graduation next year, I want to study computer science and economics. I hope to then go on to work at and eventually manage a computer software company. In terms of extracurricular activities, I hope to be a member of my new university’s lightweight women’s rowing team and continue to pursue my passion for improving the well-being of Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

The simple advice that I would give to anybody thinking of coming to Ridley is to go for it; and once you’re here, you have to maintain that “go for it” attitude. Ridley has so much to offer, but you will only get out of it what you put into it. This being said, be sure not to spread yourself too thin by committing to too many different things, which can be very tempting in such a busy place.

TransfORming Our Globe – Greg Stremlaw ’90


For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of alumnus, Greg Stremlaw ‘90, who has had a record-setting career in public and private sport, and is now the Head of CBC Sports as well as General Manager of the Olympics for Canada and the Chef de Mission for the Rio Olympic Games.

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Greg began his Ridley career in 1987 and graduated in 1990. He excelled in academics – graduating as an Ontario Scholar – and was heavily involved in athletics. For all three years that he spent at Ridley, he was a member of both the First Boys’ soccer and hockey teams. Greg also competed on the track and field team and the golf team. It was clear that he had a special place in his heart for sports. Although athletics were a huge part of his Ridley journey, that wasn’t the only aspect of Ridley life that impacted Greg. He graduated in 1990, with a well-rounded skill set that truly benefitted him in his post-secondary career and beyond.


“Ridley placed a heavy emphasis and mandate on being well-rounded… Prioritization was critically important for success at Ridley and that skill set has come to serve me very well as an executive in my career.” – Greg Stremlaw ’90

After graduating from Ridley, Greg began his post-secondary career at Western University, completing his undergraduate degree in business. He then attended the University of Maine, where he obtained his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. After achieving his Master’s, many opportunities arose for Greg, but his thirst for knowledge was insatiable. He took a position at the Orange Bowl and enrolled at the University of Miami for a Master’s degree in sports management. It was this decision – combined with the skills he gained from Ridley and his business knowledge – that launched Greg’s career in sport management.

Once he had experience with the Orange Bowl and a new sports management degree from University of Miami, he returned to Canada to step into his role as the Director of Bobsleigh and Luge and Vice President of Sport Services for the Calgary Olympic Development Association – now known as WinSport Canada. After six years in Calgary, Greg became the Chief Executive Officer of Chicopee Ski & Summer Resort in Ontario. In 2007, Greg was named the Chief Executive Officer of Curling Canada. While there, Greg encouraged innovation that led to the organization’s massive financial turnaround. His work with Curling Canada also helped the country become the number one nation in the global rankings for men’s, women’s, and wheelchair curling. In 2015, Greg made his next big move, and joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as the new Head of CBC Sports.

2015, Calgary Ab, 2017 Curling Canada Announcement, Curling Canada C.E.O. Greg Stremlaw, Curling Canada/michael burns photo
2015, Calgary Ab, 2017 Curling Canada Announcement, Curling Canada C.E.O. Greg Stremlaw, Curling Canada/michael burns photo

Greg says his favourite part about working at CBC has been the atmosphere created by the passionate and enthusiastic colleagues he is surrounded by every day.

 “Ultimately, there are some exceptional staff at CBC and the experience and extensive corporate knowledge is impressive. CBC Sports is one of the most iconic brands in Canada and the staff fully appreciate this and want to continue to deliver broadcast and digital excellence. It is a real privilege to come to work and see this enthusiasm and passion each and every day.” – Greg Stremlaw ‘90

Since he began at CBC, Greg’s career has been nothing short of remarkable. In this past year, Greg was also appointed as the General Manager of the Olympics for Canada and the Chef de Mission for the Rio Olympic Games that happened this summer. This year, along with his team in Rio, he set a record for most coverage and most accessibility of the Olympic Games in Canadian history; providing 1,300 hours of televised events, 100 hours of 360-degree coverage and 4,000 hours of live-streaming event coverage. More Canadians tuned into watch the Summer Games than ever before, with a total count of 32.1 million viewers.

“The Olympic Games are the largest sporting event in the world and there is absolutely nothing like the excitement they bring and the stories generated from them. The best athletes from Canada and around the world inspired us day after day in Rio and it was our privilege to share these moments of triumph and heartbreak with so many Canadians. CBC/Radio-Canada is proud to be Canada’s Olympic Network through 2024, and to continue to shine a spotlight on these athletes and their stories at the Games and also year-round through our weekly coverage of high-performance sport.” – Greg Stremlaw ’90

Greg’s accomplishments don’t end there. He was also named to the Globe & Mail’s Power 50 List of Sports Leaders in Canada and recently completed a Harvard Executive Education program at Harvard Law.

Greg’s endless drive, determination and dedication has led him to have a successful and rewarding career. To other Ridleians who are trying to decide which path to take, Greg says this:

“There are an incredible amount of opportunities that exist out there and before you commit to anything, be absolutely sure that you are going to be fully satisfied with your career choice. There is no doubt that Ridley provides you with an incredible advantage over most high school students in Canada. With that, take the time to grow that into something that you will be passionate about in life. It is an amazing feeling to get up every morning and love to come to work to do what you enjoy and feel that you are making a difference.”

TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing. 

Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to

Get to Know Your Prefects – Helen W. ‘17

Introducing Helen Wang ’17 – a Prefect from China,  who discoveredScreen Shot 2016-09-21 at 10.51.24 AM her skills and strengths during her time at Ridley. Read how she stepped out of her comfort zone and began to flourish. 

Why did you choose Ridley?

I first discovered Ridley when I did research on school choices near Toronto. Ridley College popped up and it obviously attracted my attention with its goal of providing a balanced student life. The appearance of the school is a bonus. There were many other reasons I chose Ridley, and it is certain that I chose it because I liked it.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?

It is hard to say if you are prepared or not, when you are stepping out of your comfort zone. However, the choice was my own choice, so I wasn’t feeling unprepared in accepting new culture but I was feeling nervous, for sure.

Who is your favorite faculty member and why?

My favorite faculty member is Mr. Gordon. Mr. Gordon taught me German in Grade 9 and my International Baccalaureate course, and Spanish in Grade 10. His attitude towards learning and teaching is always very positive and encouraging, so much that he brings out my interest in studying foreign languages. Due to his unique style of teaching, I did not feel overwhelmed about learning another two languages, on top of learning English, but rather, I survived pretty well during the past three years.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?

I would say managing time. Although I am very confident in time management, my schedule is busy enough that there will always be a time when I forgot to do something (for example this Prefect Profile). Every one lives a full life at Ridley, and school life certainly trains us to manage our schedule and goals. The gain is generous, but we definitely need to first survive a busy school life.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?

Becoming Prefect is an accomplishment, but my improvement in English is the greatest one… I took the challenge and I knew I had to be more open to new ways of learning here in Canada, and now, I am the top three in IB English learning. I can see my development thus far and I cherished it.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

I would say travelling overseas for a Habitat for Humanity trip with my schoolmates… Friendships were also made very easily during these trips, and who wouldn’t be willing to help those families.

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What is your favorite part of Ridley life?

Although the school has planned most of your schedule, you still get chances to add your own interests. There are lots of extracurricular activities at Ridley that students can be a part of, and many courses allow you to form deeper connections, that not only help build a successful school life but also a more successful career when we enter society (ex. CAS project).

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?

To be a part of school activity planning! I’ve always wanted to be a part of the school year decision making, and I am so excited that now I can take the responsibility of it.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

It taught me many skills in life; it especially changed my mind about grades being everything and the only goal is to have a higher grade. I know that athletics are equally as important and my self-recognition and intellectual development is also important.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to go to the U.S. for university – an Ivy League school is my goal. I am also planning a one-month long trip or even longer after my graduation to travel around the world; experiencing different cultures, and enjoying some final relaxation before getting into the competitive university life.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

Don’t ever be afraid of new stuff, because you can never stop learning at Ridley. If you can’t change the environment, the environment will change you, and you definitely are and will be better than you think. Finally, “You don’t have to be good to start, but you have to start to be good”

Get to Know Your Prefects: Graham D. ‘17

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 11.00.18 AMIntroducing Graham Devitt ’17 – a Prefect who has grown during his Ridley career – from Lower School, through to Upper School. Read how he has been driven to succeed during his time at Ridley and where he hopes his future will lead him.

Why did you choose Ridley?

I chose Ridley because it is one of the best schools in the area. I am a day student and choosing to go to Ridley was an easy decision, as it is both academically and athletically renowned. Ridley presents unique opportunities that cannot be found anywhere else and I knew it would be a great fit for me!

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?

Yes, I felt prepared coming to Ridley. I came in Lower School and integrating into the culture was much easier there. I was a bit nervous going to a new school – as Ridley’s reputation preceded itself – but as soon as I arrived I was accepted and became immersed in Ridley life.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?

My favourite faculty member is Mrs. Roud. She taught me Grade 10 History and is also my housemaster. She has helped me evolve academically, in addition to encouraging me to push my limits and become a better person. She has helped me with everything from school work to personal projects and has always been a very caring and dependable person. I look forward to working with her to make Dean’s House and the rest of Ridley as enjoyable for everyone else as it has been for me!


What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?

I think the greatest challenge has been making the most of all the opportunities Ridley presents. On top of academics, athletics and extra-curriculars, Ridley provides many other opportunities to advance and develop one’s education. Being able to – on top of everything else – go on exchanges, participate in service trips, and apply for awards is definitely a challenge, but one that can be extremely rewarding.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?

My greatest accomplishment would be winning the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize to travel to Europe during two weeks in the summer and visit various WWI and WWII memorials and battle sites. Although it took a substantial amount of work, the payoff is extraordinary and I am proud to have won this prestigious award.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favourite Ridley experience is going to camp at the beginning of every year. Getting to know all the new boys and doing everything from wake boarding to zip lining is both a fun and involved adventure!


What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favourite part of Ridley life is being a part of a house. Being a part of Dean’s House and playing the other houses in sports, participating in house events and BBQs is truly a unique experience to Ridley and one that I thoroughly enjoy!

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?

I am looking forward to being a role model to all younger students and especially the new students this next year. Showing students how to make the most of Ridley life, do well in school, and more importantly, enjoy all the other aspects of Ridley – from sports, to dances, to trips – is something I’m looking forward to. The opportunity to lead others and help them make the most of there time here will be very rewarding.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

As you progress through Ridley, you gain more independence. This parallels life in university and beyond. In addition, Ridley life is very different than other schools. From simple things like waking up for class on your own, to tasks like touring prospective students, Ridley reinforces qualities and values that many kids don’t learn until much later in life. 

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to go on to university to get a bachelors and most likely a master’s degree. I haven’t quite chosen what my degree will be yet but it will be something within the social sciences for sure. After that my only ambition is to move to a big city and start working. Wherever that takes me, we’ll have to see.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

Make the most of Ridley. However you ended up here, you are extremely privileged. Understand this and take all the opportunities you can, because soon enough you will be finished Ridley and those opportunities won’t be there. If you balance your academics and also have fun, Ridley will be one of the best experiences you will have in your life.

Maclean’s Magazine: Private Schools Feature, September 19th Issue


Ridley College: Elite Opportunity

Written by John Southerst, edited by Allison Grande

As the only International Baccalaureate (IB) Continuum boarding school in Canada, Ridley College in St. Catharines, Ont. stands tall in academics. But what may surprise some is their powerhouse status in hockey.

When eight members of the Ottawa Senators, including Mark Stone and Zack Smith, took to the ice with the elite boys’ and girls’ hockey teams at Ridley last April, they were working with players who are accustomed to top-level instruction in a premium facility.


“This was an incredible opportunity for our students to not only meet these world-class athletes, but also to get a chance to learn from them during the practice sessions,” says Ridley headmaster Ed Kidd. The hockey program at Ridley, he adds, is designed to give students “the independence and responsibility that teaches the leadership and discipline to be an elite athlete.”

Ridley’s hockey tradition goes back to the 1800s, when teams played on Twelve Mile Creek running alongside the St. Catharines, Ont., campus and in Nicholl’s Hall – a covered rink built at the turn of the 20th century. Today, Ridley’s $11-million arena and fieldhouse project, funded out of alumni donations, houses the ice surface, a state-of-the-art strength- and-conditioning centre, athletic therapy clinic, custom locker rooms and a generous top-level concourse area above the seats displaying hockey photos over the years.

“The arena project turned the old arena into an adjoining fieldhouse subdivided into sections, allowing multiple uses simultaneously, including a rubberized competition-grade floor for other sports,” says director of athletics Jay Tredway. Five Ridley teams use the arena, he adds – boys’ and girls’ “first” teams of elite players, varsity boys’ and girls’ “second” teams, and a co-ed under-14 team.

But perhaps most importantly, Ridley has leveraged its facility byhiring team trainers and a dedicated strength-and-conditioning coach, along with respected head coaches. Mike McCourt, a former Canadian national team, AHL and European league player and NCAA and OHL coach, leads the boys’ first team. Former Team Canada player and under-22 national team summer coach Amanda Benoit-Wark coaches the elite girls.

Nevertheless, Tredway says the overall hockey program’s objectives are directed at all students, not just elite athletes, and remain educational. “Being active makes you a better student,” he says. “We want to ingrain the importance of daily play activity. We are all athletes. Life is athletic even if you’re not in a competitive framework.”

Tigertales – A blog about life at Ridley