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Allowing boys to be boys at St. Andrew's College

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Boys rush from their living quarters at St. Andrew's College to class, the sounds of their shoes echoing through the hallways. They're anxious to get to class but make time for quick stops to greet friends and catch up on the day's events.

On the walls, posters advertise the theatrical extravaganza Focus Festival Of The Arts, a 10-year tradition that allows students to display talents some of them didn't know they possessed. The boys are involved behind the scenes and on stage, writing, directing and acting in the plays and contributing art to exhibits.

Students also participate in a three-night cabaret during the festival, when the school's tuck shop is transformed into an intimate theatre with a small stage and seating for 60. An informal event, the cabaret gives students a chance to take to the stage to sing and perform on instruments.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the boys' school nestled in 110 rural acres near Aurora, Ontario, that is home to more than half of its 470 students in Grade 6 to OAC - as well as more than half of its 49 faculty.

During its century of providing excellence in education and personal development, St. Andrew's has been acclaimed for its high standards in academics and outstanding performance in sports. Add to that now an acclaimed drama program, as well as a plethora of other activities aimed at developing the whole boy - mind, body, heart and spirit.

In an age when other single-gender schools are opening their doors to both boys and girls, St. Andrew's has remained resolutely committed to the education of boys only.

Struan Robertson, a St. Andrew's alumnus who is now the school's co-director of admission, says the absence of girls "allows boys to be boys... to have frank discussions and not get embarrassed."

Adds teacher William Scoular, "An environment like this is supportive. They can take risks and realize that it can be cool to be smart." And there are plenty of opportunities, including school dances, to interact with the opposite sex.

Robertson says the boys don't complain; in fact, they prefer it this way. Grade 8 student Patrick McGrath agrees, saying one of the benefits of not having girls at school is that "you can concentrate more on school." And with a schedule like his - performing in a school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and Focus Festival of the Arts, soccer, basketball and rugby - who has time for girls?

Grade 11 students Jonathan Lau, Chris Bibby and twins Tatenda and Tapfuma Musere agree that the absence of girls allows them to focus on school work.

Competition is alive and well at St. Andrew's, "but it's not for looks," says Tatenda. "It's a different kind of competition, to be better at academics and sports. It's healthy."

Lau says he prefers a girl-free academic environment - "I like it better" - although he admits it's difficult to meet girls when you live on campus.

It's difficult to imagine where most students would find time for girlfriends. They study science, economics, literature, art and business. They play sports and are involved in band and debating. The four Grade 11 students formed a Christian fellowship group to share and pray together.

"You sacrifice a lot for school," says Chris. But it's worth it; "the school gives a sense of community and family."

That sense of family is reinforced by the presence of the faculty members who live on campus, Scoular says. And the school's traditions live on, even when students have graduated and gone their separate ways.

The diversity of extracurricular activities is evident as boys scurry from class to sports practices to cadet meetings to play rehearsals. Their schedules are packed, but no one complains.

The campus boasts nine football fields, six tennis courts and enough room to accommodate many of the 19 sports offered - including fencing, cricket, rugby and lacrosse. A cadet program - mandatory for students in Grade 8 through OAC - offers training in first aid and formal leadership and sports such as rock climbing and scuba diving.

The school's reputations for academics and sports speak for themselves, says Scoular, who added its newest tradition when he founded St. Andrew's drama program 12 years ago. His approach is to teach the boys that "to be an artist or an actor is just as natural as being an athlete or a scholar."

Students are encouraged to take part in what Scoular calls some of the "most exciting productions possible." Last year, the school staged a fall production of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a winter production of The Fantastiks and a spring production, Focus Festival '99, in which 142 students had roles either on stage or behind the scenes.

"No other school in Canada or in Britain can produce plays like this school," says Scoular.

A Shakespearean play is staged every fall, reinforcing the importance of the playwright's work in the school curriculum and giving aspiring thespians a taste of the real thing. "One of the most prestigious feelings is being in a Shakespeare play," Scoular says. He celebrates the high calibre of the sets and costumes, as well as the acting. They "bring people to a professional theatre."

Scoular, who comes from a background in the arts and has worked with such actors as John Goodman and Keith Carradine, makes sure the students have a chance to work with professionals. They have included actor Elizabeth Shepherd, who has credits in Broadway and London West End plays as well as in the films Criminal Law and Damien: Omen II, and underground musicians Kurt Swinghammer and John Alcorn, both of whom performed in the festival.

Music is an important part of St. Andrews's culture, says Robertson. Taken both for credit and pleasure, the music program produces musicians accomplished enough to perform at recital nights as solo performers and in the school's jazz and cadet bands. The program also offers credit courses in piping, an age-old tradition at the school. Andrew Douglas, a Grade 8 student who has won a major award in an amateur piping competition, is one of many who hope to graduate with credits in piping.

A highlight of the year is the choral group's performance on the first Sunday of every December at St. Paul's Anglican Church. "To hear the young voices echoing in the church is quite powerful and moving," Robertson says.

Despite the many changes it has seen, St. Andrew's has retained its original motto - words to live by for boys today as they have been for 100 years. It reflects the hope that the students of St. Andrew's College will leave as well-rounded citizens who will contribute meaningfully to their communities and keep close to their hearts the traditions and values of their school: "Quit ye like men; be strong."

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List of Allowing boys to be boys at St. Andrew's College

    School NameTypePaceCost

    Robert Land Academy (est. 1978)  

    • Wellandport, Ontario
    • 5 to 12 Boys
    • Boarding school (125 students)
    Robert Land Academy is a private military-themed boarding school (Gr 5-12) helping boys to achieve their potential and gain admission to post-secondary programs. [View profile]
    • Traditional
    Standard-enriched$52,000 to $55,000MiddleSchools HighSchools Boys Boarding52000

    Crescent School (est. 1913)  

    • Toronto, Ontario
    • 3 to 12 Boys
    • Day school (743 students)
    Crescent School is a Toronto independent school for boys only, Grades 3 to 12. Tuition starts at $32,350. Crescent offers a variety of extra-curricular activities including sports, arts, outreach and robotics. [View profile]
    • Traditional
    Standard-enriched$32,350MiddleSchools HighSchools Boys Day32350

    Upper Canada College (est. 1829)  

    • Toronto, Ontario
    • SK to 12 Boys
    • Day school (1072 students)
    • Boarding school (88 students)
    Located in the heart of Toronto, Upper Canada College is the oldest independent boys' school in Ontario. Our graduates are highly regarded by top universities and post-secondary institutions worldwide. [View profile]
    • Liberal Arts
    • International Baccalaureate
    Accelerated$30,860 to $61,560Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boys Boarding Day30860

    The Sterling Hall School (est. 1987)  

    • Toronto, Ontario
    • JK to 8 Boys
    • Day school (312 students)
    The Sterling Hall School is a leading independent school for boys, JK to Grade 8. We understand how boys learn best and we support each boy in his learning journey. [View profile]
    • Progressive
    Standard-enriched$28,800Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Boys Day28800

    Northmount School (est. 1990)  

    • Toronto, Ontario
    • JK to 8 Boys
    • Day school (115 students)
    Northmount School offers an enriched curriculum in Catholic education from junior kindergarten to grade eight in Toronto. Its average class size is eight to 15 students. [View profile]
    • Traditional
    Accelerated$15,000 to $23,500Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Boys Day15000

    Royal St. George's College (est. 1964)  

    • Toronto, Ontario
    • 3 to 12 Boys
    • Day school (426 students)
    RSGC is an urban day school that combines academic excellence with a stimulating and supportive environment. Our mission is to challenge and inspire each boy to become the best version of himself. [View profile]
    • Progressive
    Standard-enriched$30,540MiddleSchools HighSchools Boys Day30540

    Venture Academy Troubled Teens Program (BC)   

    • Kelowna, British Columbia
    • 7 to 12 Boys/Girls
    Venture Academy is a therapeutic private school providing educational and clinical support services, individualized instruction and engaging interaction to get students back on track and restore confidence. [View profile]
    • Traditional
    Student-pacednot providedMiddleSchools HighSchools Girls Boys Homestay9999999999

    Heritage (est. 1984)  

    • Provo, Utah
    • 7 to 12 Boys/Girls
    • Boarding school (115 students)
    Heritage offers expert care for at-risk adolescents including those diagnosed with Mood Disorder, depression, anxiety, defiance towards authority figures and those on the Autism Spectrum. Learn more on our website. [View profile]
    • Progressive
    Student-paced$138,000 USDMiddleSchools HighSchools Girls Boys Boarding138000

    St. Michael's College School (est. 1852)  

    • Toronto, Ontario
    • 7 to 12 Boys
    • Day school (1035 students)
    St. Michael's College School offers students in Grades 7-12 an enriched, Catholic, liberal arts education complemented by a diverse co-curricular programme. [View profile]
    • Liberal Arts
    Standard-enriched$18,700MiddleSchools HighSchools Boys Day9999999999

    Venture Academy Troubled Teens Program (ON)   

    • Barrie Area, Ontario
    • 7 to 12 Boys/Girls
    Venture Academy is a therapeutic treatment and education program for students who may be struggling with ADHD, learning challenges, underachieving, behavioural issues, and a variety of clinical diagnoses. [View profile]
    • Traditional
    Student-pacednot providedMiddleSchools HighSchools Girls Boys Homestay9999999999

    St. Stanislaus College Prep (est. 1854)  

    • Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi
    • 7 to 12 Boys
    • Day school (315 students)
    • Boarding school (72 students)
    St. Stanislaus College Prep is a faith-based school that offers programs from grades 7 to 12 in Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi. [View profile]
    • Traditional
    Standard-enriched$25,510 to $33,950 USDMiddleSchools HighSchools Boys Boarding Day25510

    St. Andrew's College (est. 1899)  

    • Aurora, Ontario
    • 5 to 12 Boys
    • Day school (367 students)
    • Boarding school (259 students)
    St. Andrew's College offers programs from grades 5 to 12 in Aurora. Its average class size is 17 students. [View profile]
    • Traditional
    Standard-enriched$30,120 to $63,500MiddleSchools HighSchools Boys Boarding Day30120

    Fork Union Military Academy (est. 1898)  

    • Fork Union, Virginia
    • 7 to 12 Boys
    • Day school (30 students)
    • Boarding school (400 students)
    This military academy in Fork Union, Virginia is the premier college preparatory boarding military schools for boys in grades 7-12. Renowned for its emphasis on Christian values, academics and athletics. [View profile]
    • Traditional
    $32,000 to $37,450 USDMiddleSchools HighSchools Boys Boarding Day32000

    Selwyn House School (est. 1901)  

    • Westmount, Quebec
    • K to 11 Boys
    • Day school (540 students)
    Selwyn House School provides a well-rounded education of exceptional depth and scope for boys from Kindergarten to Grade 11. It is located in Westmount, Quebec. [View profile]
    • Traditional
    Standard-enriched$17,500 to $22,500Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boys Day17500

    Linbrook School (est. 2014)  

    • Oakville, Ontario
    • JK to 8 Boys
    • Day school (180 students)
    Linbrook School is Oakville's only all-boys school. This independent, not-for-profit day school fosters and supports each individual students special skills as an athlete, musician, performer, artist, writer or humanitarian. [View profile]
    • Traditional
    Standard-enriched$20,100 to $23,700Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Boys Day9999999999

    St. Peter's ACHS College School (est. 1990)  

    • Harrow, Ontario
    • 1 to 8 Boys
    • Day school
    • Boarding school
    St. Peter's ACHS College School in Amherstburg, Ont. is a day/residency school for boys grades 1-8 who love Sports and the Outdoors. Tuition starts at $8,900. and is a member of OFIS. We put "FUN" back into learning. [View profile]
    • Traditional
    Student-paced$8,900 to $27,400Elementary MiddleSchools Boys Boarding Day8900

    Villa Maria (est. 1854)  

    • Montreal, Quebec
    • 7 to 11 Girls/Boys
    • Day school (1400 students)
    Villa Maria offers programs from grades seven to 12 in Montreal. Its average class size is 28 to 32 students. [View profile]
    • Traditional
    Standard-enriched$4,175MiddleSchools HighSchools Girls Boys Day4175

    Hampshire Country School (est. 1948)  

    • Rindge, New Hampshire
    • 3 to 12 Boys
    • Boarding school (22 students)
    A friendly, active boarding school for bright boys who have good intentions but who may be too impulsive, intense, or bothersome for other schools and whose intellectual interests may separate them from their peers. [View profile]
    • Liberal Arts
    Student-paced$58,500 USDMiddleSchools HighSchools Boys Boarding58500

    North Point School For Boys (est. 2014)  

    • Calgary, Alberta
    • K to 9 Boys
    • Day school (60 students)
    North Point provides a program for boys that is a fundamental re-thinking of how a classroom operates. We design environments and experiences that are specifically geared to challenge and engage boys. [View profile]
    • Progressive
    Student-paced$7,000 to $12,000Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boys Day7000

    St. Clement's Early Learning School (est. 1955)  

    • Toronto, Ontario
    • NS to 2 Coed/Boys
    • Day school (150 students)
    St. Clement's Early Learning School 70 St. Clements Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4R 1H2 St. Clement’s Early Learning School provides a child with an opportunity for growth in all areas of his or her development. [View profile]
    • Progressive
    Student-paced$8,500 to $20,500Preschool Kindergarten Elementary Boys Coed Day8500