REVIEW OF Bodwell High School BY Alum, Tanatswa Chitenga
- Date of Review
October 23, 2023
- Grades (year)
Gr. 11 - Gr. 12 (2012 - 2013)
- University (major)
University of Calgary (Bcomm Management of info systems )
(4.5) Overall Experience
Like any other person, change always makes one anxious as it is unknown what's to come. There is nothing constant in life except change itself. Moving halfway around the globe did not make my case any different especially travelling solo as a minor for the very first time. Mixed feelings of anticipation were a strong bother. However, the support that came through from the Bodwell Homestay team really eased a lot for me. I remember I had arrived at the school for the first time a week later than I was expected so everyone had already gone through orientation and I was sort of the odd one out. Honestly speaking after being taken to my Homestay, and left in the comfort of my new host family I could sense a warm feeling and it gave me hope for what was to come. In a couple days, I was already roaming around with some of the students showing me around. The "international family" spirit really did the thing for me. I was the first Zimbabwean student to attend there and up to today I wouldn't change a thing about the experience as it helped my global network grow and to this day I use those skills and connections in my almost everyday life. Going into Bodwell is unlike most schools. I'm sure it's a feeling when superheroes get called to Avengers. We all come there from different backgrounds, culture and ethnicities but with one goal in mind. To develop, grow and connect.
(4) School Leadership
The school leadership was chosen by the people for the people. It's all in fairness that the pupils select their fellow leaders and strive to make a good learning environment one that is inclusive of everyone. On school premises, because we all came from different parts of the world we spoke different languages. Leadership emphasized on EOSP English Only Speaking Policy to ensure no discrimination or racism. Also allowing the students to form a Union gave the students an empowering feeling that is often useful in the outside real world. Relations between students, student union and administration were close to smooth as an assembly was run often updating on a house point system and those who are excelling as a way to motivate the students. I also got lots of help from the counsellors setting my schedule as I was switching curricula but they made the transition way easier with their explanation. It was also cool that I had a counsellor who would work with a single student each time working out career guidance options, mine helped me secure a scholarship and a spot at both the university options I was trying to get into. Such a relief.
One of the things that intrigued me when it came to the academic side of things was the student-to-teacher ratio. I was used to big classes and less attention from the teachers but Bodwell is unlike that. The classes at Bodwell were small such that the amount of attention and time each teacher spent on each student was more than favourable. Students have different learning patterns but at Bodwell that doesn't matter as it's structured so that every teacher is able to assist students one-on-one within the allocated time. Of course, every teacher has their own playbook but at Bodwell they really explained everything in real-world scenarios. Since I was looking to major in business later in post-secondary, I filled my schedule with pre-req courses. Hands down, Mr Chiu stood out for me and I might be biased maybe because he was also my phenomenal basketball coach. If not for him, I wouldn't have done so well in my dogwood. His teaching skills are out of this world. I remember for my economics class with him we had to do a project where by we had to run a small-scale business in the school cafeteria for a week. It was challenging but definitely eye-opening as compared to the theoretical aspect.
Academics at Bodwell were taken seriously both by students and the staff. There is an easily accessible library and teachers have an open-door policy whereby whenever you need assistance you can easily approach. I remember we even had clubs for subjects that would also assist those struggling and sharpen those who want to get better. In class, most of the projects if not all were done in groups and pairs so as to improve dialogue. I find it better working in groups because it improves a lot, i.e., push motivation factor, peer-to-peer learning and most people understood post-class discussions. I can almost say most of the stuff we did in university first year we had somewhat covered it previous year in some of the Advanced Placement classes offered and they were not mandatory. A customized schedule was curated with the help of both the staff and the counsellor to best suit their needs.
Extracurricular activities were taken seriously at Bodwell for student development mostly. It wasn't any different from how they saw academics. I'm sure everyone had to sign up for at least one extracurricular and would have to have a minimum of certain hours to graduate. It would show the different side of life rather than just academics so as to appreciate some of the small things we might have. I was on the basketball team and we were competitive for a school that had 500 students playing against 2000 pupil schools and we still made playoffs and the provincials thanks to Mr. Chiu who even ended up going 2 leagues up to play in AAA league. Go Bruins Go. A wide variety of activities are offered. I'm not sure which ones they don't have because there are just so many.
Students at Bodwell are a big rainbow. Different colours one people. Not a very large group of students but the family spirit and team spirit at the school was almost rad. People would show up for games to support full force again a crowd of fans 4 times bigger but would still outdo. I think having a smaller group made us more special as we all had special connections. I mean everyone either is in class with the other, shares a dorm or bus, plays the same sport, or is from the same country--it didn't matter we all coexisted. Anyone who would lift the Bruin flag up high and make the school proud no matter the activity always got vast respect from the masses. We were superheroes as the basketball team, sometimes getting small gifts like coffee and lunches just as a token of appreciation for the work.
(4.5) School Life
Student life at Bodwell was manageable. The only thing is being away from home at an early age might be confusing and disturbing somewhat. Most of the days if not all they had activities for the dorm kids and now and then for the Homestay and special holidays and occasions for the whole school. The student board and Admin work hard to fight the nostalgia that might be affecting some of the students. I remember we would have culture/ethnic-themed days where we would experience the background and origin of certain cultural groups. Bodwell is quite spontaneous so as to make life more interesting and comfortable. The first few weeks were hard for me in terms of being homesick but staying occupied got my mind off it. I won't forget how I fell on ice in a rink. To me, it was definitely a highlight as I come from a landlocked Sahara country. Living in Homestay also eased it: as time went by they got accustomed to what I like and might like. They filled the gap.
Bodwell community is one you just can't leave and forget everything behind. It's so vast, rich and resourceful such that in almost every encounter you have , your solution will be right there. The personell available are so equipped. Parents are very welcome and would visit for tours from different countries. After I played for the Bruins , i collaborated with the school to do a cultural exchange with basketball teams from Zimbabwe and we ran the tour for 3 years successfully. Each year we would have students travel to Canada for 2 weeks for engagement and possible transfer. Most players from Zimbabwe would admire the structure of the school and how its run. I guess because of the impact the school had on me, i did not wait for them to bring the invite but felt the urge to be an ambassador and preach the good word about the school
(4) School Location
The school is located on a beautiful north shore. It is quiet and peaceful and has a dog park. North Vancouver is a low-density place. I would often walk to school rather than take the bus. It was just peaceful and inspiring for a morning walk meditation. A really famous coffee shop is close too; don't try Thomas Haas or else you'll miss some of your classes haha.
The application process was super easy. All I had to make sure was that I had all my paperwork. All else is just placing the right info where it's supposed to be. The admissions team is also quick and thorough with their paperwork. Each day we would communicate with each other such that it took close to a week to get an acceptance. I remember I started talking to my coach and a fellow student who was already going there so as to assist me if I had questions that I felt might not be school-related but for well-being and getting admitted. I ended up getting assistance in getting a scholarship at Bodwell as well. The instructions were clear and I did not need much assistance but they insisted on offering help regardless.
(4.5) University placement and counselling
Truth be told, my counsellor grinded thought the whole process assisting me through every step. We began choosing majors and school options way before I could understand what we were doing. You are not forced into commuting into something. I remember applying to 2 universities as undecided but that didn't change much in terms of the response I got. Once you figure out which part you want to pursue, you start crafting your classes according to that so as to attain the required credits. By the time I got to grade 12, I had almost every credit such that I applied for early admission and got into the University of Victoria and the University of Calgary. All that was left to do was get a diploma but I had already gotten in. Smooth process.