Ottawa, ON | Grades 1 - 12 | Shortlist
At first I was surprised at the school as it is obviously an older facility. Since it is rented from the Catholic school board it does not receive the full support of that board. The independent grounds keeper however keeps it in good shape, safe and inviting to the students. While it is closer to the downtown core, it is convenient for us, but could pose an issue. Car pooling is offered which helps build connections with the school community. While it is somewhat isolated, it does offer near by parks, the route along the canal is within easy access, and various small convenience stores and the like are only a short walk away. While in younger grades this is not accessible to the students, as they get older, they are given the privilege of exploring these places as long as done so in a responsibly way, respecting the time lines of classes and lunch periods.
My daughter loves that she can go out for lunch or a cafe. She feels more independent. It is a very safe neighbourhood. It is walking distance to train and buses. Location for us was a bit our of the way from our work which depends obviously on the individual. To mitigate this barrier, we have arranged carpooling. The school provides a list for parents interested in carpooling. As the school has children that come in from all parts of the city and beyond, carpooling is an excellent idea.
The school is in a vibrant residential part of town, and there is access to parks and places where the students can get a sandwich at lunch if they choose. A few streets over, they can access Little Italy, where there are restaurants and cafes for them to get a snack and feel part of the community. Dow's Lake is also nearby, and the students went their once to go fishing. The older students are free to venture beyond the school during their breaks, which is good, so that they can get a break for the school environment, socialize with friends, exercise their independence, and feel a part of the community. Field trips are fairly frequent, and convenient given the school's central location. Downtown is close, as are museums and other attractions. As well, the school integrates well with the broader community by inviting in external speakers to allow the students to experience things beyond the walls of the school.
The kids participated in many extracurricular activities that got them out and walking in the neighbourhood. Fishing in Dow's Lake, for example, was always a fun trip. The neighbourhood is nice, there is ample parking and it is conveniently in downtown for picking up and dropping off. It is also close to public transit once kids are old enough to get home on their own. The neighbourhood felt safe and I was comfortable letting my daughter walk to the bus stop. Given the area is so residential, the school is definitely part of the community. Given the location - it allowed students access to many museums etc that were within walking distance which was a nice bonus. I don't know if any of the older kids were able to leave the property and go to Preston Street for lunch and the like.