Tag Archives: St. Catharines

Flourishing Lives through the Arts

By Duane Nickerson | Director of the Arts

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso

The arts are different. Unlike most activities, the product of art activity is not useful. Art does not feed us or make our lives more comfortable. It seems the very nature of art is to be without practical use. So why is it that evidence of art making through music and painting pre-dates the invention of writing by over 30,000 years? Why is it that art making traditions have existed in all human cultures throughout history? Just what is it about this activity that compels us to invest time and energy making it, consuming it and storing it in museums?

Picasso touches upon the answer. Art allows us to feel, to sense the wonder and complexity of existence that is ever elusive, that defies encapsulation within language or numbers. Making art is a hard-wired compulsion that can be seen in children who spontaneously make up songs, dance, draw and act out imaginary scenarios. Watch any four-year-old and you will see evidence of this compulsion and the sheer joy that it brings. Children express themselves freely until they move into adolescence and become more self-conscious and invest more time learning the argotic codes required for social standing. Too often the capacities of the artist are left to atrophy as children move through educational institutions that leave behind rigorous arts curricula and thereby denigrate this activity as less important. Children get the message: art is not valued by the adults here so I’ll attend to those things that are valued. The loss of potential is enormous, the capacity for full experience diminished.

At Ridley College, the arts are not left behind.

At Ridley, we aspire to nourish flourishing lives that tap into all facets of our humanity. We aspire to facilitate the full development of the child so that they can reach their maximum potential as productive, creative, happy people. At Ridley, children are exposed to music and art education by specialist teachers beginning in Kindergarten and are able to access increasingly specialized and demanding arts curriculum as they move through the programme into Upper School.

Many of our senior students find that, for them, a flourishing life is one infused with the joy experienced when engaged with art in the studio and on the stage. This joy comes from a state of flow. In a state of flow, a person is fully immersed in an activity because the challenge of the task is matched with their level of competence required to complete the task. As a teacher of visual art, observing students immersed in a state of flow in the studio is one of the most rewarding features of my job. A child who is fully immersed in the process of hands-on creation is a flourishing child.

As Ridley continues to build upon its reputation as a world-class school, its arts programme will grow to facilitate higher levels of performance and deeper engagement. The tools that we use to make art are also expanding to include a wide array of electronic media. More than ever, cultural industries are emerging to encompass large swaths of economic activity in an increasingly automated world. Thus, in the arts, we are also preparing children for rewarding careers as well as ensuring that they keep in their lives the joy and fulfillment that comes from engaging with the arts.

For all of us throughout our lives, we are faced with the task of building identity and generating meaning. Throughout history, the arts have played a vital role facilitating meaning making and affirming cultural identity. Beyond developing artists’ capacities, Ridley’s role as a school is to ensure that its students move on to adulthood with a deep-seated appreciation for the value of art in their lives. If Ridley can do this, it has done its part in ensuring our culture and civilization will continue to nourish our humanity and thereby make the world a better place.

Students Venture to Winnipeg for Speaking Arts Competition

By Paul O’Rourke | Assistant Head of Lower School & IB MYP Programme Coordinator

Ridley participated in the annual International Independent Schools’ Public Speaking Competition co-hosted by the Gray Academy and Balmoral Hall in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Nearly 150 students from over 40 teams throughout the globe were involved in this unique event that features a wide range of the speaking arts- debate, drama, and public speaking. Schools from Canada, the U.S.A., Bermuda, Korea, Peru, Scotland, England, Hong Kong, India and South Africa competed in a five-day tournament that brought together some of the best high school debaters and public speakers in the world.

Each participant selected three events from various categories that included: persuasive, after-dinner, and impromptu speaking; parliamentary and cross-examination debate; dramatic interpretation, interpretive reading, and radio newscast. Ridley was ably represented by returning junior, Bart Skala ’19 along with first time competitors Faraday Kenny ’18 and Rahul Walia ’19. Bart excelled in parliamentary debate and after-dinner speaking, reaching the finals of parliamentary debating, and narrowly missing the finals in the latter event. Newcomer Faraday Kenny competed successfully in persuasive speaking, interpretive reading, and parliamentary debating. Her speech on whether kneeling for the national anthem is un-patriotic was both topical and informative. Rahul Walia earned strong marks for his performances in impromptu speaking and persuasive speaking, in addition to good parliamentary debate rounds.

While in Winnipeg, all competitors enjoyed the unique experience of visiting the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. It was a fitting place for the top debaters and speakers to spend an afternoon exploring this spectacular venue in the heart of the city. The school venues were unique as well, situated as they each are on First Nations and Metis Treaty One lands. Organizers and hosts underscored this unique historical fact whenever possible.

The closing banquet was held at the Shaary Zadek Synagogue on the bank of the Assiniboine River, again underscoring Winnipeg’s diverse roots. Although Ridley did not claim any of the individual or team awards, each student demonstrated growth and progress throughout the tournament.  All students are congratulated and thanked for their outstanding efforts and contributions.

Ahead next on the debate calendar is the National Qualifier at Country Day School on November 21- a tournament that involves both debate and public speaking – followed by the Fulford Cup hosted by Maclachlan College on November 25.

New students are always welcomed at this activity that meets Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. in room 203 of Lower School.

TransfORming Our Globe – Colt Iggulden ’03

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe blog series, we’re sharing the story of alumnus, Colt Iggulden ’03, whose diverse and creative career has led him back home, where he is hoping to change the way hard work is rewarded in Canadian organizations.

Colt began Ridley in 1998 and spent the next five years on campus. As the last cohort to receive a Grade 13 education, Colt and his peers were given an additional year at Ridley to discover and explore their passions. Colt was always invested in the arts – at Ridley and in his career to follow. He also recognized the importance of leadership skills; joining the Cadet Programme, the Drill Team and taking on the role as a Prefect in his final year.

“My time at Ridley helped lay a foundation of skills that I draw on daily. It taught me time management, collaboration, attentive listening and creative thinking. As well, my time in the theatre prepared me for public speaking and presenting with ease. Whether for a school project, Chapel announcements, being in the play, on a team or as a Prefect – these personal development skills were ones that found their way into the many areas of school life.”                                                                          – Colt Iggulden ’03

After graduating, Colt explored several areas of the arts – both in his education and his professional career.  Starting on the east coast, he studied photography at the International Centre of Photography in New York City. He was able to connect with his subjects on a deeper level. “I always enjoyed finding those stills after a shoot where you could see the flicker in an eye that was truly honest and revealed a glimpse into the soul of the subject,” recalls Colt. He enjoyed the challenge of capturing someone’s character and story in a single image. Colt also attended the Lee Strasberg Centre for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, where he studied acting. He refined his ability to read body language and build relationships while on the west coast; helping both his television production and sales careers.

As Colt gained skills, explored creative avenues and sought out learning opportunities, he found himself working with alumnus, John Brunton ’73 at Insight Productions. He began as an intern and then spent the next 10 years working his way up the ladder, producing some of Canada’s most popular shows. He worked with big names like Rihanna, Queen, Bon Jovi and Maroon 5 and on shows like Big Brother Canada and Canadian Idol. He thrived in the fast-paced and competitive nature of television. The collaboration and opportunity to learn made up for the long hours he put in to succeed.

“Ridley teaches its students how to be able to adapt to myriad situations. It is because of these skills learned that I have been able to move and adapt more readily into the differing careers that I have been fortunate to pursue.”                                                   – Colt Iggulden ’03

If you had asked Colt years ago if his media career would contribute to a successful sales career, he would have said no, but his new career path would indicate the opposite.

When the opportunity arose to join his father’s family business, Colt jumped at the chance to bring his ideas to P.I. Incentives. Colt’s father, Paul Iggulden ’72, started P.I. Incentives in 1990; bringing rewards to employees through incentive programmes. Over 20 years later – as businesses have had to adapt and compete – Colt and his sister, Britt decided they needed to bring something new to the table. With the help of Scott Snowden ’97 (who brought their platform to life), the siblings launched  WRKSHOP. WRKSHOP is a state of the art reward point platform that allows its members access to premium brands at the most competitive prices. With no initiation, setup or membership fees, registered organizations of WRKSHOP have the option to reward points to their employees for achieving milestones and accomplishments. Members can also purchase points at any time to save on hundreds of products from SONOS, Links of London, Riedel, Callaway and more. “Organizations are made up of such diverse groups of people, with a host of interests and passions both inside and outside the workplace. Why not let people be rewarded with items that speak to those interests? Why not give them the choice to choose their own reward?” asks Colt.

Beyond providing a platform that celebrates the personality of employees, organizations also reap rewards when it comes to partnering with WRKSHOP and P.I. Incentives. He shared that at P.I. Incentives, over 80% of their team has been with them for over 10 years, proving the worth of reward. The more an employee feels they are appreciated, the harder they work and the longer they stay with their employer. A positive work environment is important for both the company and its employees. Colt is hoping that (with his own hard work and dedication) WRKSHOP can become the leading incentive programme in Canada. Although his journey has been winding, taking him down many paths, Colt is eager to see where he and his family can take both P.I. Incentives and WRKSHOP.

With as many experiences as he’s had, Colt had some wonderful advice for Ridleians who are looking to their futures:

“Try working in various industries. I worked during the summers landscaping, I gave tours on a tour bus and interned on the production side of various TV shows. These experiences in my career infancy helped me harness different skills that would turn out to be vital in my career now. I learned that you have to get your hands dirty, that if you want to capture attention you better be engaged in your audience, and that when the pressure is on, that’s when real leadership is most important. Don’t be afraid to reach out to contacts and continue to grow your contact pool. Set goals and then reset them regularly. Stand behind your ideas. Even if the first ones don’t take, keep an entrepreneurial spirit alive. Think outside the box. Sometimes the best ideas are the ones that break the mold.”      – Colt Iggulden ’03


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 or use the form below.

Once a Tiger, Always a Tiger

When Tigers graduate, their relationships with Ridley don’t end; our alumni continue on as proud members of the Ridley community. For some, the connection to Ridley is so great, that they find themselves returning to campus, as faculty and staff members. You know what they say – ‘once a Tiger, always a Tiger‘.

Here are our Old Ridleians who are contributing to future generations of students:

Mike Moulden ’70
Years at Ridley: 1967-1970
Position: Senior Development Officer & Manager of Planned Giving
Favourite thing about Ridley: “A diverse family of faculty/staff with amazing students from around the world.”

 

 

Geoff Park ’80                                               
Years at Ridley: 1976-1980 (Gr. 10-13)
Position: Teacher, Department Head, Soccer Coach,  Squash Coach & Former Head of House
Favourite thing about Ridley: “The relationship between faculty and students. Because we do so much together, we know each other better and form stronger bonds that last forever.”

 

Charlene (Ebert) Hutton ’83
Years at Ridley: 1981-1983
Position: Guidance & Academics Administrative Assistant
Favourite thing about: “The community feeling among faculty and students.”

 

 

 

Paul Filion ’86
Years at Ridley: 1981-1986
Position: Teacher & Ridley College Cadet Corps No.162 RCACC Commanding Officer
Favourite thing about Ridley: “Being in the classroom with students and watching them absorb new material and watching their eyes light up is a wonderful experience.”

 

Derek Dunkley ’87
Years at Ridley: 1980-1987
Position: History & Economics Teacher
Favourite thing about Ridley: “The cultural mosaic that is our community.”

 

 

 

Jay Tredway ’96
Years at Ridley: 1992-1996
Position: Director of Athletics & Department Head – Health and Physical Education
Favourite thing about Ridley: “The opportunity for students from all over the world to come to Canada and find their niche, their special place to thrive and grow in this amazingly diverse community.”

Anjali Kundi ’97
Years at Ridley: 1993-1997
Position: Health Centre Physician
Favourite thing about Ridley: “The great memories and friends I made.”

 

 

 

 

Wendy (Crossingham) Darby ’99
Years at Ridley: 1990-1999
Position: Librarian, Archivist & Extended Essay Coordinator
Favourite thing about Ridley: “The connections. I love that I can sit down with an alum from the 40s or the 80s and we can speak the same language and have a common understanding about life.”

 

Marcie Lewis ’03
Years at Ridley: 2000-2003
Position: Grade 6 Teacher & PYP Coordinator
Favourite thing about Ridley: “My favourite thing about Ridley is the wide variety of options that we provide all students. This allows students to explore and discover their strengths, interests, and passions in academics, athletics, the arts and service.”

Alexandra Little ’03
Years at Ridley: 1998-2003
Position: Admissions Officer (International Markets)
Favourite thing about Ridley: “The connections. Over the years, I have met so many people, from all over the world, who are strongly connected to and passionate about Ridley and their experiences here. The network of Ridleians is wide, but surprisingly closely knit.”

Kenn Corfield ’03
Years at Ridley: 1997–2001
Position: Sports Attendant
Favourite thing about Ridley: “The wide selection of programs available from sports to academics to extra-curricular clubs for students – there’s never a boring day here”

 

Celeste Doucet ’07
Years at Ridley: 2004-2007
Position: Primary/Junior French Teacher
Favourite thing about working at Ridley: “The wonderful group of colleagues I get to work with every day.”

 

 

Mackenzie Fowler ’11
Years at Ridley: 2003-2011
Position: New Media Coordinator & TigerPost Supervisor
Favourite thing about Ridley: “The nostalgia. In my position, I am tasked with capturing all of Ridley’s biggest moments and brightest achievements and because of that, I get to relive some of my favourite Ridley experiences and revisit my home away from home every day of the week.”

Nick Blaikie-Puk ’12
Years at Ridley:
2010-2012.
Position: Admissions Officer
Favourite thing about Ridley: “The connections! Thanks to Ridley, I’ve been fortunate enough to have more global experiences throughout my life. I’ve made friends from around the world, both as a student and as a staff member. I continue to learn through being in such a uniquely diverse environment, sharing my stories, and creating worldly opportunities for others.”

Jacob Toms-Boudreau ’13
Years at Ridley: 2008-2013
Position: General Maintenance Assistant
Favourite thing about Ridley: “Seeing students excited about playing/using with something I helped to setup/install.”

 

 

Additional Faculty & Staff: Robert Poe ’90, Alyssa Toffolo ’14

 

 

Ridleian Explores Arctic on Extraordinary Expedition

Fresh on the heels of being named a 2017-18 Ridley Prefect, environmental intrepid, Jack Hilditch ’18 set out on a unique arctic expedition with Students on Ice. Having been selected from a competitive pool of applicants, this Ridleian was invited to embark upon this once-in-a-lifetime experience, where he had an opportunity to learn about the remote culture, the environment and the effects of climate change.

Jack first donned a Ridley uniform in Grade 2 and has since spent his many years on campus discovering his passion, sense of curiosity and striving to make a difference – both in our community and beyond.

“My journey at Ridley has been filled with amazing people, opportunities and personal growth,” says Jack. “I can confidently say that countless exciting opportunities at Ridley have shaped who I am today. I have learned so much about myself and the world around me throughout my journey at Ridley,” he added. Beyond Ridley, Jack has also learned much about the world around him through his early exposure to ecological restoration, environmental planning, impact assessments, as he has followed in his father’s footsteps and has even taken on an internship as Environmental Consultant.

Last year, while travelling with his father to an environmental conference, Jack was introduced to an organization called Students on Ice. He instantly became intrigued by one of its programmes, which allows students from around the world to explore the Polar Regions and learn from leading scientists, politicians and those directly impacted by climate change in the Arctic. With support from his family and his IB Biology teacher, Ms. Kathy Anderson, Jack applied to join the programme and was ecstatic to find out he had been accepted.

Alongside 100 youth, Jack departed for the Arctic expedition in
August 2017. The group’s journey started in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, where the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Chris Ballard, announced the opening of a new National Park. For the next
two weeks, Jack and his peers travelled to regions in the Canadian
Arctic and made their way to Greenland. View their journey. Each location offered a rare adventure; whether it was kayaking in the chilly blue waters, hiking a glacier, cruising through channels or observing wildlife.

Credit: https://studentsonice.com

About the group’s daily activities while en route to amazing locals, Jack shared that, “In between each stop, our time on the ship was filled with so many workshops led by leading scientists, Inuit elders, politicians and so many different people. Some of the workshops included studying Arctic life under a microscope, throat singing, writing songs, absorbing lectures by leading scientists and engaging in talks about mental health. These activities changed every day, allowing us to explore a diversity of interests.”

  

Aside from the amazing activities and workshops, Jack described his favourite part of the trip as getting to know his peers and having the chance to engage with the experts. The Students on Ice group that Jack was a part of consisted of students from Micronesia, Malaysia, India, Mexico, Monaco and many more. Coming from a diverse community like Ridley, Jack was naturally interested in the diverse cultures, stories and experiences that each member of the global group was able to share.

Upon his return to St. Catharines, Jack was able to reflect on what he learned on his voyage. The devastating effects of climate change and the importance of cultural awareness were topics that permeated the entire trip and left the participants inspired to contribute to a solution.

“Not many people get to experience and observe the climate crisis in the Arctic first hand… After meeting many Inuit families on this expedition that were directly impacted by climate changed I have realized the importance and urgency of tackling such a significant global issue… This isn’t something that will only threaten this generation and the next, but it will pose many challenges for generations to come. It is our responsibility to act as a unified people to combat climate change as it is something that doesn’t affect one group of people, but all of us. Not only did we hear about climate change within the Arctic, but we also heard from students in Palau, Micronesia who are also experiencing climate change. They talked about how flooding has become very prevalent within many of their communities. Being able to experience this very evident crisis first hand was enlightening and inspiring. While we may think, we are not directly impacted, we all are,” urges Jack.

Although his trip has concluded, his journey as an ambassador for change isn’t. This inspiring student plans to share his story and the story of those he met along the way to spread awareness of the effects of climate change and inspire others to take action.

Ridley Becomes the First Visible Wellbeing™ School in North America

Three years following the launch of our Strategic Plan, Ridley is confidently enacting our mission to inspire flourishing lives in a novel and intentional way. Recently, our school launched an exciting two-year partnership with Professor Lea Waters (PhD), a leading researcher and global expert in the field of positive psychology – making Ridley the first Visible Wellbeing TM Foundational School in North America.

Developing well-rounded individuals has been a focus at Ridley for over a century, however, over the past five years we have deliberately and consciously applied the science behind positive education – the notion of improving students’ emotional, psychological and physical well-being in order to help them flourish in the classroom and in their lives.

In 2012 Ridley began to effect applied positive psychology methodologies, such as Martin Seligman’s PERMA-V model, which breaks down the core elements of psychological well-being and happiness. Since then, our faculty has been participating in professional development, becoming deeply familiar with key frameworks and integrating them into their classrooms, on the sports field, within the boarding houses and even in their own lives. Today, it would not be out of the ordinary for one to walk into the Grade 3 class to witness mindfulness breathing exercises taking place, or to hear students at the lunch table talking about their top character strengths.

With this school-wide exposure to positive psychology, the introduction of a dedicated Upper School Counselor and the PERMA-V model being adopted by faculty and Ridleians alike, it became clear that Ridley was quickly becoming a leader in positive education within North American schools. It was with this realization that we decided to embark upon a fundraising effort to bring a world-class expert in this field to Ridley. With the support of our generous community, Ridley successfully raised more than $100,000 towards a ‘Positive Education Fellowship’ during the 2016-17 Annual Fund campaign.

The search for the most suitable positive psychology expert, who would advance our school’s mission, led Ridley straight to Professor Lea Waters.

    

Although she playfully refers to herself as a “pracademic,” Professor Lea Waters is more formally a psychologist, researcher, author and facilitator who specializes in positive education, positive parenting, and positive organizations.  She is the Founding Director of Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Melbourne – where she has also published over 90 scientific articles and book chapters in 21 years. Professor Waters is the President of the International Positive Psychology Association, has affiliate positions with Cambridge University and the University of Michigan and is the Ambassador for the Positive Education Schools Association.

Among her many contributions to the field, the multi-award winning research professor has designed and developed a framework known as Visible WellbeingTM (VWB), which is an approach that combines the science of well-being with the science of learning and teaching to make well-being visible in all classes and across co-curricula. Over the next two years, Professor Waters will bring her scientifically-grounded techniques in VWB to Ridley, which will enable teachers to use the learning process itself as a delivery mechanism to build student well-being. Unlike some rigid curriculum, VWB is a flexible approach which can be applied in a trans-disciplinary manner across all grades and amongst faculty and staff. With the VWB approach, academic learning and well-being are truly integrated and produce a positive feedback cycle.

Professor Waters’ drive to develop the VWB approach was in reaction to staggering global rates of teen depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicide. According to the World Health Organization, 10 to 20 percent of children and adolescents experience mental disorders worldwide. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death amongst 15 to 19-year-olds. Ridley responds to this teenage need for support, explains Head of Upper School, Michele Bett, “At Ridley, we believe a child’s physical and emotional, psychological well-being will underpin everything they do – not just in school, but beyond school.”

To launch VWB at Ridley, Professor Waters recently spent two days facilitating faculty and staff workshops. During these dynamic sessions, she introduced concepts such as the SEARCH Framework, which helps identify character strengths, as well as delivery methods and measurement techniques for VWB. Professor Waters also shared why she was keen to partner with Ridley. “What made me feel that [Ridley] would do well by Visible Wellbeing is that I know that the intention of Ridley is truly and genuinely to make flourishing lives. It’s not just a statement on a document…The school has the right structure, it has the right people, it has the right ethos…From an organizational psychology perspective it ticks all the checklist of organizational readiness for change,” says Waters.

Professor Lea Waters facilitating Visible WellbeingTM workshops with faculty and staff.

“I truly feel that the adoption of Professor Waters’ Visible Wellbeing approach and positive education expertise will provide the exact direction, resources and consistent language that our community requires to forge ahead as the trailblazer for positive education in Canada…and North America for that matter,” remarked Headmaster, Ed Kidd. Ridley looks forwards to enhancing the student experience through this ongoing VWB initiative and to sharing our outcomes with other schools around the world.

Ridley faculty show off their copies of The Strength Switch by Professor Lea Waters (PhD), the selection for this past summer’s professional development reading.

“This is a world-class school to take on this new innovation and to marry together the science of learning with the science of well-being to help everyone thrive at the school.” – Professor Lea Waters (PhD)

Get to Know Your Prefects: Anastasia G. ’18

Introducing Anastasia Guzenko ’18 – a Prefect who has learned how wonderful it can be to be different. Read how her Ridley experience has been an immersive one; introducing her to unique, cultural and invigorating opportunities.

Why did you choose Ridley? When looking at different schools across Canada, my mother, with the help of an agent, narrowed the possible list down to three schools and Ridley was one of them. Being attracted by Harry Potter looking dining hall, artwork that decorates school hallways, cozy classrooms, giant athletic facilities, the Mandeville Theatre, music department, green grass fields and warm rooms, alongside endless opportunities and rigorous academic programmes convinced me to choose Ridley over other schools.

Did you feel prepared coming to Ridley? Absolutely not! Although I came and visited Ridley beforehand, I generally didn’t know why and what I was going for. I have never changed schools or place of living before. Even when the plane landed at Pearson Airport, I still had a lot of doubts. However, as soon as my orientation day has started, all my concerns were gone. Every person, whether it was a student, staff or faculty member, was all extremely friendly and welcoming, which shows the warm and hospitable nature of the Ridley community.

Who is your favourite faculty member? There is something very unique and special about every faculty member who was somehow involved in my Ridley life and choosing one will be impossible. Ms. Anderson, Ms. Blagona and Ms. Thompson are like my true mothers on the other side of the world. Ms. Becken’s History classes and funny, yet sometimes serious conversations about Extended Essay, Mr. Gordon and Mr. Mugan constant inspiration and amazing opportunity to travel to Germany this summer, Mrs. Darby and Mr. Darby’s help and support with connecting me to Rotary organization and getting me on an Australian exchange, Ms. Fournier’s wonderful introduction to the world of theatre and advisor support throughout my Grade 10 year, my ‘never stop believing’ coaches Ms. Thomas and Ms. O.R., all of the Mandeville house faculty, my passionate, enthusiastic and patient teachers: the list can go on and on… I hope you can feel my struggle of choosing just one.

What has been your greatest challenge thus far at Ridley? The greatest challenge in my Ridley career so far has been realizing that there are only 24 hours a day, at least six of which are taken away by sleeping. With Ridley’s huge variety of clubs and opportunities, it was a challenging to fit all the activities I am interested in into my schedule, while ensuring that I am doing well academically. In the end, it all comes down to time-management and this is a key requirement for getting the most out of this place.

What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far at Ridley? I think my greatest accomplishment was growing as a person, as a student and as a leader. Before coming to Ridley, I lived in my own bubble without paying much attention to global issues, emerging problems, etc. However, by being surrounded with such multicultural community and being constantly pushed to the limit by International Baccalaureate programme, I was able to put myself on a path of becoming a global citizen. Moreover, receiving The Jay Feagan-Philip Davies Memorial Award this year for character development and leadership potential was a huge accomplishment for me as it has been previously won by truly amazing and very inspirational people and it is an honour to be a recipient.

What has been your favourite Ridley experience? I really enjoy the events that bring the whole school together, for example: camp, Ridley’s birthday, Cross Country Run, arts celebrations, spirit nights, Sports Day and much more. However, I think my favourite one is Snake Dance. It is one of the longest standing traditions at Ridley and it is one of the first school gatherings of the year. I feel like this is when new students begin to feel the spirit of a tiger and experience the feeling of a strongly–bonded community. In addition, it is an incredibly fun away to start up the academic year.

What has been your favourite part of Ridley life? My favourite part of Ridley life is the feeling of being a part of this supportive and very culturally diverse community, as well as the ability to call Ridley my home. It’s incredible; when walking down the hallway, you can hear your peers speak German, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Russian and Igbo. Also, it sets up an amazing example to the whole world, how so many cultures can bond in such a small place, living and interacting peacefully with each other on daily basis.

What part of being a Prefect are you most excited for? I am not quite sure yet as I don’t know all the small details of what it is like being a Prefect, but I am excited about this challenge. I am excited to advance or to finish the initiatives that have been brought up by previous generations of Prefects. At the end of next year, I am excited to reflect and see the positive impact on Ridley and the Niagara community that will hopefully be made. I think I am very lucky to be a part of such amazingly talented group of people and I am excited to take on this journey with them, which will be filled with joy and lots of learning.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future? Ridley gave me an opportunity to pursue the IB programme, which has been very rigorous and demanding so far. It taught me and keeps teaching me how to ‘live my life’, in a good sense of this phrase. Now, after completing only one year, I feel like I am a more mature person, who can approach tasks creativity and critically, considering a variety of different perspectives. Ridley is like a little world, filled with lots of unique moments, long-lasting friendships and challenging decisions. This is what life is all about.

What are your plans after graduation? I think I will peruse an undergraduate degree at a university. Ideally, I will be double-majoring in international relations and theatre. However, whatever I will end up doing or wherever I will end up going, I want to keep learning language, travelling and culturally exploring the world.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley? Ridley is a place of opportunities and self-growth. Don’t be scared to take risks, to try things even though you have never seen yourself doing them, join activities, participate. Embrace your weirdness and unique characteristics and don’t judge people for being different. Being different is great. Never give up when something goes wrong, aim to become better every day. Don’t be afraid to meet people; don’t hesitate to ask them for help or advice – you will be surrounded by people from all over the world and I am sure there will at least one person who will be able to relate to your struggle. Finally, make your own decisions and don’t be scared to express your own opinions but keep in mind and respect the fact that there are people from 46 other countries. You have one chance of being at Ridley, so use it!