TransfORming Our Globe – Ted Kirkpatrick ’05 & Adrian Pennachetti ‘05

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For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of alumni, Ted Kirkpatrick ’05 and Adrian Pennachetti ‘05, who saw a business opportunity that was both environmentally sustainable and prosperous. Read about how these two Ridleians started Tree to Table – a Niagara based company that salvages, mills, cuts and converts reclaimed wood into live-edged tables.

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In 2001, Ted and Adrian first met. Throughout the course of their time as Tigers, both boys were active members of the Ridley community. Ted and Adrian were House Captains during their final year, they could be often found on the field or rink, and were both involved in the arts at Ridley – working on set designs and playing in the Cadet Band.

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After Ridley, Adrian and Ted attended McGill University and Wilfred Laurier University, respectively. It was years later, when both Ridleians had their focus directed elsewhere, that Tree to Table was born. After a wind storm at Adrian’s family farm, Ted and Adrian were cleaning up the fallen trees. A beautiful, black walnut tree had come down and they didn’t want to see it go to waste. They saw the potential to turn it into a piece of furniture, and a business was born. Ted did wood-working as a hobby, and while at Ridley, both Ted and Adrian learned wood-working skills from Mr. Giles Campbell, the Design Technology teacher, who still teaches students today.

When Ted and Adrian graduated high school, they left Ridley with time-management skills and the ability to focus on the task at hand, but they said that their biggest take-away was the connections they made. When their business began to take off, their Ridley connections were the direct cause. Their workshop was rented from a Ridley parent, many of their first customers were Ridleians, and their materials were – and still are – harvested and collected from a Ridley family farm.

Ted and Adrian take great care in ensuring their products are completed with the utmost quality and sustainability. It can take up to eight months for a product to be completed, from the collecting of the dead trees to the sealing of the tables. All of their wood is salvaged from standing dead trees, which would have otherwise been used for firewood.  The wood must then be brought to the sawmill, stacked, and fully dried out, all before they begin to form the reclaimed wood into a usable table. Although it may seem like a long process, it ensures that Tree to Table remains green, and that each customer receives a top of the line product.

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In the last four years, business has been nonstop for Tree to Table and has nearly doubled each year since they began. One of the company’s recent jobs was creating and installing all of the live-edge tables in Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Garrison House. Since both Ted and Adrian have full-time jobs, they work hard to maintain a balance between their other commitments and Tree to Table. While they love their other jobs, Tree to Table gives them a creative outlet and a place to relieve stress. With their recent success, the business partners have begun discussing where to take their company next.

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To Ridleians who are looking to start their own businesses, Ted and Adrian gave some of advice:

“When you see an opportunity, you have to capitalize on it. Don’t wait around. Be mindful of your life. Find a healthy balance between your work and your personal life. Let your business flourish, but not at the expense of your wellbeing”

– Ted Kirkpatrick ‘05

“Be a sponge. Ask questions and surround yourself with strong mentors.”

– Adrian Pennachetti ‘05


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 development@ridleycollege.com.

 

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 rob_burke@ridleycollege.com.  A limited number of spots are available.

If you would like to make a donation to The Jacaranda Foundation, please visit http://www.jacarandafoundation.org/.

 

 

 

 

Students Explore the World of Visual Art on Annual Fieldtrip

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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.

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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, http://www.canadianliving.com/life-and-relationships/community-and-current-events/article/2016-me-to-we-winner-xavier-west
Photography by Linda Roy/Ireva Photography, http://www.canadianliving.com/life-and-relationships/community-and-current-events/article/2016-me-to-we-winner-xavier-west

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.

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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.

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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.