Category Archives: Academics

Old Ridleian Begins Post-Secondary Journey as a Loran Scholar

Photo by Humans of St. Catharines
Photo by Humans of St. Catharines

In February of 2016, Ridley was proud to announce that Grace
Lowes, from the Class of 2016, was awarded the prestigious Loran Scholarship, that each year, only 30 individuals
receive. The scholarship includes a renewable undergraduate scholarship, valued up to $100,000, for the duration of the recipients’ four years of post-secondary education. Inaddition to the monetary support, these scholars receive the opportunity to intern abroad for three summers, receive residency support and are connected with a mentor for the duration of their educations.

During her time at Ridley, Grace was an active member of the Ridley community. She co-founded the Model U.N. group, formed a Days for Girls charitable activity on campus, joined clubs such as the Syrian Refugee Club and Positive Spaces Group, and helped lead the school, during her final year, as a Prefect. When we sat down with Grace last year, she expressed a profound feeling of gratitude when asked how receiving the scholarship felt.

DSC_3690

“With the Loran Scholarship and with Ridley, I’ve had so many opportunities to be educated at the highest prestige and it’s just such an amazing privilege and it is something I will never take for granted.”

Grace graduated in May, and has since spent her summer preparing for the start of her post-secondary education. As part of her Loran Scholarship, Grace had the opportunity to partake in a Loran Scholars Foundation retreat, that would provide opportunity to strengthen her leadership and team-building skills before her first year of university. The retreat began with a canoe excursion through Algonquin Park with other scholars.

“It was extremely outside of my comfort zone, but was an amazing opportunity to meet some of the students that had also been awarded the scholarship. It was also an extremely physically and mentally challenging trip for myself. During the canoe trip I had to spend a 24-hour period completely alone in the woods, equipped with only a handful of granola, a sleeping bag and a tarp. This was a highlight of my trip. I found it to be an extremely valuable time to reflect and be thoughtful.”

canoe-1149501_1280

The second portion of the retreat took place in Guelph, Ontario. Scholars like Grace – who were just beginning their post-secondary journeys – were able to meet with those who were in different stages of their four-year scholarships. This gave Grace the opportunity to converse with likeminded individuals and see what her future as a Loran Scholar might have in store.

Her biggest takeaway from the retreat was the advice she received about the importance of gratitude.

“Everyone advised me that during the school year things will be hard, they will be overwhelming and that I will likely feel stressed, but to remember what a privilege it is to be educated and even more so what a privilege it is to be educated without fear of financial hurdles. I thought this is great advice. Being thankful and appreciative all the time is so important.”

This September, Grace begins her post-secondary journey at McGill University, where she will study politics and philosophy. Grace says she is most looking forward to getting back in touch with some of her favourite things – like writing and playing music. With the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is the Loran Scholarship, Grace will also have the chance to explore some of her passions in the coming summers. The Loran Scholarship allows each scholar to spend three summers on paid internships, all over the world. We look forward to seeing where Grace goes; on both her internship, and her future.

Grace has spent her summer immersed in gratitude and has been reflecting about past, present and future opportunities. To the students who are just beginning their Ridley journeys, Grace says this:

“I would give the same advice as what I received. Being educated at Ridley is a luxury. Don’t forget that. Soak in everything you learn and take advantage of every opportunity you are given and be grateful for all of those things. Always say thank you, not just with your words but also with your actions.”

Good luck to Grace at McGill and good luck to the Class of 2016 as they too begin their post-secondary journeys.

 

Get to Know Your Prefects: Monika M. ‘17

Introducing Monika Morcous ’17 – a Prefect who discovered the importance of not only exploring her own passions, but discovering Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 1.43.03 PMnew ones. Read how she dove into all that Ridley has to offer and is finishing her Ridley career with new skills, new friendships and a new perspective on life.

Why did you choose Ridley?

I chose Ridley simply because of the greater opportunity that it inherently offers as an international boarding school. I also knew of its academic rigor and its mandatory student involvement activities when applying and wanted to challenge myself so that I could grow to become more dedicated, enthusiastic and involved in my education.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?

No, honestly I felt extremely intimidated. I remember walking into my interview with a portfolio of all my elementary school achievements, my art work, a creative story, and an assortment of other miscellaneous items that I felt would impress my admissions councilor, Mrs. Whitty. Even then I didn’t feel prepared and doubted whether I would be granted a place at Ridley; however, looking back I recognize how silly this was. Ridley is definitely not as intimidating as it seems. It is a welcoming community where everyone can and is able to find a place of comfort.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?

I personally do not have a single favourite faculty member. Each brings something to the table that is unique to them and they all excel as teachers in different ways.

Some teachers that I would like to mention are those who helped me and encouraged me personally, such as Mrs. Blagona and Mrs. Marrone.

Mrs. Blagona truly believed in my artistic ability in theatre, also training me and supporting me throughout my years at Ridley, starting as my first advisor in Grade 9. She also knew me on a personal level and helped me through certain obstacles. She is one of the most enthusiastic, passionate, and encouraging teachers I have ever met. You can really tell that she loves what she does.

Mrs. Marrone also had a great impact on me, most notably through seemingly simple lines that she would always say when I was feeling extremely stressed. “Well the sun will still shine tomorrow” and “well the earth will still turn.” These helped me put my worries into perspective which in the long-term really help me out as I still continue to say these to myself in times of stress and doubt.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?

My greatest challenge is something that I’m still overcoming, which is my time-management skills. I have a tough time allocating appropriate amounts of time to certain tasks and often overdo assignments in the pursuit of perfection, which results in disappointment, limited sleep, and overdue tasks. I believe I am slowly getting better at this, but this is a trait that is basically engrained in my character and I know it is an improvement that can only happen overtime, rather than in the short-term. I am slowly trying to let go, as I know that perfection isn’t humanly possible, and many people at Ridley are helping me achieve this along the way.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?

My greatest accomplishment is probably winning Best Supporting Actress in a Musical in the Niagara Region through the CAPPIES program, which I became involved with through Ridley. I am extremely proud of this award because acting is one of my passions, but I honestly cannot really take credit for this award. Without the help of the cast and most of all, my directors, Mrs. Blagona and Mrs. Fournier, I wouldn’t have been in a position to win that award. They both pushed me so hard so that I could achieve my best, and really guided me through every aspect of the dramatic arts. They supported me and advised me during rehearsals and most of all inspired me as an actress. I really look forward to working with them again next year.

22777711486_c2da33d691_z

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favourite Ridley experience is going to camp at the beginning of each new school year. This is because I get to meet, not only my previously made friends who went back abroad in the summer, but also new Ridleians. I think I can speak for everyone at Ridley when I say that you really can’t go to camp without at least making three new friendships, even as a returning student.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favourite part about Ridley is how tightly knitted the community is. For example, you really get to know your teachers on not only an academic level but also a personal level. This creates a community of people which is aware of your personal strengths and weaknesses, and although that sounds like a scary thing, it in turn helps you, for it allows teachers to be able to focus on helping you in the aspects that you are struggling with. Rather than receiving a general education, you get one that is slightly customized in your best interest, which is one of the really awesome aspects of having small classroom sizes and a smaller-scale student body.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?

The most exciting part about prefectship is the opportunity to represent the student body and the ability to suggest positive changes that will advance the school further. Also, I am honoured to be part of a group filled with passionate individuals and I am thrilled at the opportunity to work alongside all of them this coming school year.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley has prepared me in many different ways for life after high school. I am more culturally aware than I would have ever been inherently, because of the diversity within the student body. I am more involved and well-rounded than I have ever been because of the mandatory nature of the sports and activities at Ridley. I am also more confident than I have ever been because of my personal achievements and improvements that I have made during my time at Ridley.

Ridley is a type of school that doesn’t just allow you to be great at what you do, but forces you to become greater….You cannot attend Ridley without flourishing or improving in some way.

What are your plans after graduation?

I am currently undecided on most of my plans after graduation – such as the subject of study and the location of study – but I am fairly positive that I will be attending a university, rather than a college, the year immediately after graduation. As for my extracurriculars, I really would want to stay in touch with my artistic side and will audition for the plays/musicals that my future university will put on. I’m sure that I’ll also be eager to get involved in a variety of the clubs available at my future university – artistic or non-artistic.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

Don’t be afraid to try something new. Get involved. Stay focused! At the end of the day (in my opinion) education is the most important thing, so your priority should always be to stay focused on your studies; however, you can grow as a person, if alongside this, you step out of your comfort zone and try something new outside of the classroom.

For example, I’ve never excelled in sports, however, I tried out and made the U16 volleyball team in Grade 9 and 10. I became a better player than I was walking in (At the end of the day I still wasn’t that great, but that isn’t the point). Even though I didn’t become a volleyball star, I became more well-rounded, gained experience on an athletic team, and made lifelong friendships that I wouldn’t have made if I just focused on the activities that I was best at. My good friends, Felicia and Masha, were both introduced to me through that team, and even though Felicia [and I] don’t play volleyball anymore, the friendship between the three of us remains.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Cassandra M. ‘17

Introducing Cassandra Mitchell ’17 – a Ridleian who opened herself Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.24.53 AMup to the opportunities that our school has to offer. Hear how she adjusted to life on campus and cherishes the inclusive, diverse culture at Ridley.

Why did you choose Ridley?

The decision to come to Ridley involved my entire family. This school aligned with many of our family values and we were impressed by what a tight community the school was. My family has never regretted our decision to come.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?

Honestly, I really didn’t. I didn’t know what to expect or how I was going to fit it. I think everyone feels that way to some extent when they move to a new place. Though I have a Canadian passport, I had never actually lived in Canada before and I didn’t know if I would like it here. Of course, now I feel silly for ever being nervous.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?

I can’t answer that! That’s like asking who your favourite parent is. I love all my teachers and I love the community we have here at this school. It didn’t take long for Ridley to feel like family.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?

My greatest challenge thus far at Ridley has been balancing my extracurricular activities with taking the IB programme. The past year was the most challenging academic year I’ve had, but also the most rewarding yet. I feel like IB has pushed me to become a member of a range of different communities in the school as well as pushed me to think and problem solve in ways that I haven’t before. I’m only halfway through the programme, but I’m loving it.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?

I think my greatest accomplishment at Ridley thus far has been how quickly I have made Ridley feel like home. This is an amazing place if you embrace it and at the beginning, when everything was new and overwhelming, I had to fight the urge to close myself off from opportunities and new experiences. I am so happy that I managed to successfully fight that urge because I have gained so much from being an active member of the community.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 3.52.59 PM

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

The world is still reeling from the string of terror attacks and shootings that have taken place this year and sometimes it does feel hopeless; like we might never learn to live in peace. However, there is a moment that I hold onto when I need a little hope for the future of humanity. On the night of Earth Day, we had a campfire in the Quad. There were guitars and ukuleles and we were all singing at the top of our lungs. Around the campfire sat Nigerians, Americans, Canadians, Mexicans, Russians, Germans, and Chinese, singing, laughing and sharing marshmallows. Our amazing global community sets an example of how we can all coexist.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

Tying in to my previous answer, I love how much I am able to learn from people from all corners of the globe. We have all lived such different understandings of life yet we are all still able to coexist and learn from one another. I love that I could end up having dinner with four friends and none of us hold the same passport or that I could do a group project with people whose mother tongues are all different. I strongly believe that those sorts of experiences will benefit me for years to come.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?

I am most excited to be an ambassador for Ridley. I love meeting new people and being a Prefect will give me the opportunity to meet others while I represent the school.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley College has given me the opportunity to take the IB programme, and though it has been the hardest thing I have ever done as a student, it has also been the most rewarding. I have not only been pushed to improve my time management and note taking skills, but also to be a better student. The programme has taught me some valuable life skills. I have also been expected to be a creative problem solver, an open-minded collaborator, and a more reflective person. Those things have made me a more mature person beyond the classroom, and I know I will continue to appreciate that in the future.

What are your plans after graduation?

No matter what I end up doing, I know that I want to continue exploring the world until the day they put me in the ground. After I leave Ridley, I want to go into either International Relations, or International Development. I want to do what I can in university to become as useful as I can be in teams working around the world, creating sustainable, independent communities in developing countries. I can see myself working for humanitarian NGOs in the future.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

My biggest piece of advice would be to make the most of this place. Ridley will teach you so much and give you so many opportunities if you let it. Join the clubs, the service trips, the sport teams. Try things you’ve never done before. Your time here will only be what you make it, so don’t spend it on your laptop in your dorm room.

Ridleians Take Action in our Community

Within Ridley, a thriving community, comprised of students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni, exists. This community works seamlessly to create an environment in which our school can flourish. Beyond Ridley’s gates, exists another community – our local community. With such importance placed on community service and contribution, it is imperative for a strong relationship to exist between Ridley and the local community.

Ridleians are introduced to community service and partnership at a young age. Ridley hopes that from these experiences and opportunities within the community, our students will become global citizens and will continue to live out our motto – Terar dum prosim.

Just recently, our Grade 6 students participated in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme Exhibition, where they took action to solve local and global issues. This proved to be a wonderful opportunity for our students to become passionate about our world, and work to solve issues that struck a cord with them.

13227276_1118637271528512_2935340785949763551_o

As the end of the year approaches, our Grade 9 & 10 Civics classes stepped up to the very same challenge. For their summative project, these students were asked to look at our local community and focus in on an issue. In groups, they were then asked to choose a topic based on their own personal interests. Some topics included: environmental conservation, gender equality, animal protection and pollution.

The students were required to explore their topics of choice. Students researched their topics, conducted interviews with community leaders, asked their peers to complete surveys and went into our local community to find out more. From their research and findings, the students set a goal and devised a plan of action. Students set out to raise awareness for their cause, inform the community of local issues, donate to local organizations and even use art forms to share a message.

Upon completion of their project, 28 groups gathered in the Great Hall to share their projects and spread awareness for their causes. It was incredible to see so many students come together to discuss local issues and how we can solve them.

IMG_2293

Following the exhibition, we sat down with six groups to learn more about their topic and how they contributed to our community. These six groups paired with organizations, such as Youth Unlimited, Pathstone Mental Health, the City of St. Catharines, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Brock University, Marz Homes and Canadian Tire, for resources and information, donations and in some cases, the opportunity to collaborate – now and in the future. View the video on the community action project.

The community action project allowed students to exercise one of Ridley’s core beliefs – that a commitment to service and social responsibility will help build a flourishing life – while completing their course. Our school encourages all Ridleians to take action, just as these students have, and contribute to our local community and beyond.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

 

Ridley’s Language Programme – exploring the world, inside the classroom

“Every man’s ability may be strengthened or increased by culture.” – John Abbott

There are nearly 200 countries in the world, 44 of which are represented here at Ridley. With such a direct connection with people from all over the world, culture plays a huge role in the day-to-day lives of Ridleians. The more our students can experience and appreciated culture, the better equipped they will be to transform our globe when they graduate. With that being said, Ridley ensures that our students have the opportunity to explore the world as often as they can.

In order to obtain their Ontario Secondary School Diploma, students are required to study French from Grade 4 through Grade 9. Here at Ridley, students are exposed to languages far earlier. The department of Classic and International Languages has developed a curriculum that brings international cultures into the classroom, and gives students ample opportunity to become multilingual. Beginning in Kindergarten, students are introduced to French, and this language is taught up to Grade 9. Ridley’s Upper School language programme then provides students the opportunity to learn languages beyond what is most commonly offered during secondary school, beginning in Grade 10. Offering French, German, Mandarin and Spanish, the students have the choice to expand their multilingual knowledge or continue advancing in a language they have grasped. From the start to finish of each course, the students are able to immerse themselves in the language.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 9.37.20 AM

“The tools to learn a new language are given to you from day one.  Learning a new language is as enjoyable at Ridley as it is educational.”

– Elliott Ziolkowski ’16

“It’s been tons of fun learning a couple of new languages. I think that the Ridley Community is the ideal place to learn languages too because of the diverse student population.”

– Joshua Allan ’16

During the course of their studies, students have the opportunity to venture beyond the Marriott Gates on class related field trips, to locations such as Toronto’s China Town, where they can experience the culture first-hand and apply the material they’ve learned in class. Apart from these day trips, a number of students decide to further apply their knowledge of these international languages by partaking in a foreign exchange.

IMG_4032  IMG_4079

In addition to the extensive language options, German and Mandarin students have the opportunity to study literature in their native language, thanks to the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme. A tutoring programme is also in place, where students who are native to the language or show exemplary language proficiency can earn community service hours by tutoring their peers!

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 9.39.00 AM

By being an international boarding school, students studying a foreign language are able to immediately apply their knowledge with peers and roommates that are from the country where the language under study is spoken. This allows all students to see the immediate applications of content covered in their courses and make real world connections.” 

– Mr. Chris Gordon, Subject Coordinator Classical & International Languages

With so many options and opportunities for students to explore language and culture, students develop a desire to see, change and learn about the world, even after they’ve completed their secondary school education.

If you’d like to learn more about our Language Department or the courses offered, please contact Mr. Chris Gordon at chris_gordon@ridleycollege.com.

 

Lower School students fuse their passion with science

On January 29th, 32 Grade 7 students eagerly lined the halls of Lower School, ready to showcase their scientific reasoning. For the past three months, these students have been exploring self-assigned hypotheses and investigating possible conclusions for the 9th annual Lower School Science Fair

24325252799_0bfa6e1e27_z

24599407041_6ec3def438_z 24599409661_7e19fb7e0c_z

For nearly a decade, the Lower School Science Fair has encouraged young Ridleians to discover their interests and fuse them with science. Students aren’t assigned an area of study, but instead, are asked to find a topic that they are genuinely curious about. Using the online application, Science Buddies, each student answers a number of questions, rating their level of interest for everything from microbiology to psychology and even the television shows they enjoy watching. Upon completing the online application the students is then provided a list of possible science projects and topics to consider, each one relating to a topic or field that he or she enjoys. This not only creates a broad spectrum of science experiments, but also motivates the students to challenge themselves and make discoveries of their own.

According to Mr. Ben Smith, Pure and Applied Sciences Subject Coordinator and Lower School Science and Math Teacher, the main goal of the science project is not to be proven correct in their findings, but to propose a question and provide a reliable answer. “It’s just as important to fail as it is to be proven right,” says Mr. Smith.

In 2014, Jaden Kidd ’19 had a theory that bioluminescent algae, if placed in mason jars, could provide an alternative to electricity in countries with limited access. Despite his hypothesis being proven incorrect and the algae not producing the expected results, he went on to receive the Biology Award at the Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair – success is achieved through the findings and the knowledge that accompanies it rather than a proven theory.

For the past three months, the students worked in class to complete their projects, with the help of Mr. Smith. Students began with their hypotheses, predicting the conclusions of their experiments, and then proceeded with their studies. On the day of the Science Fair, after three months of hard work, these Ridleians presented their findings to curious members of the community.

24397400080_33ddc38218_z  24325251919_dd0f0d35ab_z

This year, judges, parents and the staff of Ridley College were blown away by the projects that our Grade 7 students produced. The students dove into the project, showcasing research that spanned a wide range of topics. Some students focused on chemistry, while others focused on the human brain. Some discovered their experiment was a success, others did not have the same outcome. Despite the results, each student was left feeling proud of their work and many intended to continue their research out of pure curiosity.

We are proud to announce this year’s winners:

First Place: Syni Solanki  – Graphene and Water Desalination

Second Place: Sakura Telfer – The Science of Spherification

Third Place: Spencer McLean – Video Game for the Blind

24066096623_dd97c1cea9_z

24325251659_f78bf4683e_z 24692924155_e95d9523bc_z

These three students, along with our runner ups (Olivia Grubic; Memory Recall, Jacob Lytle; Sunflower Pith Water Filtration, and Ciara Blew; Margarine vs. Butter), will apply to represent Ridley at this year’s Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair.

Congratulations to all Grade 7 students, who not only challenged themselves, but also discovered their own personal passions.

 

Preparing international students for success

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 1.40.54 PM

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 1.42.48 PM

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

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 1.40.36 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 1.41.56 PM

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

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

– Ms. Loretta Whitty

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

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

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

– Wenze Guan ’16

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

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 1.42.29 PM