Tigers Show Selflessness on Service-Learning Trips

During the 2017 March break, three groups of Ridley students embarked on life-changing trips to developing countries around the world. At Ridley, emphasis is placed on global mindedness and service (It’s in our motto: Terar Dum Prosim), so it is no surprise that so many Tigers were willing to dedicate their holidays to bettering the lives of the less fortunate in distant communities. One group travelled for 24-hours before arriving in Malawi, Grade 7-10 students ventured to Guatemala, and the final group made its way to El Salvador for two weeks of dedicated work with Habitat for Humanity.

Malawi Service Trip – Jacaranda School
Headmaster, Ed Kidd, Mrs. Hanna Kidd and Mr. Rob Burke were among the 21 Ridleians who made the long journey to Malawi, where they would spend the break working with the Jacaranda School for Orphans. Ridley’s connection to the Jacaranda School started in October 2016, when founder, Marie Da Silva visited our campus to educate students on her mission in Malawi.

During the inaugural trip to Malawi, our students helped renovate the orphanage. While there, they also bonded with the talented students of Jacaranda School; through music lessons and theatrical performances. One of the many highlights of the trip was presenting 50 feminine hygiene kits to the girls. Our Days for Girls group worked tirelessly to prepare the hand-sewn packages before the leaving at the beginning of March. It was a heartwarming moment for all present.

Ridleians in Malawi

Guatemala Service Trip – The Doppenbergs in Guatemala
Nearly 14,066 kilometers away, 17 students and their chaperones, Mr. Paul O’Rourke and Mrs. Kim O’Rourke, embarked upon the third-annual Guatemala service trip, to volunteer with The Doppenbergs in Guatemala (The DIG). This organization helps build local schools, provides water and nutrition solutions to traditional Mayan villages, and most recently, developed the Centre of Hope, the area’s only centre for special needs children.

Each year, our Middle Years Programme (MYP) students spend 10 days in Guatemala, working on the Centre of Hope in El Progreso. During the first trip in 2015, our Ridleians broke ground on the Moran Primary School, and this year, they were a part of the final touches. Beyond the work our students put in, they also fortified relationships with the Doppenbergs and community members through bonding activities, cultural experiences and discussions about sustainability and the community. Our students even participated in a water walk, which replicates the daily hike that local patrons must complete to obtain fresh water for the village.

Nearing the end of the journey, students received a special visit from alumna, Gaby Florido de Luna ’99, which created an even more personal experience for each student.

“The MYP Service Trip to Guatemala was once again a great success. In equal measure, the group worked hard, enjoyed new experiences, and further developed the relationship between Ridley College and DIG… In every respect, the 2017 group members were terrific ambassadors of the school and were positive examples of service in action.” – Paul O’Rourke, MYP Coordinator

Ridleians at the Moran Primary School in Guatemala

El Salvador Service Trip – Habitat for Humanity

Not too far away, a group of 14 Upper School students and chaperones participate in a Habitat for Humanity build in El Salvador. This long-standing relationship with the organization has provided students with the opportunity to make a difference in countries such as India, Cambodia and of course, El Salvador.

This year, the two-week trip allowed students to experience this Central American country, while making a difference for the people in the community. Aside from their hard-work and dedication, the students climbed the highest mountain in El Salvador, Volcan de Santa Ana, visited El Carmin Coffee Plantation, saw the Mayan Ruins of San Andres and explored the national cathedral of El Salvador. Upon their safe return to the Toronto airport, the students were exhausted but enlightened by this trip of a lifetime.

“The Tigers had an excellent and fulfilling trip to El Salvador. The Tigers worked hard under the rain, wind and heat to make a difference in the province of Sonsonate. This mission was putting our school motto from words into action.” – Gerardo Martinez, Department of Classical and International Languages

Ridleians in El Salvador

Equipped with new knowledge, memorable stories and an increased understanding of the world, our students arrived safety back home, ready to begin another term and proud of how they transformed our globe.

View photos from the service trips.

Experiential Learning Away from Home

Ridley students participated in three experiential learning trips over the March Break: a South African science adventure, Vimy 100, a history trip commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and our Ridley rowing crews hit the shores of Vancouver Island for pre-season training.

In South Africa, students had the opportunity to learn about and contribute to ongoing field research. They visited the Balule Game Reserve, where our young scientists participated in lectures and collected data on insects, herbivores, and birds—they even experienced a mock-charge by an elephant. The second week was spent at Sodwana Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with scuba diving—five students earned their PADI open water certification—reef ecology lectures, snorkeling, rock pool tours, dune walks, and a surprise visit from some local Zulu dancers. View photos.

North of the equator, Ridley students had a chance to relive history as they toured the many historic sites from both World Wars in France and Belgium. They visited the Vimy Memorial—which is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the WWI battle, Passchendaele—where they experienced a recreation of a WWI battlefield, and Juno Beach—the site of Canada’s D-Day Landing in WWII. Other stops included Ypres, the Menin Gate, Dieppe, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Napoleon’s Tomb. The group visited the graves or memorials for nine Old Ridleians, who died fighting in the two World Wars.

“It was a moving, rewarding, and emotional trip” – Mrs. Linda Chang, Ridley Parent

Leaving behind the thawing Royal Henley course in Port Dalhousie, our competitive rowing crews spent part of their March  break practicing on Canada’s West Coast, at Shawnigan Lake School. The trip focused on team-building and technical development. Ridley crews rowed through snow during one training session, while (before another in Victoria) they enjoyed a visit from a group of seals. Ample time on the water and competition with rowers from the University of Victoria, Victoria City Rowing Club, and the Canadian National Team, have our crews ready for upcoming spring regattas.

Our Ridleians showed how dedicated they are, using their March break–a time for rest and relaxation–to better themselves, better their team and better the environment. There is no doubt that these students returned home with stories to tell and memories that they will carry with them.


TransfORming Our Globe – Jillian Evans ‘06

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Jillian Evans ’06, a Toronto-based tech entrepreneur in the media and entertainment space.

Jillian began her Ridley career in 2001 as a Grade 8 student. During her five years on campus, she was a School Prefect, Editor of the Tiger Tribune and a member of the Rowing, Harriers and Golf teams. Jillian credits Ridley’s strong emphasis on developing interpersonal and public speaking skills with her success in careers that have almost exclusively involved networking and negotiation.


“Ridley was the best thing that could have happened to a bored and unmotivated twelve-year-old me. My teachers, coaches and friends challenged me to grow as a person every day, and I left with an unshakeable confidence and set of skills that have served me very well in my career.” – Jillian Evans ‘06

After Ridley, Jillian went on to do a gap year at Marlborough College in England as an English Speaking Union Scholar. She then returned to Canada to pursue her BAH in Political Studies at Queen’s University, where she served as President of the Arts & Science Undergraduate Society and represented the interests of over 12,000 students. Upon graduating, she headed to London to complete her M.Sc. in Political Communication at the London School of Economics, and worked in the office of a Cabinet Minister in the UK Parliament.

Having completed her Masters, Jillian moved to Washington, DC to pursue an internship in Public Affairs at the Embassy of Canada, working mainly on the educational outreach and think-tank liaison files. She also completed her U.S. Private Pilot’s Licence and Restricted Airspace designation, and once had to maneuver around Air Force One in midair!

Returning home to Toronto in 2013, she decided to pursue a career as a lobbyist at the provincial level, tackling files from special needs funding to telecom and everything in between. While she found the work both fascinating and rewarding, she had begun to pursue a side project that would soon require her full attention.

In March 2015, along with a couple of friends, Jillian founded PETE, a second-screen experience for entertainment television. Best described as “fantasy sports for reality TV,” PETE offers a comprehensive fantasy, content and engagement platform for fans of over 20 reality shows and four award shows, including The Bachelor, Survivor, Big Brother, The Oscars and The Grammys. With 20,000 users so far, PETE also offers brands and sponsors the opportunity to reach targeted, engaged audiences. As a company, PETE has raised $750,000 in seed funding and counts seven Old Ridleians (and two past parents) among its investors.

“A lot of people – even in the tech establishment – thought we were crazy. If you believe in your idea, get out there and make it happen. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work out, you learn an absolute ton, and you nail it the next time. So many decisions are driven by the fear of failure – don’t let yourself fall into that trap, and keep taking big risks!” – Jillian Evans ‘06

As the media landscape evolves over the next several years, Jillian believes the balance will shift from one-way consumption to two-way interactivity, where consumers become active participants. She hopes PETE can play a role in this process by working with media companies to better engage viewers, and by pushing the envelope on what’s possible for fans with real-time interaction. She strongly encourages young Ridleians interested in media and/or tech to pursue it – and the more outside-the-box the idea or career path, the better.

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

The St. Catharines Standard: Cappies Reviews of Ridley’s ‘The Tempest’

THE CAPPIES: Ridley presents The Tempest

Students peer review Ridley Colllege’s stage production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Show leaves audience breathless

Shayla Kirk 
Greater Fort Erie Secondary School

Themes of power, oppression, romance, and sorcery combine to create an exceptional story full of ebullient comedy, wondrous musicality and the unpredictability of human experience.

What was believed to be William Shakespeare’s last play, Ridley College’s rendition of The Tempest explores the ideas of power and powerlessness. The original Celtic Maritime songs created eeriness and euphoria throughout the scenes. Staged at the turn of the century in Nova Scotia, the play recounts the story of the sorcerer and rightful Duke of Milan Prospero, played by Uju Nwadike, and her ravishing daughter Miranda, played by Monika Morcous, who have been marooned on the island.

Conjuring up a powerful and deadly storm which Ridley’s lighting, sound, and props depicted marvelously, Prospero lures her usurping sister Antonia, played by Cassandra Mitchell, complicit King Alonso of Naples, played by Wyatt Niblett-Wilson, and numerous other characters towards the island they inhabit. There, Prospero’s machinations along with the help of her loyal servant Ariel, played by Anastasia Guzenko, bring about the disclosure of Antonia’s lowly nature, the redemption of the king, and the joyous marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda.

The play creates moments of seriousness among impromptu dance numbers, unexpected songs, and fast-acting sleeping spells that leave the audience breathless. Although, the show’s brilliance heavily relied on Ridley’s mastery of the balance between comedy and drama, and the supernatural and mystical. Through each character’s experiences, you’re transported backwards in time to an age of subjection and discovery, recognizing how a thirst for power can consume your identity.

In terms of visual and technological effects, stage manager David Biggar and assistant stage manager Emma Jenkins excelled in their performances behind stage.

The original projection work used on the sail of the life-like ship was amazingly crafted, and constantly changing to set the scene for each new occurrence. The lighting and sound operated expertly, especially during the beginning storm scene. Through the use of fog, co-ordinating flashes of light, booms of thunder, and outstanding actions from the talented cast, a sense of foreboding was created.

The music proved to be a highlight of the show as the cast, on various occasions, sang collectively in perfect harmony. It was truly music to the ears. Right from the start as Stephano, played by Padraic Odesse, began his singing narration to the end when the entire cast sang farewell, this musical transformed the emotions of the audience.

This impressive work is proof of the extensive skills of the cast and crew. Through their ability to utilize the setting and musical elements, they created an exceptional rendition of The Tempest.

This musical truly deserves the name of magnificent masterpiece.

Maritime twist given to 400-year-old play

Stephanya Zimakas 
Saint Paul Catholic High School

Hunger for power and control, the good and evil in humanity, the blossoming of romance, and magic — all with a musical twist — what’s there not to love? Ridley College’s musical interpretation of the Shakespearean classic The Tempest is a spectacular production that will have you tapping your toes and wanting to sing along.

The Tempest, one of Shakespeare’s final masterpieces, recently celebrated its 400th anniversary.

The play was given new life on the stage of Ridley, with the addition of a Maritime musical sound track. Ridley’s rendition of The Tempest had musical pieces written by the talented Stan Rogers, and performed by the amazing school music ensemble All The Boatswain’s Crew, giving the audience a vision of the Maritimes at the turn of the century.

The Tempest is set on an isolated island, inhabited by the power-hungry Prospero (Uju Nwadike). Prospero takes siege of the island, with its magical inhabitants, and causes a tempest that strands new inhabitants on the island, creating new alliances and relationships, as well as a hunger for control.

Nwadike’s portrayal of Prospero was fantastic. Ridley’s director made a bold choice by casting a female lead as Prospero, but Nwadike brought a unique sense of power and regality to the stage, giving a portrayal of this character that was deep and real.

Aquila Wibisono gave an outstanding performance as Caliban, a native to the island and slave to Prospero. Wibisono brought to light Caliban’s deep emotions, his desire for freedom, and the anger at getting his homeland taken away. Aquilia also gave a stunning vocal performance in singing his song Creep.

However, what really made the musical shine was its talented supporting cast. Anastasia Guzenko, who played Ariel and also choreographed, was wonderful in her role and gave Ariel a sense of mystery and magic with her voice and spectacular use of movement. The romantic relationship between Miranda (Monika Morcous), daughter of Prospero, and Ferdinand (Nicholas Hayward) was dramatic and extremely comedic. Padraic Odesse, who played Stephano, gave an amazing vocal performance at the opening of the show with Barrett’s Privateers and lead the closing song Northwest Passage.

Furthermore, along with Trinculo (Raylon Chan) and Caliban, he gave a hysterical comedic and vocal performance that had the audience in stitches.

Choreography created by Anastasia Guzenko was mesmerizing and mysterious, and worked well with the ensemble work of the magical and whimsical spirits. The lighting and special effects complemented the show, and the technical crew did a great job of creating a realistic storm. Foregoing the use of microphones offered a challenge to the actors, but gave the show a more intimate feeling for the audience.

Overall, this production of The Tempest is a remarkable musical rendition of a classic that should be seen by all. Ridley has produced a piece of dramatic and musical art that will leave audiences wanting for more.

Tempest musical a risk well-rewarded

Michaela Bax-Leaney 
Eden High School

Two unlikely worlds collided masterfully during Ridley College’s musical adaptation of The Tempest.

This utterly unique take on the show merged the last of Shakespeare’s works with turn-of-the-century Canadian Maritime folk music. Mysticism and dry humour paired perfectly, and the cast and crew flawlessly married drama and comedy on the stage.

Prospero the sorcerer (Uju Nwadike) with the help of the spirit Ariel (Anastasia Guzenko), crashes her sister Antonia’s (Cassandra Mitchell) ship onto the island where Prospero lives.

Previously, Antonia had dethroned Prospero and abandoned her on the island with her daughter, Miranda (Monika Morcous). Prospero is hungry for revenge.

The shipwrecked party finds themselves split into groups, and the story follows their trials and tribulations as they roam the island, each in search of something different — power, romance, or simply another drink.

Guzenko’s breathtaking movement pieces, all of which were original, were invaluable to the narrative. For the untrained ear, Shakespeare can be difficult to understand. The way in which movement and body language was used helped enormously in bridging that gap. This was particularly evident in scenes with the ensemble of Spirits, where the fluid and well-synchronized motions conveyed emotions more intimately than dialogue ever could.

Caliban (Aquila Wibisono) and Antonia (Cassandra Mitchell) had incredible stage presences bolstered by their mastery of physical movement. The horrifying elegance of Mitchell’s tortured seizures, and the groveling postures of Wibisono made theirs two performances not likely to be forgotten.

The raw power in Nwadike’s performance was another unforgettable element of the show. Her rich purple robes glittered in the spotlight, and her voice commanded the attention of every audience member during her monologues.

With the integration of Canadian folk music came live instruments performed both on and off stage. However, there was also some original music written and performed on the violin by Petrina Mo. Mo’s pieces keened as the characters struggled, and heightened the emotion so that it was nearly palpable.

Emma Jenkins many masterpieces appeared in this production, from her makeup and projection design to the lighting and sound designed alongside David Biggar.

The projection was a particularly unique element on the main set piece, the jutting carnage of the shipwrecked vessel. The sail of the ship shifted between patterns and colours, which not only matched the tone of the play, but in some cases aided in the telling of the story.

Turning The Tempest into a musical may have been a risk, but it was a risk well rewarded. The music matched the tone of the show perfectly, and made comedic scenes infinitely funnier.

But beyond the punchlines, the show raised questions of power, influence, and morality — questions that, in an ever polarizing political climate, cannot go unanswered. It explored the concept of power, and how power dynamics shape our personal relationships as well as the world around us. How do we get power, why do we seek power, and what happens when our power is lost?

What are the Cappies?

Cappies Niagara is a critics and awards program for high school theatre and journalism that’s all about student reviews of student productions.

Schools in the region participating in Cappies train high school theatre and journalism students as critics, who then attend shows at other schools and write reviews.

Their reviews are submitted, anonymously, for review by a Cappies teacher. The top three reviews are published in the newspaper after each of the plays is performed. At the end of the season, the student critics and performers gather for a formal Cappies gala and awards ceremony.

Cappies programs run throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Ridleian Becomes National Champion in Archery

On March 5th, Reece Wilson-Poyton ’18 captured the Canadian National Indoor Archery Championships in the Cadet Recurve category, which requires archers to hit a small target from 18m away. This victory caps a remarkable run for the Ridley student, who took up competitive archery in 2015.

His goal is to make the 2020 and 2024 Summer Olympics teams, and plans on beginning his training for shooting Olympic outdoor distances (70m) next year.

He was inspired to take up this less-common sport after attending the archery contests during the 2015 Pan-Am Games held in Toronto. “I love the sport so much because I am constantly improving, learning, and changing,” says Reece, who is now giving back to the archery community by becoming a Level 1 instructor for beginners at the Brockley Archery Club in Hamilton.

Athletics is an integral part of the Ridley College experience, all students participate in some form of physical activity every day. Ridley participates in the Sport for Life Society’s Long Term Athlete Development Model (LTAD). Which exposes students to a variety of sports as a foundation for engaging in sport for life. It provides a path to better sport, greater health, and higher achievement based on the latest sport science and best practices in coaching and training from around the world. Even when students find a passion outside of one of our over 75 co-curriculars, we do our best to accommodate.

Reece travels several times a week to Caledon, ON for training sessions, and practices on campus with Mr. Clyde Dawson. “Ridley has helped by allowing me to practice on campus under the supervision of Mr. Dawson two times a week after school as part of my sport credit,” says Reece.

Reece was recently featured in an episode of Future Legends on WIN HD Caribbean, who profiled his perseverance and determination, to overcome an eye injury to compete at the highest level. Ridley encourages students to discover and pursue their passions, persevere through challenges, risk failure, and develop grit and resilience. Accomplishment and engagement are elements of a flourishing life. Grit is a fundamental element for achievement and Reece has embodied this.

His next competition is the Multi-sites Indoor Championships of the Americas (MICA), which will involve archers from the Americas and the Caribbean. Afterwards Reece says he will be focusing on upcoming outdoor competitions in Montreal and Sault Ste. Marie, shooting at a distance of 60m, and attending a training camp in Florida.

Crawford Gordon ’56, August 29, 1938 – March 3, 2017

Portrait by: John Viljoen

Today, the Ridley community mourns the loss of Crawford Gordon ’56, who passed away on March 3rd in Toronto, Ontario at the age of 78.

Crawford was amongst the most loyal and generous of Ridleians; a former Vice-President and Chairman of the Ridley Board of Governors (2000 to 2004), an active Board member, past parent and alumnus. Up until his death, Crawford held position as the Vice-Chairman of the Ridley College Foundation. He attended our school from 1947 to 1956, was a decorated athlete, member of the Glee Club, Science Club and Student Council, a Cadet Corps Platoon Sergeant, and served as a Prefect in his final year.

After graduating, Crawford became a respected businessman. He began his career at Wood Gundy in 1966, later joining Burns Fry (now BMO Nesbitt Burns). During his 29 years with the firm, he became one of their top brokers, a Vice-President and Director and a 10-year member of the Chairman’s Council. In 1997, he joined Gordon Private Client Corporation, which was acquired by HSBC. In 1999, he co-founded McFarlane Gordon Inc. now known as Industrial Alliance Securities Inc.

To Ridleians, Crawford will be remembered for his kind spirit, philanthropy and unwavering dedication to our school. Outside of his leadership roles with the Board, he and his wife Eve generously sponsor the MGI – Gordon Distinguished Speakers’ Series, an endowed fund that helps to bring notable speakers to campus each year.

Crawford will be dearly missed by a far-reaching community. Our heart-felt condolences go out to the Gordon family. Crawford is survived by his wife, Eve, and children, Crawford Jr. ’04, Chloé ’05 and Parris ’08.

A memorial service will be held for Crawford Gordon ’56 on May 6th, 2017 at 2:00p.m. in the Ridley College Memorial Chapel. A reception will follow.

A New Twist on The Tempest

It starts with a storm, but this wasn’t a regular tempest, as Ridley Theatre presented their own twist on Shakespeare’s final play The Tempest, with three performances held in the Mandeville Theatre.

This version of the play takes place far away from the setting of the original, an unnamed island in the Mediterranean, Ridley’s Tempest takes place in turn-of-the-century Nova Scotia. Enhancing this setting is the use of traditional maritime music and sea shanties. The play opens with a stirring rendition “Barrett’s Privateers” by Stan Rogers.

“It’s been fantastic, the kids are amazing, we’re so fortunate at Ridley to have such talent,” says Mrs. Gillian Fournier, who is volunteering her time as a director, while on maternity leave.

This Canadian connection to the show and Shakespeare, makes it more relative to our history, and the audience, according to Mr. Andrew Hitchcox, one of the shows three directors. Especially relevant are the aspects of the play tackling colonization, the arrival of the shipwrecked survivors to the island, and Prospero’s subjugation of Caliban, the island’s original inhabitant.

This production held no auditions, everyone who wanted to be involved in the play got to be a part of it. For many students it was their first experience in theatre. Only nine  of the 19 cast members speak English as their first language. Cast members come from 10 different countries.

“I would never have imagined myself learning Shakespeare let alone performing it and not being terrible. I learned that even though things are new to me, I should always be open and confident in seeing myself succeed in every new challenge I face,” says Obianuju Nwadike ‘17, who plays Prospero, the play’s main antagonist.

The students took a leadership role in the production, including music, lighting. “We give them the skills to be able to do the show,” says Mrs. Anna Blagona, director and Head of English & Drama.

All of the choices and depictions of the characters were up to the student actors. This resulted in some roles being gender-swapped, including the main character of Prospero, played by Obianuju. “I enjoy my character a lot. She switches moods/feelings when conversing with other characters and It’s really exciting to explore multiple dimensions of my character,” says Obianuju.

Ridley’s Troupe 7774 is part of the International Thespian Society (ITS), which was founded in 1929. It is an honorary organization for high school and middle school theatre students located at more than 4,200 affiliated secondary schools across Canada, the United States, and abroad. The mission of ITS is to honour student achievement in the theatre arts.

Missed the performance? Login to TigerNet Live to watch it on demand.

View photos.

Ottawa Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk Launches The Organ Project

7-Time Grammy Award Sensation Carrie Underwood to Headline The Organ Project’s Gala in Toronto

Eugene Melnyk, Ridley parent, Owner of the Ottawa Senators, and himself an organ transplant recipient, launched a major philanthropic initiative called The Organ Project, whose mission is to end the waitlist for all transplant patients.

In May 2015, Mr. Melnyk received an anonymous liver donation that saved his life. From that moment on, he made it his mission to help all patients who are in desperate need of an organ transplant.

The Organ Project is focused on building greater awareness to organ donation, reducing organ transplant wait times and to increasing the number of people registered as organ donors.

“Every three days in Ontario, someone dies waiting. … The good news is this is truly a solvable problem because we don’t need to find a cure for waiting,” says Melnyk. “Our goal is to make organ donation as normal and expected as wearing your seatbelt. Both save lives and both are a choice you can make and embrace.”

The Organ Project is holding an inaugural gala on March 31, to help kick off April as Organ Donation Awareness Month. The Organ Project Gala will be an exclusive event held at the historic Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto and will feature a performance by seven-time Grammy winner, Carrie Underwood.  

The Organ Project is another opportunity for our school community to show its commitment to service and we hope our extended Ridley family will consider supporting this meaningful cause. 

View sponsorship and ticket details.

Ridley: A Cradle of Creativity

By Michele Bett, Head of Upper School

Sir Ken Robinson, a British author and international advisor on education, tells the story of a test on divergent thinking (i.e., creativity) in which young children scored 98%, early teenagers scored 10%, and adults scored 2%. His point is that schools tend to educate students out of creativity when they should be doing just the opposite, in his view, creativity is as important as literacy.

Sir Ken is not alone. A few years ago, IBM conducted a survey of CEOs all over the world about the most important leadership qualities needed in our new economic environment, and creativity came out on top. At Ridley College, we couldn’t agree more.

The exciting Arts morning held on Saturday, February 25th is just the latest example of how the Ridley College Upper School is bucking the educational trend and affirming the importance of creativity and arts in young people’s development.

Arts express our common humanity; arts communicate not just information but meaning, value, and life itself. As G.K. Chesterton said, “Art is the signature of man.” In a recent review of a book about Chesterton, a writer is quoted who says that the purpose of the arts is “to remove the automatism of perception.” In other words, the arts shake up our routine ways of knowing and give us the power to see with new eyes, to hear with new ears, to think with new minds, and to feel with new hearts. The arts give us an opportunity to become a beginner again, like a young child.

Our continued commitment to positive psychology informs us that it is important in our lives to be able to find activities that require our full engagement. This sort of engagement helps us to learn, develop and cultivate our personal happiness. When we concentrate on something that entirely absorbs us we are creating a ‘flow’ of rich and deep immersion into an activity, and it’s this very type of ‘flow’ of engagement that is so important in stretching our intelligence, skills, and emotional competencies.

So to celebrate this shake-up and to find ways to help our students find their “flow”, we have captured for you images of our creativity here on campus. From tap dancing to cap making, at Ridley College, our teachers and students are embracing the power and importance of artistic understanding so essential in a world beyond our school gates.

View photos.
View the Saturday schedule for the remainder of the school year.