Our son Philip completed his entire secondary school cycle at Centennial, and we are very happy with the results. We selected Centennial because of its mission to produce independent learners. Philip required a lot of our help after school hours to complete primary, and we knew he had to become more self-reliant. Centennial’s approach to support and a focus on getting as much done during school hours helped free up evening time for Philip. He did very well in the ministerial exams, giving us the confidence that Centennial provided the academic rigour to graduate high-school and enter CEGEP and ultimately university. Philip just completed his first year at Vanier CEGEP and was named to the honour roll, achieving marks over 90% in Calculus, Statistics, and Macroeconomics. Philip says that the techniques and skills he obtained from Centennial were a major contributing factor to his success at Vanier. In summary, the Centennial philosophy, its small class sizes, and the dedicated team of teachers and support staff prepared Philip to be a life-long learner.
The Centennial teachers were great! They were very supportive, organized, fair and objective, and provided feedback and constructive recommendations when there were issues. They were also very approachable during regular parent-teacher sessions. They suggested specific activities and techniques to help the learning process. They also formed strong bonds with their students by being actively involved in extra-curricular activities, including sports programs. The administration sets high standards for their staff, whether it is their teachers or facilitators. They were able to understand different learning styles and ensured that all were challenged whether they were A+ students or C level. The teachers were very professional and we were always appreciative of their dedication and interest in developing their students. The students were very respectful of the teachers, as the teachers gave them respect.
Philip participated in several of the sports programs. The teachers were engaged and provided opportunities for all the players to be involved, which fostered team spirit. Students were released from class early enough that the activities were completed by 5 PM. Transportation was provided from school to the event and back. Philip enjoyed the team sports program and interacting with team-mates. The school actively promotes extracurriculars. Teams from Centennial participated in science fairs hosted by Concordia University and Philip won an honourable mention in the Regional Science Fair for his project on solar cells.
Ms. Burgos is constantly doing research on the most up to date techniques and programs and implements them proactively. We went to several sessions where she had invited researchers from academia (McGill, as an example) to discuss current trends and methodologies. As an example, the school ensured that senior students coached juniors, in a train the trainer program. We always received prompt responses for any issues/concerns that we raised with teachers and all were addressed to our satisfaction. We felt that we were part of an active, forward-looking, and dedicated team whose objective was to optimize the learning experience of the students.
The school definitely prepared Philip for excelling in the standardised Quebec-wide ministerial exams for Secondary 4 and 5. The program is more than equivalent with other public and private schools and they achieved great results, due to the excellence of the teachers and support staff and the preparation they receive. In spite of having students with differing learning capabilities, the Centennial approach enables all students to flourish. Philip often coached and worked with other students, which helped reinforce his learning as well as providing an alternate teaching channel for the other students, helping them to learn. Post secondary, Philip is also doing very well at Vanier CEGEP as he is on the honour roll and attributes his success to the program at Centennial which helped him be disciplined, able to prioritize, be organized, and apply their self-learning techniques.
Centennial had a relatively small student body when Philip entered Grade 7 but it expanded significantly into much larger class sizes in Grades 10 and 11 as students joined from other private schools. There was a real sense of community and camaraderie that extended beyond the school as the students hung out together in spite of being dispersed all over the Montreal area. The annual awards ceremonies reinforced school spirit and students would yell and cheer their fellow students who were being recognized for their achievements. The field trips were fun for the group and the NYC trip was definitely a highlight and a bonding experience for the Grade 11 students. It all came together at their graduation party, and their sense of group was very evident. Philip has maintained contact with several of his class-mates after graduating.
Philip enjoyed his class-mates and his teachers. He always felt that the teachers were there for him. It was a very respectful environment, which he felt was very different than his experience in primary school. He never missed class unless he was ill. It was a motivating environment for him. He had clear deadlines for submitting projects, and preparing for exams. He loved getting to work with junior students in coaching sessions. The teachers provided positive feedback and the school administration recognized their accomplishments. A highlight was the graduating year softball game between the Grade 11 students and staff. The bond and affection between them was more than evident in a hotly contested game won by one-run by the staff. Philip misses that sense of school as he is now among three thousand students at Vanier.
Parents were a welcome and integral part of the school community. The year starts off with a BBQ where students and parents meet faculty and staff in an informal setting. Centennial is also actively engaged in community activities, raising funds for different charitable organizations. We were amazed at the dedication of parents being involved in so many activities, helping organize trips, events, fund-raisers and the graduation prom. Our voice was heard and we always had access to teachers and administration, and we had the opportunity to create friendships with parents and students. Many parents would take time to attend the sports games to cheer on the Centennial Cougars. We were also involved in fund-raising for the school, and parents were very receptive to providing additional funds to Centennial. The school also has a requirement for students to dedicate a specific level of community service per year, which gets them involved as ambassadors for Centennial as well as generating a life experience for the students.
The school is well-located for access from public transit (metro and bus) and is centrally located in Montreal. Students from Grade 7 to 10 cannot leave the school grounds during lunch, which gave us comfort and confidence that our son was secure. Philip rarely left the school grounds in Grade 11 even though he could, which was more than acceptable for us as it helped focus him on school.
We had looked at several different schools before selecting Centennial. We attended their open houses and met faculty and admissions staff, but many did not fit what we were looking for. We met Ms. Burgos and she provided us with what we needed to hear: their philosophy, their history, their curriculum, and their results of getting students through secondary school and preparing them for college and university. We liked their openness, their continuing research to integrate best practices, the excellence of their faculty, and the parents that we met who provided excellent feedback. We never felt stress nor pressure throughout the process as it was very transparent. And they delivered what they promised as we got to see it action for the full five years of secondary that Philip attended.