Ottawa, ON | Grades NS - 8 | Shortlist
My favourite part was the unique learning experience I was immersed in. The small class sizes allowed more one-on-one time with the teachers, and the environment sparked creativity and learning. I felt more than prepared when I entered high school, as much of the curriculum I was taught in grades 7 and 8 included some of the high school material. A prospective student should expect a very different classroom environment that allows children to be independent and collaborative.
The administration was very respected by everyone, however people were not afraid of the principal etc. There were not many instances where I remember people being sent to the office, however when it was a serious issue, the administration would deal with it appropriately and not let it slide. From what I can remember they communicated quite effectively through newsletter sent home to the parents on a regular basis.
I was very happy with the instruction at BHS. I had very positive relationships with all of my teachers. I think I connected with them more because they would teach in smaller groups and would wander around the classroom, talking to us one-on-one when needed, so I was able to develop a more personal relationship (that was still one of respect). None of my teachers ever penalized us in a severe way, they simply had us try our best and as such I was not afraid of them.
Being a montessori school, the learning environment was very unique but I found ir promoted more learning that a traditional school would have. The material I was learning by my final years was several grades above what other students my age were learning. Lots of emphasis was put on the science and french programs, as those were taught in separate classrooms, while math, english, history, etc. were taught by the main teacher in the main classroom. I definitely had a little more trouble with math so this is one area where more specialized teaching could have been helpful. The general student body was very supportive when it came to academics. We were given a lot of time to work on assignments, and many of us would work together and collaborate to finish things. I think this was partly due to the fact that marks were not emphasized (and often not given) so you were not competing or comparing yourself to other students. I was more than prepared from this program because I learned how to work collaboratively, think uniquely, and was learning at an advanced level.
There were many extracurriculars to get involved in. I was a part of the select choir that would compete in music competitions yearly. I also participated in the musical that the older students would put on most years. Most extracurriculars were inclusive, welcoming all students, however there were a few that were competitive (e.g. badminton team). I think the school did an excellent job of providing opportunities for students to become well rounded in the arts, sports, etc.
Bishop Hamilton was a very diverse school with families from all backgrounds. Many of my friends were from south asian, oriental, and caucasian backgrounds. Most students were definitely studious and being disinterested in school was not something that made you "cool". As it was such a small community, the students all knew each other well even if we were not in the same classroom. Overall a very friendly and welcoming environment. I was never bullied nor did I see any bullying occur.
Looking back on my experiences they were overall very positive. While I definitely went through a few years of disliking homework (as I'm sure most children do), I still enjoyed everything else about school and in hindsight the homework was not a huge stress on me. The music program, annual theatrical presentations, and sports kept my involved in ways that went beyond the classroom. Other students were all very passionate about the school and I never felt disengaged.
Parents are heavily involved in school life; I remember my parents and even grandparents coming to visit my classroom often and coming for the annual grandparents tea in the gymnasium. There were also other opportunities for parents to be involved; my mother always baked cakes for the staff and my father was the videographer for all of our school plays and performances. The alumni network is very strong, I still keep in contact with a few classmates and am always invited to the annual alumni barbecue in June.
The neighbourhood surrounding the school was a nice family neighbourhood; the public park we played in was always clean and we often used the soccer fields and baseball fields for sports and walked to the local swimming pool for swim lessons. While it is not a very expensive or "high class" community, I never felt unsafe, and often biked to school alone when I grew older.
I was admitted when I was a toddler so I do not have anything to comment on admissions.