Tag Archives: St. Catharines

Why Ridley? Spirit, Service, Students

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.

Spirit  

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!  

Service  

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.  

Students  

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.”  

Why Ridley? Because it is where you belong.  

Top Things to Do in the Niagara Region

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!  

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – In Memoriam

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.

Reimagining and Rebuilding the Marine Industry on the Great Lakes: Shaun Padulo ‘07 

Through creativity, innovation and strategic planning, Shaun and his team at Heddle Shipyards are growing and revitalizing shipyards on the Great Lakes. 

When it comes to the marine industry, Shaun Padulo ’07 is no stranger and already has a great deal of experience under his belt. Working in and around ships has long been a passion of Shaun’s. He spent his summers in Grade 11 and 12 working as a deckhand on tugboats sailing the Great Lakes. He continued working his way up during his university years, moving to the front office of McKeil Marine Limited in Fleet Operations between 2003 and 2012.   

Prior to joining Heddle Shipyards in 2017, Shaun spent five years in the marine and offshore contracting sectors. He lived and worked in the Netherlands, working for the Dutch firms Dockwise Shipping B.V. and Boskalis Offshore B.V. While at Dockwise, Shaun honed his skills and gained experience in logistical management and transportation and installation of offshore production structures. He then moved to Houston, Texas and, working for Boskalis Offshore B.V., he focused on offshore installation projects, decommissioning projects, and subsea inspection, repair and maintenance projects. 

Since Shaun joined Heddle Shipyards, the company has seen tremendous growth. He assumed the role of President, a position he currently holds, in 2018. Heddle Shipyards is the largest Canadian ship repair and construction company on the Great Lakes, which are key arteries for the shipping of grain and other important resources destined for other parts of Canada and the world. In the past three years, they have tripled in size, with shipyards in Hamilton, Port Weller in St. Catharines and Thunder Bay. In November 2020, Heddle made headlines with the announcement of a new agreement between Heddle Shipyards in Ontario and Seaspan in Vancouver. The agreement will bring new jobs to the Hamilton, St. Catharines and Thunder Bay shipyards and will create ‘tens of millions of dollars in economic activity in Ontario.’1  In addition, Heddle won a major $12M Coastguard project that will bring additional people onboard and provide long-term employment at the Port Weller Dry Docks. When Heddle took over the Port Weller Dry Docks in 2017, it was a shadow of its former self. After three years of extensive capital expenditures for repairs and reimagining the shipyard, while at the same time completing over twenty successful projects, the Port Weller Dry Docks has a bright future ahead. As Shaun says, “It isn’t a matter of if we will build vessels again in Port Weller, it is a matter of when.”   

Shaun credits the unique leadership team at Heddle for its growth and success. A progressive, dynamic and diverse group comprised of veterans and young professionals, they are invested in comprehensive maritime policies and procedures and skill development, including virtual reality training, 3-D mapping and robotics. In order to mitigate or avoid traditional boom-and-bust cycles, the company has focused on multi-year projects and working with the government on long-term recurring projects. This includes work with commercial operators whose ships move grain and other resources up and down the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Navy. While the current pandemic has certainly had its challenges for large shipyards, Shaun is proud to note that Heddle has remained fully operational throughout, investing significant resources on health and safety measures for its employees.  

The company, which was founded in 1987, has become the largest operator of shipyards in Canada. The partnership of entrepreneurs, Rick Heddle and Blair McKeil were instrumental in the early expansion and vision. As philanthropists themselves, they laid the groundwork for much of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility Program. The company offers a matched gift program encouraging employees to volunteer their time in addition to donating funds to charitable activities. Heddle is also committed to helping fund charitable projects related to education, the environment, the military and the communities where Heddle has facilities. As an example, Shaun notes that Heddle proudly sponsors SWIM DRINK FISH, a non-profit organization that focuses on connecting people with the tools to safeguard local waters as ‘everyone has a right to swimmable, drinkable, fishable water.’2   

Shaun attended Ridley from 2002–2007 and is an alumnus of the University of British Columbia, McMaster University and Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam. He holds a Master of Science in Maritime Economics and Logistics.   

When Shaun reflects back on his five years at Ridley, he feels that the foundational skills he learned — skills like respect, excellence, service, and professionalism — are ones that he uses every day. He has many fond memories of the teachers and coaches, in particular Mr. Filion, Commanding Officer of the Cadet Corps and Mr. Milligan, his Grade 8 form teacher. As Mr. Filion remembers, ‘Shaun was a great student, involved in so many aspects of school life — football, hockey, rugby and cadets.  He was team captain for football and rugby and Regimental Sergeant Major in the Cadet Corps during his senior year.’ Shaun’s best friends are ones that were created during his time at Ridley and many of his business relationships can be linked back to his Ridley connections. He is an active alumnus and volunteer, serving on the Board of Governors Finance, Audit and Human Resource committee since September 2020. Just prior to the pandemic and lockdowns, Shaun was the guest speaker at the Cadet Mess Dinner in January 2020, where he told students to ‘never stop dreaming and to reach for the stars.’   

Looking to the future, Shaun is excited that Heddle is focused on future growth, and continued revitalization of shipyards with the vision to build large ships again in Ontario. We look forward to following the growth and development of shipbuilding right here in our own backyard. 

1 The Hamilton Spectator, November 12, 2020, article by Kate McCullough.

2 SWIM DRINK FISH, website, https://www.swimdrinkfish.ca/.


This article was printed in the latest issue of Tiger magazine. Learn about our alumni, get community updates and find out where Ridley is heading next! Read more from the Spring 2022 issue.

Headmaster Kidd’s Summer Reading List 2022

There’s nothing like curling up with a good book on a hot summer day.

Is there anything more gratifying than relaxing in the shade or sprawling out on the beach with a crisp paperback in hand? Or an eReader, if that’s your thing? Or even an audiobook?  

No matter what the medium, storytelling is a fundamental part of our humanity—it is what connects us to other people and the world.

Stories can transform how we see the world, and the world itself, while also conveying the culture, history and values that unite us. By appealing to our emotions, stories help us to build empathy and gain a deeper understanding of other people’s experiences, as well as our own. Studies show that listening to stories read aloud during childhood plays a significant role in memory construction and can even trigger positive emotions later in life.

And with more than 1.6 million books published globally in 2019 alone, there is certainly no deficit of quality reading material to consume!

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!

Until then—happy reading and happy summer!

Talent, Time & Treasure

Ridley welcomes new Director of Development, Shelley Huxley

Though we’d hoped to welcome her in person, the pandemic had other plans. So, we sat down for a virtual Q&A to learn more about the Niagara native—and get a sneak peek into what she has in store for our community. With her passion for education, strong local ties, and decades-long experience working at universities across Ontario, Shelley’s ready to hit the ground running.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? I was born and raised in Niagara (specifically, Fonthill), though I left for a period of time to attend university and launch my career. After my son was born, I realized there was no better place to raise a family, so we came home. It was really important to me that my kids understand the traditions of my family and grow up with their grandparents nearby — I grew up with mine and they taught me a lot. I wanted my own children to have that same experience. Now, I live in Fonthill with my partner, Iain, my two children: Evan, who’s 16, and Nathan, who’s soon to be 12. We also welcomed a new addition to the family, a now 10-month-old Labradoodle, named Coco! We’re a busy family; the kids are involved in a number of activities, so a lot of my free time is spent supporting them.   

You’re coming to us from Brock University, where you were their Director of Alumni Engagement. Can you speak a bit about your professional background? It’s usually a circuitous route that gets you to Development. [laughs] Originally, I went to Wilfrid Laurier University to study Business—I wanted to be a floor trader. But a year into school, I realized I could spend all my time studying, or I could invest in the fulsome student experience that Laurier had to offer. I switched my major to English and Sociology and spent a lot of time doing various activities on campus and working in student government.

That’s what really set me up for my career path, because it introduced me to senior administrators, and those relationships ultimately led me to return to support my alma mater professionally—initially through communications, speech writing and working for the President—and that then led to working in alumni relations.

From there, I went on to work at Queen’s University. Queen’s was embarking on a $250 million capital campaign at the time, and I was responsible for setting up their Toronto office, working with campaign cabinet members and developing campaign strategy. I next had the opportunity to work at McMaster University—which is a big research-intensive school—where I was able to blend both alumni relations and development in my role. Five years later, I had my first child and it was then that I decided to move home. By happenstance, a job came up at Brock University and I was the successful candidate. Over the past 15 years, I’ve worked in all areas of development at Brock: I started as their event planner, then as their advancement strategist, which later morphed into responsibility for donor relations and stewardship and most recently alumni relations. I’ve spent the past six years as their Director of Alumni Engagement.

What led you to Ridley—and what are you most looking forward to as you embark on this new journey? I’ve been lucky enough to work for some great institutions, so when you decide to make a move it has to be the right one, and there were a number of factors at play. The top of my list was that I would be going to a place where I felt I could make a difference, and at the same time felt that Ridley really believes in what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

What I love about Ridley is its level of tradition, its strong reputation and collegiality, its dedication to education and commitment to innovation. Take the recent pivot to online learning: for any school to have done this so quickly would have been a challenge, but Ridley made the transition beautifully. These are all really appealing to me and working in development will allow me to use my skills to connect with alumni and engage donors in philanthropic opportunities. I’m really just hoping to help Ridley grow and prosper.

“Together, alumni and donors provide support, foster strong reputations, contribute to our admissions, and are an essential part of the student experience. They’re a core part of the school’s mission and values—and that network is important for the health and well-being of any institution.”

You obviously have some close ties to the local community. What are your thoughts about the changes taking place in the Niagara Region—and what is your approach to fostering relationships between school and community? The Niagara Region has been steadily growing both in sophistication and opportunity—particularly over the last ten years. We had a fair amount of big business exit our region, but Niagara’s response to that has been good: both Brock and Niagara College have developed programming and outreach strategies in terms of innovation, entrepreneurship and growth. For example, their makerspaces and the programmes they’re putting in place to help businesses develop within the community have been incredibly beneficial for us as a region.

The result is that there’s a lot of opportunity for students to participate in this innovation. I find myself thinking about cultivating the student experience, about potential experiential opportunities, and finding partners for mutual benefit. How can we engage our community partners to allow students these opportunities? How can we leverage our alumni connections both within our local community and beyond?

We’re here to build the student experience, and if we’re talking about preparing them for university—particularly our upper school students—there is a lot happening in this region from which they can learn, whether in business, tourism, or through partnerships with Brock’s Performing Arts Centre, or applied opportunities at Niagara College. There are plenty of ways we can offer experiential learning.

Your experience with events, alumni and development in the education sector is certainly impressive. What is it about this work that you find so rewarding? I find it a lot of fun. Every day is different and brings with it its own challenges. I’m proud of the work we support in alumni relations and development, and in working to educate minds. And that’s what brings me back day after day: I feel I’m making a difference and contributing to the fabric of society. That’s a pretty special thing to be a part of.

Shelley is virtually introduced to Ridley team members.
Shelley is virtually introduced to Ridley team members.

Can you speak to the importance of Development and Advancement when it comes to educational institutions? Any good school works hard to build and sustain a strong reputation—and alumni and donor engagement supports that. We think about how alumni contribute: with a sense of pride, loyalty and tradition, and a deep understanding of their alma mater. They share this not only with each other but with those around them who may want to attend or support the school philanthropically.

We think about alumni, who return to the school to engage with student life; they can be really beneficial in judging where an institution might be or needs to be.  They can contribute in terms of time, talent and treasure. We think about donors, who invest in our future. Donors support an institution that knows where it is headed and the work that’s taking place now—this support is what allows faculty, students and staff to aim higher and dream bigger. Together, alumni and donors provide necessary support for our success, they help us foster a strong reputation, and are an essential part of the student experience. They’re a core part of the school’s mission and values—and that network is important for the health and well-being of any institution. For me, it’s all tied together: what’s happening on campus and what investments are taking place as well.

You’ve worked at a number of Ontario’s universities. In what ways do the approaches taken in higher education—in relation to development, events, community outreach, and alumni engagement—transfer nicely to an independent school setting?  The strongest similarities, I think, will be in the student experience. Some students live on campus and others off, but together they contribute to the fabric of the school. Dedicated faculty are working hard to educate, staff are supporting students and the school at large—and when an institution is collegial and respectful of its faculty and staff, students pick up on it. A strong student experience is made up of more than what is learned in the classroom; everybody plays a role, and this creates a tight-knit community. This feeling of belonging, of family, ultimately contributes to student success, because when there’s belonging, the pride and respect come along with it. And those are wonderful nurturers for life.

We have a very diverse alumni population, comprised of different generations, who may come from or be living in different geographic locations, and who represent a range of political opinions and interests. How can we reach and keep our community strong as a whole, while also ensuring that we’re meeting the different needs of the groups within it? A diverse population contributes to a healthy environment; we learn from each other and learn to respect each other’s values and principles—and these various perspectives that students learn about at Ridley will help them to navigate life. We need to encourage open dialogue and use our vast network to reach out to each other both locally and globally. We all have stories to tell, we all have perspectives to share.

But everyone’s experience is different, and we have to approach those experiences differently. I will reach out to someone who graduated three years ago quite differently than I would someone who graduated 50 years ago; we use different platforms, we respond differently because they’re looking for different things. Each alumni is important to engage and value, to listen to, and provide with opportunity to be involved. And when we do this effectively, our alumni come forward to support us, to provide meaningful input that affects change. It’s mutually beneficial.

Welcome to Ridley, Shelley! We look forward to getting to know you over the coming months and are so pleased to have you join us—we’re sure there will be a number of exciting changes and opportunities ahead! As we introduce you to Ridley faculty, staff, parents, and alumni, is there anything in particular you’d like them to know? I am really thrilled and honoured to be joining this community and can’t tell you how much I look forward to hearing from each of you about what makes Ridley so special. For now, I will say that the Development team is here to support our student experience, to provide resources for faculty to thrive in the classrooms, and to connect alumni to one another and alumni to Ridley. We’re here to support Ridley—and you—today and in the future.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Jason L. ’20

Meet Jason ’20 – a student who stepped out of his comfort zone and has embraced every opportunity during his time at Ridley. Read Jason’s powerful thoughts on the community at Ridley and the environment that has allowed him to flourish.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

I didn’t have the idea of studying aboard until the year before. I realized that I will have more opportunities and really be able to do what I like. I was most excited to meet new people and maybe become friends for life. That process took me a while because I spoke poor English when I came to Canada. There were uncertainties, which actually motivated me to explore the possibilities at Ridley. I didn’t expect the great amount of activities and sports here, and I started my Ridley journey trying each one of them.

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

The community in which I live makes me proud as a Ridleian. As a new comer three years ago, I was deeply touched by how welcoming the Ridley community is. Those fantastic spirits definitely passed down and still exist. The legacy that generations of Ridleians carry is growing stronger and firmer every year. The community is encouraging, supportive, caring and enthusiastic. Even in the toughest times, members of Ridley come together and stay strong. We face obstacles, solve problems and reflect as a whole instead of an individual. The amount of support I have received in the past three years is sensational, which is leads to an extraordinary experience for me.  

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favorite part of Ridley is the arts. I love the arts and have had a passion for it starting a long time ago. The fact that Ridley is able to teach and let students explore a variety of arts is incredible for me because I didn’t have those in China. I will be either working in a visual art studio or acting on stage. There are two theater productions each year, one is a play and the other is a musical. Both of them are fantastic and give me different experiences as an actor. Of course, the co-curricular programme also has clubs and activity for the arts. I am involved in the arts council and choir for example, it’s always exciting to hear new initiatives in the arts, especially those driven by students.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favorite Ridley experience so far has been the winter theater production of 2018-2019, The Drowsy Chaperone. No one can argue that the excitement of being involved in a musical is amazing. From auditions to the final show, students actors, designers, managers and faculty directors put great efforts into this production. For me, to learn and present a tap dance number with my co-actor on stage. There is always learning no matter what you do. I believe that it is the process of learning, engaging and committing in such a large production gives me lessons of inspiration and life. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make this experience possible.

The Drowsy Chaperone, by Michelle Scrivener

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

The best part of being in Merritt North is to share. Houses are like smaller communities, divisions of the entire Ridley community. Merritt North is my home away from home and the people are my second family. There’s no doubt that every year we get extremely emotional for graduation, but excited for the next year. There is a huge possibility that your best friend in Ridley is someone in the House. One of the highlights of 2018-2019 was watching the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA Championship in the common room together. Although there were only few people left in the house, our enthusiasm didn’t fade at all.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

My greatest accomplishment at Ridley has been being offered a role as Prefect. This has been my goal since Grade 9. A Prefect from the Class of 2017 inspired me as a person and student, so this has been a long time promise too I suppose. Thanks, Hunter. Besides becoming a Prefect, the best feeling ever has been to be recognized and encouraged by the community. I am extremely thankful to everything that Ridley has given to me and it’s time to serve back. Terar Dum Prosim is not only a school motto, but also a motivation and an inspiration.

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

Mr. Jones is my favourite teacher at Ridley. Mr. Jones was my advisor in Grade 9, and he has been here for all Merritt North boys for five years now, which is incredible. Mr. Jones is a great science teacher with knowledge, a passionate hockey coach with enthusiasm, an Assistant Head of House with great skills and a mentor with wisdom. Mr. Jones has helped me through the toughest year of my life, and he is always there to assist the boys when they need it. He is also going to be the Merritt North Head of House next year and I look forward to work with him for my final year.

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

I am most exited for all new encounters. Whether it is people or things, I do want to make this a year that I will remember forever. I want to have conversations and possibly find some new friends. I am also excited to develop my initiative as Prefect, as well as hold a torch at Snake Dance.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley has prepared me well in academics, sports and characteristic development, especially in leadership. Throughout my three years, I have developed new skills and gotten better in general. Without the help and support from the community, that would not have been possible.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

Be brave, be open, be positive, be thankful and be yourself. And most importantly, be true to yourself and false to no man. I believe every student has potential to be great and I wish your journey in Ridley will be good as mine.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Max C. ’20

Meet Max ’20 – a boarder from California, who has found home at Ridley, as a member of Dean’s House. Although he can often be found in the Tiger Arena, this athlete has a knack for science as well! Read some of the highlights of his first year at Ridley below.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

Coming to Ridley, the thing I was most excited for was to play ice hockey and be a part of the Ridley boarding school culture.

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

I am proud to be a Ridleian because of the variety of things that Ridley strives and excels in. At Ridley, our culture cannot be defined as solely a sports school or academic school because we have a student body that can be and is successful in so many different aspects.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favourite part of Ridley is the boarding life offered. Boarding life truly adds to the Ridley culture and atmosphere of connecting us and bringing our community together. The culture within our boarding Houses has allowed me to form some of the strongest bonds and friendships that I have in my life.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

Road trips with my hockey team have been some of my greatest Ridley experiences in the last year. Road trips were a huge part of the journey last year with my team. In the moments from hotel room fun to warming up at the ice rink, I have had the time of my life with my best friends and teammates.

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

Having my friends nearby all the time. This makes living in the house always a super fun experience with many friends to share the good times with.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

Winning the award for the best medical sciences project in the Niagara Regional Science and Engineering Fair. This reward was the accumulation of countless hours, help from my teachers, and dedication into a project that I was truly passionate about. That is why winning this award and receiving the recognition for my project has been one of the most meaningful and greatest accomplishments of my life.

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

My favorite faculty member is Mrs. Roud. As both a teacher and Head of House, she is so caring and helpful. Without her constant love and support there is no way that I could have had such an amazing first year at Ridley.

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

I am very excited for many things in the role of a Prefect. What I am most excited for however is to be a role model in the Ridley community and have the chance to inspire other students. Coming to Ridley, I looked up to the Prefects and they were a great inspiration to me. Now, I am excited be a role model for other students and inspire them just as I was as a new student.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley has taught me how to challenge myself and has shown me that when I push myself, I can accomplish so much more than I previously thought. The opportunities that Ridley has given has influenced me to step out of my comfort zone and learn so much more about who I am and want to be in the future.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

The one piece of advice that I would give to Ridley students is to take advantage of the amazing opportunities that Ridley has to offer. Ridley has so many opportunities for students of all interests. For me, this meant pursuing the IB Diploma and also playing Prep Hockey. And, even if you have never tried some of these things or are nervous of stepping out of your comfort zone, Ridley is an amazing opportunity to try new things with a student body and faculty that will be nothing but supportive.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Jessica Z. ’20

Meet Jessica ’20 – a student who brought her passion for culture and diversity to the forefront when she started a multicultural club in Upper School. Read about her service-learning and the moments that have shaped her Ridley career in the interview below!

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

I was actually most excited for Ridley’s beautiful campus. I have always been living in the south of China where there is only summer and winter, so I was especially excited to experience fall at Ridley.

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

I am very proud of the loving and encouraging atmosphere here. Being in such a great environment really impacted the way that I treat others and transformed me into a more positive and caring person. I am very grateful.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favourite part of Ridley life is the student events such as Snake Dance and spirit nights. I love it when the whole community comes together to cheer each other on. It makes me feel like I belong to something special and meaningful that’s not about individual achievements, but the school community as a whole. 

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favourite Ridley trip has definitely been the March service trip to the Jacaranda School for Orphans in Malawi. I met the lovely students at Jacaranda and got to know more about their lives. That was also the first time that the Days for Girls club ever brought their feminine hygiene kits to Jacaranda. After seeing their presentation and how happy the girls were for receiving the kits, I decided to become a part of the Days for Girls club. The trip has not only allowed me to get to know life at Jacaranda in Malawi, but also transformed me into a more socially responsible person. 

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

The best part of being in Mandeville is that all the teachers are all very caring and warm-hearted. I love that I can talk to them about anything, free of judgment and criticism. 

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

I personally think that successfully establishing the Multi-Culture Club at Ridley is one of my greatest accomplishments. This experience has really taught me the importance of hard work and perseverance, especially in adverse situations. I am especially proud of the school-wide cultural trivia that the club hosted, as it allowed students to gain more knowledge of the cultures around us (since we are an international boarding school).

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

One of my favourite faculty members at Ridley is my Head of House, Ms. Thompson. Throughout the years that I have been at the school, she has been like a motherly figure to me. She made me feel welcomed and loved when I first came here and didn’t know anyone. She has also been like a friend, talking with me and giving me advice when I need it.

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

I am very excited to be working with a new group of people on exciting initiatives next year. After getting to know more about each other, I believe that we will work very well together. I am also very excited for the potential initiatives that will be undertaken by the team next year.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley has taught me to be a balanced and well-rounded person. In addition to the academic commitments, athletic and co-curricular activities are also vital in the student life at Ridley. I learned the importance of time-management, and I believe that this skill will be highly applicable to my life beyond Ridley.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

I would advise prospective students to learn how to prioritize and balance between their activities both in and outside of school. The amount of work (academic, sport and co-curricular activities) can be overwhelming at first (especially if you are a full IB student), but once you start to plan and prioritize your activities, things will be much easier. 

Get to Know Your Prefects: Lucie U. ’20

Meet Lucie ’20 – a boarding student, who calls Gooderham West her home away from home. Read about all the opportunities and life-changing moments she experienced during her first year at Ridley and what she hopes the final year of high school holds for her.

Why were you most excited to attend Ridley when you first started?

My family proposed the idea of going to Ridley, so that I could gather more life experience, since my previous school was very small. I went to class with the same nine people throughout my entire life and that is why Ridley was such a great opportunity to meet new people. Suddenly I knew so many people and I was forced to get to know new people, which was not only very exciting, but is an important experience to have. 

In addition to this, I knew that Ridley has several options when it comes to developing new skills. All these sports, activities and clubs were a great opportunity to try out new things and maybe even find different hobbies.

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

Ridley College has a very unique school culture. Ridley really values traditions and legacies, but also principles innovation and positive change. Additionally, Ridley has an amazing reputation and history to be proud of. I am proud to be a Ridleian because it makes me part of a community, which is very special to me and which nobody will be able to take from me.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

The aspect of Ridley that I like the most is the boarding. We, as boarders, and also day students, become a part of this wonderful community. I love this idea of living with friends, developing independence but also experiencing this alternative way of living. Especially the late-night conversations with friends, the spa nights or simply the sharing enhances this experience.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

I have made an enormous number of great experiences and memories in this past year, but one of the most incredible, is the service trip to Malawi. In addition to learning so many things and creating remarkable memories, this trip taught me a lot about life. It also helped me to create unique relationships with some of the students in the Jacaranda School, from our trip and with some of the adults and teachers of our trip.

What is the best part of being in your boarding House?

Throughout the past year, I got to know a huge number of incredible girls in my boarding house, Gooderham West. The diversity in nationalities, talents and much more, is not only extremely inspiring but it makes each of us unique. I found so many friends in my house, but I can’t call them friends anymore: many of them are now my sisters. We live through every phase and emotion together, we support each other and if that means staying awake till late at night to comfort somebody you might not even be close friends with, so it is.

Being in a boarding house together just creates this connection and community. We are a big family and even though we might not know each other perfectly, it is comforting to know that there is this supporting light in some darker times.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

I found a lot of new friends at Ridley and I got to know so many amazing and talented people. For me this is a personal accomplishment, since I came from a small school and never got to know many people. 

Also, I feel like I finally found a relatively balanced lifestyle that is suitable to my environment. 

Lastly, I developed many skills that I would have never dreamed of. If you had told me two years ago that I would actually enjoy playing ice hockey, a sport which is not very popular in Germany, I would have never believed it. But I tried it, and even though I am very far from good at it, I count it as a new skill and activity that I enjoy.

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

I really enjoy being around so many of the faculty and staff members in different departments. From the cleaning ladies in my house, the security ladies, the sewing room ladies to all my teachers and other employees I have gotten to know, I feel like I established the most wonderful relationships with them, even if it is nothing too major. This is especially true with our former Assistant Head of House, Ms. Delaney, who helped me through a lot of personal and academic challenges and she was there for me whenever I needed a friend.

Also, several of my teachers, specifically Ms. Covent, gave me a lot of power and self-esteem throughout the year. She was very supporting with whatever I needed, and she taught me a lot of things, that are not only useful in our end-of-year exams, but life.

Lastly, I am very grateful for the health center team for being this steady rock of help whenever we students need it. They care so much about us students, not only physically but also mentally.

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

I am very excited about seeing great outcomes of certain events such as the organization of Snake Dance, some of the other dances or maybe even simple weekend activities. I am also extremely excited about working together with new departments of the school, that I am unfamiliar with until now, in order to make positive changes and see great outcomes.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

The biggest thing that Ridley prepared me for is that it encouraged me to take on challenges. Ever since I am in Ridley I am much braver, even about the most minor things, but this is an important life skill that Ridley gives to us by presenting us with so many opportunities. A good example of this is public speaking, which was a skill I simply just did not possess before, but now I challenge myself more and more and I try to overcome my fears.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

Don’t order too much food, even though everybody goes through that phase. It’s nice in the moment but your money is gone in a heartbeat!

Looking at a broader scope; always keep your spirits lifted and don’t get pulled down by something relatively insignificant, which won’t affect your life in the long term. High school tends to have a lot of unnecessary drama, but it is important to learn from it and overcome it.