Roundtable Q&A Discussion About Guiding Light Academy (2021)
Guiding Light Academy alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Miriam, Michael, Slavic had to say about the school.
- 1:57 - What do you appreciate most about the school during your time there? And how has your perspective changed now that you've been away from the school for a while?
- 3:38 - What to the best of your knowledge, differentiates the schools from other schools?
- 4:30 - If the school were to be represented as a single person, what would its personality be like in three words?
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Highlights from the Q&A discussion
Miriam — alum
Miriam is a former student of Guiding Light Academy. During her time there, she found that she was prepared academically and spiritually to move on to the next stage of her life, in high school and beyond. She believes that the school taught her how to integrate her faith into everyday life and encouraged her to step outside her comfort zone so that she could achieve her goals. Someone was always there to support her whenever needed, whether it be for academics or a personal issue. The tight-knit community at Guiding Light Academy always felt like a safe space for her to express herself and her religious views.
- “Would say that what I appreciate most about the school was how prepared I was academically and spiritually. I'm going into my second year of high school, and I see just how prepared and how ready I am because of the school academically. They pushed us a lot and they brought us out of our comfort zone. They always challenged us to challenge ourselves. I see how important this is, and how helpful it is. ... We had Mass every day. We did prayers, and I'm very thankful for that, because now in the mornings, I do a little prayer, and I learned to see how much it helps.”
- “Now that I’ve spent some time away from the school, my perspective has changed in the sense that I have realized how prepared I was [for high school] coming out of [Guiding Light Academy]. When I went to Grade 9, I was a little bit nervous, but it didn't last long, because I felt ready and I felt well trained.”
- “[What differentiates Guiding Light Academy from other schools is] how well they prepare you [for high school], but also the sense of community and family that you feel in the school. You feel a close-knit [nature] of all the families that you don’t feel in a lot of other schools. [Students] rely on each other, and we can support each other. … I grew up in [Guiding Light Academy]. I was there since kindergarten, and I know most of the families. There’s a really great sense of family and community that you can't find in a lot of schools.”
- “I would say that [Guiding Light Academy], most of all, is supportive. There's always someone there that you can talk to. There's always someone there to help you spiritually and academically. I would say [if Guiding Light Academy were a person], they would be the kind of person that always brings out the best in you. They always push you for a challenge to do the best that you can. … I would say that this person [would be] very competitive but in a good way. We always have little competitions in the class to see who can do the fastest math question, for who can write the best, or who can do the best on the spelling test.”
- “The good thing about [Guiding Light Academy] is that the class sizes are small and so a teacher can work with you on your own, and you're not alone.”
- “If I were going to recommend [Guiding Light Academy] to a friend, probably the most important thing that I would say is, you don't have to be afraid of being bullied or being left out because in [Guiding Light Academy]. ... That never once happened. Even if you're a new student and you came in, let's say, in Grade 8, I've seen people come in and it's like we're all old friends. There's no separation or awkwardness between people.”
- “I would recommend [Guiding Light Academy] because I've seen a lot of my friends who went to the public school struggle a lot in high school academically. With [Guiding Light Academy]. ... I felt prepared, and I was able to do well in high school.”
- “You have the support of the students, of the teachers, of the staff, and the Brothers at [Guiding Light Academy]. You don't have to be afraid to show your faith, because this is the place where this is where you show your faith, and this is where you learn to be able to integrate it into your everyday life.”
Michael — current parent
Michael has six children, two of whom still attend Guiding Light Academy, and one of whom is enrolling for the upcoming year. He appreciates that the school balances a rigorous academic curriculum with strong faith and values which resonate in each student. He believes that a Guiding Light Academy education is an investment into each of his children’s futures and that it has greatly evolved their maturity and work ethic.
- “What we expected was that because we were making an investment in their education, that they would get a lot more attention and would be pushed, and that there would be a much better Catholic formation, which was met remarkably.”
- “Our son was 10 in Grade 5 [when he started at Guiding Light Academy], and we were expecting that wasn't going to be the best transition, so that went above our expectations. He actually embraced it really well. He became much more pious. He loved it academically. He did really well. So the transition out of the public system with the Catholic school board and into [Guiding Light Academy] was a nice surprise.”
- “For our eleven-year-old, it was his piety [that was the biggest impact of Guiding Light Academy]. The conversations we had at the dinner table were all around what he had learned at school, and he was talking about the Saints. For a father, when your son is talking about the Saints at the dinner table, you couldn't ask for anything more than that.”
- “For our younger son, who's four years old, [Guiding Light Academy] was his joy. He actually loved it. He loved being with his friends. He loved being at the school. As a father, seeing the joy in your children is great. A lot of the friends that he was hanging out with, he stopped hanging out with, and it just seemed like he was elevating in his maturity. He was kind of catching up to his older brothers rather than mimicking the peers that he was hanging out with while enrolled in the Catholic school board.”
- “I kept asking my [son] when he went into Guiding Light [Academy] at the age of 10, every day, ‘how is it? How are your teachers?’, and everything was positive that came back. The thing that he really loved is that he got to think. He would always remark about the different classes, how he got to think, and the [students] got to really dive deeper into things. In French class, when they talked about France, they talked about the history of the French people, religion, philosophy, history, Knights, and Kings. He really loved that the curriculum was so fragmented.”
- “[Guiding Light Academy] has purely Catholic values. As Catholic parents, a Catholic father, you sit there, and you want to make sure that your family is surrounded by other like-minded people. That's what we found at Guiding Light Academy. From the other people that we've met that go to the school, and just talking to them at the Parish, or going to a little barbecue or something with them, it is so nice to find what seems to be a remnant of true Catholic belief systems, true striving towards a virtual lifestyle.”
- “[At Guiding Light Academy you find] people who live a sacramental life. ... The families and the people who believe in confession, who believe in the necessity of confession and Sacrament of the Eucharist. That just the way that life should be lived, and it's nice to be part of a community that lives their life that way.”
Slavic — current parent
Slavic has three children in Grades 2, 7, and 8 that all attend Guiding Light Academy. He was looking for a school with strong Catholic values, that would teach his children strong faith as well as prepare them academically for their futures, which he found at Guiding Light Academy. His children have developed a love for reading and a strong curiosity for the curriculum. He believes that all of his children have made strong bonds with friends that will last a lifetime, because of the inclusive, like-minded, and tight-knit Guiding Light Academy community.
- “We know now that [Guiding Light Academy] was the best choice that we've made to prepare our kids. To send them to a school that we knew would teach them good Catholic values, and we knew that we would not regret it.”
- “The most important criteria when we were looking for school was to look for true Catholic values. We loved that Brothers, from Heralds of the Gospel, being with school, which provides good religious formation, and all this is managed wonderfully. … They are a very important, exceptional, and integral part of the school. This was one of the biggest items when we were choosing between different schools to send our kids to.”
- “For the last eight years, we've been exceptionally pleased to have [The Brothers from Heralds of Gospel at Guiding Light Academy]. They help parents, administrators, teachers, and of course, students. What we loved about [Guiding Light Academy] is a strong bond to Jesus, the Vatican, and Our Lady Mary.”
- “There first needs to be faith and the rest of it will follow if it's in proper order, and that is what we loved about [Guiding Light Academy]. We were introduced to morning masses before school starts, which we really loved. Our kids always participated in those masses, and they love doing prayers right after masses before going to school.”
- “From what I can see with our children, they have built a great bond with their friends at [Guiding Light Academy], and they will definitely last a lifetime for them. They love their friends, and what we've learned from administrators and other parents is that there is no bullying at [Guiding Light Academy]. Nobody is left out. Of course, there are friends who they like more or less, but there is none of that which I just mentioned. So they have a very strong connection. I believe this will be carried on to high school, and whatever else they will do.”
- “[My kids] have learned good time management at [Guiding Light Academy]. We always encourage our children to have a small break when they come from school, and then start doing their homework, not leave their homework until it's due, or until next week, because a few hours left may not be enough. They've learned the love of books, and we were just amazed how our oldest son was just flooded with the books. We constantly were buying books for him. Then we switched to libraries because it was just getting expensive. He always looks for books on the internet because he reads really fast.”
- “Nowadays, having a child read [physical] books is really important, and not just books on the internet. … Actual physical books. [My oldest son] love them, and the same thing with my other two [sons], which is really amazing. ... I believe a lot of it is because of the philosophy of [Guiding Light Academy], how the school does things, and how it encourages our kids and other kids to fall into loving reading.”
- “The biggest impact of [Guiding Light Academy], which may not seem important, is cursive writing. ... I don't think I would be exaggerating if I said that our [oldest son] can write as fast as he talks, which is really amazing. I believe later on in life he will need [that skill] to take notes in any courses.”
- “One of the biggest impacts that the school had on our kids is preparing them for any sort of exam or quiz. … The philosophy of [Guiding Light Academy] was to make it fun and to make it constant, so it won't be any surprise. It won't be shocking. So the kids have minimal stress, and I believe to them it is just second nature.”
- “[My kids] constantly talk about the great friendships that they have with their friends, which is really great. They are competing with the students in their classes, and it's really great because it brings them to get better grades. It's not just competing to be the best, to be the winner, but competing to be together.”
- “What [my kids] loved about [Guiding Light Academy] is learning, that big appetite for knowledge. … But also, [Guiding Light Academy students] go on various school trips, especially to a nursing home, which is very close [by]. They always tell us great stories about how they play the piano, how they spend time [with the nursing home residents], and they spend a lot of time and dedication to creating all sorts of cards for nursing home residents. They loved going to the local library, because they could just go through the treasure of books, and go on field trips.”
- “[Students] have a chance to see other parents and also their teachers on the other side [during Guiding Light Academy’s field trips], not just as teachers giving them commands, teaching them, and marking their tests, but as friends. On a lot of those trips, they could see their [teachers’] husbands, wives, and their kids because they brought them to trips. This kind of breaks that brick wall between the kids and teachers and administrators, which I believe creates a strong bond, because kids will know that we're all the same.”
- “To best describe [Guiding Light Academy] as a single person, I would say they would be a true friend, a friend who you can trust, with strong Catholic values, who will never let you down.”
- “I would say what describes [Guiding Light Academy] the best would be strong Catholic values. We find we have so much in common with other parents [that have kids at the school]. ... There is no other explanation. ... We all understand each other, and it makes it so much easier that we are on the same level. We are speaking the same language, we are on the same planet, and other parents’ values are very strong and aligned with ours.”
- “[All the parents at Guiding Light Academy have] strong Roman Catholic values. … This really helps a lot, and it doesn't allow any room for any unnecessary questions, disputes, or anything at [Guiding Light Academy]. I've never heard of anybody pulling the kids out of school. ... We all know what we are signing up for, and we are very grateful that we could sign up for such a school.”
- “We don't have to worry about what will be taught to our kids at [Guiding Light Academy], what and how it will be communicated. … There's always room for a discussion if there are any questions, any doubts, or maybe anything related to the academics or behaviour of our children. Everything is right in front of us so we can take care of our lives when our kids are at school, and not have to worry about them. All worries are taken away because of that trust that the school has built over years.”
- “We've been telling [our friends that [Guiding Light Academy is] a good Catholic school with good values, and where Trinity is the priority at school. We talk about the faith formation for our children, how they love reading books, and how good they are with their grades. They learn about different cultures, different people, and different countries.”
- “[Students at Guiding Light Academy] go with the same class all the way up to Grade 8. That's why they are able to build that strong bond and create great friendships. I am sure [they will last] for life. … [At Guiding Light Academy] because of the small environment, [students] are able to build that strong bond.”