Beamsville, ON | Grades 9 - 12 | Shortlist
GLCHS reminds me of home schooling. This is because the students were only a handful in number. It’s unique in its set up. While the premises look like without borders, it’s boundaries for the students are not in doubt. My daughter had to leave home for high school earlier than initially planned, therefore we needed a school first that would help us maintain the Christian values she was taught from home. We also wanted an environment that would not make her vulnerable while at the same time prepare her for the inevitable exposure of the college life imminent after high school. GLCHS provided just that. Although I was abroad most of the time, the teachers were accessible and very friendly. They were calm and most times will go the extra mile. She particularly liked the interjection of the long weekends in the school calendar as they enable her to "refresh" at home and return to school. I have had such good experience as a parent and I trust God that as she graduates this year, God who has started a good work in the school will surely complete it.
I found that the school responds appropriately to problems. As a parent who worked abroad most of the year, there were times I had concerns. I relied a lot on the teachers and the custodian for feedback. I found the teachers quite responsive. The leadership promptly communicated information to parents and students, particularly issues bordering on security and public health. Cases bordering on discipline are promptly reported to parents before they get out of hand. This prevents such cases from escalating out of control. I really appreciate this.
The teaching in the school is fairly good. I believe that my daughter receives the tutoring and feedback she deserves. However, I discovered that as parents, there is a need to work in close collaboration with the teachers and not leave the entire monitoring of the child's performance to the teachers. The use of the Edsby gives the parents the opportunity to follow up with the performance of the student and speak with the individual teachers where and when necessary. Of course, there are some subjects that I feel the school could find teachers who are well versed in, as this will help further enhance the quality of teaching that GLCHS has in those subjects.
I believe the best academic program in any school would be one that enables the child to identify his/her areas of strength and weaknesses to enable him/her to pursue an area of interest or career in which he/she is best suited. The subjects offered generally prepare the students for higher education and career progression. Though, I find that the school is not aggressive enough in making students break new grounds and rather allow them to choose their "comfort zones". It's amazing to me that by the time my daughter was mid-way through high school, she was already clear about subjects she would drop, her unique area of career interest and progression. I find that the teachers work with the students and tend to support them in identifying their areas of interest and career. I feel that the academic structure and culture is fashioned more along with the model of homeschooling.
The school has some extracurricular opportunities like drama, choir, community activities etc. However, I find that most of them are actually linked to the academic assessment of the students. There is hardly any activity that I remember except maybe the sports activities that are not linked to academics. For instance, my daughter played the saxophone prior to enrolling in GLCHS and it was my wish that she would continue while in the school. To my disappointment, I found that the school has no facility for coaching students who are interested in playing a musical instrument.
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.
I think my daughter enjoyed GLCHS because she had a few students from a familiar background and the school had a balance in their admission of students from various nationalities. She found the school quite challenging in terms of academic standards, maybe considering where she was coming from but she eventually settled down and found the comfort subjects that she also had a passion for and would enjoy. In terms of the quality of life, of course, the students may prefer an environment that gives them more freedom but we, as parents believe that at the high school level, the students still require a bit of string. While the school boarding facilities were of a good standard, my daughter often complained about the school food. In my view, the school offered a balanced diet and to expect it to be like home food may be expecting too much.
The GLCHS is located in a small village type community of Beamsville. I understand the school is up to 50 years old, therefore gives the impression that the community grew with the school more or less like the "Landlord". It is therefore understandable why the school is "without walls". The history of the school probably contributes to its security as it wants to maintain a "home-school" environment. Most services are located at a walking distance to the school; convenience stores, grocery shops, banks, eateries, church, etc. I believe the school can provide more opportunities for parental involvement in the life of the school particularly for international students whose parents don't have the opportunity of attending most of the school programs. I think the school should record some of the activities and make them available to parents who can buy the flash or CDs. For instance, where our wards are involved in drama, choir presentations, etc, parents might want to buy such CDs to watch how their wards have been integrated into the social activities of the school. At this time, we only get to read about these activities from the newsletter or on Edsby.
Like I said in my previous response about the location, the school has been long before most of the residents moved into the community. Even though the school is not fenced, my idea of being "without walls" still ensures the students know where their boundaries are. If the students are going out of the "school area", say to the nearby convenience store, they are required to sign out on a conspicuous board placed at the corridor of the hostel visible to everyone to see. There is also a time limit that a student must not exceed. Also, the school calendar includes provisions for long weekends which allow the students to spend time with their parents or Custodians. The Custodian arrangement or option gives the students the opportunity to interact with the community.
We had met an agent of the school at a School Fair so we were able to obtain all the information and assistance we needed. The agent was very helpful in ensuring that all the necessary forms for the application were completed, and where we had a question she didn't have information on, she always referred to the school directly for clarification. We also had direct access to the school if we wanted information from them directly at any point. The admission process was pretty much straightforward. The applicant was responsible for ensuring that the various transcripts were obtained from the previous schools and sent to the school. This was not a problem even though the school could request the transcripts directly. In all, we didn't find the admission process cumbersome at all.
We pretty much had an idea of the kind progression we wanted for our daughter after high school. However, we discovered that the school left a bit too much for the student to sort out in the application process. While we are in support of giving the students the allowance to pursue the course and university of their choice, we believe they should be appropriately guided in the application process particularly the international students who may not be familiar with the Canadian university/college application and admission process. I had to make a specific appointment with the school's Guidance Counselor to clarify some areas in the application process for my daughter.