Tag Archives: Canadian independent 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.

TransfORming Our Globe – Jeanette Stock ’09

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe blog series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Jeanette Stock ’09, who is not only taking the tech industry by storm but also paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse tech landscape.

Jeanette grew up hearing stories from family members who attended the school before her and in 2006, she was delighted to learn the news that she too would become a Tiger.

The Ridley lifestyle was the perfect fit for Jeanette, who didn’t have to choose between music or biology, sports or activities – she could do it all. She was able to explore her many interests, strengthen her academic proficiency and learn invaluable skills (beyond the classroom) that would carry over to her post-secondary career.

  

“My time at Ridley taught me not to take myself so seriously (something I still struggle to do). Having friends who taught me to see fun in almost everything (I’m looking at you, Charlotte Macdonald) helps keep me from working too hard, or becoming boring (because really, there’s no worse fate).”                                    – Jeanette Stock ’09

Jeanette gained skills to help her stay motivated and driven and was taught the power of community, leaving Ridley with strong foundation upon which she could build her career.

Jeanette continued her education at Queen’s University, studying Life Sciences and graduating with a degree in English Literature. She spent a semester abroad, studying Chinese history and global development in Shanghai. Beyond her academic career, Jeanette volunteered as an Advanced Medical First Responder and assisted in the launch of a health education programme in Kenya over the course of two summers. Upon graduating – with a distinguished resumé at hand – Jeanette began to work for Jack.org; a charity that was started after the loss of a fellow graduate.

Her path was winding, yet Jeanette’s vast experiences were able to help her discover what she sought in a career. When she was confident in the direction she wanted to move in, Jeanette tapped into Ridley’s vast network of alumni and reconnected with Old Ridleians, such as Anna Mackenzie ’07. Jeanette was able to gather invaluable advice, that helped her navigate her way into the tech industry and uncover where she wanted to be within an organization. She leaned on the guidance of Venture for Canada to help kick-start her career and now works for Highline BETA as a New Venture Associate.

Although her repertoire is already filled with evidence of determination and talent, perhaps Jeanette’s biggest achievement has been 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.

Since its launch, Venture Out has hosted nearly 1,000 individuals during events held at major companies such as: Facebook, Twitter, Google and LinkedIn. On the horizon is the second conference, happening March 15th-16th at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.

“We have speakers coming from coast to coast, and sponsors and partners like Lyft, Airbnb, Shopify, Intelex, Hubba, and RBC will be hosting conversations about LGBTQ+ inclusion at their companies and beyond. It’s not just a lot of fun (though it is that) – it’s also a pretty unique experience to learn about LGBTQA+ experiences in tech and celebrate the community’s contributions to the companies and technologies we interact with every day.” – Jeanette Stock ’09

Jeanette is shaping the landscape of the tech industry; making it a more diverse and inclusive place. As she moves forward, she hopes to have an impact on the future of technology in Canada, through Venture Out and Female Funders (a learning platform and community that empowers women to invest in start-ups). She is also striving to become a tech leader herself.

As she reflects on her time at Ridley and the path that has led her to where she is today, Jeanette has two pieces of advice for Ridleians who are about to embark on their own professional journeys.

1. Reach out to interesting people. Connecting with individuals who have established varying careers can help you discover the best path.

 “It wasn’t until I stopped thinking about what I wanted to be and started thinking about what I wanted to do every day, that I ended up on the path I’m on now.

Taking some strangers for coffee and learning about the ups and downs of their roles would’ve gotten me there faster, and saved me a great deal of soul-searching.” – Jeanette Stock ’09

2. Share your gratitude and appreciation for those who have helped you reach your potential.

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

 

 

 

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.

Students Venture to Winnipeg for Speaking Arts Competition

By Paul O’Rourke | Assistant Head of Lower School & IB MYP Programme Coordinator

Ridley participated in the annual International Independent Schools’ Public Speaking Competition co-hosted by the Gray Academy and Balmoral Hall in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Nearly 150 students from over 40 teams throughout the globe were involved in this unique event that features a wide range of the speaking arts- debate, drama, and public speaking. Schools from Canada, the U.S.A., Bermuda, Korea, Peru, Scotland, England, Hong Kong, India and South Africa competed in a five-day tournament that brought together some of the best high school debaters and public speakers in the world.

Each participant selected three events from various categories that included: persuasive, after-dinner, and impromptu speaking; parliamentary and cross-examination debate; dramatic interpretation, interpretive reading, and radio newscast. Ridley was ably represented by returning junior, Bart Skala ’19 along with first time competitors Faraday Kenny ’18 and Rahul Walia ’19. Bart excelled in parliamentary debate and after-dinner speaking, reaching the finals of parliamentary debating, and narrowly missing the finals in the latter event. Newcomer Faraday Kenny competed successfully in persuasive speaking, interpretive reading, and parliamentary debating. Her speech on whether kneeling for the national anthem is un-patriotic was both topical and informative. Rahul Walia earned strong marks for his performances in impromptu speaking and persuasive speaking, in addition to good parliamentary debate rounds.

While in Winnipeg, all competitors enjoyed the unique experience of visiting the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. It was a fitting place for the top debaters and speakers to spend an afternoon exploring this spectacular venue in the heart of the city. The school venues were unique as well, situated as they each are on First Nations and Metis Treaty One lands. Organizers and hosts underscored this unique historical fact whenever possible.

The closing banquet was held at the Shaary Zadek Synagogue on the bank of the Assiniboine River, again underscoring Winnipeg’s diverse roots. Although Ridley did not claim any of the individual or team awards, each student demonstrated growth and progress throughout the tournament.  All students are congratulated and thanked for their outstanding efforts and contributions.

Ahead next on the debate calendar is the National Qualifier at Country Day School on November 21- a tournament that involves both debate and public speaking – followed by the Fulford Cup hosted by Maclachlan College on November 25.

New students are always welcomed at this activity that meets Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. in room 203 of Lower School.

Adding Grit To A Positive Education

One of the advantages of a Ridley education is that the experience of being a student is about more than passing tests and meeting standards. In recent years, researchers have identified predictors of success as well as keys to living a satisfying, happy life and this is something our school consciously enacts.

At Ridley, we are infusing the best of this research – centred on grit and flow – into a Ridley education to help instill in our students the lifelong habits they need to flourish in our global community.

The concept of grit is one aspect of Positive Education that Ridley has incorporated into school culture. Grit is defined as the tendency of a person to sustain interest and effort in pursuing long-term goals. Grit allows people to pursue challenges over the course of years.

In her groundbreaking research, Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, University of Pennsylvania Professor of Psychology and MacArthur Foundation Genius Fellow, determined that passion, perseverance, and stamina outweigh IQ as a predictor of success. In other words, grit is the key to lifelong success.

“Educational policy has not yet taken adequate note of the whole child. Kids are not just their IQ or standardized test scores. It matters whether or not they show up, how hard they work,” says Duckworth, in an interview with the Washington Post. Duckworth has advised the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs.

Ridley encourages students to discover and pursue their passions and equips them with the capacity and determination to persevere through challenges, risk failure, and develop grit and resilience, while creating a supportive culture that allows students to face adversity in a positive and engaging environment. Accomplishment and engagement are essential elements of a flourishing life, and both can be fostered through conscious effort, grit is a fundamental element for achievement.

“The importance of the environment is two-fold. It’s not just that you need opportunity in order to benefit from grit. It’s also that the environments our children grow up in profoundly influence their grit and every other aspect of their character.”     – Angela Duckworth

Duckworth’s research began by searching for an answer as to why some people succeed while others do not. Being ‘gritty’ means consciously deciding to push forward in the face of adversity, failure, and physical or emotional pain, without knowing when the adversity will be over.

“One way to think about grit is to consider what grit isn’t,” explains Duckworth. “Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something.”

Self-control and grit are often confused, says Duckworth in her research, while they are related there are key differences. Grit allows people to pursue challenges over the course of years, while self-control, helps to maintain focus, in the face of distraction, in the pursuit of those goals.

The concept of grit has been around for some time. In 1889, the year Ridley was founded, Dr. Francis Galton reviewed the biographies of eminent individuals, throughout history and concluded that success resulted from intellect combined with “zeal” and the “capacity for hard labour”. The modern study of grit continues in examining single-minded perseverance over the very long-term.

“I believe grit will for many adolescents be more evident in activities pursued outside of the classroom–in the school play, on the football field, in the school orchestra, in community service, and so on.” – Angela Duckworth

At Ridley we are empowering our students to do more themselves, by increasing opportunities for Ridleians to play an active role in their school communities so that they can gain the necessary habits, skills, and practice to lay the foundation for flourishing lives.

Ridley strives to be at the forefront of educational development to ensure our students become successful members of the global community. Ridley will continue to review the latest research in education for new ideas to ensure we are a leader and innovator in molding the minds and lives of our students.

Student Filmmakers Ready for the Red Carpet

On April 19th, the lights will go down in the Mandeville Theatre, for the 9th annual Ridley Independent Film Festival (RIFF). This festival showcases an array of films made by Grade 11 and 12 Film Studies students.

Eleven student films will be screened; ranging in genre from comedy to horror. The entire festival – not just the films – is a student initiative. “They are involved in every aspect of the festival,” says Ms. Danielle Barranca, the Film Studies teacher. The students coordinate the gala, write scripts, host, and produce programmes.

Seeing their work on the big screen is one of the highlights of the course. “I think it’s the moment you see your ideas on the screen,” says Amelia Ritchie ’17. Her film Meaning, is a coming-of-age drama about two kids who meet at a driver’s education course and challenge each other to discover the meaning of life.

RIFF, like many film festivals, will feature a red carpet for the student directors, actors and writers to walk down, while being cheered on by friends, family and fans. “It’s a chance to be the star on the red carpet,” says Ms. Barranca.

The student produced films are the largest project of the year, worth 50 percent of the final grade. Students spent the year learning about films, techniques, writing, editing and everything they need to make a film. “I like being able to create something from beginning to end,” says James William Gross ’17. “Being able to make whatever you want.”

His film Smart Casual, is about how people interpret socio-cultural norms and breaking them down. “It takes a lot of interpretation to understand,” says James, who plans on studying film in university.

Before filming begins, students must submit their proposals, write their own scripts, create storyboards and have a detailed filming schedule. The students often spend many hours filming and editing to have their films ready for RIFF.

“It becomes more interesting every year because of technology. The technology has allowed it to come a long way in terms of the quality, polish, and effects that students have access to.” – Danielle Barranca, Department of Visual and Performing Arts

Through filmmaking, students can pursue their creativity and self-expression, while problem solving and persevering through the myriad of challenges that come with making a film. RIFF continues to gain momentum, with an audience of alumni, parents and guest filmmakers growing in size, waiting to see the latest student creations on the big screen.

We invite all members of the Ridley community to come and enjoy this free event, that takes the audience on a visual and dramatic journey. Join us on April 19th at 7:00 p.m. in the Mandeville Theatre.

For now, enjoy a few of this year’s trailers:

Watch trailers on Youtube.