REVIEW OF Havergal College BY parent, robert gabor
- Date of Review
September 12, 2018
Gr. 7 - Gr. 10
(5) Student Experience
Our daughter has had a wonderful time in her three years at Havergal, and is very excited about completing her secondary school years there. Since entering the school in Grade 7, our daughter has thoroughly enjoyed the friendships she has developed at Havergal, the incredible extra curricular opportunities offered by the school, the challenging curriculum, and the amazing facilities available to the students. The school has harnessed many of our daughter's positive traits and stimulated her growth and development, not just academically, but socially, emotionally, and physically. Through an atmosphere of challenge, exploration and inclusion, Havergal has allowed our daughter to discover and hone skills and talents she likely wasn't even aware she possessed prior to joining the school. For our daughter, Havergal has been much more than just a place to learn curriculum, it has been an experience that will serve her well in virtually all facets of her adult life.
(4.5) School Leadership
Members of the school administration are very engaged in the daily activities at the school and are quite effective at engendering a positive learning environment at Havergal. However, what impresses me most about Havergal's administration and leadership team, is the level of communication they engage in with both parents and students. The school has an excellent online information system that allows parents to keep fully abreast of their daughters' schedule, assignments, test dates and extra curricular activities. By virtue of the online system and consistent correspondence from faculty and administrators, we are regularly informed of our daughter's progress in her classes, events taking place at the school, opportunities for student and parent involvement at the school, and any important issues involving the school, its students or its community as a whole. If there is ever an issue with our daughter that needs to be addressed, faculty and administrators are always easily accessible and responsive to any inquiries made by us. I never have any fear of our daughter falling through the cracks, as I know I will always be notified by the school of any issues which need our attention.
We have been very satisfied with the quality of teaching provided to our daughter at Havergal. We have always received excellent feedback from her teachers on their expectations; our daughter's progress in their classes; areas where improvement or extra work was required; and how our daughter was interacting with others at school. They have all been accessible and attentive to our daughter's needs. We have yet to come across a teacher at Havergal who was simply going through the motions, or was dispassionate about the subject matter they were teaching. All of our daughter's teachers to date have seemed genuinely dedicated to their work and to providing an excellent learning experience for their students. This has not been surprising, as most of our daughter's teachers have been teaching at Havergal for many years, and therefore are presumably interested in providing a quality learning experience at the school.
We have been quite impressed with our daughter's breadth and depth of knowledge of the subjects she has taken at Havergal, and find her understanding of the curriculum to be a testament to the effectiveness of the teaching methods used at the school. Havergal has provided a challenging curriculum over a wide range of subjects for our daughter. Through her various courses, she has been able to explore her interests in numerous areas including languages, technology, science, humanities, and the arts. Having to complete culminating projects and final exams from Grade 7 on has helped our daughter develop important study habits and taught her how to handle performance pressure at a young age, skills which we think will be invaluable to her throughout her academic life. We are confident that the academic program offered by the school is preparing her well for her post secondary education and her eventual career path.
The numerous extracurricular activities available to students is one of the main features that initially attracted us to Havergal, and we certainly have not been disappointed in that respect since our daughter entered the school 3 years ago. Prior to attending Havergal, our daughter rarely if ever participated in sports or clubs at school. Within days of entering the school she was trying out for two sports, joining various clubs and investigating community outreach programs she could volunteer in. She has gone on to play on school teams in basketball, field hockey and softball and most recently she joined the school rowing team after developing a passion for the sport via the school's learn to row program. In addition to all the athletic activities, students are able to participate in a variety of clubs, social events, volunteer opportunities, leadership roles and excursions. The school does an excellent job of encouraging students to challenge themselves by engaging in as many of these activities as possible.
Perhaps one of the things we have valued the most about our daughter attending Havergal, is the friendships she has developed there. Prior to our daughter entering Havergal, like most parents, we had concerns over whether she would fit in, and whether the size of the student body would cause her to get lost in the crowd. Our daughter knew only one other student in her grade before she arrived at Havergal, and naturally we were worried about whether she would easily connect with her classmates and other girls in the school. Our fears were quickly assuaged when our daughter developed several close friendships within weeks of her entering Havergal, as the school does an excellent job of integrating new students and helping everyone feel as though they are welcome and valued. Over the years we have come to know many of our daughter's classmates and friends from school, and have learned that they are polite, engaging, like minded girls who are positive influences on our daughter.
(4.5) School Life
Our daughter's overall experience at Havergal has been excellent. She is enthusiastic about attending school virtually every day, as there always seems to be something there to look forward to. She has met many great people at the school, and has been enriched in numerous ways by her time at Havergal. Our daughter shares with us many of her experiences from school, and we can tell from the effusiveness with which she describes her daily activities, that she clearly is taking full advantage of all the school has to offer, and enjoying her time there very much. If there was one improvement to school life I could suggest, it would be to address what appears to be a lack of intramural or non competitive extracurricular opportunities at the school. I feel with the house system in place at the school, there could be more organized games or team sports played between houses.
Fostering a sense of community is a primary focus at Havergal. This is achieved by consistently engaging both students and parents in all aspects of school life. Parents are invited to attend the school for various functions and are invited to volunteer for special events like Celebration Saturday or the Father Daughter dance. They are also encouraged to participate in various social events designed to introduce parents to each other and to help build the feeling of being part of the school community. We have found the parent community to be quite engaging. Dinners, outings and get togethers with parents of other girls in our daughter's grade happen throughout the year, and we have developed friendships with a number of Havergal parents by virtue of the activities our daughter has participated in and the friends she has made at school. The school exudes spirit, pride and camaraderie, and that is quite evident from the communications we receive from the school and the regular reports we hear from our daughter of her experiences there. The school's focus on spirit and community have helped our daughter feel welcome there since day one, and have proven to be a major component in her enjoyment of her time at the school.
(4) School Location
The school is centrally located and is easily accessible by car or public transit. It is surrounded by lovely neighbourhoods, a nearby outdoor skating rink and its own beautiful campus with several sports fields, tennis courts, wooded areas and a small ravine. While I believe most students stay at the school over lunch or other breaks, there are some shops and restaurants nearby if they do wish to venture out.
I believe the school works very hard at ensuring that students entering the school will be a good fit and will be successful there. As such, the admissions process for the upper school is multi-faceted. It includes a detailed application form, an entrance exam and an interview. While this might sound somewhat daunting, the admissions directors and their staff are all very well suited for their roles, and go to great lengths to help ease the stress of the process as much as possible. This was particularly evident during our interview and our daughter's interview with Ms. Houston-White. She made all of us feel quite comfortable and she was able to answer any questions we had about the school, its values, the student body and the curriculum. Ms. Houston-White and her staff were particularly helpful at providing us with any information we required when it came time for us to make the difficult decision of which school to select of the ones which made admission offers to our daughter. I would advise anyone planning to apply for admission to go to the open house, go tour the school separately to see classes in session and the facilities, and try to speak to parents of current students to get a good understanding of what one can expect if their daughter goes to Havergal. As well, don't hesitate to contact the admissions personnel at the school with any questions you have, as they are very approachable and very responsive to any inquiries.