Reflections and Advice:
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
One of the best aspects that I found with my experience at Ashbury was the fact that you had to take a mandatory amount of extra-curricular activities. At the beginning I was a bit worried about filling this requirement, but there are so many clubs that you can really find something that you enjoy. Not only that, but it's a great way to meet new people, and I've made friendships through new clubs that I might not have made otherwise.The second aspect of Ashbury is that there is a good focus on the Arts. Sometimes Science takes the front seat while the Arts is kind of forgotten, but they spent a lot of money on renovating a new art studio, a new music room, and a new creative learning centre. As someone who took music throughout high school, I really appreciated the fact that the school supported me.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
Ashbury really taught me to push myself and do more than I thought I could do. Teachers were always there to help and I ended up trying new things that I didn't realize would become a big part of my life. I think the best thing for me was completing the Ib diploma. I wasn't sure if I could do it, but by getting help when I needed it and balancing schoolwork with social time I managed to pull it off. I'm proud of my achievement, and I'm glad that Ashbury was there to help me realize my potential.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
My advice would be to try as many new things as you can. Ashbury has a lot of different clubs, so try them! Who knows, you might find something that you love to do, or experience things that you've never done before. If I could go back and change something, it would be to get more involved in extra-curriculars from the beginning.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
The whole experience is really amazing.The teachers are amazing, the clubs are amazing, the school is beautiful, the technology is cool. I could go on and on about the great things that this school has to offer. I think what really captures the vibe of the school is going to a homecoming football game and seeing the alumni chatting with old teachers and meeting current students. You get a real sense of community at Ashbury, and that's something that I still feel today.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
They have Meatless Mondays at the caf, so if you want meat that day you'll have to buy it yourself. Also visit the Green Roof. It's a cool space but not too many people ever go up there.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I know this sounds a bit cliché, but the teachers at Ashbury really made it special. Each one was willing to spend extra time outside of class to help you understand concepts and work through problems. Each teacher knows you personally, and they really motivate you to do the best of your ability. I had teachers that made math fun, and I really, really don't like math. They offer the math learning centre where every lunch there is a math teacher that is willing to help you with any problem.I also liked the fact that they offered the Ib diploma at my school, which allowed me to push myself academically and get ahead at university. It's one of the only schools in Ottawa to offer the program, and I think that this program prepared me for university very well. But I also found that there was never any pressure to do the Ib program, and everyone respected the fact that Ib wasn't for everybody. The workload for Ib was a lot, and there were a lot of late nights, but if you manage your time well, and you want to get prepared for university, then this is the program that you want.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I was surprised at the amount of variety of sports available at Ashbury. Some of the more popular sports like soccer had both a competitive team and an intramural version for people that want to have more fun. Personally I played baseball, which was in a semi-competitive league. The school does a good job at making sure that the competitive teams were as inclusive as possible while still remaining a competitive team. There's a big emphasis on football and rugby, but I think that's the same as most schools. The coaches of the teams were teachers that know about the sport, but they also brought in coaches of the University teams to help out with practices, which I thought was really impressive. I think the downside is that if you don't want to play football or rugby, then there isn't as much mention of the other less popular sports (like curling).
Art, Music, and Theatre:
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I liked the fact that there was a variety in what you can as an Arts credit and the fact that each of them are very good at teaching you what you want. The school recently renovated all of the arts facilities which I think shows the school's focus on delivering quality Arts programs. There are also many opportunities to show your art, whether it's showing a painting at arts night or performing a concert at the weekly assembly, there's always a way for you to show what you've learned. I also found that students are helpful when you want help with learning a technique or just getting advice on how to play a certain note.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
I enjoyed the diversity of extra curricular activities offered by Ashbury and the fact that they wanted you to get involved with whatever your area of interest was. There was a robotics team, multiple sports teams, art clubs, and things like model UN and round square. And with it being a private school, many of the clubs offer some kind of special trip that you can go on. For example, the baseball team took a bus to Port Hope for a couple of days (we missed a bit of school so we still had the weekend, which I like!). You get to gain new experience leaving home and exploring new areas with friends that you've made. The travelling was a unique aspect about the clubs that I liked.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
The dorm was a really fun time! The teacher in charge of running the dorms planned a lot of fun activities and also lived close enough that he was able to help with anything that you needed. There were trips offered on weekends, like going to Montreal to see a hockey game, and there was a real sense of community within the dorm. I never had any problems with my roommate and we became close friends. The boys and girls dorms are separated, so parents can rest easy. It was a bit hard to get food late at night, but there were cafes and grocery stores nearby that allowed you to buy food if you really needed something to eat. The cafe is open for breakfast lunch and dinner, and there was a good variety in the food.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
They had a good mix of everything, and you never had to eat the same thing over and over again. There was always a vegetarian option available, and a salad bar if you were just looking for something light. There's no fast food, it's all made pretty well with quality stuff. I think some of the food was local when it was in season too, but don't quote me on that. The fact that I didn't put on a ton of weight while leaving home (we all know about freshman 15) was a good sign.The cafeteria is a big open space that allows you to socialize with friends and get a lot of natural lighting. During lunch the sections are split up a bit so that you eat with your grade, but there are times when I would eat with different grades because I wanted to, and nobody minded. At the beginning of grade nine there are assigned seats so that everyone talks to each other, which is nice because it allowed you to make new friends and meet new people if you were new to the school.
Social and Town Life:
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
The area around the school is in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Ottawa (it's where the Prime Minister lives too). There are some cool cafés and a grocery store nearby, as well as a bus that takes you directly downtown in about 20 minutes. It's nice to walk around and look at the houses, and there's a nature trail next to a river that's quite nice. It's not the most exciting place to be off campus, but I find I didn't leave campus that often.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
There are all sorts of people there that you are basically guaranteed to find someone that has the same interests as you. The grade sizes are relatively small too, so I knew everybody in my grade. Everybody respects you and allows you to be who you want to be. I even hung out with people in different grades, and they were cool to hang out with. Even if you join a club without knowing anybody, you'll find someone that you become friends with. There are also things called Teacher Advisor Groups, where every day for about 15 minutes you meet up with your teacher and talk about random stuff. Groups are about 10 people, and you get to know these people really well as you stay with them for your four years of high school. My TAG was pretty close and my teacher was fun, so we had a great time every day we met. Plus sometimes you have snack days!
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