Category Archives: Upper School Trips

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.

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“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/.

 

 

 

 

Students Explore the World of Visual Art on Annual Fieldtrip

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On Tuesday, October 18th, the Grade 9 Visual Arts classes ventured beyond the Marriott Gates, to explore visual arts in a new, interactive environment.

To begin their day, the students travelled to the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH). The AGH is Southwestern Ontario’s oldest and largest public art gallery, and contains over 10,000 works of art. During their morning visit, students explored the gallery’s collection with the help of their guides, and examined how artists employ composition strategies and perspective in a variety of media. Highlights of the tour included a special exhibit on the progression of sculpture since the French Baroque period, and Canadian abstraction.  Following the tour, students worked independently to develop a series of drawings and journal entries in their sketchbooks, connecting what they’ve learned during their visit, to their inclass studies.

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The afternoon was spent at the Burgoyne Outdoor Education and Research Centre (BOERC), where students explored drawing and painting en plein air. The weather was warm and sunny, and a blustery “breeze” kept us all on our toes! The fall foliage was at its peak, and students created observational drawing studies of leaves, and watercolor landscape paintings.

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Now that the students have returned to the classroom, they begin their unit assessment project, Perspective in the Landscape. Their recent field experiences and newfound knowledge of artistic techniques and media will aid them as they work toward completing their project.

– Katie Marrone, Department of Visual Arts

Get to Know Your Prefects – Helen W. ‘17

Introducing Helen Wang ’17 – a Prefect from China,  who discoveredScreen Shot 2016-09-21 at 10.51.24 AM her skills and strengths during her time at Ridley. Read how she stepped out of her comfort zone and began to flourish. 

Why did you choose Ridley?

I first discovered Ridley when I did research on school choices near Toronto. Ridley College popped up and it obviously attracted my attention with its goal of providing a balanced student life. The appearance of the school is a bonus. There were many other reasons I chose Ridley, and it is certain that I chose it because I liked it.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?

It is hard to say if you are prepared or not, when you are stepping out of your comfort zone. However, the choice was my own choice, so I wasn’t feeling unprepared in accepting new culture but I was feeling nervous, for sure.

Who is your favorite faculty member and why?

My favorite faculty member is Mr. Gordon. Mr. Gordon taught me German in Grade 9 and my International Baccalaureate course, and Spanish in Grade 10. His attitude towards learning and teaching is always very positive and encouraging, so much that he brings out my interest in studying foreign languages. Due to his unique style of teaching, I did not feel overwhelmed about learning another two languages, on top of learning English, but rather, I survived pretty well during the past three years.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?

I would say managing time. Although I am very confident in time management, my schedule is busy enough that there will always be a time when I forgot to do something (for example this Prefect Profile). Every one lives a full life at Ridley, and school life certainly trains us to manage our schedule and goals. The gain is generous, but we definitely need to first survive a busy school life.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?

Becoming Prefect is an accomplishment, but my improvement in English is the greatest one… I took the challenge and I knew I had to be more open to new ways of learning here in Canada, and now, I am the top three in IB English learning. I can see my development thus far and I cherished it.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

I would say travelling overseas for a Habitat for Humanity trip with my schoolmates… Friendships were also made very easily during these trips, and who wouldn’t be willing to help those families.

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What is your favorite part of Ridley life?

Although the school has planned most of your schedule, you still get chances to add your own interests. There are lots of extracurricular activities at Ridley that students can be a part of, and many courses allow you to form deeper connections, that not only help build a successful school life but also a more successful career when we enter society (ex. CAS project).

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

To be a part of school activity planning! I’ve always wanted to be a part of the school year decision making, and I am so excited that now I can take the responsibility of it.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

It taught me many skills in life; it especially changed my mind about grades being everything and the only goal is to have a higher grade. I know that athletics are equally as important and my self-recognition and intellectual development is also important.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to go to the U.S. for university – an Ivy League school is my goal. I am also planning a one-month long trip or even longer after my graduation to travel around the world; experiencing different cultures, and enjoying some final relaxation before getting into the competitive university life.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

Don’t ever be afraid of new stuff, because you can never stop learning at Ridley. If you can’t change the environment, the environment will change you, and you definitely are and will be better than you think. Finally, “You don’t have to be good to start, but you have to start to be good”

Students connect with nature during the annual frog watching field trip

In order to live flourishing lives, students must learn the importance of contributing to the community. They must strive to develop meaningful partnerships and connections that will support them throughout their journey. These contributions and connections have a positive impact on everyone and everything around them.

On the evening of Friday, April 22nd, a group of Grade 9 geography students ventured to the Burgoyne Outdoor Education and Research Centre (BOERC). Connecting with their peers and contributing to the restoration of our environment was an important part of this learning experience.

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In partnership with the FrogWatch Ontario Programme, our students participated in a national initiative that allows students to contribute to Environment Canada’s biodiversity database, specifically, data relating to frogs and toads. Coinciding with Earth Day, it was a perfect way to connect with and give back to nature and our community.

During their investigation, the students were asked to record a number of observations and conduct a number of tests. As the summative component of their ‘Amphibians as Bio-indicators’ unit, the students had to record the weather and water conditions, such as wind speed, cloud cover, water quality and temperature. This data was submitted alongside their observations. Ridleians then spent the evening collecting observational data and spent several hours listening for species of frogs and toads that are native to Ontario. Data such as this helps scientists determine positive and negative population trends, range and distribution of species and can help track climate change. It was a perfect night for frog watching and the students collected an abundance of data, which was then sent to Environment Canada where it will be used to help monitor climate change.

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This annual trip allows students to connect with nature, contribute to the community and strengthen partnerships with their classmates. Field trips like this – ones that extend beyond on the classroom and provide an interactive learning experience that connects to a bigger picture – are essential to the Ridley framework.

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Ridleians are Inspired at Born to Lead Conference

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

– Jack Welch

Ridley strives to instill, in each student, the confidence to passion and the resiliency needed to overcome obstacles and forge onwards with determination. Students are encouraged to accept new challenges, risk failure and develop grit. We hope that with these skills, our Ridleians will go on to lead flourishing lives.

On April 18th, 2016, four Ridleians and their chaperone, Ms. Wendy Pak, spent the day among empowering women at the Born to Lead Youth Leadership Conference (Born to Lead or B2L Conference). While at the conference, these students were motivated to pursue their goals and were given the tools needed to achieve and succeed in their post-secondary careers. Closely aligning with Ridley’s values, this event would show our students that with determination comes success. Sandy Chen, Aribi Iwo-Brown, Lotus Liu and Helen Wang are all International Baccalaureate One (IB1) students, and were keen to attend the conference.

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“It [was] a great opportunity for our aspiring female business entrepreneurs to learn from women leaders in the business.”

– Ms. Wendy Pak

Born to Lead presents an opportunity for young women to explore the possibilities that await them in the world of business. Geared towards emerging leaders and entrepreneurs, attendees can participate in an array of workshops. Some of which focus on leadership and personal development, and some that provide insight on potential career paths. These young leaders also have the chance to interact with delegates from the Women in Leadership and Business Conference and listen to an inspiring keynote address.

This year’s keynote speaker was six-time Olympic medalist and mental health advocate, Clara Hughes. Clara shared her story; from her time as an high-performance athlete, to her struggles with mental health. Although the Ridleians in attendance had never heard Clara’s story, her moving journey impacted them greatly.

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“I really liked Clara Hughes’s speech. She [taught] us that women should stand up, be strong and keep going. I really enjoyed my time at the conference.”

– Lotus Liu ‘17

In the afternoon, our Ridleians sat down with some of the delegates from the Women in Leadership and Business Conference. This session, titled “Perspectives”, was meant to bridge the gap between different age groups and career stages. Students who are just discovering the world of business and leadership were able to discuss topics (such as generation stereotypes and workplace projects) with established professionals. It was an opportunity for both groups to gain insight and inspiration from one another.

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“One thing I learned at the conference is ‘you are the only one who can determine your limits.’ So, never stop; keep pursuing.”

– Helen Wang ‘17

The Born to Lead conference was a place to discover the opportunities that await those who are willing to work to reach their dreams.

“We got to meet some amazing, accomplished and inspiring people like Clara Hughes. We learned so much about our next steps which we didn’t already know. It was such an enlightening opportunity.”

– Aribi Iwo-Brown ‘17

Ridley is proud to be a co-educational school, with 47% of our student population made up of females. With our student-led groups such as Positive Space and Days for Girls our students can be a part of the global conversation about gender equality. With events such as Born to Lead, our students can discover the importance of resiliency, grit, determination and confidence.

As the annual Born to Lead Youth Leadership Conference came to a close, our Ridleians left feeling more confident and motivated to pursue a career in business. We hope that they keep this experience and the lessons they learned with them as they travel down their career paths.

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.

Ridley’s Model U.N. and Politics Club heads to Washington, D.C.

During the February break, a group of students from the Ridley Model U.N. and Politics Club travelled to Washington, D.C. to take part in the 53rd North American Invitational Model United Nations (NAIMUN LIII), hosted by the Georgetown International Relations Association. The group consisted of Philip Brenninkmeyer Noel Cousins, Caitlin Hyland, Alex Jones, Gracie Lowes, Daniel O’Rourke and Jesse Wydman, chaperoned by coaches, Mr. Hutton and Mr. O’Rourke.

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NAIMUN is a conference that offers students the opportunity to interact with like minded individuals by taking on the rolls of international diplomats, members of parliament, ministers, Catholic cardinals and even CIA operatives.  All of this occurs as part of respective conferences and committees that students are assigned to prior to the conference. Ridley students conducted extensive research in preparation for their assignments, which included: the International Atomic Energy Agency, the British House of Commons, the 2012 Chinese Cabinet, the 2012 Papal Conclave and The CIA, post 9/11.

The conference featured over 3000 delegates which, while being mainly from North American schools, sported nationalities from all over the globe. This offered opportunities for friendships (that extended past the borders of Ridley and Canada) to develop. Each committee or council offered its own challenges. Some councils consisted of almost 150 students, while others were made up of as little as 18 students. This meant a varied experience for each student, that may have required intense lobbying to get one’s idea heard over the crown or using their expertise to guide one’s council to the solution of a complex, nuanced political issue. Regardless of the challenge, the Ridley team used the skills it had developed in their weekly meetings, as well as its research in order to stick out from the crowd; prospering and often succeeding in its endeavors.

While the conference schedule was quite rigorous in its nature, it also allowed time for the team to spend exploring the magnificent city of Washington, D.C. Arriving just a few hours before the beginning of the conference, students managed to get a special tour of the U.S. Capitol and Senate offices. The tour included a ride on the Senate subway, which allows for fast and secure transport between offices and the capitol. It was on the subway that students met the president of the Senate and the longest serving U.S. Senator, Orrin Hatch. The group even managed to get a quick picture with him.

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While visiting Washington D.C., the group also visited the Polish Embassy, the oldest serving embassy building in the country.  The building has remained in service, by no means from a lack of newer real estate, but instead, due to its architectural beauty.  Included below are pictures taken at the embassy that sported fabulous paintings wherever space was not already being occupied by the beautiful interior architecture.

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The group also had the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), located only a stone’s throw away (they will tackle you if you throw stones) from the White House. After the end of the conference on Sunday, students even got to take in a show at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The show was a classic who-done-it, in which the audience guesses the killer, and the oldest running show in the United States, Shear Madness. Our final night in Washington was spent visiting the Lincoln Memorial as well as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

All in all, the trip offered students the chance to use some of their hard-earned research, lobbying and debating skills acquired over the year in Model U.N., and also provided the opportunity to see how the U.S. government functions and explore the heritage of the United States. The Politics Model U.N. Club looks forward to more great opportunities in the future. The trip was made possible through the generosity of the parents of the students involved, as well as the W. Darcy McKeough’51 Fund supporting Speaking Arts at Ridley College. We are most grateful for the support.

– Philip Brenninkmeyer ‘16