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A Day of Percussion at Ridley College

Over 30 people gathered in the Mandeville Theatre on Saturday, January 23rd for an afternoon of percussion clinics and performances. Participants, ranging in age from 5 years old to over 60, spent several hours listening and learning about drums and percussion from two great musicians, Miles Gibbons and Dave O’Neill. Tony Nguyen (tenor sax) and Antonio Aspite (guitar) joined our guests, along with Bob Lytle (double bass) to warm up the afternoon with an open rehearsal and jazz combo performance.

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Dave O’Neill spoke about how his drumming career began at the age of 12, but was quickly diverted when he lost fingers on his right hand in a tragic workplace accident at 16. Dave’s intense determination to overcome his disability was proven by an incredible solo demonstration on the drums. He uses a prosthetic device on his hand to hold a stick or mallet, which his early teachers helped him design. Later in the afternoon, Dave demonstrated tunes and techniques on the vibraphone.

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Miles Gibbons demonstrated the electronic V-drums and Roland Octapad, giving his steps to develop a music vocabulary on the drums, in order to open up one’s creativity and versatility in playing.   The clinicians were generous answering questions and students were able to come on the stage to play the instruments.

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Miles was gracious in thanking Ridley for the Day of Percussion, for providing a chance to “hang out, play music, and talk about drums.”

Music lovers are encouraged to keep watch for the next opportunity to collaborate with professional musicians on February 18th and 19th, when Ridley hosts The String Fling. The Penderecki String Quartet from Wilfrid Laurier University will be our musical guests for Thursday workshops and a Friday evening performance in the Memorial Chapel. For more information, contact Ridley’s music department.

– Mr. Scott Vernon, Visual and Performing Arts Subject Coordinator and Lower School Music Teacher

Students hit the slopes for Ski Day 2016!

On January 22nd, Ridleians travelled to Barrie, Ontario and Glenwood, New York to hit the slopes! It was a spectacular day to be outside; warm, sunny and a thick blanket of snow covered the ground. Students eagerly suited up in their winter gear and prepared for a day of fun!

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A long-standing tradition at Ridley and one of the most anticipated student trips of the year, Ski Day offered more than just skiing.  Students, staff and faculty had the opportunity to try an array of winter sports! Students who traveled south to Kissing Bridge had the opportunity to ski, snowboard and even tube! Students who made their way north to Horseshoe Resort enjoyed downhill and cross-country skiing! At the bottom of the hill awaited a warm chalet for any student looking to escape the cold and enjoy a hot meal! Since winter sports are such a quintessential part of Canadian life, Ski Day is also offered a chance for our international students to be exposed to a true Canadian experience! What a great way to experience Canadian culture, first-hand!

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Fresh air, the great outdoors, exercise and friends; there was no better way to spend a day away from the classroom. Students learned new skills, strengthened bonds with their peers and forgot about their homework for a few hours! According to the David Suzuki Foundation and the Children & Nature Network, time outside can help with problem solving, focus and creativity; so a day in the snow wasn’t all fun and games!

Back on campus, our primary students were having some fun of their own! Playing in the snow, practicing their soccer skills, skating and enjoying time with their friends – there were no shortage of smiles.

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To see photos from this year’s Ski Day, click here! We’re already counting down the days until next year!

Students elevate to new heights in preparation of winter production

Ridley has always been dedicated to opening as many doors for the students as possible. Faculty members design their courses to offer students the chance to experience in practical ways. Whether it be trips to an art museum, cultural experiences or workshops, our students grow both inside the classroom and out. The Drama Department is no exception.

In preparation for their upcoming winter production, drama teachers and directors of the winter production, Ms. Gillian Fournier and Ms. Anna Blagona, reached out to one of Toronto’s best dance companies, Kaeja d’Dance – a company known for its dance education programs. Kaeja d’Dance was brought in to train the cast, teach them improvisational and movement techniques and to choreograph particular scenes of the play. Mere moments into their introduction to Kaeja, the students were captivated by the technique and style of dance.

During their first workshop students began with an exercise in dance expression. They were asked to remain in constant motion as they travelled around the space, pausing only briefly as they connected with another dancer in the room. Allen Kaeja, co-founder of Kaeja d’Dance, then introduced the students to “elevations”, a movement technique that was developed by him and his wife. Students began to learn and practice anchor positions, which allow them to safely lift their partners into the air, regardless of height, weight or strength. Students ended their first workshop, feeling confident with the basics and excited to learn more.

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The cast met in the Mandeville Theatre for the second afternoon workshop. After their warm-up, Allen and one of the Kaeja dancers, Meredith, demonstrated one of the lifts that the students will be utilizing in their performance. It didn’t take long for the students to anchor and lift their partners into the air. Allen enthusiastically moved from partner to partner, ensuring that they were supporting one another properly, and receiving the praise and motivation that would instill confidence in their every move.

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The cast is looking forward to pushing their boundaries as performers and taking risks to fully commit to Brechtian techniques.. To see the cast of The Caucasian Chalk Circle demonstrate their newly acquired elevation skills and shine on stage, be sure to come to one of their performances. The dramatic production is running March 3rd – 5th in the Mandeville Theatre.

 

Girls volleyball team makes the most of its weekend road trip

Between January 8-10th, the U16 Girls volleyball team travelled to Kingston, Ontario for the Sydenham High School Red and Gold Invitational Tournament. This weekend marked the team’s first tournament of the year and was an opportunity for the girls to bond as a team, hit the court and learn about our provincial history

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On Friday, the team hit the road to begin its weekend. On the way to Kingston, the team made a stop in Napanee to visit the Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives. There, the team participated in a hands-on presentation, where members learned what a career as a Museum Archivist and Curator entails. It proved to be an opportunity to not only learn about history, but to grow the students’ knowledge of all the people that make up a community. Back aboard the bus, the girls set out on the final leg of the trip.

After a full night’s rest, Saturday was game day for our Tigers. The team earned a victory against Kingston’s Holy Cross Secondary, and put forth its best efforts in matches against Kingston’s Sydenham High School and La Salle Secondary School, Napanee’s District School and Brockville’s Thousand Islands Secondary School. Tiger coaches, Ms. Kathy Anderson and Mr. Nicholas Ronald, were pleased with the Tiger’s efforts on and off the court. 

“For the majority, this was their first opportunity to experience the camaraderie of a team in a tournament setting… We are very proud of them, they were worthy representatives of Ridley.” – Mr. Nicholas Ronald, Coach

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 Saturday concluded with a tour of Fort Henry – one of Kingston’s most notorious historical sites – led by the Commander of the Fort Henry Guard. The tour was followed by a traditional 19th Century meal in the Officer’s Mess.
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Before heading home on Sunday, the team had a few more stops to make. First up was one of the finest 19th Century buildings in Canada and a nationally designated heritage site, Kingston City Hall. From there, the girls visited the Queen’s University campus for a personal tour from Coach Ronald, an alumnus of Queen’s (also the alma mater of Headmaster Kidd). In the afternoon, the team made a stop in Trenton, Ontario at the National Air Force Museum of Canada. There they participated in a fantastic interactive learning experience on Canada’s aviation history.

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The team returned home with more than just tournament experience. Ridley and its wonderful selection of faculty members are committed to offering Ridleians the most well-rounded experiences and this trip is a prime example of that.

Good luck to the girls as they prepare for their next CISAA match against Lakefield on January 20th.

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

 

Preparing international students for success

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Throughout the school year, Ridley is bustling with students from 44 countries around the globe and we are committed to providing as much support as possible to our international students as they adjust to life away from home. Helping them overcome a language barrier can often make all the difference in their ability to thrive.

Ridley’s English as a Second Language (ESL) programme is a course offered through our Guidance Department. It offers students – whose native language is not English – additional learning support intended to strengthen their conversational English, grammar, spelling and help them grasp nuisances. Furthermore, the ESL programme uses cognitive learning skills that can be applied in students’ daily lives. All of these resources result in improved communications and confidence on a personal and academic level.

Students begin with Level C and D ESL, as well as a Learning Strategies course in their first year here at Ridley. Throughout this first year, students work with our ESL Teacher, Ms. Loretta Whitty, as they build a set of skills that help with their English language proficiency in addition to their organizational skills, time-management, writing, public speaking and note taking. Students who might benefit from a more gentle transition into the school year, our Summer Programme also offers Level B ESL.

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In 2nd term, the students are introduced to the research essay project. Utilizing Brock University’s program, Academic Zone, the students take a step-by-step journey through the essay writing process. This process allows them to tackle one component of an essay at a time, while learning tips and tricks and developing their own writing style.

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Throughout the term, the students are encouraged to discover their own learning style. By developing character profiles and assessing their own personal skills, accomplishments and goals, the students are then able to determine what is the best way for them to learn and retain information. These skills are used throughout their time at Ridley and carried forward into their eventual careers.

“That’s the beauty of our ESL course; it gives [students] the resources and strategies that they can use at Ridley and beyond.”

– Ms. Loretta Whitty

Upon completion of Level C and D, these Ridleians progress to Level E in their next year of schooling; where they complete a course that aligns with a Grade 10 level of English.

Ms. Loretta Whitty has seen students progress with such success over the years. Students develop a passion for writing, find the confidence to speak in front of large groups of people with ease and projection and discover skills and strengths that they didn’t know they had.

“The Ridley ESL programme provided me with an opportunity to practice my English skills in a familiar and comfortable environment. The teachers are friendly and very helpful.”

– Wenze Guan ’16

This programme was designed to align with the Ridley curriculum and international culture. Its goal is to help our students reach a point in their education that they can confidently apply to post-secondary school, prepare for university and begin their flourishing lives. It is clear that this ESL course has done just that; and proves to be a great transition for our international students into life here at Ridley.

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Ridley’s Exchange Programme provides an opportunity of a lifetime

For over 20 years, Ridley’s International Student Exchange Programme has given audacious Ridleians and students from partnering schools around the world the opportunity to experience another country, appreciate a foreign culture and adapt to a new way of life at an international boarding school.

Dr. Ellen Foster has been coordinating the programme for the past 10 years, having organized approximately 200 exchanges in total. What began as a partnership with only a few schools has now expanded to offer Ridleians the chance to travel to South Africa, Australia, China, France, Spain, Luxembourg, Belgium and England. Whether they fly across the world to the land down under, make the trek to South Africa or hop across the pond to Paris, these students leave behind their routine lives to become Ridley’s global ambassadors.

Our Ridleians studying abroad may be away from St. Catharines anywhere between 6-12 weeks. During this time, they attend classes, live with their exchange families, absorb a new cultures and sometimes even learn new languages.

For every Ridleian who travels abroad, Ridley welcomes an eager student from the partnering school. For many of these visiting Upper School pupils, Ridley is their first exposure to Canada ­– which might include their first encounter with snow.

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Having the opportunity to travel, learn and grow in a new environment allows students to expand their knowledge of the world, overcome obstacles independently and discover new skills and strengths that they never knew they had. According to Dr. Ellen Foster, Coordinator of the International Student Exchange Programme, it also offers a great opportunity to improve language proficiency in places such as Spain and France.

Recently, Ridley said goodbye to this year’s visiting exchange students, as they returned home with unforgettable memories and friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime.

“I know from this amazing experience, that Ridley does not just focus on academic strength but also produces well-rounded, confident and worldly people who have the ability to make an impact in whatever they choose to do after school.”

– Eliza Hannah, Australia

In a few months time, our Ridleians will travel to South Africa and Australia for their exchange trips, where they will reunite with their exchange families and begin their own adventures.

If you’re interested in the International Student Exchange Programme or have any questions, contact Dr. Ellen Foster; ellen_foster@ridleycollege.com.

 

Positive Change Ignites at Ridley College

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

– Nelson Mandela

December 10th is Human Rights Day – observed globally to commemorate the day, in 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, Ridleians went above and beyond to enact positive change in the world by participating in a number of events that took place on campus. Throughout the day and around every corner there were new opportunities for students, staff and faculty to get involved.

Students arrived on campus wearing red and green in support of Arthur Bishop West’s house charity, Congo Leadership Initiative. Contributions from this dress-down “grub” day were donated to the charity in support of a recently relocated Syrian refugee family.

In Upper School, from 8:00a.m. into the night, the Matthews Library was transformed into the drop-in workshop for Ridley’s own Amnesty Group. All students were invited to pay a visit to the library and write letters that took a stand on human rights issues. Within half an hour, 125 letters had already been written; by lunch, over 245 had been signed by Ridleians, pleading to end a number of unjust cases. Throughout the day, teachers brought their classes, faculty and staff dropped by to write their own letters, and students from Lower School stopped by to learn about this amazing cause.

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As the entire Ridley community continued to contribute to the Write for Rights event, another inspiring act had taken place in the Great Hall. Every table and wall in the Great Hall had been adorned with Post-It Notes. Each one with an inspiring message, urging its readers to “stay strong” or “never give up.” Led by the Positive Spaces Group, these positive sticky notes infused the dining hall with an optimistic energy.

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As classes concluded for the day, a group of Ridleians assembled in the Second Century Building (2CB) to help change the world. Each Thursday, this team joins together to make a difference in the lives of women living in developing countries. Led by Ms. Linda Chang and Prefect, Grace Lowes, members sew and prepare feminine hygiene kits for an organization called Days for Girls. These kits allow women, in developing countries, to carry on with their daily lives when they would otherwise be forced to forego school or work up to two full months each year.

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As the sun went down on the school day, so many acts of kindness and positive change had taken place on campus that it was impossible not to feel inspired.

Meanwhile, the Write for Rights event was forging ahead. Students piled in the library to help reach Ridley’s goal of writing 500 letters. Ms. Shelley Thomas, Faculty Advisor to Ridley’s Amnesty group, documented Ridley’s progress and along with her team, joined in on a twitter chat with the Secretary General of Amnesty Canada. By 10:00p.m., as the Write for Rights event came to a close, not only did had Ridley won Amnesty’s photo challenge, but an astounding 565 letters had been written for Amnesty International; a record breaking number for Ridley College.

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The winning photo of Amnesty International’s photo contest, taken by Ms. Shelley Thomas.

Whether they were writing, sewing, donating or posting, Ridleians made an impact and gained perspective on serious global issues. We all learned to be grateful for our circumstances and to use our power to assist others who are not as fortunate and wage a personal war. Each and every student joined together to make a difference and transform the globe. Their passion and kindness has inspired us all to be a part of positive change.