Tag Archives: Canadian boarding school

Ridley Exploring Mindfulness as Part of a Positive Education

Ridley strives to be at the forefront of educational development, to ensure our students become successful members of the global community. For this reason, our school was an early adopter amongst independent schools, embracing positive education as a fundamental approach to learning.

Being on the leading edge of positive education means continuing to explore new ideas and research as it becomes available. This semester, the students of Lower School have been part of a pilot programme to evaluate the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation on students. The programme developed by Jacqueline Oscvirk, creator of The Mindful Family, involves students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 practicing mindfulness twice weekly.

Mindfulness meditation focuses the human brain on what is being sensed at each moment, instead of the past or future. It is a way to calm the mind and develop clarity, calmness, empathy, and positivity.

Within educational systems, mindfulness has shown an improvement in students’ attention and focus, emotional regulation, creativity, as well as problem solving skills. Studies have shown youth benefit from learning mindfulness, in terms of improved cognitive outcomes, social-emotional skills, and well-being. These benefits may lead to long-term improvements in life.

“Our intention is to equip all of our Lower School students with the tools to overcome everyday challenges.” – Hanna Kidd, Lower School Counsellor

There is substantial evidence that skills which increase resilience, positive emotion, engagement, and meaning can be taught to school children. In this way, without compromising either, Ridley teaches both the skills of well-being and the skills of achievement.

“It’s another tool for teachers to use,” says Hanna Kidd. The Grade 7 and 8 students will begin their mindfulness training in early April, with the goal of using mindfulness to help reduce stress and anxiety as they prepare for exams.

Ridley is incorporating the latest research in positive education from around the world. Discoveries such as gritthe ability to persevere through challengesby Dr. Angela Duckworth, and flowthe ability to become immersed in a challenging taskby Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, have already been added. Based on this science, Ridley equips students to deal with the daily demands of life and learning by creating an environment that:

• Generates positive emotions
• Practices mindfulness
• Builds on strengths not deficits
• Models grit and resilience
• Nurtures positive relationships
• Encourages goal setting and accomplishments
• Fuels our vitality

Ridley students are empowered to embrace their individuality, develop who they are, strive for who they will be, and define the lives they will lead. They develop the intellectual, physical, emotional, and social skills needed to succeed. They are inspired to acquire the knowledge, explore the truths, and nurture the values that will allow them to lead flourishing lives.

Ridley Junior Scientists Win at Science Fair

Six Lower School students competed at the Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair (NRSEF) held on March 29th at Brock University. The Grade 7 and 8 students worked hard all year to get their projects ready for the competition and it showed, as the group won the Junior Division with the highest combined score.

Ella Belfry ‘22, Chloe Cook ‘22, Olivia Massis ‘22, Taylor Searle ‘22, Syni Solanki ‘21, and Isha Walia ’22 combined to win nine awards. Syni and her project “A Novel Approach to Causing Apoptosis in Ovarian Cancer Cells,” which tested the use of garlic and hot pepper extracts on reducing ovarian cancer cells, were chosen to represent Team Niagara at the Canada Wide Science Fair in Regina, SK. This is the second time Syni will represent Ridley and Team Niagara at the event.

Continuing Ridley’s tradition of fostering global mindedness and service to others, the science projects focused on finding alternative and accessible ways of bettering the lives of the less fortunate. This year’s projects included solutions to water transportation, filtration, and purification. “It’s something they were passionate about,” says Mr. Ben Smith, a MYP science teacher.

The 55th Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair is dedicated to encouraging students within the Niagara Region in science pursuits. Over 200 young scientists participated in the fair, with their projects reviewed by approximately 100 judges composed of local scientists, engineers, and businessmen.

Ridley Reflects on 100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge

On April 9th, Ridley will look back 100 years to commemorate the Battle of Vimy Ridge. A battle which saw six graduates make the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of victory and the birth of a nation.

The battle, which began on April 9th, 1917, was a turning point in Canadian history, where all the Canadian divisions fought together for the first time. By the end of the battle on April 12th, some 3,598 Canadian soldiers were killed, including six Old Ridleians. The impressive victory over German forces is often cited as the beginning of Canada’s evolution from dominion territory to independent nation.

During the March break,  students had the chance to relive history, on the Vimy Ridge trip, that visits monuments and battle sites in France and Belgium. This trip was made even more special when Charlotte Westcott ’18 and William Clayton ’22 discovered the names of Old Ridleians who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Situated in northern France, the heavily-fortified, seven kilometre ridge held a commanding view over the Allied lines. The Canadians would be assaulting up a ridge that the French Army had failed to capture. In numerous attempts, they had suffered over 100,000 casualties trying to retake it from the German Army. It would be up to the Canadians to take the ridge.

The first of the Old Ridleians to fall was Lt. Fred “A.J.” Norsworthy (1901-04), who was killed by artillery in the week before the battle, when the two opposing armies traded artillery barrages, in preparation for the upcoming battle. A week the German forces would later call “The Week of Suffering.”

After the call to go “Over the Top” was made at 5:30 a.m. on April 9th, five more Ridleians fell; including Gunner Jack “J.L.” Hart who was killed by an artillery shell in no man’s land. He was with friend and fellow Old Ridleian, Gunner Jack “J.M.” Wainright, who was mortally wounded by the same shell. He would perish in the days after the battle.

Lt. J.F. Manley (1910-14) a Mason Gold Medal winner in 1914, and one of the school’s most accomplished cricket players, was killed battling up the ridge with his unit, the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders. Lt.-Col. Dick “R.W.F.” Jones (1896-1901) and Capt. Alfie “A.S.” Trimmer (1893-1901) died on the ridge at the height of the battle. Trimmer had previously won the Military Cross and bar award for his actions at the Battle of Ypres a few months earlier. The Midsummer 1917 edition of the Acta Ridleiana— the former monthly magazine —noted that Trimmer “had come through so many dangers that we hoped he would be spared.”

“It was inspiring and also heartbreaking to find the graves. Seeing them for myself really drove home the sacrifice that they made during the war. It showed me the value of what they fought for and how much I have to be thankful for,” says Charlotte. “Seeing their names below the Canadian maple leaf really drives home that these Ridleians really were consumed in service.”

After the war ended on November 11th, 1918, the government of France granted the ridge and 250 acres of the battleground to Canada, to serve as a memorial park to commemorate the fallen Canadians. Hill 145, the highest point of the Ridge, is now the site of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. After the war, Ridley commemorated the six Old Ridleians who fought and died at Vimy Ridge, along with 55 others who died in WWI, with the building of the Memorial Chapel. The Chapel was dedicated on June 23rd, 1923.

Today, the Ridley community continues to remember the students who made the ultimate sacrifice many years ago. Be it in the classroom, the Archives or the Memorial Chapel, the students continue to honour those who lost their lives.

Ridleian Becomes National Champion in Archery

On March 5th, Reece Wilson-Poyton ’18 captured the Canadian National Indoor Archery Championships in the Cadet Recurve category, which requires archers to hit a small target from 18m away. This victory caps a remarkable run for the Ridley student, who took up competitive archery in 2015.

His goal is to make the 2020 and 2024 Summer Olympics teams, and plans on beginning his training for shooting Olympic outdoor distances (70m) next year.

He was inspired to take up this less-common sport after attending the archery contests during the 2015 Pan-Am Games held in Toronto. “I love the sport so much because I am constantly improving, learning, and changing,” says Reece, who is now giving back to the archery community by becoming a Level 1 instructor for beginners at the Brockley Archery Club in Hamilton.

Athletics is an integral part of the Ridley College experience, all students participate in some form of physical activity every day. Ridley participates in the Sport for Life Society’s Long Term Athlete Development Model (LTAD). Which exposes students to a variety of sports as a foundation for engaging in sport for life. It provides a path to better sport, greater health, and higher achievement based on the latest sport science and best practices in coaching and training from around the world. Even when students find a passion outside of one of our over 75 co-curriculars, we do our best to accommodate.

Reece travels several times a week to Caledon, ON for training sessions, and practices on campus with Mr. Clyde Dawson. “Ridley has helped by allowing me to practice on campus under the supervision of Mr. Dawson two times a week after school as part of my sport credit,” says Reece.

Reece was recently featured in an episode of Future Legends on WIN HD Caribbean, who profiled his perseverance and determination, to overcome an eye injury to compete at the highest level. Ridley encourages students to discover and pursue their passions, persevere through challenges, risk failure, and develop grit and resilience. Accomplishment and engagement are elements of a flourishing life. Grit is a fundamental element for achievement and Reece has embodied this.

His next competition is the Multi-sites Indoor Championships of the Americas (MICA), which will involve archers from the Americas and the Caribbean. Afterwards Reece says he will be focusing on upcoming outdoor competitions in Montreal and Sault Ste. Marie, shooting at a distance of 60m, and attending a training camp in Florida.

A New Twist on The Tempest

It starts with a storm, but this wasn’t a regular tempest, as Ridley Theatre presented their own twist on Shakespeare’s final play The Tempest, with three performances held in the Mandeville Theatre.

This version of the play takes place far away from the setting of the original, an unnamed island in the Mediterranean, Ridley’s Tempest takes place in turn-of-the-century Nova Scotia. Enhancing this setting is the use of traditional maritime music and sea shanties. The play opens with a stirring rendition “Barrett’s Privateers” by Stan Rogers.

“It’s been fantastic, the kids are amazing, we’re so fortunate at Ridley to have such talent,” says Mrs. Gillian Fournier, who is volunteering her time as a director, while on maternity leave.

This Canadian connection to the show and Shakespeare, makes it more relative to our history, and the audience, according to Mr. Andrew Hitchcox, one of the shows three directors. Especially relevant are the aspects of the play tackling colonization, the arrival of the shipwrecked survivors to the island, and Prospero’s subjugation of Caliban, the island’s original inhabitant.

This production held no auditions, everyone who wanted to be involved in the play got to be a part of it. For many students it was their first experience in theatre. Only nine  of the 19 cast members speak English as their first language. Cast members come from 10 different countries.

“I would never have imagined myself learning Shakespeare let alone performing it and not being terrible. I learned that even though things are new to me, I should always be open and confident in seeing myself succeed in every new challenge I face,” says Obianuju Nwadike ‘17, who plays Prospero, the play’s main antagonist.

The students took a leadership role in the production, including music, lighting. “We give them the skills to be able to do the show,” says Mrs. Anna Blagona, director and Head of English & Drama.

All of the choices and depictions of the characters were up to the student actors. This resulted in some roles being gender-swapped, including the main character of Prospero, played by Obianuju. “I enjoy my character a lot. She switches moods/feelings when conversing with other characters and It’s really exciting to explore multiple dimensions of my character,” says Obianuju.

Ridley’s Troupe 7774 is part of the International Thespian Society (ITS), which was founded in 1929. It is an honorary organization for high school and middle school theatre students located at more than 4,200 affiliated secondary schools across Canada, the United States, and abroad. The mission of ITS is to honour student achievement in the theatre arts.

Missed the performance? Login to TigerNet Live to watch it on demand.

View photos.

Making Global Connections on Exchange

Making global connections is an important part of Ridley life. To not only meet and interact with those from around the world, but to also be able to experience and understand other cultures allows our students to become global citizens.

This term, Ridley welcomed ten exchange students, from Australia and South Africa. For many of our visiting exchange students, it was the first time they would be experiencing Canada and life at a boarding school. Although they are only part way through their exchanges, they have already made unforgettable memories to return home with.

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“Although Ridley originally seemed like a very intimidating school, I am now learning that it is very loving and fun environment that I’ll be sad to leave. The teachers and the students have all been very welcoming and so far, my first two weeks have been great. “

Ashleigh Bakin
Tara Anglican School for Girls, Sydney, Australia

“My last two months at Ridley have been hectic, exuberant and absolutely memorable. I still remember my first few days and weeks here vividly, it somehow seems like forever ago and just yesterday simultaneously… All the students at Ridley are diverse and individual, everyone here comes from different corners of the world, from a miscellaneous array of countries, identifying as a variety of different cultures with complex identities. I am so thankful that I received the opportunity for this exchange, without this opportunity there are so many amazing people that are now in my life that I would have otherwise never crossed paths with.”

Zara Paleologos
Abbotsleigh School, Sydney, Australia

“Making the decision to come on exchange has definitely been amongst the best decisions of my life. It has been such an amazing experience so far, and there is still plenty of time to go! Not only coming on exchange that was such a good decision but coming to Canada was too. It has been such a pleasure to get to know all of these amazing people and experience all of these enjoyable things.”

Tom Bell
The King’s School, Sydney, Australia

The experience had on an exchange can be life changing, and can open up a world of opportunities for the participating students. For the ten visiting students this year, Ridley has given them a place to make connections with students from beyond Canada, and create memories from experiences they may not have otherwise had.

In a few months’ time, our Ridleians will travel to South Africa and Australia for their exchange trips, where they will reunite with their exchange families and begin their own adventures. We wish safe travels to both our students and our visitors, and we hope they have a rewarding experience abroad.

If you’re interested in the International Student Exchange Programme or have any questions, contact Dr. Ellen Foster; ellen_foster@ridleycollege.com.

Get to Know Your Prefects: David X. ’17

Introducing David Xue ’17 – a Prefect who discovered what it means Screen Shot 2016-10-05 at 10.08.16 AMto become a global citizen. Hear how he adapted to life abroad, and discovered comfort, confidence and culture within the Marriott Gates.

Why did you choose Ridley?

I chose Ridley because of its size. I am talking about the perspectives of cultural diversity, the physical size of the school and its open-mindedness to connect to the global society. This year alone, Ridley welcomed students from more than 44 countries, which is a perfect opportunity for us students to interchange our cultural practices and get comfortable with becoming a global citizen. On top of the rare cultural diversity offered by Ridley, the school itself is 90-acres, which is spacious and gives plenty of choices for sports, activities and scientific research. Lastly, Ridley’s mindset is in line with what I am looking for; the motto is “may I be consumed in service”. I have always been looking for the connection between Chinese culture and western culture; through the humbleness of the motto, I have found the commonness.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?

Of course I felt prepared coming to Ridley! Although it was quite scary to think of coming to an English-speaking country for the first time in Grade seven, I managed to watch all of the ‘Harry Potter’ movies and five seasons of ‘Friends’ during the summer of 2011 in preparation…I would say if you are an international student, definitely try to get a good grip on English conversations before coming to face the academic demands. However, there is no need to panic; the students and faculty here are very friendly and are more than happy to help us through the bottleneck of overcoming the difficulties of the language.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?

To me, every single faculty member I know is unique, and very important. Mr. Hutton, Mr. Bett and Mr. Jones are my parents abroad and keep me safe. My teachers are absolutely experts at every subject and are awesome friends that I know I could feel comfortable talking to whenever I encounter an obstacle. The nurses and sewing room members keep me healthy and classy, respectively. Therefore, I am equally thankful to every single one of them.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?

As an international student, my greatest challenge at Ridley was stepping out of my comfort zone and blending into the Canadian culture. The difficulty in language was minor; it was the decision of whether or not leaving the herd of Chinese speaking students, step into western culture and make friends from other countries, the most challenging. I have to admit that it was a hard time in the beginning; most of the times I did not understand what my peers were talking about. However, I soon adjusted myself to learn things my Canadian friends would be interested in and had made myself a part of the international community. I would say that the decision I made five years ago was absolutely beneficial to my global perspective.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?

My greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley would be the appointment as a Prefect. At Ridley, being a Prefect requires high academic performances, the trust from the student body and faculty, and the ability to be highly responsible. I am grateful that Ridley has gradually shaped me into a person that is seeking knowledge and willing to contribute. Therefore, I think prefectship is just a reflection of the cumulative efforts I have made from my five years of experiences here.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favorite Ridley experience has been joining and enjoying the competitive sports programme. I have been lucky to have played so many sports that I would have never had a chance to play before, such as softball, rugby, basketball and soccer. Not only was I able to play with my fellow peers, but the athletic department would always organize road trips to schools in the province and we were able to compete against them… I think to some extent, the sports programme at Ridley has created a bond between us and the school; it gives us a sense of pride. Thus, I enjoy and will never forget the experience of playing competitive sports at Ridley.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favourite part of Ridley life is knowing that I can put my head on the pillow at the end of the day and feel safe. At Ridley, any adult is approachable and is there to support us. When we experience homesickness or illness, the Head of House’s door is always open for us. Whether it was Ms. Thacker driving you to the health centre at 3:00 in the morning, or Mr. Jones trying to console you after a breakup, Ridley is a place that any of us could open ourselves up and it is guaranteed that we will be supported. Ridley is my second home.

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

I am most excited for planning the future activities for the student body. The Prefect team this year is dedicated to focusing on student lives, and I am very excited about the upcoming events, such as Saturday activities, house competitions and semi-formal dances.

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How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Well, I have to say, basically in every way. Academically, the full IB programme challenges me to take risks and step up to become a global citizen. Athletically, Ridley reminds me to always keep myself fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the rest of my life. Aesthetically, Ridley gives me opportunities to take on several musical instruments and provides me abundant art supplies to express myself in the universal language. Lastly, the faculty members act as role models and always keep me positive, which I will do the same to others in the future.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to pursue further education from a university in the United States. I am glad that the guidance counsellers are experts at Ridley, to help me through the difficult process. I would like to pursue my degree in either architecture, law or chemistry because I am absolutely excited about chemical reactions, designing buildings and defending a case.

On top of that, I will keep playing the violin because it has become my companion during my time of homesickness.

Although Ridley has given me a breathtakingly fresh and exciting experience, I also had some times of hardship. First and foremost, homesickness… So I found a place to heal my homesickness – the basement of the Second Century Building, where I could play the violin. There, I enjoyed playing music, because not only the sound of music brought me happiness, but also it became a friend to me. From then, I knew that I could always retreat from the fast pace school environment to slow down and balance myself with healing music. This helped me to overcome another obstacle – stress… When things are overwhelming, I just clear my mind and play music for an hour. Trust me, after concentrating in my violin piece, the overwhelming assignments did not seem impossible anymore! Of course, music is only one of the ways that could help you through your difficulties here at Ridley. There are many other options such as painting, filming, and meditation club that you could enjoy in order to feel the flow and find your centre.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

I would say definitely seize every opportunity you can, because Ridley provides us privileges that other schools do not offer.