REVIEW OF Braemar House School BY Alum, Alyssa Bocskay
- Date of Review
September 15, 2021
Gr. 6 - Gr. 8
- University (major)
Brantford Collegiate Institute and Vocational School
(4.5) Overall Experience
My experience at Braemar was always a positive one. Everyday at school the teachers greeted people with a smile, and it was always evident that they really enjoyed teaching. There's a real sense of community within the school, and it feels like family. I really enjoyed that I had the opportunity to learn in a hands-on environment. My favourite part of the year was the annual school musical. The whole school participates in some way, and it brings everybody together. The one thing that I would change is adding crewneck sweaters to the uniform, as it often got cold in the winter. Braemar definitely prepared me for high school. Most of my Grade 9 year was strengthening my understanding of topics that I had already learned in Grade 7 or 8.
(5) School Leadership
The administration team at Braemar was wonderful. They always made sure that everything in the school was running smoothly and you can tell that they are very passionate about their work. My peers and I really appreciated them. The principal, Mrs. Krason, was like a mother to all of the students. She's so sweet and caring. She did an amazing job with the school musical every year. The school director, Mrs. Pass works very hard as well. She's very kind and I still have contact with her today! I feel that they were well respected by the students. They always responded to conflict by seeing both peoples' side of things, which I think is very fair. They communicated very well with parents, and I think that this was evident during the past year and a half (COVID).
The teachers at Braemar were absolutely amazing. They always put together engaging lessons and class activities. I really enjoyed the hands-on learning that Braemar teachers offered. The teachers were always respected by not only their class but by the rest of the school. As a student the teachers were very funny and friendly, but strict and serious when needed. I think it was a good balance of professional and fun. The teachers would always encourage the students to do their best work (the school's motto is 'Striving for Excellence' after all). Two teachers that particularly stood out for me were Mrs. Lavoie (my Grade 7 teacher, but she's no longer at the school) and Mr. Banks (Grade 8). They both helped me learn to manage my time well, which really helped me out when I started high school. They were also just really great people, and I loved being in their classes.
Braemar definitely offers enriched learning. I found that I was more than prepared when I began high school. The school helped students when they were struggling and made sure that nobody was falling behind. Even in subjects that I didn't typically enjoy, I found that I was engaged because of the interesting lessons that I was presented with. You can tell that the school really valued learning and wanted every student to be successful. I think that this reflected in the success of the students as well. Everybody at Braemar is keen to learn new things. Braemar is a good place for overachieving students. Like in any school, some students are competitive about grades, but for the most part people are focused on learning at their own pace. The teachers challenged me academically, but not to the point where I was completely lost. I learned to think outside the box.
At Braemar, there's an activity for everyone. From sports, to clubs, I was never bored. They encourage students to participate by using a point system. Participating in extracurriculars earns you points, and if you earn enough points in Grade 7 and 8, you win an award when you graduate. I feel like this helped students become well-rounded. In sports, students competed against other schools. But if you didn't want to compete in sports and just wanted to relax, there were plenty of clubs to join as well.
Braemar is a very small school. When I went there I think that there were around 120 students. I liked this because you knew everybody, even the students who were younger/older than I was. I think the typical student at Braemar is academically focused, participates in an extracurricular (outside of school), is an ambivert, kind, and accepting. Older students would help out the younger kids, and this made them well-liked throughout the school. Braemar is a diverse school, however I would say that the vast majority of students had European backgrounds. Since it is a private school where you have to pay to enrol there, I would definitely say that a lot of the families there are quite well-off. The students don't brag about their wealth for the most part though.
(4) School Life
I think that the students at Braemar genuinely enjoyed going to school, myself included. I think that the small class sizes definitely improved my time there. The teachers had time to help each student with what they needed because they weren't overwhelmed with 30-kid classes. I also found it very easy to make friends because everybody was so accepting. Differences are celebrated at Braemar. Of course, there are times during the year where every student was stressed, but for the most part the students were very happy at Braemar. I don't think that there was any bullying at Braemar, which was nice. The teachers knew how to recognize it and shut that type of behavior right away.
The community at Braemar is something that I've never seen at any other school. The parents have so many opportunities throughout the year to help out around the school. Alumni are welcomed back to the school for assemblies, to watch the school musical, and the school keeps in touch with them after graduating. I have kept in touch with some of my classmates after graduating. I really enjoy volunteering at the school over the summer, and looking around at the annual Braemar Christmas Bazaar. I feel very welcomed whenever I go back to visit the school, and it's not like I've been forgotten just because I graduated. Everybody is always so nice.
(4) School Location
I think that Braemar is a beautiful place. The school grounds are very big, which leaves a lot of options for recesses. We were even allowed to use the city property, like the soccer field, the basketball court, or the playground. In my opinion, the school was more like an island. Students were not allowed to leave the school property during recesses. The neighbourhood that surrounds Braemar is safe.
My advice for somebody applying to Braemar would be to just be yourself. Braemar students and staff are very accepting of everyone. As long as you aren't a complete jerk on your observation days, you're going to make friends. I was very nervous for my observation days, but my mind was set at ease as soon as I got to the school. The students there were so nice and welcoming. They recognized that I was nervous and tried to help me calm down. Mrs. Krason and Mrs. Pass did a great job of showing me around the school and making sure I knew where everything was. It was overall a very positive experience for me and I'm very happy with how my observation days went.