School Life

Days for Girls – transforming our globe
February 8, 2016

Every Thursday, a group of Ridleians meet in the Second Century Building to do their part in transforming our globe. Ridley’s very own Days for Girls group was launched in 2015 and is comprised of students, who are taking the initiative to start a global conversation here at Ridley.

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Days for Girls is a global organization that is on a mission to change the lives of women around the world. In many developing countries, feminine hygiene products aren’t available to women due to poverty or the social stigma that exists in their cultures, and subsequently, these women lose approximately 60 days per year, which they are forced to spend at home. Therefore, this charity’s mandate is to sew and assembles feminine hygiene kits that are then supplied to these woman, so that they can continue to live, go to school and go to work – all critical factors in social progress.

“The cycle of poverty is broken when girls stay in school”

– www.dayforgirls.org

These kits contain two shields that hold the liners and act as an anti-leakage barrier, eight absorbent liners, one washcloth, one bar of soap, two pairs of underwear, one visual instruction sheet, two-gallon size Ziploc bags and one drawstring bag to hold it all. These kits are designed to last for three years and equate to 180 days of income or school for these deserving women.

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Our Ridleians are proud supporters of Days for Girls and have been dedicated in helping this organization make a difference. Our team of students, along with the Niagara-On-The-Lake representative and Ridley parent, Linda Chang, sew and assemble the kit, which are then inspected at one of the Ontario chapters before being shipped to more than 85 countries, worldwide.

Looking to get involved and do your part to change the lives of woman globally?

The Ridley Days for Girls group is always looking for support! Student representative, Grace Lowes ’16, says that their group is always looking for fabric donations, monetary support and volunteers! If you’d like to find out how you can support this Ridley group, contact Linda Chang, through the Niagara-On-The-Lake group, at niagaraonthelakeon@daysforgirls.org.

You can also visit the Days for Girls Get Involved‘ portion of the site and find out how you can help in your own community!

Ridleians elevate to new heights in preparation of winter production
January 18, 2016

Ridley has always been dedicated to opening as many doors for the students as possible. Faculty members design their courses to offer students the chance to experience in practical ways. Whether it be trips to an art museum, cultural experiences or workshops, our students grow both inside the classroom and out. The Drama Department is no exception.

In preparation for their upcoming winter production, drama teachers and directors of the winter production, Ms. Gillian Fournier and Ms. Anna Blagona, reached out to one of Toronto’s best dance companies, Kaeja d’Dance – a company known for its dance education programs. Kaeja d’Dance was brought in to train the cast, teach them improvisational and movement techniques and to choreograph particular scenes of the play. Mere moments into their introduction to Kaeja, the students were captivated by the technique and style of dance.

During their first workshop students began with an exercise in dance expression. They were asked to remain in constant motion as they travelled around the space, pausing only briefly as they connected with another dancer in the room. Allen Kaeja, co-founder of Kaeja d’Dance, then introduced the students to “elevations”, a movement technique that was developed by him and his wife. Students began to learn and practice anchor positions, which allow them to safely lift their partners into the air, regardless of height, weight or strength. Students ended their first workshop, feeling confident with the basics and excited to learn more.

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The cast met in the Mandeville Theatre for the second afternoon workshop. After their warm-up, Allen and one of the Kaeja dancers, Meredith, demonstrated one of the lifts that the students will be utilizing in their performance. It didn’t take long for the students to anchor and lift their partners into the air. Allen enthusiastically moved from partner to partner, ensuring that they were supporting one another properly, and receiving the praise and motivation that would instill confidence in their every move.

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The cast is looking forward to pushing their boundaries as performers and taking risks to fully commit to Brechtian techniques.. To see the cast of The Caucasian Chalk Circle demonstrate their newly acquired elevation skills and shine on stage, be sure to come to one of their performances. The dramatic production is running March 3rd – 5th in the Mandeville Theatre.

Positive change ignites at Ridley
December 15, 2015

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

– Nelson Mandela

December 10th is Human Rights Day – observed globally to commemorate the day, in 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, Ridleians went above and beyond to enact positive change in the world by participating in a number of events that took place on campus. Throughout the day and around every corner there were new opportunities for students, staff and faculty to get involved.

Students arrived on campus wearing red and green in support of Arthur Bishop West’s house charity, Congo Leadership Initiative. Contributions from this dress-down “grub” day were donated to the charity in support of a recently relocated Syrian refugee family.

In Upper School, from 8:00a.m. into the night, the Matthews Library was transformed into the drop-in workshop for Ridley’s own Amnesty Group. All students were invited to pay a visit to the library and write letters that took a stand on human rights issues. Within half an hour, 125 letters had already been written; by lunch, over 245 had been signed by Ridleians, pleading to end a number of unjust cases. Throughout the day, teachers brought their classes, faculty and staff dropped by to write their own letters, and students from Lower School stopped by to learn about this amazing cause.

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As the entire Ridley community continued to contribute to the Write for Rights event, another inspiring act had taken place in the Great Hall. Every table and wall in the Great Hall had been adorned with Post-It Notes. Each one with an inspiring message, urging its readers to “stay strong” or “never give up.” Led by the Positive Spaces Group, these positive sticky notes infused the dining hall with an optimistic energy.

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As classes concluded for the day, a group of Ridleians assembled in the Second Century Building (2CB) to help change the world. Each Thursday, this team joins together to make a difference in the lives of women living in developing countries. Led by Ms. Linda Chang and Prefect, Grace Lowes, members sew and prepare feminine hygiene kits for an organization called Days for Girls. These kits allow women, in developing countries, to carry on with their daily lives when they would otherwise be forced to forego school or work up to two full months each year.

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As the sun went down on the school day, so many acts of kindness and positive change had taken place on campus that it was impossible not to feel inspired.

Meanwhile, the Write for Rights event was forging ahead. Students piled in the library to help reach Ridley’s goal of writing 500 letters. Ms. Shelley Thomas, Faculty Advisor to Ridley’s Amnesty group, documented Ridley’s progress and along with her team, joined in on a twitter chat with the Secretary General of Amnesty Canada. By 10:00p.m., as the Write for Rights event came to a close, not only did had Ridley won Amnesty’s photo challenge, but an astounding 565 letters had been written for Amnesty International; a record breaking number for Ridley College.

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The winning photo of Amnesty International’s photo contest, taken by Ms. Shelley Thomas.

Whether they were writing, sewing, donating or posting, Ridleians made an impact and gained perspective on serious global issues. We all learned to be grateful for our circumstances and to use our power to assist others who are not as fortunate and wage a personal war. Each and every student joined together to make a difference and transform the globe. Their passion and kindness has inspired us all to be a part of positive change.

Ridley’s thespians shine bright at Michigan’s largest theatre festival
December 8, 2015

During the first weekend of December, Ridley’s theatre troupe travelled to Saginaw Valley University to compete in the Michigan Thespians Festival. As Michigan’s largest theatre event, students had the opportunity to attend workshops, compete in individual events, attend shows and socialize with other students, who share a passion for the dramatic arts.

As honorary state members, Ridleians joined students from all over Michigan in the qualifying round, which would earn them a ticket to the National Thespians Festival in the spring of 2016. All of our students who performed in individual events received excellent standing or higher. This is impressive, as they were adjudicated alongside students from art schools and students who have professional theatre experience.

A major highlight of the festival was the awards ceremony in Saginaw’s Temple Theatre, wherein Cassandra Mitchell and Monica Morcous performed their scene from the opening act of Ridley’s fall play, The Burial at Thebes, for an audience of 1,900 people.

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Our troupe members were also awarded the following standings at the awards ceremony:

Padraic Odesse – Excellent (monologues from The Caucasian Chalk Circle and The Burial at Thebes)

Irys-Amelie Nadeau – Superior (monologues from Henry VIII and The Burial at Thebes)

Cassandra Mitchell and Monica Morcous – Superior (scene from The Burial at Thebes)

Cameron Reeves and Jesse Wydman – Superior (scene from The Burial at Thebes)

Each student with a superior standing has qualified to compete at the National Thespians Festival at the University of Nebraska in the spring.

Congratulations to all the Ridleians who represented our school with pride and passion this weekend.

– Ms. Gillian Fournier, Department of English and Dramatic Arts

Ridley and the City
November 18, 2015

November break has come and gone, which means the end of term is fast approaching. Some students spent their long weekend preparing for upcoming tests and projects, some relaxed and visited with their families and another group of lucky Ridleians travelled to New York City to explore all the Big Apple has to offer!

On Thursday, November 12th, 24 students piled on the bus, where they would spend the evening traveling through the upstate countryside before arriving in New York, New York! Chaperoned by faculty members: Mr. Gerardo Martinez, Ms. Shelley Thomas and Ms. Taryn McKenna, it was sure to be an amazing group.

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Photo taken by Nina Foster ’16

Once there, our Ridleians had the chance to experience this world-renowned city first-hand, with tours of New York City’s finest spots! The students strolled through Central Park and down 5th Avenue. They experienced the energy and excitement of Times Square and were transported back in time at the Natural History Museum before seeing the everlasting Brooklyn Bridge.

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Photo taken by Nina Foster ’16

“I feel like we got to see almost every main attraction New York has to offer in only 2 days. With all the free time we got, we really had the opportunity to see the things we wanted to see and experience the city in our own way.”

– Vayda Schuttke ‘16

Every year, this trip gives the students to experience the world outside of the Marriott Gates; it gives them a chance to experience all the cultures, history and beauty that New York has to offer. Every year, this trip proves to be an incredible opportunity for the students and for Ridley.

Thank you to all the Ridleians who represented our school with such pride and to our chaperones that gave the students the chance to experience the Big City.

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To learn more about our Weekend Programme, please click here.

Noel Cousins comes out in courageous Prefect speech
November 4, 2015

Meet Noel Cousins ‘16, a Ridleian hailing from Prince Edward Island on Canada’s East coast. Noel is one of Ridley’s 2015-2016 Prefects and is known by his fellow classmates as having an infectious personality, indisputable intellect and a love for performing arts. Recently, he displayed his courageous side when he announced in his Prefect speech to Upper School that he is gay.

As a long-standing tradition, each Ridley Prefect is given the task of writing a chapel speech; one that will inspire the student body. This year, Noel was the second of 15 Prefects to bravely approach the podium and address his peers.

In the weeks leading up to his speech, Noel contemplated what he wanted to impart upon his fellow Ridleians, and ultimately decided that he wanted to be authentic and share his own personal narrative. What better way to inspire others than with a story; his story. On October 13th, Noel approached the podium of the Memorial Chapel, stared out into the sea of over 400 students, faculty and staff, and shared a secret he’d been keeping for his whole life; he is gay.

“I’m gay. I’m sure that to some of you – that concept may seem strange or abnormal, but the problem with that is that people have a tendency to fear what they don’t understand. And with fear left unchecked, inevitably so comes hate and discrimination and violence. And so today, my goal is simply to open up a dialogue; to educate and inform…”

 It was obvious that, as Noel revealed personal facets about himself and his life (that only few were privileged to know beforehand), the audience felt for him; understood his struggles, and relished with him over his accomplishments. His personal story and message to never apologize for who you are as a person resonated with everyone who was present.

As his speech concluded and students flooded the aisles, there was a positive energy radiating throughout the chapel and within Noel . If you’d like to see Noel’s full speech, click here!

Within the days following his speech, we had the opportunity to ask Noel intimate details about his decision to come out and how this brave move has made a difference in his life.

Noel is now a part of Positive Space Group (PSG) at Ridley College – a group where students can come together and make a positive difference in the LGBQT+ community and here at school. This group of inspiring young Ridleians and faculty members meet every Wednesday to discuss issues, achievements and stories that advocate for human rights and a brighter tomorrow.

According to Noel, PSG has big plans on the horizon for Ridley. He and other members hope to organize a pride week that will include a dress down day, bowtie Friday – inspired by Jesse Tyler Fergusons’ Foundation – and an educational campaign that will raise awareness for issues that the LGBQT+ community faces everyday.

“[Homosexuality] is the human rights issue of our time, of our generation and you have the chance to make a difference.”

– Noel Cousins ‘16

Driving Global Change, Together
October 23, 2015
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Together we can drive global change. Together we can grow stronger.  Together we can change the world.

On Monday, October 19th and Tuesday, October 20th, Ridley hosted Togetheran exhibit on global development. The mobile exhibition – presented by the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada as well as the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada ­– is traveling across the country to educate Canadian youth on how they can drive global change.

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While the trailer was on campus, our students were encouraged to step inside the exhibit, which was filled with interactive elements, wall-to-wall imagery and video screens. Students became part of the conversation by answering questions about global change, sharing their ideas on how they would take action and finding inspiration in the stories provided by people from all over the world.

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Although the exhibit has moved on to its next destination, Ridleians have not forgotten the inspiration, motivation and desire to take action. This is just one of many events – focused on encouraging millennials to transform our globe – that our students have attended this year and we look forward to many more.

Ridley Launches Recreational Weekend Programme
October 23, 2015

This year, Ridley College launched the Weekend Programme, under the advisory of the Student Activities Committee. Led by Assistant Head of Upper School, Ms. Margaret Lech, the Committee of students organizes and hosts Upper School activities every Saturday while school is in session. Sparked by the want of both parents and students, the Programme allows Ridleians to partake in a variety of leisurely activities inside and outside the Marriott Gates.

The Weekend Programme is off to a fantastic start, and has already included Spirit Night, Open Mic Night and Movie Nights at the Pen Centre. Upper School students are already buzzing with excitement over upcoming trips to Canada’s Wonderland for Halloween Haunt and shopping in downtown Toronto.

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One student, in particular, has had an active hand in the growth of this Programme, Philip Brenninkmeyer ’17. Philip is a member of the Student Activities Committee and an eager participant in the outings.

My experience with the Student Activities Committee has been highly positive throughout the past month. The main purpose of the committee is to organize weekend activities that are open to both boarding and day students. This can include a friendly 3-on-3 basketball tournament for students or a dodge ball tournament. Because the campus has so many different facilities to offer, you don’t have to look far to find a possible weekend activity. Recently, the committee organized a Spirit Night and subsequent Open Mic Cafe Night that prompted a spectacular turnout of students performing with a variety of instruments; both solo and in small groups. So far I have found that the Activities Committee has allowed me to help make the campus an even more lively place on the weekend and to ensure that there is always something to do. I look forward to helping organize a Halloween event during the coming two weeks, since conveniently, the 31st of October falls on a Saturday this year.

– Philip Brenninkmeyer ’17

Ensuring that our students thrive in and out of the classroom is something we believe is pivotal in the development of a healthy mind, body and spirit. Ridley is continually looking for ways to improve the overall experience for our students and the Weekend Programme is just one example of how we incorporate recreation into student life.

If you have an idea for an upcoming weekend activity, please contact Margaret_lech@ridleycollege.com or speak with a member of the Student Activities Committee.

Ridleians Ignite Positive Change at WE Day 2015
October 2, 2015

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In 2014, when we launched our Strategic Plan, we declared that our vision was to, “inspire flourishing lives to transform our globe”. Today, at WE Day in Toronto, a group of Ridleians have made our school proud, as they live out this vision alongside thousands of young minds devoted to improving the world we live in.

WE Day, started by Free The Children, “…is the movement of our time, empowering a generation of young global citizens through an inspirational event and a year-long educational initiative”. As it enters its eighth year, WE Day has grown significantly – with more attendees, social coverage and famous speakers than ever before.

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This year, a group of Ridley students had the chance to hear from global leaders, activists and cultural icons, like Joseph Boyden, as they shared their powerful stories before the crowd at the Air Canada Centre. The incredible line-up, including Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas and Shawn Mendes, spoke about what motivates them to make a difference and encouraged youth to work together to do they same.

Our students returned to campus feeling empowered to be the best versions of themselves, to inspire their peers and to turn their dreams into a reality.

Ridley College Presents ‘Blood Brothers’
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For the past two weekends students entertained audiences with the musical “Blood Brothers”. This dramatic, at times comical show was greatly received.  From the costumes and set design to the lighting and sound to the acting, music and choreography; students, faculty and staff worked tirelessly to put on this amazing musical.

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Eric and Matt played perfect brothers from different worlds through three stages of their life and were especially humorous through age seven-almost eight! Maia as ‘Linda’ a woman caught in the middle and Iain as troubled brother ‘Sammy’ were acted perfectly.

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Kaila and Chloe embedded much emotion into their performance making the audience feel for both of the desperate mothers.  The musical was infused with guest appearances by Ms. Lech, Mr. Templeman and Mr. Ash (who stepped in to the play the narrator) added greatly to this fantastic show.  Check out some scenes to see for yourself:





Ridley College has a very robust theatre program and puts on two shows per year, a classic comedy or a modern drama in the fall and a musical in the winter. To read more blog posts about the Arts at Ridley, please click here.  For more information about the drama program at Ridley College, please click here.

Leonard House Twitter Scavenger Hunt
Did you see the girls of Leonard House taking pictures of some strange things around campus for the past few weeks? This is what it was all about – A Twitter Scavenger Hunt!

It came down to which group could complete all 30 tasks of the Leonard House Twitter scavenger hunt the fastest?   Seven student groups made up of mixed grade levels and one group of MOD’s took on the challenge of capturing various things on campus such as planking in a public space, riding Hank the statue, serving food in the cafeteria or getting a teacher to do a dance routine on video! The result was some hilarious tweets and a lot of fun.  Congrats to Leonard House Group Two – made up of Isabel T., Laurissa M., Soho Y., Aneeka R. (missing: Arwyn, Rhea N., Abby M.) who won the scavenger hunt! The girls in the picture below are holding up the prizes they were awarded.  If you have Twitter, don’t forget to follow us @Ridley_College

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To read more blog posts about residential life, please click here.

House Captains Announced!
Today the House Captains for the 2012-2013 school year were announced!  House Captains are a select group of Grade 12 students, appointed by the Housemaster, responsible for organizing events and assisting in the daily routines of their House. Typically, House Captains meet with their Housemaster once a week to set goals, plan House meetings, and lead community service and environmental initiatives. House Captains are responsible for the orientation of new students into the dorms and making the House feel like a home.

2012-2013 House Captains

Ridley TV – Episode One:
This week marked the launch of Ridley TV, a new activity being offered at the school.  Students participating in this activity are learning to be reporters, videographers, anchors and writers by producing their own Ridley news and current events show.  Segments this week include an interview with the new French teacher, Ms. Graf; a feature on the new squash coach, a segment on how to become a playwright as well as opinions on the food in the Great Hall.  Check out Shaneel Nair as he hosts the show:

“Christmas on the Radio: A Holiday Musical for Dreamers”

The Lower School put on their Christmas play “Christmas on the Radio: A Holiday Musical for Dreamers” last week in the Mandeville Theatre. The play was set in the 1950s and centred around a girl named Betty whose dream was to sing on the radio.  We have many talented actors, singers and musicians who entertained a crowded theatre on both Wednesday afternoon and Thursday evening.  Check out the video from the performance on Wednesday – the children did an amazing job!

Winter Wonderland
The first major snowfall came just in time! Exams are looming and students are beginning to dig their noses into their books, so when the snow began to fall it was time for some last minute fun! For some students it was their first time seeing snow and you could certainly hear the excitement echoing around campus. Check out the video from the first major snowfall at Ridley:

Tiger Nutrition

Dr. John Berardi
Dr. John Berardi Launches Tiger Nutrition

According to Dr. Berardi if students want to do better on their next test, boost their sports performance or just generally feel better it all starts with proper nutrition. Head of the Pure & Applied Math Department Mr. Paul DeVellis has been approached by students in the past asking how to build muscle or perform better in sports, so he contacted Dr. Berardi to help him create a program to do that and more! The new program is now available in the Dining Hall to assist students in achieving their goals.

Dr. Berardi presents to Ridley College students
Tiger Nutrition Poster

There are four goals listed on posters in the Dining Hall:

1. To Eat a Healthier Diet

2. To Boost Sports Performance

3. To Build Bigger Muscles

4. To Lose Body Fat

Each goal is accompanied by colour-coded tiger paws that represent proteins, carbs, and fruits & veggies. For each goal it tells you how many proteins, carbs, or fruits & veggies you should eat.  For example, if you want to eat a healthier diet: for most meals – eat one protein serving and two fruits & vegetable servings; for after you exercise – eat one protein, a carb serving and one fruit & vegetable serving. The tiger paws will be put beside all food items by Chartwells staff so students will know what is a carb or a protein. Chuck Dertinger, ’03 spent countless hours during an internship with Dr. Berardi measuring serving scoops/spoons used in the dining hall to quantify the nutritional composition of each food for this program. Dr. Berardi said he is not here to tell students to never eat junk food, but instead to help students make better nutritional choices. Dr. Berardi has worked on nutritional programs for NHL hockey players, NFL football players, athletes on Canadian national teams and now Ridleians! Thanks to Dr. Berardi for his work on this program.

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