Ancaster, ON | Grades 9 - 12 | Shortlist
High School can be challenging for any student and my son had his senior years even further challenged by the COVID Pandemic. Through all of this, HDCH has made the best of the situation, providing outstanding care for, not only his academic achievement as he will continue on to Post-Secondary education but also caring for him as an individual and ensuring a healthy mental outlook. They have nurtured and encouraged him to be an outstanding member of a caring community centred in Christ. My son appreciates the friends he has made there, the opportunities he has been provided and ultimately being known. His school has made him feel like a part of the community and not just a student number. The past year and a half have been challenging for everyone and for a school to not only rise to the challenge, but to excel and grow, is a testament to the school as a whole.
For the first 13 years of my life, attending Hamilton District Christian High was what I most looked forward to. I would pour over my parents' old yearbooks at what the school was like when they were in it, I would ask any older teenager who I knew to tell me all about it, and I would imagine what it would be like to be a student there - what extracurriculars would I be involved in? What courses would I take? Which teachers would I really like? As you can imagine, my expectations were high when I started in 2007 -- but I can confidently say attending HDCH exceeded all my expectations. When I think back on my time, I think fondly about my student council experience, where the notetaking skills I learned still help me in my job today. I think about the conversations we had in music class: about music, the world, and how our faith intersects with all of it. I think back on my fond memories of being involved in the theatre department and the joy that season of time was. I think about the teachers, who genuinely cared for and supported me as a student. As I graduated from HDCH and moved on to a secular university, I was struck in many classes at how well HDCH had prepared me for university and even my professional job today. The project-based learning environment of HDCH (which was just beginning at the end of my time there!) was crucial as I started university studies in journalism. The extracurricular involvement taught me how to be involved in university, giving me a great starting place for student workplace experience. And the strong faith foundation HDCH provided led me to where I am now.
My son started in grade 10 as a newcomer to Canada and found a welcoming and caring school community. There is individual attention and genuine interest in the students. The teachers and staff know them by name. The students feel valued and a part of the community. The teachers demonstrate a commitment and concern for the whole student: their academic, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. During this COVID time, the school responded proactively and communicated with clarity about how they would continue to provide schooling. This was reassuring to the students and helped them with the adjustments and upheaval. The plans made by the school were balanced and made the most of the permissible conditions. Academically, the disruption to education has been minimal. The students were also positively encouraged with showcasing talents, fundraising drives, fitness challenges, and creative engagements which kept them connected.
HDCH provides exceptional opportunities for students to get involved in areas they prefer which allows them to be an integral part of the community. Our son appreciates the teachers who offer opportunities to experiment and develop their own individual interests in the assignments that are assigned. The school is large enough to provide excellent instruction across a variety of interests, and there is a large pool of students to find others with similar interests to develop lasting friendships. Perhaps there could be additional courses offered to further develop non-academic students, but that can be overwhelming as well. With the current COVID experience, it is challenging to connect authentically with others, however, the school is making the best of it with opportunities for students to be engaged and still connected to classes and social events.