Category Archives: Academics

Get to Know Your Prefects: Ben M. ’19

Introducing Ben M. ’19: a Prefect who truly appreciates the value of a Ridley education. From a young age, Ben sought an environment where he could challenge himself and ultimately thrive. Beginning his Ridley journey in Grade 7, Ben had found the school he belonged at and immersed himself in every opportunity that arose. Read more about Ben’s Ridley story and what he has learned during his time on campus.

Why did you choose Ridley?
I appreciate the immense value that is placed on public education here in Canada. However, as I went through my first eight years in the public education system it became evident that a regular 9am-3pm school was not the environment that I was going to be able to strive in. So, when I was offered the amazing opportunity, with the support of my family, to attended Ridley I decided to take full advantage.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
I think that it is safe to say that every 12-year-old kid who moves to a new school will have some sort of angst associated with developing new relationships and getting climatized to a new environment with different expectations. However, with the support of all the Lower School staff members along with the welcoming attitude of everyone in my class, that anxiety quickly disappeared.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?
Throughout my 5-year journey at Ridley thus far I have had the pleasure of being taught, coached, mentored and advised by some very spectacular people. However, the person who I have the greatest respect and appreciation for on campus is the headmaster; Mr. Kidd. In my opinion, Mr. Kidd embodies Ridley as a whole, he is caring, he is personable, and he goes above and beyond what you would expect from your Headmaster. I have had the pleasure of being coached by Mr. Kidd on the rugby team, both at the first and under-sixteen level, as well as sit on a school committee lead by him. Throughout those experiences alone, his passion for his job and for the student body is evident.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?
So far, my greatest challenge at Ridley has been balancing the workload that accompanies my athletic, academic and co-curricular commitments. Ever since I started Ridley in grade 7, it was evident that life as a Ridley student was going to challenge me, but I quickly realized that perseverance, grit and time management would help me succeed. With the help of the amazing support team that every Ridley student has built in place for them on campus, I for one, can say that I am in a much better place now then I was 5 years ago.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?
I am so proud to have been named to this year’s Prefect team. I feel that my greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley is to be recognized as a leader in the school community, as I go into my final year here at Ridley.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?
My favourite Ridley experience thus far has to be my exchange opportunity to go to the King’s School in Parramatta (border city to Sydney), Australia when I was in Grade 10. This is one of those opportunities that Ridley presents that I am shocked the entire grade doesn’t take advantage of. After hosting a student from King’s at my home in St. Catharines for three months where he attended Ridley, I flew overseas to Sydney to stay at the King’s School for three months alongside a few of my closest friends and our exchange partners. Over the course of my stay, I learned the value of independence, planning and open-mindedness. Going on an exchange has been the single most valuable part of my time at Ridley, and I am very grateful to have had that opportunity.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?
Life at Ridley is filled with memorable experiences, whether it be school wide events, house specific events, events with teams or even just the little things that occur on a daily basis. However, my single favourite part of Ridley life would have to be the athletics programme. I find it amazing that every single Ridley student has the opportunity to participate in such an exceptional athletic programme every single day. Whether it be on a competitive team or in a sport for life environment, in my experience being a part of Ridley teams has provided me with some amazing opportunities and memories. 

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?
Ever since I started at Ridley I have looked up to those who have dawned the white-trimmed blazers (formerly all-white blazers). Being in a leadership position I understand the very high expectations that are set for me. However, the part of being a Prefect that that I am most excited for, is doing everything in my power to meet and exceed those expectations, in order to best serve the student body and represent Ridley in a leadership position. I look forward to carrying out new initiatives and getting to know the greater Ridley population.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
Although I have yet to test this theory, life at Ridley has put me in some very unique positions that I would have otherwise not had the opportunity to experience. Throughout my time at Ridley I have learned skills such as stress management, taking advantage of opportunities, respecting and learning from worldly cultures, and interacting in a formal environment. It is my hope that I can use these experiences to prepare myself for the road ahead, wherever it may take me.

What are your plans after graduation?
Although I have not set anything in stone as of yet, my plan is to go off to a Canadian university following my senior year at Ridley. It is my hope that throughout the upcoming school year that I will be able to work with the guidance department further, to come up with an academic plan that suits both my vision and my needs as a student.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?
Everyone who goes to Ridley College has the privilege of attending this amazing school. However, Ridley is only as valuable as you make it out to be. Your Ridley experience is in your own hands as soon as you step onto campus. In my opinion, in order to make the most of your time as a Ridley student you must take full advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you. Do so with an open mind and the comfort to get uncomfortable.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Nicole C. ’19

Meet Nicole C. ’19: a Prefect who has been at Ridley for over a decade. Beginning her experience at our school as an eager and excited Grade 1 student, Nicole has had many years to grow and learn within the Marriott Gates; making her an invaluable resource for all things Ridley. Read more about her many years as a Tiger and what she hopes to do in her final year at Ridley.

Why did you choose Ridley?
Being so young when I came to Ridley, the decision was entirely up to my parents. However, I’m sure the diverse, welcoming, and rigorous environment appealed to them. My older sister came to Ridley a year before I did and going to the same school was ideal.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
Being the humble age of six, it’s difficult to remember how prepared I was feeling at the time. I was young and excited for what Ridley had to offer, entering the Ridley community with a childlike excitement that has stayed with me throughout the remainder of my years at the school.

Of course, the Ridley lifestyle is unique and required some adjusting. However, making the transition to a different school wasn’t nearly as daunting when having a handful of close friends – most who I had known practically since birth – to do it with.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?
Having attended Ridley for such an extended period, it would be impossible for me to settle on only one favourite faculty member. As I have grown and time has passed, different faculty members have impacted and supported me in different ways.

One that I think deserves to be recognized for his commitment to his students and passion is Mr. Ronald. A Ridley icon, he has always been kind, patient, and empathetic towards others– myself included. He has continued to support me long since he taught me Grade 9 Geography, and his endless encouragement and friendly-nature will always be something I can rely on.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?
Ridley comes with many challenges – it is a bustling environment in which every student has to juggle countless deadlines, commitments, and responsibilities. Maintaining a balance within these obligations while also making sure I still have time for myself has been my greatest challenge. Ultimately, however, this challenge has helped me grow into a better and stronger person.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?
My most significant accomplishment was probably being the recipient of the Dr. William Hamilton Merit Memorial Prize for public speaking. For someone who finds public speaking a challenge, I was terrified to present my speech in front of a large audience. It was tough for me to gather up the courage to speak.

The bravery that it took to present marked a critical moment of personal growth in which I could suddenly see how I have changed and grown throughout my time at Ridley. Looking into the crowd and seeing some of my closest friends supporting me made the experience even better, making it a moment which I will always look back on.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?
Nothing is as exciting and entertaining as Snake Dance is at the beginning of the year. It is one of my favourite experiences. The fireworks, the bonfire, the music – the amount of school spirit at that moment is insane.

When the whole school comes together for the event, it really feels like one united community. From the roaring bonfire to the students milling around in black and orange paint, it is one of the most exhilarating events of the entire year.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?
My favourite part of Ridley is the constant change and growth I experience. Being an international school with a diverse range of students and faculty, I can always look forward to learning something new and exciting each day. There are so many different clubs, activities, and sports offered, so there are always opportunities to interact with new people. I love the uniqueness of the Ridley community and how that uniqueness is embedded in the daily life of each Ridleian.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?
I am looking forward to representing the school and suggesting positive change, while also meeting new students and learning more from those around me. I hope to be a friendly and positive face in the school and am excited to help welcome and integrate new Ridleians into the community.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
Ridley is a place like no other. Truly a global community, Ridley has already given me the chance to interact with different cultures, traditions, languages, and personalities from all around the world. Our world is continually growing and diversifying, similarly to how the Ridley community does. The curriculum itself has also made me grow stronger as a person. The rigorous learning environment has resulted in me becoming more open-minded, reflective, and a better problem solver – all skills I know will be beneficial in my future.

What are your plans after graduation?
At the moment, I’m not sure what my plans are. I have yet to decide my field of study but know that Ridley has prepared me well for my future endeavors. After graduation, I am planning on attending university in the fall, though I haven’t decided where. Regardless, I am excited to continue to pursue subjects I am interested in and continue to seize new opportunities.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?
Ridley is a stimulating but rigorous environment – it’s meant to be one. The school offers countless different opportunities for any student and taking advantage of these is really what makes it worth it. You get out of Ridley what you put in, so embrace the challenges you face, be open to new activities, and enjoy the time you spend here.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Jared S. ’19

While the school year may seem far away, now is a great time for
new Tigers to learn a little bit more about what Ridley is like. There is no better way to learn than from a fellow student. Meet Jared Sloan ’19: one of 13 Student Prefects for the 2018-2019 year. As a Prefect, Jared will help support, empower and lead the student body.

Jared began his Ridley journey in 2013 as a Grade 7 student and has since excelled in his academics, athletics and co-curricular experiences. Read more about Jared’s Ridley story and find out what he’s looking forward to most come September.

Why did you choose Ridley?
Truthfully, it wasn’t really my choice, so I guess you should ask my parents that question. I think they’d say it was because Ridley offered so much more than any other school in the region and would hopefully provide better preparation for university. Looking back, I have to admit they made a smart decision.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
I don’t think I ever felt overwhelmed, but as with any new school, there were definitely some changes I had to get used to. Luckily, there were also lots of people who helped ease the transition. I remember one teacher telling me on the first day of school that if I ever needed help, I could come talk to him. Gestures like that went a long way in relieving any anxiety I may have initially had.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?
I guess that depends on the criteria. Favourite teacher to learn from? Mr. Ronald. I honestly think you’d be hard-pressed to find a human being more passionate about their job than him. Favourite teacher to be around? Dr. Foster. Her unfailing positivity and humour always made French class an experience to look forward to. Biggest contributor to my enjoyment of Ridley life? Mr. Doyle, who has been everything I could want in a math teacher, Head of House and golf coach. But he still owes me two River Lions tickets.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?
The most intimidating thing I’ve done would probably be participating in the Valentine’s Day Debate as a Grade 9. I always thought that this event – which takes place in front of the entire school – was reserved for Ridley’s most experienced debaters, and I had no idea I would be asked to compete in it in my first year of high school. I was reluctant to say yes, and nervous once I did, but I think I prepared well and put on a decent performance. And you know what? It’s kind of fun to debate in front of 400 fans instead of just 4 judges, like we do at most tournaments.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?
Being voted the Grade 8 Valedictorian by my peers was pretty meaningful to me. I’m not the most naturally social person, so I can’t say I was friends with everyone in the grade, but it was nice to know that my peers thought highly enough of me to let me speak on their behalf at graduation. (Either that or the vote got split a bunch of different ways…I’m sticking with the first explanation!) All kidding aside, to go from new student to valedictorian in two years was something I couldn’t have imagined, so that one’s still special to me.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?
I’ll give you my favourite Ridley story. It’s from the Grade 8 trip to Ottawa and Montreal in 2015, which took place while the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens were playing each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. How perfect was that? Ottawa should never have actually made the playoffs, but they snuck in thanks to a miraculous late-season run by their goaltender, Andrew Hammond, who was affectionately nicknamed the Hamburglar. Anyway, we’re in Ottawa, it’s lunchtime, and I’m standing in line at a McDonald’s with Jordan, Tyler, and Bart. The woman behind us hears us talking about hockey and informs us that the Hamburglar is taking pictures with people a couple blocks away. Of course, we interpret this as “Andrew Hammond is taking pictures with people”, which should have struck us as odd given that he had a playoff game in Montreal a few hours later. But clearly we weren’t too bright back then, as we immediately rushed out of the restaurant to get to the photo op. We were just deciding what we were going to say to Andrew when we turned the corner and realized that the “Hamburglar” the woman had referred to was just a cardboard cut-out of the actual Hamburglar. We’d wasted our lunch break chasing a false lead! I understand it was our own fault, but still…why would that woman have thought we’d want a photo with a cardboard cartoon character? I think we need to track her down and ask her that.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?
The busyness. With so much going on, there’s always something to look forward to. Your next game, your next club meeting, your next presentation…things that allow you to wake up in the morning with a sense of excitement and purpose. Can it become stressful at times? For sure. But I always say that if you were never stressed, it would probably be because you were never doing anything important, which would be a sad way to live your life.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?
Working with my fellow Prefects. I might be biased, but I think that the Class of 2019 is a particularly strong one, and I’d like to think the Prefect team reflects that. I really believe there are some amazing leaders in this grade, which is one of the reasons I found this job so attractive. I’ve done lots of group work in the past, but never anything this extensive, and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish over the course of an entire school year.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
Time management is definitely one of the big things. I’ve talked to people from other schools who say they’re nervous about university because they went through high school without really doing any work – needless to say, you won’t have to worry about that at Ridley. I also think that Ridley does a good job of teaching responsibility. For example, if you miss class due to a sports commitment, your teachers will be happy to help you catch up, but you have to be proactive and arrange those meetings. In my opinion, Ridley gives you every opportunity to succeed if you show initiative.

What are your plans after graduation? 
In a perfect world, I’d do an undergraduate health sciences degree in the U.S. and then come back to Canada and study medicine. Both of my parents are in the healthcare field, and I definitely think that’s something I’d like to enter. But I have other interests, too. I’ve joked before that I’d like to combine the Ben Carson and Chris Christie career paths. Ben Carson went from doctor to politician, and Chris Christie went from politician to sports radio host – or at least he almost did. So, we’ll see. I won’t etch anything in stone yet.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?
I feel like some of the other Prefects will say “take advantage of the opportunities” (which is perfectly valid advice), so I’ll go for something different. Just stay on top of things. I see people who constantly hand in work late – one assignment is overdue, so they push the next one back, and it quickly becomes a never-ending game of catch-up. As you would expect, that almost always leads to more stress and less success. And if you’re always behind, you’ll miss out on a lot of the great things that Ridley has to offer. So, please make the most of your Ridley experience and manage your workload effectively.

TOP 10 Highlights from the 2017-2018 School Year

Ridley has had its share of excitement in academics, athletics and the arts over the past ten months. As another school year comes to an end, we look back on some of the most noteworthy events of 2017-2018.

Ridley Becomes First Visible Wellbeing™ School in North America
Dr. Waters’ First Visit | Dr. Waters’ Second Visit

Benefit Raises $275,000 for Ridley

View photos | Watch video

Tigers Represent Team Canada
Training Camp | FIBA U18 photos

Ridley Launches New Design of Tiger Magazine

Read Spring 2018 edition

Ridley Releases First Documentary: Ridley Carries On
Watch documentary | Donate to the Digital Archives Project

Historical Year for Ridley Athletics

GymnasticsBasketballSwimmingHockey | Girls Rugby 
Boys Rugby & Tennis | Rowing

Ridley Celebrates Canada’s 150th Birthday

View photos | Watch Canada flag time-lapse

Tigers Show Selflessness on Service Learning Trips

Read more

Students Celebrate Diversity During Winter Carnival 

View photos 

Arts Flourishing More Than Ever Before

Read more | Watch video

The Gift That Keeps on Giving – The Robert J. Malyk Scholarship for Biology

There’s something about Ridley – the experience, the traditions, the culture and the people. Each leaves its mark on you in a significant way and enriches your very being. Once you become a part of the Ridley experience, it’s hard not to take on a sense of responsibility for opening possibilities and opportunities for future generations of Ridleians.

For retired faculty member Robert (Bob) Malyk, it was not only Ridley’s commitment to service that inspired him to take positive action, but his bond with his students as well. Affectionately called “BioBob” by his students, Bob created a supportive learning environment in which students could flourish. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Bob and his students embarked on a journey in cutting-edge biology, which involved work in molecular genetics, DNA extractions and sequencing genomes as a part of the worldwide Human Genome project with at the University of Washington in Seattle. The students’ essential role and interest in these scientific initiatives was the spark that motivated Bob to further steer his students towards biomedical research.

In 2001, Bob endowed The Robert J. Malyk Scholarship for Biology to celebrate the highest academic standing in Ridley’s AP Biology course (now International Baccalaureate and Ontario Secondary School Diploma) and who would be continuing their post-secondary studies in Biology and Life Sciences. The first presentation of this scholarship took place at the 2004 Prize Day ceremony, naming Mary Rose Bufalino ’04 as the inaugural recipient. Three years after establishing the award, Bob received the Prime Minister’s Award and the Ontario Genomic Award, which he combined with his own financial contributions to sustain the endowment.

Since the scholarship’s inception, Bob has made it his personal mission to maintain contact with each recipient and to share their success stories.

Dr. Christy Walker ’07 felt that her shift into the sciences, which eventually led to her career as a Veterinarian, was partly due to the confidence gained from her experience with Bob as a teacher and winning this scholarship. She reflected fondly on her AP Biology class and Bob’s positive influence, saying, “he has an ability to inspire students to set goals above and beyond what they thought possible, to work hard to achieve them and somehow make the process fun at the same time; he continued to do that even after I left the walls of Ridley.”

Each year, Bob, who retired in 2011, reaches out to each past scholarship recipient to look into where their academics have taken them. With a genuine interest in maintaining connection with past students, Bob is committed to staying in touch through Facebook or email. “It is important for past recipients to recognize that I am genuinely interested in their academic and professional stories,” says Bob. “It is also critical for the current recipient to see who has gone before them and what achievements have been made.”

Similar to Christy, for Michael Szpejda ’08, it all began in the classroom. As a past recipient of the scholarship, Michael, who is finishing his third year of medical school at St. Georges University in Grenada, felt that having the scholarship as a motivator helped set students up for success. Bob created an air of friendly competition that kept pushing students throughout the year, keeping them focused on the long-term objectives.

Dr. Michael Dorrington, who won the award in 2006, reflects fondly on the scholarship, coveting it above other awards won because it represented a field he loved learning about, while giving him the confidence to pursue sciences. After receiving his doctorate in Medical Science (Infection and Immunity), Michael is now completing his research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) just outside of Washington, D.C. Even with his busy schedule, Michael enjoys maintaining his Ridley connection and shares, “personally, I love reading about all of the other awardees and the amazing variety in how we’ve grown since winning the prize.”

Bob believes scholarships and bursaries are an integral component at Ridley because they “provide validation of the recipient’s academic prowess and strength of character”. With the Robert J. Malyk Scholarship for Biology setting the bar high for science students at Ridley, a legacy has been created.

Bob’s story is just one of the many inspirational examples of how endowment can positively impact the trajectory of students’ lives. To learn more about ways you can make an impact, click here.

Read more about the scholarship’s influence on recent graduate, Ben Johnson ’17.

The Gift of a Ridley Education

The story of Ben Johnson ’17 is that of a young man whose challenges seemed insurmountable – until the kindness of a stranger and the gift of a Ridley College education changed the course of his life.

Ben always enjoyed a love of learning and possessed an innate mastery of science, but prior to Ridley, he did not have a nurturing community that would allow him to excel. After years of struggling to overcome challenges, Ben came to a critical juncture in his Grade 11 year, when he was moved to an emergency shelter.

At the shelter, he found it difficult to focus on his studies while dealing with the challenging circumstances of his personal life. In spite of the hardships he was faced with, he recognized he had to persevere and pursue his dreams. With the caring guidance of his godmother, Ben’s grades skyrocketed. Encouraged by this scholastic success, he began to explore the possibilities available to him after high school.

Ben’s drive and determination did not go unnoticed. Julia Bertollo, former Director of Summer Programmes, invited Ben to attend Ridley’s Summer Academy – which included his tuition and board. While studying during the summer, he learned more than just Grade 12 chemistry. He discovered the importance of independent living. At the same time, he took advantage of Ridley’s music department and practiced his co-curricular skills.

While Ben’s talents flourished that summer, an anonymous donor took notice and decided to fund Ben’s final year of high school at Ridley. This generous gift allowed him to attend a school where he could continue to thrive, with the anticipation of continuing to university.

While in Grade 12 at Ridley, Ben embraced the vast opportunities given to him. He became an editor for the TigerPost, Ridley’s student-run publication and was a valued member of the film club, writing the score and recording music for a student film. He immersed himself in the arts, which enabled him to experience the positive influence creativity has on one’s academic achievements.

Ben viewed his academic success as a personal responsibility and took his education very seriously. “As someone who has the desire to make the most out of an education, Ridley was an exceptional place for me to study,” says Ben. Although he was at Ridley for only one year, he ensured that he absorbed as much experiential and academic knowledge as he possibly could. He loved that he was able to incorporate his personal interests into all his classes and personalize his education.

“My Ridley experience was very well-balanced, proving to be encouraging, both on a personal and academic level. My classes were all intriguing, as they expanded on the material in a way that allowed me to discover the various areas of what I personally liked about the subject at hand. My classes, in particular, were mainly in the sciences, however, I frequently took opportunities to bridge together different disciplines in a way that was of my personal interest. I also appreciated the challenges: the workload was demanding, but it was only for the benefit of my education, as it fostered important time management skills and efficient study habits that I know will be necessary for lifelong success.” – Ben Johnson ’17

Ben was the recipient of three scholarships by the time he graduated Ridley. The first was the Brock Niagara Principal’s Scholarship, which he was awarded alongside fellow Old Ridleian, David Biggar ’17. This award is presented to students in the area that demonstrate exceptional academic results as well as a dedication to community service. Not long after, Ben was awarded Ridley’s Robert J. Malyk Prize for Biology. “I was able to meet Bob in person and thank him; he generously funds this annual scholarship to those who share his passion of Life Sciences and hold significant potential in their scientific careers,” says Ben. Most recently, he was the recipient of the PenFinancial Scholarship after he submitted a moving video that expresses the obstacles he’s overcome and the goals he hopes to reach.

This past September, Ben began his post-secondary journey at Brock University in Neuroscience, with a focus on Neurocomputing. While he has only just begun his programme, he is setting his sights on the future. “Main career pathways are research or medicine. Both interest me, however, I am currently aiming for medical school following my undergraduate programme,” declares Ben.

“[At Ridley] I had the opportunity to experience a wider scope of an education. I find this translates effectively to the university environment, as not only am I already engaging in clubs and activities on campus, but a broader skill set makes me able to make deeper connections with the new people I meet.” – Ben Johnson ’17

As a student who embraced all that Ridley had to offer and didn’t take this opportunity for granted, Ben says this: “My advice is to embrace your opportunities. You are in a position that can bring you to great success if you put in the effort. There are others in this world who do not have the same opportunities, so always be thankful. The main way to show appreciation of your opportunities is to make the most out of them, which means putting in blood, sweat and tears. But at the same time, don’t forget to take a moment and enjoy the blessings that you have, for it will help you stay motivated.”

It is hoped that Ben’s story is an inspiration, demonstrating how acts of kindness can powerfully transform the lives of talented youth.

Donate now to enable more bright minds to unlock their potential at Ridley.

Students Venture to Winnipeg for Speaking Arts Competition

By Paul O’Rourke | Assistant Head of Lower School & IB MYP Programme Coordinator

Ridley participated in the annual International Independent Schools’ Public Speaking Competition co-hosted by the Gray Academy and Balmoral Hall in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Nearly 150 students from over 40 teams throughout the globe were involved in this unique event that features a wide range of the speaking arts- debate, drama, and public speaking. Schools from Canada, the U.S.A., Bermuda, Korea, Peru, Scotland, England, Hong Kong, India and South Africa competed in a five-day tournament that brought together some of the best high school debaters and public speakers in the world.

Each participant selected three events from various categories that included: persuasive, after-dinner, and impromptu speaking; parliamentary and cross-examination debate; dramatic interpretation, interpretive reading, and radio newscast. Ridley was ably represented by returning junior, Bart Skala ’19 along with first time competitors Faraday Kenny ’18 and Rahul Walia ’19. Bart excelled in parliamentary debate and after-dinner speaking, reaching the finals of parliamentary debating, and narrowly missing the finals in the latter event. Newcomer Faraday Kenny competed successfully in persuasive speaking, interpretive reading, and parliamentary debating. Her speech on whether kneeling for the national anthem is un-patriotic was both topical and informative. Rahul Walia earned strong marks for his performances in impromptu speaking and persuasive speaking, in addition to good parliamentary debate rounds.

While in Winnipeg, all competitors enjoyed the unique experience of visiting the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. It was a fitting place for the top debaters and speakers to spend an afternoon exploring this spectacular venue in the heart of the city. The school venues were unique as well, situated as they each are on First Nations and Metis Treaty One lands. Organizers and hosts underscored this unique historical fact whenever possible.

The closing banquet was held at the Shaary Zadek Synagogue on the bank of the Assiniboine River, again underscoring Winnipeg’s diverse roots. Although Ridley did not claim any of the individual or team awards, each student demonstrated growth and progress throughout the tournament.  All students are congratulated and thanked for their outstanding efforts and contributions.

Ahead next on the debate calendar is the National Qualifier at Country Day School on November 21- a tournament that involves both debate and public speaking – followed by the Fulford Cup hosted by Maclachlan College on November 25.

New students are always welcomed at this activity that meets Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. in room 203 of Lower School.

TOP 10: Ways the IB Programme Helps Students Flourish

With the new school year underway, we asked some of our faculty members how the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme enable our students to reach their full potential.

According to our faculty members, here are the top 10 ways the IB Programme helps students flourish:

  1. Equips Students with the Tools to Learn

Students learn more than facts and figures; they learn the tools to apply them to real world situations.

  1. Helps Them Discover Their Passions

Students are challenged to discover their own passions, while exploring the opportunities each may uncover.

  1. Teaches Communication Skills

Students discover how to better communicate and understand themselves, their peers and the world around them.

  1. Instills Global-mindedness

The IB Programme teaches students global-mindedness; it teaches them to not only be open to other perspectives, but to embrace global worldviews. This helps to develop empathy and caring, and ultimately, it helps students become good global citizens.

  1. Teaches Students to Think Critically

The IB is a remarkable programme that encourages students to think critically about the world in which we live and challenges them to think about the larger picture.

  1. Encourages Students to Take Risks

The programme encourages students to become risk-takers and inquirers.

  1. Teaches Lifelong Skills

The IB Programme helps our students flourish, teaches them resilience and team work and, most importantly, teaches them about humanity.

Prepares Students for Their Educational Journey

Although the programme can be challenging at times, it is a fantastic preparation for post-secondary education.

  1. Creates a Personalized Education

With a focus on student-centered learning, the IB allows for richer experiences in education. In the MYP, through the Personal Project, students can learn more about topics that are relevant and interesting to them. This leads to greater engagement in the learning process and is highly rewarding from a student perspective.

  1. Opens Opportunities for Faculty

Teachers can also open many doors to learning through the IB Programme, through IB professional development. This allows our teachers to continue to grow and provide students with the best learning experience.

 

Ridley Becomes the First Visible Wellbeing™ School in North America

Three years following the launch of our Strategic Plan, Ridley is confidently enacting our mission to inspire flourishing lives in a novel and intentional way. Recently, our school launched an exciting two-year partnership with Professor Lea Waters (PhD), a leading researcher and global expert in the field of positive psychology – making Ridley the first Visible Wellbeing TM Foundational School in North America.

Developing well-rounded individuals has been a focus at Ridley for over a century, however, over the past five years we have deliberately and consciously applied the science behind positive education – the notion of improving students’ emotional, psychological and physical well-being in order to help them flourish in the classroom and in their lives.

In 2012 Ridley began to effect applied positive psychology methodologies, such as Martin Seligman’s PERMA-V model, which breaks down the core elements of psychological well-being and happiness. Since then, our faculty has been participating in professional development, becoming deeply familiar with key frameworks and integrating them into their classrooms, on the sports field, within the boarding houses and even in their own lives. Today, it would not be out of the ordinary for one to walk into the Grade 3 class to witness mindfulness breathing exercises taking place, or to hear students at the lunch table talking about their top character strengths.

With this school-wide exposure to positive psychology, the introduction of a dedicated Upper School Counselor and the PERMA-V model being adopted by faculty and Ridleians alike, it became clear that Ridley was quickly becoming a leader in positive education within North American schools. It was with this realization that we decided to embark upon a fundraising effort to bring a world-class expert in this field to Ridley. With the support of our generous community, Ridley successfully raised more than $100,000 towards a ‘Positive Education Fellowship’ during the 2016-17 Annual Fund campaign.

The search for the most suitable positive psychology expert, who would advance our school’s mission, led Ridley straight to Professor Lea Waters.

    

Although she playfully refers to herself as a “pracademic,” Professor Lea Waters is more formally a psychologist, researcher, author and facilitator who specializes in positive education, positive parenting, and positive organizations.  She is the Founding Director of Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Melbourne – where she has also published over 90 scientific articles and book chapters in 21 years. Professor Waters is the President of the International Positive Psychology Association, has affiliate positions with Cambridge University and the University of Michigan and is the Ambassador for the Positive Education Schools Association.

Among her many contributions to the field, the multi-award winning research professor has designed and developed a framework known as Visible WellbeingTM (VWB), which is an approach that combines the science of well-being with the science of learning and teaching to make well-being visible in all classes and across co-curricula. Over the next two years, Professor Waters will bring her scientifically-grounded techniques in VWB to Ridley, which will enable teachers to use the learning process itself as a delivery mechanism to build student well-being. Unlike some rigid curriculum, VWB is a flexible approach which can be applied in a trans-disciplinary manner across all grades and amongst faculty and staff. With the VWB approach, academic learning and well-being are truly integrated and produce a positive feedback cycle.

Professor Waters’ drive to develop the VWB approach was in reaction to staggering global rates of teen depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicide. According to the World Health Organization, 10 to 20 percent of children and adolescents experience mental disorders worldwide. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death amongst 15 to 19-year-olds. Ridley responds to this teenage need for support, explains Head of Upper School, Michele Bett, “At Ridley, we believe a child’s physical and emotional, psychological well-being will underpin everything they do – not just in school, but beyond school.”

To launch VWB at Ridley, Professor Waters recently spent two days facilitating faculty and staff workshops. During these dynamic sessions, she introduced concepts such as the SEARCH Framework, which helps identify character strengths, as well as delivery methods and measurement techniques for VWB. Professor Waters also shared why she was keen to partner with Ridley. “What made me feel that [Ridley] would do well by Visible Wellbeing is that I know that the intention of Ridley is truly and genuinely to make flourishing lives. It’s not just a statement on a document…The school has the right structure, it has the right people, it has the right ethos…From an organizational psychology perspective it ticks all the checklist of organizational readiness for change,” says Waters.

Professor Lea Waters facilitating Visible WellbeingTM workshops with faculty and staff.

“I truly feel that the adoption of Professor Waters’ Visible Wellbeing approach and positive education expertise will provide the exact direction, resources and consistent language that our community requires to forge ahead as the trailblazer for positive education in Canada…and North America for that matter,” remarked Headmaster, Ed Kidd. Ridley looks forwards to enhancing the student experience through this ongoing VWB initiative and to sharing our outcomes with other schools around the world.

Ridley faculty show off their copies of The Strength Switch by Professor Lea Waters (PhD), the selection for this past summer’s professional development reading.

“This is a world-class school to take on this new innovation and to marry together the science of learning with the science of well-being to help everyone thrive at the school.” – Professor Lea Waters (PhD)

Get to Know Your Prefects: Anastasia G. ’18

Introducing Anastasia Guzenko ’18 – a Prefect who has learned how wonderful it can be to be different. Read how her Ridley experience has been an immersive one; introducing her to unique, cultural and invigorating opportunities.

Why did you choose Ridley? When looking at different schools across Canada, my mother, with the help of an agent, narrowed the possible list down to three schools and Ridley was one of them. Being attracted by Harry Potter looking dining hall, artwork that decorates school hallways, cozy classrooms, giant athletic facilities, the Mandeville Theatre, music department, green grass fields and warm rooms, alongside endless opportunities and rigorous academic programmes convinced me to choose Ridley over other schools.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley? Absolutely not! Although I came and visited Ridley beforehand, I generally didn’t know why and what I was going for. I have never changed schools or place of living before. Even when the plane landed at Pearson Airport, I still had a lot of doubts. However, as soon as my orientation day has started, all my concerns were gone. Every person, whether it was a student, staff or faculty member, was all extremely friendly and welcoming, which shows the warm and hospitable nature of the Ridley community.

Who is your favourite faculty member? There is something very unique and special about every faculty member who was somehow involved in my Ridley life and choosing one will be impossible. Ms. Anderson, Ms. Blagona and Ms. Thompson are like my true mothers on the other side of the world. Ms. Becken’s History classes and funny, yet sometimes serious conversations about Extended Essay, Mr. Gordon and Mr. Mugan constant inspiration and amazing opportunity to travel to Germany this summer, Mrs. Darby and Mr. Darby’s help and support with connecting me to Rotary organization and getting me on an Australian exchange, Ms. Fournier’s wonderful introduction to the world of theatre and advisor support throughout my Grade 10 year, my ‘never stop believing’ coaches Ms. Thomas and Ms. O.R., all of the Mandeville house faculty, my passionate, enthusiastic and patient teachers: the list can go on and on… I hope you can feel my struggle of choosing just one.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley? The greatest challenge in my Ridley career so far has been realizing that there are only 24 hours a day, at least six of which are taken away by sleeping. With Ridley’s huge variety of clubs and opportunities, it was a challenging to fit all the activities I am interested in into my schedule, while ensuring that I am doing well academically. In the end, it all comes down to time-management and this is a key requirement for getting the most out of this place.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley? I think my greatest accomplishment was growing as a person, as a student and as a leader. Before coming to Ridley, I lived in my own bubble without paying much attention to global issues, emerging problems, etc. However, by being surrounded with such multicultural community and being constantly pushed to the limit by International Baccalaureate programme, I was able to put myself on a path of becoming a global citizen. Moreover, receiving The Jay Feagan-Philip Davies Memorial Award this year for character development and leadership potential was a huge accomplishment for me as it has been previously won by truly amazing and very inspirational people and it is an honour to be a recipient.

What has been your favourite Ridley experience? I really enjoy the events that bring the whole school together, for example: camp, Ridley’s birthday, Cross Country Run, arts celebrations, spirit nights, Sports Day and much more. However, I think my favourite one is Snake Dance. It is one of the longest standing traditions at Ridley and it is one of the first school gatherings of the year. I feel like this is when new students begin to feel the spirit of a tiger and experience the feeling of a strongly–bonded community. In addition, it is an incredibly fun away to start up the academic year.

What has been your favourite part of Ridley life? My favourite part of Ridley life is the feeling of being a part of this supportive and very culturally diverse community, as well as the ability to call Ridley my home. It’s incredible; when walking down the hallway, you can hear your peers speak German, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Russian and Igbo. Also, it sets up an amazing example to the whole world, how so many cultures can bond in such a small place, living and interacting peacefully with each other on daily basis.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for? I am not quite sure yet as I don’t know all the small details of what it is like being a Prefect, but I am excited about this challenge. I am excited to advance or to finish the initiatives that have been brought up by previous generations of Prefects. At the end of next year, I am excited to reflect and see the positive impact on Ridley and the Niagara community that will hopefully be made. I think I am very lucky to be a part of such amazingly talented group of people and I am excited to take on this journey with them, which will be filled with joy and lots of learning.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future? Ridley gave me an opportunity to pursue the IB programme, which has been very rigorous and demanding so far. It taught me and keeps teaching me how to ‘live my life’, in a good sense of this phrase. Now, after completing only one year, I feel like I am a more mature person, who can approach tasks creativity and critically, considering a variety of different perspectives. Ridley is like a little world, filled with lots of unique moments, long-lasting friendships and challenging decisions. This is what life is all about.

What are your plans after graduation? I think I will peruse an undergraduate degree at a university. Ideally, I will be double-majoring in international relations and theatre. However, whatever I will end up doing or wherever I will end up going, I want to keep learning language, travelling and culturally exploring the world.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley? Ridley is a place of opportunities and self-growth. Don’t be scared to take risks, to try things even though you have never seen yourself doing them, join activities, participate. Embrace your weirdness and unique characteristics and don’t judge people for being different. Being different is great. Never give up when something goes wrong, aim to become better every day. Don’t be afraid to meet people; don’t hesitate to ask them for help or advice – you will be surrounded by people from all over the world and I am sure there will at least one person who will be able to relate to your struggle. Finally, make your own decisions and don’t be scared to express your own opinions but keep in mind and respect the fact that there are people from 46 other countries. You have one chance of being at Ridley, so use it!