Issue Produced Remotely During COVID-19 Pandemic
DIRECTOR, STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS & MARKETING
Andrea Carisse Ed Kidd Tanya Rohrmoser Vera Wilcox Courtney Smith
Tanya Amyote Andrea Carisse Danny Custodio Phoenix Gao ‘20 Amy Forte Mackenzie Fowler ‘11 Susan Hazell Anne Kubu Thomas Ng Michelle Scrivener City of St. Catharines
Mackenzie Fowler ’11 DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
Tanya Rohrmoser COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
Andrea Chan GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PHOTOGRAPHER
editing Andrea Carisse Tanya Rohrmoser
design Andrea Chan
Solely for valued members of the Ridley community. The information contained herein may not be published without permission.
PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NO. 40069450 RETURN UNDELIVERABLE CANADIAN ADDRESS TO CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT P.O. BOX 3013 - ST. CATHARINES ONTARIO, CANADA L2R 7C3
P.O. Box 3013 - 2 Ridley Road, St. Catharines Ontario, Canada L2R 7C3 | 905-684-1889
LIFE ON CAMPUS
A Royal Debate
First-Time Debaters Make Their Case
Ridley Hosts Carl Dorland Classic Tournament
Students Wander Washington
Healthy Living Top of Mind
Finding Their Voices
Twins Take Gold for Germany
Students Thrive at Leadership Conference
A Tribute to Remember
Prep Boys Claim MPHL Championship
Lapping the Competition
Girls Grip CISAA Gold
Rave Reviews for Matilda
Lower School Presents
Helping Hands in Guatemala Student Support Where Tradition and Connection Meet Songs for a Cause Kindness on Campus Housing Hits Home Students Think Pink
Learning in the Time of COVID
Alumni @ Work: Activists
Alumni Serving the World: How Ridleians are Embodying Our Motto During COVID-19
Winston Godwin ’08
Michele-Elise Burnett ’86
Marriages, Births, Obituaries
Linda Alexanian ’85
Faculty and Staff Notes
Halfway Across the Bridge of Difference
Batting a Century
Archives Corner: Ridley Carries On –130 Years of Resilience
A Tribute to Susan Hazell
in this issue
Headmaster Kidd with St. Catharines Mayor, Walter Sendzik and President of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, Mishka Balsom. Together celebrating our municipality and its achievements at the 2020 State of the City hosted at Ridley in February. 4 flourishing
Welcome to this special edition of the Ridley College Tiger magazine. “Special” thanks to the historic time in which it was written and published. No doubt, some future historian will review these pages to assess our community’s response and reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. What they will discover, as will our current readers, are stories of resilience, narratives of hope and the profile of a community committed to service. I somehow suspect that future readers will recognize familiar characteristics and community values at work now, as they will be then. Our school closure occurred during our March Break, so the magazine’s opening content provides the usual snapshot of on campus learning, relationships, community spirit and accomplishment. These pages are comforting reminders of a Ridley world pre-pandemic. On page 34, we commence Life in the Time of COVID-19, and the chronicle of our community’s inspiring response to this historic moment. There is no need for hyperbole—this is no World War, and we are not ‘the greatest generation.’ When this is over, we will not be constructing a Memorial Chapel. Nevertheless, our school’s tale will devote a special chapter to this moment in our history, and will recount the examples of innovation and service, courageous acts of leadership, kindness and largesse. From our HelpDesk Heroes (page 39) to the inspiring work of Sir John Bell ’71 (page 46), this crisis as evoked the best in us. “Inspiring” reminds me of how
fortunate we were to host The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean as a guest speaker in January (page 50). Her story encompasses the themes of social responsibility, progress and Terar Dum Prosim, and offers up a poignant challenge to our students: “And you? What will you do when you are called?” How fitting that this story is followed by a tribute to our very own Susan Hazell (page 53), who is retiring after 40 years of service to a calling that witnessed her lasting contributions to Ridley and other independent schools across Canada. I welcome you to explore our Alumni@Work section, which features the inspiring work and life stories of activists, Winston Godwin ’08, Michele-Elise Burnett ’86 and Linda Alexanian ’85. In each their own way, these stories provide lessons in resilience and growth. And finally, be sure to read the fascinating summary of Ridley’s institutional perseverance in the face of difficult challenges in “Archives Corner: 130 Years of Resilience” (page 76). Perhaps 130 years of overcoming trials and tribulations has made an indelible imprint on the character of our community. Resilience, fortitude and an ability to get up when knocked down—the spirit of Ridley will rise to the challenge once again.
Terar Dum Prosim, J. Edward Kidd
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
Annual Lifersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Reception at Kenyon Lett House, celebrating Grade 12 seniors who have attended Ridley since they were in Lower School.
campus Prior to March Break and our official school closure, campus was bustling with energy. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re celebrating only some of the exciting moments that grabbed our attention during Lent Term. Read on to learn about our response to COVID-19 and shift to Ridley Remote Learning.
TIGER | WINTER 2020
LET THE GAMES
Director of Athletics, Jay Tredway â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;96 with Olympian Sarah Wells, Shelly the turtle and members from the Niagara 2021 Canada Games committee. TIGER | SUMMER 2020
Rick Coy ’60, Michael Iggulden ‘01 and Harry Hatch ’67 catching up at Winter Homecoming back in February. TIGER | SUMMER 2020
Upper School actors reenacting the Roald Dahl classic this past February. TIGER | SUMMER 2020
Grade 3 student James Amyote excited to see his classmates for the first time on R2L, when it launched on March 26th. TIGER | SUMMER 2020
Students traverse snowy B-squad on their way to hockey practice. TIGER | SUMMER 2020
Angela Daudu ‘20 and Tom Femi-Johnson ‘20 performing at The State of the City in early February. The duo and Upper School Choir sang ‘Glory’ by John Legend, who later liked their video on Twitter. TIGER | SUMMER 2020
academics Be it online or on campus, a Ridley education is all about curiosity, inquiry, finding your voice, and seeing the world through the lens of compassion. Our students arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just opening books; theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re opening their minds.
A Royal Debate In January, the Debate Society participated in the prestigious Queen’s University High School Debating Championship, thanks to the generous support provided by the W. Darcy McKeough ‘51 Speaking Arts Fund. The event was an excellent opportunity to practice the British Parliamentary style of debate, allowing competitors to develop a more nuanced approach to arguing a case. Six rounds were held on topics that included everything from the effectiveness of economic sanctions, to whether women should prioritize career over family, to returning historical artifacts to their native countries.
First-Time Debaters Make Their Case Earlier this year, Grade 8 students Arianna Tan ‘24 and Andy Yihan Wen ‘24 joined debaters from independent schools throughout the Greater Toronto Area to participate in the Country Day School Debate. The topic? “Be It Resolved That We Should Abolish Homework.” Each team debated both sides of this important resolution and then participated in an impromptu debate round. The Ridley team of Arianna and Andy placed fourth overall, while Arianna placed fourth individually in the senior division—a terrific showing from the first-time debaters!
Students Wander Washington Our Model UN Club made its way to Washington, D.C., to participate in the 57th North American Invitational Model United Nations (NAIMUN). The travellers were greeted by amazing weather which, of course, made for plenty of sightseeing! Hot spots included the Lincoln and Vietnam Veterans Memorials, the White House and a visit to see the popular comedic play, Shear Madness. They also visited the International Monetary Fund, where they were given an impressive overview of the organization by Research Department Economist and fellow Canadian, Margaux MacDonald.
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
Finding Their Voices The Intermediate Public Speaking finals took place this February, featuring varied and creative speech topics that ranged from the humorous to the inspiring. In Grade 7, Sharlize Price ‘25 placed first, Quinn Kraus ‘24 and Noor Razoki ‘24 tied for the top spot in Grade 8 and Nina Yanjun Wu ‘24 won the ELL Division.
Students Thrive at Leadership Conference The Thrive Student Leaders Conference (a CIS initiative), took place on February 22nd, with eleven of our Grade 11 students in attendance. Attendees started the day reflecting on their own personal leadership style, while developing an understanding of others. They were then led through a series of workshops by student leaders from multiple independent schools—which not only gave them the opportunity to reflect on approaches in our own school, but to consider ways to enhance these through a student leadership role.
Showcasing Potential Congratulations to our Grade 10 students, who put on a spectacular International Baccalaureate MYP Personal Project Exhibition this year! Over 100 engaging presentations were on display, showcasing student interests and passionsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;along with a lot of hard work.
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
arts Lights, camera, action! Our students are creative as ever, bringing art to life on stage, inspiring others through canvas and song, discovering new and diverse passions, and bravely sharing their own stories.
Inspiring Literacy Just before the Family Day long weekend, we brought Ridleians together for the Family Reading Evening—the perfect opportunity to connect with each other and meet with fellow families. The annual event consists of classroom literacy activities, a guest author reading and a delicious dinner at Williams Hall. This year’s event attracted 55 happy attendees, who enjoyed the fun activities and educational stations, and were captivated by the stories of guest author, Dr. Kari-Lynn Winters.
Rave Reviews for Matilda This term, Ridley Theatre presented Roald Dahl’s Matilda: The Musical, a stellar performance loved by all who attended. The Upper School thespians brought the story to life through the book and music of Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin. Whether they were eating an entire cake, flying through the air, or performing telekinesis, students wowed audiences with their magical performance, reminding us all of the power of young minds—and the importance of standing up for what is right.
Lower School Presents Our budding young thespians from Lower School entertained audiences this winter with a rousing production of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. The Grade 7 and 8 students worked tirelessly to bring the beloved classic Canadian tale to life.
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
athletics Cheered on by team spirit across campus, this season our Tigers celebrated championship wins, personal bests, and signed college and university commitments.
Good Sports It was a big day in the city for Ms. McLaughlin’s Kinesiology class. Our sports-minded students headed to Toronto to tour Team Canada’s offices, SportsNET and Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment before catching a Raptors game at the Scotiabank Arena. They even ran into a few Ridley alumni along the way!
Ridley Hosts Carl Dorland Classic Tournament Our First Boys basketball team kicked 2020 off right, playing host to teams from around the Golden Horseshoe and beyond in this year’s Carl Dorland Classic basketball tournament. The Tigers clamped down on defence in their first match-up against J.C. McGuigan, led by Adam McDonald ‘21, who scored an impressive 26 points. In their second game, our boys handily pulled away from Dundas Valley Secondary School on the back of a flurry of three pointers from S.J. Tuedor ‘20 and Mugina Karugire ‘21. Finishing top of their pool and heading into a semi-final matchup, Ridley held tough but ultimately lost out to an energized team from the Bahamas’ Noble Prep Academy. Throughout the tournament, coaches were impressed by the dedication and growth shown by our team.
Healthy Living Top of Mind On January 25th, the “Ridley Builds Resilience Through Sport” event brought our community together to learn more about fundamental movement skills, healthy living and the upcoming Canada Games, which will be held here in Niagara. The day began with an inspiring talk from Olympian, Sarah Wells and concluded with the launch of “Catch the Spirit,” the Summer Games’ educational campaign.
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
Twins Take Gold for Germany Congratulations to Lilli and Luisa Welcke ‘21, who together won Group B at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship in December with Team Germany! To be named to a U18 national team is impressive, but to bring home gold for their country is an incredible accomplishment for the two forwards and Girls Prep hockey team members.
A Tribute to Remember This winter, the Prep Boys hockey team celebrated the soon-tobe graduates from the class of 2020. The ten graduating seniors were joined on the ice by Hockey Director and Head Coach, Mike McCourt, as well as their respective family members. Each year, the hockey programme looks forward to Seniors Day as an opportunity to pay tribute to our graduating players for their hard work, dedication and contribution to our community.
Prep Boys Claim MPHL Championship For the fifth time in six years, our Tigers claimed the Mid-West Prep Hockey League (MPHL) Championship! On February 20th, the team travelled to Buffalo, N.Y. for the playoffs, winning against St. Francis School (6-0), Rothesay Netherwood School (3-2), and then taking Bishop’s College School in an impressive 4-1 victory. A special shout out to scoring leaders, Carter Giles ‘20, who led the way with three goals, while Nick Athanasakos ‘21, Brady Hildreth ‘22 and Sam Christiano ‘22 each had two. Carlo Muraro ‘21 earned all three wins in net.
Lapping the Competition
Girls Grip CISAA Gold
It was a great day in the pool for our Tigers! The team swam away with plenty of wins at the CISAA Championships, including seven gold, two silvers and three bronze medals. This season, Ridley proudly boasted seven individual and four relay qualifiers for OFSAA. The championships were hosted March 3rd and 4th in Toronto and our swimmers came out strong, with Alex Bento ’20 winning a gold and Autumn Crowe ’23 a silver medal.
The week before March Break, gloves went flying in the air when the Prep Girls hockey team seized the CISAA Championship following an undefeated regular season. The Tigers captured the title defeating Appleby College 2-1 in the final. The victory was witnessed by Spirit Night enthusiasts on the Tiger Arena—the perfect pre-break boost for all.
TIGER | WINTER 2020
service More than ever, citizens across the globe are finding ways to reach out, give back, foster connection, and serve communities in their time of need. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how Ridleians are embracing our school mottoâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and helping to make our world a better place.
Student Support A student-run fundraiser kicked off this January in support of alumnus, Mathew Szymanowski ’14, who was in a serious accident last summer. Students, staff and faculty rowed for 24 hours straight to show solidarity with their fellow Tiger, while raising funds to help cover his medical expenses. Students also wrote Mathew notes of encouragement and well-wishes. The ergometer relay concluded with Headmaster Kidd racing to the finish line.
Where Tradition and Connection Meet February 6th, students joined together with distinguished guests for the annual Cadet Mess Dinner. Special guests included President of the Family Guild, Hannah Ulrich; Board Chair, David Carter ‘88; and alumnus, Shaun Padulo ‘07, who spoke to the cadets about the importance of connection, experience and tradition.
Songs for a Cause The Ridley community was rocking and rolling this February at the annual Amnesty Concert, with proceeds going to Amnesty International. Fans cheered as our talented students, faculty and staff took to the stage—an entertaining event in support of an important initiative! The funds raised were also shared with a local charity selected by the students in charge of the event. This year Jacob Lytle ‘21 and Adin De Wit ‘20 selected the Lincoln County Humane Society as their charity of choice. 2020’s concert featured a variety of rock bands, piano concertos and vocal performances in one of the most diverse showings of the Ridley community— comprised of Lower and Upper School students, faculty, staff, and parents.
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
Kindness on Campus Monday, February 17th was National Random Acts of Kindness Day, an opportunity for individuals, groups and organizations to encourage positivity and remind people to reach out and improve someone’s day. Our Prefect team decided to keep the ball rolling, organizing two days of kindness on campus and putting together plenty of opportunities to share on social media—including a very cool Geo-story for Snapchat! Students were invited to document their good deeds—or the deeds that others had done for them—to post in the Great Hall or share online with the school community.
Housing Hits Home Students in our kindergarten classes were busy learning about homes around the world and discussed what it means to be homeless. And so, for the 100th Day of School, our littlest Tigers led an initiative to collect over 100 toiletry items for the YWCA Emergency Homeless Shelter in downtown St. Catharines. The inspired students collected, sorted and counted more than 400 toiletry items.
Students Think Pink On February 26th, students rallied together in support of Pink-Shirt-Day and were spotted sporting the cheerful shades across campus. The day is part of a nation-wide anti-bullying effort to celebrate our differences and, of course, to spread kindness.
Helping Hands in Guatemala Earlier this year, a group of Ridleians lent a hand at the D.I.G. Centre for Hope in El Progreso, Guatemala. By rolling up their sleeves, our students were able to build additional facilities that will offer local families a safe place to learn, grow and play. It was a proud moment when our students and chaperones each added their handprints to the iconic blue walls to mark their contributions and express their love.
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
Learning in the Time of the COVID By Ed Kidd How Ridley came together to protect our community and ensure continuity of learning for our students.
PROTECTING OUR COMMUNITY When we first assembled in the Schmon Heath Centre one Thursday afternoon in mid-January, we were still learning how to refer to the enigmatic and highly contagious virus reported by the World Health Organizations only days earlier. What we did know, however, was that we needed to deploy our Pandemic Preparedness Plan and make swift yet calculated moves to limit our school’s risk of exposure to this ‘novel coronavirus.’ From that date onwards, our core Pandemic Response Team began consulting public health authorities and devising strategies—including enhanced hygiene education, avid disinfection, advisory discussions, medical supply orders, quarantine planning, travel surveys, and health screenings.
In many ways, it was fortunate that official Ontario school closures to limit the spread of COVID-19 came in the middle of Ridley’s March Break, when students and faculty were enjoying a much deserved respite. The height of concern in the province striking while the campus was already vacated provided our Pandemic Response Team and Remote Learning Task Force with uninterrupted time to evolve strategies. Months of transparent and frequent communication with our students, parents and employees also helped prepare our community for the likelihood of a government mandated shutdown.
“We were guided by essential questions: What will the community we serve say about us two years from now? Did we continue to build relationships? Did we act with compassion and care?”
EXPEDITED EDUCATIONAL FRAMEWORK While our school leadership had already been at the table for months, our curriculum leaders and I.T. Department (see HelpDESK Heroes article on page 39) now leapt into action and began collaborating (remotely) on learning strategies and developing a foundational framework to articulate the best-in-class parameters for Ridley Remote Learning (R2L). Rolling out R2L for 700 students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 seemed an almost unrealistic task, yet the feeling amongst our teachers was characterized by excitement, great anticipation and a renewed sense of service. From the onset, our faculty and staff knew we needed to create continuous learning experience, founded upon a return to routine, a focus on relationships and the challenge of engendering student engagement within this new learning landscape. It was our duty.
perfect get in the way of good enough. We had to be nimble as we transformed our learning delivery model in a matter of weeks. I also challenged our faculty and staff with two guiding principles. First, we will assume a growth mindset as we dive into the unknown—teaching and learning in a remote, online environment. In the face of frustration and initial failure, we will take a ‘not yet’ attitude and strive to be better online teachers each and every day. Second, in navigating these unknown waters, we will be reminded of essential questions: What will the community we serve say about us two years from now? Did we serve in the spirit of Terar Dum Prosim? Did we continue to build relationships and sustain community? Did we act with compassion and care? Our actions will be guided by these questions. as well as the values which will inform the appropriate answers.
Their enthusiasm was supported by two mantric ideas: Relationships first; learning will follow, and Don’t let
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
LAUNCHING REMOTE LEARNING
“Our students across all grades have proven they are resilient, devoted learners, and have exhibited a growth mindset alongside their teachers and parents.”
Eventually dubbed the Ridley Remote Learning Framework, the comprehensive plan, born from these guiding principles, outlined everything from daily and weekly schedules, technological platforms, faculty professional development, essential agreements for teaching and learning, as well as basic expectations for students, teachers and parents alike. Of course, our faculty and staff were also inspiring in their response to the challenge. The learning curve was steep, and the extra work load was not insignificant. Fortunately, we were not alone. One aspect of this experience that has been truly extraordinary, is the unprecedented level of collegiality that occurred between Canadian independent schools and educators from around the world. In addition to weekly video conferences with our colleagues in brother and sister CAIS (Canadian Accredited Independent Schools) and CIS (Canadian Independent Schools Ontario) schools, our faculty connected with teachers in diverse schools from around the world, from U.K. boarding schools to Asian and European international schools. The global scale of this resource and idea-sharing is something that has the potential to change and accelerate education forever. But how did our users—students and their parents— respond to the remote learning programme we’d worked diligently to develop during the pandemic? The response was overwhelmingly positive.
From the launch of R2L on March 26, students across all grades have proven they are resilient, devoted learners, and have exhibited a growth mindset alongside their teachers and parents—understanding that the path to success involves what we at Ridley refer to as ‘failing forward.’ The keystones of Positive Education served as a fundamental beacon of light during the dark times of lockdown as well. Social-emotional supports, such as our counsellors, Heads of Houses, Advisors and peer connections, all remained available to students and parents through the natural ups and downs. That’s because Ridley believes relationships are at the heart of effective learning, and that human connection and care can be kindled in a remote learning environment. As our remote reality turned from days to weeks, and weeks to months, we continually sought feedback via surveys and virtual Town Hall meetings, which translated into ongoing pivots and improvements. Resoundingly, the comments we received were those of praise, gratitude and pride. With sound student and parent feedback loops in place, our R2L team responded with additional synchronous (live) lessons, student-led activities and socials, a range of co-curriculars, and at-home physical fitness offerings for students small and tall.
In a time of such change and uncertainty due to the pandemic, we are grateful to have had consistency in our children’s education. R2L has brought daily discipline, continued learning and the challenge of learning new technological platforms. We are thankful to be part of an innovative school. — Jo Hanna, Ridley mother of four
CELEBRATING THE CLASS OF 2020 Of course, our collective hearts hurt for one cohort in particular, our Class of 2020 seniors. Our Graduation task force—which included student leaders—worked to replicate the many celebratory rituals and events that our seniors had been anticipating for so long. In the end, our graduating Tigers were shown the love with a week-long virtual celebration (May 19 to 22), complete with an online art exhibition, the Ridley Independent Film Festival, our final chapel service featuring a virtual choir performance, a Grad Dinner, and the Graduate Academic Awards Assembly. Recognizing that no Zoom ceremony will ever replace the feeling of walking across the Prize Day stage or tossing a mortarboard, we look forward to hosting an on campus Prize Day ceremony for the Class of 2020 and their families when it is safe to gather once again. They have earned this important rite of passage. REFLECTIONS AND OPPORTUNITIES TO REVOLUTIONIZE So, where do we go from here? As a leader at Ridley College, for me the answer to this question is clear: place is everything. Now mid-May, we are carefully plotting our eventual return to campus with in-depth scenario planning at the Board level and have struck five working groups. We know our school, like many other institutions and businesses, will face economic challenges and a ‘new normal.’ While, of course, this planning includes safety measures and new physical distancing considerations for spaces, it also means an evaluation of long-term preservation.
The School will survive. These kinds of catalytic events over our 130-year history have always made our community as a whole stronger and more united. – David K. Carter, Chair of the Board of Governors
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
This COVID experience has sharpened our focus on the incomparable Ridley experience—who we are, what we value as a learning community and our unique approach to education. Yes, learning can be facilitated online and relationships can be sustained. However, the shared physical experience, the proximity to others, the body language, the human embrace, the physical teamwork, can never truly be replicated in a virtual world—nor should we attempt to. No doubt, the global plunge (ready or not!) into online learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has the power to disrupt education in profound and lasting ways. I suspect that many schools will pursue online and remote learning as an alternative disruptor to the traditional bricks and mortar school, and expect the system shock of this crisis and the resultant economic shock will see more than a few traditional model schools close their doors for good. At Ridley, the COVID-19 pandemic has helped us to see more clearly, with a sharper focus and with a renewed urgency to innovate and ask ourselves some rather frightening existential questions: Who are we and why do we matter? If Ridley ceased to exist, would anyone notice? Would anyone care? If anything, our successful journey into the world of online learning will allow us to be more creative, more efficient with the learning experience—anywhere, anytime, anyhow. The ‘flipped classroom’ provides even more time for the face-toface experiences we label as “the Ridley Difference”— House life, physical activity, sport, the arts, collective experiences, traditions and more.
on the big topics facing education. We started with a provocative question: What is the future of place-based education? How prescient this question seems, now in the belly of the COVID whale. There is no question that education can continue in a virtual world where individuals connect to transmitters of information via technology. Khan Academy is a noteworthy collection of pre-recorded lessons that do a good job of explaining many topics over the internet. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), such as those available at edx.org, also make academic subjects available to a wide range of students across the world. Yet despite the ubiquity and utility of such online courses, something significant tends to be missing in programmes like this. We might be able to see what’s wrong if we look closely at the phrase “transmitters of information.” The first word suggests that all knowledge resides in the teacher, and that her job is to beam it into the minds of the students. Many educators have long been dubious of this view of education, and with good reason. Then there is the questionable assumption already built into the word “information.” Information is the consequence of taking some piece of the world and packaging it in such a way that it is accessible to the mind. But as pointed out above, learning isn’t limited to mental activity. What’s missing in this description is any awareness of the heart, which can only be nourished in a web of relationships—in other words, in a community. If anything, this pandemic experience has heightened our commitment to Ridley’s central purpose: to inspire flourishing lives. Education is not a commodity to sell and trade. It is more than a checklist or a credential to achieve. In its most profound state—and in the Ridley definition—education is an experience.
Ian Symmonds is a well-known, highly respected educational consultant in the U.S., who has worked with thousands of independent schools, colleges and universities—including Ridley College. In early 2020, I was invited to join his Strategic Collaborative, a small collection of diverse The truly remarkable thing is that this transformation of the independent school Heads from across North America, way school looks occurred in about two weeks for most brought together to discuss, schools. That’s nothing short of incredible! Will we really ideate and share insights squander this moment? When we are allowed to open our
campuses, will we return to delivering the same information in the same disciplines that have been around for hundreds of years? Will we continue to prioritize information because it is easily tested and graded by a Scantron? Or, will we embrace the mission of helping young people grow into exceptionally healthy adults who think, feel, and act powerfully and effectively?...Education has a real opportunity to pivot in this moment. – Dave Mochel, Positive Education Expert
HelpDESK Heroes Q&A with the techy team that built R2L in short order As pandemic closures loomed large, our I.T. Department was up against the clock, tasked with providing an effective, innovative solution that would allow learning to continue. When your screen freezes, you can’t connect, or your mouse suddenly has a mind of its own, these are the friendly folks to whom Ridleians turn. Led by Director of Technology, Bruno Petitti, our unflappable I.T. team fields queries on the fly from students, faculty and staff. And with more than 66 years of combined Ridley experience, they’re working to keep our learners on track, connected and engaged—and faculty and staff ready to deliver.
Meet the Team Bruno Petitti
Director of Technology
IT Office Manager
SERVICE TO RIDLEY: 1 YEAR
SERVICE TO RIDLEY: 20 YEARS
SERVICE TO RIDLEY: 9 MONTHS
IT Support Specialist
Manager of Information Systems
HelpDESK Support Technician
SERVICE TO RIDLEY: 19 YEARS
SERVICE TO RIDLEY: 23 YEARS
SERVICE TO RIDLEY: 3 YEARS
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
WHAT IS THE MAIN, OVERALL FUNCTION OF THE I.T. DEPARTMENT AT RIDLEY?
WHEN AND HOW DID I.T. FIRST LEARN ABOUT THE NEED FOR RIDLEY REMOTE LEARNING?
While we are a walk-in HelpDESK, a lot of the work we do is behind the scenes. Among other things, we research innovative learning technologies and put them in place, find new ways to improve job functions, and automate manual processes, bringing them to life online. We take care of printing, telecommunication, server, and database services. We’re responsible for maintaining the network infrastructure campus-wide and support wireless connectivity so everyone has access. Our team is also in charge of Ridley’s cyber and data security—and an important part of this is ensuring employees are educated on how to keep data and information protected and safe.
On March 4th, we learned that we might need to provide an online learning platform—and our team had three days to decide on the best platform, test it and present a solution to the Headmaster and Executive Leadership Team. Once approved, we had a 10-day window to build and implement the new platform using a variety of software and apps.
WHAT COLLEAGUES DID YOU COLLABORATE WITH IN THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS? As a part of the broader Remote Learning Task Force, Bruno worked closely with the Heads of School and collaborated with curriculum leaders and learning strategists in the Lower School and Upper School too. The rest of the I.T, team worked with others leaders on deploying technology and communicating the launch.
HOW DID I.T. TACKLE THE CHALLENGE OF DEVELOPING R2L? WHAT WERE YOUR INITIAL STRATEGIES? WHAT TIMELINES AND DEADLINES WERE IN PLACE FOR THE DELIVERY OF R2L? It was a tight timeline, but everyone really came together. We started architecting March 4th, and were striving for the March 23rd “go-live” day for faculty professional development. By the time students returned virtually from March Break, we were completely prepped for their orientation. Our detailed documentation and self-help tools went a long way in that process, so too did our support ticket system, in organizing requests for help or reported glitches. It has been inspiring to see savvy faculty and staff going the extra mile to help colleagues requiring further assistance.
We first looked at the current technologies we’re using at Ridley to see if a teaching and learning platform could be created from what we were already working with and our people were familiar with. For a few months, we’d been piloting Microsoft Teams, so we knew the platform and thought we could use it as a jumping-off point. Then, we developed a framework for how we’d like to see it implemented: we outlined class and course structure, built different models for testing, then put together learning manuals and videos for the students, teachers, staff, and parents who would be using them for the first time.
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE HURDLES YOU HAD TO OVERCOME? LESSONS LEARNED ALONG THE WAY.
WHAT CHARACTER STRENGTHS DID THE I.T. TEAM DISPLAY?
There were a number of factors to consider as we went along: everything from privacy and security issues, to technology and resource constraints, to figuring out best practices so we could teach our community how to use the platforms successfully.
A lot of the strengths we try to foster in our students helped us to get the job done now: determination, creativity, innovation—and a lot of patience! So much of this was about working together as a team, having the courage to try new things and persevering when things didn’t work the way we’d hoped.
We learned that delivering an effective remote learning programme—while trying to ensure exceptional customer experience—is pretty complex; it required our team to communicate well and be agile. We’re the ones who provide support for systems that are new to everyone, and there was no roadmap for us to follow.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN RELATION TO THE LAUNCH AND ONGOING SUCCESS OF R2L?
We had to learn quickly, adjust quickly, and be resilient. It was quite the journey for our team, but we really pulled together. We kept focused on the outcomes and were able to produce a product we’re all proud of.
Many good things have come from R2L; it’s a major change for our school and we think it will serve us well now and in the future. Users have really embraced it, and every day our teachers are exploring and building upon the technologies in creative ways that enhance the student experience. R2L offers new ways of collaboration across the board. In the face of a global pandemic, our community is still connected; students are able to continue learning; and it’s transformed the way we’re able to communicate with each other around the world. R2L has given Ridley a second platform for student learning and we’re going to continue expanding that far beyond COVID-19, but know it will never replace our on-campus experience— only enhance it.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU SELECT THE VARIOUS TECHNOLOGIES? Some of them integrated well into existing products— like OneNote Classroom, TigerNET, or Microsoft Streams, for example. As we mentioned, we’d been piloting Microsoft Teams already so it was a natural fit. We were careful to use platforms that were wellestablished and chose ones with key integration features that other platforms lacked. People are already familiar with Microsoft Office, and we knew we could ensure our domestic and international students would be able to access it, which was very important. As a platform, Microsoft Teams has really been leading the charge during this transition; it’s being continually enhanced with features which help enrich student experience. It also brings with it Microsoft Streams, which lets users share, record and edit videos. Videos are more important than ever when it comes to communicating.
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
Ridley Remote Learning (R2L) is more than simply replicating learning that occurs in a normal classroom or delivering our education via technology—it’s an opportunity to reimagine, expand and amplify learning in new spaces.
GOAL To advance student learning with authentic, human experience while continuing to promote physical activity.
Here are the top advantages of our remote educational experience.
DAILY VIDEO LESSONS
LIVE DAILY LESSONS WITH TEACHERS Continuity of learning and relationships are maintained through live classes, where students engage in real-time with their teachers and peers.
Recorded lessons allow students to complete work at their own pace from different times zones.
Outside of daily classes, students maintain access to remote social-emotional support from counsellors, learning centres and house teams.
support from teachers
of each school day engaged in live classes
REMOTE CO-CURRICULARS JK to Grade 12/PG students are nurturing relationships with peers and pursuing passions in R2L co-curriculars such as Debate, Green Tigers, Jack.org, Music, Tiger’s Den, and many more.
SUPPORT FOR PARENTS Along with our Ridley College Family Guild, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re offering our parents remote wellbeing workshops, curated resources, Town Halls and social hours.
Remote assessments and teacher feedback keep Ridleians engaged in learning, while our University and Guidance Cousellors ensure students stay on track toward post-secondary pursuits.
Ridley believes that relationships are at the heart of effective learning, and that human connection can be kindled in a remote environment. We know that relationships extend to all members of the Ridley community.
HOUSE SPIRIT Upper School students stay connected with their Heads of Houses, Advisors and most importantly, their housemates through virtual socials, remote inter-house competitions and fun events, like Virtual Spirit Week. Lower School House Teams also compete in fun at-home challenges to earn points.
COMMITMENT TO PHYSICAL ACTIVITY Physical activity remains a core component of our R2L programmes across all grades, including Physical Education classes, R2L-Fit! challenges, home workouts, physical literacy games, and athletic activities.
TECHNICAL TROUBLESHOOTING As an Apple Certified School, Ridley has a dedicated I.T. Department ready to provide families with any technical assistance they may require.
Acts Of Kindness
Our Sewing Room staff got to work (from home) stitching handmade masks for community organizations helping the most vulnerable populations in our region.
Ridley mother, Dr. Mei Kou donated PPE to Ridley and Albright Manor Retirement & Assisted Living Facility.
Thanks to Titan Liâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s family, 1,000 surgical masks were donated to Tufford Manor.
Ridleyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Science Department donated unused gloves and face shields to a local shelter.
Between May 19 to 22, the Class of 2020 received four days of virtual celebrations, including IB Art Showcase, Chapel service, Grad Dinner, House socials and the Grade 12 Awards Assembly. We look forward to conferring diplomas and presenting special awards in person when it is safe to do so. Ahead of our week-long tribute to our seniors, Hank made some special deliveries.
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
On the Frontlines As the pandemic threatens the health of people around the world, our frontline workers are responding with care and working on a solution.
ALUMNI SERVING THE WORLD:
How Ridleians are Embodying Our Motto During COVID-19 During uncertain and challenging times, it can be hard to find the points of light, those moments when the sun spills in through the clouds. However, since the onset of the global pandemic, we’ve heard countless light-filled stories of our own alumni working on the frontlines to fight COVID-19. Their contributions are sure to fill you with pride and hope. Here, we bring you the stories from alumni who work to make our world a better place, at a time when things seemed a bit dark.
If you or an alumni you know is embodying our school motto, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include photos, if possible. 46
Sir John Bell ’71, one of the U.K.’s leading immunologists and life science champions, has been named to Britain’s COVID-19 vaccine taskforce. The Canadian-born Oxford professor and physician has been making headlines for his leadership in improving testing practices and for his cutting-edge immunization research. Knighted in 2008, John also continues to be a key parliamentary advisor. New York State has been hit particularly hard during this pandemic and its healthcare workers are working around the clock to care for their patients. One of those workers is Joshua Miller ‘04, an E.R. nurse at Kenmore Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, NY—the embodiment of our school motto, Terar Dum Prosim.
Local alumna, Ellen (Went) Stevens ’07, is stepping up to support our community. The public health nurse is serving the Niagara Region as part of its COVID-19 response team. Prior to government recommendations that healthcare providers should only work at one facility during the pandemic, Ellen spent her days off working at the local hospital NICU.
A warm thank you on behalf of our community goes out to anesthesiologist, Jordan Meyers ‘12, who has been busy caring for patients in the Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Room at Vancouver’s St. Paul Hospital. Sisters NurNisa (Nuri) ’21 and (MehrNisa) Mehri ’25 couldn’t be prouder of their father, Dr. Mamoon Bokhari who’s working bravely on the frontlines in both Canada and the U.S.
Rally and Rise
Food banks, health care workers and underserved communities are needing more help than ever, and members of our community are stepping up in generous—and ingenious—ways.
It’s easy to feel helpless during times such as these, but these motivated alumni are finding ways to ensure their communities have the resources they need.
When Christopher Edwards ’87, along with co-owners of their newly expanded Dallas clothing company, was forced to lay off workers, he knew they had the means to help. The trio soon re-tooled the manufacturing side of their 13,000 square-foot store and got to work producing face masks. What started as one or two soon turned to 100 face masks a day. “We still can’t keep up with the demand,” he reports. Clean Works co-founder, Paul Moyer ’84, is using a machine built to safely and effectively sanitize fruits and vegetables to sanitize the personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. The company’s Clean Flow machine can sanitize as many as 1,200 masks—including N95 masks—an hour, destroying up to 99.99 per cent of pathogens on surfaces. The Giffin family, which includes Alison ’98 and Doug ’07, are working hard to support the COVID-19 effort. The solutions-based business has teamed up with the Ford Motor Company to help convert Ford’s Michigan-based components plant, so employees can safely produce 7,200 ventilators per week. Doug has proudly joined his father, CEO and Founder, Don Giffin in the family business.
Megalomaniac winery owners, John Howard and daughter, Erin Mitchell ’90 are helping us raise a glass to our brave frontline workers. Proceeds from their new wine, Much Obliged will be going to Food Banks Canada—but they aren’t stopping there. The Beamsville-based duo have been out delivering 720 bottles of their best to workers at hospitals and care facilities across Ontario. Kelsey Peters ‘10 has written and illustrated a children’s book, Where Has the World Gone? to help explain the pandemic to little ones. All proceeds raised through Amazon sales will be donated to charitable organizations requiring an extra boost during COVID-19. A conversation on dwindling PPE compelled community member Ryan Dorland—son of Scott ’73—to get involved. Ryan set up a Go Fund Me page to help purchase 3D printers which can, in turn, produce the bands used to hold the plastic shields for protective masks in place. He’s raised more than $5,000 so far, has donated hundreds to Toronto East General and Milton Hospitals, and currently has eight machines running. Future funding will go to pay for the plastic rolls the machines require.
TIGER | WINTER 2020
COVID-19 RELIEF FUND During the COVID-19 pandemic, the value of a Ridley education has become even more clear, as we receive reminders of the care and compassion with which Ridleians are serving others. It is more important than ever that we continue to inspire the flourishing lives which transform our globe. We are aware that our community is not immune to the economic challenges experienced by many during these extraordinary times, and families who are financially impacted may face having to withdraw their children from our school. With this in mind, our Board of Governors, Ridley College Foundation and Ridley College Fund USA Inc. are pleased to announce the initiation of a COVID-19 Relief Fund. This fund will help support current and prospective families who have been negatively impacted by providing them with additional tuition assistance for the upcoming 2020-21 academic yearâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and some peace of mind as they consider the future of their childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s education. We recognize that these may be difficult times for you as well. However, if you have the capacity, we hope you will give to the COVID-19 Relief Fund to help ensure that no student will be prevented from attending Ridley. Your gift will now have double the impact, thanks to a generous matching offer of $250,000 from the Ridley College Foundation and Ridley College Fund USA Inc. We thank you for your continued support of the Ridley community and for thinking of our students during these challenging times.
support and inform the agenda of our BOG
make up our Board of Governors, who serve 5-year terms
ALL VOLUNTEERS meet several times per year and attend various special school events
THE STANDING BOARD COMMITTEES We believe effective governance hinges on a diversity of perspectives—and our Standing Committees are a reflection of this. Each Committee works to support and inform the agenda of our Board of Governors and is chaired by one of its members.
Finance, Audit & Human Resources (FAHR) long-range financial planning, tuition-setting, cash flow, financial reporting, pension administration, HR strategy, and risk management.
campus master plan and major construction activities, in addition to overseeing capital maintenance budgets, major contracts, and real estate matters.
community engagement, fundraising activities and campaigns—including the annual fund campaign—as well as admissions, marketing and communications.
Governance & Nomination Identifies, cultivates and recruits new Governors and committee members— and is always seeking fresh new talent.
Be consumed in service The Board's Governance Committee is always seeking talented applicants for our committees (and ultimately potentially our board) who are energized by the advancement of Ridley College, and with expertise in the fields of law, finance, education, facilities/construction, marketing/communications, human resources, business, public health, technology, or executive level governance or leadership.
The Board of Governors Comprised of up to 18 members who serve five-year renewable terms, the BOG is committed to the successful governance and sustenance of Ridley College. Our Governors give generously of their time and talents to serve our school.
Volunteers can expect to meet between four and six times per year, and to attend special events throughout the school year. A strong passion for Ridley, a willingness to fully engage as a school leader and steward of our school’s future are essential aspects of the life of a Governor. Terar dum prosim. Please visit us at ridleycollege.com/why-ridley/leadership—governance to learn more and apply.
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
F E AT U R E S T O R Y
Halfway Across the
Bridge of Difference
The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean’s speech from her visit to Ridley for the MGI Gordon Speaker Series.
Excerpts taken from “To Be Consumed in Service in a World on Fire: Working for Positive Change in the 21st Century,” The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean’s speech from her visit to Ridley for the MGI Gordon Speaker Series.
Terar Dum Prosim. It’s our school’s motto, proudly displayed around campus, taken to heart and deed by Ridleians for more than a century. But what does it mean, in today’s world, to be consumed in service? It was the question posed to young audience members by Michaëlle Jean—Canada’s 27th Governor General and Commanderin-Chief—on her visit to Ridley this past January for the MGI Gordon Speaker Series. And as she stood at the podium, illuminated by the light of the Mandeville Theatre, she spoke of what’s increasingly at stake: from civil discourse, to the plight of the
disenfranchised, to the health of our planet. She implored students to consider how best to channel their passions, and showed them, through the power of storytelling, how their “most precious asset”—the stories of our collective past—can be used to move forward, together. Beyond words and the local idiom, there is something even more powerful we can call the shared language of our universal and shared humanity: expressing the ideas and thoughts that speak to our common experience helps us re-imagine and re-shape the world as a space where we can share solidarity, cooperation, fundamental rights and freedom, dignity, global justice, inclusive and responsible development,
environmental sustainability, creativity— embracing our cultural diversity and the richness of our perspectives as part of the human journey. We are all bound together by a shared history that has shaped our past, and therefore shapes our present. But we need to come to terms with an inescapable fact: colonial violence, destruction, war, many crimes and mistakes are also part of our shared history. The same way we are also entwined by shared experiences that have lifted and connected us, exacting but successful struggles have shaped and built our communities. Let us remember that millions of people from every corner of the earth left darkness and despair behind, to land here with nothing but their nightmares and their dreams, their struggle for survival and their hope for a new life.
most vulnerable and disenfranchised youth in Canada. “At the core of what I do,” she shared with the room, “what is closest to my heart, is the calling to serve and accompany thousands of young people in their professional development, the emergence of their talents, their desire to create, reinvent, innovate, build, contribute to the common good, serve and produce freely and to the fullest extent of their abilities.” “The action of young people changes everything, because it has always been the most luminous source of engagement in the world … Young people constitute human capital in which we must invest the most—but unfortunately invest the least.”
All over the world, that’s how change usually comes about—through young people … Without them, there is little hope to find long-lasting solutions to the challenges we face.
Madame Jean’s stories were both far-reaching and immediate. She told the littleknown story of Niagara’s Richard Pierpoint—a former slave and black Loyalist who — Michaëlle Jean fought with the British and became a property owner in 1822 at age 78. The black We can’t see very far into the future, but a long communities “Captain Dick” helped establish contributed view of the past is possible: Memory is our guide. to the region becoming home to many African American In the big boat of history, that is why we row refugees, the final stop on the Underground Railroad for forward looking back. Facing our past helps us slaves reaching Canada. steer clear of old wanderings and errancies, She gave voice to the determined young women who while a glance above the shoulders allows us to first came to Ridley in the 1970s, and spoke of her stay the course. own experiences dealing with adversity: as a refugee, That is my invitation to you today. To row as a woman, and in the many professional roles in together as hard as we can in the present organizations where she was the first of African descent— moment, facing the past to maintain correct teacher, journalist, anchor, Secretary General of the direction, moving resolutely forward, toward a International Organization of La Francophonie—and as better future. Canada’s 27th and third female Governor General. Madame Jean is certainly no stranger to overcoming adversity. After fleeing Haiti with her parents in 1968, she slowly pieced together a life in Quebec, soon earning the degrees and scholarships which would allow her to study around the world. Fluent in five languages, a staunch supporter of the Quebec women’s movement, award-winning journalist, and UNESCO Special Envoy to her home country of Haiti, her many successes over the years were the result of courage, resiliency and a firm commitment to supporting democracy and human rights. In 2010, the stateswoman and her husband, (filmmaker, essayist and philosopher, Jean-Daniel Lafond) founded the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, which supports civic initiatives, through art and culture, alongside some of the
“I can relate to these stories of hardship when, as a group and as an individual, you find yourself defending your intrinsic dignity and human worth, expressing and simply exercising your rights and equality,” she shared. “These hold lessons for all of us, about what service means, and what it costs.” She looked back at the swell of history—Europe, Canada, our roots here in St. Catharines, and her own journey which led her to the podium that day—and then looked out at the audience before her. And as the poignant stories filled the intimate theatre space, her earlier invitation hung unspoken: And you? What will you do when you are called?
continued TIGER | SUMMER 2020
See the mass collective actions driven by the irresistible energy of youth. All over the world, that’s how change usually comes about, through young people. — Michaëlle Jean
Now more than ever, we need leaders willing to put themselves on the line to serve society, willing to make sacrifices for the common good, to advance our shared destiny as humans, around a commitment, for instance, to safeguard the global commons—the oceans, the land, the remaining forests and wilderness, the Arctic, the Earth’s atmosphere. That must now include a commitment to keeping a healthy atmosphere of dialogue, and a sane climate where disagreement is possible, and debate desirable. “We must strive to bring everyone, of all generations, on board,” she continued.“ with smart strategies that seek to unify, rather than needlessly polarize. With spirited, informed and well-designed tactics. With art and creativity. With guts and gusto. Building people power, mass momentum. Holding on tight to what being a citizen truly means. Through peaceful social power. With dignity, dignity for everyone as a core value—and a fierce dedication to be the change we want to see.” And you? How will you rise to the challenges we face in today’s world? To be consumed in service to a greater cause? “Nothing will happen without this generation—you, the student generation in this room—being activated,” concluded Madame Jean to her captive audience. “That is where I pin my hopes .”
Happy Retirement We’re wishing a fond farewell to one of our valued colleagues, Director of Development, Susan Hazell, who will be retiring from Ridley this summer. Susan first came to our school in 1979 to teach French and Spanish; returned in 1984 as a teacher and swimming coach, becoming the official Housemaster of Arthur Bishop East the following year; and, in later years, made an impact as Ridley’s Director of Development. For decades, Susan has been an integral part of our community, and we couldn’t be more grateful for her experience, leadership, vivacity, and warmth.
We asked Susan’s close friend and former colleague, Vera Wilcox—another longtime member of our community—to reflect on Susan’s career in Canada’s independent school system—and to give us a peek into what’s next. But if you’ve met Susan, you’ll know that wherever this next stretch of the journey takes her, it’s almost certain she’ll be smiling.
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
A Tribute to
Susan Hazell By Vera Wilcox
Sue and I first crossed paths in January 1980 when, at the suggestion of her tennis-playing fiancé Mike Hazell ’73, she came to take lessons at White Oaks Tennis and Racquet Club, where I was the tennis pro. I had met Mike a few years earlier, when my husband and I played tennis with him in Stratford. My first impressions from those lessons include how Sue’s smile lit up her entire face, making me feel great just being around her; her eagerness to try something new—and how hard she worked to learn the skills; and her strong determination to excel. I soon realized these were not just impressions, but Sue’s inherent essence, the enthusiasm which she brought to everyone and everything in her life. In 1984, Mike was hired to run Sports Ridley, and the couple returned as teachers and housemasters of
Arthur Bishop East. The move rekindled what came to be a lifelong friendship and, for me, started a period of mentorship, as we worked together in independent schools for more than 35 years. As Sue moved through her career—at Ridley, The Bishop Strachan School, and later at Lakefield College School— she held a variety of leadership roles, ranging from Head of Residence, to Dean of Students, to Assistant Head of School Life—always dealing with staff, students and their families. In each role, she brought with her a curiosity and love of learning (Sue is a voracious reader and researcher), sincere listening skills, and a passion for helping others to improve and get the most out of their experience in their environment.
“For over forty years, Susan has devoted her professional life to advancing independent schools, especially Ridley. I’m personally grateful for her guidance and the ways she has bolstered our school’s fundraising over the past six years. Susan’s ties to our community run deep and her daily presence on campus will be missed. I have no doubt she will remain connected to the RCA as she enters into a much-deserved retirement.” — Ed Kidd, Headmaster
WORKING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Suzan Hazell Through the Years
BA, French & Spanish (education)
Teacher (modern languages)
Mount Allison University 1974 to 1977
Ridley College 1979 to 1981
B.Ed, Primary/Secondary, French (education) Queen’s University 1978 to 1979 54
Teacher (modern languages) Housemaster of Arthur Bishop East (1985+)
Assistant Head: School Life Lakefield College School 1993 to 2002
1984 to 1988
Dean of Residence
Waterloo County Board of Education 1981 to 1984
The Bishop Strachan School 1988 to 1993
Independent School Management (ISM) Summer Institute 1995 to present
Thinking about my relationship over many, many years with Susan, reaching back to when I was a student at Ridley, babysitting the boys, housesitting the pets, working for her at Bishop Strachan School, working in the Hazell family business, connecting with Susan in a variety of professional roles and, recently, in her capacity as Director of Development, simply brings a smile to my face. Every experience has felt like its own little adventure full of friendship, optimism, energy, laughter, and purpose. Susan lifts up everyone and everything she touches with humility and heart. I am one of many women who have benefitted from her mentorship and friendship over the years. – Georgina H. Black ‘85
Sue provided opportunities for people to voice their ideas, concerns and dreams, and she would always listen intently. She made them feel validated when she integrated this information into a vision, presented the group with a plan to evaluate, and then looked to each member for ownership—not only during the plan’s implementation, but its success. A consummate team player and leader, Sue always stood in front of, beside, and behind her team, whether it was made up of students, families or staff. Her passion for teaching continued with her involvement in the Independent School Management (ISM) Summer Institute, where she worked as a workshop leader alongside Ellie Griffin, presenting sessions such as “Balance Your Contrasting Roles as Dean of Students” and “Power and Influence: Women and Leadership”. Sue’s role changed in the early 2000s, when she became the Executive Director of CAIS, working with heads of schools from across Canada. Three years later, her career took another turn when she was invited to become the first Executive Director of Advancement at Collingwood School in Vancouver. Both moves were built on a solid foundation of knowledge and deep understanding of the independent school system—along with her valuable hands-on experience working with staff, students, families, and alumni. And, along the way, Sue took courses in
Executive Director Canadian Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) 2002 to 2005
fundraising and strategic planning, earning her IAP-S and CFRE certifications. Because she was such an effective and inspirational teacher, Sue continued to teach at ISM—now as a member of the Advancement Academy, where she worked with mentees developing action plans for capital campaigns and strategic planning. This period led Sue full circle back to Ridley College in 2014, when she became the school’s Director of Development. During her time at Ridley, Sue has not only worked in Development, but has shared decades of experience in helping to develop a number of the school’s areas, such as residential life, student leadership and more. Not one to sit still, in addition to tennis, walking, hiking, biking, spinning, and golf, Sue has now added curling and rowing to her ever-growing list of activities. With her retirement, not only will Sue now have plenty of time for these active pursuits, but she’s looking forward to spending time with family and her boys; connecting with friends near and far; planting, working and harvesting her garden; travelling; and any other new adventures that come her way. Sadly, Ridley’s loss is everyone else’s gain! I’m sure I speak for many when I say, thank you, Sue, for sharing your passion, your wisdom, your joy in mentoring others, and your life’s journey with all of us.
International Advancement Certification (education)
Certified Fundraising Executive International (education)
Independent School Management (ISM) March 2013
Executive Director of Advancement
Advancement Academy Faculty Member
Collingwood School August 2005 to June 2014
Independent School Management (ISM) July 2013 to present
Retired June 2020
Director of Development Ridley College July 2014 to June 2020
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
alumni work @ When it comes to the issues troubling our globe, we wanted to know what’s on student minds. And so, earlier this spring, we put out a poll on Instagram to learn which topics matter most to our young Tigers. The results? A whopping 56 per cent of students agreed they worry most for the environment, followed next by concerns about mental health. Ensuring human rights for all came a close third—which encompasses everything from gender equality to LGBTQ rights, to issues of class, race, human trafficking, and more. The Ridley community—which has always stood by our school motto, Terar Dum Prosim—has long known the passions fostered in our students today will position them to become the leaders of tomorrow—and our alumni are our living proof. We spoke with Indigenous rights leader and arts patron, Michele-Elise Burnett ’86; LGBTQ activist and Bermudian of the Year, Winston Godwin ’07; and rug manufacturer, Linda Alexanian ’85, whose work is helping to empower women and eradicate child labour from the ground up. Turn the page to learn their inspiring stories, and how they’re working to make our world a better place.
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
New Territory Winston Godwin ’08 talks resiliency, going global—and how he’s making waves in his home of Bermuda
alumni @ work If you’re new to Ridley and find yourself poking around the stories of its various members, you’ll hear time and again how grateful Ridleians are to be part of a truly global community. Each year, international students from over 60 countries flock to the school to study, soon discovering a second family, forming lifelong connections and learning, not only from classrooms, but each other. The result? A broad worldview which helps inform each journey, lighting paths that take them far beyond the Marriott gates. For Winston Godwin ’08, his years spent on campus were some of the best of his life. “It’s certainly beautiful,” he smiles. “but it’s the people who make it special. When I go back to visit, it all comes rushing back.” Winston grew up in Sandys, Bermuda, where he’s known widely not only for his work in the marine field, but as an important voice from Bermuda’s LGBTQ community. For years, the aquarist and his Canadian husband, Greg led the fight on same-sex marriage—a battle which still continues to this day. Winston’s clear articulation of the argument for equal rights, along with
his perseverance and resilience, led to his being named Bermudian of the Year in 2017, and a Ridleian of Distinction the year that followed. Born of hardworking parents, Winston’s father worked for years at the Bermuda Telephone Company, his mother a housekeeper at the Elbow Beach Hotel. “My dad always felt education was the biggest investment he could make for his children,” remembers the alumnus, who attended Saltus Grammar School before coming to Ridley. “He had always wanted us to go to Canada and believed sending us away to school would help broaden our horizons, our minds— ultimately the world.” After high school, Winston studied at the University of Guelph, graduating with degrees in Geography and Environmental Analysis and Geographic Information Systems. As someone who now works in the marine field, having joined researchers from around the world on The Turtle Project and clean-up crews on plastics research vessel, the Sea Dragon, he’s long been passionate about marine life, and has seen firsthand
It’s all about being visible. Just showing who you are, speaking about what’s important to you, allowing others to see you—that’s a fight in itself.
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
the human impact on our oceans. He now works as an aquarist, caring for animals at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo. A British territory settled by the English in the early seventeenth-century, Bermuda is self-governing, a parliamentary dependency which sits under a constitutional monarchy. Its small population—around 70,000 people—leans toward conservative views. Shortly after the amendment of its Human Rights Act in 2009, which ruled it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation, Bermuda held a referendum to see where the public stood on same-sex marriage. Only 45 per cent voted, leaving the question officially unanswered, but of the voters, more than 60 per cent were opposed. “Bermuda’s LGBTQ community is only a small part of the population,” Winston explains. “And when you have the majority voting on the rights of the minority? It’s problematic.” Winston and Greg found themselves at the centre of an historic case when the newly engaged couple answered the call to challenge Bermudian law. At the time, living in Canada, they were largely out of the fray, far away from what was playing out in Bermuda’s courts. But when his post-graduate permit expired, Winston left his job at Toronto’s Ripley’s Aquarium and took a position back home. Suddenly, he was in the thick of politics, finding himself alternately challenged and supported, and moving awkwardly through the world on defence. By May 2017, the court found with the couple, concluding that marriage is a right which all citizens are owed by law. The legal success was shortlived, however; Parliament put forth a bill (a challenge rooted in religion), which soon evolved into The Domestic Partnership Act. Though other
LGBTQ couples had married by then—including Winston and Greg—the bill passed into law and, once more, same-sex marriage was illegal. Since then, as other couples have come forward to appeal the decision and same-sex marriage has, again, been deemed legal by the Bermudian courts; the government has, again, stepped forward, taking its appeal all the way to Bermuda’s Supreme Court. After three separate cases, same-sex marriage is still legal, though Parliament continues to fight it. The final challenge, which will be heard December 2020 by the U.K.’s Privy Council, will be their final appeal, the fate of samesex marriage in Bermuda decided once and for all. Winston and Greg have now lived together in Bermuda for three years, Winston loving his work at the aquarium, Greg an occupational therapist at the mental health hospital nearby. Both miss the freedom they had in Canada, where it wasn’t such a challenge to simply be themselves, to simply be together. As Winston put it in an interview with The Royal Gazette, “My being gay: I have as much choice in that as I do being black. In being leftor right-handed. In being a woman or a man.” Change may be slow to come to the conservative islands of Bermuda, but it is coming. Like anywhere, the members of its LGBTQ community work hard to be recognized and accepted. Bermuda celebrated its first Pride this past August, hosting the largest parade
the islands have ever seen. “We expected a couple of hundred people,” Winston reports, thrilled with the event’s success, “but 5,000 showed up. It was a celebration of everything that’s come before it.” Winston, who was in his twenties when he first came out, losing the support of family and friends, found its other forms of strength where he least expected. Support can often come quietly, he’s learned over the years—a like on social media, a photo, an article shared by someone who supports the same cause as he. “It’s all about being visible,” he imparts. “Just showing who you are, speaking about what’s important to you, allowing others to see you. It shows people they can be themselves too—that’s a fight in itself.” Winston doesn’t know where life will take him, but he does know it’s getting easier. “It’s woefully optimistic to expect everyone to love you for who you are,” he admits. “And that’s ok too.” For the young couple, their lives together reaching out ahead of them, there’s still plenty of work to be done to ensure everyone’s rights are recognized—whether in the courts or on the streets. But for now, on the islands of Bermuda, they’re learning though the water’s surface may look still, there’s always movement underneath, and sometimes even farther below that, common ground.
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
Conversation Michele-Elise Burnett ’86 on leaving broadcasting, her Indigenous roots — and how she’s helping reshape Niagara’s cultural landscape
When it comes to her Indigenous heritage, MicheleElise Burnett ’86 is busy building bridges—and her work is helping to invigorate and reshape Niagara’s cross-cultural landscape. A proud Métis with Algonquin roots, in conversation she’s quick to laugh, wise and measured in her words, with a steady strength she credits her mother, well-known broadcaster and businesswoman, Dr. Suzanne Rochon-Burnett. Michele-Elise left a career in radio to follow in her activist footsteps, and now she’s working to find the creative platforms from which her people can speak. “My mom was an art collector, and she would tell me that our teachings are in our art forms,” the Ridleian thoughtfully explains. “Whether it be through paintings, opera, music, or modern dance—our Indigenous artists are the ambassadors to our culture and traditions. I’m working to educate others on the power of healing through the arts, and help construct a strong cross-cultural community based on mutual and sustaining respect.” To speak with Michele-Elise is to receive a lesson in conversation—but you might say it’s in her blood, coming from a heritage rich with oral traditions, and the only child of one of Canada’s broadcasting pioneers. Michele-Elise was raised in radio, her time spent playing in production studios, her world filled with music, talk and entertainers. Her father, radio62
station owner Gordon Burnett, served two terms as President of the Juno Awards, and brought country music to life in Canada. In 1992, he was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame as one of the founding members of the Country Music Awards. “I always knew I’d go into broadcasting,” she says, looking back. “I loved that you weren’t at the mercy of the size of a screen—you had to think outside the box to be able to paint pictures with only words and sound.” In 1996, after graduating from Ryerson University’s Radio, Television & Film programme, Michele-Elise and Suzanne took over the radio station and launched Spirit 91.7 FM, a hard-won battle that followed two gruelling years spent in and out of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The women proudly became the first Indigenous people in Canada to be granted licenses by the CRTC. Before her mother passed in 2006, she entreated her daughter to take over where she left off, to continue sharing the deep-rooted beauty of her people’s culture and traditions through the lens of art. Michele-Elise was heartbroken by the loss. Suzanne was highly decorated and revered in the community, named to the Orders of Canada and Ontario, a founding member of the Métis Nation of Ontario, recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, and
alumni @ work
My people will sleep for 100 years, but when they awake it will be the artists who give them their spirit back. - Louis Riel
the first woman to be inducted into the Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame. But she was also MicheleElise’s best friend, her mentor and teacher. When Michele-Elise left the business two years later, there was no set plan. “In the radio industry, I knew who I was. I lived a great life,” she shares. “But I still have pain. I still carry the pain of my mother, my grandmother, my ancestors. I just knew that I wanted to bridge people together, to find those platforms that would give our people a voice.”
She officially relaunched Kakekalanicks, the consulting company her mother had started back in the 1980s, which helped champion and sell Indigenous art pieces all over the world. But where her mother focused on visual arts, Michele-Elise takes a multidisciplinary approach, working to promote and educate people about Indigenous ways of life on stage, in outdoor spaces and in classrooms nationwide. The company now supports many of the area’s cultural projects.
And, over time, the plan came into focus. MicheleElise now develops projects that are transforming Niagara’s understanding of Indigenous people—and, looking forward, she’s determined to bring those projects to life across the country.
Joining forces in 2014, she and business partner, Tim Johnson have since worked together to develop arts and educational programmes across the Niagara region. Projects include the Indigenous Cultural Map—an online resource which brings to life historic
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and cultural locations along the Niagara Escarpment through artistic expression; the Celebration of Nations event—an annual gathering of Indigenous arts and culture; and Landscape of Nations 360°—an ambitious not-forprofit which works to create, design and implement educational and expressive arts programmes to help transform public understanding of Indigenous peoples. And Niagara has been quick to respond. In 2018, MicheleElise won the GNCC Women in Business Cultural Arts Award for her work with the Celebration of Nations. “It felt like I was receiving this on behalf of our artists, our knowledge keepers,” she recalls, honoured to be amongst so many accomplished women. “To have Niagara honour an Indigenous person was heartwarming— because without our community behind me, nothing happens. Things are shifting.” The pair is now working on a new project called Empathic Traditions, a virtual museum created in partnership with the Niagara Falls Historical Museum which will teach people about the region’s rich history. “Before contact, the different chiefs would come to Niagara’s ‘Thundering Falls’ to discuss what was going on in our nations on Turtle Island,” she says, using the name used by many for North America. “It was a migration path for millennia. We’ve found artifacts in Niagara dating back 13,000 years.” A Brock Board of Trustees member and co-chair of the Aboriginal Education Council, Michele-Elise is also
working closely with the school’s inaugural Vice-Provost of Indigenous Engagement, helping to develop plans for the years to come. “It’s a moment of change,” Brock President Gervan Fearson said in an interview with Brock News. “We’re building an institution that’s inclusive of all peoples—and in particular Indigenous communities.” The university now proudly flies the Two-Row Wampum flag, gifted by Michele-Elise and Tim, and the campus roundabout has been named “Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Circle,” and a scholarship given in her name. The first training programme of its kind in Canada, the Landscape of Nations 360° Indigenous Education Initiative is going into its third phase, developing a framework for essential understandings about the region’s Indigenous peoples, aimed at educators across the Peninsula. “We in Niagara are the inheritors of a profound story involving many of the Indigenous nations,” Michele-Elise explains, hoping to expand the programme country-wide. “But students have been taught with materials which leave them with no understanding of the world-changing achievements of our ancestors. Policy decisions that negatively impact Indigenous, Inuit and Métis people— these deficiencies result, in large part, from a lack of education beginning in grade school.” The impressive programme, which aims to soon rollout these materials in classrooms, has been eagerly taken up by schools across Niagara—including ours. This past year, four teachers from Ridley participated in the training
sessions. For Michele-Elise, working to bring Indigenous history and culture to its familiar classrooms is a natural fit. “We’re a Ridley family,” she laughs, sharing that they’re building a memento-filled ‘Ridley Room’ in their new house. “I was no longer a minority when I went there,” she explains. “There were so many different cultures and backgrounds; I was just like everyone else, all raised under the same Ridley roof.” “To now be working with Ridley and collaborating on LON 360° is incredible. It’s family.” One of the few women on Ridley’s U.S. Foundation Board, Michele-Elise has been an integral part of our community for years, whether serving on the Marketing Committee (now Advancement Committee), on the Board of Governors, or launching the Women of Ridley—a group where like-minded alumnae can reach out for mentorship and support.
She dreams of one day establishing a Women of Ridley scholarship. When Michele-Elise had children, it was important to her that they attend Ridley, which provided her with the discipline, global mindset, and friendships she still has to this day. “But I was one of the few single mothers,” she remembers. Her children, Zander Burnett Metz ’12 and William Louis Reich ’19 both graduated from Ridley. “It was difficult, at times, and led me to think about how we can help other women, other alumnae, who are now doing the same.” And, as the region continues to embrace its Indigenous history, our school one of many eager to incorporate a rich and little-known past into its future, MicheleElise’s commitment to her community only deepens, the footprints on the path her mother travelled now shared by her own steps. “My people will sleep for a hundred years,” Métis leader Louis Riel predicted more than a century ago, a quote that’s close to her heart. “But when they awake it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.” For Michele-Elise, who has long recognized the need to rouse us all—be it by brush, on stage, or in the classroom—the voices of our past are growing louder, and the stirrings of these lands are coming to life once more. It’s time to wake up.
DID YOU KNOW? In 2018, Ridley struck a committee to evaluate the former ‘House Tribes’ system. We have now transitioned to ‘Lower School House Teams’ that nod to our unique Canadian geography. Students continue to sport red, blue, green and yellow for spirited competitions, but now represent Southern Flame, Northern Ice, Eastern Rock and Western Storm. TIGER | SUMMER 2020
Making a Difference From the Ground Up
alumni @ work
It was on a buying trip in the early ’90s when Linda Alexanian ’85 first became aware of the children working in India’s rug-making industry. “There were kids in the factories, on the looms, doing all processes of the manufacturing,” she says, remembering some as young as eight, “and the suppliers didn’t seem to care. It was just considered a way of life.” That trip stoked in Linda a lifelong determination to get those kids off the factory floor—and she knew it would need to start with their mothers. Linda is part of the third generation of Alexanians, a family well-known for their imported rugs and floor coverings, along with a deep tradition of helping others. Her grandfather, Aris, who lost his family in the Armenian genocide, was instrumental in helping the government bring dozens of Armenian orphans to Canada.
When she and her parents returned home from India, Linda got to work as Head Buyer for the family business and, over the next three years, weaned the company off all suppliers who used child labour. She was appalled to find there were few who didn’t take the issue seriously—but she did find one, a supplier who’d worked with her grandfather years before. In 1996, now an outspoken campaigner for the cause, Linda was invited to be part of a government panel in Ottawa to discuss the import of products made by third world countries—countries known to turn a blind eye on illegal child labour. The timely event coincided with the new monitoring agencies starting to pop up—agencies like GoodWeave, with whom Linda works closely—who were ensuring workers were of age in global supply chains across India and Bangladesh. It was estimated there were over one million working children at the time in India’s carpet industry. TIGER | SUMMER 2020
“Do you know where your clothes are made?” she asked each startled member at the meeting, walking around the room. “Do we know this was not made by a child?” Chatting recently with the Ridleian, who’s now working from her home in Montreal, Linda’s empathetic nature comes easily across as she shares the story, as does her light and quick-witted humour, her passion for design, and her steely resolve for the cause at the heart of her career. When asked about her time at Ridley, she lights up. “To this day, my closest friends are Ridleians. Whenever something good happens, I text my best friend, Stew,” she smiles, referring to fellow alumnus, Stewart McKeough ’85. “and he replies with this image.” She shows a picture of a simple red circle, penciled on a white background. “It means ‘circle the day,’” Linda explains, adding that the expression comes from Stew’s mother, Joyce (wife of former Board Chair, Darcy McKeough ’51). “We celebrate the good things that happen by taking out a pen and circling the day in the calendar. The day I started Organic Weave was a ‘circle the day’.” Organic Weave came from the promise she’d made herself years before on that first trip. “No woman would send her child to work if she had an alternative,” Linda is adamant. “To fix this issue is not just to rescue kids from the looms and educate them; it’s to provide meaningful, sustainable income
to women. Women need financial independence.” In 2011, she partnered with the grandchildren of Damodar Das Barnawal—the supplier in India with whom her grandfather worked—and established her custom rug company, which works with women weavers from Unnayan, a cooperative agency in rural India. Linda’s stunning carpets are not only produced in a socially responsible way, they’re helping to preserve a craft that’s increasingly threatened by automation. And, as the name suggests, they’re organic. “The co-op is made up of a group of remarkable women who work on various handicrafts,” she says fondly. “Some knew how to weave, some didn’t, so we built looms and taught them. Since they were also making their own organic textiles, we thought, why don’t we make organic carpets?“ Perhaps the leap to organic wasn’t all that surprising, given that Linda started an organic shampoo business back in the ’90s with classmate, Nadine Karachi-Estrada ’86—but she hadn’t anticipated the amount of work it would take to become certified. Over the next few years, Organic Weave jumped through hoops to get the coveted Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) certification. Now, she’s proud to say that Organic Weave is the only certified organic rug company in the world. “And I don’t see any competition for a while,” she notes wryly. “It was not a simple process.” “We say farm to table with food, and this is farm to
floor,” Linda further explains. “There were beautiful rugs long before there were chemicals, so we had to research age-old rug-making processes. How did they moth-proof a rug? What did they do to set the dyes? To scour the wool to clean it? We took the craft back to its traditional roots and tried to replicate the process as if we were making rugs decades ago.” And, increasingly, it seems consumers are demanding organic. “People care about indoor air quality,” Linda agrees. “They’re making the connection between a chemical-free home and better health. Do you really want your new carpet off-gassing chemicals into your home? Do you want your baby crawling on it?” She pauses. “Anyone bringing a product into their home should be asking two important questions: Who made this? and What’s it made from?”
It was during an impromptu conversation with a fellow woman entrepreneur in India that Linda learned of the Sudara Freedom Fund, which helps provide safe housing and employment to women who are escaping trafficking and sexual exploitation. Evaluating its aims as similar to her own, for Linda, Sudara was the perfect fit. A percentage of the sales from Organic Weave now goes to the fund. Linda returns to India as often as possible, and her business partner, Bholanath Baranwal and his family can always count on her to bring gifts that are hip, cool and, of course, Canadian. The Ridley connection, ever global, finds its way even here: nearly 30 years ago, the Baranwal family sent their sons to Ridley on an exchange programme. “The family has very fond memories of the school,” she shares. “I’m always on the lookout for gifts they’ll like.” This winter, Linda opened January’s RCA newsletter and was introduced to Madalyn, a new luxury skincare line launched by alumnae Savannah ’11 and Tess ’12 Cowherd. She immediately went on the website and bought their beautiful face oils to take as gifts on her next trip. For Linda, it’s simply another opportunity to support her community, and speaks to her general outlook as a whole. Connection. Empowering women. Investing in entrepreneurs. Giving back.
The eye-catching rugs are inspired by nature, comprised of a colourful array of plant-based dyes, their details and motifs used in traditional Indian architecture. And Organic Weaves is also a no-waste manufacturer; each part of the process is made to order. Designed by Linda back in Montreal, her team in India dyes the raw materials at the mill before sending them on to the weavers, who return them to be cleaned, bound and shipped. “We have around 300 workers in the mill,” Linda says, “half of them women, and we work with up to 50 women weavers at a time.” Early on, it was important to Linda that part of the company’s proceeds go back to the communities in which these women work, and she sought to find the right agency to support.
“Ridley taught me that it’s never just about us,” she says thoughtfully. “When we take a genuine interest in those around us— whether that means giving back in the spirit of Terar Dum Prosim, or simply taking the time to learn about and engage with others—we connect and create community. And it’s those connections that give meaning to our lives.” Though, to us, they may seem far away—in some ways across the world, in others right at our feet— these connections are what drive her forward, as Linda works to weave together the traditions of the past, to help care for those who belong to its future. “As long as there’s one child still in this industry, there’s more to be done,” she says, suspecting thousands are still at the looms. And she’s right. When it comes to a just and sustainable future, Linda knows, more than most, that it’s all about good design—and she’s helping to build it from the ground up.
Batting a Century: AT 100, RIDLEY’S OLDEST ALUMNUS TALKS FAMILY, RETIREMENT—AND HOW HE’S STILL LIVING THE GOOD LIFE.
When it comes to longevity, who better to share its secrets than Ridley’s oldest living alumni? We caught up with Bob (Robert) Dunsmore ’37 and his son, Ross (Robert) ’67 over lunch, just as Bob was set to turn 100. The two are clearly good friends, quick to laugh and take what comes their way in stride. The affable pair came to campus Homecoming when Bob was celebrating his 80th and Ross, his 50th reunion. Presenting them with a framed photo from the event during our visit, we all agreed they’re likely the oldest living father and son of any independent school in North America. “I really don’t want the responsibility,” Bob quipped. “I’d rather not have to worry about maintaining it.” “Well, that’s entirely up to you,” his son joked back goodnaturedly. “We can quit whenever you want!” Born in 1919, Bob attended Ridley back in the 1930s, when H.G. Williams was Head of Lower School. Though he felt quite alone when he first showed up, an eight-year-old boy boarding for the first time, Bob soon forged bonds with other young Ridleians who were looking to find their footing in a foreign world. “I learned to adapt,” he remembers, nodding towards faculty like Terry Cronin who once taught him, and later, Ross. “and to develop a life for myself there.”
Bob would go on to school at King’s College and Dalhousie University, before working for the Interprovincial Pipeline. His career enabled him to travel, provided him with lifelong benefits, and put his each of his three children through school—Ross, along with sisters Cathy and Rosemary (you may know the latter, a long-standing actress on Stratford’s stage and from the popular Netflix series, Orphan Black). After he retired, Bob still worked for the company on certain projects and spent his summers in Nevis with his late wife, Ruth. The pair eventually purchased a beautiful property in nearby Montserrat.
If you worry your best years are the early ones, Bob’s story is proof they’re yet to come. To hear him tell it, that fruit-filled land purchase in the ‘70s kicked off twenty years of fun, with tales of slow and pleasant days settling into warm Caribbean nights, cocktail parties, plenty of dancing and, always friends and family. (He tells us the ladies of their cohort put together an expatriot Montserrat cookbook.) Bob describes those years as heaven. Sadly, Ruth passed away in 1990. Now, Bob lives in Oakville with his wife, Janette, who fusses when he isn’t dressed properly, but always kisses him goodbye and calls him ‘sweetie’. Fellow lovers of the sun, they spend much of their time down south, and Bob has hung on to his sweet tooth and still toasts his days with a good bourbon or a gin martini on the rocks. He has seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The easy camaraderie between Bob and Ross is obvious, and their energy, work ethic and interest in people are aspects of their personalities they clearly share. A Ridley boarder for six years, Ross came to campus in 1960 at the behest of his father, and quickly threw himself into all things active, winning the H.G. Williams Award in the Lower School. Though he participated in a variety of activities, the bright and busy student found his best opportunities came from sports. Ross was quarterback for Ridley’s championship-winning football team, and opening batsman for the cricket team, joining seven other Ridleians in England one summer to play on the Canadian Colts Team. Bob, travelling for work, would often come to Ross’ sporting events, showing up to cheer him on for his games. “He’d often be the only parent there when I was playing U16,” Ross recalls fondly. “The guys got to know him and still remember him. And later, when I made it onto the First team, he would bring my grandfather down for the games as well. It was cool that they were always there.”
It was an interview he conducted as a student here at Ridley—with legal mind, John Turner—that led Ross on his eventual career path. Inspired by the successful lawyer, Ross followed Turner’s lead and took economics and political science at McGill University. He knew he wanted to be a lawyer, but a class on labour history soon grabbed his attention—and Ross found his niche in labour and employment law. After graduating from Queen’s University, Ross was hired at one of the largest employment firms in the country and went on to work there for 32 years. Considered one of Canada’s top labour lawyers, he opened his own practice, Dunsmore Law, in 2006. Ross was Toronto’s Chairman of the Board of Trade in 1998, spent time on Ridley’s Board of Governors helping resolve human resources and labour issues (he was among those who advocated for bringing girls to Ridley), and still speaks widely on labour subjects across Ontario. Now 70, Ross shows no signs of slowing down. A father, stepfather and now grandfather, he and his wife, Lorna, live in Stouffville and still work together at the Toronto-based firm. He’s increasingly veering his professional interests toward the rights of older employees, finding ways to help protect their rights and what they’ve spent their lives working for. He’s also helping usher in a new generation
of lawyers. “There’s a tremendous excitement in coaching people to a level of excellence,” he shares. “I don’t need to be number one anymore; I don’t need to be talked about. I’m ok with that. But I’ll help YOU be the person who will be talked about—and on the way through, I’ll make sure you learn how to do it right. If I can sell that to a younger generation, I can work until I’m a hundred.” Judging from the elder Dunsmore, it’s looking like that’s a distinct possibility. Over the course of that lunch, where they told stories filled with laughter, friendship and family, of working hard, but making sure there was always time to breathe in and enjoy the ride, it became clear that the lightness these two possess is a big part of it all. And as the birthday cake came to the table, lit and ready for his wish, we asked Bob what keeps him young. “Positivity,” he smiled, and blew out the candles.
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CLASS NOTES WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Share a few short words with your fellow Old Ridleians about important milestones, career moves, or philanthropic endeavours. Please include your full name and the year you graduated from Ridley.
Bill Redelmeier ’71 and his team at the Southbrook Organic Vineyards adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by handdelivering ordered wine around the Greater Toronto Area, in addition to shipping across Canada. Bill says what’s been dubbed ‘Purple Glove Deliveries’ have strengthened their community bonds within the Niagara region.
1980s An historical society in Barre, Vermont had been actively seeking an experienced baker for a local landmark that used to sell hand-baked bread as far back as 1913, and serendipitously, Jim Haas ’81 and his wife, Larissa stumbled upon opportunity. Originally from Vermont and living in Ukraine, they made the move back to the United States and have now opened up shop at the Rise Up Bakery. Alumna, Erin Lyons ’83 has been appointed the Executive Director of the Lincolnwood Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Illinois. In her new role, she will help to move the city forward, through business development, support of citizens and economic growth. Commercial breeder, David Anderson ’88 was featured recently in the Thoroughbred Daily News. The “model horse breeder” and member of the Ontario Racing board is getting plenty of attention from prospectors for his boutique quality consignments and talented horses—and credits his success to good old-fashioned discipline.
2000s High resolution images (300dpi, 2MB minimum) are welcome to accompany your Class Note. SEND TO: email@example.com
February 6th, students joined together with distinguished guests for the annual Cadet Mess Dinner. Special guests included President of the Family Guild, Hannah Ulrich; Board Chair, Dave Carter ‘88; and guest speaker, Shaun Padulo ‘07, who spoke to the cadets about the importance of connection, experience and tradition.
2010s Alumnae and sisters, Savannah Cowherd ’11 and Tess Cowherd ’12 recently launched Madalyn, an inclusive skincare line which focuses on affordable, yet luxurious, products that are sustainably made. Chelsea Fischer ’12 has recently launched HomeGrown Designs, a business that conceptualizes and carries out landscape projects. Born out of her passion for creating spaces, Chelsea has dedicated her time to growing her business and bringing new concepts to Niagara. In addition to her landscape design company, she has also launched Niagara’s first Airbnb pop-up rental. On February 6th, Ridley’s Fieldhouse was transformed for the 2020 State of the City, which saw 500 members of the local business community in attendance. Alumna, Caroline Sherk ’12 delivered a flawless introduction, before Mayor Walter Sendzik took to the stage. Headmaster Kidd spoke passionately about our school’s 130-year history in St. Catharines, and Ridley’s continued pride over our city’s significance and renaissance.
Earlier this month, Ava O’Toole ‘16 organized a virtual reunion with classmates. Nearly 50 recent graduates logged onto Zoom and reconnected remotely. Although distance is keeping us apart, our school spirit will always keep us together. Trinity Russell-Marques ’17 completed the preveterinary programme at Dalhousie University and has begun her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Ross University in Saint Kitts, West Indies. Thursday evening House meetings look a little different in R2L, and Dean’s House is embracing the change, inviting former Knights to speak to current housemates. The first guest speakers were Jordan Mitchell ‘19 and Vincent Kenn de Balinthazy ‘19, who spoke about their new business venture, Quality Clothing.
In his International Baccalaureate Design Technology course at Ridley, Jacob Campbell ‘15 designed a tent/hammock hybrid that offers a comfortable, versatile and easy-to-set-up shelter for adventureseekers. Six years later, The Opeongo AERIAL A1 launched on Kickstarter and, in less than 24 hours, was fully funded.
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BIRTHS Stuart ’06 and Kimberly Milligan welcomed Rory Stuart Milligan to the world on February 10, 2020. Vivian Mitchell was born to Andrew Mitchell ’98 and his wife Leah on March 9, 2020. Big sisters Grace and Audrey couldn’t be prouder. Joe ’82 and Catalina Pires were thrilled to welcome their first child, Jay Anthony Carlos Pires. Brennan ’01 and Andrea Wood welcomed their second son, Archer Wood, in March 2020. Amanda (Egert) McLean ’08 and husband Kyle, were pleased to welcome their daughter, Ridley McLean in May 2019. (We’re loving her name!) Jeanie (Hendrie) ’05 and George Ault welcomed their first child, Arthur Edward Ault on September 26, 2019.
OBITUARIES Richard M. Ivey ’43 died on December 28th, 2019 at the age of 94. Frank Wray Convery ’43 died on December 18, 2019 at the age of 94. John Drinkwater Sibbald ’47 died on March 20, 2020 at 91 years of age. John Winniett Digby ’48 died on January 31, 2020. William David Court ’49 died on March 30, 2020 at the age of 90. William Schweitzer ’51 died on April 27, 2020 in his 89th year.
Walter P. Fisher ’52 died on April 3, 2020. Kenneth Taylor ’53 died on March 29, 2020 at the age of 86. Nigel Harvey Hugh Frawley ’54 died on January 25, 2020 at the age of 83. Marvin David Kriluck ’55 died on March 1, 2020 at the age of 83. Clarke Band ’59 died on January 18, 2020.
FACULTY/STAFF Former faculty member, Mark John Bruce Gallop died at the age of 79 on April 1, 2020. Former faculty member, Raymond Oliver Neild died on May 8, 2020 at 87 years of age.
FACULTY & STAFF NOTES Faculty members, Gerardo Martinez and Marcie Lewis â&#x20AC;&#x2122;03 wed in the Memorial Chapel in front of family and friends on March 7, 2020. Jeff Auld popped the question to Prep Girls Hockey Coach and French teacher, Celeste Doucet â&#x20AC;&#x2122;07, on December 11 at centre ice of Tiger Arena. The couple will wed in 2021.
Ridley Carries On
130 YEARS OF RESILIENCE
s the world faces one of the largest global crises on record, one can’t help but reflect on our school’s history. From the Springbank House fire in 1903, to world wars, economic turmoil, and more, Ridley has, quite literally, risen from ashes through more than 130 years of unexpected plight. Though it may feel as though the COVID-19 pandemic has dented our armour, we know our school will once again prove its resilience and persevere in the face of this significant event. We’ve flipped through our anthologies to illustrate the major crises and challenges Ridleians have overcome.*
raced along the attic before turning its attention to the main school building. The firemen concentrated their efforts on protecting the adjacent houses, and what belongings could be saved were piled on the street and in the headmaster’s backyard. The Upper School students watched, helpless, as Ridley collapsed before their eyes. But those who knew Miller, knew that he would not give up on his beloved school. The loss of the Springbank building, though devastating, only spurred on in him a determination to build the school he’d wanted all along. Boys were temporarily rehoused, and within a month of the fire, everything was relatively normal in the academic programme and general activities; there was even a gym of sorts. Miller got to work finding and securing funds to build a brand-new Upper School and chapel on the same land as the Lower School—finally bringing the two together on the Western Hill in 1905.
The First World War (1914-1918)
Springbank House Fire (1903) It was a cold October morning when students were roused from their sleep by shouts of “Fire!” The boys jostled each other to get outside, grabbing a random assortment of belongings in their haste, as the fire-bell rang in their ears. They stood under the street gaslight, answering, one by one, as Headmaster J.O. Miller called the roll—thankfully, all were accounted for. By the time the firemen arrived, it was clear the building would be completely destroyed; spurred on by the wind, the fire had
When the Great War broke out, Old Ridleians immediately enlisted in military services, and the school was filled with the spirit of patriotism. But what started out as a feeling of adventure—the sound of marching infantry, bands playing martial music in the streets, and students filled with the rightness of the cause—by 1916 became grim, the realities of war all too real. The Acta Ridleianas of the era published obituaries of Ridley’s dead, their names and photographs raised on panels along Chapel walls. Tributes also went up celebrating those who were decorated for valour and leadership. Students donated pocket money to social appeals, war relief funds, and hospital wards; the boys held a minstrel show to raise money for the cause.
ARCHIVES CORNER They were told it was their duty to perform well at school and the students took it to heart. They found solace in music; the Glee Club was restored, concerts held, and the gymnasium was, on occasion, converted into a motion-picture theatre, where it would be filled with laughter at the slapstick comedy of film stars like Charlie Chaplin. On the ice, the hockey team was filled with a formidable fierceness, finishing the season with 16 victories. Canada lost 61,000 lives in that war; more than half of Ridley’s 800 graduates were in active service, and of them, 61 died. The Old Boys proposed a chapel in honour of the Ridleians who had lost their lives and raised nearly $50,000 by the spring of 1919. By the end of the war, the school had won a high place in public regard, and the mood on campus was one of confidence—that of a firmly established institution ready to grow and expand. Canada’s attitudes toward school and higher education grew with it; the number of applications for admittance to Ridley rose.
Recession (1922) in the midst of Spanish Flu Pandemic (1918-20) & Encephalitis Lethargica Pandemic (1915-26) The war years, and those that followed, were plagued by worries for health, as the Encephalitis Lethargica pandemic—a curious brain-attacking disease which left its victims still as statues, in a zombie-like state, or dead—raged worldwide. During those same years, the Spanish Flu pandemic swept the globe, killing millions. In an effort to prepare for what they worried would soon come to campus, Ridley’s governors approached architectural firm, Sproatt & Rolph to plan an isolation hospital. Construction began behind Dean’s House that September, and the new hospital was dubbed “The Pest House” by its first patients.
By October, as many as 60 boys had fallen ill. The most serious cases were reserved for The Pest House, the dorms converted to hospital bays for the overflow. Football season was disrupted, and a 10-day holiday decreed in late October to help reduce human contact. Though Ridley lost one member of its faculty and one nurse, no student died during the pandemic—a testimony to the skill and care of its medical staff. The Pest House continued to serve as an isolation hospital until the Schmon Hospital opened in 1947. With increased enrollment in the decades that followed, The Pest House was converted into a residence and renamed Governor’s House.
The Great Depression (1928-1932) By 1931, as Canada’s industrial and trade situation became more desperate, it was soon evident that Ridley could face a serious crisis. By fall 1932, enrollment had plummeted, and many questioned the wisdom in building the new dormitory (which would become Merritt House). Old Boys attending the annual meeting that December were worried about the cost of the forthcoming build. Though they acted confident, Ridley’s principal and governors knew the only way they could justify the spend was to find new boys to fill its dormitories. Old Boys were challenged to get to work as recruiters, and by the next fall, all heaved a sigh of relief when 27 new students started at Ridley. On campus, students became increasingly interested in current events, absorbed by questions of government, capitalism, and the various ‘isms of communism, pacifism, and fascism being debated around the world. Nevertheless, school spirit remained strong and, as early as 1933, enrollment began rising again.
TIGER | WINTER 2020
Only one or two boys were withdrawn for economic reasons during the Depression, indicating that Canadians considered education important enough to be one of the last expenses to be eliminated. We can only assume that a number of Ridley families made great sacrifices to keep their sons at the school.
The Second World War (1939-45) Still raw from the toll of The Great War, by the time the Second World War broke out, the hundreds of Old Ridleians who reported for active service did so with eyes wide open. Gone were the adventurous spirits of 1914; these men knew what it meant to be at war. Graduates of 1940 left the Prize Day presentation table and went straight to the fighting forces. Many seniors didn’t even stay to graduate. For Ridley, the war threatened to be an enormous burden; the school lost staff and students, had difficulty getting supplies and there were problems of families divided. The mood amongst students was one of defiance, peppered by the occasional fierce display. Though it was hard to concentrate—for both students and teachers alike—academic rigour was still upheld, and the boys were active in debate, public speaking, music, drama, and athletics. The new Iggulden Gymnasium revolutionized the school, the perfect site for performances and plays, and the state-of-the-art space made way for activities and sports beyond the traditional trio of football, hockey and cricket. At the end of the war in 1945, a gesture to commemorate the dead, similar to the Memorial Chapel, was desired by all, and the Memorial Hall was planned. During the span of the war, the administration recognized the great advances being made in industrial technology, and of the worldwide move toward science. Ridley got on board, creating the strongest physics and science staff they could assemble in order to adapt to the impending age.
Recession (1950) and the Korean War (1950-53) People had not yet recovered from the Second World War when the Korean War broke out, and active service loomed yet again for Ridley’s seniors. The Cadets received new attention, now looked upon to train Canada’s soldiers of the future. A lavish provision of supplies filled the gymnasium’s armory with guns, rifles, drums, bugles, and signal radio equipment; the Cadet Bugle Band was upgraded with new artillery trumpets, cymbals and bell lyres. School
time was spent on military training, ablebodied young men prepared to enlist for Korea or any other areas of conflict. The numbers of Ridleians who were serving were troubling: 14 Old Boys were in the Canadian Army; five in the Royal Canadian Air Force; seven in Korea serving with the U.S. Air Force; 12 in the Royal Canadian Navy; three in the Royal Navy; and eight serving in the U.S. Navy. Though the school’s atmosphere didn’t have the same tension that was present during the major wars before it, there was a deep anxiety about what the future would hold and where communist aggression could go. Student enrollment numbers declined as the recession tightened wallets around the country but recovered in step with the war’s ending in 1953.
A Decade of Transition: The Hong Kong Flu and the 1970s By the time the devastating Hong Kong Flu finished in 1969, it had killed over one million people worldwide and helped kick a recession into high gear. Like many boarding schools, Ridley saw a staggering 14 per cent drop in enrollment, brought about not only by financial woes, but by major changes the country was facing at the turn of the decade: the dismantling of the conventional family; drugs; student resistance; egalitarianism; a diversifying society, and the start of the computer revolution. Parents were complaining, faculty and students expressed dissatisfaction, Ridley’s policies and systems seemingly out of date. The school was caught between its conservative traditions and a society which had increasingly progressive aspirations. The question of the day was on everyone’s mind: How could Ridley preserve its 80-year heritage while adapting to these new realities? Its answer lay with a new, young headmaster, Richard Alan Bradley, fresh from the U.K., with experience leading schools that had been through similar changes. Buoyed by a willing faculty, a loyal and dedicated group of Prefects, and a $5 million financial campaign, over the 1970s, Bradley made changes which would pay off in the decades to come. Aware it could no longer solely depend on expanding its boarding population, Ridley welcomed day boys to the Upper School in 1972. By the early '70s, Ridley went co-ed— arguably the single most radical change in Ridley’s history. Bradley’s argument was not solely based on numbers; he
saw it as a logical step in a world where equal opportunities between sexes were becoming a fact of life. The first girls attended the school in 1973; by 1978, 26 female boarders were welcomed to the school, along with 18 day girls. Ridley’s numbers were rising.
to a feeling amongst faculty that the honour system was being disregarded. Spirits declined as many students chafed at the new rules; seniors felt they were losing status and privilege, and everywhere on campus people seemed to complain—whether about lagging technology, long construction projects, a disappearing Old Boys system, or something else entirely. Students needed to feel heard and Ridley needed an ongoing, focused plan—a review cycle which would examine all the school’s nooks and crannies, and take into account changing environments, new technologies, competition, and new demands. The Planning Committee ensured a wide range of Ridleians were involved in the process. They assessed all aspects of Ridley life, revisited the school’s mission statement and vision, addressed school spirit and the perceived lack of student enfranchisement in Ridley’s affairs, and created a blueprint that would move the school into the 21st century.
Post-Gulf War Economic Slowdown Leads to Recession: The Early 1990s There was a general restlessness that occurred in the 1990s, brought in part by the economic recession. Parents were dissatisfied, students impatient. Many areas of the school were showing signs of wear, resources limited, and renovations happening slower than some would have liked. Financial aid was stretched thin and, as the demand for information technology increased, concerns about what this might mean for the school increased with it. Co-ed programmes had been launched at Lakefield, Trinity and Appleby Colleges, and Ridley’s administration was uncertain what the competition would mean for its future. For students, things were becoming stricter. A dress coded was enforced and rules tightened in response
Changes were soon made. Seniors were given more control, more time was spent on arts and activities, Chapel service was moved to a more-convenient Friday slot, academic programmes reviewed, and changes made to student schedules. And, as the calendar pages flipped toward the late 1990s, Ridley recovered its numbers. By 1998, the school population—along with its spirit—had bounced back. Now, another moment in time, a moment when our world feels a little off kilter, our community just a little bit raw. But if there’s anything our school’s history has taught us, it’s that these are the moments when fresh, new ideas are born, moments when we, together, rise to the occasion. Each time we’ve been shaken, we’ve stood firmer, only inspired by another opportunity to grow. And tomorrow will be no different.
*Research gathered from Ridley: A Canadian School, by Richard A. Bradley and Paul E. Lewis
TIGER | SUMMER 2020
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