There are a number of exciting changes on the horizon from our friends at Chartwells, and we can’t wait to share them with you!
The initiatives below are surely an asset to those in our community who are vegan or vegetarian or have various dietary restrictions; however, the goal is to educate our students and the community at large about building healthy, balanced plates and encouraging them to try new protein options.
So, without further ado, let’s explore these new developments!
FRESH FIX STATION LAUNCHES IN THE GREAT HALL
In January, Chartwells officially launched their new Fresh Fix protein bowl and salad station to further promote healthy eating and wellbeing across all segments of the Ridley community. Brimming with fresh ingredients to satisfy every palette, the station also provides an array of meatless proteins, grains, and a host of other delicious items on daily rotation, including fresh salad dressings prepared in-house by our world-class culinary staff. We would like to acknowledge Chef Grant Spencer, Culinary Director Chef Sidney Krick, and Head Chef Richard Storin, as well as our new staff nutritionist Rabia Khalid, NM, for all their hard work in making this station a reality.
Furthermore, our lunch and dinner menu will also see an increased variation in hot food offerings in the coming weeks. These changes, which began in Lower School in January, launched in Upper School on February 6th to ensure that our menus are in compliance with Canada’s Food Guide. Most importantly, this change involves transitioning from a two-week rotation menu to a four-week rotation in order to provide more diverse, nutritious food options to members of our community, including more vegetarian and vegan options and pork alternatives, while also limiting the overall consumption of foods high in salt, sugar, oils, and fats.
NUTRITION WORKSHOPS FOR RIDLEY ATHLETES
Nutrition plays a significant role in academic performance. Research has shown that students who eat a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients are better able to concentrate, learn, and retain information, which can lead to better outcomes. Students who are sufficiently nourished also benefit from improved memory and increased overall cognitive function in the classroom compared to those who are insufficiently nourished.
Eating well and staying hydrated are also key for athletes looking to achieve their peak physical and mental potential and increase their overall performance. Consuming carbohydrates and lean proteins and drinking water or sports drinks after exercise helps to rebuild and strengthen muscle, aids in tissue repair and replenishes the vital fluids lost through sweating.
These insights provide the foundation for Chartwells’ new nutrition workshops, led by our nutritionist Rabia Khalid. Rabia has and will continue to provide these workshops by request to help our student-athletes continue to perform at a high level by educating them on what to eat in collaboration with our Culinary Director, Chef Sidney Krick. Chef Sidney leads the cooking part of these hands-on sessions, along with our ongoing Teaching Kitchens, which further empower and equip Ridley students to prepare healthy, high-energy and high-protein meals quickly on their own.
Faculty members interested in booking a workshop with Rabia may contact her by email at email@example.com. She will also be available for consultation by appointment.
WEIGH THE WASTE PROGRAMME
Finally, our Lower School students have been participating in a “Weigh the Waste” competition to educate our community on the need to reduce food waste. This competition will be an ongoing initiative for the remainder of the school year. Food waste will be weighed, and weekly scores recorded, with a monthly winner announced for each lunch group.
The goal of this initiative is to hold ourselves accountable for generating food waste and encourage all in our community to maybe take a little less and go back for more if we are still hungry — a noble lesson for our students, faculty, and staff alike! Congratulations to our first winners — the JK/SK class!
Thank you for your continued support! It’s our pleasure to serve and nourish you!
Alumnae, Geena Prestia ’21 and Angela Finn ’22 explain how you can transform your dorm room into a “home away from home.”
By: Geena Prestia ’21
Moving into your Ridley dorm room is the first step in designing your Ridley experience! Whether you are a boarder or a day student, decorating your room with both practical and personal items will give you a “home away from home” feel. Maybe you’ve already started brainstorming your design plan and are feeling a bit stuck on what you need to bring. In our latest blog post, recent graduates, Geena Prestia ‘21 and Angela Finn ‘22 give you the inside scoop on the dorm room must-haves for new Tigers!
Prior to Ridley’s opening days, it is best to have all your dorm room essentials packed and ready to go. When it comes to the room itself, Ridley dorms are equipped with all the basics, so no need to worry about bringing a mattress on your flight over! Each dorm room in Ridley’s boarding houses has a bed, closet, desk and many shelves for the students to take advantage of. However, there are a few more practical items that are must-haves in your room.
When Angela Finn reflects on her days living in G-East house as a full-time boarder, she offered thesesuggestions for what every new student should bring with them.
In the Ridley dorms, the bathrooms are communal. They are used by an entire floor full of students. “A shower caddy was a necessity when I was living in a dorm with about 50 girls. When you share a bathroom, it keeps your space clean and organized,” said Angela.
Living with a bunch of your closest friends is a ton of fun but what is not too fun is melting in your dorm room. When Third Term springs around, it can get quite hot out and heat really does rise. That’s why having a bedroom fan in your room is essential to maintain a comfortable temperature for sleeping, studying or even just hanging out.
Each day student is also assigned to a dorm room with typically one or two boarding students. Geena Prestia, a day student during her time at Ridley, loved spending time with her roommates in G-East and decorated her space, despite living at home. Here are her tips for personalizing your room to match your energy!
Whether it be posters, printed photos or wallpaper, there are so many ways you can spice up your room with wall décor. “Because I didn’t sleep in my dorm room, I wanted to give it more of a homey feel. So, I made it my own by hanging up photos of my friends and mini posters with some of my favourite quotes,” said Geena. Put your personality on display in your dorm with a sports jersey, your country’s flag and all things YOU!
Another easy way to express yourself in your dorm room is with bed décor. A good nap is always more enticing when there’s a fun pillow to lay your head on. You can bring decorative pillows, a bedspread with a cool pattern, and even a funky rug to add pops of colour to your new home away from home!
Living away from home for the first time can be scary, but it is also an exciting adventure. Make the most of your time. You won’t regret it!
Young alumna, Geena Prestia ‘21 explains how you can find your niche and flourish at Ridley.
By: Geena Prestia ’21
Ridley is the land of opportunities for students. Academics, athletics, arts and more, Ridley has it all! Coming to a school with so much to offer is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming if you are unsure of where to start. We want all our new and returning Tigers to make the most of their Ridley experience. Our community facilitates a culture for students where they feel a strong sense of belonging, but it is also up to the individual to put themselves out there! Young alumna, Geena Prestia ‘21 explores how you can find your niche in our diverse community and flourish at Ridley.
Student life and spirit are integral components in making the most of your Ridley experience. Often, our students recount their favourite memories during their time at Ridley as the moments they spent with their fellow Tigers! “Staying late for café and getting dressed up in orange and black for spirit nights are times I will never forget when I remember Ridley,” said Geena. So, attend as many school dances and social events as you can. Even something as small as staying for dinner after practice can help you build new connections. Show up for your friends and share your Ridley pride with the community!
Try new things
Ridley allows its students to express themselves in various aspects of Ridley life. From sports teams to clubs, there is a new opportunity for you with every term. “You can try out a new club or sport every year, or you can stick with what you like. Either way, if there’s something you want to try or improve on, Ridley wants to help you get there,” said Geena. The multitude of options available to you may be overwhelming at first, but it is important to push those fears aside and test the waters! Who knows, you might even discover a new passion or skill along the way.
Showcase your talents
Whether you dream of being centre stage or prefer doing behind-the-scenes work, Ridley encourages students to share their artistic capabilities. Not only is it exciting to have your peers appreciate your talents, but all the opportunities Ridley offers in the arts can be an outlet of expression for many students. “I have always gravitated towards the performing arts, and I am so thankful that Ridley gave me a platform where I could share that with others,” said Geena. Take advantage of the access you’ve been given at Ridley to showcase your incredible talents with your fellow Tigers!
Rely on your boarding community
The daily schedule of a Ridley student is a busy one, and it can be challenging to juggle all these activities at once. We suggest looking to your boarding community for support. Ridley has given you a house full of about 50 brothers or sisters; they will always be there for you when you need them. “I don’t know what I would have done without the support of my G-East girls. They were always there when I needed them, and I would do anything for any one of them,” said Geena. You’ll never know how many strong bonds you can create and what the future holds for your friendships until you try!
Build relationships with teachers
Making the most of your Ridley experience and the stellar education you will receive also means building connections with your teachers. Whether their lessons be school-related or advice on life in general, your teachers want to support you in every way they can. “One of the best parts about going to class was getting to talk to and laugh with my favourite teachers,” said Geena. Over the years, they will watch you grow as a student and as a person and reflect on where you started with fondness. Recognize their support, utilize it during your time as a student and keep in touch after you graduate!
Ridley is more than just a school. It is a place where students discover their strengths and weaknesses, adopt an open-minded perspective on the world and leave with lifelong connections. Make the most of your Ridley experience; it goes by much faster than you think!
Alumna Geena Prestia ’21 shares some of the top-ranked uniform items, available at Hanks, that students can wear both in and out of the classroom.
By: Geena Prestia ’21
Wearing a uniform allows our students’ personalities to shine from within while strengthening our community through a collective sense of belonging. Not to mention, it makes our students’ morning routine as easy as one, two, three!
Last year, we unveiled our new uniform, which has a look that feels like Ridley. They brainstormed new styles that incorporated the Ridley orange and black, whilst still maintaining a fashion-forward look. Over the course of the year, our students have added their own personalities to their uniforms by mixing and matching their favourite pieces.
Are you a new student looking to learn more about how to add spice to your new school fit? Fear not, Hank is here to help!
Our campus store has more to offer than just tasty snacks and stacks of textbooks. So, make your way down to Hank’s and use this Trendy Tigers list to help you find all the student favourites that will be sure to elevate your on-and-off-campus style.
Here are some of the top-ranked items that students can wear both in and out of the classroom.
Starting off with one of the trendier pieces offered in the on-campus store, bucket hats are a huge hit with our Tigers! They are offered in different styles and, although not acceptable to wear during class, are perfect for our outdoor activities in the Spring term. Try one out and stay protected from the sun when running around A Squad.
A staple piece in the new uniform design, the plaid kilt is the perfect blend of sophisticated and stylish! This item is typically worn by female students during the school day, and pairs nicely with the new black and orange blazer for Chapel. The plaid kilt can be worn year-round, as Hank’s offers nylons and kilt shorts for our Tigers to wear underneath during the cooler months!
Speaking of the chillier months of the year, Hank’s has tons of options for students to keep warm. Whether you’re tobogganing on the back fields or watching our Prep Hockey team at a spirit night, a Ridley tuque and pair of gloves are the perfect accessories!
Cadet Sweater Coat
One of the longest-standing articles of the Ridley uniform, the cadet sweater coat is the perfect layer for any occasion. This piece can be worn with the cadet practice uniform, as well as in your wardrobe outside of school. Many alumni return to campus in this iconic sweater during the homecoming season. So, head down to the sewing room and start adding on your sports badges and cadet pins until the back of your sweater is covered in Ridley pride!
With such an incredible team of designers, the Ridley brand has been seamlessly incorporated into the school uniform this past year. Ridley is dedicated to keeping every Tiger looking funky, fresh and fun. We cannot wait to see you rocking some of Hank’s favourite pieces on campus!
At Ridley, we want our students to feel good and do good. As a leader in positive education and wellbeing education, our educators intentionally teach the habits of mind, body, and spirit so that students are primed for learning and success — now and long after graduation. An integral part of training the habits of mind, body, and spirit is the teaching of healthy eating and sleep habits, which features prominently in our health and physical education programming, itself guided by the belief that a healthy body is the pathway to a healthy mind.
A number of recent studies seem to confirm these claims. As physician, author, and former Harvard Medical School instructor Dr. Eva Selhub explains, “what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood.” However, not all food is created equal. High-quality foods, that is, foods high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourish the brain and provide fuel for the body, while conversely, low-quality foods (e.g., processed or refined meals) can impair brain function and worsen the symptoms of mood disorders such as depression. With regards to academic performance, another study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that students who eat clean and are physically active “tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance (e.g., memory), and classroom behaviour.”
Each day at Ridley, our students are nourished with a considerable selection of healthy and delicious food options, which are served in our inspiring gathering spaces, Williams Hall and The Great Hall, and prepared by the expert staff at Chartwells Canada. Chartwells’ dedicated chef and kitchen staff strive to ensure that Ridley students, faculty, and staff alike have access to healthy and delicious snack and meal options each day. At Ridley, snack breaks and meal times are built into the day, allowing students to refuel and nourish their bodies for maximum performance. Additionally, these daily experiences allow teachers to develop deeper connections with students while also modelling and teaching appropriate table manners and etiquette.
After a long COVID-19 break and an overwhelming shift to remote work and learning, Chartwells’ staff found themselves asking how they could re-engage members of the community with new healthy food initiatives as the pandemic halted to a close. “We started with a blank slate wall, then asked ourselves, ‘how can we incorporate nutrition and wellness into this picture?’” says Maggie Bartold, Director of Operations for Chartwells at Ridley College.
This formerly empty canvas has evolved into a rich tapestry of initiatives which promote healthy eating and wellbeing across the Ridley community—two of which are detailed in the sections below.
In November, Chartwells officially launched its Healthy Paws programme, which teaches the foundations of Canada’s Food Guide and the different food groups represented within it to our Lower School students.
Far from simply explaining the groups, these weekly sessions, led by Chef Grant Spencer, engage students through compelling imagery and storytelling. Each food group is symbolized by a leaf on the “Tree of Growth,” itself modelled upon the Chartwells logo, with each weekly session dedicated to the respective food groups. Appropriately, these sessions began with water—an essential facet of growth, both for plant and human life. From there, the groups will proceed through the food groups, with students walking away with the knowledge of how to build a healthy plate and nourish their minds, bodies, and souls through food.
An additional symbol in this programme is the figure of Hank the Tiger (Cub), adding another dimension to the nourishment piece. By starting with Hank as a growing Tiger cub, the children can identify with him and watch him grow as he is “fed” over the course of the year until, at the end of the school year, he is fully grown, providing a valuable lesson about the advantages of healthy eating. Together, these two images create a powerful visual for our Lower School children, providing a simple and colourful message that will keep them engaged and interested while providing the necessary foundations for them to lead healthy and sustainable lives in the future.
The “Snack” Programme
There are a number of reasons we get “snacky” at nighttime. Studies suggest these cravings sometimes come as the result of overly restricted food intake in the daytime. They can also arise from habit or boredom and, in some cases, have been linked to various eating disorders. Regardless of the cause of these urges, it is imperative that when we choose to eat late at night, we make healthy choices.
With the rapid expansion of online food delivery platforms, such as Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats, and Doordash, the temptation to opt for fast food late at night can be overwhelming. To empower students to make good choices, Chartwells and Ridley have implemented a late-night snack programme in our boarding houses.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Chartwells staff delivers and stocks our boarding house kitchens with healthy, balanced snacks—items such as fruits and veggies, yogurt, freshly baked items, etc.—in order to ensure that students have what they need to stay healthy and develop good habits. These snack deliveries consist of five snack options each run and are currently on a three-week rotation, at which point students and Heads of House are consulted and asked to let us know what they would like to see next. In addition to deliveries, Café Nights run twice a week, every Monday and Wednesday, in the Great Hall.
Eating healthy should not feel like a punishment, so we are delighted to work with our community members to best provide them with delicious, nourishing fuel for their busy lives!
Chartwells will continue weekly Teaching Kitchens with Chef Grant on Saturday mornings, with its Fit+ balanced plate initiative at the core, as well as continue to drive and expand local food and sustainability initiatives on campus. Keep an eye on our blog for more stories about these exciting events in the future, as well as on the Chartwells website, which contains vital information about the organization and its various initiatives.
What makes Ridley College exceptional? In our latest blog post, young alumna, Geena Prestia ’21 explores three areas pivotal to Ridley life—spirit, service and student life—and how they contribute to an extraordinary Ridley experience.
By: Geena Prestia ’21
Spirit and service and student life, oh my! Ridley is well-known for the stellar academic curriculum it has to offer; however, there are a vast number of opportunities for students to try new things and develop useful skills outside of the classroom.
This blog will explore three areas pivotal to Ridley life—spirit, service and student life—and how they contribute to an extraordinary Ridley experience.
Go Blacks Go! One of the many beloved Ridley cheers sung at spirit events, where our student body is full of orange and black pride. No matter how athletic or artistic you are, there is always a place where you belong at Ridley. As a tight-knit community, the Tigers always look forward to exciting school events such as Snake Dance and Pep Rally, where school spirit is at the forefront of it all. “Some of my favourite memories from my time at Ridley were spent decked out in orange and black gear with friends; we always had a blast cheering and dancing at spirit events,” said alumna, Geena Prestia ’21. This school spirit will stick with you long after you leave the Ridley campus. Once a tiger, always a tiger!
At Ridley, there are endless opportunities for you to serve our community, as well as those outside of Ridley. From the Santa Claus Parades across the Niagara region to weekend dog walking on campus, or even March Break service trips, Ridley provides several options for students to choose from. “I went on a service trip to Guatemala in grade nine, and it was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had,” said Geena. We are so fortunate to belong to a safe and welcoming community at Ridley, and this we recognize as we encourage our Tigers to give back to those less fortunate.
Our students bring life to campus. Ridley facilitates an environment beyond just a school; for most, it is a second home. With over half of the Upper School population being made up of boarders from all over the world, the students truly rely on one another for support and fun at their home away from home. “Even as a day student, I always found the students at Ridley, especially the girls I spent most of my time with in G-East, to be like my second family,” said Geena. At Ridley, it doesn’t matter what your favourite sport is, how many instruments you can play or if you know how to spell International Baccalaureate; every student has a place where they can be themselves and share that with their peers. The bonds our students make at Ridley are long-lasting during their time at the school and in the years to come.
When she reflects on her eight years at the school, Geena said, “Ridley is a special place, and I know that I will always have a home there.”
Alumnae, Geena Prestia ’21 and Angela Finn ’22 share their thoughts on the best places to shop, snack and explore in the Niagara Region.
By: Geena Prestia ’22
Calling all Ridley explorers! Ridley is proud to be a part of the bountiful Niagara Region, and we know that when our students want to stretch their paws, they love to explore all that the outside community has to offer. From the plethora of restaurants in the area to the many beautiful sights, like Niagara Falls, there is always something for our Tigers to do when class is not in session. Recent graduates, Geena Prestia ‘21 and Angela Finn ‘22 share the best places to shop, snack and explore in our latest blog post.
When Geena remembers her many years spent at Ridley, there is a collection of fun memories, both on and off campus. Here were some of her favourite things to do in Ridley’s surrounding community:
Clifton Hill & The Falls
As a Niagara Falls native, one of Geena’s number one recommendations for an exciting day trip is visiting Niagara Falls itself at the bottom of the infamous Clifton Hill. “With arcade games, mini golf, haunted houses and the big Sky Wheel, there is so much to explore in such a small area!” she says.
At the very bottom of Clifton Hill is where you can overlook the amazing waterfalls. It’s a view you will not want to miss!
Pen Centre & Landmark Cinemas
When winter rolls around, it can get quite chilly in Niagara, making some outdoor spots a little tricky to visit. If you’re looking for a way to stay warm on a cold day but still have some fun, we suggest you visit the Pen Centre mall and Landmark movie theatre in St. Catharines. Just a short drive from Ridley’s campus, there are plenty of trendy stores for you and your friends to spend the day browsing in. Conveniently built right next door to the mall, Landmark Cinemas always has great movie showings, and you can enjoy the show with a nice buttery bag of popcorn!
Apart from the various places you can visit in Niagara, the region is home to several incredible restaurants for you to try. Angela Finn shares some of her top recommendations for the foodies of Ridley:
Wind Japanese & Thai
If you are a sushi fan, this restaurant will not disappoint! Just a short walk over the Burgoyne Bridge, Wind is the perfect lunch or dinner spot for our Tigers. “My friends and I always loved going to Wind for dinner, they have so many options and the food is delicious!” says Angela. If you do decide to go, we recommend wearing some loose bottoms, because this all-you-can-eat style restaurant will have you stuffed for hours!
Mahtay Café & Lounge
If you’re looking for something a bit more casual, or even a new study space, Mahtay Café is the perfect spot for you. The urban vibe of the restaurant is a hit among our students, and their creative sandwich recipes are to die for! Next time you’re feeling a little restless on a Sunday afternoon in the dorms, bring a good book and an empty tummy down to St. Paul Street for a tasty snack and refreshing iced coffee at Mahtay.
Niagara has so many opportunities for Ridley students to explore new places, try new things and take a break from their busy school schedules every now and then. So, put your explorer hat on and immerse yourself in all the excitement that Niagara has to offer!
The Ridley community is deeply saddened by the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on September 8th, 2022.
We have been inspired by her dedication to a life of service, leadership and kindness. Her legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of our community and the world. Along with the rest of the Commonwealth, we mourn this tremendous loss. Our flag is lowered to half mast in her honour and memory.
Earlier this week, Headmaster Kidd shared his heartfelt reflections on this monumental event in Chapel. We share them with you below.
On Thursday morning, just after lunch, we heard the news that Queen Elizabeth II had passed away at her beloved Scottish home, Balmoral Castle. It was one of those historic, “where were you?” moments, and I know that I will never forget where I was — standing on the shores at Camp Onondaga watching a strange student competition known as ‘greasy watermelon.’ It was there, in the warm sunshine, I was approached by Mr. and Mrs. Bett asking if I had heard the news – the Queen was dead. Like so many people around the world, not only British and Commonwealth nations, but also informed citizens from around the world, I was surprised to find myself instantly flooded with so many strong feelings of shock and sorrow. I had to pause — I was literally stopped in my tracks. It seems strange to consider now. I knew that she had been ill, and I also knew that she was 96 years old. And yet, like so many people around the world experienced, the news was jolting and filled me with sorrow. It choked me up. In the days that followed, this common response has received more than a few reflections.
Perhaps the news triggered a flood of sorrow from memories of recently passed loved ones. I thought of my aging parents — my mother shared a birthday with the Queen and they are ardent monarchists.
Perhaps it was an unsettling epiphany that a constant star in our lives ceased to exist; that a very important thread connecting us to our past was now severed? Perhaps it was that her death represented the passing of an era. Some have said she was the last of the great leaders of the 20th century — her name, her image, and her legacy is ubiquitous, from the coins and bills in your wallets to the highways we drive on and the schools, hospitals and institutions we attend.
Or maybe it was the melancholic and very personal recognition that this very public family had just lost their matriarch — their great grandmother, their grandmother and for King Charles and his siblings, their mama.
My explanation is that this feeling is a very complex sadness — part nostalgia, part anxiety. I am most certain the Ancient Greeks had a name for this feeling that we moderns can’t quite define — a realization that with the passing of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, we experienced the passing of some part of our collective humanity — the best part of our collective humanity, the parts that we seek to recreate and adopt. Perhaps in her, we sensed the very best of us, embodied and manifested in a life and a reign of 70 years as monarch, sovereign and head of state for millions of people around the world.
As French President Emmanuel Macron quipped to the British people, “To you, she was your Queen, but to us, she was The Queen.” I think what he meant was that she was The Queen – the pinnacle of human values that we so admire. She was values in action – values such as duty, service, humility, dedication, stoic resolve and calm leadership.
At the age of 25, with the death of her father, King George VI, she was called to the throne; called to lead not only a nation but through her redefinition of the role, to lead an entire commonwealth of nations, including Canada (less than a century old at the time). Her life was the history of the 20th century — WWII, post-war recovery, economic austerity, unrest in Northern Ireland, the independence of former colonies such as Hong Kong and most recently Barbados, wars in Argentina and the Middle East, and most recently, COVID.
I have a chapel homily on the topic of death and funerals (I’ll save it for the darkest day of the year, just to cheer you all up). In it, I admit that despite the pain of loss and mourning, I sometimes enjoy attending funerals and finding myself inspired by the eulogies — the uplifting insights into lives well lived. Indeed, when a great person passes (whether a famous Head of State or a close relative), we have an opportunity to learn, to marvel, and hopefully, to emulate the best aspects of their lives, the values that informed their actions and how they chose to spend their time on earth. As King Charles noted in his address to the nation — “In our sorrow, let us remember and draw strength from the light of her example.”
So, what can we learn from the light of Queen Elizabeth’s example? Duty, service, dedication to the task she was called to, humility.
On multiple occasions, facing crisis, she reassured us that all would be well. “Keep calm and carry on” was a British government wartime message and was not coined by the Queen, but nevertheless, these five words of Stoic advice very much capture the dignity with which she lived. As a 14-year-old, amid the darkest hours of WWII, she delivered a radio address to her British people, that was intended to reassure the children of Britain. Boris Johnson reflected on this moment in his tribute to the Queen in parliament on Friday:
“She said then: ‘We know, every one of us, that in the end all will be well.’ She was right.
And she was right again, in the darkest days of the COVID pandemic, when she came on our screens to tell us that we would meet again.
And we did.”
In the last few weeks, it is now clear that the Queen was slipping away, her life energy no doubt sapped by the loss of the love of her life, her late husband Prince Philip. But in one last act of service, duty and dedication, last Tuesday, she rose from her bed in Balmoral to preside over the departure of outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson and to greet her new Prime Minister (her 15th), Liz Truss.
In a special session of the House of Commons on Friday, British politicians and leaders took turns paying tribute to the Queen, capturing what she meant to the British people and to the world.
The Prime Minister, Liz Truss remarked:
“Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known.
She was the rock on which modern Britain was built. She came to the throne — at just 25 — in a country that was emerging from the shadow of war. She bequeaths a modern, dynamic nation that has grown and flourished under her reign.
The United Kingdom is the great country it is today because of her. The Commonwealth is the family of nations it is today because of her.”
Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party noted:
“She did not simply reign over us; she lived alongside us, she shared in our hopes and our fears, our joy and our pain, our good times and our bad.”
And then, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, remarked:
“Over her reign she has seen unprecedented social, cultural, technological change, through it all she has been the most conscientious and dutiful monarch.
But whilst she understood the unescapable nature of duty, which sometimes must have weighed upon her heavily, she also delighted in carrying it out, for she was the most devoted monarch.”
This week, in tribute to her Majesty the Queen, our flag will fly at half-mast until sundown on the day of her funeral, which will occur on Monday, September 19th. The Government of Canada has declared 10 days of national mourning. On Saturday past, the Government of Canada and Governor General Mary Simon issued a proclamation of King Charles III’s ascension as Canada’s new sovereign and Head of State.
And finally, once again in UK Parliament on Friday, Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith concluded his tribute to the Queen with these words:
“If the House will indulge me, I want to quote a W.H. Auden poem with a few changes:
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drums
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.”
She was our North, our South, our East and West,
Our working week and our Sunday rest,
Our noon, our midnight, our talk, our song.
We thought that love would last forever: we were wrong.
May God bless her and keep her, and hold her in our hands, and may we bless the royal family.”
I ask that you join me in a moment of silence, honouring the life, the leadership, and the very human values embodied in the actions of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
But with so many new books in the marketplace, how do you know what to read? We can help with that!
Each summer, as part of Ridley’s ongoing commitment to flourishing and personal growth, our stalwart leader, Headmaster Kidd, curates his aptly titled Headmaster’s Reading List—a short programme of transformative texts that captivate and inspire while also supporting our flourishing and wellbeing initiatives.
This year, Headmaster Kidd solicited suggestions from members across the Ridley community and narrowed the list down to these five electrifying titles:
Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain
In her latest masterpiece, Susan Cain, author of the bestselling phenomenon, Quiet, reveals the power of a bittersweet, melancholic outlook on life, and why our culture has been so blind to its value. Here, Cain employs her signature mix of research, storytelling, and memoir to explore why we experience sorrow and longing, and the surprising lessons these states of mind teach us about creativity, compassion, leadership, spirituality, mortality, and love.
As an accompaniment, Cain has also included a special Book Club Kit, which includes a letter from the author, discussion questions, writing prompts, a list of takeaways, and a Bittersweet playlist!
Good Anxiety: Harnessing the Power of the Most Misunderstood Emotion by Dr. Wendy Suzuki
Hundreds of millions of people suffer from everyday, low-level, non-clinical anxiety. Popular science suggests that this persistent anxiety is detrimental to our health, performance, and wellbeing. But what if our preoccupation with avoiding anxiety is costing us something? What if we could learn how to harness the brain activation underlying our anxiety and make it work for us, turning it into superpowers?
In Good Anxiety, Dr. Wendy Suzuki unpacks the cutting-edge science that will help readers channel their anxiety for positive outcomes—accelerating focus and productivity, boosting performance, creating compassion, and fostering creativity—transforming our understanding and experience of everyday anxiety forever in the process.
How People Matter: Why It Affects Health, Happiness, Love, Work, and Society by Isaac Prilleltensky and Ora Prilleltensky
Mattering, which is about feeling valued and adding value, is essential for health, happiness, love, work, and social well-being. We all need to feel valued by, and add value to, ourselves, others, co-workers, and community members.
How People Matter shows not only the signs, significance, and sources of mattering, but also presents the strategies to achieve mattering in our personal and professional lives. Using research-based methods of change to help people achieve a higher sense of purpose and a deeper sense of meaning, this book equips therapists, managers, teachers, parents, and healthcare professionals with the tools needed to optimize personal and collective well-being and productivity and explains how promoting mattering within communities fosters wellness and fairness in equal measure.
Rest, Refocus, Recharge: A Guide for Optimizing Your Life by Greg Wells, PhD
In a 24/7 world, it can be a real challenge to get proper rest and give your mind and body the opportunity to fully recharge.
In this new book, Dr. Greg Wells outlines how small changes in the way you rest, refocus and recharge can help you improve your mental health, prevent illness and deliver optimal results, offering simple and practical techniques that you can easily incorporate into your existing routine.
Uncommon Sense Teaching: Practical Insights in Brain Science to Help Students Learn by Barbara Oakley, PhD, Beth Rogowsky, EdD, and Terrence J. Sejnowski, PhD
Neuroscientists have made enormous strides in understanding the brain and how we learn, but little of that insight has filtered down to the way teachers teach. Uncommon Sense Teaching applies this research to the classroom for teachers, parents, and anyone interested in improving education. Topics include:
Strategies for keeping students motivated and engaged, especially with online learning
Helping students remember information long-term, so it isn’t immediately forgotten after a test
How to teach inclusively in a diverse classroom where students have a wide range of abilities
Drawing on research findings as well as the authors’ combined decades of experience in the classroom, Uncommon Sense Teaching equips readers with the tools to enhance their teaching, whether they’re seasoned professionals or parents trying to offer extra support for their children’s education.
Great teachers see themselves as great learners—and they see learning through the eyes of their students. That’s why our dedicated faculty and staff are thrilled to dive into this list, so we can model curiosity, intellectual humility, and a zest for lifelong learning for our students. But also, because reading is great fun!
We encourage all in our community to read along with us, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on these fascinating titles!
We live in divided times, and our world is more polarized than ever before. While social media platforms today allow us to communicate instantaneously and effortlessly anywhere in the world, they have engendered a new crisis, ironically, of communication—the effects of which we could not possibly have anticipated.
At present, the prospect of communicating across divides—political or otherwise—seems an impossible task. As our lives become increasingly isolated and insular, we feel more distant from our friends and neighbours, and from the world at large. The American social psychologist Jonathan Haidt offered a poignant assessment of our contemporary social affliction in a recent article for The Atlantic: “We are disoriented, unable to speak the same language or recognize the same truth. We are cut off from one another and from the past.” Yet, recent data published by Gallup reveals that our society was more cooperative, with intergroup relations perceived nearly twice as positively, only ten short years ago. So, how can start to bridge our modern divide and begin to heal collectively, as a society?
Professor Irshad Manji (University of Oxford) proposes a simple, yet satisfying, answer: by learning to communicate with each other—again.
Last year, Ridley College joined the growing ‘moral courage community’ by partnering with Professor Manji’s non-profit Moral Courage College (MCC), an organization that empowers and works with institutions, including K-12 schools like ours, to engage in honest diversity work rather than simply rushing to adopt the trendiest framework out of fear of appearing unresponsive.
In September 2021, we invited Professor Manji to host a series of virtual workshops with students, faculty, and staff to teach us about moral courage and set out on a path together, as an institution, to develop the skills to engage constructively about contentious issues without sowing division.
Of course, Professor Manji is no stranger to Ridley College. As many in our community will no doubt recall, she was the inaugural speaker in our MGI-Gordon Distinguished Speaker in November 2005 during the tour for her controversial second book, The Trouble with Islam Today, which had been released the previous year. Seeking a dynamic speaker who could spark discussion and debate around big ideas, she fit the bill perfectly and, as with her latest visit, she certainly did not disappoint.
This year, however, Professor Manji returned to Ridley in a new capacity—as our first Global Leader in Residence, sharing her wealth of knowledge and insight with our students, parents, faculty, and staff, as well as some of the intimate biographical details that inspired her to establish the Moral Courage Project.
Before joining the University of Oxford’s Initiative for Global Ethics and Human Rights, Professor Manji served for many years as a professor of leadership at New York University. Prior to that, she held a number of positions under Canadian New Democratic politicians—as a legislative aide, press secretary, and speechwriter—while somehow also finding time to moonlight as the host of a television program about queer issues and author multiple New York Times bestselling books, most recently, Don’t Label Me: How to Do Diversity Without Inflaming the Culture Wars, published by St. Martin’s Press in 2019.
But despite her many accolades—including Oprah Winfrey’s Chutzpah Award for “audacity, nerve, boldness, and conviction”—Professor Manji remains completely authentic, wholly unpretentious, and down to earth. She moves fluidly between registers from session to session, deftly navigating a spectrum of big—and often controversial—topics in a way that is engaging and memorable, masterfully modulating her message to command the full attention of her audience, whether comprised of Kindergarteners, teens, or adults over 50.
Stepping out onto the Mandeville Theatre stage in person for the first time in nearly two decades, she addresses the packed crowd on Monday morning with humility and grace—virtues she credits to having her proverbial butt kicked in the early years of her career. “I wanted to change the world without recognizing that I had to change myself,” she reflects.
“Back then, the voice in my head told me if you don’t fight back, your opponents won’t know that you mean business. […] But this was the biggest mistake I ever could have made because it made my critics more rigid in their thinking and made my sympathizers question my sincerity.”
But this change did not come easily. After nearly a decade of “digesting toxic energy,” experiencing clinical depression and panic attacks, she collapsed just moments before the biggest interview of her life. Then, her doctors presented her with an ultimatum—either she quit her book tour, or they quit as her doctors. “It was the hardest decision I ever had to make,” she explains. “My body was trying to tell me something, but I was not listening. Then my body showed me who was boss.”
Today, she is no longer the incendiary, confrontational figure who “used to walk on stage with her metaphorical fists clenched, ready to punch back at her opponents,” but instead, strives to be a thoughtful and respectful adversary to those with whom she disagrees—a power she claims is entirely within reach for those who are willing to “speak truth to the power of their own egos.”
Drawing on the principles of neuroscience and positive psychology, she started the MCC to help educators and leaders communicate and develop relationships across divides by learning to modulate their emotions in situations where they are forced to confront difficult, often emotionally charged, issues. This instinct to fear and lash out when we are confronted with views different from our own, and the related impulse to subdue this perceived threat by labelling others, is a fundamental part of how we are wired, she explains. However, letting our emotions—primarily fear—guide us tends to produce only fast, often temporary, fixes that only deepen existing tensions and polarization.
“Instinctually, we are always scanning for threats. When we perceive them, the primitive region of our brains—the amygdala [part of the Limbic System]—starts to take over. […] When we disagree on subjects that we feel passionately about, our brains make us believe others are attacking us. We perceive disagreement as an existential threat. But in reality, we are only experiencing mere discomfort.”
In those decisive moments, we are forced to make a choice. We can let fear overtake us and become defensive—usually at the expense of being heard by our opponents—or we can choose to listen, which requires us to acknowledge and respect the singularity of the individual we are facing, despite our initial instinct to reduce them to a set of labels.
“There is no shame in categorizing,” she continues.
“The trouble with labels is not that they exist, but the baggage that goes with them. But we must remember that we are also owners of a more evolved part of the brain. Rather than letting emotion bully cognition out of the picture, we must find a way to let cognition and emotion peacefully co-exist.”
A problem arises only when we let our assumptions—and our emotions—take the wheel and shut down rather than engaging with our opponents as equals. In these moments, we deprive others of their humanity by reducing them to caricatures rather than engaging with them as our equals with complex thoughts, opinions, and emotions, at which point, Manji emphasizes, “social justice becomes anti-social, and justice is reduced to ‘just us.’”
True justice, she counters, manifests when we recognize that individuals who belong to the same demographic group are not identical, and we are impelled to create space for that individual to express their unique point of view.
“I am a Muslim. But does that mean that I think like every other Muslim? Not all Muslims think alike. And if that’s true of marginalized groups, it is also true of the so-called straight white guy. […] If you’re going to [make the conscious effort to] know me, [rather than] ofme, you are going to engage with me, not make assumptions based on this or that label.”
So, how do we outsmart the limbic system which causes us to react this way? The answer might surprise you: take a deep breath. “We must give our bodies the time and oxygen to transition from this hyperemotional ego brain to the more evolved pre-frontal cortex […] where cognition and emotion can cohabit and coexist,” Manji claims. This is not to say we need to banish emotion. “Good luck trying,” she scoffs. Rather, it is coming to the realization that our biggest obstacle is not the other person, but our own egos.
“By lowering our emotional defences, we are using our power wisely to motivate the other to follow in our footsteps,” she explains. But unfortunately—in the age of cancel culture and reactive social media platforms—many social justice advocates and educators have lost sight of this noble ambition.
As governments, businesses, non-profits, and other institutions around the world continue to direct considerable effort and resources to creating or revising DEI or JEDI mandates, Manji emphasizes the need for creating organizational cultures that respect and encourage a diversity of viewpoints, which she suggests is both a cornerstone of our pluralistic, liberal-democratic way of life. Recent events show, however, that this way of life is increasingly threatened by a creeping homogeneity driven by a fear of appearing ineffective, behind the times, or worse—prejudiced.
“There is a tendency to frame free speech as antithetical to social justice and social justice as contradictory to free speech. You can have one or the other but not both. I’m calling B.S. on that. You must have both.”
In response to changing tides, administrators in K-12 and higher education have deployed various “inclusion efforts” and “inclusion training” programs over the last decade which Manji claims have only “inflamed the culture wars” and fuelled an “us versus them” mentality—usually in service of “speaking truth to power,” a slogan that Manji partially takes issue with.
This statement, and the term “moral courage,” she explains, are usually attributed to the same source—former U.S. Senator, Robert F. Kennedy, who was an advocate for the civil rights movement and fought against corruption before his tragic death in 1968. When we are called upon to “speak truth to power,” we are being asked to take a moral stance on an issue and stand up for what is right, even when it is inconvenient or unpopular, or our position might be perceived as unnecessarily critical or offensive. But in our current climate of “us against them,” Manji claims, “the way we speak truth to power matters as much as the truth we think we are speaking.”
“Speaking truth to power is not enough. We must appreciate that we have power. Moral courage today has to mean speaking truth to the power of your own ego, even as you are speaking truth to powers external to you.”
One of the key tactics deployed by the civil rights movement that ought to be leveraged by today’s educators and social justice advocates is the capacity to educate one’s emotions. She explains:
“During the civil rights movement, facilitators of activism taught young people to educate [their] emotions. If you simply lash out, you are not going to make your point in a way that motivates the other to hear you. These moments spent so much time building resilience and antifragility. We have lost that today.”
Doing moral courage work today, therefore, requires learning to master our emotional defences so we can productively communicate and develop relationships across divides. Doing so, she explains, permits us to overcome our all-pervasive us versus them mindset so that we can begin to work co-operatively to build cultures—organizational and otherwise—that reject shaming and labelling and champion free speech, diversity of expression, and diversity of viewpoint. For educators, this means rejecting fear and putting these skills to work in their classrooms to create and cultivate respectful spaces for open dialogue and debate. But it also means teaching students to respect the plurality of forces at work in each of us and begin to view themselves and others as more than individuals or a set of labels—but as “plurals.” Only plural, Manji explains, “accurately captures all sentient beings [and suggests] that there is so much more to any of us than meets the eye.”
This responsibility will not fall squarely upon faculty members. In the fall, Professor Manji will be virtually leading an exciting new club, “We the Plurals,” which is open to all students between Grades 7 and 12 who are 100 percent committed to the cause. The club will teach students to recognize themselves and each other as plurals, teach them to educate their emotions and equip them “with the skills to engage across lines of difference, disagreement and mutual disgust”—skills that Professor Manji notes are increasingly in demand in our global society.
Members of our faculty and staff will also enroll in Professor Manji’s Moral Courage Mentor Certification Program in the coming months to become certified Moral Courage Mentors. This program, which she bills as a “Moral Courage boot camp,” teaches participants to “finesse [their] moral courage skills, boost [their] confidence to teach those skills to younger people, and meet fellow aspiring Mentors.” At the conclusion of the course, all participants will receive a certificate issued by the University of Oxford and be equipped with the skills to teach Moral Courage both in the classroom and in communities beyond. We encourage parents and students to consider enrolling in the course as well to help us extend our Moral Courage teachings beyond the classroom.
As we continue to advocate for and define our individual approach to cultivating justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion on campus, we remain committed to empowering our diverse community of learners, fostering global competency, and providing a safe space for healthy debate on global issues. Above all, Ridley College is a place where everyone belongs and finds a home. Equally, we reject the chilling modern tendency to respond to intolerance with new, sometimes greater, forms of intolerance.
We are so grateful to Professor Manji for her kindness and profound insight, and we look forward to working with her in the future as we continue to integrate the teachings of Moral Courage into the essential foundation of our learning community.