Meet Charlotte W. ’18 – a Prefect who has dedicated so much of her time at Ridley to serving others. Read about the challenges she overcame and the difference she has made in the community.
Why did you choose Ridley? My parents chose for me to attend Ridley because it was the best school in the region. My mom is from Niagara and growing up she had friends who went to Ridley. I didn’t have much weight in the decision as an eight-year-old but I’ve stayed here for 10 years because I love all the friends I’ve made here.
Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley? I can still remember being in Grade 3 and having Mr. Bowie assist me with writing every spelling test. I went from full French immersion to learning everything in English. I could barely read and write, but by Grade 4 the teachers in Lower School had helped me catch up to everyone else in my class. By the time I got to Upper School I was incredibly prepared and ready to tackle anything!
Who is your favourite faculty member and why? It’s too hard to pick! I love all of my teachers. Above all though, I have to thank my IB1 teachers for helping prepare me for IB2 and my exams. Ms. Anderson, Mr. Dunkley, Dr. Foster, Mr. Reimer, Mr. Mugan, Ms. Han, Ms. Braun and my extended essay supervisor, Mrs. Darby have all helped me take on the challenge of IB. With how long I’ve been at the school I also know that there are so many teachers who have helped me engage in class and numerous coaches who have fostered my love for rugby and curling.
What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley? My greatest challenge was when I took 10 courses in Grade 10. On top of the regular eight courses you can fit into the academic day, I took World Religions and Classical Civilizations as online courses. Trying to find the time to study for and write assignments in all these different courses was extremely difficult and by second term I had to have a meeting with the counsellors in Guidance about how to solve my problems. I learned a lot about time management and my own limitations from this experience. These lessons have proved extremely valuable now that I am in IB with all the extra assignments involved in the full diploma.
What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley? My greatest accomplishment was becoming a Prefect. I’ve done a lot of other things I’m really proud of during my time at Ridley that have lead up to this. I learned how to read in English. I became one of the youngest captains of Ridley’s Cadet Colour Party. I worked with my friend Cassidy Yu ’18 to raise awareness for Dog Guides Canada. During my time at Ridley, I’ve spent my summers on 42 and 50-day canoe trips and this March break I got to visit France and see Vimy Ridge with my history teacher, Mr. Dunkley. Being a part of Ridley’s Positive Space Group, Ridley’s T.R.U.E. group for Aboriginal rights and getting to help train Billy, Ridley’s guide dog in training, have all been a part of becoming a Prefect. Trying to narrow down nine years of fantastic experiences and community supported success is impossible for me because if I’m not putting my all into every experience and making it the biggest success I can than I’m not living right. Becoming a Prefect was the culmination of everything I’ve done so far and I really look forward to getting even more involved at school next year and helping everyone have the same fantastic experiences I have.
What has been your favourite Ridley experience? My favourite Ridley experience was going to France for the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. I love history and as a passionate Canadian, it was awe inspiring to see the memorials and the way the ground has been reshaped by war. At Vimy there are still the shell holes in the ground from artillery. Seeing it for myself it wasn’t hard to imagine soldiers drowning in the massive holes if they were filled with mud and water. On a happier note, while in France we also visited Paris where I got to see Napoleon’s tomb and explore The Louvre. Seeing an old city, although partially rebuilt, was awe inspiring and reminded me just how young a country Canada is. I got to interact with passionate history students from other schools and learn a lot about the actual appearance of the battlefields fought on during the world wars and the rich history of France.
What is your favourite part of Ridley life? My favourite part of Ridley life is community service. Every Ridley student has to complete at least 10 hours of service every year and it’s amazing to get out and involved in the community. In Grade 9 Civics, we could help raise awareness for a charity, so I worked with my group partners to make a video for Start Me Up Niagara. In Grade 10 we got to write letters to Canadian veterans for Remembrance Day and as a member of Drill Team, I could go to the service at the war memorial in St. Catharines. Last year, in Grade 11 as an IB student, I got to plan a CAS project (which involved showing Creativity, Action and Service) and raise both money and awareness for a cause I’m passionate about. Throughout my years at Ridley I’ve learned the meaning of community service. It’s amazing to see the difference everyone can make if they get involved and put forth their best effort every day.
What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for? I am really excited to help make this school even better. I want to reinvigorate school spirit, help make the course selection process easier and make sure that everyone gets the most they can out of their Ridley experience. As a Prefect, I think the most important thing you do is helping support your fellow students. I’ve had many friends from past years who set a great example for me to follow and I look forward to following their footsteps.
How has Ridley prepared you for the future? Ridley is still very much in the process of preparing me, but so far, I’ve learned a lot about how to be a leader and a better citizen. I’ve made friends from across the globe and this has helped give me a global mindset that will help me in my future studies and career. More than that, Ridley really helped me learn what it means to be an active citizen and take an interest in what goes on around you.
What are your plans after graduation? I plan to study computer science. I’m really passionate about computers, biology and history and I hope that in learning about computers I can work in a variety of fields that let me explore my other passions.
What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley? Get involved! The fastest way to make friends and the best way to make the most of your time at Ridley is by doing things around campus. Join as many clubs as you can and then quit a few because they weren’t as interesting as you thought. Try out for every sports team you can to find what you love. Mix it up with your course selections to see what really interests you. Sit with people you don’t know at lunch and try to make conversation so you meet people. If you ever feel alone or uncertain about anything, find one of the Prefects or a House Captain. We’re always around and willing to help. Coming to a new school or moving up to high school can be terrifying but rest assured that there are friends out there for you to make if you get involved! There’s a proverb I like to live by that I heard while up in Brent, Ontario on a canoe trip:
“You’ve got to make like a bear with a blueberry bush. There’s a whole lot of fruit for the picking but you never know if there’s a bee hiding in the fruit until you take the first bite.”