Fort Erie, ON | Grades 6 - 12 | Shortlist
My experience at Niagara Christian Collegiate has been extremely rewarding. I started studying at NCC in Grade 11 and am currently in the final few months of grade 12, with offers to 7 different universities and scholarships to 4 of them. As an international student who has resided in a non-English speaking country for most of my life, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to fit in when I initially came here. But all teachers, staff, and students here were exceptionally friendly and accommodating, and I found myself treating NCC like a second home very early on. Getting to know people from different cultures, bonding over shared experiences and memories and getting to know teachers and residence staff like close friends were wondrous experiences I will never forget. I appreciate the connections I have made immensely, and am grateful for the teachers who have pushed me to work hard and to constantly strive for improvement. There are several suggestions that I would love to see NCC implement or take into consideration. One is that I wish there would be individual coaches for sports teams, so that teachers would be able to focus on more academic-related activities, such as running debate clubs, working on expanding courses, etc. Another suggestion would be to add facilities for those who are physically disabled, such as wheelchair ramps and accessible toilets. Lastly, it would be appreciated if there could be more awareness of mental health, especially for minorities such as people of the LGBTQ+ community. There are many seminars and lectures that raise awareness of overall mental well-being, but oftentimes it seems that little is done in action to ensure student safety.
Most teachers are friendly and supportive and take on a more delegative or transactional leadership style. The majority of my experience in interacting with teachers and school leaders has been positive, and they make an effort to build a healthy relationship with students through friendly communication. Though one thing I wish school leaders would do more of is to listen to students’ feedback. There are many small details that students wish they could change, and oftentimes they are too afraid to speak out. Perhaps it would be good for school leaders to take the initiative to do so.
I am so grateful for all the teachers whom I have had the privilege of having. No matter the subject or workload or the number of students, it is clear that all teachers are passionate in what they do, and have two goals: to educate and prepare the future generation to the best that they can, and to spread the virtues of Christianity. The curriculum in NCC places a great emphasis on educating students not only on course material, but also on essential life skills such as time management and maintaining a healthy work/life balance, etc. The school’s care towards their students is one of the best things about it, especially when considering that so many students have troubles adjusting to new lives in a different country, returning to in-person school during COVID and so on.
For the two years that I have attended NCC, the school has been following a Quadmester system, so students take two courses at the same time over a period of roughly eight to nine weeks. Personally, I really love this arrangement as it gives students more time to focus on individual subjects, not to mention that having only two subjects at the same time is less distracting for learning and absorbing information. NCC’s university prep courses are the real deal. Though the workload was at times overwhelming, it only pushed me to manage my time more wisely and to prioritize my studies over comfort and leisure, which is a well-needed practice for a future university student. All teachers are passionate about what they do and the message they want to spread, and it is evident in their efforts. Though I sometimes found the curriculum mundane, most of the courses were engaging and extremely informational.
I love the fact that the school is open to students who have varying interests and allows us the freedom to pitch certain ideas for clubs and teams. As someone who is passionate about both sports and academics, NCC provided me with the opportunities to join a plethora of different sports teams, as well as the chance to be a delegate in their Model United Nations committee.
A student’s experience will not be the same for everyone. Given the religious nature of the school and the more traditional values that select teachers still hold, it would be unfair to say that everyone is treated equally regardless of their language abilities, sexual preference, or gender identity. But it is clear that the school is making an effort, and there are many forms of support available for students. I think that the smaller population of NCC makes it easier to bond and communicate with teachers, and I personally find that the students who make an effort to communicate with their peers and teachers and work diligently are able to cultivate healthy habits that are reflected in their daily life. It might be hard for students who are not fully fluent in English to communicate initially, but NCC is a very supportive community and in my experience, everyone is able to find a place for themselves here.
One of the main attractions of NCC, especially in the spring and summertime, is the tranquillity and atmospheric beauty of the campus. It is close to nature and provides a wonderful environment to hang out and study. If I were asked to give a tour of the school to a group of visitors who have never been here before, I would take them to the chapel first, then walk over to the set of portables so they can take a look at the learning spaces. Dormitories are also a must-see for future students and parents. The rooms are rather spacious in comparison to other boarding schools and the toilets and showers are cleaned daily. There is a gym in both the girls' and boys’ dormitories, as well as a common area called the rec centre that is open to all students. There are video games, a table-tennis table, a pool table, and many more forms of entertainment.
As a student who lives in residence, NCC certainly felt like a second home to me. Most students are friendly and welcoming and teachers are always happy to answer any questions that you have. Because of such an engaging environment, I found it easy to be fairly active within the school community, having joined the Model United Nations team, girl’s basketball team, girl’s soccer team, track and field team, and cross-country team. As aforementioned, I cannot say with full confidence that everyone is inclusive and supportive of one another, especially given that there is a mix of religious and secular students of different upbringings. But for what it’s worth, NCC is working hard to cultivate a safe space for everyone, and that effort should not be overlooked.
Many dorm students have the ability to go off campus provided that they have a mode of transport and are back before curfew. During school days students often choose to stay on campus for the whole day, but it is great that we have the option to go out for dinner. This is a very reasonable policy and residence staff take protocols to ensure that students are able to be contacted and are able to get back safely.
I found the admission process fun and engaging, and it was less stressful than I anticipated since the admissions department got back to me fairly quickly. Communication was good and the admissions department always answered within a few business days. The process of selecting courses and planning my residence and meal arrangements also did not take very long; it was a rather efficient and swift process. One piece of advice I would give to students planning on applying to Niagara Christian Collegiate, especially international students, is to try to be more confident in their English ability and social skills. Almost everyone in NCC is open and friendly and will take the time out of their day to have a deep conversation with you, and I know now that you will always be able to find someone here that you can rely on.