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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.

Ridley’s Basketball Future Bright in OSBA

The Ridley First Boys’ basketball season came to a close after a successful first season in the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association (OSBA), the premier league for prep and sport school basketball in the province. With one of the youngest teams in the league Ridley will continue to develop and train in preparation for next season.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” – Tarry Upshaw, Head Coach of First Boys’ Basketball Team

On April 6th, Ridley lost their OSBA quarter-final game 96-71 against defending champions the Athlete Institute; putting an end to their successful season. Aleksandar Simeunovic ’17, led the team with 31 points in a close fought game—Ridley was within five points of the Institute with six minutes left in the game.

The stacked Athlete Institute’s roster featured seven players already committed to NCAA schools. Ridley was the second youngest team in the league and will have most of its players back for next season.

That youth hasn’t gone unnoticed, as scouts from across North America have come to campus to check out the talented roster. According to Mr. Upshaw, 21 NCAA Division 1 scouts have visited Ridley, schools such as UConn, Vanderbilt, Oregon, and Columbia; while 16 scouts from the CIS have been to the campus.

“We’ve built something special in a short period of time. It’s exciting and it’s only going to get better.” – Tarry Upshaw, Head Coach of First Boys’ Basketball Team

The OSBA, consists of the best prep and sport school basketball programmes in the province, with many of its student athletes going on to play in the NCAA and CIS. Ridley finished sixth overall, in a promising first season in the league.

Ridley’s basketball team previously competed in CISAA and OFSAA, where they won back-to-back championships in both leagues in 2014 and 2015. As the first team to hold both titles simultaneously, it was decided to take the next step for the programmes’ development by joining the OSBA.

Preparation for this level of competition includes daily court sessions, strength training, and active recovery. Training and competition are supported by an experienced coaching staff, Ridley’s athletic therapy and school medical team, a strength and conditioning coach, and other professional instructors.

Ridley qualified for the playoffs by defeating King’s Christian Collegiate in a play-in game 86-66, held in the Griffith Gym. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the support of students and faculty,” says Upshaw. Other coaching staff for the team include Michael Bett, Brad Taylor, and Paul De Vellis.

With the season coming to end players will enjoy a short break, before beginning off-season practice and development “We don’t stop,” says Mr. Upshaw. “The sky’s the limit for our team.”

Despite the end of their OSBA season, exciting news has still been circulating for the Tigers, as fellow player, Jaden Bediako ‘18, was chosen to play in the BioSteel All-Canadian All-Star Basketball Game. This marks an impressive accomplishment for both Jaden and Ridley’s basketball programme.

We look forward to seeing our Ridley Tigers back in action in the next school year.

The Value of an Arts Education

This April, Ridley celebrates the arts as a distinct and valuable part of the Ridley educational experience. The various arts events being held across the school represent a wide range of student achievement in Ridley studios and classrooms.

Ridley’s arts programme is designed to inspire students to develop their inner muse by exploring their creativity and skills in drama, music, visual, digital, and spoken arts.

 

“My favorite aspect of the arts is that arts can be anything, regardless of the medium, the subject matter and can be made regardless of time and place. There is no right or wrong in arts and no barrier of entry. Everyone can enjoy the beauty of arts.” Helen Wang ’17

All students at Ridley have the option to work in the studios, perform with an ensemble, act on a stage, and explore their creative talents once the academic day is done. Students learn from faculty members, who are accomplished professionals in their artistic field. In class, students can explore a variety of styles and mediums. Many student produced artworks are prominently on display in hallways throughout the school.

At Ridley arts education has two key roles. The first role of art education is to facilitate the development of fundamental skills that enhance a student’s physical and mental capacity to engage with the myriad of day-to-day tasks that require fine motor skill, creative problem solving, and fluent expression. Through careful study of the auditory and visual world, students also develop heightened sensitivity and awareness.

“Arts is a unique type of education that develops intellectual wealth of a person. It helps me to recognize my personality and to discover my environment. Arts itself might not provide me any knowledge that will explain the fundamentals of this universe (like physics and chemistry), but it enhances my ability to observe and to reflect on the world around me. The creativity part of arts also train me into a better learner, in terms of finding alternative pathways to solve problems.”                              Helen Wang ‘17

The second key role of art education is the development of an awareness of art as an essential component of civilization. Through an array of artistic experiences, students acquire knowledge of the important achievements of artists throughout the ages and across cultures.

“Many people view arts as unnecessary, but in fact it is not. Arts can exist in different ways and is not limited to visual arts. It blends in our life and contributes significantly to the Ridley community,” says Helen. “There are many aspects of life that involves arts, it’s just we don’t often realize these.”

The work of Ridley artists—past and present—can be seen on display all over campus. Through the arts, students gain an understanding of why creativity, self-expression, and the pursuit of aesthetic form are fundamental aspects for the foundation of a flourishing life.

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.

TransfORming Our Globe – Jillian Evans ‘06

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Jillian Evans ’06, a Toronto-based tech entrepreneur in the media and entertainment space.

Jillian began her Ridley career in 2001 as a Grade 8 student. During her five years on campus, she was a School Prefect, Editor of the Tiger Tribune and a member of the Rowing, Harriers and Golf teams. Jillian credits Ridley’s strong emphasis on developing interpersonal and public speaking skills with her success in careers that have almost exclusively involved networking and negotiation.

 

“Ridley was the best thing that could have happened to a bored and unmotivated twelve-year-old me. My teachers, coaches and friends challenged me to grow as a person every day, and I left with an unshakeable confidence and set of skills that have served me very well in my career.” – Jillian Evans ‘06

After Ridley, Jillian went on to do a gap year at Marlborough College in England as an English Speaking Union Scholar. She then returned to Canada to pursue her BAH in Political Studies at Queen’s University, where she served as President of the Arts & Science Undergraduate Society and represented the interests of over 12,000 students. Upon graduating, she headed to London to complete her M.Sc. in Political Communication at the London School of Economics, and worked in the office of a Cabinet Minister in the UK Parliament.

Having completed her Masters, Jillian moved to Washington, DC to pursue an internship in Public Affairs at the Embassy of Canada, working mainly on the educational outreach and think-tank liaison files. She also completed her U.S. Private Pilot’s Licence and Restricted Airspace designation, and once had to maneuver around Air Force One in midair!

Returning home to Toronto in 2013, she decided to pursue a career as a lobbyist at the provincial level, tackling files from special needs funding to telecom and everything in between. While she found the work both fascinating and rewarding, she had begun to pursue a side project that would soon require her full attention.

In March 2015, along with a couple of friends, Jillian founded PETE, a second-screen experience for entertainment television. Best described as “fantasy sports for reality TV,” PETE offers a comprehensive fantasy, content and engagement platform for fans of over 20 reality shows and four award shows, including The Bachelor, Survivor, Big Brother, The Oscars and The Grammys. With 20,000 users so far, PETE also offers brands and sponsors the opportunity to reach targeted, engaged audiences. As a company, PETE has raised $750,000 in seed funding and counts seven Old Ridleians (and two past parents) among its investors.

“A lot of people – even in the tech establishment – thought we were crazy. 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

As the media landscape evolves over the next several years, Jillian believes the balance will shift from one-way consumption to two-way interactivity, where consumers become active participants. She hopes PETE can play a role in this process by working with media companies to better engage viewers, and by pushing the envelope on what’s possible for fans with real-time interaction. She strongly encourages young Ridleians interested in media and/or tech to pursue it – and the more outside-the-box the idea or career path, the better.


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 development@ridleycollege.com

Ottawa Senators Owner Eugene Melnyk Launches The Organ Project

7-Time Grammy Award Sensation Carrie Underwood to Headline The Organ Project’s Gala in Toronto

Eugene Melnyk, Ridley parent, Owner of the Ottawa Senators, and himself an organ transplant recipient, launched a major philanthropic initiative called The Organ Project, whose mission is to end the waitlist for all transplant patients.

In May 2015, Mr. Melnyk received an anonymous liver donation that saved his life. From that moment on, he made it his mission to help all patients who are in desperate need of an organ transplant.

The Organ Project is focused on building greater awareness to organ donation, reducing organ transplant wait times and to increasing the number of people registered as organ donors.

“Every three days in Ontario, someone dies waiting. … The good news is this is truly a solvable problem because we don’t need to find a cure for waiting,” says Melnyk. “Our goal is to make organ donation as normal and expected as wearing your seatbelt. Both save lives and both are a choice you can make and embrace.”

The Organ Project is holding an inaugural gala on March 31, to help kick off April as Organ Donation Awareness Month. The Organ Project Gala will be an exclusive event held at the historic Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto and will feature a performance by seven-time Grammy winner, Carrie Underwood.  

The Organ Project is another opportunity for our school community to show its commitment to service and we hope our extended Ridley family will consider supporting this meaningful cause. 

View sponsorship and ticket details.