My overall experience at Olivet School was very positive. I remember being happy and comfortable within my school community. I attended Olivet for over 10 years and being able to grow up with my tight knit group of friends was an asset -- we are still best friends today. Students of all ages are able to have different relationships which I think helps develop patience and understanding amongst kids. The small classroom sizes allowed me to find my voice and feel supported in my way of thinking and comprehension. I think this helped to build the confidence I still have today. A prospective student should expect to feel valued in the classroom. Their daily presence adds to the life of the classroom and fellow students. Everyone will know their name and they might even find best friends for life!
When reflecting back on my time at Olivet School, I have very positive views of the administration and school leadership. There were two principals during my time there, both of whom were respected by students but not feared. I always had the impression that the parents revered the principals as well. On the occasion that I pushed the boundaries and was sent to the office, the principal treated me fairly and in turn I took the consequence seriously. While embarrassed, I didn't feel ashamed of my mistake -- it was always made clear that I could choose to make better choices and the slate would be cleared after I faced my consequence. Once I graduated from Olivet and moved on to high school, I became involved in the Student Council there, eventually becoming the Student Council President and winning the Principal's Award for Student Leadership. I know that the leadership and administration at Olivet made a strong impression on me and helped influence my own leadership skills as a teen.
Located in the heart of Etobicoke, Olivet School is situated on a large property next to a right of way near Echo Valley Park. Organized trips to Mimico Creek or lessons out in the field contributed to a unique and FUN learning experience! In winter, the teachers would sometimes take us tobogganing at the nearby hill during recess. Outdoor time and nature is such an important part of childhood development and the teachers at Olivet know this. There were many art class projects that involved the nature resources nearby. I remember going out with my class to the ravine to forage leaves for prints or take pictures for a photography unit. While the street address is Burnhamthorpe Road, the parking lot and playground of Olivet face a quiet residential street and neighbourhood. The students are safe and protected within the property boundaries.
So much of a child's experience at school depends on the teacher and their teaching style. The amazing thing at Olivet is that the small class sizes allow the teacher to give individualized attention to the students. There is definitely a special comfort level between teacher and student at Olivet. I never felt awkward or embarrassed about asking questions or answering questions out loud in class. While this may seem like a more informal relationship, the level of respect was still very high. The teachers are able to adapt to each unique learning situation. I remember many times where I had finished class work early and was given additional sheets, a special book to read or new project to work on. I was always challenged to do my best.
For me, school life at Olivet was my WHOLE life! I was excited to go to school each morning and see my friends and teachers. Each student at Olivet stands out as an individual because of the small school size. Everyone knows each other's name regardless of grade level -- this makes for such a nice environment. One of the best parts of the school life at Olivet is the amazing variety of field trips the students go on. Theatre, The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Medieval Times, hikes in conservation areas, camping, and when older, trips to Ottawa and Quebec are just a few examples of the fun excursions. To round out my social experience and meet a wider variety of friends, I was part of a choir and baseball team.
The nice thing about the Olivet School community is that it extends into the Olivet Church community as well. Students may perform songs for special church services and I think it's nice for the child to see so many different community members supporting them -- not just their parents. As an alumni of Olivet, I always feel welcome! I am recognized and greeted by name as soon as I walk into the building. I love visiting my former teachers there and noticing the different changes around the classrooms and buildings. Yes, I am certainly in touch with some of my former classmates since graduating Olivet! My closest friend and I both graduated from Olivet and we have a unique bond because of that. She was even a bridesmaid at my wedding! I am also close with her younger sister who graduated a few years after us. A foreign student from Puerto Rico joined my class for 2 years and I am still friends with her today, despite her moving back.
While the small class sizes at Olivet present so many positives, the downside of them can be seen when it comes to extracurricular activities. There are no sports teams or music clubs at Olivet. Instead, all of the students are involved in the choir and the sports at recess. When I was a student, there was the opportunity to participate in additional programs a few times a year. Some of the options were one day excursions such as horseback riding, others were a series of lessons such as bracelet making or cooking classes. These were organized by either teachers or parent volunteers and the sizes varied. The lack of extracurriculars at Olivet never bothered me because I was in various other classes outside of school such as piano lessons, dance and improv classes and language school. I think the addition of these programs in addition to my life at Olivet helped me acclimatize to new people and situations.
The academic program at Olivet School is above average in my opinion. Students receive personalized lessons that can, in a way, cater to individual needs. For example, if a child is not understanding a concept, the teacher has the time and resources to explain it in another way. They are always adapting the lessons to better suit the needs of the students. There is also the opportunity for more one on one instruction. While other kids are busy at work, a student is able to approach the teacher for additional support. Academic competition at Olivet is healthy. I felt challenged but not pushed. We weren't encouraged to compete against each other but to achieve our personal best. I earned several Academic Achievement Awards for my hard work during the terms.
Having attended Olivet from PreK through to grade 8, I went from being the youngest in the school to the oldest and everything in between. When young, I looked up to the older students, and when in grade 8, I understood that I was a role model to the little kids. For the most part, everyone knows each other. Not all the kids that attend Olivet are local. Some travel by bus, others by car or even carpool with other students. They come from many different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds which is to the benefit of the student population. Despite any differences, the one thing that they have in common is their faith. The dynamic of students at Olivet is unified. There weren't cliques or "popular" kids. Everyone has a place and finds a group (or many) of friends.