Roundtable Q&A Discussion About La Citadelle International Academy of Arts & Science (2020)
La Citadelle International Academy of Arts & Science alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Hannity, Elisa, Shafina, Daniel, Alison, Jason had to say about the school.
Highlights from the Q&A discussion
Hannity — current parent
Hannity has a younger son currently attending La Citadelle, and her older son is an alumnus. Hannity is currently a member of the Parent Support Committee.
- “[What differentiates La Citadelle is] is that family touch. There is that human touch. … We're friends with the parents. We're very close friends with some of the parents … it's a big, happy family. … We were at the school doing activities and we know that the kids are well looked after. When my son had just started, there were some Grade 4 students who came up to me and said, ‘Oh, who's your son? Does he like the school?’ And I said, ‘No, he's not too used to it. He's still new.’ The Grade 4 students spent about a month's worth of recesses with my youngest son, who was in JK, to make sure that he was feeling welcome. And this is something I don't think you see in any other school.”
- “Being a parent of an older child … they do exams. When my oldest son was there, they would do exams starting in Grade 1, then they moved them and made it a bit more relaxed. Exam time is not stress time.... So now that my oldest son is at university, he knows how to pace himself. … Exams are not as stressful as for other people around them.”
- “I feel like that because of the amount of courses, our children have a broader education than the average high school students here. ...Throughout the schooling, they have to take all these courses that give them a broader range of knowledge, and I think that's very important.”
- “Everybody knows the kids from years before, years after. And the parents … we have coffee on Friday mornings. We just go up to the Longo's and whoever joins, joins. … We share anything. We've become friends that way.”
- “Another value [that the school has is] discipline. … My younger son is a bit of a mess and they are molding him into becoming a bit more responsible, a bit more disciplined. … They’re teaching me to be patient with him, which is amazing.”
- “There are so many teachers teaching different subjects at a lower grade, students learn how to learn with different teaching methods. And that's important … you're not going to have one teacher or one boss or one interaction with one type of person. You're going to have to deal with a lot of different personalities, a lot of different ways of talking, of guiding.”
- “When there was a new student coming into the class, [my son] would take it on to himself or be asked … to take that person under his wing. … So he would help the other students integrate better. … The incoming students will get help from the existing students.”
- “If any of the parents of new or old students need something, they have a question, we've set up whatsapp chats for within the grade. ...The parents would get support as well as the students. So somebody forgot their homework, somebody forgot their books, we have that support, we have that [unofficial] process in place.”
- “Academically, it is more demanding than others … and it’s fun. .. .During covid, we've been Zooming with the friends of the school … and if you want to have your child known somewhere … they will help each other. Actually, my oldest son got a summer job through one of the parents at La Citadelle because of connections. … It's a community as well as a school.”
- “[The amount of homework students bring] depends on the students. … [My son] does his homework at school and he manages to finish it. And, obviously, he's finishing it because I'm not getting calls or emails or whatever from the teachers. Other students will take more time and it will be more of a haunting thing. ...So it depends on the students. The homework, obviously, is the same for every student in the same class, but it depends on how the student handles it.”
- “[My son] has issues with … long-term projects and planning them. But the daily homework is easy enough. … It is daily except for Wednesday. There is no homework from Wednesday to Thursday. There could be homework from Wednesday to Friday, but not overnight on Wednesdays. And there is homework on the weekends and on holidays … summer homework as well, which kids despise. But I think it's really good because it keeps their brain going, and it forces them not to lose a month in September when they have to get back and remember everything that they have studied.”
- “[Teachers will collaborate with each other] so that another teacher doesn’t assign a big assignment for the same day. They will try to overlap them, or to spread them out throughout the month or the trimester.”
Elisa — alum
Elisa is currently attending university. Elisa originally transferred from New Brunswick, and she credits La Citadelle for her smooth transition.
- “I found that it was really different how people from different grades interact. … I could spend my recess as a Grade 11 student just playing tag with third graders without it being weird. … All the parents here, I knew their kids. I tutored some of their kids for French, and helped them read. And it was really cool because I still feel part of the community now. ...The interactions between the grades allowed for everybody to know each other. … It was really fun doing activities. I don't know that in most schools [if] they have this open environment. … My friend group in high school, we would sit, and it would be students from Grade 9 to 12. And it was just like the small environment where we had friends in different grades.”
- “I remember spending some of my lunches with my French teacher. She was like a second mom to me. I'm still in contact with her. ...I really like the environment, the fact that you could just … knock on a teacher's door, and they would be happy to sit down with you, talk about your problems or just talk about life, and really help you with either your schoolwork or your personal life. It was just really welcoming and interactive.”
- “During my first exam season, I was so nervous. But then I realized that it's such a supportive environment that I didn't need to panic that much because everybody was there to support me. And exam season turned out to be my favourite time of year sometimes because … after you did your exams … it was such a relief and you were just there around your friends. And it was just like such a cool environment.”
- “The science courses really helped me prepare for university, and the fact that I think some of my high school exams were almost the same material as my first year university exams. At one point, it was kind of cool to see how they overlapped, but definitely [La Citadelle] helped me pace my time. … Everybody was there to support you, so when it was the time to be stressed, I got so much support and learned how to deal with it that when I'm in the university setting, I feel comfortable and I don't feel rushed or overwhelmed with stress.”
- “The teachers are there to support you. The other students are there to help you. … The academics are really heavy. … My English teacher, and he would be really understanding, he would spend more time explaining more the basic concepts in class because he knew that I was maybe not at the same level as everybody else. He would pull me aside and just help me with homework. Or my French teacher, we were a really small French class: only two in Grade 10. So she would really help me. … I was struggling with literature. … So not to be afraid to ask for help even from the students because people are there to help you.”
- “It was really bilingual, the fact that I could speak in French or in English with almost all the teachers, or if I was just having a French day and couldn't think of a word in English, I could just like spill it out in French and … everybody would understand. ...Some of the conversations were really bilingual.”
Shafina — current parent
Shafina currently has a daughter attending La Citadelle. Shafina has been impressed by how advanced and confident her daughter has become, and credits the parent and school community for their support.
- “The first week … you've got to buy these four textbooks and my child is two and a half. … I said to my husband, ’This is ridiculous. This is obviously a sales pitch.’... A year progresses … and I start seeing these books being completed. … By June, all these books come home and I am completely shocked. Coming up to Grade 1, [my daughter is] very confident. Confidence is a big thing that they try to instill in these children and teach them because they make them accountable for their own actions, even from a very young age. So for me, the biggest impact [La Citadelle had on my child] definitely is confidence, respect, and academics.”
- “I can tell you my five-year-old is all about her tests every week and quizzes. And it is quite remarkable to see a child that age actually take accountability.”
- “[What families would find most surprising is that] everyone knows everyone, like whether you're in Grade 12, whether you're a student or a teacher, or whether you're down … in elementary. … And you can see that even with the parents who come in and volunteer, no matter which grade we're in, we know the kids, we know the parents. And it really is a family community. It really is.”
- “I was shocked when my three-year-old in pre-K actually participated in the Science Fair, and did a project on the Rainbow, and did it all by herself. ...That's pretty remarkable … when you see your children presenting, in French, their own science experiments. … I think it's super important that [academics are] being instilled at a very, very young age.”
- “[As far as school values go,] I think there's a notion of resiliency … that's really focused on how a child is really adapting and building those healthy relationships. ...Whether it's with other students or with their teachers or just even among their own little classroom, they really do teach them that. And it's not just about academics either … it's about discipline … and respect and how we treat others.”
- “[Core values also extend] out to the families who come to the school because when we're interacting with them. … I have no problem having my child hang out with some of the families because I know that we're going to learn something from them, and maybe they will learn a little bit from us as well. … We're cut from the same cloth. So it's a good thing. It's a really good thing.”
- “That was our biggest fear as well: ‘How am I going to help with the homework because of the language barrier?’ But as I was told by the school, your job as a parent is to make sure that the child is actually attempting it. ...Basically, write back to the school and tell them this is the situation, this is what did happen or didn't happen, and they just take it from there. ...You use the school...You're going to get as much out of it as you put into it as a parent. So the resources are there. You just have to tap into them. So they do have support systems in place for that.”
- “Everybody's watching out for your child. ...They're all working together. … I tell everybody I've graduated SK because the online program was so rigorous that I feel I graduated SK with her. … I was quite impressed about how the teachers were able to engage the children online, and how quickly they were able to do it. I don’t think any child at La Citadelle missed a beat with COVID. They didn’t actually feel it other than the social component. I think academically it went over flawlessly.”
- “If you're looking for a strong academic program that’s disciplined, teaches respect but is also fun and makes your children enjoy learning, I think [La Citadelle is] a fantastic choice. It's a good, safe environment as well.”
Daniel — alum
Daniel was the valedictorian of his graduating class amid a pandemic, and credits La Citadelle’s rigour for preparing him for university.
- “I feel you can be friends with the teachers as well as the students … so I feel like that’s what really differentiates [La Citadelle] from others."
- “...The amount of exams we had at La Citadelle because of the amount of courses we took. ...Up until Grade 10, I remember I used to have 10 courses, so that would mean 10 exams. And now in university, I only have five courses, so [a heavy workload at La Citadelle] helped me learn how to prepare and manage my time as well.”
- “I came from an English-speaking school. I came [to La Citadelle] in Grade 7 when all classes were in French. And at first, I was a bit lost. … I didn't really know what's going on, but I was able to talk to the teachers and they also were able to accommodate me by keeping me after school and teaching me French after school, as well, so that I could understand.”
- “I would say that typically you get homework after every class. … That doesn't apply for every single class, but that's what I felt. And also in terms of assignments, maybe like one assignment per month for every class on average. Which I think was pretty manageable.”
Alison — alum
Alison credits La Citadelle for nurturing her confidence and preparing her for university.
- “You can really rely on the teachers for support, something that I felt throughout my entire time. There was just a continuous feeling of support, whether it was from the teachers or from other parents.”
- “[La Citadelle] taught us how to study and also how to pace your time during the exam. … Some of my university exams have been shorter than my exams [at La Citadelle]. And so I really learned how to [pace myself], especially if there's an essay at the end. I learned how to be able to write a good essay in a short amount of time. And it's a really important quality for university exams. So I really appreciated having that foundation going into university.”
- “[At La Citadelle, you can] ask your fellow students for help. A lot of schools, especially private schools, are very competitive and even though the academics are very rigorous at the school, you don't really get that same level of competitiveness just because everyone is so supportive of each other, and you definitely shouldn't be afraid to ask others for help. Let them know that you're struggling. They can help you. Maybe they're struggling too, and you can both ask the teacher, and very, very much rely on the support system that the school offers because it will come in handy.”
- “The academics at the school are truly, really good and well-rounded, but I think the school has been integral in shaping me into the person I am today. I spent my entire life there, so the person I am was very much shaped by my peers, my teachers, even parents at the school. And I think that the school community is very engaging and it's worth it to go to the school, even just for the community.”
Jason — current parent
- “So this is our eighth year and as I see the growth in my kids … it's certainly a pleasure to see them progress both academically and then … blossom socially and creatively. ...I'm glad that the school does foster that environment where they can … grow and develop in those three important areas.”
- [What families would find most surprising about La Citadel:] “I can't think of [kids from other grades interacting with each other] in any other school. ...I think that is unusual. I think it's rare ...the collective environment and community that La Citadelle provides is unique.”
- “I was proud of the way that the school and [my son], in particular, … quickly pivoted to a very effective online program. I was proud of the way that La Citadelle and all the teachers did a fantastic job of pivoting to the online program. ... And then, as they've come back to school in-person, you know, I think that the protocols make sense.”
- “[What I want to tell other parents is that] the kids do work hard, but they really enjoy it while doing that. So it's a nice balance.”