Tag Archives: Ontario

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.

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.

TransfORming Our Globe – Margaret Coons ‘08

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Margaret Coons ‘08, who has developed a unique alternative to dairy cheese using cashew milk and is now selling her products throughout Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes.

Margaret began her Ridley career in 2006, as a Grade 11 student. Passionate about sports, she joined the harriers, rugby and swim team; enjoying the physical activity that was and is such a crucial part of a Ridley education. After graduating from Ridley in 2008, Margaret attended the University of Western Ontario and pursued a degree in English Language and Literature.

It was while she attended university that Margaret found a job that combined her love of cooking, vegetarianism, and acute business sense. She began work at a vegetarian restaurant in London, Ontario and quickly assumed the role of chef and restaurant manager.

“I had the opportunity to perform cooking demonstrations on the local television stations and at the annual ‘Veg Fest’… in London and over the years of working as a chef greatly enjoyed creating recipes and alternative versions of more conventionally available foods” – Margaret Coons ’08

The retirement of the restaurant owner and the imminent closing of the restaurant granted Margaret the opportunity to begin designs on owning and operating her own business. The result was Nuts For Cheese, a product-based food manufacturing company that makes artisan dairy free cheeses from cultured organic cashew milk. Margaret was making many of these cheeses for the restaurant and for her own enjoyment so, in May of 2015, she decided to open a farmers’ market booth in London to sell the five varieties of vegan cheese.

The demand for this cheesy alternative was high and Margaret soon found she was renting out kitchen space late at night to make cheese for the farmers’ market and the retail accounts she had accrued. From there, Margaret has grown her business to include its own manufacturing plant distributing to nearly 50 retail locations across the country. Margaret hopes to continue to grow Nuts For Cheese into a product that is available in specialty food shops across the country as well as show people just how delicious vegan cheeses can be.

Margaret says her time at Ridley taught her a lot about discipline and focus.

“The skills that running my own business requires are backed up by an ability to be dedicated to my work and passionate about what I put my time into.” – Margaret Coons ’08

Working with food and creating new recipes are Margaret’s favourite aspect of her career. Having been a vegetarian since age 12 and having always possessed a love of cooking, she feels this is the ideal career for her to channel those passions. Margaret also enjoys working as a business owner with her great team and connecting with the “supportive and inspiring” small business support network. Her love of great vegan alternatives continues to motivate her personally and professionally.

“Consumers of products like ours have for a long time been faced with the decision to purchase low quality alternatives, giving vegan food products a bad name, or to forgo consuming a certain type of food for a variety of ethical or health reasons. Making cheese products available to people who can’t or don’t eat dairy for whatever reason is very exciting for us.”                        – Margaret Coons ’08

Margaret’s advice to any young Ridleans about to explore their academic and/or professional careers is to throw yourself at whatever you’re doing without overthinking it too much. While she says her unique career in vegan cheese was “almost by accident”, the success she has enjoyed thus far was a result of passion and deliberate dedication to her project.


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.

Board Chair Named One of Canada’s Most Powerful Women

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Georgina Black ’85, Ridley’s Chair of the Board of Governors and Old Ridleian, was recently and unequivocally named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2016. Launched in 2003 by Women’s Executive Network, this award has been showcasing the accomplishments of professional women in Canada and has celebrated 939 inspiring individuals to date.

In light of this most recent achievement, we wanted to celebrate the profound impact Georgina has had on both Ridley and the globe, since her time on campus began in 1982.

“We are very proud and grateful to have Georgina as an active and engaged member of the Ridley family. As the first female Chair of the Board, parent and alumna, she is continually offering her leadership, guidance and support. Georgina is a shining example of what it means to be a Ridleian and we congratulate her on this incredible achievement.” – Headmaster, Ed Kidd

As a student at Ridley, Georgina excelled in academics, athletics and co-curricular activities. She engaged in new experiences and broadened her horizons at every opportunity. By the time Georgina had entered her graduating year, she had built friendships, learned the importance of gratitude and discovered what it takes to be a leader.

Georgina went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University and her Certified Management Consultant designation. She also graduated from the Institute of Corporate Directors. Currently, Georgina is a Partner and the National Industry Leader of Health and Life Sciences at KPMG. While her career has led her down a path of great success, she has not since forgotten about Ridley.

Nearly two decades after her own Prize Day ceremony, Georgina found herself once again immersed in orange and black, when she joined the Board of Governors in 2005. After nearly a decade serving on the Board of Governors, Georgina was named the 19th Board Chair in 2014; which was a historical year for Ridley, as our school celebrated 125 years and it saw its first female Board Chair in history. Now, halfway through her term in this notable role, it is clear that Georgina has already left her mark on Ridley in more ways than one.

Georgina Black ’85 was paramount in building of Ridley’s Strategic Plan, that focuses on enhancing the student experience, mobilizing Ridley’s mission and strengthening our community. Though the Strategic Plan was officially launched in 2014, Georgina’s efforts did not end there. She has since been an active member in our community, her own community and has taken action in communities abroad. A perfect example of her dedication to Ridley’s motto, Terar Dum Prosim, was her recent service trip to India in 2016, where she chaperoned a group of Ridleians and helped build a home for a family in need. After this experience, she expressed feeling not only gratitude, but also pride for having witnessed the leaders of the tomorrow, our students, making a difference in the world.

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“As an OR, parent and Chair of the Board, I was so proud of our students… Each one demonstrated grit, perseverance, kindness and a commitment to serving others with tons of Ridley spirit.” – Georgina Black ’85, March 2016

Outside of her duties as Chair of the Board, Georgina continually displays commitment to her alma mater, by frequently attending and hosting school events, judging student competitions, and acting as a Ridley ambassador at international receptions.

While her dedication remains steadfast, it is her drive, passion and success that will live on at Ridley, inspiring students for years to come. This recent recognition does not come as a surprise, but Georgina’s appointment as one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2016 solidifies her embodiment of our school’s mission and vision, as she is truly living a flourishing and meaningful life, while transforming the world in which we live.

“I think it is important for the future female students of Ridley to be able to look up and see a woman’s portrait among the rest of the school leaders. There’s a first for everything, and the women who are the first to do something are brave and necessary role models for young girls everywhere.”                          – Hannah Bradley ‘17

We congratulate Georgina on her inspiring achievement. It is our hope that the Ridleians of today and tomorrow will follow in her footsteps, and face their challenges with the same determination, confidence and grace.

“Society needs more of this: women recognizing women for the amazing work that they do. Having one of Canada’s most powerful women to look up to in my community, in a world where women are not always respected the way they should be, is truly an honour. Congratulations Ms. Black!”                                 – Amelia Ritchie ‘17

 

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.

Ridleian Wins We Charity Youth Award

Photography by Linda Roy/Ireva Photography, http://www.canadianliving.com/life-and-relationships/community-and-current-events/article/2016-me-to-we-winner-xavier-west
Photography by Linda Roy/Ireva Photography, http://www.canadianliving.com/life-and-relationships/community-and-current-events/article/2016-me-to-we-winner-xavier-west

Ridleian, Xavier West ’20 has been a dedicated advocate for Me to We since he was only 10 years old. Me to We (formerly Free the Children) is an organization that sets out to empower youth to change the world. Once Xavier discovered Me to We, a fire ignited within him to make a difference.

When he was younger, Xavier would frequently listen to Me to We cofounder, Craig Kielburger, as he recalled stories of his service trips to poverty-stricken communities. Hearing these stories inspired Xavier to see what he could do to help. It began small; asking not for toys at Christmas, but for a goat to be given to a family in need – A goat can provide a family in the developing world with both a sustainable source of income and nutritious milk. Xavier realized that while he had all the toys he could ever want, a roof over his head, and a full fridge, there was a family somewhere in the world that didn’t share the same luxuries.

It was then that Xavier’s goal grew and he set out to complete all five pillars of Me to We giving. The five pillars are education, water, health, food and opportunity. Each pillar contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty in developing communities around the world. The first pillar on Xavier’s list was education. Xavier was determined to raise enough money to build a school in Kenya.

He remained devoted and inspired for the four years of his fundraising campaign, even attending the Take Action Camp, where he was able to interact with like-minded individuals share his story, and see where he community service could take him. After selflessly collecting cans, hosting garage sales and rallying his family, friends and the community to help him reach his goal, Xavier raised $11,000. The collected funds were used to build a school in Kenya from start to finish, which Xavier also helped build on site. For this Grade 9 student, this was a chance to see the impact he was making on these communities and gave him the opportunity to experience, first-hand, what his fundraising efforts had accomplished.

Xavier says the most touching moment of his trip was meeting a mother, who showed him and his family what life was like in her community; taking them on a water walk, showing them her goats, and taking them to her home, which she built herself.

“The way she was talking was just so inspirational…she says this magnificent house – that isn’t that big – is amazing, and yet we’re worried about the luxuries that we have, that aren’t even close to what they have.” – Xavier West ’20

When Xavier returned home, the summer was nearing its end and he was about to begin the next chapter of his life – high school. This transition is a big step for students, made even bigger by the fact that Xavier would also be beginning his Ridley journey. ¬Xavier wanted to attend Ridley for the exceptional education that the school could provide, but upon arriving, he realized that this was also a place he could further his commitment to action and service. With Ridley’s own commitment to service, each House on campus is associated with a charitable organization that they support and raise funds for over the course of the school year. Through this programme, Xavier discovered how he could impact his local community, in addition to his efforts abroad. For a student so dedicated to transforming the globe, Ridley was the perfect fit.

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On October 19th, Xavier was presented with the We Charity Youth Award during the 12th annual We Day. This award is given to a child, aged 13-17, who has contributed to Me to We and the fight to end poverty in an inspiring way. In addition to his acknowledgement on stage, winning this award means that Xavier will be able to experience another service trip and he’s setting his sights on Nicaragua.

Xavier’s journey does not end there. He plans to continue to complete all five pillars; doing his part to contribute to Kenya’s food sustainability, clean water availability, health care, and income opportunities, followed by aiding all of Me to We communities.

“My end goal is to do all five pillars in every community that Me to We is associated with.” – Xavier West ’20

To students who are seeking inspiration to make an impact of their own, Xavier says this:

“Do something you’re passionate about. It doesn’t matter whether the cause is big or small, they’re all important. There are so many problems in this world and if we all help, maybe one day all these problems can be solved.” – Xavier West ’20

Read the Canadian Living article.

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.