It was unthinkable. Right in the middle of English class, Lucy dramatically tore up the essay on which she had worked long and hard.
"Alana (Bell, her English teacher) took it with a grain of salt. She knew it was not serious. And I went back and reworked the essay."
What Lucy, 16, fails to mention is that in a coed school she likely would not have made her dramatic gesture. "What often happens (in a coed setting) is that girls in the middle school lose a bit of their confidence," says Bell.
The Linden School, a Grade 1 to 12 girls' school tucked away in a large house in Toronto's fashionable Yonge and St. Clair district, girls find their voices.
First thing Lucy noticed when she started at the school in Grade 5 was that, "I was not being intimidated by noisy, hyper 10-year-old boys. It just seemed calmer."
Another thing Lucy noticed: "It was so impressive to see how the younger kids were integrated with the older kids." Now in Grade 11 herself, she can't get over how self-assured Grade 1 girls, who arrived at the school shy and mute a year earlier, are when they make assembly announcements.
The calm and continuity pay off big time for the teachers. "I get to know the girls very well," Bell says. "I can develop a cohesive program, preparing the girls for the program next year."
In three years of teaching Lucy, Bell says, she knows her as a high achiever willing to take risks. A new teacher might think she's done really well (on an essay), "but I know she's not done the best she can do."