This is a short week at Ridley, but another week of adjustments — and enhancements — for us all. To support our important work of ensuring students feel connected to the Ridley community, we’ve incorporated division-wide Assembly in Upper School, weekly Advisory times, class meetings in Lower School, and school-wide opportunities for student check-ins with teachers and Heads of House. Ridley, at its core, is built on relationships. We want to continue to maintain and grow these, knowing that they are a vital part of flourishing lives.
With relationships in mind, I share my current top five resources to support parents and introduce opportunities for them to build relationships and learn remotely with Ridley.
In addition, we look forward to launching our Flourishing for Parents virtual connections next week. Please join us for learning and community!
Opportunities for Parents for the week of April 13th
Tuesday Tips with Hanna Kidd & Sue Easton: 8:00a.m. & 2:00p.m. This week’s topic is Time Management. How can you support your child in achieving during this challenging time? Let us share some tips to support our Ridley family!
Abstractionist, Sandy Rasmussen is proving to the art world that his has staying power.
“The grid started out as a pattern
resembling my mom’s tablecloth,” Sandy laughs. “We would have dinner outside,
and she’d put a tablecloth on the counter and tell us not to make a mess. I’d
wonder, why have it? But that tension, that feeling of do not spill anything—I
Abstractionist and Old Ridleian,
Alexander ‘Sandy’ Rasmussen ’07 always knew he would work in the arts. His
grandfather, an artist and set designer at the Canadian Broadcast Corporation
(CBC), encouraged Sandy from a young age, and his time at Ridley was largely
spent hanging around the art department, fascinated by stories of the abstract
expressionists who broke visual traditions and found new ways to communicate.
From his mother’s tablecloth, to the famous grids of Agnes Martin, to the linoleum tile floors of the gas station in which he used to paint, the Niagara-based artist is looking to explore that tension, earning kudos from critics at his recent show at the Christopher Cutts gallery for his “riveting works” and “delectable passages of paint that almost shimmer.”
“The act of putting on paint
impasto like I do is kind of a bold statement. What mark do I make now? Do I
touch the canvas with that colour? What if I do this? It’s totally subversive,”
he concludes. “I’m going to do what I want.”
After graduating from Ridley, the
St. Catharines native left to study at the Emily Carr University of Art and
Design, but soon realized he was looking for a different kind of experience.
“As much as art can seem welcoming and nurturing, it can also be a towering
history of knowledge that you may not possess,” he admits. “It’s a steep hill.”
The following year, Sandy headed east to take Sociology at St. Francis Xavier
University—but he didn’t leave art far behind. “I started seeing parallels
between the things we were discussing in class and in art,” he says, looking
back. And, a year into his degree, painting pulled him home.
“The act of putting on paint impasto like I do is kind of a bold statement. What mark do I make now? Do I touch the canvas with that colour? It’s totally subversive. I’m going to do what I want.”
Sandy came back, borrowed $500 from
his dad for supplies, and got to work. He sold pieces and secured commissions.
He travelled home to paint on weekends and school breaks. He immersed himself
in art history. After graduation, Sandy started painting full-time in his
parents’ garage, then rented out space at an old rural gas station before
spending two tough years working in a cold, dim-lit barn out in Jordan
Station—an experience which he says hardened him as an artist.
He now paints in a light-filled
barn not far from campus, the rustic surroundings informing his work in
pleasant, unexpected ways. And a barn is likely the best place for him to
spread out. For Sandy, painting is a sport—and he likes to play large, whether
he’s physically stretching across a wide expanse of canvas or stretching out an
idea twenty feet. He points to influential artists like Jackson Pollock, Mark
Bradford and Joe Bradley, artists whose physicality enters their work.
“The thing I loved most about
basketball was doing layups during warmup, feeling hyped and excited,” he
explains, looking back to his days on the Ridley team. “And with big paintings
I get that same shiver down the back of my neck; I’m anxious to get going.”
You can see that energetic sprawl
across Samosas, the 8-by 24-foot abstract which now hangs at Brock University.
Sandy donated the painting to brothers Taylor ’07 and Clark ’09 Robertson in
memory of their parents and sister, Joe, Anita and Laura ’11, who were tragically
killed in a plane crash the summer of 2018. Their loss was felt across the
Niagara Region; the warm-hearted Robertsons were known widely as philanthropists
and community leaders, and they were generous supporters of both Ridley and
“When I heard the news, I knew pretty quickly what I wanted to do. It was always theirs.”
The family was very familiar with Samosas, having admired its progression at the gas station where Sandy painted, and then rolled out on his barn floor mere days before the accident. “They’d seen it so many times,” Sandy recalls. “When I heard the news, I knew pretty quickly what I wanted to do. It was always theirs.” Taylor and Clark chose to display the painting in Market Hall, now a permanent memorial at the university where Anita volunteered and whose Board of Trustees Joe had served on for nearly a decade.
“I had nearly exhausted the look by the time I got to the right side of that canvas,” Sandy smiles. “It was like finishing a marathon.” If you see it, you’ll see why. Standing in front of that painting is like going on a contemplative journey; its pathways and rivulets thread across the wide expanse, and you can’t help but follow—all the way off the canvas edge. Samosas was unveiled at Brock this past April.
Sandy’s paintings often slip to
matters of time and nostalgia, his large-scale abstractions christened with
playful names like Fresh Fresh (a nod to the woman who makes his
favourite samosas), Horse Play (a sweet response to his late grandmother’s
living room warnings), or Fat Chance (the gamble that is all art,
really—and the piece that kicked off his Toronto show).
“My paintings have their own timeline, their own journey,” he explains. “And I just have to trust that, because chances are what you’re working on right now will have a small and fleeting impact.”
His work incorporates memory, but he’s
also conscious of it as a deliberate reflection of the present, with the
occasional happy accident of an unplanned gesture, the quick scoot of a brush
in an unexpected way. “My paintings have their own timeline, their own
journey,” he explains thoughtfully. “And I just have to trust that, I suppose,
because chances are what you’re working on right now will have a small and
fleeting impact. To get an ego about a particular piece—that’s not going to
But as time goes on, Sandy’s proving to
the art world that his has staying power. “Rasmussen is already some way on his
journey into figuring out those techniques that give his paintings the desired
emotional content,” noted Toronto critics this past spring. “He is definitely
As for the up-and-coming artist? “There’s
no turning back,” he says resolutely. And there may be some delicious irony in
that statement, as Sandy’s paintings often capture a textured and abstract
past, even as his brush keeps going.
This article was printed in the latest issue of Tiger magazine. Learn about our alumni, get community updates and find out where Ridley is heading next! Read more from our winter issue.
This past Thursday, our community embarked on a new adventure through Ridley Remote Learning, or R2L. The initial response from students, teachers and parents was resoundingly positive. Every member of the community was excited to reconnect, share their experiences and emotions, and begin to bring some normalcy back into their lives through the addition of regular learning and new opportunities to connect. We know that Ridley is built on relationships; these will help us get through these challenging times.
But how best to thrive when we are surrounded by change? Please
consider these five inspirational statements about change—along with some
resources to help support you and the Ridley community.
Change is an opportunity to do something
How can you create the space in your home
for your child(ren) to create or do something to support or inspire others?
The Ridley community is moving into uncharted territory, with new Remote Learning for students, and most of us either practicing physical distancing or in isolation—even quarantine—wherever we are in the world. Though this may be a time of uncertainty and change, our well-being doesn’t need to suffer. It may take more conscious, deliberate work than usual but, in keeping with Ridley’s vision to inspire flourishing lives (as defined by PERMA-V: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, achievement, and vitality), each of us can benefit from incorporating the following five behaviours into our days—until we see each other again.
1. Connect with others.
Whether you’re spending time with those you live with, be it to share a meal or complete that jigsaw puzzle, or you’re reaching out via video call to family and friends, or playing a shared game of online Scrabble, connecting is important. We are practicing physical distancing, not social distancing, since we know that relationships are vital to support our well-being.
Got gamers in the house? Common-Sense Media features family-friendly games and other helpful resources.
New in The Guardian, Dr. Lea Waters shares videos to support families who are in isolation.
2. Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Day.
Mindfulness helps children become more self-aware. Knowing how they are feeling during this unsettling time not only promotes conversation but helps them nurture self-compassion. Mindfulness also helps students learn self-management and develop important decision-making skills. These skills support us in being present and engaged in our new reality—and ready to participate in learning and living activities.
Clear your head with Headspace — a free site which features a variety of meditation practices.
GoZen includes family-friendly videos and activities to support anxiety, resilience and more.
3. Seek beauty to savour and appreciate.
Immersing ourselves in art, music or nature—be it inside, outside or virtually—boosts our positive emotions. By exploring the resources available to us, we learn where our interests lie, which in turn increases our engagement and helps give us a sense of control over our new situation.
Google Arts and Culture is a virtual treasure trove, providing visitors with tours of hot spots, street art, museums, and more.
Listen up! NPR offers this comprehensive list of live concerts to enjoy from the comfort of your own home.
Go on your own ‘home safari’ via webcams from your favourite zoo. Learn more in this handy guide from The New York Times.
4. Get physical.
We all know that exercise helps with our physical health, but it is also one of the best ways to build positive emotions, decrease anxiety and stress, and support healthy sleep. Exercising outside while practicing physical distancing is a great way to get the benefits of being in nature while moving our bodies. But if that isn’t possible, there are many ways to get physical while keeping indoors.
Your kids are sure to love these movement and mindfulness videos from Go Noodle.
Stretch it out with classes from YogaDownload.com — the perfect size for any space.
5. Find your purpose.
Every human benefits from a feeling of achievement—often connected to what we believe is our purpose in life. For students practicing physical distancing, it may at times feel like academic work provides their sole sense of purpose. It is important that they know they make a difference in the lives of others, within their families, communities and beyond. For inspiration, consider some of these resources.
Reach out via one of these great ideas from Random Acts of Kindness — be sure to check out their kindness calendar!
From practicing gratitude to building optimism, Positive Psychology is offering great resources and activities you’ll want to try.
Keep it close to home with Operation Warm — a website highlighting online volunteer opportunities.
We’ll be sharing more resources in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please remember that as part of the Ridley community, you’re only an email away! Feel free to reach out for support and to learn more.
For over 20 years, Ridley’s International Student Exchange Programme has given audacious Ridleians and students from partnering schools around the world the opportunity to experience another country, appreciate a foreign culture and adapt to a new way of life at an international boarding school.
Dr. Ellen Foster has been coordinating the programme for the past 10 years, having organized approximately 200 exchanges in total. What began as a partnership with only a few schools has now expanded to offer Ridleians the chance to travel to South Africa, Australia, China, France, Spain, Luxembourg, Belgium and England. Whether they fly across the world to the land down under, make the trek to South Africa or hop across the pond to Paris, these students leave behind their routine lives to become Ridley’s global ambassadors.
Our Ridleians studying abroad may be away from St. Catharines anywhere between 6-12 weeks. During this time, they attend classes, live with their exchange families, absorb a new cultures and sometimes even learn new languages.
For every Ridleian who travels abroad, Ridley welcomes an eager student from the partnering school. For many of these visiting Upper School pupils, Ridley is their first exposure to Canada – which might include their first encounter with snow.
Having the opportunity to travel, learn and grow in a new environment allows students to expand their knowledge of the world, overcome obstacles independently and discover new skills and strengths that they never knew they had. According to Dr. Ellen Foster, Coordinator of the International Student Exchange Programme, it also offers a great opportunity to improve language proficiency in places such as Spain and France.
Recently, Ridley said goodbye to this year’s visiting exchange students, as they returned home with unforgettable memories and friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime.
“I know from this amazing experience, that Ridley does not just focus on academic strength but also produces well-rounded, confident and worldly people who have the ability to make an impact in whatever they choose to do after school.”
– Eliza Hannah, Australia
In a few months time, our Ridleians will travel to South Africa and Australia for their exchange trips, where they will reunite with their exchange families and begin their own adventures.
If you’re interested in the International Student Exchange Programme or have any questions, contact Dr. Ellen Foster; email@example.com.
“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”
– Nelson Mandela
December 10th is Human Rights Day – observed globally to commemorate the day, in 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, Ridleians went above and beyond to enact positive change in the world by participating in a number of events that took place on campus. Throughout the day and around every corner there were new opportunities for students, staff and faculty to get involved.
Students arrived on campus wearing red and green in support of Arthur Bishop West’s house charity, Congo Leadership Initiative. Contributions from this dress-down “grub” day were donated to the charity in support of a recently relocated Syrian refugee family.
In Upper School, from 8:00a.m. into the night, the Matthews Library was transformed into the drop-in workshop for Ridley’s own Amnesty Group. All students were invited to pay a visit to the library and write letters that took a stand on human rights issues. Within half an hour, 125 letters had already been written; by lunch, over 245 had been signed by Ridleians, pleading to end a number of unjust cases. Throughout the day, teachers brought their classes, faculty and staff dropped by to write their own letters, and students from Lower School stopped by to learn about this amazing cause.
As the entire Ridley community continued to contribute to the Write for Rights event, another inspiring act had taken place in the Great Hall. Every table and wall in the Great Hall had been adorned with Post-It Notes. Each one with an inspiring message, urging its readers to “stay strong” or “never give up.” Led by the Positive Spaces Group, these positive sticky notes infused the dining hall with an optimistic energy.
As classes concluded for the day, a group of Ridleians assembled in the Second Century Building (2CB) to help change the world. Each Thursday, this team joins together to make a difference in the lives of women living in developing countries. Led by Ms. Linda Chang and Prefect, Grace Lowes, members sew and prepare feminine hygiene kits for an organization called Days for Girls. These kits allow women, in developing countries, to carry on with their daily lives when they would otherwise be forced to forego school or work up to two full months each year.
As the sun went down on the school day, so many acts of kindness and positive change had taken place on campus that it was impossible not to feel inspired.
Meanwhile, the Write for Rights event was forging ahead. Students piled in the library to help reach Ridley’s goal of writing 500 letters. Ms. Shelley Thomas, Faculty Advisor to Ridley’s Amnesty group, documented Ridley’s progress and along with her team, joined in on a twitter chat with the Secretary General of Amnesty Canada. By 10:00p.m., as the Write for Rights event came to a close, not only did had Ridley won Amnesty’s photo challenge, but an astounding 565 letters had been written for Amnesty International; a record breaking number for Ridley College.
Whether they were writing, sewing, donating or posting, Ridleians made an impact and gained perspective on serious global issues. We all learned to be grateful for our circumstances and to use our power to assist others who are not as fortunate and wage a personal war. Each and every student joined together to make a difference and transform the globe. Their passion and kindness has inspired us all to be a part of positive change.
On November 28th, 2015, Ridley’s VEX Robotics team traveled to Woburn Collegiate in Scarborough, for the first VEX Robotics tournament of the season!
After a long day and what seemed like in inordinate amount of mechanical failures, Ridley’s teams 1509E (James Gross, Jim Yang and Joey Bao), 1509 (William Wang, Padraic Odesse, Andy Li and Anakin Li) and 1509Z (Ryan Schmidt, Elias Ancer, Will van Sittert and Antonio Aspite) waited to see if they would be selected as an alliance partner for the elimination matches. Each team had dueled it out in the round robin with six matches each in a field of 72 teams. 1509E and 1509 wound up with similar records of four wins and two losses, and 1509Z wound up with a 1-5 record, facing an extremely tough draw of four of the five best opponents in the tournament.
When alliances had been built for quarter final play, 1509E was a member of the 3rd seeded alliance and 1509 was a member of the 6th alliance (out of eight) and faced each other in the quarter finals. The good news was that whoever won the quarter final match would qualify for the All-Ontario championship in late March. The bad news was that the other team would not qualify. As it turned out, the higher seeded 1509E team made it to semi finals and qualified for the big tournament in early spring. Congratulations to all the teams and their efforts. There were some amazing teams.
Our rookie team (Adia Sisson, Alex Luo and Ira Madill), who did not compete at this event, now understand the complexities of competitive robotics and have new insights for the machine they are developing.
It was great to have Ava O’Toole back to help at our tournament. She kept us organized, which is not always easy. Special thanks to my co-mentor, Mr. Scott McCambley.
Our next tournament is in St. Catharines at Governor Simcoe on December 12th.
– Mr. Rodney Reimer, Head of Robotics and Engineering, VEX Robotics Mentor
During the school assembly on November 26th, the Film Club will dim the lights in the Mandeville Theatre and present, this year’s dark humour film, Piece of Mind; the story of a regular boy, living his routine life, when one day the mundane is disrupted and everything changes. He soon finds himself at war with everything around him.
Members of the Film Club, better known as the “Film Crew”, have spent the last two months bringing this film from inception through to completion – from developing the film’s concept, writing the script, filming the scenes, and finally producing the final edit.
Check out the Film Crew’s website to view the Piece of Mind teaser and trailer and to get a glimpse into the making of this short film.
The Film Club is in it’s fifth year at Ridley College. What began as merely an interest group, has evolved into an official sport alternative programme. This club provides media arts enthusiasts with a creative outlet that they may not have otherwise had within the classroom setting. This club has been especially enticing for our International Baccalaureate (IB) students, who have contributed to the short film as a component of their IB programme.
Ms. Danielle Barranca, from the Visual and Performing Arts department encourages the students to work together and overcome the challenges that often accompany the development of a film. With first-hand experience working in the film industry, she has proven to be a great resource and a great motivator for the Film Crew.
“Every year we get to premiere our film to the whole school during Assembly. It’s our big moment, our playoff game, our time where we can show off the talents that we have learned throughout the term.”
– Danielle Barranca, Visual and Performing Arts
Here’s a little sneak peak at Piece of Mind. We look forward to seeing the motion picture when it hits the big screen in Mandeville Theatre next week.
November break has come and gone, which means the end of term is fast approaching. Some students spent their long weekend preparing for upcoming tests and projects, some relaxed and visited with their families and another group of lucky Ridleians travelled to New York City to explore all the Big Apple has to offer!
On Thursday, November 12th, 24 students piled on the bus, where they would spend the evening traveling through the upstate countryside before arriving in New York, New York! Chaperoned by faculty members: Mr. Gerardo Martinez, Ms. Shelley Thomas and Ms. Taryn McKenna, it was sure to be an amazing group.
Once there, our Ridleians had the chance to experience this world-renowned city first-hand, with tours of New York City’s finest spots! The students strolled through Central Park and down 5th Avenue. They experienced the energy and excitement of Times Square and were transported back in time at the Natural History Museum before seeing the everlasting Brooklyn Bridge.
“I feel like we got to see almost every main attraction New York has to offer in only 2 days. With all the free time we got, we really had the opportunity to see the things we wanted to see and experience the city in our own way.”
– Vayda Schuttke ‘16
Every year, this trip gives the students to experience the world outside of the Marriott Gates; it gives them a chance to experience all the cultures, history and beauty that New York has to offer. Every year, this trip proves to be an incredible opportunity for the students and for Ridley.
Thank you to all the Ridleians who represented our school with such pride and to our chaperones that gave the students the chance to experience the Big City.
To learn more about our Weekend Programme, please click here.
On Monday, November 9th, Upper School students (and some eager faculty members) stepped out onto the field to participate in the annual Cross Country Run. This five-kilometer race around our beautiful campus has been a Ridley tradition for over a century.
Graced with unseasonably warm weather, our Ridleians laced up their running shoes, sported their house colours and waited their turn to approach the start line. One by one, at the sound of Headmaster Kidd’s air horn, the divisions took off; making their way around the course and eventually finding their ways to the finish line at the Cricket Shed, where results were recorded.
Midget Division Results
Congratulations to our midget division winners, Marlize Van Sittert ’19 and Jaden Kidd ’19, who took home the L.H. Harmer Trophy.
Junior Division Results
In the junior division, Shaun Donnelly ’17 came in first place for the girls and Daniel O’Rourke ’17 placed first for the boys. Both winners, like many before them, had the chance to hoist the G.F. Leigh Trophy.
Senior Division Results
In the senior division, Megan Forrest ’17 claimed the Nan Cassels Steeplechase Trophy for placing first in the girls heat, while Jake Weston ’16 earned the H.C. Griffith Trophy for leading the boys pack.
Congratulations to this year’s overall house winners; Dean’s House and Gooderham West, with the fastest overall times.
Our school spirit was on full display, as Ridleians could be found cheering on their fellow Tigers with music and in costume. It was an afternoon filled with school pride, camaraderie and friendly competition. Congratulations to all who participated in the run.