Category Archives: Academics

Fresh Year, Fresh Start: How Ridley helps students forge their own paths

Written by Head of Upper School, Michele Bett

A new school year is just around the corner, and it is holding out hands full of promise. It is time for another fresh start, time to discover the wealth of untapped potential among our magnificent community of learners. Who can say what great new friendships will be forged in the Houses of Ridley College, what tests of courage, commitment, and collaboration will be faced on our sports fields, or what giant steps will be taken on the path of success?

Ah, but what do I mean by “success”? What do we at Ridley think we are trying to achieve? I would like to explore – and perhaps clarify – what success looks like from a Ridley College perspective, and to suggest a way for you parents to help.

Sir Ken Robinson’s highly regarded book, Finding Your Element: How to discover your talents and passions and transform your life, might be a good place to begin our exploration. Robinson says that one’s “element” is the convergence of natural talents and personal passions, and that finding one’s element is the most important quest that any of us can have. Finding your element is the quest to find yourself.

This quest involves both an outward and inward journey. The outward journey is the discovery of the opportunities the world can offer. The inward journey includes unlocking a student’s academic aptitude and accepting one’s unique purpose. 

Speaking of purpose, I have been impressed by Richard Leider’s recently published The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better. In this book, the author says that to live with purpose is to actively live one’s values. Purpose is our essence and what makes each of us so special. When we get up in the morning ready to contribute to the world, we are living with purpose, living with meaning. Living like this is not just living – it is living well.

Research suggests that having a purpose requires an aim outside ourselves. Naming our purpose helps satisfy our need to matter and feel worthy. Through a Ridley College lens, we can see three important messages for our students:

  • They are part of something bigger than themselves;
  • They are committing to live a life of service; 
  • They are going to transform a world that needs them.

So when we talk about steps on the path of success, we are saying that the quest for each of us at Ridley is to find our element, our passion, and our purpose. Once we identify these, we need to learn how to live these values every day.

We believe that advisors, housemasters, teachers and coaches can all provide invaluable assistance to students on this quest because authentic learning and discovery thrive in a kind and caring community.

I think that high school is the right time for young people to begin thinking about these things. Students confront a bewildering range of choices and must make decisions all the time, but the most important of these decisions have to do with their own identity and integrity. 

I am reminded of a poem that many of you will be familiar with by American poet Robert Frost, called “The Road Not Taken.” In it, the speaker is walking through the woods, comes upon a fork in the path ahead and wonders which way to go. It is not always easy to know which road leads to success, to one’s purpose. As Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once said, you cannot connect the dots going forward; you can only connect the dots looking back. In other words, despite our best-laid plans, we can never know the future. It is only when we look back on those choices, those experiences, those seemingly chance encounters, that we can discern a direction.

So it is in the poem. The speaker finally chooses one of the roads, recognizing he will never know what he has missed by not choosing the other, but concluding that his choice has “made all the difference” in his life. The Grateful Dead sang a similar sentiment: 

There is a road, no simple highway

Between the dawn and the dark of night,

And if you go, no one may follow,

That path is for your steps alone.

As their popular song suggests, this path, this quest for one’s element, passion and purpose is exclusive, singular, “for your steps alone.” This year, each of us at Ridley will make choices that help to define us as unique individuals and to name that purpose that drives us forward. There is always some risk in making a choice, since we cannot know exactly where it will lead us, but when we look back one day we will be able to connect those dots, to see how our life’s path has led us to become who we are.

Given the various quests of the members of our community and the many pathways that lie ahead of us, perhaps you will understand when I write how delighted I am by the wonderful adventure that awaits us this year. But I also mentioned that there is a way that you could help. Of course, as parents you know your children in ways we never can, but there is one area on which to focus that I think could be valuable. 

Lea Waters, the developer of the Visible Well-Being program (which as some of you know has been adopted by Ridley College), has recently published a study that investigates the relationship between what she calls “strength-based parenting” and educational outcomes. 

A strength-based approach to parenting is one in which parents encourage their children to recognize and use their own character strengths. These strengths may include humour, kindness, self-control, persistence and so on. Waters accepts that emotional warmth and appropriate control are important aspects of parenting, but suggests that awareness and acknowledgement by parents of their child’s strengths helps support the healthy development of the child’s character and personality. 

Furthermore, Waters’ work shows how promoting a young person’s character strengths fosters academic achievement. She found that strength-based parenting not only influences a child’s well-being but also positively affects academic outcomes. Surely, it is good to know that Ridley’s emphasis on our students’ visible well-being has benefits both in and outside the classroom. Universities in Canada and beyond are still interested in student grades, and I believe that our educational priorities, along with your support, provide the best possible environment for young people to flourish academically, socially and personally.

In closing, I want to offer a warm welcome as we embark on our exciting, collective journey of discovery this year. Ridley’s faculty and administration are dedicated to helping each of our students discover their element, passion and purpose, and to thrive in every area of school life. This year will provide many challenges for us all – but challenges are simply stepping-stones to growth when we love what we do. 

Author and speaker Simon Sinek famously said, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.” One of our most important tasks as educators – and parents – is to help your children, our students, find their passion by discovering what they truly love.

Promoting Antifragility in Education

Written by Head of Upper School, Michele Bett

In 2008, the New York writer Lenore Skenazy found herself at the centre of a media storm, but she probably only had herself to blame. She had published an article in the New York Sunnewspaper and then had been interviewed on national television, all in the effort to explain her seemingly novel approach to parenting. The results were not quite what she anticipated, for before long she was widely decried as “America’s Worst Mom.”

What was Skenazy’s offense? She had let her 9-year old son ride the New York subway by himself. Her son had wanted to do this for some time, so she took him to a downtown Metro station and then gave him a ticket, a map, some money, and clear instructions how to get home. Forty-five minutes later, right on time, he reached his house, delighted with his experience. His happy mother wrote about it in the newspaper. But after hearing the story, the country was shocked.

Mr Kidd, our Headmaster, and several Ridley administrators learned more of Leonore Skenazy’s fall from grace at the International Positive Psychology Conference in Melbourne, Australia last month, where one of  the keynote speakers was Jonathan Haidt, author of several books including his most recent The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.Along with other educators, researchers, psychologists, counselors and academics from across the world, we learned  more about the new word at the conference: “antifragility.”

The concept of antifragility is not really new; in fact, it is very common in the field of health care and in our understanding of the human immune system. The idea is that some things, like china teacups, are naturally fragile; others, like plastic teacups, are naturally resilient; but still others, and especially complex systems like human beings, are antifragile: they requirestressors and challenges to learn, adapt, and grow.

According to Haidt, understanding about antifragility is important to educators and parents. Children need to develop their own interests, learn how to make decisions and solve problems, cultivate their ability to regulate their emotions, and discover how to get along with others and experience joy. Over-scheduled children surrounded by risk-averse adults are less likely to acquire these important life skills.

As it happens, trying to eliminate all risks from children’s lives might even be dangerous. There may be a psychological analog to the hygiene hypothesis proposed to explain the dramatic recent increase in allergies. In other words, by codling our children and over-protecting them we may be denying them the real opportunity to learn from their mistakes. 

At the Positive Psychology Conference in Melbourne, Haidt explained  that positive child development thrives under conditions of unsupervised free play, autonomy, risk, and even failure. Short-term stress is not to be avoided – it is essential for proper growth. Negative experiences provide rapid learning and strengthening. Those young people who are prepared for the failures they will encounter in life will have gained the resilience and mental fortitude to succeed. This is summed up in the saying: “Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.”

Haidt claimed that the generation born at the beginning of the 21stcentury might well be the loneliest ever because so many children spend so much time indoors. They may be digitally connected, but this electronic connectivity does not nurture authentic and enduring relationships. When children go outside, climb trees, play with friends, swim lakes and enjoy nature, they are augmenting their well-being. Haidt’s advice to parents is to get your children out of their bedrooms or they may  just end up living in your basements!

Of course, giving children opportunities to participate in activities like hockey camp, basketball practice and piano lessons is important; but Haidt wants us also to give children the freedom to develop their curiosity, exercise their creativity and just marvel at the wonderful world around them. He wants us to give our children the precious gift of un-sanitised, un-structured time that will nurture their imagination and wonder.

Lenore Skenazy responded to her own negative experiences with America’s media by starting a blog called Free-Range Kidsand a non-profit called Let Grow, where she calls out over-protectionism and offers advice for parents wanting to raise healthy, happy children. A lot of parents today, Skenazy says, “ see no difference between letting their kids walk to school and letting them walk through a firing range”. Any risk is seen as too much risk. But, as she points out, we parents have to realise that the greatest risk of all just might be trying to raise a child who never encounters choice or independence. 

Our long summer break  is not quite over, and there’s still opportunity for us to cultivate our very own free range Ridleians. Although high attainment is certainly one of the elements that account for success at Ridley College, there’s more. At Ridley, we celebrate and emphasise positive emotions, engagement, relationships, and meaning in addition to grades and exam results. Under the leadership of Mr Kidd, Ridley’s central mission has been to help young people to discover what it takes to lead a flourishing life, not just in this community but also beyond our gates. Our aim is to prepare all our children for the road.

The Digital Generation: How Technology has Impacted Student Life

It’s now an archaic image. One lonely computer set at the back of the classroom, equipped with Netscape Navigator and Compton’s Encyclopedia. The computer monitor, off-beige in colour, was roughly one foot in depth and weighed approximately 40 pounds. Access to this new classroom technology was, in most schools, given as a reward for good behavior. This was the role of the computer in the classroom in the early 1990s­—not as a functional educational tool, but as a break from class. In fact, at the time, only 20-30 million people worldwide actually owned computers or had access to the internet. Today, there are billions who have access, with the internet being readily available in most of our pockets. Ultimately, digital devices have made their way into the classroom and are an integral part of our day-to-day. 

Twenty years is not a long time when considering the entire chronicle of the history of technology in education. However, in just two decades, technology has brought vast improvements into the classroom, assisting in the way lessons are taught, how information is stored and how students are able to collaborate. There is an ever-evolving relationship between technology and culture, and with the advent of the internet, emails and even laptop integration in schools and workplaces, we have the ability to communicate with ease and speed. At Ridley, the influence of technology has greatly impacted the role of the teacher, who is committed to evolve and grow with each new technological advance.  

We are now more connected, have more information and have even greater technological advances in the classroom than ever before. 

Connection:

We have entered an era where we are connected to everyone around us through the click of a button and at top speed. Through a simple email or text, we are linked with someone on the other side of the world. Email is used to connect students with teachers, teachers with parents and parents with the school community. Mr. Geoff Park ’80 (Department of Social Sciences) remarked on the advantages of this connection: the ease to send and receive work, to remind people about any changes taking place, to arrange to meet students for tutorials, and to send useful links, to name a few. 

Students, especially boarders, can easily stay in touch with their families near or far—a vast difference between the communiqué of 20 years ago. “When I started in 1990”, recalls Ms. Karen Oude-Reimerink (Department of Science), “most boarding students communicated with their parents once a week via a pay phone in residence. Advisors communicated once every six weeks or so (with effort grades) via a phone call. Individual teachers rarely communicated directly with parents – all communication was through the Head of House or the Advisor.”

Although we are more connected than ever before, the drawback is the risk of feeling disconnected and isolated. The fast pace of life that has taken hold of society can sometimes prove to be more of a hinderance than a freeing agent. With the convenience of digital interaction through social media and email, traditional methods of keeping in touch are falling by the wayside, thus creating a dichotomy between the convenience of digital connectivity and the closeness of our relationships. 

Ridley is cognizant of this challenge and has responded to it by implementing a number of measures to promote interpersonal communication. Devices are not permitted in the Great Hall in an attempt to encourage social interaction during meal times, students participate in daily physical activity and there are ongoing organized events and activities in classrooms and the Houses, which allow for students to nurture their social and emotional skills. 

Regardless of the negative effects of online connection, we live in a digital world and the use of technology has become an essential life skill. 

Access to Information:

With the internet being omnipresent in the classroom, there is a difference in the way students research and learn. According to Mr. Chris Gordon (Department of Classical and International Languages), “the world is literally at your fingertips; we can easily learn about the world around us and are able to collate information that, even 20 years ago, would have been much more difficult to find.” 

By having access to a vast trove of information, we obtain a richer understanding of the subjects at hand and students are granted the opportunity to examine a wider variety of perspectives on any given topic. Mr. Geoff Park ’80 supports this view, saying “we can find articles about any issues or topics from around the world. When I used to teach geopolitics and discuss Israel, I could access The Jerusalem Post and Al Jazeera, and news sources of different biases from around the world. It enabled a broader perspective.” 

“Technology allows the classroom walls to extend far beyond the confines of a physical space.” – Mr. Chris Gordon. 

The variety in which materials can be shared is useful in relaying specialized information “The access to online videos and simulations is wonderful in clarifying scientific concepts,” says Ms. Karen Oude-Reimerink. This helps to inform and assist students in forming their own unique perspectives. 

Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education, has weighed in on the impact technology is having in the classroom and emphasizes it’s value. “We’ve moved from 100 percent of learning materials coming from an out-of-date textbook, to interactive materials and students in remote locations having access to high-quality resources,” Culatta notes. “Technology has enabled learners to explore and learn on their own in ways that were harder to do when the resources all had to come from the teacher. It’s very powerful.”

The challenge that comes into play is evaluating if the information at hand is actually a credible source. How can a student tell if content is written by a competent authority? Mr. Gordon notes, “the ability to analyze and evaluate the source of information is now so much more important, and this can be a struggle.” Students need to learn how to be thoughtful consumers of digital content and discriminate the reliability and accuracy of this. 

This has been one of the new research skills stemming from our digital world. Students are now taught what to look for during the research phase of a project and are educated on both primary and secondary types of research. Through the McLaughlin Resource Centre and the Matthews Library, students have access to countless resources and can connect to the infinite information found on the web. Through required citing, faculty members are able to confirm that students are searching for evidence in the right place and getting the most out of their online practices. 

Technology:

Gone are the days of the computer lab or the one-computer classroom. The growth of technology in schools has influenced the way teachers must approach their lesson plans.

“Information technology is a great asset to education, but it is equally important that the teacher relays not only curricular content, but also demonstrates how to best navigate their systems, so that students will be more successful with the course at hand,” says Mr. Gordon. 

Mac Integration at Ridley brought about the most significant change in how students absorb the topics at hand, the way they conduct their educational activities and the way they communicate with one another. The Mac Integration Programme began at Ridley in 1998, where all faculty received school-owned laptops. Upper School students followed shortly after, with the laptop rollout beginning in September 1999. Over the years, classrooms went from having dial-up and Ethernet to wireless connections.  

“Mac Integration and the use of smart projectors has enabled us to create bespoke lessons and class note sets for each course and to provide students with a collection of materials for their learning support that is much more robust than ever before,” exclaims Ms. Rachael Scott (Department of Mathematics).

Fifteen years ago, classrooms were first outfitted with Smartboards — the go-to technology for interactive learning. Today, all classrooms are housed with Epson Smart Projectors that eliminate the need for a dedicated white board. Currently, Ridley is in the midst of adding Apple TV’s to all classrooms, allowing teachers and students a seamless way to collaboratively share and display information from their laptops without the need for cables.

Another great advance in technology and communication has been the implementation of TigerNet. First introduced in 2005, TigerNet is Ridley’s student information system that gives teachers the ability to record grades and add comments, share course assignments, tests and class notes, assign deadlines, receive assignments through a Dropbox feature and much more. Since the inception of TigerNet, the sharing and transparency of information across all roles have been game-changing. 

With the implementation of new technology, there is always the possibility for some challenges to come into play. One of the biggest challenges at hand is the opportunity for distraction. “Even the most dynamic lesson is hard pressed to compete with an online conversation with a friend, a game, a movie etc. and while teachers try to stay on top of that, if you need your laptop for that lesson, and you can’t see all the screens at once, it is impossible to prevent misuse” says Mr. Park. There have always been avenues for distraction throughout the history of teaching, the laptop is just another vehicle for this. Adaptability, innovation and an open mind is key to successfully integrating technology into the classroom and maintaining a strong student-teacher relationship.

“My teaching continues to grow and change, as does that of my colleagues,” says Ms. Scott. “We are constantly learning different ways of introducing material to students and ways of helping the students to develop learning skills that will enable them to learn anything of interest to them in the future. This is the exciting change.”

Technology is not meant to replace the teacher but rather, creates a more flexible learning environment that breeds innovation and enriches the classroom, resulting in a more collaborative learning milieu. Today’s students have never experienced a world without the infusion of technology. By embracing this new digital landscape, we are preparing students for the globally-connected world of tomorrow.

Ridleian Published in Medical Journal

Committed to his goal of one day becoming a medical doctor, Arnav Wadhawan ’19 seized the opportunity to contribute his summer research to a peer-reviewed medical journal and presented his findings at an international medical conference.

View Online Journal co-authored by Arnav.

Grade 12 student, Arnav’s motivation to turn to the field of medicine was undoubtedly inspired by his parents, both doctors, as well as other family members who have taken on the vocation of physicians. What ignited his specific interest for research in the field of infectious diseases was his volunteer work with Dr. Rajinder Bajwa from the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, in New York. Impressed by Arnav’s proactive approach to learning and his breadth of knowledge, Dr. Bajwa, an infectious disease specialist and doctor of internal medicine, asked the teen if he’d like to assist in compiling an article on Legionellosis—a term used to describe clinical manifestations of infection caused by the Legionella bacteria, which includes Legionnaires Disease, focal non-pulmonary infections and Pontiac Fever.

Arnav jumped at the opportunity and swiftly went to work, making this journal his summer 2018 focus. Beginning in July, Arnav dove deep into research on the subject—combing through articles on “Pub Med” and even using his father’s resources as an additional tool in gathering knowledge on the disease. After nearly two months of studying, writing and editing, and with Dr. Bajwa’s stamp of approval, Arnav’s work was submitted to a number of Medical Journals alongside Dr. Bajwa’s credentials, and the waiting game began.

Once an article is received by a Medical Journal, it was reviewed by an editorial committee to assess the validity of the work, the educational value in publishing and to determine if it aligned with the topics they are circulating. Arnav and Dr. Bajwa went through the editorial committee process twice, and on the second submission they received the exciting news that their review was going to be published by Juniper Publishing.

As it was my first publication, I was extremely thrilled as I thought the journey to my dreams had begun and my hard work over the summer has brought a reward. I could not have thanked my mentors enough for their help in the process. As soon as I got the news I called my mentor and expressed my gratitude to him. This has also encouraged me to do more during my breaks so that I can contribute to the field of medicine with my research.”                                          – Arnav Wadhawan ’19

This past October, Arnav was given the opportunity to present his findings at 2018 Medical Imaging and Case Reports Conference (MICRA 2018) in Baltimore, Maryland in Dr. Bajwa’s place. The senior Ridley student once again rose to the occasion and presented a case report on the right-sided infective endocarditis. Feeling comfortable with the material, Arnav took to the stage and presented in front of the international medical community, which included representation from Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins University.

Arnav is committed to furthering his medical education, and is currently a research assistant in a study with Roche Pharmaceuticals. Through this experience, he is working on yet another publication for a medical journal. While he is unsure of what his post-secondary school of choice will be, he plans to remain dedicated to becoming a doctor. “I think what I have learned from this publication,” says Arnva, “is that time is one of the most important aspects of our lives and if utilized towards our goals it will bring us one step closer to achieving them.”

The Gross National Happiness of Bhutan: A Case Study

Nestled in the Eastern Himalayas on the ancient Silk Road between Tibet, India and Southeast Asia, Bhutan is a small country with a distinct national identity. Intrepidly focused on the well-being of its citizens, instead of measuring gross domestic product to gage national progress, they measure gross national happiness.

Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a philosophy that steers the government of Bhutan and was first coined by the fourth King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, in 1972—a concept that implies that “sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to the aspects of well-being.” Since then, the idea of GNH has influenced Bhutan’s economic and social policy, and most recently has become engrained in the school system through positive education.

The leading authority in Positive Psychology, Dr. Martin Seligman, identified Bhutan as the most enabling environment to promote well-being as a whole nation. Because of this distinction, Seligman and his team approached Bhutan’s government to launch a pilot programme: Education for Gross National Happiness, which focuses on integrating positive psychology tactics into the school curriculum. Bhutan’s government was eager to participate and adopt positive education into its larger community.

Seligman and his team began their mission by identifying what the most relevant skills were for determining happiness within the Bhutanese culture and how these could be transformed into life skills.

The following ten life skills were identified:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Decision making
  4. Communication
  5. Creative thinking
  6. Empathy
  7. Problem solving
  8. Interpersonal relationships
  9. Resilience
  10. Self-awareness

From this, 18 secondary schools were randomly assigned to receive the new GNH curriculum. Prior to implementing the curriculum, baseline measurements (based on key indicators from the 10 life skills) determining the well-being in every student, teacher and staff member at each of these schools were completed. During the next 15 months, the GNH curriculum was taught with much seriousness, having one period solely dedicated to Life Skills and Positive Education.

After the programme’s completion, follow-up tests were completed that indicated a significant increase in participant well-being—an outcome Seligman and his team had predicted. What wasn’t expected, however, was that there was an increase in standardized test scores, better physical health and decreased absenteeism. As a whole, there was a higher satisfaction with the entire school experience from both students and faculty.

What this points to is that the curriculum established a ‘well-being ecosystem’—a community of people confidently interacting with one another through positive activities and communication. Since these results, Bhutan has rolled out the programme on a national level.

Gross National Happiness values and principles have become deeply embedded into the consciousness of the youth in Bhutan through this holistic approach to student development, led by principals and teachers as key change agents.

For more than five years, Ridley has been a leader in positive education and focused on creating a positive ecosystem for students and employees alike. In 2012, the school developed a unique strategic vision to ‘inspire flourishing lives’, which calls upon Dr. Martin Seligman’s PERMA model and the S.E.A.R.C.H. framework of Dr. Lea Waters’ Visible Wellbeing Programme. Our two full-time social emotional counsellors continually partner with internal change agents to ensure our community is adopting thoughtful strategies.

 

Get to Know Your Prefects: Vincent K. ’19

Meet Vincent ’19: a Boarding student from New Haven, Conneticut. Since arriving in Grade 9, Vincent has embraced boarding life, naming it as his favourite part of the Ridley experience. He believes in giving your best effort 100 percent of the time, as this will reap huge rewards along the way. Read more about this ambitious Prefect and his eagerness to take one this new role with pride.

Why did you choose Ridley?
At first glance during my tour as a prospective student, I witnessed the broad ethnic diversity, the gorgeous campus and the organized nature of the admissions process. Most importantly, a warm feeling came over me when I walked the paths of Ridley. This feeling was as if I felt at home, that this was where I belonged. At that moment, I knew, immediately that this was the school for me.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
I did not feel prepared coming to Ridley. While I was excited for what was to come, I was unsure of what to expect. I remember arriving at the gates of Ridley, thinking, “Will I fit in? Will the classes be too challenging? Will I feel homesick?”. These emotions were quickly forgotten due to the friendly faces that I was met with. My new classes also resulted in a great sense of self-realization. I had to draw upon strengths I was not aware of to better myself and develop skills that were at first dormant. After the first few weeks, I was able to adapt accordingly and became aware of my initial overreaction. In other words, I was prepared,  I just did not realize it.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?
My favourite faculty member is Mrs. Roud. Not only is she an amazing as the Head of Dean’s House, but also a fantastic History teacher, caring mother and the best role-model I could have asked for. She is constantly guiding me in the correct path with her wisdom and experience. I’m not sure where I would be without her!

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?
The greatest challenge that I have faced at Ridley has been balancing every aspect of my life in an organized manner. Being an active member of Ridley College results in one’s schedule to be almost entirely booked. As you can imagine, excellent time management skills are a necessity for like-minded individuals. As time progressed, I was able to perfect this skill. Although, it came along numerous obstacles to overcome. Despite this, it was a fantastic learning experience for me and I now know how to deal with similar circumstances in the future.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?
The reality is that I have experienced a range of success and failure at Ridley. I know that I am not perfect. Yet, I am able to realize that I have seized every opportunity that has come into my path. Most importantly, I don’t regret a single one of them. Over the past few years, I have come to realize that it is okay to fail. Failure is key to growth. This has resulted in my time at Ridley being exceptional, as I have grown immensely as an individual. So, when I look back at my Ridley journey, I am pleased, as I feel that I have so far made my time worthwhile. I believe that this is my greatest accomplishment.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?
My favourite Ridley experience was with the Ridley Soccer team, when we travelled to Vancouver for the CAIS 2017 Tournament. While we were unable to win the gold medal, the close-knit bond and experience with the team was unforgettable.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?
My favourite part of Ridley life is being a member of Dean’s House. Through our ups and downs, I have had the privilege to be beside those who I consider family. These brothers of mine have supported each other in times of need, and have rejoiced in our accomplishments. While the Dean’s boys may come and go through the years, the spirit and culture nevertheless maintain.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?
So far, the experience that I have had at Ridley has been phenomenal. While a great part of this is due to my willingness to challenge myself, the opportunities that Ridley has offered me have shaped me into the individual I am today. This is why I am eternally grateful to Ridley as a whole. With the support of Ridley, I am excited to do everything in my power to ensure that others will have similar experiences to mine.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
At Ridley, you are a result of your circumstances. Didn’t receive that position you applied for? Tough luck! Received a bad grade on mock exam? Too bad! The reality is your outcome is mostly a result of your actions. This is an idea that can be difficult for some to face. It definitely was for me. Yet, as time progressed, I realized that the tools needed to succeed were present the entire time. This taught be to be more self-reliant and confident in myself. Most importantly, these are qualities that I will carry for the following years to come.

What are your plans after graduation?
My plan is to attend a university in Toronto or Vancouver, such as University of Toronto or University of British Columbia with a Business major. I also plan on continuing to work as a marketing and sales assistant at Cloudsmart, a data center and hosting service, during the summer. I am currently considering playing soccer in University as it is a passion of mine. Finally, I would like to contribute to preserving the environment and raise awareness for global warming.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?
Be open to new opportunities. Ridley offers you the chance to have experiences of a lifetime and you only have one chance to take it. In other words, take advantage of what is available.

Be kind. Positivity can go a long way.

Try your hardest no matter the task. Whether it’s a Chemistry test, Cadet Inspection, or a Rugby game, give it your all. You’ll never regret giving maximum effort!

Get to Know Your Prefects: Vida H. ’19

Meet Vida H. ’19: a Day student who came to Ridley in search of a diverse and global experience. Read more about how Vida plans to contribute to student engagement on campus in her new role as a Prefect.

Why did you choose Ridley?
 I chose to attend Ridley because my family and I felt that it provides students with the best opportunities to excel academically, athletically and artistically, all while contributing to the development of an individual’s character through the immersion of a culturally diverse and international community. I truly believed that attending Ridley would allow me to form a global network of relationships; that belief really drove my excitement to attend Ridley in Grade 9, as someone who has lived in St. Catharines all her life.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
I was pretty confident I was prepared for Ridley, from hearing stories about it since I was young – but I was wrong. In hindsight, I don’t think that there is much I could have done that would’ve prepared me for such a rigorous school system full of various commitments. While I did find it difficult at first to adapt to the schedule balancing homework, athletics, social life and others, I, like many, was eventually able to overcome such obstacles with the support of my parents, peers and teachers. In all honesty, I sometimes wake up feeling unprepared to go to school, however, it really helps to self-enforce a mentality of preparedness, which I find allows for an enriched and heightened Ridley experience.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?
This is an impossible question to answer. All of the teachers have been extremely supportive and kind, and they all share one goal in ensuring each student’s success – whether it’s in the classroom, on the court or with homework in the dorms and/or tutorial. My teachers (and coaches) have all played an essential role in my growth as a student, athlete and as a person in general, upholding positivity, encouragement and endless support, while instilling a love of learning for anything and everything, for which I am very grateful for.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?
My greatest challenge at Ridley was definitely transitioning into the Ridley mood and atmosphere. I came to Ridley knowing practically no one and not much about the students, etc., which was a new experience for me. I was taken by surprise with certain approaches and mentalities at this new school, which differed greatly from my previous experiences. This challenge definitely provided me with a welcomed new perspective. I am grateful for experiencing and overcoming these obstacles, with the help of my parents and teachers ,for they have allowed me to develop respect and appreciation for others for who they are, which is essentially an accomplishment in itself.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley? 
I am extremely grateful for the many opportunities Ridley has provided in allowing me to excel in terms of character, academics, athletics and leadership. However, I feel that my greatest accomplishment is a personal accomplishment – overcoming my greatest challenge as mentioned above. Because it was difficult for me to adjust to Ridley, I faced many complex challenges at the time, to which I did not know the answers. As time progressed and I was able to improve my mindset and attitude, I realized that it is the biggest challenges, issues and problems I overcome that I should take pride in expressing, rather than suppress and ignore.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?
I have many memorable Ridley experiences, I don’t think I can choose a favourite one. From my very first Snake Dance in Grade 9 to winning First Girls’ basketball CISAA and CAIS to receiving the Ian Wood ’53 Summer Program Language Study Scholarship to winning Co-ed Badminton CISAA and many others, I have made many memories within the scope of my personal, academic, athletic and extra-curricular accomplishments. There are so many memories that stand out to me, and perhaps I might make a new memories in the upcoming year that will stand out amongst all others!

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?
My favourite part of Ridley life is the sense of family and togetherness that all members of the community have for each other – whether it be a student, teacher, Head of House, Residential Don, or member of staff, etc. The sense of school pride and spirit at Ridley is unparalleled; I find it especially remarkable that the entire school community can be continuously divided into smaller, tighter-knit communities composed of unbreakable relationships and bonds from housemates to grades to nationalities to classrooms to roommates; it is a very heartwarming experience.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?
I am most excited for contributing my efforts to building Ridley towards a more student-to-student engaged community through Prefect-led initiatives, including the highly-anticipated Snake Dance, and hopefully many more. I am grateful for the opportunity and look forward to working with such a dedicated and talented Prefect team in the upcoming school year as I am sure we will all do our best to fulfill our role.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
Attending Ridley has provided me with an outlook on life that no other high school could have ever given me due to the unique traits of the school. The challenges that I have overcome in my time here have been eye-opening, and from my triumphs have I gained a greater appreciation for the hard work and dedication of others. In my opinion, Ridley serves as early exposure to the real world for students: in realizing the prevalence of cultural and economic disparities, in differences in opinions, in realizing the wonders of broadening global scopes, the beauty of mutual understanding, the benefits of cooperation, and the warm familial sense of community.

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I plan on attending university. Ideally, I will attend an American school to study Political Science or Business/Commerce. If not, I intend to study the same here in Canada; I aspire to pursue a career in either international relations or law. On the other hand, whatever the school or profession I pursue, I aim to continue learning about the global community. I hope to learn more languages and immerse myself in various cultures and regions, ultimately gaining a greater appreciation for them. As for the upcoming summer after graduation, I’m hoping to travel to France and possibly other European nations.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

    1. 1. Hit the ground running. If you don’t run (like myself), walk at a reasonable speed. From orientation week to the last exam, Ridley moves at an incredible speed. Life at Ridley will undoubtedly be busy and demanding as it is important that we fulfill co-curricular activity commitments and engage in our social lives, while embodying our role of students: completing night work, handing in assignments and studying for tests. I think it is important to realize that in order to not fall behind and become overwhelmed easily, immediate progress and effort at Ridley is essential.
    1. 2. Time management is really important! Though this phrase has probably been repeated too many times, it truly does apply. Speaking from experience, I find myself asking, “why can’t a day be more than 24 hours?” I often find that I simply don’t have as much time as I would like to have to accomplish what I want to when I get home – this is where efficiency comes in, which is generated by effective time management. Ridley is a great place to be when stress over schoolwork is minimized, and only through good time management can you properly embrace all the great opportunities this school provides!

Get to Know Your Prefects: Marlize V. S. ’19

Meet Marlize ’19: a Day student who has embraced a global outlook through her Ridley experiences and her exchanges abroad. A student-athlete who is involved in a variety of co-curriculars, Marlize has welcomed all that Ridley has to offer since arriving as a Grade 1 student. Read more to learn how Marlize will be applying all she has learned during her years at the school into her role as a Prefect.

Why did you choose Ridley?
I started at Ridley when I was just five, which means that I didn’t really have a say in the initial decision. However, throughout my time at Ridley, there has never been never a doubt in my mind as to whether I would return the next year – the people and atmosphere are one-of-a-kind and I’m so glad my parents made the decision that they did.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
I felt as prepared as a first grader could be! The friends I made during Grade 1 and those subsequent years definitely made each new venture easier to navigate and although at times you may feel extremely unprepared for the various demanding aspects of Ridley life, chances are that everyone around you is experiencing the exact same thing – just something to keep in mind.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?
It’s really hard to choose just one favourite faculty member as all of them have been amazing, but three great teachers are Mr. Ronald, Ms. Covent and Ms. Thomas.

Mr. Ronald, who teaches IB Environment, and Ms. Covent, who teaches IB Biology, are two of the most dedicated teachers I’ve ever had. They consistently go above and beyond to make sure that every student feels confident with the material. Their devotion is most accurately summarized by the fact that if you ask them for help before an assessment, they would come to school after hours just to support you.

Ms. Thomas, who teaches IB Language and Literature, is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. The discussions she prompted in class made you question everything about societal construct and expectations, and she forms genuine connections with each and every one of her students. Sadly, last year was her last year at Ridley, but she continues and will always continue to do fascinating things.

What has been your greatest challenge at Ridley so far?
IB1 was a challenge unparalleled by any other I have faced at Ridley – I knew it would be hard but I didn’t entirely know what I was getting myself into. The workload and its difficulty, along with keeping up with all other aspects of Ridley life, is intense and at times overwhelming, but I strongly consider challenges to be what defines someone’s character and builds perseverance. Therefore, I try to expose myself to as many challenges as possible in hopes of coming out a better person on the other side.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?
My greatest accomplishment at Ridley has been receiving the Ian Wood ’53 Summer Language Scholarship. Ian Wood ’53, a former Canadian Ambassador, generously funds an annual scholarship that allows a student to travel to any country and participate in a summer program of their choosing to better their skills in a foreign language. I chose to take part in a two-week human rights internship in Cape Town, South Africa, where I hope to bring my Afrikaans skills to a level practical in a professional or occupational setting. I’m actually writing this profile from South Africa and the experience has incredible thus far!

What has been your favourite Ridley experience?
During first term in Grade 10, I hosted an exchange student from Australia named Alex, and in turn stayed with her on a three-month exchange to Sydney, Australia during second term. It was an exciting and enriching experience to attend a school on the other side of the world and observe the students’ work-ethic and culture. It was also really fun to show Alex around Ridley and Niagara – this helped me to appreciate where I lived as well. I strongly encourage everyone to apply for exchange – it’s quite daunting but won’t be regretted. Alex and I became great friends and our families will be meeting for the first time this December for a ski trip in Whistler!

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?
My favourite part of Ridley life has definitely been the sports. I’m quite competitive, so being able to play at a challenging level has been really enjoyable. Many of the teams I’ve been on have been successful and many haven’t, but the best part of the athletic life at Ridley is the time spent with my teammates. Spending time with people outside of the classroom adds another dimension to relationships that would’ve otherwise only been cultivated in an academic setting – it’s where you can forget about the stresses of school and focus on improving yourself individually and as part a team. On the field/court is where I’ve made some of my closest friends and in turn makes all other aspects of Ridley life more enjoyable.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?
I’m most excited to meet new people and hear their ideas! I think Prefectship is a great platform to reach a lot of people and aid in having their voices be heard. Of course, this can be done without being a Prefect, but hopefully I can make use of the position by helping to connecting the voice of the students to the administration and make students a more prominent stakeholder in decision making where possible.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
Ridley has presented so many amazing opportunities that have prepared me for life after high school, from volunteer trips to leadership opportunities to creating situations out of my comfort zone. The workload and busy schedule can, as previously mentioned, be overwhelming, but is necessary in preparing Ridley students for university and work by cultivating strong moral standards and skills such as perseverance and determination. I honestly believe and have heard that Ridley students are generally more prepared than most other students when entering university in regards to time management skills, so only time will tell if that is the case for me as well!

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, if plans remain steady, I hope to undertake degrees in Law and Globalization overseas, and pursue a Masters degree afterwards, which I’m unsure of at the moment. Once I’m done, I’d like to internship and potentially work in Pretoria, where my family is from, in human rights or to help fight governmental corruption – wherever I end up, I want to have a job that is fulfilling and meaningful to me in which I can help others, no matter what the job title is.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?Take every opportunity that remotely interests you and go for it. If I hadn’t gone on service trips, I probably wouldn’t have been applying for the university courses I’m applying to, and if I hadn’t gone on exchange, I probably wouldn’t be studying overseas – these opportunities have not only changed my academic course but have made me into a more educated, aware, and well-rounded person, which applies to every aspect of life (not just academics). My point is that high school is where you find what interests you, what you enjoy, and what problems you want to solve in the world – finding that passion here is only possible when you try new things.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Jordan M. ’19

Meet Jordan M ’19: a Prefect who spent his Lower School years overseas. Upon joining the Ridley community in 2014 as a Grade 8 student, Jordan completely immersed himself into a range of athletic and co-curricular activities. With a keen interest in film and digital media, Jordan continuously flexes his creativity both in and out of the classroom. Read more about Jordan here:

Why did you choose Ridley?
My parents are teachers at the school, but previously they worked overseas in the international school community. As a family, we decided we wanted to move to Canada to connect with the country my parents grew up in. When searching for private schools in Canada we fell in love with Ridley, its beautiful campus, and its vision in preparing students for the future.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
To be honest, at first I didn’t really know what I had gotten myself into as it was my first time going to school in Canada and I didn’t know what to expect. But I quickly felt welcomed into the community and it soon became my home.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?
It’s hard to name just one faculty member because there are so many dedicated and caring faculty at the school that are here to support me. However, even though there is a bit of a conflict of interests, I would say my amazing parents (Ms. Anderson and Mr. Mitchell) are my favorite faculty members at the school. They are always there to support me through thick and thin and have led me through a ton of challenges.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?
So far, my greatest challenge at Ridley has been doing the IB Diploma. It really makes you develop your time management skills, as well as challenges you in the classroom. With this being said, there is a great support system that has helped me through the first year of the program.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?
To be honest, being a Prefect has been a great accomplishment and honour. I am proud to be recognized by my peers and members of the community as a leader, and I hope to make the most of it in the coming year.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?
Although I have had a plethora of truly amazing experiences at Ridley, I would have to say that the Jacaranda service trip stands out. During spring break, in both Grades 10 and 11, I went on the trip to Malawi to help at the Jacaranda School for Orphans. It was a life-changing trip and not only did it feel amazing to be able to help the people there, but I was also able to learn a lot for myself and grow as a person.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?
My favourite part about Ridley is how diverse the community is. There are students from all corners of the globe and it’s amazing being able to learn and hear about these various cultures from my friends and classmates.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?
I’m most excited about being able to develop my leadership skills in a way that will be able to better the community around me for both me and my peers. I am really looking forward to working with the great group of fellow Prefects in a way that will hopefully create positive changes to the community, as well as promoting student life and making everyone feel welcome.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
Ridley has prepared me for the future in numerous ways. To begin with, I believe the incredible education and support at the school will be great in preparing me for university programmes. I believe the values I have learned at the school are just as, if not more, important, and will prepare me to go out and make a change in the world. Whether this be the balance it has taught and well roundedness, global mindedness, acceptance, or any one of the other values that Ridley teaches on a daily basis.

What are your plans after graduation?
I’m still not entirely sure what I want to do after I graduate as there are a lot of things that I’m interested in, but as of now I think I want to do a programme that combines film/various digital media and business in a way. These are topics I’m quite interested in and I want to pursue them in the future.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?
One piece of advice I would give all prospective students to Ridley is to be as involved as possible in the various clubs and activities that the school has to offer. Ridley has a wide selection of co-curricular activities to be involved in that you should try out. Whether it be something you’re experienced at, passionate about, or just curious about. For example, at first I was a little hesitant to join the Jacaranda service trip, however it ended up being one of my favourite experiences at Ridley and in my life in general.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Isabella N. ’19

Meet Isabella ’19: a Prefect who arrived at Ridley in Grade 9 from a small school. While unsure of how she would adapt to this new, global environment, Isabella embraced the change and flourished throughout her school and House experiences. Read on to learn about how Isabella balances academics, sports and co-curricular activities, which has set her up for success.

Why did you choose Ridley?
Initially, I was looking for a private school close to home that offered an excellent education and new opportunities. I wanted to attend a school that had students who were ambitious and could provide new possibilities. I am beyond grateful that my family and I chose Ridley for my high school career. Ridley has offered me countless opportunities for both academic and extracurricular success that have allowed for personal growth.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
I did not feel prepared at all. Coming to Ridley from a small school, I knew I would be thrown out of my comfort zone. This being said, I understood that it would take some time to adapt to my new environment.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?
I can’t say that I have one particular favourite faculty member, but I can say that I am very thankful for specific teachers that have pushed me to become a better student and overall person. For instance, I am a proud member of Leonard House and have been blessed with a fantastic Head of House. Mrs. Steele goes above and beyond every day to ensure all members of Leonard are happy, safe, and experiencing new things.

What has been your most significant challenge thus far at Ridley?
Thus far, my most significant challenge at Ridley has been learning to balance my academics and co-curricular activities. Ridley has a rigorous learning environment, and it can be challenging to manage academics, sports and co-curricular commitments.

What has been your most significant accomplishment thus far at Ridley?
My most significant accomplishment thus far at Ridley has been earning the position of Prefect. Ever since Grade 9, I made earning the position of Prefect a target for myself and am very proud of achieving this goal.

What has been your favourite Ridley experience?
My favourite Ridley experience has to be Snake Dance and going to Disneyland to attend Disney’s business and leadership workshops.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?
My favourite part of Ridley life is going to a school that has over 50 nationalities represented. It is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about other cultures and to make long-lasting international relationships.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited about?
I am most excited to lead the student body alongside the other Prefects. I can’t wait to welcome new and returning students in September. An event that I am particularly excited for is Snake Dance. I am excited to lead this event as a Prefect and show our new students our tiger pride.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
Ridley is genuinely a university preparatory school. Ridley has done an exceptional job teaching students the importance of time management skills. Time management is an essential skill necessary for success, and I am very thankful that I have been able to improve this skill.

What are your plans after graduation?
After Ridley, I plan on attending either a Canadian or American university where I will receive my Bachelor of Commerce. I will then further pursue an MBA and hope to land a job within the field of business.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?
My advice to new prospective students is to go for it! When you first arrive at Ridley, it can be very overwhelming and a little nerve-racking. I encourage everyone to take advantage of all the opportunities that Ridley has to offer.