Category Archives: Upper School Events

Students Take to Camp Before the School Year Begins!


This past weekend, students enjoyed every last drop of summer and ushered in the new school year with a trip to camp.  Upper School boys headed up to the scenic Onondaga Camp while the Upper School girls and lower school students from grade 7 and 8 enjoyed beautiful Camp White Pine. While there, students had a chance to bond with their peers and fellow housemates, getting a chance to showcase their talents, partake in new sports and activities and of course, have fun!

The boys had an adventurous weekend; full of zip lining through the woods, water skiing on a blue lake and playing a friendly game of water polo.

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The girls filled their days canoeing and by building house spirit. In completing a high-flying adventure on a ropes course, our students surely showed they had grit.

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At Camp White Pine the grade 7’s and 8’s participated in team building activities such as a ropes course, beach volleyball and all kinds of fun in the sun!

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Our younger students didn’t miss out on the fun, as they had their own camp day on campus. Students made their own stop motion animations, played trivia games and bonded with their tribes!

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Students returned from camp with new friends and smiles on their faces, ready to start a new school year!

To see all the photos from the weekend, check out Ridley’s official Flickr page!

Opening Day 2015


Opening Day here at Ridley College was a busy day, as we welcomed 650 students and their families from 44 countries around the world. New and returning students gathered at the campus to get their first view of the year ahead.

Families were welcomed by Headmaster, Ed Kidd before heading out on campus for registration and orientation events.


Students and their families had a chance to mingle with teachers, explore the opportunities offered at Ridley and meet their fellow students and Prefects.



“We had a lovely day – felt very welcomed and confident that [our son] will indeed flourish at Ridley.”

Ridley Lower School Parent

While students and their families were busy unpacking, we asked parents what advice they’d like to give their kids as they start another chapter of their life. Here’s what they had to say.

We wish all of our students great success as the 2015-16 school year begins!

From Ridley to First Year of University

Throughout the summer we will be featuring blog posts from our summer student Liz. Liz graduated from Ridley in 2014 and has just completed her first year of University. She is also our summer tour guide, so if you come to campus for a visit you will meet her! Liz is happy to answer any questions you might have, you can follow her on twitter @RidleyTourGuide.

Moving from high school to university can be a big adjustment for most students. It’s exciting to graduate, but also a little nerve-wracking to consider transitioning to a new community and leaving some important support networks behind.

Everyone’s post-Ridley plans are a little different. Some of the graduates from my class took a year to travel or gain some work experience. Most of us chose to attend college or university, heading to different schools across the country and around the world. Having studied here for eight years, I did most of my growing up at Ridley. With this in mind, I was especially anxious about some of the challenges I might face at university. Though I was a little unsure of what to expect, it didn’t take long for me to feel comfortable balancing classes, extracurricular endeavours, and social life.
14088218909_b3f6548a4f_bOne of the hardest decisions I had to make toward the end of high school was deciding what I wanted to do after I graduated. From grade nine to grade twelve, guidance meetings helped me to pinpoint some of the goals I might have for the future and the best ways to go about achieving them. When it came to applying to universities, I knew that I wanted to experience a bigger city and have lots of options in selecting individual courses and programmes of study. I went to lots of university admissions presentations hosted at Ridley and to a number of fairs in the province on trips arranged by the guidance department. Soon after, I applied to universities across Canada and the United Kingdom, and my guidance counselor sourced a ton of great scholarship information. In the end, I was confident that the University of Toronto would be the best fit for me and, so far, I’m thrilled with my choice.

In terms of academics, I always loved the humanities and social sciences at Ridley. Everything from the Harkness table debates to seminar presentations to Ridley archives visits helped prepare me for high-level discussion and research. In my two first-year seminar courses in university (Canadian policy history and public policy ethics), I was able to jump right into the conversation, listen effectively and make thoughtful contributions – skills that I think really helped me to take advantage of my university experience. Although writing a solid essay is always a challenge, I started university confident that I had the ability to research and structure my ideas effectively so that I could produce papers I felt proud of.

It’s strange to say, but one of the most unexpected parts of university life for me was having more free time. At Ridley, I spent from around 8:30am to 3:45pm most days in classes, and had sports practices or musical rehearsals immediately after until about 5:30pm. After dinner, I was either in study or at an evening activity like choir practice or cadet officer/NCO training. Being involved in extracurriculars was such an important part of my Ridley experience that I knew I wanted the same thing in university.

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On the social side of things, the residence experience was very familiar to me right from the start even as a day student. Having had five different boarding roommates from grade nine to twelve, I knew that I had to communicate well in order to build a solid relationship in close confines. This past year, I was lucky enough to have a great roommate. We quickly learned each other’s routines and found that shared a number of interests. Even though we did lots together as friends, we also gave each other space when we needed it.

The thing I’m probably most grateful to have learned before coming to university is the importance of balance. My academic progress is always high on my list of priorities, but so is being healthy and feeling good. I think that some of the habits I developed at Ridley really helped me stay on the right track in my first year. Though there were definitely times when a two-hour rowing practice or field hockey game seemed overwhelming after a busy school day, I’m thankful that I was able to learn how to plan exercise and the sports I love into my schedule. I always felt best after working out in the university gyms, playing in an intramural field hockey game, or finishing a Zumba class with my roommate.

At the end of the day, no two people will have the same experience after high school. That said, I’m grateful to have graduated with the skills and experience necessary to pursue my academic and career goals and make the most of my time as a student.

And the Cappie Goes to…..

It’s the Tony Awards for high school productions. Last night, Ridley drama students participated in the Cappies Niagara awards gala recognizing excellence in drama and theatre criticism.

cappies1Not only was Ridley nominated for 20 awards, but we also came home with 7 wins!  On top of that, each cast performed a scene for the awards ceremony and deserves equal congratulations for their outstanding performances.


Congratulations to the Cappies award winners:

Special Effects or Technology: Mary Sword – The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Ensemble in a Play: Camp Girls – Ascension Day

Featured Actress in a Musical: Gracie Lowes – The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Comic Actor in a Musical: Noel Cousins – The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Supporting Actress in a Play: Cassandra Mitchell – Ascension Day

Lead Actress in a Play: Kate Wilson – Ascension Day

Best Play: Ascension Day


Church Parade 2015

The sky was sunny and the breeze was just right not to interfere with the traditional mace toss over the Marriott Gates as part of the annual Church Parade.  Drum Sergeant Major Alexander Matovic ’15 tossed the mace with the greatest of ease over the gates in front of a cheering crowd.


On Sunday morning, students participated in the Church Parade through St. Catharines. It was a beautiful day for parents, alumni and residents of St. Catharines to take in the parade. Well done to all the student participants!

Please click here to view more pictures from the day.

VEX Robotics – World Championships

Ridley’s three teams competed at the VEX Robotics World Championship against some amazing machines from 29 countries, the strongest teams coming from the US, China and New Zealand. From Niagara teams, Ridley’s 1509Z team was the only one selected for the elimination rounds and lost in the semi finals.

The ability to process clearly under pressure, and to demonstrate grit when hope was fading was a trait each student on the team faced and attempted to overcome. Team 1509 (Ray Gao, Nina Haag, Daniel Marcos, Elias Ancer, Javan Graham, Antonio Aspite) had the most challenging problem, finding a shorted wire buried in a metal sleeve, fixing the problem and getting back on field within an hour (for a win). On another occasion, Nina rebuilt the secondary lift between matches.


1509E (James Gross, Heather Curtis, Ryan Schmidt, Will Cowherd, Jonah Rubin, Willem van Sittert) had the least confusing mechanical problems of any team but still managed to break motors and was forced to adjust the machine after the abuse it received during each match.


Special thanks to Ava O’Toole. She made sure we made it to matches, that batteries were ready and charged, kept the hundreds of parts in order and kept us all amused (or tried to) when the pressure was highest.


1509Z (Padraic Odesse, Dane Sisinni, Andy Li, Anakin Li, Nikita Bryliov, William Wang) faced the greatest adversity, shredding gears in motors, rebuilding their main lift late into Thursday evening, suffering from pneumatics failure and overcoming the demoralizing reality of a triple loss on the first day. Like all other teams, they battled through adversity and posted a winning record in their 7 remaining matches and made it to the semi-finals of the Math division.

Every year the bar is raised in terms of competition. Just getting to worlds has now become such a challenge. Our three teams represented Ridley well before a world audience.

Special thanks to all who helped make this venture possible; from parents who sacrificed time and money to support us, Chartwells, security, admin, accounting for arranging payments and financing, and for all the support from fellow students and staff at Ridley for our teams. Special thanks to my co-mentor Scott McCambley. His effort and passion for our teams is unwavering.

P.S. We even managed to find a former team member.

OR Igal Flegmann ’13 and Mr. Reimer


Written By Robotics Coach Rodney Reimer

El Salvador Experience – Habitat for Humanity Trip

Written by Liam Wilson ‘ 16

This March Break, a group of 17 Ridley students, one Ridley teacher, and a Ridley nurse had an experience that none of them will forget for the rest of their lives. It is not going to be easy to forget the long hours of working under the burning sun mixing cement and moving bricks. It is not going to be easy to forget the smiles on the faces of the family members who watched their new home being built. And the relationships and friendships made on the trip with our Habitat for Humanity translators, masons, groups leaders, and fellow students are definitely going to stay with us for a long time.

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I had the opportunity this March Break to travel to El Salvador with 16 fellow Ridleans, Mr. Martínez, and Ms. Honsberger. To say that it was a great experience would be an understatement. I didn’t know very many of the other students on the trip well, but by the end of the two weeks, I felt as if I had know them for two years.

We split everyone up into two groups to work on two separate houses. Nothing had been started on the house that my group worked on. We spent the first two days just digging into the ground to make the foundation. After that we did a bunch of different tasks like filling in the trenches with cement and sanding the outside of the bricks. Over the course of the next two weeks, we had some great times together. Whether it was moving huge piles of sand, moving huge piles of bricks, or mixing cement, we always found a way to make it fun. Meeting and interacting with the family that we were building the house for was an experience in its own. Although the family had very little, they did all they could to make us feel welcome and comfortable. They are some of the happiest and most generous people I have ever met. We also became good friends with the masons and with our Habitat reps Jaime, Emilio, and Jxoe.

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Although a lot of time on the trip was spent working, that was only half of it. The purpose of the trips is to forge bonds with people from another country and to experience another culture, and we did just that. Our first day in El Salvador was spent touring to capital city of San Salvador. We visited the Cathedral in San Salvador and learned about one of the country’s heroes, Oscar Romero. We also learned about the dark spots in the history of this beautiful country and how many people lost their lives in the conflicts during the 70s and 80s. It was extra special for us because one of our leaders, Mr. Martínez, fled El Salvador as a child so he was able to give us a personal connection. The second weekend, we toured a coffee plantation where we saw all the steps that go into a bag of coffee and we hiked in El Imposible National Park. Everyone on the trip has mixed feelings about that hike because the park and its views were beautiful, but it was almost a 6-hour hike. Very tiring. To complete the cultural experience of El Salvador, we ate some great food. We got to experience many different traditional El Salvadorian dishes like pupusas and tamales. Mr. Martínez also introduced us to the El Salvadorian KFC, Pollo Campero. To sum up El Salvadorian food in one word; amazing.

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All in all, the trip was an unbelievable experience. Not only did my friends and I have fun and experience a new culture, but we also made a difference in the lives of two families, something that makes the trip about way more than ourselves. As John Bunyan once said, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” I highly recommend this experience to everyone. I would like to thank Ridley and Habitat for making this possible and also the leaders, Mr. Martínez and Ms. Honsberger for being so great.

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Ridley College Presents: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Last week audiences in the Mandeville Theatre – and the world (this was the first Ridley musical to be live streamed using TigerNET Live) were introduced to the contestants in the ’25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  This hilarious musical is about six quirky adolescents competing in the ‘Bee’, run by three equally quirky grown-ups. If you didn’t get a chance to see it in person, please view some highlights below:

Students Travel to Washington D.C. for North American Invitational Model UN

Through the generous support of the W. Darcy McKeough ’51 Fund a group consisting of ten students and two staff members was able to attend the prestigious North American Invitational Model United Nations (NAIMUN) hosted by Georgetown University in Washington D.C. As a joint effort between the Politics Club and Debating Society, participation in this year’s conference allowed Ridley students to take a seat at the largest student-run Model United Nations in the world alongside 3,000 other delegates.

Phil Antonio confIt was a memorable experience that allowed participants to draft legislative papers, propose resolutions, debate, and explore issues of international importance. For each of the Ridley students represented, this was a first-time experience, and it was a great learning experience.

Kayla NAIMUNIn addition to the full conference at NAIMUN, the Ridley delegation had an embassy tour at the Austrian Embassy, engaged with keynote speakers from the U.N., Georgetown University, and the U.S. government, and had the opportunity to visit the famous landmarks of Washington including the Capitol, White House, and Smithsonian Museums.

Aust Embassy Capitol GangThe Speaking Arts at Ridley have experienced a renewed energy as a result of the W. Darcy McKeough ’51 Fund, and the addition this year of the Model United Nations has augmented the importance of this dynamic co-curricular activity. Each of the participants- Grace Lowes, Kayla Archer, Caitlin Hyland, Philip Brenninkmeyer, Antonio Aspite, Noel Cousins, Bolade Fotade, Daniel O’Rourke, Bart Skala, and Rahul Walia- is grateful for the opportunity that this initiative has afforded. It is expected that all elements of the program- public speaking, debate, model UN- will continue to develop at the school and beyond its wider gates.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Dogsledding Trip

This year the trip could only be described as cold! The group included: Alex Jones, Elliott Jones, Anthony Nguyen, Paul Rosenbaum, Jack Hilditch, Luis Marcelo de la Garza, Willem Van Sittert, Eric Cheng, Dmitrii Kozak, Izzat Homsi, Reece Wilson-Poynton, Cassandra Mitchell, Michael Steier, Zachary Koh, Beatriz Dias, Ming Scott, Paul Zhao and chaperoned by Giles Campbell, Sarah Miller, Clyde Dawson and James Leslie.


We left Ridley at 5am on Thursday and arrived in Sundridge to the Chocpaw Office at 10am. After a short lunch and information session we were introduced to our teams of dogs, lashed down our packs to the sleds and were off. The scenery was spectacular, but there was a definite nip in the air! The temperature continued to drop and the next morning we woke to a bone chilling -35C.


Undeterred we took off for a three hour loop and came back to the same camp. Fortunately it warmed up and we enjoyed -18C for the rest of the day. Students were paired with either other students, a teacher or a guide and each day we covered about 30km. Students helped with camp chores including, getting water from the river or lake, cooking, dish duty and feeding the 76 dogs.


On the third day we broke camp and blazed a trail along the scenic ‘Ridgeline Trail’ and continued on to our final camp on Char Lake in the north east corner of Algonquin Park. Unfortunately as we got into camp and set about the wood collection chores the temperature dropped and the wind picked up which meant that by suppertime we were into temperatures of -35C, with the wind chill dropping it down to -42C. Still in a good mood we snuggled down in our heated tents, had supper and good conversations.


On Sunday morning the sky’s were blue, but still at the same temperature. We enjoyed the run out through the Ridgeline Trail and were back to the dogyard at noon, some a little more chilled than others. Our bus gave us a scare as the batteries had frozen, but after a jump we had it running for the long trip home.


I have to say that each of the students kept in high spirits and really rose to the challenge of this adventure. We all had periods of cold fingers and toes, but the connection with the dogs combined with the spectacular scenery made it all worth it. It was a great adventure and I’m proud of all the students and chaperones for making the trip such a success.

As told by Giles Campbell – Coordinator of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at Ridley College