Tag Archives: Canadian boarding school

Get to Know Your Prefects: Ben M. ’19

Introducing Ben M. ’19: a Prefect who truly appreciates the value of a Ridley education. From a young age, Ben sought an environment where he could challenge himself and ultimately thrive. Beginning his Ridley journey in Grade 7, Ben had found the school he belonged at and immersed himself in every opportunity that arose. Read more about Ben’s Ridley story and what he has learned during his time on campus.

Why did you choose Ridley?
I appreciate the immense value that is placed on public education here in Canada. However, as I went through my first eight years in the public education system it became evident that a regular 9am-3pm school was not the environment that I was going to be able to strive in. So, when I was offered the amazing opportunity, with the support of my family, to attended Ridley I decided to take full advantage.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
I think that it is safe to say that every 12-year-old kid who moves to a new school will have some sort of angst associated with developing new relationships and getting climatized to a new environment with different expectations. However, with the support of all the Lower School staff members along with the welcoming attitude of everyone in my class, that anxiety quickly disappeared.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?
Throughout my 5-year journey at Ridley thus far I have had the pleasure of being taught, coached, mentored and advised by some very spectacular people. However, the person who I have the greatest respect and appreciation for on campus is the headmaster; Mr. Kidd. In my opinion, Mr. Kidd embodies Ridley as a whole, he is caring, he is personable, and he goes above and beyond what you would expect from your Headmaster. I have had the pleasure of being coached by Mr. Kidd on the rugby team, both at the first and under-sixteen level, as well as sit on a school committee lead by him. Throughout those experiences alone, his passion for his job and for the student body is evident.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?
So far, my greatest challenge at Ridley has been balancing the workload that accompanies my athletic, academic and co-curricular commitments. Ever since I started Ridley in grade 7, it was evident that life as a Ridley student was going to challenge me, but I quickly realized that perseverance, grit and time management would help me succeed. With the help of the amazing support team that every Ridley student has built in place for them on campus, I for one, can say that I am in a much better place now then I was 5 years ago.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?
I am so proud to have been named to this year’s Prefect team. I feel that my greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley is to be recognized as a leader in the school community, as I go into my final year here at Ridley.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?
My favourite Ridley experience thus far has to be my exchange opportunity to go to the King’s School in Parramatta (border city to Sydney), Australia when I was in Grade 10. This is one of those opportunities that Ridley presents that I am shocked the entire grade doesn’t take advantage of. After hosting a student from King’s at my home in St. Catharines for three months where he attended Ridley, I flew overseas to Sydney to stay at the King’s School for three months alongside a few of my closest friends and our exchange partners. Over the course of my stay, I learned the value of independence, planning and open-mindedness. Going on an exchange has been the single most valuable part of my time at Ridley, and I am very grateful to have had that opportunity.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?
Life at Ridley is filled with memorable experiences, whether it be school wide events, house specific events, events with teams or even just the little things that occur on a daily basis. However, my single favourite part of Ridley life would have to be the athletics programme. I find it amazing that every single Ridley student has the opportunity to participate in such an exceptional athletic programme every single day. Whether it be on a competitive team or in a sport for life environment, in my experience being a part of Ridley teams has provided me with some amazing opportunities and memories. 

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?
Ever since I started at Ridley I have looked up to those who have dawned the white-trimmed blazers (formerly all-white blazers). Being in a leadership position I understand the very high expectations that are set for me. However, the part of being a Prefect that that I am most excited for, is doing everything in my power to meet and exceed those expectations, in order to best serve the student body and represent Ridley in a leadership position. I look forward to carrying out new initiatives and getting to know the greater Ridley population.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
Although I have yet to test this theory, life at Ridley has put me in some very unique positions that I would have otherwise not had the opportunity to experience. Throughout my time at Ridley I have learned skills such as stress management, taking advantage of opportunities, respecting and learning from worldly cultures, and interacting in a formal environment. It is my hope that I can use these experiences to prepare myself for the road ahead, wherever it may take me.

What are your plans after graduation?
Although I have not set anything in stone as of yet, my plan is to go off to a Canadian university following my senior year at Ridley. It is my hope that throughout the upcoming school year that I will be able to work with the guidance department further, to come up with an academic plan that suits both my vision and my needs as a student.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?
Everyone who goes to Ridley College has the privilege of attending this amazing school. However, Ridley is only as valuable as you make it out to be. Your Ridley experience is in your own hands as soon as you step onto campus. In my opinion, in order to make the most of your time as a Ridley student you must take full advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you. Do so with an open mind and the comfort to get uncomfortable.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Nicole C. ’19

Meet Nicole C. ’19: a Prefect who has been at Ridley for over a decade. Beginning her experience at our school as an eager and excited Grade 1 student, Nicole has had many years to grow and learn within the Marriott Gates; making her an invaluable resource for all things Ridley. Read more about her many years as a Tiger and what she hopes to do in her final year at Ridley.

Why did you choose Ridley?
Being so young when I came to Ridley, the decision was entirely up to my parents. However, I’m sure the diverse, welcoming, and rigorous environment appealed to them. My older sister came to Ridley a year before I did and going to the same school was ideal.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
Being the humble age of six, it’s difficult to remember how prepared I was feeling at the time. I was young and excited for what Ridley had to offer, entering the Ridley community with a childlike excitement that has stayed with me throughout the remainder of my years at the school.

Of course, the Ridley lifestyle is unique and required some adjusting. However, making the transition to a different school wasn’t nearly as daunting when having a handful of close friends – most who I had known practically since birth – to do it with.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?
Having attended Ridley for such an extended period, it would be impossible for me to settle on only one favourite faculty member. As I have grown and time has passed, different faculty members have impacted and supported me in different ways.

One that I think deserves to be recognized for his commitment to his students and passion is Mr. Ronald. A Ridley icon, he has always been kind, patient, and empathetic towards others– myself included. He has continued to support me long since he taught me Grade 9 Geography, and his endless encouragement and friendly-nature will always be something I can rely on.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?
Ridley comes with many challenges – it is a bustling environment in which every student has to juggle countless deadlines, commitments, and responsibilities. Maintaining a balance within these obligations while also making sure I still have time for myself has been my greatest challenge. Ultimately, however, this challenge has helped me grow into a better and stronger person.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?
My most significant accomplishment was probably being the recipient of the Dr. William Hamilton Merit Memorial Prize for public speaking. For someone who finds public speaking a challenge, I was terrified to present my speech in front of a large audience. It was tough for me to gather up the courage to speak.

The bravery that it took to present marked a critical moment of personal growth in which I could suddenly see how I have changed and grown throughout my time at Ridley. Looking into the crowd and seeing some of my closest friends supporting me made the experience even better, making it a moment which I will always look back on.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?
Nothing is as exciting and entertaining as Snake Dance is at the beginning of the year. It is one of my favourite experiences. The fireworks, the bonfire, the music – the amount of school spirit at that moment is insane.

When the whole school comes together for the event, it really feels like one united community. From the roaring bonfire to the students milling around in black and orange paint, it is one of the most exhilarating events of the entire year.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?
My favourite part of Ridley is the constant change and growth I experience. Being an international school with a diverse range of students and faculty, I can always look forward to learning something new and exciting each day. There are so many different clubs, activities, and sports offered, so there are always opportunities to interact with new people. I love the uniqueness of the Ridley community and how that uniqueness is embedded in the daily life of each Ridleian.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?
I am looking forward to representing the school and suggesting positive change, while also meeting new students and learning more from those around me. I hope to be a friendly and positive face in the school and am excited to help welcome and integrate new Ridleians into the community.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
Ridley is a place like no other. Truly a global community, Ridley has already given me the chance to interact with different cultures, traditions, languages, and personalities from all around the world. Our world is continually growing and diversifying, similarly to how the Ridley community does. The curriculum itself has also made me grow stronger as a person. The rigorous learning environment has resulted in me becoming more open-minded, reflective, and a better problem solver – all skills I know will be beneficial in my future.

What are your plans after graduation?
At the moment, I’m not sure what my plans are. I have yet to decide my field of study but know that Ridley has prepared me well for my future endeavors. After graduation, I am planning on attending university in the fall, though I haven’t decided where. Regardless, I am excited to continue to pursue subjects I am interested in and continue to seize new opportunities.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?
Ridley is a stimulating but rigorous environment – it’s meant to be one. The school offers countless different opportunities for any student and taking advantage of these is really what makes it worth it. You get out of Ridley what you put in, so embrace the challenges you face, be open to new activities, and enjoy the time you spend here.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Asmatullah A. ’19

Meet Asmatullah: a Prefect who began his Ridley journey last year and has launched himself into everything that our school offers. During the 2017-2018 school year, Asmatullah learned his fifth language, found a home away from home, sought leadership roles and excelled in academics, athletics and co-curriculars. Read more about his past accomplishments and future endeavors.

Why did you choose Ridley?
The main reason that I chose Ridley was because of endless opportunities and support available at the school that would help me grow. I chose to come to Ridley because of the values such as keeping up with service to others, that the Ridley community possesses and fits my characteristics and purpose of life.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
Coming to Ridley, I thought that I am well prepared to start my year. However, everything exceeded my expectations; from the diversity in the community to studying with such an amazing and smart cohort and from the volume of opportunities available to academic intensity at the school especially with the IB programme. I felt overwhelmed in the beginning but with support that I got from the faculty, staff, and my friends, I was able to take on every challenge, thrive and have fun.

Who is your favorite faculty member and why?
This is a hard question to answer because since I started school at Ridley, I have been meeting very kind and amazing faculty and staff members. From kind-hearted Admissions staff, Dean’s House’s amazing duty team and my supportive teachers, I will choose Ms. Crowe Morey as my favorite faculty member. She is my Spanish teacher, advisor for the club that I am leading (Challenge 2020) and a strong support for me. Ms. Crowe Morey has put her trust in me and believes in my future success. She gives me hope and helps me stay strong. With her support I was able to prosper in learning my fifth language; Spanish.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?
My biggest challenge at Ridley so far has been keeping up with the academic challenges while participating in a variety of activities and sports. During my time at Ridley, I participated in several clubs and activities where I had different leadership roles. I was in the senior rowing team which is one of the most demanding and time-consuming sports on campus while being enrolled in the IB Diploma Programme. Having a perfectionist characteristic, it was a challenge for me to keep up with everything and have everything perfect.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?
From all my accomplishments this past year, I can conclude that they all led to my greatest accomplishment so far in life; being a Prefect. Coming to Ridley in September 2017, I only had a couple of months to prove my leadership potential for the position. I consider being a Prefect one of my greatest accomplishments because now I am in a position where I am a part of the driving force behind positive changes at Ridley. Now I can serve my peers to the best of my ability and their interests.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?
Being in love with military disciplines and traditions, doing cadets is my favorite Ridley experience so far. In the beginning of my year at Ridley I participated in Ridley College Drill Team and when the main cadets season started, I was selected to be a part of Ridley College Cadet Corps’ leadership team as Company Sergeant Major for E Company. For me Cadets is more than just wearing a sweater coat uniform or cadet reds and marching around. For me it’s a matter of pride. It’s a way to honor those who gave their lives and those who are still fighting for our freedom. It’s a way to teach teamwork and pass value with honor to our younger generations. I know how good it felt during Church Parade while marching in the back of our cadet corps, taking care from behind, and watching hundreds of students marching and more than 50 flags fly. And that’s why Cadets is my favorite experience at Ridley so far.

What is your favorite part of Ridley life?
My favorite part of Ridley life is our residences. All the residences, especially Dean’s House (my residence), felt like home for me after a couple of days at school. The love, support and good vibes that I saw at Dean’s House helped me to stop missing my home back in Afghanistan and start creating a new home for myself at Ridley. Thanks to the house duty team members, especially our Heads of Houses, Assistant Heads of Houses and Resident Dons, for making our experience at Ridley as good as it could be.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?
What I am most excited about as a Prefect is seeing my peers smiling, while I know that I had a hand in causing that smile, satisfaction, and good experience at Ridley. As a Prefect, my main goal will be to make next year as enjoyable and fun as possible for all members of our Ridley community. Although, this is a challenging goal and might sound idealistic; I am excited to take on the challenges alongside the Prefect team and do whatever I can to make next year a memorable one for everyone.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
For me Ridley is far more than just a place where I go to school. Ridley is an experience. Apart from the academic skills and knowledge that I have acquired at Ridley, my experience at Ridley has helped me grow spiritually and find my real self in many different ways. Ridley has thought me how to handle my emotions and fight till the end, until I succeed.

What are your plans after graduation?
As I want to enter the field of politics in future, my plans after graduation from Ridley is doing double major in Political Science and Economics, which are fields that I enjoy studying. My dream school is NYU Abu Dhabi because I believe that being able to study my degree around the world in any NYU campus with the study abroad program is essential for a political science student to get a first-hand experience of politics around the world. If I could live anywhere in the world I will choose between San Diego or Vancouver, but I will go wherever life and my goals takes me. I would love to continue learning to play the piano and do photography, as both are my hobbies.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?
If I was to give advice to a prospective Ridley student it will be similar to this: “If you are looking for somewhere to flourish and grow Ridley is the right place for you. Here at Ridley there are infinite opportunities available for you but they do not come to your feet; with a bit of confidence, initiative, and creativity, with support of people who you will be surrounded with, you will be able to embrace change and use those opportunities to grow day in and out. Ridley is a challenging school from all aspects, if you are committed to bringing a positive change to the world Ridley will be the best point to begin as long as you work hard, stay committed to your goals, and have fun.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Jared S. ’19

While the school year may seem far away, now is a great time for
new Tigers to learn a little bit more about what Ridley is like. There is no better way to learn than from a fellow student. Meet Jared Sloan ’19: one of 13 Student Prefects for the 2018-2019 year. As a Prefect, Jared will help support, empower and lead the student body.

Jared began his Ridley journey in 2013 as a Grade 7 student and has since excelled in his academics, athletics and co-curricular experiences. Read more about Jared’s Ridley story and find out what he’s looking forward to most come September.

Why did you choose Ridley?
Truthfully, it wasn’t really my choice, so I guess you should ask my parents that question. I think they’d say it was because Ridley offered so much more than any other school in the region and would hopefully provide better preparation for university. Looking back, I have to admit they made a smart decision.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
I don’t think I ever felt overwhelmed, but as with any new school, there were definitely some changes I had to get used to. Luckily, there were also lots of people who helped ease the transition. I remember one teacher telling me on the first day of school that if I ever needed help, I could come talk to him. Gestures like that went a long way in relieving any anxiety I may have initially had.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?
I guess that depends on the criteria. Favourite teacher to learn from? Mr. Ronald. I honestly think you’d be hard-pressed to find a human being more passionate about their job than him. Favourite teacher to be around? Dr. Foster. Her unfailing positivity and humour always made French class an experience to look forward to. Biggest contributor to my enjoyment of Ridley life? Mr. Doyle, who has been everything I could want in a math teacher, Head of House and golf coach. But he still owes me two River Lions tickets.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?
The most intimidating thing I’ve done would probably be participating in the Valentine’s Day Debate as a Grade 9. I always thought that this event – which takes place in front of the entire school – was reserved for Ridley’s most experienced debaters, and I had no idea I would be asked to compete in it in my first year of high school. I was reluctant to say yes, and nervous once I did, but I think I prepared well and put on a decent performance. And you know what? It’s kind of fun to debate in front of 400 fans instead of just 4 judges, like we do at most tournaments.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?
Being voted the Grade 8 Valedictorian by my peers was pretty meaningful to me. I’m not the most naturally social person, so I can’t say I was friends with everyone in the grade, but it was nice to know that my peers thought highly enough of me to let me speak on their behalf at graduation. (Either that or the vote got split a bunch of different ways…I’m sticking with the first explanation!) All kidding aside, to go from new student to valedictorian in two years was something I couldn’t have imagined, so that one’s still special to me.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?
I’ll give you my favourite Ridley story. It’s from the Grade 8 trip to Ottawa and Montreal in 2015, which took place while the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens were playing each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. How perfect was that? Ottawa should never have actually made the playoffs, but they snuck in thanks to a miraculous late-season run by their goaltender, Andrew Hammond, who was affectionately nicknamed the Hamburglar. Anyway, we’re in Ottawa, it’s lunchtime, and I’m standing in line at a McDonald’s with Jordan, Tyler, and Bart. The woman behind us hears us talking about hockey and informs us that the Hamburglar is taking pictures with people a couple blocks away. Of course, we interpret this as “Andrew Hammond is taking pictures with people”, which should have struck us as odd given that he had a playoff game in Montreal a few hours later. But clearly we weren’t too bright back then, as we immediately rushed out of the restaurant to get to the photo op. We were just deciding what we were going to say to Andrew when we turned the corner and realized that the “Hamburglar” the woman had referred to was just a cardboard cut-out of the actual Hamburglar. We’d wasted our lunch break chasing a false lead! I understand it was our own fault, but still…why would that woman have thought we’d want a photo with a cardboard cartoon character? I think we need to track her down and ask her that.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?
The busyness. With so much going on, there’s always something to look forward to. Your next game, your next club meeting, your next presentation…things that allow you to wake up in the morning with a sense of excitement and purpose. Can it become stressful at times? For sure. But I always say that if you were never stressed, it would probably be because you were never doing anything important, which would be a sad way to live your life.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?
Working with my fellow Prefects. I might be biased, but I think that the Class of 2019 is a particularly strong one, and I’d like to think the Prefect team reflects that. I really believe there are some amazing leaders in this grade, which is one of the reasons I found this job so attractive. I’ve done lots of group work in the past, but never anything this extensive, and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish over the course of an entire school year.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
Time management is definitely one of the big things. I’ve talked to people from other schools who say they’re nervous about university because they went through high school without really doing any work – needless to say, you won’t have to worry about that at Ridley. I also think that Ridley does a good job of teaching responsibility. For example, if you miss class due to a sports commitment, your teachers will be happy to help you catch up, but you have to be proactive and arrange those meetings. In my opinion, Ridley gives you every opportunity to succeed if you show initiative.

What are your plans after graduation? 
In a perfect world, I’d do an undergraduate health sciences degree in the U.S. and then come back to Canada and study medicine. Both of my parents are in the healthcare field, and I definitely think that’s something I’d like to enter. But I have other interests, too. I’ve joked before that I’d like to combine the Ben Carson and Chris Christie career paths. Ben Carson went from doctor to politician, and Chris Christie went from politician to sports radio host – or at least he almost did. So, we’ll see. I won’t etch anything in stone yet.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?
I feel like some of the other Prefects will say “take advantage of the opportunities” (which is perfectly valid advice), so I’ll go for something different. Just stay on top of things. I see people who constantly hand in work late – one assignment is overdue, so they push the next one back, and it quickly becomes a never-ending game of catch-up. As you would expect, that almost always leads to more stress and less success. And if you’re always behind, you’ll miss out on a lot of the great things that Ridley has to offer. So, please make the most of your Ridley experience and manage your workload effectively.

TOP 10 Pieces of Advice for Graduates

As the Class of 2018 prepares to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas, we compiled 10 pieces of advice from young alumni, that will help our graduates as they begin the next chapter of their lives.

1. Find Your Passion
“Great ideas come from great passion. When you do what you love, you will never look back. The positive light from doing what you love will unknowingly motivate others to do the same!” – Marina Radovanovic ’14

2. Set Goals
“Set goals and then reset them regularly. Stand behind your ideas. Even if the first ones don’t take, keep an entrepreneurial spirit alive. Think outside the box. Sometimes the best ideas are the ones that break the mold.” – Colt Iggulden ’03

3. Believe in Yourself
“One of the biggest things that current and future Ridleians should remember is to never stop believing that they can do great things. Anybody can do anything that they set their minds to. No matter how much adversity one must face to achieve greatness, it is important to never lose sight of what you want and to never give up. If there is something you want, go for it and don’t hold back.”
Luc Brodeur ’14

4. Seek Mentorship
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be patient. If I had never asked my coach what my next steps were, I wouldn’t have been able to take them. Then I had to be patient and wait for the right time. It’s all about the process, enjoy it. If you have a passion for something, don’t be afraid to pursue it.” – Laura Court ’14

5. Strive for More
“Follow your curiosity and always look for ways to improve. This may require further education and certification, volunteering with people different than you, or taking on a side-gig, but compounding curiosity will open you up to opportunities you may have never thought of.” – Radley Mackenzie ’03

6. Embrace Change
“You can’t rest on what you have done before, what you did last month, or five years ago. You really have to every day try and create something new that is going to help you out down the road.” – Thomas ‘Tawgs’ Salter ’94

7. Be Fearless
“If you believe in your idea, get out there and make it happen. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work out, you learn an absolute ton, and you nail it the next time. So many decisions are driven by the fear of failure – don’t let yourself fall into that trap and keep taking big risks!” – Jillian Evans ‘06

8. Take Risks
“Challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone. Test out different subjects and hold on to what does not let your mind rest.” – Marc Seitz ’08

9. Be a Part the Bigger Picture
“Remember what it means to be a positive part of a community. Don’t get caught up trying to clamor to the top. Build strong supportive relationships with your peers and your competitors, think globally, act locally.” – Jordan Fowler ’05

10. Be Patient
“Take your time in figuring out what you want to do. There is a lot of pressure to pick something and stick with it, but I think careers and passions grow and evolve just as we do.” – Megan Breukelman ’11

Oh and… “Thank your parents. Seriously.” – Jeanette Stock ’09

Many Ridley College alumni have gone on to enjoy successful careers in their respective fields. The Ridley College MentORship Programme offers these Old Ridleians an opportunity to contribute to the Ridley mission by advising younger alumni who have graduated within the last ten years. If you are interested in becoming a mentor or would like to take advantage of this programme as a mentee, visit here.

Students Transform Our Globe on Annual Service Trips

The Ridley motto, “May I be consumed in service” was aptly applied by three groups of students who travelled to Malawi, Guatemala and China during the March break. These service-learning excursions provided Ridleians with the unique opportunity to experience the living conditions in these countries, while actively contributing to their betterment.

At Ridley, emphasis is placed on global mindedness and service, so it comes as no surprise that so many Tigers were willing to dedicate their holidays to helping those less fortunate in distant communities. Here are some highlights from each of the 2018 service-learning trips:

Malawi

This March, Ridley continued its commitment to the Jacaranda School for Orphans, with 23 representatives making the long trek to Malawi for two weeks. Mr. Burke, Mrs. Darby and Dr. Des Vignes accompanied 20 students from Grades 9 to 12 as they embarked on an experience of a lifetime. This year, students brought an additional suitcase (23 suitcases total) filled with a variety of resources doe Jacaranda students including medical supplies, toys, laptops, tablets, art supplies, clothing and games.

While there, Ridleians were involved in an array of initiatives to benefit in the well-being of the local community, such as the Days for Girls project, delivering more than 20 feminine hygiene kits to the girls of Jacaranda. Students also worked on an outreach programme, going into a local village and helping to build a home for Mike, a boy in Grade 2, who is living with HIV and is also currently fighting cancer. One of the unique initiatives, that was even featured on a local television station, was the involvement of students collaborating with Jacaranda children to build prosthetic hands, brought in from Ridley’s “Helping Hands” Grade 11 class project.

 “Nothing prepares you for the experience of going to Malawi and Jacaranda. All you can do is “be free to fly” because that’s what the children of Jacaranda would do.” – Mrs. Wendy Darby ’99, Librarian and Archivist.

Many of the students reflected on how their time at Jacaranda had affected their perspective on life in a positive way. Some mentioned how they will now focus on the importance of expressing their gratitude towards their parents, becoming willing to convey their emotions more freely based on their personal observations of the children of Malawi, and treat every day as a gift – not taking for granted simple luxuries like running water and a warm bed.

Ridley’s connection to the Jacaranda School was initiated in October 2016, when founder, Marie Da Silva visited our campus to educate students on her mission in Malawi.

View photos.

Guatemala

The annual service trip once again brought a group of students to volunteer with The Doppenbergs in Guatemala (D.I.G.). This is a non-profit organization that helps build local schools, provides water and nutrition solutions to families and has developed the Centre of Hope for special needs children.

Part of the Doppenbergs mission is, “to work together with other to open their hearts and mind to service so together we can make this world a better place.” Ridleians followed in these footsteps by joining the Doppenberg’s altruistic efforts and positively impacting the children of Guatemala.

Ridleians spent the week participating in various projects, such as painting the school in preparation for the upcoming rainy season, as well as planting the nutrient-rich Moringa plants.

One particular experience put the students into the shoes of the Guatemalans. In an effort to better understand one of the challenges that local families endure, our students participated in a 1.5km “water walk.”

“This water walk made me realize that I take basic human needs such as clean water for granted. I did not realize how much work these women did for water until I experienced it myself.” – Vanessa Ferrante ’21

Students got to experience first-hand what life is like in Guatemala. The most cherished time spent, however, was connecting with children at the Centre for Hope who welcomed our students with open arms. The connections with these children had the most striking impact on our students.

“I learned how to be more independent, I created stronger bonds with my friends and teachers and I experienced a different way of living.” – Victoria Ferreira ’21

View photos.

China

A group of students travelled to China from March 16th to April 1st to participate in a cultural exchange sponsored by the Guiyang Education Bureau. Participants of the trip had the opportunity to collaborate with several primary schools in Guiyang, interacting with the school community, exchanging cultures and taking part in a variety of co-curricular activities.

The school communities were comprised of China’s left-behind children, and our Rildey students’ purpose was to inspire these children to pursue their education, strive to achieve their goals and dreams, and reduce the drop-out rate within these communities.

While all three trips comprised of vastly different experiences, what connects them is the intention behind their travel: giving back. Through these unique travel opportunities, students gain an appreciation of different cultures, opinions and ways of life. Service initiatives continue on campus, with our Ridleians dedicated to transforming our globe.

TransfORming Our Globe – Krystal Chong ’02

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” –Joseph Campbell

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe blog series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Krystal Chong ’02, who has used her own experiences to propel her into success as a mental wellness entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. Read how she risked everything in search of her calling and found it in New York City.

Krystal calls her time at Ridley “priceless,” and says that her Ridley education was the best gift her parents ever gave her. From 2000–2002, Krystal embraced all that Ridley had to offer; filling her days with swim practice, competing on the tennis courts, volunteering with Alzheimer’s patients and learning valuable skills that would accompany her on her career path. Like many Ridleians before her, one of the most important lessons Krystal learned while at Ridley was time management. “[Ridley] really taught me the value of maximizing a day and it made me realize how much you can accomplish if you manage your time well and push yourself,” shared Krystal. Above all of these timeless life lessons, Krystal is thankful to the faculty of Ridley for instilling in her a love of learning.

 “The teachers at Ridley were just so spectacular, I had never experienced anything like that until and since then. They single handedly taught me to enjoy learning, and that I was actually good at it, as long as I put the effort into it. They made me enjoy the process of becoming better and better and seeing myself progress as a result of what I put in, gave me the confidence that there was no limit for myself but myself.” – Krystal Chong ’02

After graduating Ridley, Krystal studied Psychology and Business at McGill University in Montreal, before returning to Jamaica. She strongly believed that in order to be happy in life, she needed to love her career and have a meaningful connection to the work she was doing. She decided to become a part of the family business and work alongside her loved ones. She spent many years working for Honey Bun Ltd. – the fastest growing wholesale bakery in Jamaica – eventually working her way up to the Chief Marketing Officer position. Krystal recalls, “one of my proudest contributions to date is to have played an integral part in building the company’s brand and taking the company public.” However, after eight years with the company, she felt a deep desire to find her true purpose in life. The realization that she needed to move in a different direction, but didn’t know what direction that was, intensified her pre-existing struggles with anxiety and depression. Desperate for a change yet tasked with a difficult decision to take a risk or stay within her comfort zone, Krystal found herself at a pivotal moment.

“In the end there was one thing I knew for sure. I could live with trying and failing, but I could not live with never knowing what could have been.” – Krystal Chong ’02

Krystal resigned from her position at Honey Bun Ltd. and made the leap in moving to New York City on a journey to discover what her life’s purpose was and what would truly make her happy. Luckily for Krystal, this story has a happy ending. The lessons she learned on that journey helped Krystal conquer her anxiety and depression, leading her to a moment of clarity. Krystal is now an author, speaker and entrepreneur, dedicated to helping others live a flourishing life.

Krystal wrote the highly-acclaimed book, “What The Hell Am I Supposed To Do With My Life?! – A fun and friendly guide to finding your magic, your purpose and yo’ self”. This book sets out to help others discover meaning and connection in their lives, regardless of what hurdles may stand in their way.

“To hear from readers all over the world with wonderful stories about how the book is changing their lives, to hear about them becoming empowered to overcome their challenges and live the lives they want for themselves, to hear that for the first time in a long time they feel ‘hope’ and that has moved them to change, has been my ABSOLUTE GREATEST joy in life.” – Krystal Chong ’02

Krystal’s profession is her passion, so she is constantly working towards her next big goals and continuing to better herself. With another book on the horizon and a new company, Anxiety Schmanxiety, which provides a comprehensive, organic, and enjoyable approach to conquering anxiety and improving mental wellness, Krystal is truly thriving.

As someone whose job is to instill confidence in those around her and motivate individuals to chase their dreams, Krystal shares some words of wisdom with Ridleians who are on their own journey to self-discovery:

“You are on a wonderful, wonderful journey and sometimes that journey may not feel so wonderful, but that’s the universe speaking to you. Try to understand what it’s telling you and learn and grow from any adversity. Always remember, you have the power, at all times, to determine how your life will end up. Move away from the things that bring your down and towards the things that make you light up, the things that feel right deep down inside. You have a divine compass within you which is the most powerful thing you possess. Learn to listen to that compass and let it guide you, and you’ll find everything you seek, and so much more.

And I’ll leave with this: close your eyes and imagine the best possible version of yourself. That is who you really are. Let go of any part of you that doesn’t believe that.” – Krystal Chong ’02


 TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing. 

Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to kory_lippert@ridleycollege.com.

 

Top 5: Things to do during the Winter Family Weekend

On January 26th and 27th, Ridley is opening its doors to parents from around the world for our Upper School Family Weekend. This two-day event provides families with a wonderful opportunity to chat with their child’s teachers, explore the campus and see what the Ridley experience is all about. Here are some of the top activities for families to consider attending.

  1. Check out one (or a few!) of the sporting events happening on campus

 

This weekend, our Prep Boys hockey, U14 Boys basketball, U14 Girls volleyball and Prep Boys basketball teams all have games taking place at home. If you’d like to see our Tigers in action, stop by the Fieldhouse, Griffith Gym or Iggulden Gym. For more information on game times, visit the Athletics website.

  1. Take a stroll through the Grade 7 Science Fair Projects

Joining us early? The Lower School will be holding its 11th annual Science Fair on January 26th, and we encourage you to stop by to explore some of our younger students’ projects. Parents are welcome to visit the exhibition between 9:00am to 11:00am in the halls of Lower School.

  1. Catch the Poetry Slam!

On January 26th at 7:00p.m, students will be performing original written works at the Poetry Slam in the Mandeville Theatre. Student organizer, Catherine Lu ’18 will perform an original piece, which received a roaring applause from her peers at a previous assembly.

  1. Stop by the student-organized International Day

 

On January 27th from 1:00–4:00pm, students will be hosting an International Day fair as a part of their Creativity Action Service (CAS) project. Taking place in the Fieldhouse, Ridleians from 25 of our 54 countries will host booths, where members of our community can sample national dishes, learn about customs, National Dress and more. Special performances will also help us celebrate our diverse school community. All are welcome to attend.

  1. Visit Downtown St. Catharines

Looking to venture off campus? We encourage our families to head to Downtown St. Catharines – just around the corner from Ridley. With the new Performing Arts Centre (2015), downtown has experienced a revitalization. If time permits, head to the Meridian Centre to catch alumnus, Will Lochead ’16 compete for the Niagara IceDogs.

View the Family Weekend schedule.

We hope you enjoy your visit to Ridley!

 

 

 

 

The Gift of a Ridley Education

The story of Ben Johnson ’17 is that of a young man whose challenges seemed insurmountable – until the kindness of a stranger and the gift of a Ridley College education changed the course of his life.

Ben always enjoyed a love of learning and possessed an innate mastery of science, but prior to Ridley, he did not have a nurturing community that would allow him to excel. After years of struggling to overcome challenges, Ben came to a critical juncture in his Grade 11 year, when he was moved to an emergency shelter.

At the shelter, he found it difficult to focus on his studies while dealing with the challenging circumstances of his personal life. In spite of the hardships he was faced with, he recognized he had to persevere and pursue his dreams. With the caring guidance of his godmother, Ben’s grades skyrocketed. Encouraged by this scholastic success, he began to explore the possibilities available to him after high school.

Ben’s drive and determination did not go unnoticed. Julia Bertollo, former Director of Summer Programmes, invited Ben to attend Ridley’s Summer Academy – which included his tuition and board. While studying during the summer, he learned more than just Grade 12 chemistry. He discovered the importance of independent living. At the same time, he took advantage of Ridley’s music department and practiced his co-curricular skills.

While Ben’s talents flourished that summer, an anonymous donor took notice and decided to fund Ben’s final year of high school at Ridley. This generous gift allowed him to attend a school where he could continue to thrive, with the anticipation of continuing to university.

While in Grade 12 at Ridley, Ben embraced the vast opportunities given to him. He became an editor for the TigerPost, Ridley’s student-run publication and was a valued member of the film club, writing the score and recording music for a student film. He immersed himself in the arts, which enabled him to experience the positive influence creativity has on one’s academic achievements.

Ben viewed his academic success as a personal responsibility and took his education very seriously. “As someone who has the desire to make the most out of an education, Ridley was an exceptional place for me to study,” says Ben. Although he was at Ridley for only one year, he ensured that he absorbed as much experiential and academic knowledge as he possibly could. He loved that he was able to incorporate his personal interests into all his classes and personalize his education.

“My Ridley experience was very well-balanced, proving to be encouraging, both on a personal and academic level. My classes were all intriguing, as they expanded on the material in a way that allowed me to discover the various areas of what I personally liked about the subject at hand. My classes, in particular, were mainly in the sciences, however, I frequently took opportunities to bridge together different disciplines in a way that was of my personal interest. I also appreciated the challenges: the workload was demanding, but it was only for the benefit of my education, as it fostered important time management skills and efficient study habits that I know will be necessary for lifelong success.” – Ben Johnson ’17

Ben was the recipient of three scholarships by the time he graduated Ridley. The first was the Brock Niagara Principal’s Scholarship, which he was awarded alongside fellow Old Ridleian, David Biggar ’17. This award is presented to students in the area that demonstrate exceptional academic results as well as a dedication to community service. Not long after, Ben was awarded Ridley’s Robert J. Malyk Prize for Biology. “I was able to meet Bob in person and thank him; he generously funds this annual scholarship to those who share his passion of Life Sciences and hold significant potential in their scientific careers,” says Ben. Most recently, he was the recipient of the PenFinancial Scholarship after he submitted a moving video that expresses the obstacles he’s overcome and the goals he hopes to reach.

This past September, Ben began his post-secondary journey at Brock University in Neuroscience, with a focus on Neurocomputing. While he has only just begun his programme, he is setting his sights on the future. “Main career pathways are research or medicine. Both interest me, however, I am currently aiming for medical school following my undergraduate programme,” declares Ben.

“[At Ridley] I had the opportunity to experience a wider scope of an education. I find this translates effectively to the university environment, as not only am I already engaging in clubs and activities on campus, but a broader skill set makes me able to make deeper connections with the new people I meet.” – Ben Johnson ’17

As a student who embraced all that Ridley had to offer and didn’t take this opportunity for granted, Ben says this: “My advice is to embrace your opportunities. You are in a position that can bring you to great success if you put in the effort. There are others in this world who do not have the same opportunities, so always be thankful. The main way to show appreciation of your opportunities is to make the most out of them, which means putting in blood, sweat and tears. But at the same time, don’t forget to take a moment and enjoy the blessings that you have, for it will help you stay motivated.”

It is hoped that Ben’s story is an inspiration, demonstrating how acts of kindness can powerfully transform the lives of talented youth.

Donate now to enable more bright minds to unlock their potential at Ridley.

Flourishing Lives through the Arts

By Duane Nickerson | Director of the Arts

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso

The arts are different. Unlike most activities, the product of art activity is not useful. Art does not feed us or make our lives more comfortable. It seems the very nature of art is to be without practical use. So why is it that evidence of art making through music and painting pre-dates the invention of writing by over 30,000 years? Why is it that art making traditions have existed in all human cultures throughout history? Just what is it about this activity that compels us to invest time and energy making it, consuming it and storing it in museums?

Picasso touches upon the answer. Art allows us to feel, to sense the wonder and complexity of existence that is ever elusive, that defies encapsulation within language or numbers. Making art is a hard-wired compulsion that can be seen in children who spontaneously make up songs, dance, draw and act out imaginary scenarios. Watch any four-year-old and you will see evidence of this compulsion and the sheer joy that it brings. Children express themselves freely until they move into adolescence and become more self-conscious and invest more time learning the argotic codes required for social standing. Too often the capacities of the artist are left to atrophy as children move through educational institutions that leave behind rigorous arts curricula and thereby denigrate this activity as less important. Children get the message: art is not valued by the adults here so I’ll attend to those things that are valued. The loss of potential is enormous, the capacity for full experience diminished.

At Ridley College, the arts are not left behind.

At Ridley, we aspire to nourish flourishing lives that tap into all facets of our humanity. We aspire to facilitate the full development of the child so that they can reach their maximum potential as productive, creative, happy people. At Ridley, children are exposed to music and art education by specialist teachers beginning in Kindergarten and are able to access increasingly specialized and demanding arts curriculum as they move through the programme into Upper School.

Many of our senior students find that, for them, a flourishing life is one infused with the joy experienced when engaged with art in the studio and on the stage. This joy comes from a state of flow. In a state of flow, a person is fully immersed in an activity because the challenge of the task is matched with their level of competence required to complete the task. As a teacher of visual art, observing students immersed in a state of flow in the studio is one of the most rewarding features of my job. A child who is fully immersed in the process of hands-on creation is a flourishing child.

As Ridley continues to build upon its reputation as a world-class school, its arts programme will grow to facilitate higher levels of performance and deeper engagement. The tools that we use to make art are also expanding to include a wide array of electronic media. More than ever, cultural industries are emerging to encompass large swaths of economic activity in an increasingly automated world. Thus, in the arts, we are also preparing children for rewarding careers as well as ensuring that they keep in their lives the joy and fulfillment that comes from engaging with the arts.

For all of us throughout our lives, we are faced with the task of building identity and generating meaning. Throughout history, the arts have played a vital role facilitating meaning making and affirming cultural identity. Beyond developing artists’ capacities, Ridley’s role as a school is to ensure that its students move on to adulthood with a deep-seated appreciation for the value of art in their lives. If Ridley can do this, it has done its part in ensuring our culture and civilization will continue to nourish our humanity and thereby make the world a better place.