REVIEW OF De La Salle College BY Alum, Emma De Tommaso
- Date of Review
March 08, 2021
Gr. 9 - Gr. 12
- University (major)
(4.5) Overall Experience
I am tremendously grateful that I was able to spend my most formative years at De La Salle College. The phrase “Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve” surrounds students during their time at De La Salle and this could not be more appropriate. Here, I was able to grow from an academic standpoint, but I also learned how to be an honourable citizen in society. I explored my academic passions in a setting that always encouraged me to dive deeper, and I embraced my other interests through the school’s extracurricular offerings. My fondest memories include morning assembly with the entire school community, phone calls with our sister school in Naka, Nigeria, and school-wide bonding events such as Terry Fox Day. While I wish I could relive the amazing memories I have from De La Salle, the school remains a big part of my life as I was able to make life-long friends, meet teachers who turned to mentors, and join a global alumni network.
(4.5) School Leadership
During my time at De La Salle College, the administration acted as a support system for students and was very well respected. As a member of the student council, I would often meet with school leadership to discuss potential new initiatives or student concerns. I was impressed by how leadership struck such a fine balance between allowing the student government the autonomy to lead and be expressive and offering support and guiding initiatives. Whenever I had a concern, I was able to get the administration’s attention. I was always treated with respect and never patronized. In fact, during my time at the school, I proposed a weekly wellness initiative to promote mental health education. Not only was this idea adopted, but I was also supported each week with potential resources to help enhance the initiative. From a disciplinary standpoint, De La Salle instills a strong sense of respect in its student. Rules were clearly communication, and there was an understanding that disobedience had a consequence. Students received equal punishments for equal faults. This structure fostered a very organized and well-functioning school environment. Finally, school leadership is very communicative with the broader school community. There are monthly newsletters set up, the website is constantly being updated, and pertinent information is communicated in real-time.
The teaching at De La Salle was absolutely incredible, and I feel grateful to have been taught by such dedicated and kind individuals. Each teacher brought a unique element to the school and was a master at his/her subject. In the classroom, clear expectations are set, and feedback is always provided. Tutorials are held after school to support students who need additional help, and the staff goes above and beyond to help students who are committed to improving. My teachers were able to create a very safe place in the classroom where we were encouraged to ask questions and dive deeper. Moreover, there is a real sense of community at De La Salle and that all begins with the teachers. While they provide incredible academic guidance, they also serve as mentors to their students. The teacher-student dynamic at the school is unique in that there is a very clear demonstration of respect, but teachers also become very close with the students. During a particularly difficult time in my life, my teachers at De La Salle were the most incredible support system. They intuitively recognized changes in my behaviour and effectively intervened to ensure I received the support that I needed. Having this sense of support at school was invaluable.
The academic program at De La Salle College is strategically structured to allow students to excel. At De La Salle, students are encouraged to push themselves to be the best they can be. The school offers countless Advanced Placement courses and unique classroom experiences that extend beyond the realm of a typical high school. The small class sizes foster intimate and engaging discussions. Academics are a cornerstone of life at De La Salle and present an opportunity for collaboration rather than competition for students. It is not uncommon to see students studying after school together in the cafeteria or upper-year students offering support to younger peers. While De La Salle definitely challenges students academically, teachers are there to guide students and ensure that no one falls behind. The school has done an incredible job at preparing me for my post-secondary education. In fact, university was a very enjoyable experience for me because I was aptly prepared to take on the academic challenges that I was presented with. My Advanced Placement credits created space in my schedule to explore electives of interest. Also, my ability to excel in the classroom afforded me the time to become immersed in extracurriculars in my school community. The well-rounded portfolio I developed was critical to me securing key internships and a full-time position prior to graduating.
No matter your interest, De La Salle has a program where you can explore and cultivate that passion. While academics are at the core of De La Salle’s mission, the ultimate goal is to create well-rounded students who will excel in the real world. Students are encouraged to pursue a current passion or try something new. My extracurricular experience was one of the most enriching parts of my high school experience. From an athletics lens, De La Salle offers countless sports opportunities ranging from swimming to ski club to field hockey. I have fond memories of the basketball team where I improved my skills and found a support system that lasted all four years of high school. I have many friends who were artistically inclined and had the opportunity to express themselves through our highly regarded school plays and the photography club. De La Salle also encourages a commitment to giving back. Programs such as Meagan’s Hug and the Lasallian Youth Team propel students to make valuable contributions to our local and global community. My role on the Meagan’s Hug committee had such a profound impact on me that I continue to volunteer with this organization to date.
The greatest gift that De La Salle gave me was the incredible network of students that I was fortunate enough to meet. With roughly 650 students, you are sure to know a large portion of the school community by name at the end of your experience. This intimacy fosters a sense of security and calm. Upon coming to Del, I was amazed to see how all students interacted so seamlessly. As a grade 9, I was worried that I would be ostracized by older students. I very quickly realized that outside the classroom, it was as if grades did not exist. Students of all year mingled and supported one another, offering me the privilege of meeting many friends and mentors early on. I recognize that this is very atypical at other high schools, and I am grateful for this experience. I believe that this can be contributed to the commitment the school makes to creating a strong sense of community. Students gathering together every morning reminds them that they are a part of the same family. Even as a graduate, I am treated as family when I encounter another De La Salle student. Moreover, the student landscape is composed of individuals from very diverse backgrounds and experiences. I was fortunate to make incredible friends from a variety of cultures, races and socioeconomic backgrounds. The De La Salle student is committed to servitude and respect. Students are encouraged to enjoy their young adult experience, but they also leave with a sense of maturity and discipline that is quite rare.
(5) School Life
I absolutely loved my time at De La Salle and I would seize the opportunity to relive some of my most memorable experiences. No matter how stressed or preoccupied I was, I felt comfortable coming to school because we found a way to have the best time even in the busiest of circumstances. Teachers maintained professionalism, but I have fond memories of inside jokes or games integrated into my learning. The expansive student community, from grades 5-12, created a unique experience where there was always something eventful happening to brighten my day. Morning assembly always grounded me, reminding me of my objectives at school and the team I had with me on my journey. Although stress fills the hall during exam season, it is a euphoric experience to overcome challenges with your peers. I always looked forward to our annual Terry Fox Day event where students were divided into houses and fun activities filled the day. I also loved ShareLife Day as each classroom prepares a different activity and students can have fun while raising money. One of my favourite events was Meagan’s Hug, where the school community comes together in support of paediatric brain tumour research. Grade 12 students also have many graduation traditions that unite the graduating class far beyond leaving the College. De La Salle allowed me to push myself academically while also offering me the support I needed to maintain a well-rounded life.
The community at De La Salle is extremely multifaceted and dynamic. On a local level, the community is incredible and is the main reason why I would recommend this school to anyone who is interested. The connection I have to Del is so strong because of the community that I was immersed in. Coming to school truly felt like a second home because I did not have to change anything about myself in order to feel accepted. I had teachers who cared for me as parents and friends who only wanted the best for me. My high school friends remain my best friends to date, and we are connected by our unified upbringing in our most formative years. From a more global perspective, De La Salle College offers you admission into an international network of students. The broad Lasallian community expands across over 80 countries and my experience engaging with foreign Lasallians was incredible. From an alumni perspective, I feel so fortunate to have attended De La Salle. I am welcomed back into the school anytime with open arms and often try to volunteer if I can. Moreover, whenever I encounter another De La Salle graduate, there is an instant sense of comradery and respect. I am proud to be the daughter of a De La Salle graduate and to be part of a community that dates back hundreds of years.
(5) School Location
The school location truly augmented my experience at De La Salle. The proximity to two subway stations makes it easy for students to commute to school. Additionally, the vibrancy of nearby streets offered countless restaurants and shops to explore after school. The campus itself is absolutely beautiful with a large field at the back of the campus, open grounds at the front, and a spectacular view of the Toronto skyline.
Although the admission process may seem daunting for new students, there is no reason to worry! At Del, there is a focus on finding students who align well with the school’s values. It is important that you are authentic and passionate in your interview, so that administration can see all the unique aspects that you can bring to our school community. Depending on your grade level, you will be required to complete an admissions test. With some preparation, this is very manageable, and it is not the sole determinant of your success. Overall, the admissions team was extremely welcoming and eager to answer any questions that I had. Ms. Carreco went above and beyond to make me feel a part of the school before I was even formally accepted.
(5) University placement and counselling
De La Salle did an amazing job preparing me for university by guiding me throughout my entire high school experience. Periodic individual counselling sessions began early on to ensure that I was receiving the support I needed to excel in my classes. In grade 10, guidance staff offered direction as to how I should create my schedule to guarantee that I had many options for university. In grade 12, the school was very diligent at preparing students for university. Students are guided through the application process at school to ensure there is no confusion. This process takes place early on, encouraging students to apply in a timely manner and often results in many early acceptances for students based on their grade 11 marks. Moreover, I was encouraged to speak with guidance whenever I had a concern, and my counsellor did a great job at helping me select appropriate programs. Upon receiving acceptances to every school that I applied to, my counsellor took time to assess each option and help me select the perfect fit. De La Salle prepares you from the moment you walk through the doors by providing you with a quality education that makes your post-secondary options endless.