Tag Archives: Canada

Trendy Tigers: Ridley College Uniforms  

Alumna Geena Prestia ’21 shares some of the top-ranked uniform items, available at Hanks, that students can wear both in and out of the classroom. 

By: Geena Prestia ’21

Wearing a uniform allows our students’ personalities to shine from within while strengthening our community through a collective sense of belonging. Not to mention, it makes our students’ morning routine as easy as one, two, three!  

Last year, we unveiled our new uniform, which has a look that feels like Ridley. They brainstormed new styles that incorporated the Ridley orange and black, whilst still maintaining a fashion-forward look. Over the course of the year, our students have added their own personalities to their uniforms by mixing and matching their favourite pieces.  

Are you a new student looking to learn more about how to add spice to your new school fit? Fear not, Hank is here to help!  

Our campus store has more to offer than just tasty snacks and stacks of textbooks. So, make your way down to Hank’s and use this Trendy Tigers list to help you find all the student favourites that will be sure to elevate your on-and-off-campus style.   

Here are some of the top-ranked items that students can wear both in and out of the classroom. 

Bucket Hats  

Starting off with one of the trendier pieces offered in the on-campus store, bucket hats are a huge hit with our Tigers! They are offered in different styles and, although not acceptable to wear during class, are perfect for our outdoor activities in the Spring term. Try one out and stay protected from the sun when running around A Squad.  

Plaid Kilt  

A staple piece in the new uniform design, the plaid kilt is the perfect blend of sophisticated and stylish! This item is typically worn by female students during the school day, and pairs nicely with the new black and orange blazer for Chapel. The plaid kilt can be worn year-round, as Hank’s offers nylons and kilt shorts for our Tigers to wear underneath during the cooler months! 

Winter Accessories  

Speaking of the chillier months of the year, Hank’s has tons of options for students to keep warm. Whether you’re tobogganing on the back fields or watching our Prep Hockey team at a spirit night, a Ridley tuque and pair of gloves are the perfect accessories!  

Cadet Sweater Coat  

One of the longest-standing articles of the Ridley uniform, the cadet sweater coat is the perfect layer for any occasion. This piece can be worn with the cadet practice uniform, as well as in your wardrobe outside of school. Many alumni return to campus in this iconic sweater during the homecoming season. So, head down to the sewing room and start adding on your sports badges and cadet pins until the back of your sweater is covered in Ridley pride!  

With such an incredible team of designers, the Ridley brand has been seamlessly incorporated into the school uniform this past year. Ridley is dedicated to keeping every Tiger looking funky, fresh and fun. We cannot wait to see you rocking some of Hank’s favourite pieces on campus!  

Finding Wellness Through Healthy Eating

At Ridley, we want our students to feel good and do good. As a leader in positive education and wellbeing education, our educators intentionally teach the habits of mind, body, and spirit so that students are primed for learning and success — now and long after graduation. An integral part of training the habits of mind, body, and spirit is the teaching of healthy eating and sleep habits, which features prominently in our health and physical education programming, itself guided by the belief that a healthy body is the pathway to a healthy mind.

A number of recent studies seem to confirm these claims. As physician, author, and former Harvard Medical School instructor Dr. Eva Selhub explains, “what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood.” However, not all food is created equal. High-quality foods, that is, foods high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourish the brain and provide fuel for the body, while conversely, low-quality foods (e.g., processed or refined meals) can impair brain function and worsen the symptoms of mood disorders such as depression. With regards to academic performance, another study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that students who eat clean and are physically active “tend to have better grades, school attendance, cognitive performance (e.g., memory), and classroom behaviour.”

Each day at Ridley, our students are nourished with a considerable selection of healthy and delicious food options, which are served in our inspiring gathering spaces, Williams Hall and The Great Hall, and prepared by the expert staff at Chartwells Canada. Chartwells’ dedicated chef and kitchen staff strive to ensure that Ridley students, faculty, and staff alike have access to healthy and delicious snack and meal options each day. At Ridley, snack breaks and meal times are built into the day, allowing students to refuel and nourish their bodies for maximum performance. Additionally, these daily experiences allow teachers to develop deeper connections with students while also modelling and teaching appropriate table manners and etiquette.

After a long COVID-19 break and an overwhelming shift to remote work and learning, Chartwells’ staff found themselves asking how they could re-engage members of the community with new healthy food initiatives as the pandemic halted to a close. “We started with a blank slate wall, then asked ourselves, ‘how can we incorporate nutrition and wellness into this picture?’” says Maggie Bartold, Director of Operations for Chartwells at Ridley College.

This formerly empty canvas has evolved into a rich tapestry of initiatives which promote healthy eating and wellbeing across the Ridley community—two of which are detailed in the sections below.

Healthy Paws

In November, Chartwells officially launched its Healthy Paws programme, which teaches the foundations of Canada’s Food Guide and the different food groups represented within it to our Lower School students.

Far from simply explaining the groups, these weekly sessions, led by Chef Grant Spencer, engage students through compelling imagery and storytelling. Each food group is symbolized by a leaf on the “Tree of Growth,” itself modelled upon the Chartwells logo, with each weekly session dedicated to the respective food groups. Appropriately, these sessions began with water—an essential facet of growth, both for plant and human life. From there, the groups will proceed through the food groups, with students walking away with the knowledge of how to build a healthy plate and nourish their minds, bodies, and souls through food.

An additional symbol in this programme is the figure of Hank the Tiger (Cub), adding another dimension to the nourishment piece. By starting with Hank as a growing Tiger cub, the children can identify with him and watch him grow as he is “fed” over the course of the year until, at the end of the school year, he is fully grown, providing a valuable lesson about the advantages of healthy eating. Together, these two images create a powerful visual for our Lower School children, providing a simple and colourful message that will keep them engaged and interested while providing the necessary foundations for them to lead healthy and sustainable lives in the future.

The “Snack” Programme

There are a number of reasons we get “snacky” at nighttime. Studies suggest these cravings sometimes come as the result of overly restricted food intake in the daytime. They can also arise from habit or boredom and, in some cases, have been linked to various eating disorders. Regardless of the cause of these urges, it is imperative that when we choose to eat late at night, we make healthy choices.

With the rapid expansion of online food delivery platforms, such as Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats, and Doordash, the temptation to opt for fast food late at night can be overwhelming. To empower students to make good choices, Chartwells and Ridley have implemented a late-night snack programme in our boarding houses.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Chartwells staff delivers and stocks our boarding house kitchens with healthy, balanced snacks—items such as fruits and veggies, yogurt, freshly baked items, etc.—in order to ensure that students have what they need to stay healthy and develop good habits. These snack deliveries consist of five snack options each run and are currently on a three-week rotation, at which point students and Heads of House are consulted and asked to let us know what they would like to see next. In addition to deliveries, Café Nights run twice a week, every Monday and Wednesday, in the Great Hall.

Eating healthy should not feel like a punishment, so we are delighted to work with our community members to best provide them with delicious, nourishing fuel for their busy lives!

Chartwells will continue weekly Teaching Kitchens with Chef Grant on Saturday mornings, with its Fit+ balanced plate initiative at the core, as well as continue to drive and expand local food and sustainability initiatives on campus. Keep an eye on our blog for more stories about these exciting events in the future, as well as on the Chartwells website, which contains vital information about the organization and its various initiatives.

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.

Canada’s King of Theatre

Award-winning actor, Colm Feore ’77 talks Canada’s arts scene, giving back—and how his time at Ridley helped give him his start.

Even when he’s travelling, he’s working. But after forty odd years in the business, Colm Feore ’77 will tell you it’s the key to his success. With Stephen Greenblatt’s Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics at one elbow, and a thick history of the Bard at his other, we spoke with Colm this past August when he was visiting his wife—acclaimed director, Donna Feore—while she directed Bernhardt/Hamlet at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. “She promised me a birthday dinner,” laughs the Stratford-based actor, who just turned 61. “So, I came to collect.”

These days, Colm is delving into the ways in which Shakespeare explores the lust for power in his plays—and how society suffers at the hands of his ‘fictional’ kings. One of Canada’s most celebrated actors, the proud Old Ridleian has played many of Shakespeare’s leading characters at the Stratford Festival, and will be taking on the role of Richard III this upcoming season. The play is poised to inaugurate the Tom Patterson Theatre Centre, a stunning, 100-million-dollar space that positions the Festival at the forefront of theatrical innovation. For artistic director Antoni Cimolino, choosing Colm to utter the powerful first words at the new theatre was easy, touting the thespian as “part of the Festival’s DNA” in a recent press release. And, though rehearsals are still months away, for Stratford’s latest king there’s plenty of reading to be done.

But if you haven’t seen him on the stage, you’ll know him from the screen. “To make a living in Canada as an actor, you have to be able to do everything,” Colm imparts—and over the years he’s proved he has the chops. His impressive career has taken him from stage to film, television and Netflix, where you’ll catch outstanding performances in everything from Chicago, Bon Cop, Bad Cop and Thor; to the critically acclaimed Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould; to his award-winning performance as Pierre Elliot Trudeau. You’ll also find him capturing TV audiences in a number of popular series: think The Borgias, The West Wing, House of Cards, 24, The Umbrella Academy and more.

Colm and Donna Feore at Governor Generals Awards

“The whole point of my job is to disappear,” he says simply. “That’s the job. Be something else.”

It’s a diverse body of work that reflects his mantra—just show up—in many ways developed here at Ridley. “That was always the lesson: you’ve got to be here to play,” he reflects. “And it became a very simple mantra. If you show up, you’ll learn; if you learn you’ll get better.”

Though Colm had a diverse career on campus—becoming a Prefect, taking an active role in public speaking and debate, participating in a range of sports, and becoming editor of the Acta’s sports and literary sections—it was the acting bug that got him. Colm credits Ridley’s teachers with instilling in him a genuine love for words and the stage. “We weren’t just doing the standard production of West Side Story, or whatever was making the rounds at school gymnasium plays,” he remembers. “They engaged us in a serious commitment to drama, and to the idea that there might be a life in the arts. And when you have masters and students, fellow students, above and below you, who are all into the same thing…” Colm trails off. “Well, a guy could dream.”

Colm Feore on stage at Ridley

“That was always the lesson: you’ve got to be here to play,” he reflects. “And it became a very simple mantra. If you show up, you’ll learn; if you learn you’ll get better.”

And as his parents returned to Ridley time and again to see him act, they were learning just how good their son really was. “Once someone leaned over to them during a play and said, ‘This is very good, but it’s not really fair for them to bring in professional actors,’” he smiles.

But it was when he was applying to post-secondary school that Colm really received their endorsement, learning they’d accepted an offer from Montreal’s National Theatre School on his behalf—and suddenly the dream was off and running.

That Ridleian mantra kept Colm showing up right through theatre school and onto stage and screen, helping him navigate the requisite ebbs and flows of the biz. “Ridley’s a school that’s based on hard work and determination—your effort is going to matter just as much as your talent,” he shares. “Because for every six miracles in this industry, there are a thousand people behind them who just keep doing the work. Professionally, that pays dividends.”

Colm Feore accepts Governor General award

And as the accolades keep coming, with peers and critics alike applauding his ability to “disappear into roles,” it’s clear both talent and hard work pay off. In 2002, Colm received a Gemini for his performance in Trudeau, and the Gascon-Thomas Award by the National Theatre School of Canada in 2013. That same year he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, for “bridging Anglophone and Francophone cultures as a fluently bilingual performer.” This past spring, Colm was recognized for Lifetime Artistic Achievement at the Governor General’s Performing Arts Gala in Ottawa. But the popular actor takes his success in stride. “The whole point of my job is to disappear,” he says simply. “That’s the job. Be something else.”

“There’s a great application of these skills we learn communicating in the arts: speaking to one another, showing and telling our stories, exploring each other’s histories and lives. We learn from each other. And one of the best ways to do that is to take a risk, to stand up in front of people and to say, ‘I think this’—and I trust that you will find some value in it.”

In true Ridley fashion, Colm is also giving back, raising awareness of the importance of studying Shakespeare as a guest in Marvin Karon’s summer camp, Shakesperience, and as a board member of REEL CANADA, a unique programme which engages and inspires youth, and promotes Canada’s cultural identity. “REEL CANADA brings Canadian film into Canadian classrooms,” he explains, clearly passionate about the project which connects students with directors, writers, actors, and producers. “It says, ‘Here’s our story. Here’s who we are—and you’re going to see yourselves reflected in these spaces.’”

Colm on stage

And as he sits in his Chicago hotel, thinking back to his time on the Ridley stage, of the hallways he once walked, Colm hopes his story will inspire the students who walk them now. Because he knows, perhaps more than most, that telling stories is what brings communities together. “There’s a great application of these skills we learn communicating in the arts: speaking to one another, showing and telling our stories, exploring each other’s histories and lives. We learn from each other,” he concludes thoughtfully. “And one of the best ways to do that is to take a risk, to stand up in front of people and to say, ‘I think this’—and I trust that you will find some value in it.”


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 our winter issue.


CHAPEL TALK: THANKS-GIVING

Written by Head of Upper School, Michele Bett

With our Thanksgiving break rapidly approaching, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect upon why we should give thanks. In this “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,” in the words of English poet John Keats, ripened fruits and swollen gourds signal that the wondrous bounty of mother nature’s harvest has arrived. And yes, we have much for which to give thanks.

We give thanks that at Ridley:

our teachers have high expectations of their students;

our students come to school ready to be stretched and challenged;

our teachers support and scaffold curiosity in their classrooms daily;

our students are inherently curious and motivated learners;

our teachers arrange their learning opportunities, carving out space for imagination, wonder and reflection; and

our students flourish when they find passion and relevance in their studies.

Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk writes on the power of gratefulness. He encourages us to see each new day as a gift where the only appropriate response is gratitude. He urges us to open our hearts to all our blessings.

It is quite radical to see each new day as a gift. If you were caught thanking the sun for rising each morning, people might wonder about your sanity. Normal people don’t go around being grateful all the time. But why not?

I believe that it behooves us to show respect for – and be grateful to – nature, other people, and the past.

We have all stood transfixed and filled with awe in the presence of nature’s marvels – Niagara Falls is an obvious and near-by example. At moments like that, it is not hard to feel a sense of gratitude and to think to ourselves, “what a wonderful world!” The feeling is probably like that of a child playing in the garden. The difference is that, unlike us, the child does not need a raging cascade to get her attention. Here is how John Keats’ older contemporary William Wordsworth put it:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.

The poet goes on to say that this time is gone: “The things which I have seen I now can see no more.” And yet, despite our obliviousness and routine and normalcy, nature does not stop being the miracle that it is. As a later 19th century English poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins put it: “And for all this, nature is never spent; / There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.” Even in this time of climate change and global warming, an appreciation for the blessings of life on this earth is still the right way to respond. In fact, I wonder if things might be different on our planet if more people felt more grateful to nature.

At Ridley, we frequently emphasize the importance of thanking each other as often as we can. By doing so, we are recognizing the worth and significance of other people. It turns out that admitting the reality of what is outside ourselves is a necessary step toward well-being. Furthermore, by thanking others, we are acknowledging the other’s presence as a gift. We are saying to the other: “You have given me something that I did not deserve; you have been to me more than a friend.” What almost inevitably comes next is: “I will do the same for you when I can. I will try to be a gift to you.” It is a virtuous circle that fosters and celebrates loving relationships.

Being thankful for the past might seem somewhat strange, even suspicious; some of us might feel much more inclined to reject the past in our struggle for a better world. But human civilizations and cultures throughout all time have universally honoured those who have lived and died in earlier times. Similarly, our society commemorates heroes and martyrs and wise people who have done or said things that remain meaningful to us today. One of those we remember is Martin Frobisher, who in 1578 arrived in Canada and held a formal ceremony in which he gave thanks for surviving the long voyage from England. (Some 43 years later, the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts and did something similar.) This nation began by opening its heart in gratitude to the blessings of life.

And that’s why I am so grateful to be part of a community that has opened its heart to all its blessings. Every student in our community is a blessing, and regardless of their academic trajectory, they are cared for and valued. They are loved.

As in so many of my chapel talks and conversations with parents and students it is the character strength of love that I find myself returning to so often. Love, it seems, underpins nearly everything we do at Ridley.

In the gospels, God tells who we are, and we know that it can be the hardest thing in the world for us to receive love, especially the love of God. Whether you are a Christian, Moslem, Jew, Buddhist, non-believer, let’s be united in the idea that love is the strongest thing in the world, and to receive it demands that we begin by loving ourselves.

Unlike the bees in Keats’ ode to “Autumn,” we know that these warm October days will cease, but giving thanks at Ridley is not limited to the season of thanksgiving. At Ridley, we practice gratitude daily, all year round. May I wish all our families at Ridley a Thanksgiving break filled with joy, appreciation and, of course, much love.

Get to Know Your Prefects: Steven Q. ’20

Introducing Steven ’20 – a proud Tiger who has truly taken advantage of all that Ridley has to offer. Read about the challenges he overcame and the success he has experienced in the interview with Steven below.

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

When I first visited the campus, I was deeply attracted by the energy of the students and the community. Everyone was super friendly and there is always something to do and something happening. I simply couldn’t wait to throw myself into the action and get started. 

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

Definitively the unbreakable bond between Ridleians. There is no better feeling than to bump into an OR on the street or at a university that I visited and still be able to chat like old times while grabbing a coffee. The connection you build during your time at Ridley will be priceless later on in your life. It really gives you a sense of belonging and unity. Also, can’t forget Snake Dance! 

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favorite part of Ridley life is strolling through the campus at daybreak, watching the sunrise as the fog slowly clears from the fields. Getting takeout with friends and eating them on the field as the sun slowly sets is definitely a bonus as well! Not to mention the sweet, sweet feeling when you see a level 7 on your test or scoring the killing blow on the tennis court. 

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

Well… It’s hard to say because I have so many! I appreciate every day I spend at this school, and everyday holds something different and unique for me to discover. I have made so many irreplaceable memories with my friends, my teammates and my teachers it would take forever to count them. Therefore, I am afraid I can’t give you a good answer, not before my graduation. 

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

The best part of belonging to a boarding house is the feeling of home.  I have been both a day and boarding student in Merritt North House, and the boys I have met and became friends with throughout the past three years are all very easygoing and friendly. The Head of House and Residential Dons are always there for you. The overall environment of my House will make you feel right at home. No matter if you returned tired from a heavy day of school or sports, you can always count on your housemates to relax together and play some pool in the common room. 

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

It depends on how you define accomplishments. For me, I don’t like to define my accomplishments at this school by the prizes I won. They are merely a token of recognition. My real, greatest accomplishments at this school would be that I have really grown as an individual. In Grade 7, I was this shy student that wasn’t very good at English and was afraid of this foreign and vast country. Now I am a proud Ridley student, enrolling in full IB diploma, member of the 2019-20 Prefect team, president of the Ridley College Model United Nations society, and a senior member of the Choir. I have made the best memories of my high school life at this school, and I have learned indispensable transferrable skills that I will most definitely need even after I graduate from Ridley College. 

The Drowsy Chaperone, by Michelle Scrivener

Who is your favorite faculty or staff member and why?

Wow… You are putting me in a tight spot here. All the faculty and staff members around have all supported me in their own unique way. And I always appreciate their help and their dedication to educate every student here at Ridley, so that they may be better prepared for the world beyond the gates. 

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

I am most excited to continue the legacy left by the previous Prefects while working with my current, fellow Prefects to innovate and create new student-led initiatives in order to make Ridley College a place enjoyed by both students and faculty members alike. 

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley College has taught me so much. I learned teamwork and perseverance on the sports field, I honed my public speaking and debating skills on stage as an actor and debater. I polished my singing in Chapel along with rest of the Choir. I learned what it means to learn and flourish through my teachers, and how to love myself and others around me through my friends. 

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

DON’T PROCRASINATE!!!!!! Seriously, please, please, please, please, don’t procrastinate, especially if you are a boarder. It is so easy to get lost in all the stuff Ridley has to offer and you will wind up crunching away at a major project, two hours before its due… (ahem that guy definitively wasn’t me…) Ridley College is a school that places heavy emphasis on academic excellence, especially if you are planning on taking the full IB Diploma. And it only gets worse busier once you start Grade 10 and beyond. Make sure you make yourself a schedule and STICK TO IT. Ask teachers and your Head of House for help– they will more than happy to help you out because they care about your well-being. Only when you have an organized life can you enjoy all the wonderful things Ridley has to offer. 

Get to Know Your Prefects: Sydney M. ’20

Introducing Sydney M. ’20 – a boarding student from Trinidad and Tobago, who has made a home for herself amongst a flock of flamingos. Read about her experience in the boarding house and what has made it her favourite part of Ridley life.

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

I was most excited to attend Ridley so that I could meet new people, make friends from all around the world and have the ability to learn about different cultures and lifestyles .

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

The sense of community at Ridley makes me so proud to be a Ridleian. Every single person that attends Ridley – whether it is the students, faculty or staff – is involved, encouraged and welcomed in some way and it is truly beautiful to see and to be a part of. 

What is your favourite part of Ridley life?

My favourite  part of Ridley life is the residential life.

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

The best part of my boarding house are the girls that make up Gooderham West. I  have made so many friendships and had so many experiences that I will cherish for the rest of my life and I owe it all to them. They are such a welcoming, easygoing, accepting and friendly group of people, and they are like my second family…we even share rooms! I am beyond grateful.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

My  greatest accomplishment at Ridley has been becoming a Prefect.

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

My favourite faculty member is my Advisor, Ms. Scott. I can go to her with any problem or situation I have and she will always give me great advice on how to go about the problem effectively and responsibly . She is very kind, giving, selfless and easy to talk to. She is like a mother away from home for me, not to mention she is a math teacher and helps me whenever I am struggling.

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

I am most excited to work with the other members of the Prefect team, as it is a very diverse group of people and I think we can brainstorm and create some really fun and exciting activities for the student body to participate in. 

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley has encouraged me to become an independent individual, taught me how to manage my time effectively and how to be aware of what is expected of me. I believe these new skills will help me in the future whether it’s in the workplace or beyond.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

As I was a new student not too long ago, I believe you should look at all of your options and imagine yourself attending the school. I visited three schools including Ridley and from the minute I walked onto the beautiful campus of the school , I knew this was where I wanted to go. Meeting students, witnessing the classes and experiencing the sense of family and community at Ridley only cemented my ideas.

Get to Know your Prefects: Simon H. ’20

Introducing Simon ’20 – a student who found countless opportunities to flourish, learn and succeed once he walked through the Marriott Gates. Check out our interview with Simon below, to see how Ridley’s community has made him proud and encouraged him to grow.

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

It’s certain that here at Ridley, there are infinite opportunities and possibilities in the activities, sports, and courses I could choose. In the first term, I was so excited about joining the Second soccer team and robotics team in which I experienced different challenges and surprises every day. Choosing computer technology and art courses, which I hadn’t had a chance to learn, additionally enriched my Ridley life. The caring and inspiring peers and faculties motivated me to overcome challenges, pursue dreams, and be enthusiastic for every day. 

What makes you proud to be a Ridleian?

There is no doubt that the global vision and engagement at Ridley makes me proud to be a Ridleian. The culturally diverse community at Ridley has allowed me to learn and reflect on cultures and issues happening in every part of the world. My friends come from Germany, Nigeria, Ukraine, Korea, Mexico, and more, and we all have unique stories and experiences to share. The experiences provide me valuable visions on the global scale and encourage me to care about and contribute to global issues.

What is your favorite part of Ridley life?

My favorite part of Ridley life is the athletic programme. I have always wanted to have more opportunities to play soccer and tennis before coming to Ridley, and Ridley does give the opportunity. These sports really relax me, giving time away from a busy academic life and keep me energetic. Moreover, I enjoy collaborating with friends and competing with other schools.

What has been your favorite Ridley experience?

My favorite Ridley memory has been the VEX Robotics World Championship which took place in Kentucky. In the competition, I chatted and made friends with like-minded peers from diverse countries. They were all very kind and are as enthusiastic about robotics as I am. We found a lot of common topics including robotics, new technologies, and cultural differences. Moreover, during the games, we were able to communicate and collaborate with teams from the US, Mexico, Norway, and more, and engaged in global collaboration. I also realized how intense global competition is. There are top teams from different countries represented, which make the game difficult. The experience in the VEX robotics tournament is intense, inspiring, and memorable; I not only learned from competitions but also enjoyed it a lot with Mr. Reimer, Mr. McCambley and my teammates. 

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

The best part of my boarding House are the people in the house. Everyone in Arthur Bishop West is really nice and supportive. Mr. Doyle, Mr. Vasquez, and Mr. Sullivan give me a sense of security to live in my boarding house. I have many friends in my house, and we play and study together and help each other out.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Ridley?

My greatest accomplishment at Ridley is winning the highest proficiency award in Grade 11. The IB courses are all very interesting but challenging. I learned a wide variety of knowledge and acquired new skills which prepared me for future learning and occupations. To me, the award confirms that passion and hard-work will always create good results. With the encouragement of the award, I wish to continue sailing in the sea of knowledge and curiosity, exploring new lands out of the horizon. 

Undergraduate Prize Giving 2019

Who is your favourite faculty or staff member and why?

It’s really hard for me to decide the criteria of favourite faculty, and my teachers are all very supportive and inspiring to me. Thinking about my teachers, as I was looking at this question, the more experiences I recalled, the more confused I am, because I love all my teachers though each of them has different shinning points that touch my heart. The first faculty I thought about is Mr. Reimer, my computer science teacher and robotics coach. Not only did he give me a lot of profound and ingenious ideas in academics and life, but also did he share a lot of funny stories and experiences with me.

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

I am really excited to contribute to Ridley community and make it better following the great example set by last year’s Prefects. On the way, I would face challenges and difficulties, but I’m excited to overcome them.

How has Ridley prepared you for the future?

Ridley leads me to develop myself and remain balanced. I have participated in sports, services, and activities which improves my leadership, global vision, and social responsibility and the IB curriculum has given me high self-reflection ability and passion for applying knowledge learned. I’m confident that I’m better prepared for study at university and a career in the engineering and entrepreneur field.

What advice would you give prospective students about Ridley?

Never could one imagine how energetic and supportive the Ridley community is before being a part of it. My teachers, coaches, and friends all help me a lot when I explore new ideas and plans. So, bravely pursue your dream no matter if it’s academic, athletic, artistic or service inspired and don’t be afraid to ask for help. The whole community will support and be behind you. However, when we go for our dream, we cannot lose sight of the busyness of Ridley life. We need to manage our time wisely so that we could finish all the work in good quality and seize opportunities.