Category Archives: Lower School

The Value of an Arts Education

This April, Ridley celebrates the arts as a distinct and valuable part of the Ridley educational experience. The various arts events being held across the school represent a wide range of student achievement in Ridley studios and classrooms.

Ridley’s arts programme is designed to inspire students to develop their inner muse by exploring their creativity and skills in drama, music, visual, digital, and spoken arts.

 

“My favorite aspect of the arts is that arts can be anything, regardless of the medium, the subject matter and can be made regardless of time and place. There is no right or wrong in arts and no barrier of entry. Everyone can enjoy the beauty of arts.” Helen Wang ’17

All students at Ridley have the option to work in the studios, perform with an ensemble, act on a stage, and explore their creative talents once the academic day is done. Students learn from faculty members, who are accomplished professionals in their artistic field. In class, students can explore a variety of styles and mediums. Many student produced artworks are prominently on display in hallways throughout the school.

At Ridley arts education has two key roles. The first role of art education is to facilitate the development of fundamental skills that enhance a student’s physical and mental capacity to engage with the myriad of day-to-day tasks that require fine motor skill, creative problem solving, and fluent expression. Through careful study of the auditory and visual world, students also develop heightened sensitivity and awareness.

“Arts is a unique type of education that develops intellectual wealth of a person. It helps me to recognize my personality and to discover my environment. Arts itself might not provide me any knowledge that will explain the fundamentals of this universe (like physics and chemistry), but it enhances my ability to observe and to reflect on the world around me. The creativity part of arts also train me into a better learner, in terms of finding alternative pathways to solve problems.”                              Helen Wang ‘17

The second key role of art education is the development of an awareness of art as an essential component of civilization. Through an array of artistic experiences, students acquire knowledge of the important achievements of artists throughout the ages and across cultures.

“Many people view arts as unnecessary, but in fact it is not. Arts can exist in different ways and is not limited to visual arts. It blends in our life and contributes significantly to the Ridley community,” says Helen. “There are many aspects of life that involves arts, it’s just we don’t often realize these.”

The work of Ridley artists—past and present—can be seen on display all over campus. Through the arts, students gain an understanding of why creativity, self-expression, and the pursuit of aesthetic form are fundamental aspects for the foundation of a flourishing life.

Ridley Exploring Mindfulness as Part of a Positive Education

Ridley strives to be at the forefront of educational development, to ensure our students become successful members of the global community. For this reason, our school was an early adopter amongst independent schools, embracing positive education as a fundamental approach to learning.

Being on the leading edge of positive education means continuing to explore new ideas and research as it becomes available. This semester, the students of Lower School have been part of a pilot programme to evaluate the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation on students. The programme developed by Jacqueline Oscvirk, creator of The Mindful Family, involves students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 practicing mindfulness twice weekly.

Mindfulness meditation focuses the human brain on what is being sensed at each moment, instead of the past or future. It is a way to calm the mind and develop clarity, calmness, empathy, and positivity.

Within educational systems, mindfulness has shown an improvement in students’ attention and focus, emotional regulation, creativity, as well as problem solving skills. Studies have shown youth benefit from learning mindfulness, in terms of improved cognitive outcomes, social-emotional skills, and well-being. These benefits may lead to long-term improvements in life.

“Our intention is to equip all of our Lower School students with the tools to overcome everyday challenges.” – Hanna Kidd, Lower School Counsellor

There is substantial evidence that skills which increase resilience, positive emotion, engagement, and meaning can be taught to school children. In this way, without compromising either, Ridley teaches both the skills of well-being and the skills of achievement.

“It’s another tool for teachers to use,” says Hanna Kidd. The Grade 7 and 8 students will begin their mindfulness training in early April, with the goal of using mindfulness to help reduce stress and anxiety as they prepare for exams.

Ridley is incorporating the latest research in positive education from around the world. Discoveries such as gritthe ability to persevere through challengesby Dr. Angela Duckworth, and flowthe ability to become immersed in a challenging taskby Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, have already been added. Based on this science, Ridley equips students to deal with the daily demands of life and learning by creating an environment that:

• Generates positive emotions
• Practices mindfulness
• Builds on strengths not deficits
• Models grit and resilience
• Nurtures positive relationships
• Encourages goal setting and accomplishments
• Fuels our vitality

Ridley students are empowered to embrace their individuality, develop who they are, strive for who they will be, and define the lives they will lead. They develop the intellectual, physical, emotional, and social skills needed to succeed. They are inspired to acquire the knowledge, explore the truths, and nurture the values that will allow them to lead flourishing lives.

Ridley Junior Scientists Win at Science Fair

Six Lower School students competed at the Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair (NRSEF) held on March 29th at Brock University. The Grade 7 and 8 students worked hard all year to get their projects ready for the competition and it showed, as the group won the Junior Division with the highest combined score.

Ella Belfry ‘22, Chloe Cook ‘22, Olivia Massis ‘22, Taylor Searle ‘22, Syni Solanki ‘21, and Isha Walia ’22 combined to win nine awards. Syni and her project “A Novel Approach to Causing Apoptosis in Ovarian Cancer Cells,” which tested the use of garlic and hot pepper extracts on reducing ovarian cancer cells, were chosen to represent Team Niagara at the Canada Wide Science Fair in Regina, SK. This is the second time Syni will represent Ridley and Team Niagara at the event.

Continuing Ridley’s tradition of fostering global mindedness and service to others, the science projects focused on finding alternative and accessible ways of bettering the lives of the less fortunate. This year’s projects included solutions to water transportation, filtration, and purification. “It’s something they were passionate about,” says Mr. Ben Smith, a MYP science teacher.

The 55th Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair is dedicated to encouraging students within the Niagara Region in science pursuits. Over 200 young scientists participated in the fair, with their projects reviewed by approximately 100 judges composed of local scientists, engineers, and businessmen.

Ridley Reflects on 100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge

On April 9th, Ridley will look back 100 years to commemorate the Battle of Vimy Ridge. A battle which saw six graduates make the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of victory and the birth of a nation.

The battle, which began on April 9th, 1917, was a turning point in Canadian history, where all the Canadian divisions fought together for the first time. By the end of the battle on April 12th, some 3,598 Canadian soldiers were killed, including six Old Ridleians. The impressive victory over German forces is often cited as the beginning of Canada’s evolution from dominion territory to independent nation.

During the March break,  students had the chance to relive history, on the Vimy Ridge trip, that visits monuments and battle sites in France and Belgium. This trip was made even more special when Charlotte Westcott ’18 and William Clayton ’22 discovered the names of Old Ridleians who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Situated in northern France, the heavily-fortified, seven kilometre ridge held a commanding view over the Allied lines. The Canadians would be assaulting up a ridge that the French Army had failed to capture. In numerous attempts, they had suffered over 100,000 casualties trying to retake it from the German Army. It would be up to the Canadians to take the ridge.

The first of the Old Ridleians to fall was Lt. Fred “A.J.” Norsworthy (1901-04), who was killed by artillery in the week before the battle, when the two opposing armies traded artillery barrages, in preparation for the upcoming battle. A week the German forces would later call “The Week of Suffering.”

After the call to go “Over the Top” was made at 5:30 a.m. on April 9th, five more Ridleians fell; including Gunner Jack “J.L.” Hart who was killed by an artillery shell in no man’s land. He was with friend and fellow Old Ridleian, Gunner Jack “J.M.” Wainright, who was mortally wounded by the same shell. He would perish in the days after the battle.

Lt. J.F. Manley (1910-14) a Mason Gold Medal winner in 1914, and one of the school’s most accomplished cricket players, was killed battling up the ridge with his unit, the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders. Lt.-Col. Dick “R.W.F.” Jones (1896-1901) and Capt. Alfie “A.S.” Trimmer (1893-1901) died on the ridge at the height of the battle. Trimmer had previously won the Military Cross and bar award for his actions at the Battle of Ypres a few months earlier. The Midsummer 1917 edition of the Acta Ridleiana— the former monthly magazine —noted that Trimmer “had come through so many dangers that we hoped he would be spared.”

“It was inspiring and also heartbreaking to find the graves. Seeing them for myself really drove home the sacrifice that they made during the war. It showed me the value of what they fought for and how much I have to be thankful for,” says Charlotte. “Seeing their names below the Canadian maple leaf really drives home that these Ridleians really were consumed in service.”

After the war ended on November 11th, 1918, the government of France granted the ridge and 250 acres of the battleground to Canada, to serve as a memorial park to commemorate the fallen Canadians. Hill 145, the highest point of the Ridge, is now the site of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. After the war, Ridley commemorated the six Old Ridleians who fought and died at Vimy Ridge, along with 55 others who died in WWI, with the building of the Memorial Chapel. The Chapel was dedicated on June 23rd, 1923.

Today, the Ridley community continues to remember the students who made the ultimate sacrifice many years ago. Be it in the classroom, the Archives or the Memorial Chapel, the students continue to honour those who lost their lives.

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.