Category Archives: Lower School

Musicians Come Together for Annual String Fling

Melodic notes filled the halls of Ridley College last week, for the second annual Spring Fling workshop and concert. Young string musicians from Ridley and the local community joined together for workshops on both February 2nd and 3rd, and performed a spectacular performance to conclude the event.

The workshops – led by special guests, Dr. Metro Kozak and the Walker String Quartet – were an opportunity for the students to synchronize, while preparing for the Friday night concert. Each session was specialized for the group of students participating and which ensemble they were a member of: String Fling Orchestra, String Fling Quartet, Chamber Orchestra or Junior Chamber Strings.

After an enlightening two days of musical training, the students were ready to showcase their talents during a performance in the Mandeville Theatre. Over 60 students who filled the stage had the chance to play alongside professional string musicians and workshop mentors, The Walker String Quartet. Ten songs were performed; ranging from historic pieces by Mozart, to cinematic songs from major motion pictures. Our special guest, Dr. Metro Kozak led the students gracefully through each piece as their conductor, while the audience remained captivated in their seats.

“The students at Ridley were very open to new concepts and were cooperative. Many of them were relatively new to their instruments and made terrific strides in their abilities. All in all, an exciting event.” – Dr. Metro Kozak

This musical experience gave our students a chance to bond with individuals from our local community, while learning from professionals. It was also a wonderful opportunity for our Lower School students to collaborate with students from the Upper School.

Ridley’s dedication to the arts is ever growing. There are endless opportunities for students to expand their artistic education. These opportunities don’t end when school is out, nor are they limited to Ridley students. Our Summer Programmes offer a wonderful opportunity for art exploration of all kinds.

This summer, students who are interested in learning more about music can register for the Summer Symphony Boarding Experience at Ridley. This is a wonderful opportunity to enhance your musical skills, make friends and explore the Niagara region! For more information, visit our website.

See photos.
View video.

Making World Connections Through Service Learning

With Hank

This past week, Ridley was honoured to welcome Marie Da Silva, the founder of The Jacaranda School in Malawi, Africa and 2008 CNN Hero, to campus to share her mission and inspiring story. This visit marked the beginning of what we hope will be a strong relationship between our schools.

The Story of Jacaranda School

After losing fourteen family members to HIV, Marie Da Silva felt compelled to devote her life to improving conditions for orphans in Malawi; many who are impacted by the AIDS epidemic and poverty. In Marie’s eyes, the key to making a difference was to offer these children an education, nutrition, home support and proper health care.

In order to set her philanthropic plan in motion, Marie first needed a source of funding. To finance the early Jacaranda School – which was started out of her childhood home – Marie took post as a nanny in Los Angeles, California. For years, she sent the majority of her wages back to Malawi and little by little brought her passion to realization. After her mother agreed to allow Marie to use her home as a basic school house, Marie set to work seeking support, student teachers and materials.

Over the years since the Jacaranda School was simply a hope, it has developed into a place where orphans and young students come to realize a better life.  The developing, multi-building school now has more than 400 students enrolled. These young boys and girls (50/50 male and female population) often walk more than an hour to attend school each day.

Marie has worked selflessly to ensure that basic needs are met so that students, can focus on learning, reach post-secondary studies and break free from constraints. She has incorporated a fully staffed heath clinic where HIV medicines are dispensed, provides two nutritious meals of porridge daily, has four libraries, offers micro-loans to mothers so they may earn for their families, and also provides a nurturing safe-haven where children are distinctively supported. Most amazingly it only costs roughly $20 CDN per month to educated a student, provide him or her with nutrition and HIV medications.

A Ridley Connection

After being named a CNN Hero in 2008, Marie received well-earned recognition for her work in her home country. Marie and the Jacaranda School is now even receiving the support of global figures, such as Madonna.  Marie’s selfless dedication caught the attention of Mr. Rob Burke. Mr. Burke, Ridley teacher and CAS coordinator, has known Marie for seven years and has made 12 trips to Malawi. While at the Shanghai American School, Mr. Burke was actively involved with volunteering and organizing support for the Jacaranda School. He distinctly recalls a friend of his describing Marie as, “a woman with inner steel, wrapped in silk, with a heart three sizes too big,” with which he wholeheartedly agrees.

Marie expressed that she thoroughly enjoyed meeting students and staff at Ridley College and appreciated the warmth and kindness shown to her while she was here. The mutual feeling of gratitude and respect was obvious.

Girls doing their PYP Project on Marie Grade 3

“Meeting Marie Da Silva and being involved with The Jacaranda School has changed the course of my life and possibly for more than 250 students that have experienced the magic of Jacaranda.” – Mr. Rob Burke

Mr. Burke’s dedication to The Jacaranda School and Foundation was recently acknowledged, as he was awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers. This prestigious award, which he will be presented by the Governor General of Canada, is given to an individual who has significantly contributed to a local or global community.  We hope Ridleians will congratulate Mr. Burke and be motivated by his example.

March Break Service-Learning Trip

Upper School students will have an opportunity to make a difference and contribute when Ridley makes its inaugural visit to The Jacaranda School over March break. This service-learning trip will take place March 9th–25th, 2017.  Registrants will have an opportunity to experience, first-hand, how Marie’s lifelong mission has improved the lives of so many in her home country. If students are interested in joining this trip, please contact Mr. Rob Burke before November 15th at rob_burke@ridleycollege.com.  A limited number of spots are available.

If you would like to make a donation to The Jacaranda Foundation, please visit http://www.jacarandafoundation.org/.

 

 

 

 

Ridleian Competes at Canada-Wide Science Fair

“Don’t worry about what people will say. Just trust your instincts and do what you’re passionate about.”

– Syni Solanki ‘21

Ridley ensures that our students have ample opportunities to pursue their passions, develop grit, overcome challenges and build foundations for flourishing lives. Our school’s curriculum provides students with the ability to pursue their passions, while participating in an enriching learning experience. Projects like the Community Action Project and the PYP Exhibition, allow students to choose what area they’d like to focus on, thus giving them to opportunity to align their passions with their academic courses. This freedom to choose evokes curiosity in each student and they develop a desire to learn.

In January of this year, the Grade 7 students fused their passion with science at Ridley’s annual Lower School Science Fair. These students spent months gathering research, conducting experiments, and discovering answers to their own questions. One student in particular, Syni Solanki ’21, set out to discover a cheap and efficient way to desalinate water, which is the process of removing minerals from salt water, leaving fresh water behind.

“Water is everywhere, but is it fresh? One-third of the world’s population does not have access to clean drinking water, so I attempted to find a cheap and efficient method to bring fresh water to everyone in the world.”

– Syni Solanki ‘21

After being inspired by two news programmes – one on graphene (which is a carbon based material) and the other on water scarcity –  Syni saw a possible connection between graphene and the desalination process.  After extensive research, Syni discovered that graphene can in fact desalinate water, and it can be done using an efficient and cost-friendly method. She found that by creating a reusable graphene sand mesh, she could remove minerals from salt water.

On January 29th, Syni presented her experiment at Ridley’s annual Lower School Science Fair. Members of the Ridley community were impressed by Syni’s theory, and she was awarded First Place, but her scientific journey did not end there.

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Along with four of her classmates, Syni then competed in the Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair (NRSEF). The NRSEF is an annual event, where young students from the Niagara region can demonstrate their scientific theories in a stimulating environment. Syni confidently displayed her findings, as local scientists, business professionals and engineers quizzed her on her research. During the NRSEF Awards Ceremony, Syni was awarded the Brock University Chemistry Award, The Waldie Fast Memorial Trophy and placed second in the Junior age category.

Photo courtesy of http://www.niagarasciencefair.org/wp/
Photo courtesy of http://www.niagarasciencefair.org/wp/

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Due to Syni’s impressive project and her results in the Junior age category, she was asked to represent Niagara in the Canada-Wide Science Fair. This science fair celebrates Canada’s brightest young minds, featuring participants from across the country. This year, a total of 415 students travelled to Montreal, Quebec for the 2016 Canada-Wide Science Fair, being held at McGill University. The six-day event included more than just a gallery walk displaying Canada’s brightest scientists, but guests and participants could also attend keynote speakers, demonstrations and learn about the impressive research being done by the University.

Up against 162 participants in her category, Syni confidently displayed her work and earned the Bronze medal and a $1000 entrance scholarship to Western University – a truly astonishing accomplishment.

Congratulations to Syni! It is clear that with such dedication, passion and talent, Syni will flourish during her education and beyond.

Read the Niagara This Week article. 

Grade 6 Students ‘Share the Planet’ for the PYP Exhibition

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” – Aristotle

It is imperative that every Ridleian – past, present and future – is instilled with a desire to change the world. Commitment to service, contribution to community, the desire to take action: all of these qualities make up a true Ridleian. The International Baccalaureate (IB) programme aligns perfectly with the values and core beliefs of our school. The same global mindedness is encouraged in both the IB programme and at Ridley. The shared values of both organizations create a perfect partnership.

The Primary Years Programme (PYP) is a programme for students aged 3-12, offered by IB World Schools. Ridley is proud to implement the PYP into our Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum. The PYP curricular framework focuses on the whole child; developing their social, academic and emotional well-being. Incorporated into the curriculum are six transdisciplinary themes that focus on local and world issues and can be explored in each subject. The students are asked to explore these themes, find connections between them and determine how they relate to their course work.

In their final year of the PYP, all Grade 6 students take part in an exhibition that combines all of the skills, strengths and techniques that they’ve developed and learned during their primary years’ education. Each year, the exhibition focuses on one of the six transdisciplinary themes.

“Students are required to engage in a collaborative, transdisciplinary inquiry process that involves them in identifying, investigating and offering solutions to a real-life issues or problems.”

– Ms. Marcie Lewis ‘03, Grade 6 Teacher and PYP Coordinator

On May 11th, our Grade 6 students participated in this year’s PYP Exhibition. This year, the theme chosen was ‘Sharing the Planet’, focusing solely on current world issues and how to take action to solve them. The exhibition featured a gallery walk and presentations on topics ranging from the ethical treatment of animals to natural disaster recovery. The students were encouraged to pick topics that interested them and ignited a fire within to make a difference. Choosing something that aligns with their own passions allows the students to form a personal connection to their research, resulting in a desire to learn.

Once the students chose their topics, they were required to form a central idea. This central idea focused on how one could take action to contribute to the resolving of their world issue. Through extensive research and inquiry, the students were required to provide research that supported their central idea and visually display the information for the exhibition.

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The students created incredible presentations, using well-made visual aids and slideshow displays. Many also included demonstrations and interactive elements that students, staff and members of the Ridley community could partake in. The projects included:

  • ‘The Ethical Treatment of Animals’ by Emily Abbey-Rupnik ’22 and Olivia Massis ’22
  • ‘Natural Disaster Recovery’ by Calum Murphy ’22 and Lucas Vigna ’22
  • ‘Global Warming and the Effect on the Global Food Supply’ by Shakirah Zaidi ’22 and Ire Oloketuyi ’22
  • ‘Emerging Infectious Diseases with a Focus on the Zika Virus’ by Chloe Cook ’22
  • ‘Mental Health in Developing Countries’ by Lindsey Siao ’22 and Taylor Searle ’22
  • ‘Living with Disabilites’ by Keji Adeyemi ’22
  • ‘Community Based Sports Programs’ by William Clayton ’22 and Phillip Stroganov ’22
  • ‘Child Labour’ by Brooke Loranger ’22 and Isha Walia ’22
  • ‘Global Warming and the Effect on Global Water Supply’ by Bradley Mattocks ’22 and Sascha Jansen-Rudan ’22

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“The exhibition allows the students to have greater independence. It allows students to see their strengths as learners and feel empowered by being in control of their own learning.”

– Ms. Marcie Lewis ‘03, Grade 6 Teacher and PYP Coordinator

The projects presented by the students during the PYP Exhibition clearly demonstrated the inquisitive nature of our students and showed that they are well on their way to becoming globally minded individuals. It was a thought provoking experience for both the students and all who explored the exhibition. We look forward to seeing what next year’s students can discover.

View photos or watch the video from the PYP Exhibition.

 

Ridley College students net ice time with Ottawa Senators

The National Hockey League came to town as a special treat for our Ridleians on Friday, April 22nd.

Students belonging to our hockey programme joined Chris Neil, Cody Ceci, Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad, Zack Smith, Mark Stone, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Nick Paul, players from the Ottawa Senators, for an hour of fun on-ice sessions and scrimmages at Tiger arena.

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“This was an incredible opportunity for our students to not only meet these world-class athletes, but to also get a chance to learn from them during the practice sessions,” said Ridley’s Headmaster, Ed Kidd. “We want to thank the Ottawa Senators, Mr. Eugene Melnyk and members of the organization for visiting the school and spending valuable time with our students and players. It was truly an experience we will not forget.”

After a successful season for Ridley’s First Boys and First Girls hockey teams, the players will be eager to put to use what they learned from the NHLers next season.

Due to its incredible performance this season, the First Girls hockey team has been promoted to the Junior Women’s Hockey League  (JWHL) for upcoming 2016/2017 season. Coached by two-time Women’s World Hockey Champion, Amanda Benoit-Wark, the girls team will take on an elite level of competition in this North American league that helps prepare players for NCAA and CIS athletics.

Not to be outdone, the First Boys hockey team, coached by former European league player and Niagara resident Mike McCourt, is coming fresh off its MPHL Championship and silver medal win at the National Independent School Invitational Hockey Championship.

In addition to spending time on the ice with students, the Senators also toured the campus, visited classrooms and checked out the newly built Lower School Playscape, designed for students in JK to Grade 8.

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This past fall, the all-natural playscape was integrated into the existing, mature trees on the school grounds to help promote physical literacy amongst our younger students.

“The idea behind the playscape is that our students will reach physical literacy milestones sooner, which then puts them on the path to athletic success in later years,” said Jay Tredway, Director of Athletics at Ridley College. “Unique playscapes like this have been proven to positively impact learning and academic achievement and build fundamental movement skills, promote resilience and increase creative and imaginative play. The introduction of the playscape is just one of the ways that Ridley is supporting its physical literacy goals and the Long-Term Athletic Development plan.”

The all-natural playscape, was built as part of the annual giving campaign for the 2014/2015 school year and Ridley College is currently undertaking an observational study to capture how students are demonstrating fundamental movement skills and imaginative play.

Thank you to the Ottawa Senators and Mr. Eugene Melnyk for giving our students such an incredible opportunity.

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To see photos from the Senators visit, click here.

To view the video from the Senators visit, click here.

Students Build Hope During Service Trip to Guatemala

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For 18 students, this March break was about commitment, making a difference and proudly practicing Ridley’s motto: Terar dum prosim ­– May I be consumed in service. This group of students travelled 3344 kilometers from St. Catharines to Guatemala. Accompanied by their chaperones, Mr. Dave Costello, Ms. Allison Harding, Ms. Carla D’Annibale and Ridley parent, Ms. Kim Arnold, the students spent eight days working with the Doppenbergs and their organization known as The DIG.

The Doppenbergs moved to Guatemala six years ago and have since dedicated their lives to helping those living in poverty. Their most recent project has been The School of Hope in El Progreso, Guatemala. This school, when complete, will give students with special learning needs a place to grow. “The School of Hope will be the first of its kind in the region, and will provide access to education for students who typically would not be able to go to school,” says Ms. Allison Harding, Intermediate Teacher. The School of Hope is set to open in early 2017 and our Ridleians spent the week making progress on its construction.

The students began their trip with a visit to El Salitrillo, the first village that the Doppenbergs began working with when they made their move from the Niagara region. While visiting, our Ridleians had the chance to play with some of the local children and visit the school that was constructed by The DIG last year. For some students, this was a chance to revisit the school they’d help build during the 2015 service trip. For the others, it was a chance to see what would become of this year’s project. After an inspirational first day in Guatemala, the students were ready to get started!

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Their first day on the work site was a tough, but rewarding day. The students spent several hours making progress on  The School of Hope. Laying cement and tying rebar was difficult work, but the students were happy to assist in any way they could. In the afternoon, the students visited the nursery run by the Doppenbergs. This nursery helps provide sustainable nutrition to Guatemalans living in El Progreso. Our students helped plant peppers and moringa trees (a plant that provides an incredible amount of nutrition), fill soil bags and place soil around the nursery. After a long day, Ridleians were able to look back and see all that they had already accomplished.

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“The work we did at the site was rather tedious but we managed to get a tremendous amount of work done… I am definitely looking forward to tomorrow”

– Nnamdi Chibuzor ‘21

For the rest of the week, the students continued to help in the nursery and make progress on The School of Hope. Over the course of only a few days, the students could see that they were having a positive impact on the community.

As the end of the trip approached, the students went back to El Salitrillo. The Doppenbergs had spent the last couple of years working on a way to bring clean water to the village. Before the system was completed, the villagers had to walk to a spring, located 15 minutes away, through rough terrain, where they would fill buckets with water and then have to trudge back through the path. Our Ridleians participated in a “water walk” to experience the challenging task that these villagers had to endure multiple times a day.

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“This was an eye-opening experience that undoubtedly left us all with a much greater appreciation for the clean drinking water that we have easy access to at home.”

– Ms. Allison Harding, Intermediate Teacher

The week had flown by, and after days spent working tirelessly, time spent exploring Guatemala and an experience of a lifetime, it was time to say goodbye. As our Ridleians left Guatemala and made the journey back home, they were asked to reflect on their experiences and how it had impacted them. It was clear that in only a week, these students had grown attached to Guatemala and the people who inhabit it. For many, it ignited a fire within them to do all they can to help those in need.

“This trip made me grateful for all that I have…. I hope to come again.”

– Paloma Moragrega ‘20

“I can’t stop thinking about how these two trips have impacted me as a person. I believe that I have grown as a person because of the experience I was able to have.”

– Sarah McCleary ‘19

“This trip had an impact on everyone in many different ways. We were able to see Guatemala from a perspective that most people aren’t able to experience and because of this, are able to learn and grow from it. This will truly be an experience that everyone won’t forget. From arriving on March 10th to departing on March 17th, everyone will surely be able to bring this story back home, spread the word and bring back even more people for next year.”

– Jasmyn Traboulay-Drach ‘19

Each year, these service trips give students the opportunity to experience what life can be like in the developing parts of the world. It is a humbling and enriching experience, that many Ridleians keep with them for the rest of their lives. We can’t wait to see what next year will hold and what opportunities will arise for our students to make a difference.

If you would like to donate to The DIG and help them complete The School of Hope, please click here.

The Ridley String Fling

Last week, on February 18th and 19th, over 50 string students from Ridley College and other local schools gathered together for The Ridley String Fling. This was a day of workshops lead by professional string musicians: Brian Baty on double bass, from the Niagara Symphony Orchestra (NSO), and members of the Penderecki String Quartet (PSQ) – the resident quartet at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University.

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35 students from Ridley and 20 guest students participated in three workshop sessions on Thursday. String students began the day at 10:00a.m. in rehearsal rooms around the campus, divided according their instrument: violin, viola, cello and double bass. After lunch, The Student String Quartet made up of Petrina Mo, Ryan Craig (both from Ridley), Logan Imans (Laura Secord) and Jeremy Tang (Wheatley School) rehearsed the Haydn String Quartet No. 6 in Eb major with Jerzy Kaplanek and Christine Vlajk of the Penderecki Quartet. Back in the Memorial Chapel the majority of String Fling participants rehearsed in full orchestra on four pieces, under the direction of Mr. Hutton and Mr. Vernon, with expert advice from Jeremy Bell, Katie Schlaikjer (PSQ) and Brian Baty (NSO). Many of the student participants had never performed in a large string orchestra such as this, so the experience was enlightening. The sound of the group was quite loud and resonant in the remarkable acoustics of the Memorial Chapel.

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On Friday, Lower School students in grades 5 – 8 had the privilege of attending an outreach concert put on by the Niagara Youth Orchestra at Partridge Hall in the new downtown Performing Arts Centre. In the evening, the String Fling participants met again in the Memorial Chapel to perform in concert with the Penderecki String Quartet. The Chapel was packed with performers and supporters. Six years ago, Ridley held a similar string event, which included about 25 participants. This year’s event highlights the growth that has occurred in music and string playing at Ridley. Students are finding more ways to flourish in their artistic pursuits.

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