Jamaican Mission Trip: An experience our students will never forget

Ridley College Jamaican Mission Trip

I was talking with Father Jason earlier, and he told me, quoting a scripture, that “there are two things in life. There are the things that we enjoy with all of our hearts, and the things we enjoy for a little while, but then move on.”   As a group of 21 Ridley Students and chaperones travelled to Jamaica on behalf of Missionaries of the Poor, this quote held true. We left for Jamaica at 3:30 in the morning on Thursday February 17th to help out children at a local orphanage. We arrived in a gated monastery where we were staying with monks, or “brothers”. None of us really had any idea of what to expect, but from the moment we drove into the orphanage, everything became real. Walking into a dim-lit, gymnasium sized room, there are cribs lined up all along the room with aisles to walk down. We were given 5 minutes to take it all in before we started to diaper, change and feed the children.

Grade 12 Student Alanna K.

You could hear about these kids and you might see a couple of pictures, but nothing will do them justice until you see it for yourself. They have been abandoned by parents who either don’t care, or can’t afford to take care of them. All of them have either mental or physical disabilities. It’s impossible to describe in writing the feeling that you get when you see the children for the first time. I stopped at one particular crib that read Cavena. She might have been around 9 or 10 years old, but had the body of a toddler. Her thighs were smaller than my wrists. She suffers from cerebral palsy. Cavena will never be able to walk, or talk. She could only move her eyes to look up at me as I gently stroked her arm. The only thing she had to do to make me fall in love was smile, and that’s what she did.

This was the turning point of our trip. All of us started to realize that this is their reality. This is how some children have to live, and most of them won’t live long. They have absolutely nothing, yet they are so happy just to feel human contact.

The night before we left, Dr. Cowherd, one of our chaperones, asked us a question. He asked who was really served–even though we diapered, clothed, and fed all of them—we were the ones who received the service on this trip. The children may never remember us, but they will be with us forever.

As told by Jillian Robinson ’11 from Canada

Grade 12 Student Victoria P.

Last March my sister Britteny went to the Missionaries of the Poor in Kingston Jamaica with her school. At the time I really didn’t know very much about the organization, but after listening to what my sister had to say, I knew instantly that spending time at the missionary was something I really wanted to do. After sharing my sister’s experiences with Father Jason and together learning more about the organization, it wasn’t long before he expressed interest in taking Ridley College to Jamaica. The Missionaries of the Poor (M.O.P.) is an international monastic order of Brothers dedicated to “Joyful Service with Christ on the Cross” to serve the poorest of the poor. The order was started in 1981 by Father Richard Ho Lung and has now grown to over 500 brothers around the world. Father Jason worked his magic and I contacted Brother Rameil at the Missionary. We started with fundraisers and successfully raised $7000. Our next step was to encourage students to sign up for the trip, which again was very successful. Father Jason spent much of his time making travel arrangements and talking to students and their families, for this we are all truly thankful.

Ms. Drake - Chaperone on Jamaican Mission Trip

Bethlehem Home was the first orphanage we visited. The children who reside here were either abandoned in the hospital or in some instances left on the Brothers doorstep. At the orientation we were told that the majority of the children were confined to cribs and were disabled but I really didn’t appreciate what that meant until I saw it for myself. Of the 62 children in Bethlehem, only 6 can walk, the other children spend the majority of their day in a crib. Many of the children are also blind, and most are so crippled that it is very difficult to clothe and bathe them. Feeding the children is also a challenge; it is difficult for them to open their mouths; they cannot sit up; their chewing reflexes are under developed making it difficult for the children to swallow. It is overwhelming to witness the work the Brothers do. They love and care for the children unconditionally and pray for them throughout the day. Through their love and prayer there is so much life in this home and for that the children are truly blessed.

The second orphanage we visited was the Beatitudes Home, a home for young boys who although are very challenged, are not confined to a crib. The journey to Mount Tabor was magnificent. We past many small neighbourhoods, markets, street vendors, grocery stores, gas stations, goats, chickens, stray dogs and lots of people.

The view at the top of Mount Tabor was breathtaking. The land and the original building, which is used for retreats, was donated by a wealthy local. Three other facilities have been added over the years. The church and Beatitudes Home was built by a group of people from Atlanta Georgia, and the brothers built the farm. Approximately 40 young boys live at the orphanage. Some have minimal disabilities while others are more severe. This home was very different from Bethlehem. It felt strange when they came to the gate to greet you. While we were there we spent time with the children and after they were fed we walked up to mountain to visit the farm. We saw 200 rabbits, 3 dairy cows, tons of pigs and chickens, goats and sheep. It was so much fun, I didn’t want to leave.

Victoria, Hailey and Alanna at MOP in Jamaica

On Sunday morning we went back to Bethlehem and helped get some of the children dressed for church. Regardless of your denomination, going to church in Jamaica is an experience, one that you will never forget. I am so glad that our Ridley family was able to participate in such an event. After mass it was time to say our goodbyes, which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

Grade 12 Student Victoria P.

I think I speak for all 21 of us, when I say that our Jamaican friends truly touched our hearts. We created a special relationship with the children. They may not be able to see or understand one word that you said, but they knew you were there. They felt your touch and heard your voice. You could just tell they were happy and content. I will always cherish my time with them and I will be back soon.

As told by Victoria Purcell ’11

For more information about Missionaries of the Poor visit:


Lower School Sports


An Excellent start to the Gymnastics Season!!!

The Lower School Artistic & Rhythmic and Upper School Rhythmic teams competed in their first Invitational meet of the Season at Bishop Strachan.

It was an excellent showing by Ridley. In the Rhythmic ball and rope competition the Lower School teams of Vaishna Rajakumar, Kate Wilson, Caroline Buhler and Kaylee Schrompf placed 8th. Arianna Gadinger, Heather Curtis, Grace Lowes and Julia Hutton placed 7th, while Ashleigh Sternberg, Morgan Mattern, Andrea Costello Rodriguez, and Siena Veditelli placed  4th.

The former Lower School gymnasts who made up the team of Kennedy Farr, Shayda Shivafard, Emma Hudson, Dani Parenti, Caroline Birkenshawand McKenzie Fowler place 3rd in this group event!

In the Level One individual competition in the beam event, Grace Lowes placed 8th, Julia Hutton 6th, Kaylee Schrompf 4th and Arianna Gadinger placed 1st.

In vault, Kaylee Schrompf placed 2nd and Arianna Gadinger was 1st, and on floor, Arianna Gadinger placed 3rdand Julia Hutton was 2nd.

The Overall standing put Julia Hutton 6th place, Kaylee Schrompf  3rd and Arianna Gadinger was the 1st place Level One Champion!

In the Level Two beam event Ashleigh Sternberg came 5th.

In vault, Andrea Rodriguez Castillo placed 6th, Heather Curtis was 5th, Siena Venditelli was 4th and Morgan Mattern took the 1st placed title, and on floor, Andrea Rodriguez Castillo placed 7th, Siena Venditelli  5th, Morgan Mattern 4thand Ashleigh Sternberg placed 1st.

The overall standing in Level Two was quite impressive with the girls taking 4th, 3rd and 2nd place titles.These titles were held by Siena Venditelli (4th), Ashleigh Sternberg (3rs) and Morgan Mattern (2nd).

It was a great day, and the Ridley Tigers should feel very proud of their performances. The next competition is the CIS Rhythmic Championships that will be hosted by Toronto French School on Thursday February 26th.

Congratulations All Gymnasts!

Boys Basketball

Ridley’s U14 Boys basketball team took a positive step forward on Wednesday, February 16 in their journey toward the Division II championships.  Ridley beat Crestwood Prep, 54 – 33 in Toronto. Although the U14 Tigers have a 12 – 1 record, this most recent game showed improved discipline and cooler attitudes in play.  The officials held both teams very closely to the rule of man-to-man defense, calling a technical team foul against players who stayed in a defensive zone rather than playing within 10-feet of their checked opponent.  This proved to be a good learning opportunity for these young players.  Ridley’s players adapted and were able to hold Crestwood to fewer points than in previous meetings.

Evan Forstinger lead scoring, rebounds, and blocks, with 26 points, 24 rebounds, and 6 blocks. Alex Matovic had 14 points, David Jaber, Tim Sullivan, and Jordan Politi each had 5, 3, and 2 points respectively. The contribution of all players has improved and will hopefully help theTigers to continue their upswing in play to the finals.  U14 Basket ball has two home exhibitiongames coming up against E. T. Clancy on February 23 and against St. Andrews College on March 2.   TheDivision II Finals Championship game will be held at Ridley College on March 5.  Please come out and support the U14 Basketball team at these upcoming games.

Girls Volleyball
The Under 14 Girls Volleyball team has been working hard since the beginning of the season and is coming together as a team. The girls started February off with two wins.

Their most recent win was a 3-0 shut out against St. John’s Kilmarnock. Excellent playing by all with an exceptional succession of serves by Sophia Seguin (say that 10 times fast). SJK were fighting hard for the second win, however, Ridley came out on top with a 25-21 victory. In the third game, Tamara Butera dominated the serves with 6 in a row and Rachel Kulhanek pulled off some fancy moves earning some more points. Final score: 28-26.

Ridley in the Great Outdoors: Dog Sledding in Algonquin

Peace descended as the howling dogs were given the command to go, the sleds started sliding through the snow, and the dogs became entirely quiet, focussed purely on running. It was an almost spiritual calmness. This was my Algonquin Adventure!

It was lovely getting to know the dogs in my sled-team, they all seemed to have distinct personalities as well as boundless energy. Our guides on the trip, Adam and Andrew, knew every one of the fifty or so dogs by sight. Not only were they were our guides extremely friendly, but they were also superbly knowledgeable and showed those of us who had never camped in the Canadian outdoors how to collect water from frozen rivers, how to pick trees to fell for wood and how to light a camp fire. Everyone pitched in to make our camps run: the facilities were basic and we used every moment of daylight. When all the chores were done and dinner eaten, we sat in the warm tent, chatting and sharing jokes for hours on end. We built up a lovely sense of camaraderie over the course of the trip.

We spent the final two days snowshoeing, which was a totally different experience. With no dogs to feed or care for in the evenings, we had more free time. The snowshoeing itself, however, was more physically demanding than the dogsledding. This meant that we had to be careful about getting too hot and sweating, which, when we stopped, made us feel extremely cold very quickly. The slower pace of the snowshoeing allowed us to see more of the forest, which I liked. We saw several sets of moose tracks, but the beast himself remained illusive.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the dogsledding trip. It was demanding, but the experiences of sledding, of camping and of snowshoeing were all fantastic.

As told by Margery Infield ’11 from the United Kingdom

For more pictures from the trip:


CSI: Ridley College

Grade 12 AP Biology Classes with Mr. "Bio" Bob Malyk

Mr. “Bio” Bob Malyk’s class was converted into CSI: Ridley College recently as students in the Grade 12 Advanced Placement Biology class collected DNA from “suspects” and compared it to DNA found at a “crime scene”. It was a lesson in forensic science and the students found out there is a lot more to crime scene investigating than the show leads on. Check out the video from class:

Ridley College Successful Swim Meet

The swim team travelled to the Etobicoke Olympium on February 15th for the CISAA finals.  The swimmers have trained hard all season, which was evident at the finals where they were pulling out personal bests.  The Girls Senior team placed first overall and took home the CISAA trophy, which has not been done since 2003!  The Girls Sr. Medley relay (Savannah Cowherd, Stephanie Lam, Bethany Pile and Erica Balcombe) placed first 2:22.43, and the Girls Sr. Freestyle relay (Savannah Cowherd, Jessica Grys, Bethany Pile and Stephanie Lam) also placed first, guaranteeing both relays a spot at the OFSAA finals.   Stephanie Lam destroyed her competition in 100 breastroke (1:19.39) beating the number 2 by five seconds.  Jessica Grys placed second in 50 freestyle (31.11), Abby Morrison placed second in 50 breaststroke (43.08), Bethany Pile placed second in 100 IM, Olivia Park placed third in 100 breast (1:28.55) and Erica Balcombe placed fourth in IM.  All are OFSAA hopefuls.  The boys swam personal bests and shoutouts go to Nelson Hui who placed first in 200 freestyle (2:16.54) and will be competing at OFSAA.  Jesus Serrano qualified for OFSAA in all three events, placing second in 100 IM (1:11.53), 50 freestyle (28.34) and third in 50 butterfly (30.94) beating his time by over a second.  A huge congratulations go out to all the swimmers who have worked incredibly hard this season!  Stay tuned for OFSAA results on March 1 and 2.

Ridley College Valentine’s Day Debate

Nothing says Valentine’s Day quite like a debate! In 1992, Ridley College began the tradition of holding a formal debate close to Valentine’s Day and this year was no different.  While Ridley debating has a long history at the school, prior to 1992 the only debate that actually took place on the campus was the Fulford Cup. Member schools take turns hosting the Fulford Cup, meaning that Ridley would host only once every 6 years. In order to raise the profile of debating, and to feature and attract students to this important para-curricular activity, the co-coaches at the time decided to host an annual debate in second term in and around Valentine’s Day. It started with a student campaign in 1992 with “bring a date to the debate” and the tradition grew from there. The topic of this year’s debate was the 1960s and its social, political and economic impact and the format of the debate was parliamentary style.   The winner of the debate and recipient of the Cronyn Trophy was Ms. Erin O.

Watch the debaters in action:

“In an age when most communication is done electronically and when people are more likely to ‘Tweet’ than meet the importance of debate has never been greater.  As well, healthy debate is the centre of our democracy and there are too few opportunities even in countries such as ours to debate publicly and properly, yet it’s considered an important 21st Century skill that remains a part of the democratic spirit…” – Mr. O’Rourke

To view more pictures from the debate:


Lower School Students Entertain with ‘Around the World in 8 Plays’

The intermediate division of Lower School wowed audiences with ‘Around the World in 8 Plays’ on Thursday afternoon and Friday evening. Dane C. and Grace L. entertained as the duelling couple and leaders of the travelling actors group that performed the eight plays.

Many of the students filled roles in various stories (as travelling actors do) and therefore had to keep lines straight from many different stories (not an easy task, but one that was handled with great professionalism by our students). Each play was set in a different country and conveyed a message to the audience. My personal favourite was the Japanese story about a great warrior who saves a king from a gigantic centipede and becomes a wealthy man after he is gifted with an endless roll of silk, a bag of rice that replenishes itself and a pot that cooks food to perfection and doesn’t need firewood to heat.

Students from Edith Cavell Elementary School joined the rest of the Ridley College Lower School audience on Thursday afternoon and our actors had all the students in stitches with their excellent comedic timing. Check out some highlights from the show:

To view photos from the show:


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