Get to Know Your Prefects: Tomi J. ’19

Meet Tomi ’19: a member of the Prep Boys basketball team, who grew out of his shell during his Upper School years at Ridley. Managing a full IB schedule, sports and friends, Tomi recognizes that it was consistently stepping out of his comfort zone that lead to such a positive and full Ridley experience. Read more to learn how Tomi plans on building his relationships between both students and faculty during his role as one of this year’s Prefects.

Why did you choose Ridley?
I chose Ridley because, firstly, I was looking to attend a boarding school to start gaining the independence that would be required in the future. I wanted to go somewhere where I would have to do things for myself and not rely on my parents for everything. I also wanted to go to a school that had a good balance of academics, athletics, co-curricular activities, etc. I wanted to attend a school with many opportunities for me to step outside of my comfort zone. Something that also drew me to Ridley was the fact that I would be able to interact with people from many different backgrounds, nationalities, ethnicities, etc. I am also very grateful to my parents because they were reluctant to send me here at first but they decided to take a chance and support me in everything I do.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
I felt somewhat prepared for Ridley because my old school, Sterling Hall School, helped me prepare for the rigours of high school, especially an independent school like Ridley.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?
This question is very hard because there are a few faculty members at Ridley I like. But for this question there is a tie between Mrs. Roud and Dr. Des Vignes. Mrs. Roud has been my Head of House since I first entered this school and she has been like a mom to me. She has not only ensured that my house (Dean’s House) is a comfortable and positive environment, but she has also encouraged me to challenge myself and take on leadership roles that I never would’ve thought would be fit for me. She has also been encouraging to my parents as they always seem to have separation anxiety when I not at home. Dr. Des Vignes has also been involved in my school life since I was in Grade 9. I first met him when I played on the U16 basketball team, as he was the coach, and ever since then he has also been like a parent away from home. He has tremendously helped me especially in terms of balancing my academics and basketball, as I found it challenging in my first two years at this school. He has encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone in all that I do.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?
My greatest challenge at Ridley has either been the transition from Grade 10 to 11 or the balancing of academics and basketball. The transition from Grade 10 to 11 was difficult as the intensity and volume of work increased tremendously as I took five IB courses and an online course as well. Balancing academics and basketball, especially in Grade 11, being a full-time member of the Prep Basketball team was challenging. My academic schedule was already intense but on top of that I also had a very busy basketball schedule as we had a lot of away games and we also travelled to the United States a couple times. It took immense concentration and self-motivation to stay on top of things and not fall behind.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?
My greatest accomplishment at Ridley has probably been getting through Grade 11. Firstly, the transition was difficult as I mentioned before. Secondly, I went from being on the U16 basketball team and only playing up a few games with the Prep team to becoming a full-time member, which meant an increasingly busy schedule. I also had a few things going on in my personal life. Balancing everything was like a juggling act. I was able to handle all the pressure, have the best year of basketball I’ve ever had in my life, attain an honour roll average and, as a result, became a stronger person.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?
My favorite experience at Ridley has been playing on the basketball team and meeting lifetime friends. Coach Tarry, Coach Bett, Coach Brad, Coach Mark and Mr. Tredway have done a good job in helping me grow as a player, which has benefitted me as I have begun to pick up interest from Division 1 schools in the U.S. thanks to all the work they put into my development. The guys on the team have also become brothers to me and I am excited to work with them in our final year together to complete some unfinished business. I have also created friends in this school that I can confidently say are lifetime friends. Friends that I am able to share my joys and pains with.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?
The housing system at Ridley is my favourite part of  school life and I have been blessed enough to be part of a house that fits my extroverted personality. The boys in Dean’s have become family to me and I’ve created bonds with them that cannot be broken. Anytime I’m having a bad day, I can go back to the house after school and my mood would instantly be rejuvenated. I would not give up being in Dean’s House for anything

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?
I am excited to be the intermediary between the students and administration of the school. I really want to be someone that people can comfortably come to with their needs and wants and what not. I am excited to build up that relationship with the school body that will allow me to be that type of person.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
Ridley has equipped me with excellent time management skills. At times I had to learn how to manage my time with my busy schedule the hard way, but it has left me wiser. I have also gained good interpersonal skills. Before I came to Ridley I was timid and somewhat scared to interact with people I didn’t really know. Now when people first meet me, they would never believe that I was like that in Grade 9. I enjoy interacting with a variety of people that come from different places. Ridley has also opened my mind to a variety of perspectives that I have never really seen before.

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation I plan to go to America to play Division 1 basketball as I have picked up interest from universities in places like New York, Connecticut, California, etc. I would like to go to a school with a good basketball program but I would also like to go to a school that has very good social science program as my ultimate goal in life is to become a lawyer.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?
DO NOT WAIT. That is a mistake I made when I first got here. I waited to step out of my comfort zone, I waited a while before I started getting on top of things, I waited to take opportunities. Do not wait because if you wait, it may be too late when you decide to start stepping out of your comfort zone as some people may beat you to a certain opportunity. As soon as you step foot onto Ridley, begin your pursuit of ways to step out of your comfort zone. Be quick to take that bold step no matter how hard it may be for you. I also encourage you to have fun. Though a large portion of your life at Ridley requires a serious attitude, set some personal time for yourself as well. Whether it is going to the mall with your friends or having a fun game of futsal in the gym, down time is needed. Although many parents may argue against it, down time also helps your performance as everyone needs time to relieve stress and maintain their sanity. High school is the last few years of you have to be a “kid” before things get real so enjoy every moment of it.

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