Our three kids have all done well at OCS. They seem very content - they go off to school eagerly and they come home with lots of stories that reflect they are engaged in their learning. All three speak fondly of OCS. I think this is in part because they feel they are known and loved. They belong and this makes OCS feel like their second home. If I were to ask them what they like best, they would likely list their friends, extra-curricular activities, and recess ;). I think they also like to learn, but they might not admit it. If I were to ask them what they wished could change about their school, they would likely say that they want to live closer so that they could walk to school.
I find the school leadership team to be dedicated and principled. Our kids are truly cared for by a team that puts their safety and learning first. The board, principal, VP, etc. are parents themselves and easy to talk to. I feel that we have a good working relationship with them - they are professional and personable, and we are heard and given the opportunity to be involved. At times, we have had to work through discipline issues and I feel our children are respected and the process is restorative. If there are broader concerns, leadership takes it seriously, working towards solutions in the interest of the students. I feel that the leadership are open and authentic and quite good at communicating. We especially feel that the leadership sets a high standard for creating a quality schooling experience for each individual child.
I can't say enough about the teachers! They are not perfect, but they are committed, loving and very smart at what they do. Year to year our kids have experienced a great variety of styles. I think this is a good thing, after all, our children are all so unique themselves. When I think through the list of OCS teachers, I think fondly of the specific ways they have positively impacted one or more of our kids. The teachers have all been great at communicating and generally seem to read our children well. The teachers seem to take personal responsibility for the learning of our children. Over the years we can think of numerous instances where the teacher chose to adjust their delivery and/or program in order to ensure our child was learning and feeling good about their learning.
OCS has a high academic standard rounded out with a good athletic program and a significant art focus. Our sense is that they are quite intentional to have this balanced program. Our kids have done well. Each are learning at a good pace and we're especially happy because they seem to be developing a love for learning. We think OCS has a solid math and language program. I'm especially impressed with the Science program in the senior grades. I like how in the Social Sciences the research process is developed in the younger grades and built on each year. Our children are not overwhelmed by longer and more involved projects as they have learned how to time manage and break the project into smaller tasks. To this day they will fondly remember a project that they did back in grade 2 or 4 or another grade.
I feel like OCS has a great spread of extra-curricular opportunities for the children - including sports, arts, and service type activities. We pulled our daughter out of competitive swimming so that she could fully engage in the many opportunities. We're glad we did as she has enjoyed a healthy balanced life playing on a number of the team sports. Our kids have participated in both intramural sports and have tried out for the competitive teams. I like the fact that they have experienced the disappointment of not making a team - what better place to process this than in a supportive environment where they know they are valued. It has also been fun to cheer them and their team on when they have made the school team. Our kids have not been as involved in the arts, although I wonder if they are being inspired as my son has recently expressed an interest in getting involved with the drama team.
When we first arrived at OCS 9 years ago we felt welcomed and comfortable as a family. I chose to get involved in school life and found the parent and staff to be warm and friendly. I felt I could contribute in a fun and meaningful way. Our kids also quickly felt a part of the broader community. They like that they are known by name by all of the staff members, they tell me stories about their reading and computer buddies, and I hear of many other fun learning experiences with kids from other grade levels. I have also noticed that at unstructured times, the student body continues to act like a community - for example, often I have seen older kids helping younger kids, and younger kids cheering on older kids. Last year when our family went through a significant health crisis we truly discovered that OCS was our family. We were humbled as many parents, students and staff members rallied around us with practical support, encouragement and a ton of prayer.
OCS has a great student body. I love the diversity and personality represented. I think the tone is generally one of acceptance. On many occasions I have heard parents' of new students reflect that their child felt welcomed and transitioned easily. Our own kids have each formed some strong friendships. I expect that it happens to some extent, but I don't hear of cliques and of kids being excluded. The kids are typical kids and there are still conflict and issues, however, the issues seem to be once in awhile, short lived, and quickly forgotten. The culture encourages students to work out their differences towards getting along. I feel that the students are more often very supportive of one another: looking out for younger students, helping a friend who is hurt at recess, or celebrating another students victory.
Our kids are typical kids who like to play and avoid work. Even so, getting off to school has never been a problem. They might say that they'd like a longer weekend and a shorter week, but they come home chatting a mile a minute about the adventures of their school day and then get restless over the weekend. I think they like going to school because they are embraced for who they are, but also because they are challenged to grow and mature. The staff seek to demonstrate Christ's selfless grace-filled love to our kids, and as a result our kids have thrived. I truly think that having Christ at the centre of all aspects of the school has made the difference in regards to the quality of life for the students.
We wished OCS were a little closer to our home. Currently we car pool with another family the 5 km from to school. Many of the other students walk and bike to school. Our kids would love to do the same. Despite the drive, OCS is in a lovely neighbourhood. As a parent, I'm delighted that on special occasions the classes can enjoy the surrounding area. For example, the kids get to run on pathways beside Lake Ontario for the Terry Fox Run. On the last day of school, some of the younger grades make the five minute walk to Coronation Park for the splash pad. I think at other times the teachers are able to use the adjacent park for art projects or scientific exploration. The neighbourhood is safe and pleasant.