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Get to Know Your Prefects: Cassandra M. ‘17

Introducing Cassandra Mitchell ’17 – a Ridleian who opened herself Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.24.53 AMup to the opportunities that our school has to offer. Hear how she adjusted to life on campus and cherishes the inclusive, diverse culture at Ridley.

Why did you choose Ridley?

The decision to come to Ridley involved my entire family. This school aligned with many of our family values and we were impressed by what a tight community the school was. My family has never regretted our decision to come.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?

Honestly, I really didn’t. I didn’t know what to expect or how I was going to fit it. I think everyone feels that way to some extent when they move to a new place. Though I have a Canadian passport, I had never actually lived in Canada before and I didn’t know if I would like it here. Of course, now I feel silly for ever being nervous.

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?

I can’t answer that! That’s like asking who your favourite parent is. I love all my teachers and I love the community we have here at this school. It didn’t take long for Ridley to feel like family.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?

My greatest challenge thus far at Ridley has been balancing my extracurricular activities with taking the IB programme. The past year was the most challenging academic year I’ve had, but also the most rewarding yet. I feel like IB has pushed me to become a member of a range of different communities in the school as well as pushed me to think and problem solve in ways that I haven’t before. I’m only halfway through the programme, but I’m loving it.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?

I think my greatest accomplishment at Ridley thus far has been how quickly I have made Ridley feel like home. This is an amazing place if you embrace it and at the beginning, when everything was new and overwhelming, I had to fight the urge to close myself off from opportunities and new experiences. I am so happy that I managed to successfully fight that urge because I have gained so much from being an active member of the community.

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What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

The world is still reeling from the string of terror attacks and shootings that have taken place this year and sometimes it does feel hopeless; like we might never learn to live in peace. However, there is a moment that I hold onto when I need a little hope for the future of humanity. On the night of Earth Day, we had a campfire in the Quad. There were guitars and ukuleles and we were all singing at the top of our lungs. Around the campfire sat Nigerians, Americans, Canadians, Mexicans, Russians, Germans, and Chinese, singing, laughing and sharing marshmallows. Our amazing global community sets an example of how we can all coexist.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

Tying in to my previous answer, I love how much I am able to learn from people from all corners of the globe. We have all lived such different understandings of life yet we are all still able to coexist and learn from one another. I love that I could end up having dinner with four friends and none of us hold the same passport or that I could do a group project with people whose mother tongues are all different. I strongly believe that those sorts of experiences will benefit me for years to come.

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

I am most excited to be an ambassador for Ridley. I love meeting new people and being a Prefect will give me the opportunity to meet others while I represent the school.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley College has given me the opportunity to take the IB programme, and though it has been the hardest thing I have ever done as a student, it has also been the most rewarding. I have not only been pushed to improve my time management and note taking skills, but also to be a better student. The programme has taught me some valuable life skills. I have also been expected to be a creative problem solver, an open-minded collaborator, and a more reflective person. Those things have made me a more mature person beyond the classroom, and I know I will continue to appreciate that in the future.

What are your plans after graduation?

No matter what I end up doing, I know that I want to continue exploring the world until the day they put me in the ground. After I leave Ridley, I want to go into either International Relations, or International Development. I want to do what I can in university to become as useful as I can be in teams working around the world, creating sustainable, independent communities in developing countries. I can see myself working for humanitarian NGOs in the future.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

My biggest piece of advice would be to make the most of this place. Ridley will teach you so much and give you so many opportunities if you let it. Join the clubs, the service trips, the sport teams. Try things you’ve never done before. Your time here will only be what you make it, so don’t spend it on your laptop in your dorm room.

Ridleians Take Action in our Community

Within Ridley, a thriving community, comprised of students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni, exists. This community works seamlessly to create an environment in which our school can flourish. Beyond Ridley’s gates, exists another community – our local community. With such importance placed on community service and contribution, it is imperative for a strong relationship to exist between Ridley and the local community.

Ridleians are introduced to community service and partnership at a young age. Ridley hopes that from these experiences and opportunities within the community, our students will become global citizens and will continue to live out our motto – Terar dum prosim.

Just recently, our Grade 6 students participated in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme Exhibition, where they took action to solve local and global issues. This proved to be a wonderful opportunity for our students to become passionate about our world, and work to solve issues that struck a cord with them.

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As the end of the year approaches, our Grade 9 & 10 Civics classes stepped up to the very same challenge. For their summative project, these students were asked to look at our local community and focus in on an issue. In groups, they were then asked to choose a topic based on their own personal interests. Some topics included: environmental conservation, gender equality, animal protection and pollution.

The students were required to explore their topics of choice. Students researched their topics, conducted interviews with community leaders, asked their peers to complete surveys and went into our local community to find out more. From their research and findings, the students set a goal and devised a plan of action. Students set out to raise awareness for their cause, inform the community of local issues, donate to local organizations and even use art forms to share a message.

Upon completion of their project, 28 groups gathered in the Great Hall to share their projects and spread awareness for their causes. It was incredible to see so many students come together to discuss local issues and how we can solve them.

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Following the exhibition, we sat down with six groups to learn more about their topic and how they contributed to our community. These six groups paired with organizations, such as Youth Unlimited, Pathstone Mental Health, the City of St. Catharines, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Brock University, Marz Homes and Canadian Tire, for resources and information, donations and in some cases, the opportunity to collaborate – now and in the future. View the video on the community action project.

The community action project allowed students to exercise one of Ridley’s core beliefs – that a commitment to service and social responsibility will help build a flourishing life – while completing their course. Our school encourages all Ridleians to take action, just as these students have, and contribute to our local community and beyond.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

 

Preparing international students for success

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Throughout the school year, Ridley is bustling with students from 44 countries around the globe and we are committed to providing as much support as possible to our international students as they adjust to life away from home. Helping them overcome a language barrier can often make all the difference in their ability to thrive.

Ridley’s English as a Second Language (ESL) programme is a course offered through our Guidance Department. It offers students – whose native language is not English – additional learning support intended to strengthen their conversational English, grammar, spelling and help them grasp nuisances. Furthermore, the ESL programme uses cognitive learning skills that can be applied in students’ daily lives. All of these resources result in improved communications and confidence on a personal and academic level.

Students begin with Level C and D ESL, as well as a Learning Strategies course in their first year here at Ridley. Throughout this first year, students work with our ESL Teacher, Ms. Loretta Whitty, as they build a set of skills that help with their English language proficiency in addition to their organizational skills, time-management, writing, public speaking and note taking. Students who might benefit from a more gentle transition into the school year, our Summer Programme also offers Level B ESL.

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In 2nd term, the students are introduced to the research essay project. Utilizing Brock University’s program, Academic Zone, the students take a step-by-step journey through the essay writing process. This process allows them to tackle one component of an essay at a time, while learning tips and tricks and developing their own writing style.

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Throughout the term, the students are encouraged to discover their own learning style. By developing character profiles and assessing their own personal skills, accomplishments and goals, the students are then able to determine what is the best way for them to learn and retain information. These skills are used throughout their time at Ridley and carried forward into their eventual careers.

“That’s the beauty of our ESL course; it gives [students] the resources and strategies that they can use at Ridley and beyond.”

– Ms. Loretta Whitty

Upon completion of Level C and D, these Ridleians progress to Level E in their next year of schooling; where they complete a course that aligns with a Grade 10 level of English.

Ms. Loretta Whitty has seen students progress with such success over the years. Students develop a passion for writing, find the confidence to speak in front of large groups of people with ease and projection and discover skills and strengths that they didn’t know they had.

“The Ridley ESL programme provided me with an opportunity to practice my English skills in a familiar and comfortable environment. The teachers are friendly and very helpful.”

– Wenze Guan ’16

This programme was designed to align with the Ridley curriculum and international culture. Its goal is to help our students reach a point in their education that they can confidently apply to post-secondary school, prepare for university and begin their flourishing lives. It is clear that this ESL course has done just that; and proves to be a great transition for our international students into life here at Ridley.

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Positive Change Ignites at Ridley College

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

– Nelson Mandela

December 10th is Human Rights Day – observed globally to commemorate the day, in 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, Ridleians went above and beyond to enact positive change in the world by participating in a number of events that took place on campus. Throughout the day and around every corner there were new opportunities for students, staff and faculty to get involved.

Students arrived on campus wearing red and green in support of Arthur Bishop West’s house charity, Congo Leadership Initiative. Contributions from this dress-down “grub” day were donated to the charity in support of a recently relocated Syrian refugee family.

In Upper School, from 8:00a.m. into the night, the Matthews Library was transformed into the drop-in workshop for Ridley’s own Amnesty Group. All students were invited to pay a visit to the library and write letters that took a stand on human rights issues. Within half an hour, 125 letters had already been written; by lunch, over 245 had been signed by Ridleians, pleading to end a number of unjust cases. Throughout the day, teachers brought their classes, faculty and staff dropped by to write their own letters, and students from Lower School stopped by to learn about this amazing cause.

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As the entire Ridley community continued to contribute to the Write for Rights event, another inspiring act had taken place in the Great Hall. Every table and wall in the Great Hall had been adorned with Post-It Notes. Each one with an inspiring message, urging its readers to “stay strong” or “never give up.” Led by the Positive Spaces Group, these positive sticky notes infused the dining hall with an optimistic energy.

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As classes concluded for the day, a group of Ridleians assembled in the Second Century Building (2CB) to help change the world. Each Thursday, this team joins together to make a difference in the lives of women living in developing countries. Led by Ms. Linda Chang and Prefect, Grace Lowes, members sew and prepare feminine hygiene kits for an organization called Days for Girls. These kits allow women, in developing countries, to carry on with their daily lives when they would otherwise be forced to forego school or work up to two full months each year.

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As the sun went down on the school day, so many acts of kindness and positive change had taken place on campus that it was impossible not to feel inspired.

Meanwhile, the Write for Rights event was forging ahead. Students piled in the library to help reach Ridley’s goal of writing 500 letters. Ms. Shelley Thomas, Faculty Advisor to Ridley’s Amnesty group, documented Ridley’s progress and along with her team, joined in on a twitter chat with the Secretary General of Amnesty Canada. By 10:00p.m., as the Write for Rights event came to a close, not only did had Ridley won Amnesty’s photo challenge, but an astounding 565 letters had been written for Amnesty International; a record breaking number for Ridley College.

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The winning photo of Amnesty International’s photo contest, taken by Ms. Shelley Thomas.

Whether they were writing, sewing, donating or posting, Ridleians made an impact and gained perspective on serious global issues. We all learned to be grateful for our circumstances and to use our power to assist others who are not as fortunate and wage a personal war. Each and every student joined together to make a difference and transform the globe. Their passion and kindness has inspired us all to be a part of positive change.

 

Get to Know Your Prefects: Shamar B. ’16

Introducing Shamar; a boarder from the Bahamas, who represented his country for two Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 1.01.33 PMconsecutive years at the Youth Olympics for basketball – now our First Boy’s Basketball team Captain! We are thrilled that he has brought his talents on and off the court to Ridley. Read our Q&A with Shamar to learn more about this Ridley Prefect.

Why did you choose Ridley?

The decision to attend Ridley was a collective group decision between my family members and I. Ridley was chosen because of the high standard of education, large sporting background, and mainly the quality of the school. It has diversification between different cultures; this allows students to bond and grasp a better understanding between self-culture and outside cultures. Ridley offered different facilities, a unique experience and exposure to a variety of programs. Lastly, Ridley is an elite school that assists, guides, and prepares students for university and the real world.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?

My parents and I knew that I was prepared to attend Ridley College, and make the next big step in my life as a growing teen, but there are always some obstacles to face, even when you feel most prepared. Some of these obstacles were leaving family and friends behind in Nassau, Bahamas, seeking new opportunities and creating new friends; also making tough decisions on my own without mom or dad being by my side making the decisions for me.

What are your plans after graduation? 

Graduation is something I am really looking forward to. However, knowing that it will be my last time in high school will make the moment even more special, but also tough and possibly an emotional experience. After graduation I plan to attend university, possibly do some traveling, and gain a little more work experience before I’m completely enrolled into university. 

Who is your favourite faculty member and why?

There are so many great faculty members at Ridley College. It’s quite tough to single out a faculty member as most favourite because they all are unique in many ways. 

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?

My greatest challenge at Ridley thus far has been, possibly, time management. This is because of traveling to different places for basketball, staying on top of assignments, and preparing for quizzes and tests.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley?

My greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley was being selected as school Prefect and also winning the first ever OFSAA ‘A’ Basketball Championship for the first time in Ridley history with an unbelievable group of teammates and coaching staff.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley has prepared me academically, socially, and mentally for the real world. This is because the Ridley College community is a very social environment, which helps with your social skills in a formal and informal way. Academically, because of the different rigorous courses, the responsibility to research, study, and take on tasks independently or even sometimes with fellow classmates. Lastly mentally, because of the Ridley Guidance Team, which enlightens students in many different areas for future goals, plans, and decisions 

What have been your favorite Ridley experience (thus far) and your favorite part of Ridley?

Camp at the beginning of the school year, because of new people coming into the Ridley community, and taking part in house activities together. This creates a bond between you and other kids. Secondly, Snake Dance was an unreal experience for me because of the intensity and excitement of everyone participating. Snake Dance creates motivation for me to start off the school year in an enthusiastic way.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

My advice to all prospective students is; to always remain open minded, to be polite with others, and to try your best to be welcoming to others. Seize every opportunity and be determined, to tackle and overcome any obstacles that come before you in your Ridley journey. Lastly be respectful, mannerly and always take advantage of all opportunities given.

Get to Know Your Prefects: ShanShan L. ’16

Today, we are profiling Prefect ShanShan. She is a part-time boarding student from China Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.10.11 AMwho now resides in Toronto!

ShanShan was the top female in the CISAA Golf Qualifier for OFSAA and will represent Ridley at the OFSAA Women’s Golf Championships next month!

Why did you choose Ridley?

We were looking at private schools around the Toronto region and Ridley. I personally had
the best first impression at Ridley.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley?

I came to Ridley in grade 6. It was definitely a big change for me as I was at a public school for 2 years prior and before that, I lived in China. Culturally and socially, there were some aspects that took some getting used to, but Ridley is a great (safe) environment to make those changes.

What are your plans after graduation? 

After graduation, I plan to go to university in the States and go on at least one Study Abroad program. Hopefully, I can continue to play golf and play piano and the flute.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley?

The jump from grade 10 to IB. I felt that I was not prepared for the IB Diploma Program and it took the first year (maybe still) to become accustomed to the dynamics of being an IB student at a school as busy as Ridley.

What has been your favourite Ridley experience (thus far) and your favorite part of Ridley (chapel, rowing, your house)?

Snake Dance – Every year, especially the last one. Snake Dance is something unique to Ridley and no one can take that experience and memory away because it is difficult to explain and only Ridleians can truly understand.

What are the most important things you have learned from your time at Ridley?

Fears were meant to be destroyed.

Traditions are good – they create an identity that seperates Ridley from other schools.

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.”

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

Don’t be afraid to try something new and voice your opinions.

The only way to truly experience Ridley is to be open-minded to every opportunity. Guaranteed, you will do something you never thought you would.

Your friends will be from all around the world – take advantage of this because it leads to great food and amazing vacations.

Students Take to Camp Before the School Year Begins!

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This past weekend, students enjoyed every last drop of summer and ushered in the new school year with a trip to camp.  Upper School boys headed up to the scenic Onondaga Camp while the Upper School girls and lower school students from grade 7 and 8 enjoyed beautiful Camp White Pine. While there, students had a chance to bond with their peers and fellow housemates, getting a chance to showcase their talents, partake in new sports and activities and of course, have fun!

The boys had an adventurous weekend; full of zip lining through the woods, water skiing on a blue lake and playing a friendly game of water polo.

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The girls filled their days canoeing and by building house spirit. In completing a high-flying adventure on a ropes course, our students surely showed they had grit.

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At Camp White Pine the grade 7’s and 8’s participated in team building activities such as a ropes course, beach volleyball and all kinds of fun in the sun!

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Our younger students didn’t miss out on the fun, as they had their own camp day on campus. Students made their own stop motion animations, played trivia games and bonded with their tribes!

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Students returned from camp with new friends and smiles on their faces, ready to start a new school year!

To see all the photos from the weekend, check out Ridley’s official Flickr page!