REVIEW OF Mennonite Collegiate Institute BY parent, Barbara Rieder
- Date of Review
August 17, 2021
Gr. 9 - 12
(5) Student Experience
My appreciation for MCI started in 2009 when my eldest daughter arrived there halfway through her grade 9 year. The staff and students made her feel welcome and part of the community. She has grown up to be a strong and confident young woman. This has continued with each child I have entrusted to MCI. They have grown morally, spiritually, academically and socially. COVID has been hard on everyone but the dedication to community at the school makes it the absolute best place for my child to be during a pandemic. I can't thank the staff enough for keeping my children safe while giving them the space to grow into young adults that the world should be proud of! Way to go MCI!! Keep up the great work.
(5) School Leadership
Staff at MCI are leaders when it comes to assessing situations and coming up with viable solutions that meet their goal of protecting the dignity of all involved. They are compassionate and fair. Excellent communication with students and parents keeps everyone aware of the big issues but maintains the privacy of those personally involved. The small size of the school makes it possible for staff to have a healthy knowledge of all the students there and contributes to a "big family" atmosphere.
A small school without a massive budget means that teachers are there because they care. They are part of the community and in many cases have either attended MCI themselves or have attended a school very similar to MCI. Teachers always seem to be offering afterschool help. From what I can see, the aim is always to help students acquire the knowledge that they will need to move on to the next level of learning. In this spirit, staff offers many opportunities for students to absorb the knowledge in a way that best meets the student's learning style. More kids would have a better chance in life if this philosophy was adapted by more schools. Students respond positively to this caring method of teaching. MCI teachers do a great job!
MCI has a strong academic and arts program. I love that during COVID, music did not stop. Staff and students worked together to come up with safe solutions to continue the fellowship of music. My children have also greatly benefited from the art and dance programs. This focus on the arts is what drew me to a school much like MCI when I was a teen and I can see that MCI was the right choice for my own children. The arts have nourished their souls. The community created by group activities like singing and dancing is calming and restorative. Kids can't learn science if they don't feel loved and accepted. MCI does a fabulous job of creating a safe space for self-expression through the arts.
With a dorm attached to the school and lots of opportunities for MCI "town" students to participate after school hours, there is no need for anyone to feel left out of extracurricular activities. I love that there are both large and small group opportunities. Social committees, musical, and sports opportunities are all available for students to participate in. Students even participate in the town of Gretna spring clean-up. There is definitely something for everyone.
With such a small school, it is impossible to feel isolated. The teachers and other students provide a very welcoming atmosphere. For such a small school, there is a tremendous amount of school spirit. It might be because many of the students who attend are the children and grandchildren of alumni! There is always a positive vibe that comes from any event. Students at MCI definitely have their best friends but there seems to be a real effort made to include all students regardless of their heritage, skin color, language or any other difference that might make them a target for bullying at another school. MCI is a safe place for all students. I think the respect the teachers have for the students has been a wonderful example for students to know how to treat each other.
(5) School Life
When children attend MCI, there is a very clear message from the school that the MCI community is there to ADD to the number of caring people in the child's life. Children are encouraged to go home on weekends so that the relationship with their family and community can still be maintained and honoured. For children who have family too far away to see every weekend, there is the opportunity for a host family to support the child in between time with their own family. MCI has been very creative to ensure that every child, no matter what their circumstance has everything they need to be successful. I highly recommend MCI to parents who feel that public school might not be the right place for their child!
Having the opportunity to create these reviews is an awesome demonstration of how parents are invited to share their own experiences. For those parents who live geographically close to the school, it is possible to be more hands-on. For those who live farther away, there are always opportunities to get involved in things like sewing costumes for musicals, fundraising and supporting students on weekends and holidays. Mennonites by nature seem to be community-oriented and this is reflected in the nature of the school. Those who graduate from MCI don't usually just drift away, they stay in touch with their classmates and their teachers. The MCI newsletter helps to connect all present students, parents and alumni so no one misses who got married or who just had a baby!
(5) School Location
Being in a small town is a real advantage for MCI. For some students, the calm park-like atmosphere is the first time they have had to relax and just be aware of the changing of the seasons. Students are welcomed in the community at Halloween and the community responds by attending the fabulous musical and drama events put on by the students.
My children came from both a public school background and homeschooling. I felt no sense of pressure from staff. Both avenues were viewed as acceptable and viable ways to gain an education. Students are invited to attend a "day in the life" at the school if they are thinking about attending. At this time, they are paired with one or two students who take them around for the day and often even spend the night in the dorm. I think this is a fabulous way to help new students get a realistic feel for what life is like at the school. MCI is probably not for everyone but the staff and other students are welcoming of everyone and will work to make sure that if someone wants to be there, every effort will be made to accommodate that desire.
(5) University placement and counselling
So far, 2 of my children have gone on to attend university once they graduated from MCI. I felt the staff did an excellent job of encouraging my children's interests but did not over-power them as they made their first tentative steps forward into the adult world. Both girls were happy with how the staff encouraged them and were equally happy with their choice of university and career paths. For those who chose not to attain higher education immediately, there is no shaming. The supportive atmosphere pays tribute to the value of all life's ways to be educated. For this, I am particularly thankful as academic training does not guarantee success in life. Finding the path that leads to personal fulfillment is far more important. MCI hits the nail on the head.