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CHAPEL TALK: THANKS-GIVING

Written by Head of Upper School, Michele Bett

With our Thanksgiving break rapidly approaching, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect upon why we should give thanks. In this “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,” in the words of English poet John Keats, ripened fruits and swollen gourds signal that the wondrous bounty of mother nature’s harvest has arrived. And yes, we have much for which to give thanks.

We give thanks that at Ridley:

our teachers have high expectations of their students;

our students come to school ready to be stretched and challenged;

our teachers support and scaffold curiosity in their classrooms daily;

our students are inherently curious and motivated learners;

our teachers arrange their learning opportunities, carving out space for imagination, wonder and reflection; and

our students flourish when they find passion and relevance in their studies.

Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk writes on the power of gratefulness. He encourages us to see each new day as a gift where the only appropriate response is gratitude. He urges us to open our hearts to all our blessings.

It is quite radical to see each new day as a gift. If you were caught thanking the sun for rising each morning, people might wonder about your sanity. Normal people don’t go around being grateful all the time. But why not?

I believe that it behooves us to show respect for – and be grateful to – nature, other people, and the past.

We have all stood transfixed and filled with awe in the presence of nature’s marvels – Niagara Falls is an obvious and near-by example. At moments like that, it is not hard to feel a sense of gratitude and to think to ourselves, “what a wonderful world!” The feeling is probably like that of a child playing in the garden. The difference is that, unlike us, the child does not need a raging cascade to get her attention. Here is how John Keats’ older contemporary William Wordsworth put it:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.

The poet goes on to say that this time is gone: “The things which I have seen I now can see no more.” And yet, despite our obliviousness and routine and normalcy, nature does not stop being the miracle that it is. As a later 19th century English poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins put it: “And for all this, nature is never spent; / There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.” Even in this time of climate change and global warming, an appreciation for the blessings of life on this earth is still the right way to respond. In fact, I wonder if things might be different on our planet if more people felt more grateful to nature.

At Ridley, we frequently emphasize the importance of thanking each other as often as we can. By doing so, we are recognizing the worth and significance of other people. It turns out that admitting the reality of what is outside ourselves is a necessary step toward well-being. Furthermore, by thanking others, we are acknowledging the other’s presence as a gift. We are saying to the other: “You have given me something that I did not deserve; you have been to me more than a friend.” What almost inevitably comes next is: “I will do the same for you when I can. I will try to be a gift to you.” It is a virtuous circle that fosters and celebrates loving relationships.

Being thankful for the past might seem somewhat strange, even suspicious; some of us might feel much more inclined to reject the past in our struggle for a better world. But human civilizations and cultures throughout all time have universally honoured those who have lived and died in earlier times. Similarly, our society commemorates heroes and martyrs and wise people who have done or said things that remain meaningful to us today. One of those we remember is Martin Frobisher, who in 1578 arrived in Canada and held a formal ceremony in which he gave thanks for surviving the long voyage from England. (Some 43 years later, the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts and did something similar.) This nation began by opening its heart in gratitude to the blessings of life.

And that’s why I am so grateful to be part of a community that has opened its heart to all its blessings. Every student in our community is a blessing, and regardless of their academic trajectory, they are cared for and valued. They are loved.

As in so many of my chapel talks and conversations with parents and students it is the character strength of love that I find myself returning to so often. Love, it seems, underpins nearly everything we do at Ridley.

In the gospels, God tells who we are, and we know that it can be the hardest thing in the world for us to receive love, especially the love of God. Whether you are a Christian, Moslem, Jew, Buddhist, non-believer, let’s be united in the idea that love is the strongest thing in the world, and to receive it demands that we begin by loving ourselves.

Unlike the bees in Keats’ ode to “Autumn,” we know that these warm October days will cease, but giving thanks at Ridley is not limited to the season of thanksgiving. At Ridley, we practice gratitude daily, all year round. May I wish all our families at Ridley a Thanksgiving break filled with joy, appreciation and, of course, much love.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Steven Q. ’20

Introducing Steven ’20 – a proud Tiger who has truly taken advantage of all that Ridley has to offer. Read about the challenges he overcame and the success he has experienced in the interview with Steven below.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

When I first visited the campus, I was deeply attracted by the energy of the students and the community. Everyone was super friendly and there is always something to do and something happening. I simply couldn’t wait to throw myself into the action and get started. 

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

Definitively the unbreakable bond between Ridleians. There is no better feeling than to bump into an OR on the street or at a university that I visited and still be able to chat like old times while grabbing a coffee. The connection you build during your time at Ridley will be priceless later on in your life. It really gives you a sense of belonging and unity. Also, can’t forget Snake Dance! 

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favorite part of Ridley life is strolling through the campus at daybreak, watching the sunrise as the fog slowly clears from the fields. Getting takeout with friends and eating them on the field as the sun slowly sets is definitely a bonus as well! Not to mention the sweet, sweet feeling when you see a level 7 on your test or scoring the killing blow on the tennis court. 

What has been your favorite Ridley experience/trip/memory?

Well… It’s hard to say because I have so many! I appreciate every day I spend at this school, and everyday holds something different and unique for me to discover. I have made so many irreplaceable memories with my friends, my teammates and my teachers it would take forever to count them. Therefore, I am afraid I can’t give you a good answer, not before my graduation. 

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

The best part of belonging to a boarding house is the feeling of home.  I have been both a day and boarding student in Merritt North House, and the boys I have met and became friends with throughout the past three years are all very easygoing and friendly. The Head of House and Residential Dons are always there for you. The overall environment of my House will make you feel right at home. No matter if you returned tired from a heavy day of school or sports, you can always count on your housemates to relax together and play some pool in the common room. 

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

It depends on how you define accomplishments. For me, I don’t like to define my accomplishments at this school by the prizes I won. They are merely a token of recognition. My real, greatest accomplishments at this school would be that I have really grown as an individual. In Grade 7, I was this shy student that wasn’t very good at English and was afraid of this foreign and vast country. Now I am a proud Ridley student, enrolling in full IB diploma, member of the 2019-20 Prefect team, president of the Ridley College Model United Nations society, and a senior member of the Choir. I have made the best memories of my high school life at this school, and I have learned indispensable transferrable skills that I will most definitely need even after I graduate from Ridley College. 

The Drowsy Chaperone, by Michelle Scrivener

Who is your favorite faculty or staff member and why?

Wow… You are putting me in a tight spot here. All the faculty and staff members around have all supported me in their own unique way. And I always appreciate their help and their dedication to educate every student here at Ridley, so that they may be better prepared for the world beyond the gates. 

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

I am most excited to continue the legacy left by the previous Prefects while working with my current, fellow Prefects to innovate and create new student-led initiatives in order to make Ridley College a place enjoyed by both students and faculty members alike. 

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley College has taught me so much. I learned teamwork and perseverance on the sports field, I honed my public speaking and debating skills on stage as an actor and debater. I polished my singing in Chapel along with rest of the Choir. I learned what it means to learn and flourish through my teachers, and how to love myself and others around me through my friends. 

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

DON’T PROCRASINATE!!!!!! Seriously, please, please, please, please, don’t procrastinate, especially if you are a boarder. It is so easy to get lost in all the stuff Ridley has to offer and you will wind up crunching away at a major project, two hours before its due… (ahem that guy definitively wasn’t me…) Ridley College is a school that places heavy emphasis on academic excellence, especially if you are planning on taking the full IB Diploma. And it only gets worse busier once you start Grade 10 and beyond. Make sure you make yourself a schedule and STICK TO IT. Ask teachers and your Head of House for help– they will more than happy to help you out because they care about your well-being. Only when you have an organized life can you enjoy all the wonderful things Ridley has to offer. 

Get to Know Your Prefects: Sydney M. ’20

Introducing Sydney M. ’20 – a boarding student from Trinidad and Tobago, who has made a home for herself amongst a flock of flamingos. Read about her experience in the boarding house and what has made it her favourite part of Ridley life.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

I was most excited to attend Ridley so that I could meet new people, make friends from all around the world and have the ability to learn about different cultures and lifestyles .

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

The sense of community at Ridley makes me so proud to be a Ridleian. Every single person that attends Ridley – whether it is the students, faculty or staff – is involved, encouraged and welcomed in some way and it is truly beautiful to see and to be a part of. 

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favourite  part of Ridley life is the residential life.

What is the best part of being in your boarding house?

The best part of my boarding house are the girls that make up Gooderham West. I  have made so many friendships and had so many experiences that I will cherish for the rest of my life and I owe it all to them. They are such a welcoming, easygoing, accepting and friendly group of people, and they are like my second family…we even share rooms! I am beyond grateful.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

My  greatest accomplishment at Ridley has been becoming a Prefect.

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

My favourite faculty member is my Advisor, Ms. Scott. I can go to her with any problem or situation I have and she will always give me great advice on how to go about the problem effectively and responsibly . She is very kind, giving, selfless and easy to talk to. She is like a mother away from home for me, not to mention she is a math teacher and helps me whenever I am struggling.

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

I am most excited to work with the other members of the Prefect team, as it is a very diverse group of people and I think we can brainstorm and create some really fun and exciting activities for the student body to participate in. 

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley has encouraged me to become an independent individual, taught me how to manage my time effectively and how to be aware of what is expected of me. I believe these new skills will help me in the future whether it’s in the workplace or beyond.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

As I was a new student not too long ago, I believe you should look at all of your options and imagine yourself attending the school. I visited three schools including Ridley and from the minute I walked onto the beautiful campus of the school , I knew this was where I wanted to go. Meeting students, witnessing the classes and experiencing the sense of family and community at Ridley only cemented my ideas.

Get to Know your Prefects: Simon H. ’20

Introducing Simon ’20 – a student who found countless opportunities to flourish, learn and succeed once he walked through the Marriott Gates. Check out our interview with Simon below, to see how Ridley’s community has made him proud and encouraged him to grow.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

It’s certain that here at Ridley, there are infinite opportunities and possibilities in the activities, sports, and courses I could choose. In the first term, I was so excited about joining the Second soccer team and robotics team in which I experienced different challenges and surprises every day. Choosing computer technology and art courses, which I hadn’t had a chance to learn, additionally enriched my Ridley life. The caring and inspiring peers and faculties motivated me to overcome challenges, pursue dreams, and be enthusiastic for every day. 

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

There is no doubt that the global vision and engagement at Ridley makes me proud to be a Ridleian. The culturally diverse community at Ridley has allowed me to learn and reflect on cultures and issues happening in every part of the world. My friends come from Germany, Nigeria, Ukraine, Korea, Mexico, and more, and we all have unique stories and experiences to share. The experiences provide me valuable visions on the global scale and encourage me to care about and contribute to global issues.

What is your favorite part of Ridley life?

My favorite part of Ridley life is the athletic programme. I have always wanted to have more opportunities to play soccer and tennis before coming to Ridley, and Ridley does give the opportunity. These sports really relax me, giving time away from a busy academic life and keep me energetic. Moreover, I enjoy collaborating with friends and competing with other schools.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favorite Ridley memory has been the VEX Robotics World Championship which took place in Kentucky. In the competition, I chatted and made friends with like-minded peers from diverse countries. They were all very kind and are as enthusiastic about robotics as I am. We found a lot of common topics including robotics, new technologies, and cultural differences. Moreover, during the games, we were able to communicate and collaborate with teams from the US, Mexico, Norway, and more, and engaged in global collaboration. I also realized how intense global competition is. There are top teams from different countries represented, which make the game difficult. The experience in the VEX robotics tournament is intense, inspiring, and memorable; I not only learned from competitions but also enjoyed it a lot with Mr. Reimer, Mr. McCambley and my teammates. 

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

The best part of my boarding House are the people in the house. Everyone in Arthur Bishop West is really nice and supportive. Mr. Doyle, Mr. Vasquez, and Mr. Sullivan give me a sense of security to live in my boarding house. I have many friends in my house, and we play and study together and help each other out.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

My greatest accomplishment at Ridley is winning the highest proficiency award in Grade 11. The IB courses are all very interesting but challenging. I learned a wide variety of knowledge and acquired new skills which prepared me for future learning and occupations. To me, the award confirms that passion and hard-work will always create good results. With the encouragement of the award, I wish to continue sailing in the sea of knowledge and curiosity, exploring new lands out of the horizon. 

Undergraduate Prize Giving 2019

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

It’s really hard for me to decide the criteria of favourite faculty, and my teachers are all very supportive and inspiring to me. Thinking about my teachers, as I was looking at this question, the more experiences I recalled, the more confused I am, because I love all my teachers though each of them has different shinning points that touch my heart. The first faculty I thought about is Mr. Reimer, my computer science teacher and robotics coach. Not only did he give me a lot of profound and ingenious ideas in academics and life, but also did he share a lot of funny stories and experiences with me.

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

I am really excited to contribute to Ridley community and make it better following the great example set by last year’s Prefects. On the way, I would face challenges and difficulties, but I’m excited to overcome them.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley leads me to develop myself and remain balanced. I have participated in sports, services, and activities which improves my leadership, global vision, and social responsibility and the IB curriculum has given me high self-reflection ability and passion for applying knowledge learned. I’m confident that I’m better prepared for study at university and a career in the engineering and entrepreneur field.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

Never could one imagine how energetic and supportive the Ridley community is before being a part of it. My teachers, coaches, and friends all help me a lot when I explore new ideas and plans. So, bravely pursue your dream no matter if it’s academic, athletic, artistic or service inspired and don’t be afraid to ask for help. The whole community will support and be behind you. However, when we go for our dream, we cannot lose sight of the busyness of Ridley life. We need to manage our time wisely so that we could finish all the work in good quality and seize opportunities.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Debbie D. ’20

Meet Debbie ’20 – a student who had a life changing experience during her Grade 9 year, that inspired her and her friends to start a service-learning trip of their own! Read more to see how leadership and service have guided her Ridley career and how she plans to lead in the coming school year.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

When I first saw Ridley, I was attracted by all the smiley faces when I walked around campus. After my tour of the school, I was attracted again by all the buildings at Ridley, and also the feeling of multiculturalism. I was thinking if I can study in such a pretty building and with people from so many different countries I would be really grateful for that.

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

Ridley has inspired me, taught me to flourish and really changed my perspectives in variety different ways. I have learned a lot and become much more mature in my time at Ridley. I am very proud to be a Ridleian.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life? 

My favorite part of Ridley is residence life. Ridley is my second home and living on campus makes me feel peaceful and happy. Being part of my residence makes me felt very included, and I like to share my life with the rest of my housemates.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favorite Ridley experience was during my Grade 9 March break. In 2017, my friends and I attended a service trip and travelled to Guatemala together. 

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

Mandeville is a united House, and every member in this house is very kind and helpful. All students in Mandeville House knows how to respect each other and love each other. All the faculty and staff in Mandeville offer help and advice, and care about the students in this house. Also, the students from Mandeville felt happy and enjoyed staying in this House, and all of us felt included and loved. 

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

I think my greatest accomplishment at Ridley would be organizing a brand-new service trip to China with a few of my friends at Ridley. In my opinion, this service trip did not only help the local students in China; it also allowed Ridley students to experience a different culture, so I think my friends and I have provided and created a really good opportunity for the Ridley student body. 

Who is your favorite faculty or staff member and why?

I like all faculty in Ridley College, and one of my favorite faculty members at Ridley is Mrs. Thompson, because she has been my Head of House since Grade 9, and in all these years, she has cared for me and helped me a lot when I needed it. She’s very kind and funny, and she made me feel really included and welcomed since the first day I joined the Ridley community, so I’m really grateful for her

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

In the upcoming year, I am very excited to help out as many students as I can, and try to come up with more creative ideas to make a better and more enjoyable life for the student body. 

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Both the academic and co-curricular programmes at Ridley have prepared me for my future. All the awesome teachers who taught me before, and all the faculty who helped me before, they all are my preparation for the future. I have learned a lot from them. All the activities I have participated in is another great way to prepare me for future because each different activity teaches me a new perspective.  Ridley has inspired me. 

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

The advice I would give prospective students about Ridley based on my three years experiences would be: enjoy every second and moment at Ridley, learn from Ridley and be inspired. 

Get to Know Your Prefects: Lucie U. ’20

Meet Lucie ’20 – a boarding student, who calls Gooderham West her home away from home. Read about all the opportunities and life-changing moments she experienced during her first year at Ridley and what she hopes the final year of high school holds for her.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

My family proposed the idea of going to Ridley, so that I could gather more life experience, since my previous school was very small. I went to class with the same nine people throughout my entire life and that is why Ridley was such a great opportunity to meet new people. Suddenly I knew so many people and I was forced to get to know new people, which was not only very exciting, but is an important experience to have. 

In addition to this, I knew that Ridley has several options when it comes to developing new skills. All these sports, activities and clubs were a great opportunity to try out new things and maybe even find different hobbies.

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

Ridley College has a very unique school culture. Ridley really values traditions and legacies, but also principles innovation and positive change. Additionally, Ridley has an amazing reputation and history to be proud of. I am proud to be a Ridleian because it makes me part of a community, which is very special to me and which nobody will be able to take from me.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

The aspect of Ridley that I like the most is the boarding. We, as boarders, and also day students, become a part of this wonderful community. I love this idea of living with friends, developing independence but also experiencing this alternative way of living. Especially the late-night conversations with friends, the spa nights or simply the sharing enhances this experience.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

I have made an enormous number of great experiences and memories in this past year, but one of the most incredible, is the service trip to Malawi. In addition to learning so many things and creating remarkable memories, this trip taught me a lot about life. It also helped me to create unique relationships with some of the students in the Jacaranda School, from our trip and with some of the adults and teachers of our trip.

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

Throughout the past year, I got to know a huge number of incredible girls in my boarding house, Gooderham West. The diversity in nationalities, talents and much more, is not only extremely inspiring but it makes each of us unique. I found so many friends in my house, but I can’t call them friends anymore: many of them are now my sisters. We live through every phase and emotion together, we support each other and if that means staying awake till late at night to comfort somebody you might not even be close friends with, so it is.

Being in a boarding house together just creates this connection and community. We are a big family and even though we might not know each other perfectly, it is comforting to know that there is this supporting light in some darker times.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

I found a lot of new friends at Ridley and I got to know so many amazing and talented people. For me this is a personal accomplishment, since I came from a small school and never got to know many people. 

Also, I feel like I finally found a relatively balanced lifestyle that is suitable to my environment. 

Lastly, I developed many skills that I would have never dreamed of. If you had told me two years ago that I would actually enjoy playing ice hockey, a sport which is not very popular in Germany, I would have never believed it. But I tried it, and even though I am very far from good at it, I count it as a new skill and activity that I enjoy.

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

I really enjoy being around so many of the faculty and staff members in different departments. From the cleaning ladies in my house, the security ladies, the sewing room ladies to all my teachers and other employees I have gotten to know, I feel like I established the most wonderful relationships with them, even if it is nothing too major. This is especially true with our former Assistant Head of House, Ms. Delaney, who helped me through a lot of personal and academic challenges and she was there for me whenever I needed a friend.

Also, several of my teachers, specifically Ms. Covent, gave me a lot of power and self-esteem throughout the year. She was very supporting with whatever I needed, and she taught me a lot of things, that are not only useful in our end-of-year exams, but life.

Lastly, I am very grateful for the health center team for being this steady rock of help whenever we students need it. They care so much about us students, not only physically but also mentally.

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

I am very excited about seeing great outcomes of certain events such as the organization of Snake Dance, some of the other dances or maybe even simple weekend activities. I am also extremely excited about working together with new departments of the school, that I am unfamiliar with until now, in order to make positive changes and see great outcomes.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

The biggest thing that Ridley prepared me for is that it encouraged me to take on challenges. Ever since I am in Ridley I am much braver, even about the most minor things, but this is an important life skill that Ridley gives to us by presenting us with so many opportunities. A good example of this is public speaking, which was a skill I simply just did not possess before, but now I challenge myself more and more and I try to overcome my fears.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

Don’t order too much food, even though everybody goes through that phase. It’s nice in the moment but your money is gone in a heartbeat!

Looking at a broader scope; always keep your spirits lifted and don’t get pulled down by something relatively insignificant, which won’t affect your life in the long term. High school tends to have a lot of unnecessary drama, but it is important to learn from it and overcome it.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Christopher H. ’20

Meet Christopher ’20 – a boarder from Barbados, who is truly grateful for his brothers in Merritt South and the caring environment the House has provided him. Read more to find out how Ridley’s diverse community has prepared him for the future.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

I had never lived away from home before and I really enjoy being put out of my comfort zones to try new things. 

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

I am proud to be a Ridleian because there is a sense of community throughout the school that I was very welcome to. I also really like how involved everyone is with activities and helping out around the school.

What is your favorite part of Ridley life?

My favorite part of Ridley is living so close to my friends, so that I can see them on weekends and participate in events together.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favorite Ridley memory was camp at the beginning of the school year, when I was able to meet so many new people and take part in the activities.

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

The best part of being in Merritt South is that the people are really great and it’s a very accepting and relaxed environment.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

My greatest accomplishment at Ridley has been becoming Prefect!

Who is your favorite faculty or staff member and why?

My favorite faculty member is my Assistant Head of House, Mr. Stephenson, because he is very funny and helps me out with advice whenever I need it.

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

I am most excited to be able to be around the firepit at Snake Dance, and to be involved and help out with all the school events. 

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley has prepared me for my future by allowing me to interact with so many different people of different ideas and cultures. These interactions open my mind to different ways of thinking and let me experience diversity as well. I also now have a taste of what it’s like to live on my own.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

I would advise that although you may be afraid to live away from your family, enter a new school or even move countries, don’t be. If you put yourself out there and try new things, you’ll have so many new memories and even more opportunities. 

Get to Know Your Prefects: Angela D. ’20

Before the bells chimed for the last time, the Prefect team for the 2019-20 school year was announced, allowing for celebrations to take place and planning for September to begin. These student-leaders took the time to share a little about themselves, so that over the summer months, Ridleians, both new and old, would have a chance to get to know the Tigers that would be guiding them through the year.

Up first, is Angela ’19 – a Mandeville Duck with a remarkable voice that she uses to not only perform for her fellow Tigers, but to speak up for those in need and to spread awareness for causes near and dear to her heart. When she isn’t on stage or singing in the Chapel, she can be found on the volleyball court or the rugby pitch. Check out the interview below to see what makes her proud to be a Ridleian.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

I had never been in a boarding house before Ridley, so I was really excited to be introduced to that type of environment. As well, entering Ridley as a freshman was a bit nerve racking because I had also never been in high school before. I was mainly excited to try new things, put myself out there and enjoy the high school experience.

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

I am proud to be a Ridleian because of all the things this school stands for. Whether it be through its awareness-raising initiatives, its work to give back to the Niagara community, its conscious effort to acknowledge diversity and spirit. This school always endeavors to be better and as a result, all those who interact with each other here (including myself) are made to be better, more socially-aware people, who are truly prepared to enter the real world and be consumed in service. 

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

For me, it’s a tie between sports and the arts. As much as I love performing and expressing myself (through artistic means), nothing can beat the communal experience of being on a sports team. As a team, you win and lose together and playing sports is just another way that Ridleians can form relationships with those that they otherwise would not interact with as much. In the same breath, the performing arts are my passion and this school has presented me with a lot of opportunities to express myself through singing, acting, public speaking, etc. 

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favourite Ridley experience was definitely my first time at camp in 2016. To me, that whole experience was just an incredible introduction to the spirit and sense of community that this school has. At camp, I made a lot of great friendships with girls in and outside of my House. It was a judgment and care-free environment and laughter-filled experience that really set the tone for a great first year at Ridley. 

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

The best part of being in Mandeville is the girls. They are all my sisters from other misters! Every year, I meet more charismatic, diverse and intelligent girls and I get to learn a lot from them. Although we may have our challenges, I can positively say that I’ve formed some beautiful relationships with a lot of the girls in my house and I’m so appreciative of my school family.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot at this school. As I said before, I’ve been exposed to a lot of opportunities that I otherwise would not have had the luxury of experiencing. My accomplishments range from being in academics to being in co-curriculars (cadets) and in sports (volleyball and rugby). However, I think my greatest accomplishment has been learning to take risks, mainly putting myself out there despite my fear of judgment. As I’ve spent more years at Ridley, I’ve learned that judgment will always be their (just like in the real world) and the only person who can let that judgment impact me or limit me is myself. So, even though I’m not fully there, my greatest accomplishment at this school has been being unapologetically authentic in the manner I choose to present myself to the school community. 

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

There are many faculty members at this school who I admire for the different ways that they have impacted me. This includes my past and present teachers, coaches, activity leaders, Head of House, duty team members and the Assistant Head of House. Nevertheless, if I had to pick one person, it would have to be my advisor, Mrs. McNiven. She is the most giving, caring and understanding person I’ve ever met, and she does so much for the girls and I without acknowledging the gravity of her impact. She also knows how to set me straight when I need it and despite how much I may act like I hate it, I love her sarcastic wit. 

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

I’m most excited to see what goes into planning the communal events that we have at this school. I know it’ll be hard balancing academics, activities, sports and my personal sanity. Still, Prefectship is another learning experience I am more than willing to take on. I’m also really excited to give my chapel talk because I will be speaking about a topic that matters a lot to me and that (I hope) is applicable to the experiences of many others at Ridley.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Time-Management! Our schedules are packed at this school and I think that is very fitting because that’s how it is going to be when we all get jobs and/or go university. Ridley teaches you a lot about self-discipline and the importance of having routine while embracing change and acknowledging your physical and emotional capabilities. 

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

To me, being at Ridley has been about never saying “no” for selfish reasons. It’s perfectly okay to take a step back and acknowledge when you need to have some time to yourself. However, I would say that you should never let your fears of judgment of criticism limit your actions. Take risks, don’t be afraid to fail and share who you are with the members at this school because it will all be a learning experience about the world around us.  

Ridleian Published in Medical Journal

Committed to his goal of one day becoming a medical doctor, Arnav Wadhawan ’19 seized the opportunity to contribute his summer research to a peer-reviewed medical journal and presented his findings at an international medical conference.

View Online Journal co-authored by Arnav.

Grade 12 student, Arnav’s motivation to turn to the field of medicine was undoubtedly inspired by his parents, both doctors, as well as other family members who have taken on the vocation of physicians. What ignited his specific interest for research in the field of infectious diseases was his volunteer work with Dr. Rajinder Bajwa from the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, in New York. Impressed by Arnav’s proactive approach to learning and his breadth of knowledge, Dr. Bajwa, an infectious disease specialist and doctor of internal medicine, asked the teen if he’d like to assist in compiling an article on Legionellosis—a term used to describe clinical manifestations of infection caused by the Legionella bacteria, which includes Legionnaires Disease, focal non-pulmonary infections and Pontiac Fever.

Arnav jumped at the opportunity and swiftly went to work, making this journal his summer 2018 focus. Beginning in July, Arnav dove deep into research on the subject—combing through articles on “Pub Med” and even using his father’s resources as an additional tool in gathering knowledge on the disease. After nearly two months of studying, writing and editing, and with Dr. Bajwa’s stamp of approval, Arnav’s work was submitted to a number of Medical Journals alongside Dr. Bajwa’s credentials, and the waiting game began.

Once an article is received by a Medical Journal, it was reviewed by an editorial committee to assess the validity of the work, the educational value in publishing and to determine if it aligned with the topics they are circulating. Arnav and Dr. Bajwa went through the editorial committee process twice, and on the second submission they received the exciting news that their review was going to be published by Juniper Publishing.

As it was my first publication, I was extremely thrilled as I thought the journey to my dreams had begun and my hard work over the summer has brought a reward. I could not have thanked my mentors enough for their help in the process. As soon as I got the news I called my mentor and expressed my gratitude to him. This has also encouraged me to do more during my breaks so that I can contribute to the field of medicine with my research.”                                          – Arnav Wadhawan ’19

This past October, Arnav was given the opportunity to present his findings at 2018 Medical Imaging and Case Reports Conference (MICRA 2018) in Baltimore, Maryland in Dr. Bajwa’s place. The senior Ridley student once again rose to the occasion and presented a case report on the right-sided infective endocarditis. Feeling comfortable with the material, Arnav took to the stage and presented in front of the international medical community, which included representation from Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins University.

Arnav is committed to furthering his medical education, and is currently a research assistant in a study with Roche Pharmaceuticals. Through this experience, he is working on yet another publication for a medical journal. While he is unsure of what his post-secondary school of choice will be, he plans to remain dedicated to becoming a doctor. “I think what I have learned from this publication,” says Arnva, “is that time is one of the most important aspects of our lives and if utilized towards our goals it will bring us one step closer to achieving them.”

10 Inspiring Alumnae to Celebrate

Driven, ambitious and passionate are a few words you may use to describe an inherently inspirational woman in your life. Today is International Women’s Day and we’d like to celebrate a few of Ridley’s alumnae who have made their mark on the world.

Georgina Black ’85

Georgina Black ’85: As the first female Chair of the Board of Governors at Ridley College, Georgina has paved the way for young women to succeed in both leadership and governance. In addition to her role at Ridley, she is a Partner at KPMG Canada and was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women in 2016.

Michele-Elise Burnett ’86: Michele-Elise founded the Indigenous festival, Celebration of Nations, which takes place every September. In addition, during the 18th annual Women in Business Awards this past November, Michele-Elise Burnett ’85 was recognized for her commitment to helping the arts thrive in Niagara; winning the Cultural Arts Award.

Sarah Eyton ’86: As Vice President of Fund Development at Special Olympics Canada, this alumna has dedicated her career to supporting those with intellectual disabilities in realizing their dreams of competing in sport. In addition, she serves Ridley College as a member of the Board of Governors and the Advancement Committee.

Nadine Karachi-Estrada ’87: Passionate about social justice, this alumna was appointed the Honorary Consul for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016. In addition, she has served on a number of Boards, including Ridley College, Patrons of Contemporary Art in Mexico and MEXFAM. She was also a founding member of Camp Deen, which is a camp that empowers Muslim Canadians to be proud of their heritage.

Michele-Elise Burnett ’86 & Nadine Karachi-Estrada ’87

Wendy O’Brien ’88: This alumna started her own casting company in Los Angeles, Wendy O’Brien Casting, and has been the Casting Director for hit television shows such as: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sons of Anarchyand Prison Break.

Hilary Caters ’89: Hilary was once an entrepreneur and marketing agency owner, until she realized her path was leading her down a different direction. Now, she is a passionate life coach and motivational speaker. During the Niagara Leadership Summit for Women in October of 2018, Hilary spoke to aspiring leaders about taking control of ones’ life and the importance of seeking and uncovering both passion and purpose.

Jane Lewis ’90: This Canadian singer-songwriter has always been involved in the arts. While she began her career as an author and editor, she shifted towards music in 2009. Since then, she has honed her skills, released a number of CDs and launched both a solo career and her band, Gathering Sparks. She will be performing at our Toronto Branch event, Curating Connections, on April 2nd.

Jane Lewis ’90

Alison Loat ’94: This alumna co-founded Samara Canada, a charitable organization that works to improve political participation in Canada. In addition, she has published several notable books, is the Managing Director at FCLTGlobal, serves on both Ridley’s Board of Governors as well as Ai-Media and has been named one of WXN’s most influential women in Canada.

Jeanette Stock ’09: This alumna is paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse tech landscape through Venture Out. Venture Out is an initiative launched by Jeanette and her peers in 2016, with the goal of connecting LGBTQA+ people, working in technology, with career and networking opportunities. In 2017, Venture Out held its first conference; welcoming over 450 individuals to Canada’s first conference for LGBTQA+ students and professionals, seeking careers in the tech industry.

Jeanette Stock ’09

Laura Court ’14: After a unanimous vote, former Ridley rower and current Brock Badger, Laura Court ’14 was named Brock University’s OUA Female Athlete of the Year—the first coxswain to receive this honour. With a number of gold medal wins behind her and a promising future ahead, it is no surprise that she was recognized for her grit, determination and skill.