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"staff do really well at being a positive and encouraging presence"


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Review of: Briercrest Christian Academy

Jenaya Langman - Student    (Jan 23, 2018)

Student Experience

Caronport Christian High School is a great school where growing in your faith and relationship with God and friendships are important. This shows in the way the school is ran as well as through the ways the staff treat and interact with students so positively. One thing I would have liked to know before was the emphasis on sports and how not being involved in sports or living in town will change how quickly you make stronger friendships. I am not saying this would have been a make or break point, but at least something to consider in my situation. I would like to have more opportunities at the beginning of the year to get to know students while doing something fun. Near the beginning of the year there was a trip for the grade 12 students, but I am not in that grade, so I would have like to have more opportunities at the beginning of the year to get to know my peers in a setting other than school. At this school there is a unique class schedule as it sometimes changes for events such as a pep rally near the beginning of the year. This year, on Fridays, the school day ends a few hours early which is really nice for people going away on weekends, or just to enjoy being done earlier and heading into the weekend. There are also three semesters which I think is neat to go along with the college. The semesters are September-December. January-April, and May-June. I really like this as first semester I was done my first set of classes before the Christmas break, and had no school work assigned over the holidays, whereas at others schools including my previous one, I didn't write exams until the end of January.


Admissions

The admissions process was very straight forward and there was staff to guide you and answer any extra questions you may have. There were forms to be filled out by you (the student) as well as your parents/guardians. Another requirement was to have an academic and a spiritual reference. For the academic reference I asked one of my teachers from the school I was at at the time, and for the spiritual reference I asked one of my youth leaders. I did not come from another private school, so I was a bit surprised that I had to have forms filled out by me, my parents, and two others. It took some time for everyone I previously mentioned to fill out the required information, but it was not a stressful process. There are systems as well as great, helpful staff in place to make sure you know what you need to do and which forms you need to fill out in order to complete the admissions process.


School Location

I do not live on campus, but while I am there for school I walk to The Point coffee shop every now and then. I mainly stay on campus as there is a coffee shop in the same building as the high school, just in another wing. Just how the days are structured, in the high school, many students stay on campus. If a student has a spare, some that live in Caronport go home, and others go to the fitness centre. There is a fair amount of students however that stay in the main building. I believe the answer to this question also varies depending on where you are planning to live. If just coming for the school day, with your classes it is less likely to be going off campus.


Community

CHS has a very great school community. I was nervous coming to school at the beginning because I hadn't moved schools for a long time, but there are amazing, friendly staff that make you feel welcome, valued, and safe. Coming from a public school, being in this atmosphere with Christian views and teachers was very nice! It is really great to have teachers praying with the class at the beginning of the period, and that the staff really care about you as an individual. When entering a new school, it takes time to build friendships and to be more settled, but the staff truly make all the difference. I believe that the amount of time it takes for you to feel settled will vary on how often you've had to move schools, as well as your personality. I came this year and the school has definitely become more comfortable. It is also very nice that the high school itself is pretty small so finding classes at the beginning is easier. However, there are always staff and experienced students that are willing to help you find your way. The teachers and other staff, as well as some students, try to make sure you feel included. The chapels also help to unite the school community. There are chapels that involve just the high school, but sometimes the college and high school join and learn together. This strengthens the community feel. One thing that makes friendships more challenging however is not being in sports or living in the dorms. The people that live in the dorms have a lot more concentrated time together, so they get to know each other quicker. Also, the people on sports teams spend extra hours together at practices, games, and tournaments, so they get to know each other and form friendships quicker as well. Being in the choir is a great way to meet people from different grades, as well as to spend time doing something different than regular studies or classes together. Depending on what you are planning on being involved in or where you are living, you may feel a part of the community sooner. I did not realize the emphasis on sports at this school before coming, but you find students that you connect with even if you aren't involved in sports. Sometimes students go together to watch games and support our various teams as well.


School Life

If I was asked to give a tour of the school I would show the visitors the spaces that the high school and college students share. I would show them the library because I really like it. It is a large area and has tables to work at, as well as comfy chairs to sit in and do work not requiring a table. There are different zones in the library regarding the level of sound allowed which I appreciate. There is space to work in groups and people able to talk with each other, but there are also areas with very minimal or no talking so you can concentrate on your work or reading without distractions. I like the calm atmosphere of the library, and I also think it is neat that so many students from years ago have spent time in there on their studies. I would also show in the high school an optional space for working is the Study Centre. There are chairs and tables to work at as well as a couch. During lunch time, some students eat in this room while no one is working. There are also different common areas in the building to go to. It is nice to have variety in the places you spend your day, so being attached to the college offers that.


Students

An interesting thing with this school is that although there are students that have attended Caronport schools for years and know each other well (like you may expect in a small town), there are also new students that enter the school. There are general new students like me who come, or there are students that come specifically for the hockey, or international program which gives a cool opportunity to meet people from around the world. Lots of the students that had been there longer reached out to the newer students to get them plugged in to the school and help us to know where to go. On my first day of school a student invited me to eat lunch in a common area with a group of other students. It was very nice to have someone looking out for me, and including me. I was glad to have people to eat lunch with. I feel that in general, new students are looked after well, and looked out for. At this school, your experience is better when you are wanting to learn more and strengthen your faith. Helping students to grow and strengthen their faith is a main goal at this school, so if you are not wanting to do so, you may struggle more, or just have a less meaningful experience as your journey with God is a focus, and there are chapels as well as a Christian Ethics class that everyone must take part in.


Extracurriculars

Extracurriculars provide more ways to connect with other students. There area variety of sports teams you can try out for. I found out at an orientation day that the level of commitment when on a sports team, was higher than I had expected or would want. They practice Monday-Thursday, and have games and tournaments on some weekends. The length of the season varies depending on the sport, and the days may change, but that is the approximate level of commitment to expect. If you are wanting to be on a sports team, it is handier to live in town as far as driving goes. Activities such as choir, drama, and a school leadership team are all offered as classes. This may be the same or different than what your previous school experience has been. There is also an extracurricular worship team you can audition for if you are interested. If you have an interest in areas such as drama, music, or dance, there is an annual Briercrest production you could audition for, or with the college there is an orchestra, or there are other opportunities to be involved in plays with something called Summer Stage. Different students have various levels of needs as far as extracurriculars and how many teams or clubs they want to involve themselves in. I think there is also an art and maybe combined with creative writing) club as well. If you want to start a new club you may be able to work it out with a teacher, but it will probably depend on the level of interest whether it happens or not. (I have not myself tried to start a new club). There are lots of extracurriculars that students can be involved in.


Academics

I find the academics are not too easy or too hard. If you are a student that typically struggles with academics there are options of tutoring available. I find that the teachers are also willing to give students a bit of extra help if needed. I believe the classes will be useful to me later in life. Some classes will be useful in the way that they are interests of mine and are leading me to possible careers, and others such as drama are helpful in the skills that you gain. Drama class has only started within the past week, but I already feel it is pushing me out of my comfort zone (in a safe, healthy way) and I am developing in different related areas of skills. This class also helps students to grow in confidence. That is why I feel that the classes I am taking, and what I am learning is useful.


Teaching

I believe the teachers do a great job of teaching and helping the students to be successful. Teachers are not too hard on the students, but they do care about the students doing well at the same time. The teachers expectations on assignments are outlined and clear and they will help you if you need more clarification. When the teachers talk about success I think they are fair, and realize that everyone is different and cannot achieve the same grades or have the same standards. The teachers want students to try, and to learn and develop skills. Teachers can also work with students towards their individual goals.


School Leadership

I believe the school leadership is great. The staff are available to talk to if you need, and they care about the students' well-being. They all want to keep God at the centre of everything and how the school is structured and run. Their desire to do so is shared with the students near the beginning of the year. I believe the teachers, chaplain, and other staff do really well at being a positive and encouraging presence to the students. That is why I believe the school leadership is really good.


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