The Digital Generation: How Technology has Impacted Student Life

It’s now an archaic image. One lonely computer set at the back of the classroom, equipped with Netscape Navigator and Compton’s Encyclopedia. The computer monitor, off-beige in colour, was roughly one foot in depth and weighed approximately 40 pounds. Access to this new classroom technology was, in most schools, given as a reward for good behavior. This was the role of the computer in the classroom in the early 1990s­—not as a functional educational tool, but as a break from class. In fact, at the time, only 20-30 million people worldwide actually owned computers or had access to the internet. Today, there are billions who have access, with the internet being readily available in most of our pockets. Ultimately, digital devices have made their way into the classroom and are an integral part of our day-to-day. 

Twenty years is not a long time when considering the entire chronicle of the history of technology in education. However, in just two decades, technology has brought vast improvements into the classroom, assisting in the way lessons are taught, how information is stored and how students are able to collaborate. There is an ever-evolving relationship between technology and culture, and with the advent of the internet, emails and even laptop integration in schools and workplaces, we have the ability to communicate with ease and speed. At Ridley, the influence of technology has greatly impacted the role of the teacher, who is committed to evolve and grow with each new technological advance.  

We are now more connected, have more information and have even greater technological advances in the classroom than ever before. 

Connection:

We have entered an era where we are connected to everyone around us through the click of a button and at top speed. Through a simple email or text, we are linked with someone on the other side of the world. Email is used to connect students with teachers, teachers with parents and parents with the school community. Mr. Geoff Park ’80 (Department of Social Sciences) remarked on the advantages of this connection: the ease to send and receive work, to remind people about any changes taking place, to arrange to meet students for tutorials, and to send useful links, to name a few. 

Students, especially boarders, can easily stay in touch with their families near or far—a vast difference between the communiqué of 20 years ago. “When I started in 1990”, recalls Ms. Karen Oude-Reimerink (Department of Science), “most boarding students communicated with their parents once a week via a pay phone in residence. Advisors communicated once every six weeks or so (with effort grades) via a phone call. Individual teachers rarely communicated directly with parents – all communication was through the Head of House or the Advisor.”

Although we are more connected than ever before, the drawback is the risk of feeling disconnected and isolated. The fast pace of life that has taken hold of society can sometimes prove to be more of a hinderance than a freeing agent. With the convenience of digital interaction through social media and email, traditional methods of keeping in touch are falling by the wayside, thus creating a dichotomy between the convenience of digital connectivity and the closeness of our relationships. 

Ridley is cognizant of this challenge and has responded to it by implementing a number of measures to promote interpersonal communication. Devices are not permitted in the Great Hall in an attempt to encourage social interaction during meal times, students participate in daily physical activity and there are ongoing organized events and activities in classrooms and the Houses, which allow for students to nurture their social and emotional skills. 

Regardless of the negative effects of online connection, we live in a digital world and the use of technology has become an essential life skill. 

Access to Information:

With the internet being omnipresent in the classroom, there is a difference in the way students research and learn. According to Mr. Chris Gordon (Department of Classical and International Languages), “the world is literally at your fingertips; we can easily learn about the world around us and are able to collate information that, even 20 years ago, would have been much more difficult to find.” 

By having access to a vast trove of information, we obtain a richer understanding of the subjects at hand and students are granted the opportunity to examine a wider variety of perspectives on any given topic. Mr. Geoff Park ’80 supports this view, saying “we can find articles about any issues or topics from around the world. When I used to teach geopolitics and discuss Israel, I could access The Jerusalem Post and Al Jazeera, and news sources of different biases from around the world. It enabled a broader perspective.” 

“Technology allows the classroom walls to extend far beyond the confines of a physical space.” – Mr. Chris Gordon. 

The variety in which materials can be shared is useful in relaying specialized information “The access to online videos and simulations is wonderful in clarifying scientific concepts,” says Ms. Karen Oude-Reimerink. This helps to inform and assist students in forming their own unique perspectives. 

Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education, has weighed in on the impact technology is having in the classroom and emphasizes it’s value. “We’ve moved from 100 percent of learning materials coming from an out-of-date textbook, to interactive materials and students in remote locations having access to high-quality resources,” Culatta notes. “Technology has enabled learners to explore and learn on their own in ways that were harder to do when the resources all had to come from the teacher. It’s very powerful.”

The challenge that comes into play is evaluating if the information at hand is actually a credible source. How can a student tell if content is written by a competent authority? Mr. Gordon notes, “the ability to analyze and evaluate the source of information is now so much more important, and this can be a struggle.” Students need to learn how to be thoughtful consumers of digital content and discriminate the reliability and accuracy of this. 

This has been one of the new research skills stemming from our digital world. Students are now taught what to look for during the research phase of a project and are educated on both primary and secondary types of research. Through the McLaughlin Resource Centre and the Matthews Library, students have access to countless resources and can connect to the infinite information found on the web. Through required citing, faculty members are able to confirm that students are searching for evidence in the right place and getting the most out of their online practices. 

Technology:

Gone are the days of the computer lab or the one-computer classroom. The growth of technology in schools has influenced the way teachers must approach their lesson plans.

“Information technology is a great asset to education, but it is equally important that the teacher relays not only curricular content, but also demonstrates how to best navigate their systems, so that students will be more successful with the course at hand,” says Mr. Gordon. 

Mac Integration at Ridley brought about the most significant change in how students absorb the topics at hand, the way they conduct their educational activities and the way they communicate with one another. The Mac Integration Programme began at Ridley in 1998, where all faculty received school-owned laptops. Upper School students followed shortly after, with the laptop rollout beginning in September 1999. Over the years, classrooms went from having dial-up and Ethernet to wireless connections.  

“Mac Integration and the use of smart projectors has enabled us to create bespoke lessons and class note sets for each course and to provide students with a collection of materials for their learning support that is much more robust than ever before,” exclaims Ms. Rachael Scott (Department of Mathematics).

Fifteen years ago, classrooms were first outfitted with Smartboards — the go-to technology for interactive learning. Today, all classrooms are housed with Epson Smart Projectors that eliminate the need for a dedicated white board. Currently, Ridley is in the midst of adding Apple TV’s to all classrooms, allowing teachers and students a seamless way to collaboratively share and display information from their laptops without the need for cables.

Another great advance in technology and communication has been the implementation of TigerNet. First introduced in 2005, TigerNet is Ridley’s student information system that gives teachers the ability to record grades and add comments, share course assignments, tests and class notes, assign deadlines, receive assignments through a Dropbox feature and much more. Since the inception of TigerNet, the sharing and transparency of information across all roles have been game-changing. 

With the implementation of new technology, there is always the possibility for some challenges to come into play. One of the biggest challenges at hand is the opportunity for distraction. “Even the most dynamic lesson is hard pressed to compete with an online conversation with a friend, a game, a movie etc. and while teachers try to stay on top of that, if you need your laptop for that lesson, and you can’t see all the screens at once, it is impossible to prevent misuse” says Mr. Park. There have always been avenues for distraction throughout the history of teaching, the laptop is just another vehicle for this. Adaptability, innovation and an open mind is key to successfully integrating technology into the classroom and maintaining a strong student-teacher relationship.

“My teaching continues to grow and change, as does that of my colleagues,” says Ms. Scott. “We are constantly learning different ways of introducing material to students and ways of helping the students to develop learning skills that will enable them to learn anything of interest to them in the future. This is the exciting change.”

Technology is not meant to replace the teacher but rather, creates a more flexible learning environment that breeds innovation and enriches the classroom, resulting in a more collaborative learning milieu. Today’s students have never experienced a world without the infusion of technology. By embracing this new digital landscape, we are preparing students for the globally-connected world of tomorrow.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Tom F. ’20

Introducing Tom ’20 – a student who came to Ridley for exciting opportunities to learn and found himself unlocking hidden talents and discovering new passions. Read how he stepped out of his comfort zone and has since made the most of his time at Ridley.

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

In Nigeria, the IB Diploma is highly recommended and anticipated by both students and teachers, however the programme was not offered at my school. Coming to Ridley, I was excited to learn in a different school, in a different programme and in a different country – I had to see if Canadians were as nice as everyone said.

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

 As Terar Dum Prosimhas now been engrained in my mind, I have come to accept it as a lifestyle. A majority of Ridley students come from similarly affluent backgrounds and as a part of the St. Catharines community, we aim to recognize our privilege by engaging with the community through outside volunteer work, House donations and frequent in-school events. 

What is your favorite part of Ridley life?

The student events are undoubtedly my favorite parts of Ridley. From the very first whole school pep rally to Cadet Ball, Ridley always has an occasion. The best events however, have to be the spirit nights, as nothing tops game-winning buzzer beaters and Ridley College chants. I look forward to more student events in my final year at Ridley College as I will have the pleasure of organizing some of them.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

Difficult to pin this down to one school trip, but I can say my favorite Ridley experiences happen in New York. Having been there on multiple occasions – November breaks and the theatre excursion – I enjoy living life in a big city with my closest friends. The shopping, the food and the “pedestrian culture”, as we called it, are always highlights of the New York trip and serve to be very memorable.

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

Like any other House, we act as a band of brothers that work, joke and most importantly prank. The best part of Merritt South however, is that the House has all different kinds of people; gamers, artists, musicians and even wrestlers. New students easily make lasting friendships due to cultures, interests or sheer fondness.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

Running out of options for a second term activity, I took a big risk and auditioned for the winter play in my Grade 10 year. This was me venturing into an activity I had never tried before and auditioning for a teacher that I “feared”. Surprisingly, not only did I earn the chance to play the lead role, I was attracted to theatre and have followed it since. After this experience, I grew to step out of my comfort zone as much as I could, and I am glad I did because it landed me a Prefect position at Ridley.

Who is your favorite faculty or staff member and why?

Moving from fear to admiration, Ms. Blagona has taught me things that I could apply both in and out of the theatre classroom. Described only as “the short, angry, British lady”, Ms. Blagona has helped me to explore different cultures, human interactions and even myself. The work I have done with her is more than lasting and will forever impact my perception, control and awareness.

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

I am most excited to see how much of a difference we, as a team, can make in just one year. The Prefect team is a mix of designers, athletes, speakers, innovators, singers… the list goes on. Having such a diverse team, I am confident that changes will be made, and opinions addressed, to suit the benefit of the Ridley community.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

In a way, the Ridley experience can be viewed as a miniature form of adulthood – the busy schedule, the various groups, the subtle freedom. Although the schedule can seem tiresome on a day to day basis, the weekends and free periods allow students to manage their time properly. Practicing organization and time management definitely aids my future as I will eventually have larger workloads and more important responsibilities.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

This advice applies to your first weeks in Ridley and your last weeks of high school – wherever that may be. Be yourself. Enjoy the pleasures that school has to offer you. Soak in the moments you have with your friends. Remember to take deep breaths when you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you remain yourself, all of these things become a lot easier and you get to appreciate the benefits of your youth.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Johnathan A. ’20

Introducing Johnathan ’20 – a student-athlete, who truly bleeds orange and black. Check out our interview with him below to see what makes him proud to be a Tiger.

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

Aside from basketball, I was most excited about the boarding experience. Boarding school was going to be a new experience for me at the time and I didn’t know what to expect. I had a lot of questions going through my mind in the weeks leading up to the start of the school year: “Will I miss home? How am I supposed to do my own laundry?”. I was also looking forward to building relationships with my peers outside of the classroom and gaining a new perspective on life by learning from kids from other countries around the world. It has been amazing, and I’ve loved it so far!

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

I’m proud to be a Ridleian because of the school’s rich and prestigious history, strong alumni network that supports the school, and the school’s commitment to service in the St. Catharines and global communities.

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favourite part of Ridley life are the spirit nights. It’s an opportunity for the student population to come together and show their Tiger pride and unite. Drums…Hank the Tiger…face paint…air-horns…the atmosphere created is electric and second to none. Both as a player and a spectator cheering on other teams, some of my best memories from this past school year were from spirit nights.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favourite Ridley experience has been the annual tradition of Snake Dance. The best of part of the event is the anticipation and excitement that builds in the Houses as we get painted and fired up to prepare for a fun night around the gigantic fire.

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

The best part of Arthur Bishop West (the best House on campus), is the people from the top down. The house residential team of Mr. Doyle, Mr. Vasquez, and Mr. Sullivan have a lot of fun with us while maintaining order. All the students come together to watch big sporting events in the common room, which are fun events. We also have special traditions at night for birthdays. And I can’t forget to mention that we have the best cleaning ladies on campus (Patty and Emily)!

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

Becoming a Prefect has been my greatest accomplishment at Ridley. I worked really hard this past year in and out of the classroom and am honoured to have been selected by my peers and faculty to serve in this leadership role.

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

Ms. Becken is my favourite faculty member. As a teacher, she always challenges our thinking to find the deeper meaning and brings out our best as students. I engaged in a lot of great discussions in her history class this past year and she made learning fun. She cares a lot about our well-being and shows interest in our personal lives. I have a lot of great conversations about basketball and life with her that I enjoy.

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

I’m most excited about collaborating with the Prefect team to make this upcoming school year a memorable one and creating a legacy that the younger generations will remember and can look up to.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley has offered me great opportunities with its high academic standards and elite basketball programme that have challenged me to be the best version of myself. Its unique programming has improved my organisational skills and discipline which will facilitate my transition to university and set me up for success in the future. Furthermore, the boarding experience has taught me how to live independently and I’ve developed life skills.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

After completing my first year at Ridley, my advice to prospective students is that time management is important. Especially as a student-athlete, it is important to find a good balance between your academics, athletics, and social life and ensure that you’re always being productive. Secondly, cherish every moment you have with your friends and peers, time flies by. You’ll be building relationships and memories that will last a lifetime. Also, utilize the great resources available for extra support when needed.

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.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Christopher H. ’20

Meet Christopher ’20 – a boarder from Barbados, who is truly grateful for his brothers in Merritt South and the caring environment the House has provided him. Read more to find out how Ridley’s diverse community has prepared him for the future.

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

I had never lived away from home before and I really enjoy being put out of my comfort zones to try new things. 

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

I am proud to be a Ridleian because there is a sense of community throughout the school that I was very welcome to. I also really like how involved everyone is with activities and helping out around the school.

What is your favorite part of Ridley life?

My favorite part of Ridley is living so close to my friends, so that I can see them on weekends and participate in events together.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favorite Ridley memory was camp at the beginning of the school year, when I was able to meet so many new people and take part in the activities.

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

The best part of being in Merritt South is that the people are really great and it’s a very accepting and relaxed environment.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

My greatest accomplishment at Ridley has been becoming Prefect!

Who is your favorite faculty or staff member and why?

My favorite faculty member is my Assistant Head of House, Mr. Stephenson, because he is very funny and helps me out with advice whenever I need it.

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

I am most excited to be able to be around the firepit at Snake Dance, and to be involved and help out with all the school events. 

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley has prepared me for my future by allowing me to interact with so many different people of different ideas and cultures. These interactions open my mind to different ways of thinking and let me experience diversity as well. I also now have a taste of what it’s like to live on my own.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

I would advise that although you may be afraid to live away from your family, enter a new school or even move countries, don’t be. If you put yourself out there and try new things, you’ll have so many new memories and even more opportunities. 

Get to Know Your Prefects: Brendan N. ’20

Meet Brendan ’20 – a proud member of Arthur Bishop East, who has embodied what it means to be consumed in service and knows the impact that giving back can have on someone. Read more about his passion for service, the arts and athletics.

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

Coming to Ridley, I was most excited about moving to the St. Catharines community because although my family roots are from Canada and we always spent summer vacations here, I had lived and gone to school overseas my whole life. When I first started, I was most excited about being part of the diverse and multicultural environment at Ridley.  Also, I knew I would be able to continue to pursue my interests in sports and music, but at the same time be challenged by a rigorous IB academic environment.

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

As a Ridleian, I am proud of the contribution that Ridley makes to the community, and truly lives by its school motto, Terar Dum Prosim. I am very proud of the positive impact I have had on the children and community during the service opportunities I have had in Guatemala and Malawi over the past three years, and how well-respected Ridley was in contributing to their community.

What is your favorite part of Ridley life?

My favorite part of Ridley life is definitely the athletic programme. Soccer has been my lifelong passion and having been a part of the First Boys soccer team for the past three years has been very important and beneficial throughout my Ridley experience. It has strengthened my friendships, my technical skills, as well as my resilience and determination. Furthermore, the integration between academics and athletics has been one of my favorite parts of Ridley life, as being able to balance both is an integral part of life at Ridley.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

Most of my favorite Ridley experiences come from school trips such as camp, service trips, sport tournaments and conferences. If I were to choose one, it would be the service trip to Malawi. For spring break in my Grade 10 and 11 years, I travelled to Malawi, Africa to help out at the Jacaranda School for Orphans. Not only did I feel pride in representing Ridley and embodying our school motto, but I was also able to learn a lot about life in Malawi and grow as a person.

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

The best part of being a part of my boarding house is being able to have a place to call home and a group of housemates to share and relax with outside the school environment – my Ridley family. There’s a lot of positive recognition and support within the House. There is so much comradery within the House, and my favorite activities are the House competitions. Although they are friendly competitions, everyone wants to do the best to help their House achieve and win.  

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

Since I came to Ridley in Grade 9, I feel like I have had numerous accomplishments, whether it be in sports, academics and arts. However, I believe being chosen to be Prefect and represent the student body and school is the greatest achievement. I am gratified to be selected by peers and faculty as a leader in the community and hope to live up to my potential as a prefect. 

Who is your favorite faculty or staff member and why?

Throughout my years at Ridley, I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with faculty and staff across many areas such as academic, athletics, arts, and service. In each of their specialisms, they all excel in what they do, and they are always so open to sharing their thoughts and guidance with me to help me achieve my full potential. 

However, one teacher that I feel has played an important role during my time at Ridley is Mr. Burke. I have had Mr. Burke as a math teacher for 2 years, in addition to have gone on the service trip to Malawi with him twice. Through experiences in and out of the classroom, Mr. Burke has taught me an incredible amount.

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

From when I started at Ridley, I have witnessed many great ambitions of Prefects. As an upcoming Prefect, I am excited about starting new initiatives and continuing traditions. However, I am most excited about the Snake Dance because in my opinion, this ceremony marks the beginning of a new school year and brings the entire school community together for a unique Ridley tradition. It’s always very fun and allows all the students to be themselves and have a great and memorable night to start off the school year.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley’s focus on well-roundedness through academics and a rigorous IB Diploma Programme, focus on health and fitness through its strong athletic programme, and opportunities to experience the arts has prepared me well across all facets of life. More importantly, the friendships and network that I have built will last a lifetime, and I know as a Ridleian, these connections will be invaluable. Ridley has also truly given me the opportunity to flourish both in the areas that I am already strong in, but also helped me develop my other skills.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

I would tell prospective students that Ridley provides you with so many opportunities to step out of your comfort zone and try new things that you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to experience. Take advantage of that, and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Build a strong network of diverse friends that will provide you with support throughout your years here and beyond. 

Get to Know Your Prefects: Oscar S. ’20

Introducing Oscar ’20 – a Prefect who came to Ridley for his Grade 11 year and quickly realized that this was a place he’d be able to flourish. Read how the International Baccalaureate (IB), hockey and boarding programmes have shaped him.

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

I was excited to play high-level Prep hockey and face new academic challenges in the International Baccalaureate programme. The boarding system allowed me to be excited for new international students and to connect with the diversity of our school. 

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

Once a tiger, always a tiger. Being a Ridleian brings up the responsibility to follow on 126 years of traditions. To follow the legacies makes me, as a Tiger, more proud than anything else. 

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favourite part is the variety of athletics offered in our school. For me, this is important. Providing something for everyone is beneficial for our community as a whole and lead us to greater things.

What has been your favourite Ridley experience/trip/memory?

My favourite memories at Ridley are experienced every single day with all my friends by me. In general, having the feeling of belonging to something more significant is something everyone should experience. 

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

Being away from your family can be tough, but living at Ridley is a lot of fun. I have all my friends two footsteps away from me. This gives us all the opportunity to create bonds that I never thought would have been possible. 

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

The shift from a German school system and a German hockey league was extreme. Living in a new environment and speaking a new language was hard for me. However, I gave my best and was able to handle everything through hard work and ambition. Overcoming all the difficulties and differences was my most significant personal accomplishment in Ridley and makes me very proud.

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member, and why?

Mr. McNiven is one of the best teachers I have ever had. The way he teaches helps me to understand better. Meanwhile, he is also my Head of House, and I had the opportunity to get to know him better and experience his kindness and humour. 

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

As someone who talks for the student body, I am just happy to see all the joy in all the many eyes. Seeing my peers flourish makes me proud.  

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley’s athletics don’t just shape my body, they form my character, personality and mindset. I learned valuable lessons for life. If this isn’t already enough, Ridley allows me to be a member of the IB community. Being a thinker, open-minded and knowledgeable has prepared me excellently for university and life. 

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

Don’t be afraid of anything! We will welcome you in September, and you will be a part of our community from day one. I was, one year ago, in the same position, and one thing I learned right away was that nobody will ever be alone. There is a lot of help, and everyone is looking for new friends. Just be open to meet new people, and everything will be fine.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Angela D. ’20

Before the bells chimed for the last time, the Prefect team for the 2019-20 school year was announced, allowing for celebrations to take place and planning for September to begin. These student-leaders took the time to share a little about themselves, so that over the summer months, Ridleians, both new and old, would have a chance to get to know the Tigers that would be guiding them through the year.

Up first, is Angela ’19 – a Mandeville Duck with a remarkable voice that she uses to not only perform for her fellow Tigers, but to speak up for those in need and to spread awareness for causes near and dear to her heart. When she isn’t on stage or singing in the Chapel, she can be found on the volleyball court or the rugby pitch. Check out the interview below to see what makes her proud to be a Ridleian.

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

I had never been in a boarding house before Ridley, so I was really excited to be introduced to that type of environment. As well, entering Ridley as a freshman was a bit nerve racking because I had also never been in high school before. I was mainly excited to try new things, put myself out there and enjoy the high school experience.

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

I am proud to be a Ridleian because of all the things this school stands for. Whether it be through its awareness-raising initiatives, its work to give back to the Niagara community, its conscious effort to acknowledge diversity and spirit. This school always endeavors to be better and as a result, all those who interact with each other here (including myself) are made to be better, more socially-aware people, who are truly prepared to enter the real world and be consumed in service. 

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

For me, it’s a tie between sports and the arts. As much as I love performing and expressing myself (through artistic means), nothing can beat the communal experience of being on a sports team. As a team, you win and lose together and playing sports is just another way that Ridleians can form relationships with those that they otherwise would not interact with as much. In the same breath, the performing arts are my passion and this school has presented me with a lot of opportunities to express myself through singing, acting, public speaking, etc. 

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favourite Ridley experience was definitely my first time at camp in 2016. To me, that whole experience was just an incredible introduction to the spirit and sense of community that this school has. At camp, I made a lot of great friendships with girls in and outside of my House. It was a judgment and care-free environment and laughter-filled experience that really set the tone for a great first year at Ridley. 

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

The best part of being in Mandeville is the girls. They are all my sisters from other misters! Every year, I meet more charismatic, diverse and intelligent girls and I get to learn a lot from them. Although we may have our challenges, I can positively say that I’ve formed some beautiful relationships with a lot of the girls in my house and I’m so appreciative of my school family.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot at this school. As I said before, I’ve been exposed to a lot of opportunities that I otherwise would not have had the luxury of experiencing. My accomplishments range from being in academics to being in co-curriculars (cadets) and in sports (volleyball and rugby). However, I think my greatest accomplishment has been learning to take risks, mainly putting myself out there despite my fear of judgment. As I’ve spent more years at Ridley, I’ve learned that judgment will always be their (just like in the real world) and the only person who can let that judgment impact me or limit me is myself. So, even though I’m not fully there, my greatest accomplishment at this school has been being unapologetically authentic in the manner I choose to present myself to the school community. 

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

There are many faculty members at this school who I admire for the different ways that they have impacted me. This includes my past and present teachers, coaches, activity leaders, Head of House, duty team members and the Assistant Head of House. Nevertheless, if I had to pick one person, it would have to be my advisor, Mrs. McNiven. She is the most giving, caring and understanding person I’ve ever met, and she does so much for the girls and I without acknowledging the gravity of her impact. She also knows how to set me straight when I need it and despite how much I may act like I hate it, I love her sarcastic wit. 

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

I’m most excited to see what goes into planning the communal events that we have at this school. I know it’ll be hard balancing academics, activities, sports and my personal sanity. Still, Prefectship is another learning experience I am more than willing to take on. I’m also really excited to give my chapel talk because I will be speaking about a topic that matters a lot to me and that (I hope) is applicable to the experiences of many others at Ridley.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Time-Management! Our schedules are packed at this school and I think that is very fitting because that’s how it is going to be when we all get jobs and/or go university. Ridley teaches you a lot about self-discipline and the importance of having routine while embracing change and acknowledging your physical and emotional capabilities. 

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

To me, being at Ridley has been about never saying “no” for selfish reasons. It’s perfectly okay to take a step back and acknowledge when you need to have some time to yourself. However, I would say that you should never let your fears of judgment of criticism limit your actions. Take risks, don’t be afraid to fail and share who you are with the members at this school because it will all be a learning experience about the world around us.  

Ridleian Published in Medical Journal

Committed to his goal of one day becoming a medical doctor, Arnav Wadhawan ’19 seized the opportunity to contribute his summer research to a peer-reviewed medical journal and presented his findings at an international medical conference.

View Online Journal co-authored by Arnav.

Grade 12 student, Arnav’s motivation to turn to the field of medicine was undoubtedly inspired by his parents, both doctors, as well as other family members who have taken on the vocation of physicians. What ignited his specific interest for research in the field of infectious diseases was his volunteer work with Dr. Rajinder Bajwa from the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, in New York. Impressed by Arnav’s proactive approach to learning and his breadth of knowledge, Dr. Bajwa, an infectious disease specialist and doctor of internal medicine, asked the teen if he’d like to assist in compiling an article on Legionellosis—a term used to describe clinical manifestations of infection caused by the Legionella bacteria, which includes Legionnaires Disease, focal non-pulmonary infections and Pontiac Fever.

Arnav jumped at the opportunity and swiftly went to work, making this journal his summer 2018 focus. Beginning in July, Arnav dove deep into research on the subject—combing through articles on “Pub Med” and even using his father’s resources as an additional tool in gathering knowledge on the disease. After nearly two months of studying, writing and editing, and with Dr. Bajwa’s stamp of approval, Arnav’s work was submitted to a number of Medical Journals alongside Dr. Bajwa’s credentials, and the waiting game began.

Once an article is received by a Medical Journal, it was reviewed by an editorial committee to assess the validity of the work, the educational value in publishing and to determine if it aligned with the topics they are circulating. Arnav and Dr. Bajwa went through the editorial committee process twice, and on the second submission they received the exciting news that their review was going to be published by Juniper Publishing.

As it was my first publication, I was extremely thrilled as I thought the journey to my dreams had begun and my hard work over the summer has brought a reward. I could not have thanked my mentors enough for their help in the process. As soon as I got the news I called my mentor and expressed my gratitude to him. This has also encouraged me to do more during my breaks so that I can contribute to the field of medicine with my research.”                                          – Arnav Wadhawan ’19

This past October, Arnav was given the opportunity to present his findings at 2018 Medical Imaging and Case Reports Conference (MICRA 2018) in Baltimore, Maryland in Dr. Bajwa’s place. The senior Ridley student once again rose to the occasion and presented a case report on the right-sided infective endocarditis. Feeling comfortable with the material, Arnav took to the stage and presented in front of the international medical community, which included representation from Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins University.

Arnav is committed to furthering his medical education, and is currently a research assistant in a study with Roche Pharmaceuticals. Through this experience, he is working on yet another publication for a medical journal. While he is unsure of what his post-secondary school of choice will be, he plans to remain dedicated to becoming a doctor. “I think what I have learned from this publication,” says Arnva, “is that time is one of the most important aspects of our lives and if utilized towards our goals it will bring us one step closer to achieving them.”

10 Inspiring Alumnae to Celebrate

Driven, ambitious and passionate are a few words you may use to describe an inherently inspirational woman in your life. Today is International Women’s Day and we’d like to celebrate a few of Ridley’s alumnae who have made their mark on the world.

Georgina Black ’85

Georgina Black ’85: As the first female Chair of the Board of Governors at Ridley College, Georgina has paved the way for young women to succeed in both leadership and governance. In addition to her role at Ridley, she is a Partner at KPMG Canada and was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women in 2016.

Michele-Elise Burnett ’86: Michele-Elise founded the Indigenous festival, Celebration of Nations, which takes place every September. In addition, during the 18th annual Women in Business Awards this past November, Michele-Elise Burnett ’85 was recognized for her commitment to helping the arts thrive in Niagara; winning the Cultural Arts Award.

Sarah Eyton ’86: As Vice President of Fund Development at Special Olympics Canada, this alumna has dedicated her career to supporting those with intellectual disabilities in realizing their dreams of competing in sport. In addition, she serves Ridley College as a member of the Board of Governors and the Advancement Committee.

Nadine Karachi-Estrada ’87: Passionate about social justice, this alumna was appointed the Honorary Consul for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016. In addition, she has served on a number of Boards, including Ridley College, Patrons of Contemporary Art in Mexico and MEXFAM. She was also a founding member of Camp Deen, which is a camp that empowers Muslim Canadians to be proud of their heritage.

Michele-Elise Burnett ’86 & Nadine Karachi-Estrada ’87

Wendy O’Brien ’88: This alumna started her own casting company in Los Angeles, Wendy O’Brien Casting, and has been the Casting Director for hit television shows such as: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sons of Anarchyand Prison Break.

Hilary Caters ’89: Hilary was once an entrepreneur and marketing agency owner, until she realized her path was leading her down a different direction. Now, she is a passionate life coach and motivational speaker. During the Niagara Leadership Summit for Women in October of 2018, Hilary spoke to aspiring leaders about taking control of ones’ life and the importance of seeking and uncovering both passion and purpose.

Jane Lewis ’90: This Canadian singer-songwriter has always been involved in the arts. While she began her career as an author and editor, she shifted towards music in 2009. Since then, she has honed her skills, released a number of CDs and launched both a solo career and her band, Gathering Sparks. She will be performing at our Toronto Branch event, Curating Connections, on April 2nd.

Jane Lewis ’90

Alison Loat ’94: This alumna co-founded Samara Canada, a charitable organization that works to improve political participation in Canada. In addition, she has published several notable books, is the Managing Director at FCLTGlobal, serves on both Ridley’s Board of Governors as well as Ai-Media and has been named one of WXN’s most influential women in Canada.

Jeanette Stock ’09: This alumna is paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse tech landscape through Venture Out. Venture Out is an initiative launched by Jeanette and her peers in 2016, with the goal of connecting LGBTQA+ people, working in technology, with career and networking opportunities. In 2017, Venture Out held its first conference; welcoming over 450 individuals to Canada’s first conference for LGBTQA+ students and professionals, seeking careers in the tech industry.

Jeanette Stock ’09

Laura Court ’14: After a unanimous vote, former Ridley rower and current Brock Badger, Laura Court ’14 was named Brock University’s OUA Female Athlete of the Year—the first coxswain to receive this honour. With a number of gold medal wins behind her and a promising future ahead, it is no surprise that she was recognized for her grit, determination and skill.

 

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