Introducing Monika Morcous ’17 – a Prefect who discovered the importance of not only exploring her own passions, but discovering new ones. Read how she dove into all that Ridley has to offer and is finishing her Ridley career with new skills, new friendships and a new perspective on life.
Why did you choose Ridley?
I chose Ridley simply because of the greater opportunity that it inherently offers as an international boarding school. I also knew of its academic rigor and its mandatory student involvement activities when applying and wanted to challenge myself so that I could grow to become more dedicated, enthusiastic and involved in my education.
Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?
No, honestly I felt extremely intimidated. I remember walking into my interview with a portfolio of all my elementary school achievements, my art work, a creative story, and an assortment of other miscellaneous items that I felt would impress my admissions councilor, Mrs. Whitty. Even then I didn’t feel prepared and doubted whether I would be granted a place at Ridley; however, looking back I recognize how silly this was. Ridley is definitely not as intimidating as it seems. It is a welcoming community where everyone can and is able to find a place of comfort.
Who is your favourite faculty member and why?
I personally do not have a single favourite faculty member. Each brings something to the table that is unique to them and they all excel as teachers in different ways.
Some teachers that I would like to mention are those who helped me and encouraged me personally, such as Mrs. Blagona and Mrs. Marrone.
Mrs. Blagona truly believed in my artistic ability in theatre, also training me and supporting me throughout my years at Ridley, starting as my first advisor in Grade 9. She also knew me on a personal level and helped me through certain obstacles. She is one of the most enthusiastic, passionate, and encouraging teachers I have ever met. You can really tell that she loves what she does.
Mrs. Marrone also had a great impact on me, most notably through seemingly simple lines that she would always say when I was feeling extremely stressed. “Well the sun will still shine tomorrow” and “well the earth will still turn.” These helped me put my worries into perspective which in the long-term really help me out as I still continue to say these to myself in times of stress and doubt.
What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?
My greatest challenge is something that I’m still overcoming, which is my time-management skills. I have a tough time allocating appropriate amounts of time to certain tasks and often overdo assignments in the pursuit of perfection, which results in disappointment, limited sleep, and overdue tasks. I believe I am slowly getting better at this, but this is a trait that is basically engrained in my character and I know it is an improvement that can only happen overtime, rather than in the short-term. I am slowly trying to let go, as I know that perfection isn’t humanly possible, and many people at Ridley are helping me achieve this along the way.
What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?
My greatest accomplishment is probably winning Best Supporting Actress in a Musical in the Niagara Region through the CAPPIES program, which I became involved with through Ridley. I am extremely proud of this award because acting is one of my passions, but I honestly cannot really take credit for this award. Without the help of the cast and most of all, my directors, Mrs. Blagona and Mrs. Fournier, I wouldn’t have been in a position to win that award. They both pushed me so hard so that I could achieve my best, and really guided me through every aspect of the dramatic arts. They supported me and advised me during rehearsals and most of all inspired me as an actress. I really look forward to working with them again next year.
What has been your favorite Ridley experience?
My favourite Ridley experience is going to camp at the beginning of each new school year. This is because I get to meet, not only my previously made friends who went back abroad in the summer, but also new Ridleians. I think I can speak for everyone at Ridley when I say that you really can’t go to camp without at least making three new friendships, even as a returning student.
What is your favourite part of Ridley life?
My favourite part about Ridley is how tightly knitted the community is. For example, you really get to know your teachers on not only an academic level but also a personal level. This creates a community of people which is aware of your personal strengths and weaknesses, and although that sounds like a scary thing, it in turn helps you, for it allows teachers to be able to focus on helping you in the aspects that you are struggling with. Rather than receiving a general education, you get one that is slightly customized in your best interest, which is one of the really awesome aspects of having small classroom sizes and a smaller-scale student body.
What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for?
The most exciting part about prefectship is the opportunity to represent the student body and the ability to suggest positive changes that will advance the school further. Also, I am honoured to be part of a group filled with passionate individuals and I am thrilled at the opportunity to work alongside all of them this coming school year.
How has Ridley prepared you for the future?
Ridley has prepared me in many different ways for life after high school. I am more culturally aware than I would have ever been inherently, because of the diversity within the student body. I am more involved and well-rounded than I have ever been because of the mandatory nature of the sports and activities at Ridley. I am also more confident than I have ever been because of my personal achievements and improvements that I have made during my time at Ridley.
Ridley is a type of school that doesn’t just allow you to be great at what you do, but forces you to become greater….You cannot attend Ridley without flourishing or improving in some way.
What are your plans after graduation?
I am currently undecided on most of my plans after graduation – such as the subject of study and the location of study – but I am fairly positive that I will be attending a university, rather than a college, the year immediately after graduation. As for my extracurriculars, I really would want to stay in touch with my artistic side and will audition for the plays/musicals that my future university will put on. I’m sure that I’ll also be eager to get involved in a variety of the clubs available at my future university – artistic or non-artistic.
What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Get involved. Stay focused! At the end of the day (in my opinion) education is the most important thing, so your priority should always be to stay focused on your studies; however, you can grow as a person, if alongside this, you step out of your comfort zone and try something new outside of the classroom.
For example, I’ve never excelled in sports, however, I tried out and made the U16 volleyball team in Grade 9 and 10. I became a better player than I was walking in (At the end of the day I still wasn’t that great, but that isn’t the point). Even though I didn’t become a volleyball star, I became more well-rounded, gained experience on an athletic team, and made lifelong friendships that I wouldn’t have made if I just focused on the activities that I was best at. My good friends, Felicia and Masha, were both introduced to me through that team, and even though Felicia [and I] don’t play volleyball anymore, the friendship between the three of us remains.