REVIEW OF Loyola High School BY Alum, Daniel Magee
- Date of Review
September 16, 2021
Gr. 7 - 11
- University (major)
John Abbott College
(5) Overall Experience
As a young pre-teen moving on to high school, I had no idea what to expect from Loyola. While my father had been Jesuit-educated in Ireland growing up, I did not know whether the school would be similar to my elementary school. But this bred curiosity which led me to fall in love with the school instantly. Every aspect of the school is special: Loyola boasts a highly competitive and successful interscholastic athletics program, hosts several extra-curricular activities ranging from Bands to Robotics to Chess to Table Tennis, but most of all, it provides a comprehensive education to prepare each of its students for the next steps of their education. But if one thing stood out to me from my time at school, it would be the amazing people who work at and attend Loyola. Each teacher does everything in their power to see their students succeed, whether that be through offering extra-help sessions, providing individual feedback on assignments and classwork or using their time off-the-clock to tutor any student who is struggling with course material. The administrators are all enthusiastic and always greet students with a smile to provide us with a positive and inclusive school atmosphere. Loyola gives its students the chance to form friendships and brotherhoods that will last them a lifetime, as I have. Loyola, in accordance with its Jesuit tradition, works hard to ensure that it educates the whole person - the school has rigorous academics, of course, but it also provides students the opportunity to embrace athletic, emotional, and spiritual growth. And with the awakenings that students experience over their five years through CSP, Experience Week, SSX, and Kairos, they can truly feel prepared for life outside of Loyola's walls upon graduation.
(4.5) School Leadership
One thing that stands out about Loyola's leadership is their genuine enthusiasm in their commitment to serving the school and its students. Their care is evident in everything they do, from making big decisions regarding student life to Administrators knowing the names of every student in the school (despite having a student population of 750!). One decision made during my time at the school outlawed the use of technology between classes. While this disappointed many students, it had the positive effect of making us converse with each other while on school grounds, and thus form deeper friendships. This care is recognized by the students. Students truly respect the administrators, as we feel that they respect us, too. Throughout this pandemic especially, Loyola's leadership has been challenged time and again and despite this, the admin has done a fantastic job instilling confidence in the student body and the extended Loyola community, for example, by providing clear instructions and plans on how to continue sustaining the normal Loyola experience amidst COVID-19. They have handled and continue to handle each situation with care and clear communication to ensure that the school's atmosphere and environment remain unblemished by any obstacle, problem, or challenge. The school ensures that students behave properly through strict discipline. All rules and regulations are made clear to the students upon their arrival each September, and the school handles every issue as fairly and judiciously as possible.
Loyola expects a high level of effort and a strong work ethic to allow students to do well in their academics. To help students achieve their potential, Loyola provides quality education through many exceptional teachers. Every teacher has an evident passion for their course, and they show their extensive expertise in their respective subjects through the quality of their lessons. Also, every teacher buys into the commitment of serving their students to the best of their abilities, so extra help, constructive feedback, and support from teachers are commonplace and are pivotal to aiding academic success in Loyola students. The thing that sets the teachers apart the most is the unwavering respect that each teacher commands and receives from their students. While the student-teacher relationship varies in formality based on the teacher's preference (some relationships are very formal, others are closer to friendships), every student understands the importance of respect. Teachers build off that respect to challenge students to push their limits and help students develop a love of learning, even in subjects that may not interest them. A good teacher can truly make an uninteresting subject a joy to learn, and while I was never particularly drawn to History nor to Art, the teachers at Loyola instilled a passion in me for these two subjects, one which I will carry with me even as I move on past my time at the school.
Loyola fosters a culture of high academic success, where effort and commitment are both necessary to achieve. The school pushes its students very hard and having several hours of homework a night is not uncommon in the slightest. One of the few weaknesses of the school, in my opinion, would be that sometimes, students feel overwhelmed by their work. At an all-boys school, it's only natural that students are competitive about their grades and if you fall behind, getting back up to speed can feel impossible. That said, one of Loyola's many great strengths is the support that it provides students - academically, as well as emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Students can get real help from teachers, coaches, friends, tutors, or from our amazing guidance counselors. Loyola is a family, and the school community is more than happy to offer help and support whenever one of its members is struggling. Loyola has taught me how to properly organize myself to meet deadlines, all while getting the chance to play sports, participate in extracurriculars and have my own life outside school. Loyola has taught me how to study effectively and efficiently, how to think critically, and how to express myself and my thoughts clearly, all of which I continue to use in my life today. Overall, I believe that once you embrace the nature of the school's academics, and once you get to understand your own learning and working habits, the Loyola academic program truly prepares you for life post-secondary school.
I like to think of Loyola's extracurricular program this way: if you have an interest, Loyola has a club for it. The school strongly encourages its students to participate in the Loyola community through sports and extracurricular activities. With such a wide range of activities, any student can find something that interests them. From bands to Intramural sports to darts to Robotics to Model UN... the list goes on. Some activities are purely for fun - for instance, the Yoga Club and the Choir are both non-competitive activities for students to use their talents and interests in creative ways. Other activities are intensely competitive like the Table Tennis club. Yes, the Table Tennis tournaments can truly be a glorious experience, or they can bring you to your knees. The best part of these extracurriculars, for me, is the relationships that you can form with people outside of your inner circle. Clubs bring similarly interested people together to have fun and become collectively more well-rounded, and that sense of camaraderie among students from different grades and groups is one thing that I find so special about Loyola.
The Loyola student body is very interesting to me: it incorporates many different groups of people with many different personalities, interests, and goals, all the while uniting them as a collective. The "typical" Loyola student comes from a middle to upper-middle-class home, he does his best to maintain decent grades, participates in a couple of activities around the school, finds and incorporates himself with people he likes, and enjoys his Loyola experience overall. However, Loyola has a huge range of different students: athletes, academics, athletic academics, social butterflies, introverts, leaders, hard workers, extremely involved students, and many more. Regardless of who you are, you are welcomed by everyone at the school, especially if you prove yourself to be kind, helpful, and most of all, loyal to your peers. Despite having different cliques, most students tend to be hardworking and intelligent, so kindness, loyalty, and helpfulness when called upon are appreciated by many. These different groups end up getting along because, at the end of the day, the Loyola community is a family, and students realize that there is no room for intolerance or fighting. Ethnically, the vast majority of students at Loyola have Italian, Eastern European, British, and/or Irish roots. That said, the school's administration is working towards ethnically diversifying the student population more, through work with Mr. Denburk Reid and his foundation, Montreal Community Cares. Socio-economically, most students come from middle-class homes and above. However, the school's bursary program ensures that if a child is capable and willing enough to attend, finances are not a problem. To the best of my knowledge, over 15% of the student population has some amount of financial aid from the school. Bottom line, no matter your roots or who you are, if you buy into the ethos of the school, Loyola and its students will welcome you with open arms.
(5) School Life
I loved going to Loyola, but not necessarily just because of the work in the classroom. The thing that really sold me on Loyola were the athletics, extracurricular activities, Student Council-sanctioned events, and other special experiences. I think the competitive sports program at Loyola is absolutely amazing. Loyola has over ten competitive sports teams, of which I competed with four (Soccer, Basketball, Badminton, and Tennis). These teams gave me the chance to develop my skills and passion for the respective sports, all while giving me the chance to build friendships with people I otherwise would not have met through my classes alone. The Student Council-sanctioned events were also loads of fun. Things like Kahoots, Spikeball tournaments, and Dances with our sister schools Sacred Heart and Villa Maria, all let students blow off steam and just enjoy each other's company while partaking in fun activities. And finally, special events like Experience Week, SSX, Kairos, Carnival, and the Ed Meagher Sports Tournament are all extremely enjoyable, once-in-a-lifetime type experiences that truly made my Loyola journey unforgettable.
If there's one thing that I know as an alum of the school, it's that even though I'm no longer a student there, I am still connected and will remain connected to the school. Alumni are constantly in contact with the school, whether it be for alum events like the Beer Bashes and reunions, or special events like the Wine & Cheese and the Ed Meagher Sports Tournament. Loyola truly is a family, and alumni find it very hard to leave. So, they keep in touch through these fun events. Parents are also very much welcomed to be involved in the school community. The Mother's Guild and the Loyola Parent's Association are two great ways to be involved in the life of the school. Both groups host several parent's events to help raise money for the Bursary and to finance other needs around the school, like the Sec. IV Experience Week and student awards and plaques, to name a few. Since leaving Loyola, I have kept in touch with many of my friends from the school. My closest friends to this day are the guys that I connected with at the Loyola, and I foresee that remaining the same for a long time. If the decades of alumni are any indicator, the brotherhood you form at this school really does last a lifetime.
(4.5) School Location
Loyola is located in Notre-Dame de Grâce, one of the most accessible spots on the Island of Montréal. Easily reached by students living in the city with the bus and metro systems, Loyola is also located a five-minute walk away from the Montréal-Ouest residential train station, making Loyola very accessible from Saint-Jérome to Hudson to Candiac. Loyola is surrounded by a few different amenities, namely fast-food joints, dépanneurs, and restaurants. Students in Sec 3 and above tend to venture off the school's grounds during lunch to grab a bite to eat. Loyola's surrounding neighbourhood is relatively safe.
The two things that I would recommend to someone applying for admission would be to be genuine and to try your best. The entrance exam was very daunting for me, and there were parts on the exam that I struggled with. But, I did my best, read every question twice, and my exam was good enough to land me an interview. When at the interview, be yourself, and try not to feel nervous. I can promise you that the interviewer is a very nice person who simply wants to get to know you. The interviewers want to hear what the child has to say, not what parents tell them to say. So if you speak from your heart and be honest, I am sure that you will fit right in. While I found the whole process stressful, I look back now and think to myself how painless it all was. The Admissions team is very experienced, and they will make everything very clear.