The National Post: Special Report, May 27, 2017

School’s in for the summer

Kathryn Booth
Read National Post article.

“Being involved in a learning community throughout the summer, whether in academics, sport, music or cultural experiences, translates into success both in and out of the classroom come September.” – Michele Bett, Ridley College

While many students see summer as a time to shed the rigors of school, don shorts and a t-shirt and head to the beach, others are singly focused on solidifying their academic future. These are the students that opt for summer academy.

Sixteen-year old Isha is one of those students. Her goal is to study mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Isha chose to attend summer academy at The Bishop Strachan School (BSS) in Toronto two years ago to get a jump on grade nine math. “I have always had an interest in math and science and saw it as an opportunity to get an early credit so that I could advance to grade 10 math when I returned to school,” she says.

Her experience at BSS summer academy was so engaging that Isha applied for financial assistance to attend the independent all-girls school full time. Last summer she took a grade 10 science credit. It allowed her to move into grade 11 biology and chemistry during the school year. Isha hasn’t looked back since. She is now a thriving advanced-level student firmly committed to learning during the off-season.

“At summer academy the small classes, single focus and one-on-one time with teachers make the subjects easier to comprehend and it gets mandatory credits out of the way,” says Isha. “In school my courses are now more balanced, which brings up my marks. Ultimately, that will benefit me on my application for university. I would encourage others to try summer school, because it gives you that added advantage.”

Summer academy is not simply condensed school. “Each course has the same hours as a school-year course. The difference is that students don’t have the distractions of multiple subjects to contend with. It is a wonderful opportunity to get into the course and discipline of studying,” says Brendan Lea, vice-principal of curriculum at BSS.

The BSS summer academy is open to grades eight to 12 students whether or not they attend BSS during the school year. Summer credit courses are four weeks. One-week skills programs are also offered. The summer academy is co-ed despite the school’s all-girls full-time cohort.

“Mixing in different circles helps reset the class dynamic, whether other students are girls from different schools or the opposite gender,” explains Lea. “Our goal is that they find the courses engaging, learn from an experienced team of teachers, and broaden their

The Ridley College Summer Academy keeps students engaged and working their minds throughout the summer. In the non-credit entrepreneurial skills program, participants develop a business model, produce a product and develop a marketing plan.

The summer academy program at Ridley is not purely focused on teens and academics, however. It offers day and boarding, credit and non- credit, and activities for children ages four to 18.

In selecting the programs for summer learning, Bett says it was about responding to the demand from students. Some want to improve their command of the English language; some seek acceleration in math. “We also offer robotics, arts, wellness and CSI Ridley, where we look at the forensic sciences,” she says. “Students can further participate in entrepreneurial skill- building or enjoy enhanced music training with a summer symphony boarding experience, where they can also perform with an ensemble.”

On evenings and weekends, boarding summer students participate in arts, activities, athletics and day trips to cultural events and locations.

“Being actively and enthusiastically involved in a learning community through- out the summer, whether in academics, sport, music or cultural experiences, translates into success both in and out of the classroom come September,” says Bett. For some students, it has also led to full-time enrolment in Ridley College. “That tells us our commitment to teaching and empowering kids is delivering in a very positive way.”

TOP 5: Reasons it’s Great to be an Old Ridleian

Each year, over 100 Grade 12 students walk across the stage to accept their diploma at Ridley’s Graduate Prize Day. They enter a Tiger and leave an Old Ridleian (OR). As an OR, you are connected to over 8,000 individuals, spanning the globe and travelling down many different career paths.

While each OR is entirely unique, there is one common element that binds them… Ridley College.

The campus, the people, the spirit: all leave an indelible mark on each student who attends Ridley.

Here are five reasons it’s incredible to be an OR:

1. You gain world-wide, life-long friends.


There’s no question that the community at Ridley is a diverse one, with students coming to campus from 44 countries around the world. With so much time spent on campus, in class and on the field, student connections become fortified.

2. Once a Tiger, always a Tiger.


Whether it’s a walk around campus – seeing the same red-brick buildings, hearing the chimes of the School House bells – or finding an old jersey in the closet evokes a feeling of nostalgia, it is a feeling that binds all Ridleians together.

3. You become a global citizen.

Whether a student spends one year at Ridley or ten, they have a culturally enriching experience. Upon graduation, each student leaves as a globally-minded and accepting individual.

4. The opportunities are endless.


The opportunities presented to Ridleians over the course of their education set them up for opportunities after Ridley. The lessons, the memories, the adventures all come together to prepare one for a lifetime of moments worth remembering.

5. You can always come home.


The best part about graduating, is coming back. Returning to campus and seeing what has changed is amazing, but chatting with current students is even better.

Ridleian Pursues Career as Global Leader

Cassandra Mitchell ’17 graduates from Ridley on May 27th, ending one chapter of her story and beginning another. While Ridley will always be her home, come September, Cassandra will be packing her bags and travelling 11,121 km to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where she will attend New York University’s global campus.

Cassandra’s Ridley journey began three years ago and, in that short time, she fully has embodied what it means to be a Ridleian. She has been active in every aspect of a Ridley education – academics, arts, athletics and co-curricular programmes. With a strong passion for global change and human rights, Cassandra has led groups such as the Positive Space Group – which was just nominated for a Niagara UNITY Award – and Ridley’s environmental group, the Green Tigers. In her final year at Ridley, she has also led her peers as a school Prefect.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme has challenged Cassandra for the past two years; encouraging her to take risks, broaden her horizons and grow as a learner. However, academics were not the only valuable aspect of Ridley that Cassandra has benefitted from.

“Without a doubt I would not be going to my dream school next year without the amazing support I have received here at Ridley. I have been given the opportunity to grow as a learner through the IB programme, and grow as a leader through prefectship and the clubs I’m involved in. During my time at Ridley, I have been given so many opportunities to further my education. I have to, once again, mention the IB programme because it has helped me so much. I am a more intelligent, more thoughtful, and just a better person because of the programme. I am so grateful for that privilege, but I think the most valuable thing that Ridley has given me has nothing to do with being a student. Through the amazing people I’ve met, I have learned how to listen, and have developed some of the most meaningful relationships of my life.” – Cassandra Mitchell ’17

The network of students that spans campus is so vast, connecting all aspects of Ridley life. Students have friends in their houses, in the studio, on the field and in the classroom, creating a web of support. That deep connectivity has given Cassandra many memories to look back upon as she prepares to walk across the stage on Prize Day 2017.

“I’m going to miss the maple tree outside of the Marriott Gates. I pass it on the way to school every day and in the fall, it turns the most spectacular shade of red. I’m going to miss trying to squish seven girls on a four-person couch in house meetings. I’m going to miss reading all the plaques around the school and imagining faces to all the names I don’t recognize and imagining what the classrooms and the dining hall and the hallways looked like 100 years ago. This is a special place.” – Cassandra Mitchell ’17

High school graduation is a big step, but the promise of adventure and discovery has Cassandra eager for this next chapter. New York University’s global campus’ purpose is to foster the next generation of global leaders. Cassandra will be among likeminded individuals, who believe in the future and are prepared to dedicate their lives to changing the world. Beyond the invigorating academic and intellectual experience Cassandra is preparing for, she is also excited for the opportunities that await her in the Middle East.

“What attracted me most immediately was the ethos of the school. The vision of the institution is something that I am so excited to be a part of. The second, more superficial, selfish reason I am so attracted to the school is the location. I absolutely adore travelling and exploring places I’ve never been. The Middle East is an area of the world I have yet to explore, full of cultures I can’t wait to immerse myself in.” – Cassandra Mitchell ’17

On May 27th, Cassandra will become an Old Ridleian, connecting her and her classmates to over 8,000 alumni spanning the globe. Cassandra will continue to grow during her journey abroad and is excited to see how Ridley transforms as well.

“I’m excited to watch Ridley grow. I’m excited to watch the plans I hear about now come to fruition. I can’t wait to come back here to visit and find that the school has grown to be even better than I remember it.”  –­ Cassandra Mitchell ’17

Congratulations to Cassandra and the Class of 2017 as they embark on their great journeys beyond the Marriott Gates.

 

Ridleian Bound for Brown University

This year, Ridley will graduate a total of 144 students, with one student in particular celebrating her impressive acceptance to Brown University – where, this year, only 9.2% of applicants were accepted. Megan Forrest ’17 will also be one of few Ridleians to complete the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, play on a First team and be accepted to an Ivy League school.

Megan began her Ridley career in 2015, when her and her family were seeking an educational institution that could challenge her, both academically and athletically.  Ridley was the perfect fit, so Megan spent the next two years becoming deeply involved in the Ridley community. She took on a full IB course load, played for the First Girls’ hockey team and was an active member in her boarding house. While her schedule was demanding, Megan took full advantage of Ridley’s evening tutorials and support from teachers to help her maintain strong grades, while still spending enough time on the ice to fine-tune her skills.

“Ridley has provided me with the solid education required to get into Brown but it has also taught me many lessons that I will take along with me.  Other than passing IB, my goal when I started at Ridley was to play DI hockey.  The Tiger Arena and other athletic facilities were a necessity for being able to improve my game and overall strength.  The combination of Ridley’s hockey program, guidance team and IB program were what allowed me to make my dream a reality for this coming year.“- Megan Forrest ’17

While practicing her passions, Megan made sure to enjoy time with her Ridley family; participating in Friday night house activities and even starting ‘Fondue Night’ in Leonard House.

Now that Graduate Prize Day has finally arrived, Megan has taken some time to reflect on her Ridley career.

“Other than the obvious answer being all of the amazing people I met at Ridley, I think I will miss the tight knit community.  With such a small school, I was able to get to know almost all of my grade as well as many students in other grades. Since a large number of us live on campus, we are constantly together and got to know each other really well. Another reason that the Ridley community is so tight knit is that our teachers are also our sports coaches and are sometimes even on duty in our houses.” – Megan Forrest ’17

In September, Megan will be heading to Rhode Island to study Neuroscience at Brown University. While she works towards completing her programme, Megan will be playing for the Brown Bears women’s hockey team and potentially the track team as well.

“Brown is the perfect school for me as it is small and rural but so welcoming and inclusive. With its many clubs and all of the amazing people I am sure I will enjoy the next four years of my educational journey.“ – Megan Forrest ’17

On May 27th, Megan will join the ranks of all the Ridley graduates that have come before her, officially becoming an Old Ridleian.

“I am excited to come back to Ridley for HomeComing weekends to support future student athletes and reconnect with my classmates. I am looking forward to being able to connect with other Ridley alumni no matter where I am in the world. My time at Ridley was truly enjoyable and I am proud to be graduating from such an amazing school.” – Megan Forrest ’17

Congratulations to Megan and her accomplishments at Ridley. We wish her and her classmates good luck as they prepare for graduation and their journeys beyond the Marriott Gates.

PYP Students Become Global Citizens

Ridley inspires even its youngest students to consider critical global issues and enact change. Recently, our Grade 6 students demonstrated how the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) supports this mission with the PYP Personal Project Exhibition.

About PYP
Ridley is proud to implement the PYP into our Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum. The PYP curricular framework focuses on the whole child; developing their social, academic and emotional well-being. Incorporated into the framework are six transdisciplinary themes that focus on local and world issues and can be explored in each subject. The students are asked to explore these themes, find connections between them and determine how they relate to their course work.

Personal Project Exhibition
On May 10th, 2017, our Grade 6 students lined the halls of Lower School for the Class of 2023 Primary Years Programme (PYP) Exhibition. This annual exhibition challenges our students to explore global issues and culminates all the teachings from the PYP. Twenty-two students worked diligently on these group projects for six weeks, before presenting their final products to families, friends and members of the Ridley community.

 

Project topics ranged from inquiries into community relationships, natural resources, equal opportunities, conflict resolution and mental health issues. Each student group decided on a broad inquiry question and then focused their research to a topic within. Each of the nine groups were paired with a mentor, who helped them along their investigative process.

One group, in particular, focused on technology and the importance of responsible use in the community. Working closely with Mr. Clarke, Head of Lower School, each of the three students focused on a different aspect – distraction, cyber bullying and addiction.

“I chose to focus on technology distraction because it affects many people including myself, and the issue will continue to grow as technology advances our world.” – Ada O. ’23

“For my action, I interviewed an experienced counsellor, alongside my associate Ada. My lines of inquiry were – ‘How can we stop or prevent technology addition (Responsibility)’, ‘What are the factors of technology addiction (Function)’ and ‘Technology addictions compared to other addictions (Connection)’.” – Edgar L. ’23

Another group worked with Grade 3 teacher, Mrs. York-Ireland, to explore the negative effects that humanity has on the environment. The students focused on invasive species, over-hunting, deforestation and water pollution.

“I selected water pollution because it has been a global issue for many years and it seems like it doesn’t get the attention it should. One of my fondest memories of exhibition is when I helped to clean up at the beach.” Riley B. ’23

Enacting Change

Beyond the extensive research done by each group, the students were required to take action in their local community. This led the students to discover the issues that exist in their very own backyards and how they can help make an impact. Some students educated their peers, while others volunteered for organizations around St. Catharines.

Congratulations to the Class of 2023. We hope this is only the beginning of your service journey. Terar Dum Prosim.

 

Celebrating the Arts at Ridley

The arts play an integral role in leading a flourishing life. The opportunity to explore creativity and practice self-expression allows Ridleians to define who they are, gain confidence in their talents, unlock the potential to innovate and contribute to culture. Great importance is placed on this aspect of student development at Ridley. Students are given the opportunity to create in any way they see fit. Ridley offers both academic and extracurricular options to explore music, drama, visual arts, digital arts, design or the spoken word. Students enrolled in the International Baccalaureate programme have a creativity element integrated into their curriculum as well.

In support of this approach, Ridley recently hosted Arts in April. This series of events captured all aspect of arts on campus. Members of the Ridley community were encouraged to attend and engage with our talented musicians, performers, artists and film makers.

Visual Art Showcase

Arts in April began with a visual art exhibition at Brock University’s Rodman Hall. The Visual Art Showcase allowed our Grades 7 to 11 students to display their artistic works in a public art gallery. The exhibition held its opening night on April 6th, with Headmaster, Ed Kidd sharing his excitement for the partnership between Brock University and Ridley. For the remainder of the evening, members of the community, Brock and Ridley perused the collection, speaking with the artists and admiring the wonderful works on display. The exhibition was open to the public until April 16th.

View photos.

IB Graduate Art Exhibition

“The IB art exhibition was an unforgettable experience; I was not only able to present and reflect on my works as an artist, but also suspend my belief and dissect them as a viewer.” – Monika Morcous ’17

From April 18th to 20th, the Griffith Gym was home to a large collection of art created by IB Art students. All senior IB student were given a section of the gallery where they could display several of their pieces. The works of art on display for the IB Graduate Art Exhibition were taken from a series of studio works undertaken over the two year IB Visual Art course. These works make up the exhibition component of the course, in which each student is required to generate series of artworks that reflected a specific theme and evidence of mastery using a chosen medium. Students enrolled in the SL (Standard Level) course were required to complete seven works of art and students enrolled in the HL (Higher Level) course needed to complete 11. In addition to the exhibition component of the course, students were required to complete a process portfolio and a comparative study paper. Each display was unique, allowing a glimpse into the artists’ creative process, style and technique. The sheer talent, creativity and focus of our IB Art students was impressive.

View photos.

Ridley Independent Film Festival

On April 19th, a red carpet was rolled out in the Mandeville Theatre for the 9th annual Ridley Independent Film Festival, better known as RIFF. This film festival is entirely student-run and was an opportunity to showcase the creative works of the IB Film Studies students.  Each student group was tasked with creating their own short film, from conception to execution. As each film premiered, it was clear that each student involved – videographer, producer, editor, actor or otherwise – was committed to creating a top-quality short film. For several students, this was the perfect opportunity to build a portfolio and get first-hand experience.

View RIFF films.
View photos from the red carpet.

Celebration of the Arts

On April 25th, the Upper School gathered together for the annual Celebration of the Arts. The event began in the Mandeville Theatre, where Head of Upper School, Michele Bett, inspired students with the trying stories of artists, musicians and performers from throughout the ages.

“Rationality, or thinking with the head, is one half of our human inheritance; the other half is creativity, or thinking with the heart. And I submit that this is the place of the arts, both at Ridley College and in our culture as a whole. The place of the arts is the heart.” – Michele Bett

To follow, students from the Music, Performing Arts and Digital Arts programmes performed pieces for their peers in the audience. Our string musicians played a spectacular piece from Star Wars, followed by a song from Hamilton, the musical. Raylon Chan ’19 rapped alongside them and brought the audience to their feet for a standing ovation. A number of IB students showcased their studies during a theatrical piece that told a story through movement. The Jazz Band also performed on stage, after a playfully animated video on the negative effects of climate change. When the spectacular display of performing arts concluded, students reconvened in the Griffith Gym for a visual art exhibition, showcasing the works of both Upper School and Lower School students.

Read Mrs. Bett’s full speech.
View photos.

Upper School Art Awards

To conclude Arts in April, students from Grades 9 to 12 joined in the Mandeville Theatre one last time for the Upper School Art Awards on April 26th. This award ceremony is an opportunity for our students to celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of their peers. Interspersed throughout the award presentations were musical and theatrical performances. Faculty members from the Department of Music: Scott Vernon, Clyde Dawson and Ken Hutton joined Anthony Nguyen ’18 on stage for a fantastic musical performance to begin the night. Dramatic Arts students performed scenes from Ridley’s production of The Tempest.  The String Orchestra, Cadet Band and Senior Choir all performed on stage – sharing both classical and modern songs. Finally, audience members were treated solo performances from Petrina Mo ’17, Alessia Guarducci ’18 and Jim Li ’17. To conclude the event, Senior students, Petrina Mo ’17 and Padraic Odesse ’17 spoke of the importance of the arts at Ridley; not only as a means for self-expression, creativity and culture, but also as an opportunity to expand one’s horizons and make connections.

View photos.

While Arts in April may be over, Ridley’s dedication to the arts continue. In May, our youngest Ridleians are showcasing their creative works at the PYP Visual Arts Showcase, followed by a musical performance by the entire Lower School student body.