REVIEW OF Mennonite Collegiate Institute BY Alum, Zach Gerbrandt
- Date of Review
November 02, 2021
Gr. 11 - Gr. 12
- University (major)
Red River College
(4.5) Overall Experience
I transferred to MCI for my Grade 11 year, after 2 years in public high school. My experience in public school was positive, but when I began at MCI everything changed. The genuine care of the staff elevated my education greatly compared to what I had experienced in public school. I was encouraged to ask questions, and teachers were more than willing to meet 1-1 both in class and after school to ensure my questions could be answered - about course material and life in general. This experience was continued in extra-curricular programs, where coaches and mentors encouraged me to step out and try new things. For me, the dorm experience was the most transformative. It was incredible to live alongside peers and mentors. I developed so many strong relationships that continue to this day and inspired me to come back and work at the school.
(4.5) School Leadership
As a private school with a dormitory, MCI is in a unique position to truly develop relationships with students that are genuine and authentic. The staff, from teachers to office staff to dormitory deans, took their role as caregivers and nurturers very seriously and developed good relationships with students. All staff members are on a first-name basis with all students which helps students feel like they belong to the greater MCI community. Discipline was always handled appropriately and fairly for situations that I experienced while attending MCI. The leadership team is willing to hear from students about how the school can be made better. This humbleness helped make the school such a safe and caring environment. The communication between leadership and the student body was sometimes lacking, but it is something they continue to work to improve.
I was very impressed with the teachers at Mennonite Collegiate Institute. I never considered myself to be a good reader or writer, but the teachers were very good and encouraging enabling me to do much better than I could have done anywhere else. I was challenged and pushed to do better in all my classes. Teachers were all very approachable and wanted to make sure you understood the material. Math and Physics were some of my favorite courses, which was not the case at public school. Lessons were clear and the class had a great time engaging with the material in creative ways. The extra effort staff put into helping us have hands-on learning experiences and bring in real-life examples made all the difference. The style of teaching at MCI goes way past memorization, they want students to have a deep understanding of the material and learn how to ask good questions.
MCI provides students with a well-rounded education. The strengths of this school lie in the teachers' care and love for their students. they genuinely care for you and do what they can for each student to excel. As a small school, I appreciated that teachers could coordinate and integrate particular lessons across multiple subjects to help reinforce lessons and build connections. But being a small school also limited the variety of courses that could be offered. The staff does a good job at offering a variety of courses, with some unique courses like Teather Tech, Journalism, Agriculture and Dance, but there some things that are not offered like Home Economics, and Woodworking due to the school's size. Overall, the staff provides an excellent education in the courses that are offered.
The opportunities are seemingly endless at Mennonite Collegiate Institute, especially for being such a small school. Students compete with other schools in a variety of sports of their choosing as well as inter murals within the school itself on an almost daily basis. Musical students have the opportunity for band concerts and choir performances on and off-campus throughout the year. There is a theater on campus and students have the opportunity to do a musical production each spring as well as a community drama each fall. There are opportunities to serve and get involved in a variety of student committees from the yearbook, to ecology, to technology. There are also opportunities for students to develop their leadership skills in the dormitory program - leading bible studies, organizing group games and planning worship nights.
The student body is quite small at MCI but that is what makes it such an awesome tight-knit community. The school size allows you to get to know everyone, across the grade levels. There wasn't the typical high school stigma towards grade nine students. Sports teams didn't have the typical hazing but they encouraged athletes to have a better and healthier relationship with one another. Instead of the younger students being scared of the older students they look up to them and make long-lasting friendships with them. The smaller setting of the school enables students to pursue a wide range of things. People have many talents and due to the nature of the school students are given many opportunities to pursue them. If you want to be on a sports team, or participate in a musical, or sing in choir - there is space for you to do so.
(5) School Life
Students that attend MCI are typically happy to be there and want to be involved in the activities of the school year. There is a real sense of community and by the end of the year, all students feel like they are a part of a family. This was the case especially for students living in the dormitory. The dorms are full of life and often people choose to stay for weekends to be with their friends because they enjoy being on campus so much. The staff makes an effort to keep students occupied through the weekends as there are many out-of-town and international students that attend the school and need things to keep them occupied through the weekends. Weekends are often filled with movie nights, group games, and trips to surrounding communities for shopping or other activities. During the week students are kept busy with school work, sports and music practices and community building activities and planned by staff and students
Students who attend MCI truly become a family. The small size of the school and dormitory program contribute to the strong sense of community. Even 10 years after graduation, I continue to connect and have strong relationships with my classmates. It is evident that others have experienced this same community. Alumni often return to the school to coach sports teams, volunteer in musical productions, and even return as staff. It shows how much students really love this school. The school hosts an Alumni Volleyball Tournament each year and also welcomes alumni to come back for other sporting events and concerts. Parents also play a huge role at MCI, on PAC, helping set up for school events, coaching sports games, chaperoning school outings, and cheering on all students as if they were their own. Community is central to life at MCI.
(3.5) School Location
The school can definitely feel like an island at times. The town of Gretna only has a population of around 500 - so the school itself makes up a good percentage of that. The neighborhood is safe, but the distance from major centers like Winnipeg or even Winkler/Morden does make it difficult for some students to attend. It is good to have the option of living on campus, but for many students driving home for the weekend is quite the trek.
I decided to attend MCI on the day of registration in my Grade 11 year. I just showed up on registration day with my dad, application forms in hand ready to go. I'm sure it was overwhelming for the staff to process a new student the day before classes began - but they made it happen! The admissions staff work hard to make new students and their families feel welcome. They helped me set up a course schedule, got me settled into the dorm and helped my transition to the school go smoothly. The enrolment process to return the following year was very simple. I'm sure they would appreciate you applying the day before school starts - but even if you do they will make you feel welcome!
(3.5) University placement and counselling
We had many post-secondary options come to the school to give presentations and we were given the opportunity to connect further with them over lunch or in more in-depth information sessions. This happened with bible schools, universities, community colleges, as well as service programs like MDS, YWAM, Camps, and Outtatown. The Vice-Principal at the time also helped students with the transition to university. She was encouraging and helped us to know our options and the steps involved with applying to school as well as for scholarships. We went through a few career aptitude tests but I am not convinced that was the best use of our time as they produced fairly general responses. I think spending more time focusing more on universities and where certain degrees could lead would have been more beneficial.