Beamsville, ON | Grades 9 - 12 | Shortlist
As a residential school which also includes local, day students, Great Lakes includes a broad range of students. It offers a unique opportunity to meet different people from all over the world. Students who lead in the school are hard-working, jovial and friendly. You are able to know everyone in the school by sight and name. It makes for a nice, family atmosphere. School-wide events become opportunities for us to be all together as one large community and celebrate together. The values are Christian values. There is love and acceptance, grace and forgiveness, support and encouragement. There is a lot of fun and a lot of encouragement to work hard. Students are helpful and polite and courteous. Often they are seen as distinct from other students (on school trips for example) because of this behaviour.
Great Lakes is really like a big family. There are a wide range of people who attend the school. Some academically focused, others more athletic, and some who are more socially-inclined. At Great Lakes, everyone is included and can find their place. Even students who are quieter or struggle socially were not excluded or bullied. Everyone was very kind and would make a point to reach out to students who may have been struggling. I made so many great friendships while at Great Lakes, and many of them continue to this day more than 10 years later. I also met my husband at Great Lakes! There is a surprising amount of diversity at Great Lakes- in cultural backgrounds, socio-economic status, and spiritual backgrounds. Many students come from Christian families, which helps to promote the Christian atmosphere. There is a good mix of international students which allows for learning about different cultures and languages. When I attended, there were many students from Asia (Korea, Hong Kong), but now it seems like there are more Nigerian students which adds even more richness to the school's diversity.
My daughter was in the school for only 2 years (for high school) so I am not sure if she was there long enough to enable me to gain a sense of how she interacted with other students. However, I know that GLCHS has a lot of international students and there were quite a lot of students from my daughter's school who registered during the school fair. This made her feel quite at home on resumption in GLCHS. I also saw that because the school makes effort to prevent dominance of a particular continent or nationality, there seems a balance therefore the students are able to mix better. Also the school has a lot of class activities in small groups during which students from various backgrounds and nationalities mix and make presentations. These enable a lot of interactions and sharing of skills among the students.
Great Lakes has a very small student body (I think they are about 150 students enrolled currently based on my child's estimation). With that, it is very easy for students to get to know each other very well. My daughter stayed in the school residence and I know that they were able to provide an environment that felt like home. From her feedback, she was able to easily connect with others in residence. The students in the dorm were from different countries. It helps students to find people they can relate with but also learn from others about their cultures. The dorm supervisors are very friendly and warm, and I feel safe leaving my child in their company. My child was able to connect well with them. The school also has a very strong spiritual community which I really like, because it helps students not only relate on an academic level but push barriers in getting to know each on a personal level.