REVIEW OF Robert Land Academy BY Alum, Samson Lau
- Date of Review
November 03, 2022
- Grades (year)
Gr. 8 - Gr. 12 (2015 - 2020)
- University (major)
University of Toronto (Computer Engineering)
(5) Overall Experience
Robert Land Academy truly changed how I view myself and life. To be brutally honest, Living overseas in a boys' military-themed school is not only daunting but also difficult. However, this challenging and "back to basics" lifestyle taught me many important rules and discipline to leading a successful and healthy lifestyle in the future. The school teaches you how to make your bed, fold your clothes, clean up after yourself, eat properly with good table manners and so much more. My favourite times during school were the nco clubs we get to go to after lights out. As a reward for going above and beyond to help other students get in the right path to success, NCOs (think of it as the prefects) have a chance to go watch a tv show or movie after lights out together. That was truly a great time as it is a chance to catch up and chat. Overall, if you are willing to change and embrace challenges, you will feel a dedication to improve and change your worldview in this academy. Therefore, I definitely reccomend attending this academy.
(5) School Leadership
Robert Land Academy's leadership system is one of a kind. Students are separated into different barracks (living quarters) based on grades and there are ample amounts of staff supervising their safety. Students have a chance to take up a leadership role based on conduct and merit. Whether it is taking charge of a small section, a whole platoon, or even the entire barracks, these opportunities foster great leadership and problem-solving skills from a young age. The staff here definitely cared about students' success as they would often go above and beyond to support the students by coming in in their spare time to help supervise fun events planned for the students.
The teachers in this academy are a life-changer for me. Many of my views of the world are influenced by my teachers during my time at the academy. Before attending, I thought I could not draw at all. However, that changed after meeting Capt. Aoki, the art teacher. Instead of ignoring my questions like any previous teachers I've had, he would sit down privately and explain concepts that are easy to understand for me. Before long, I became a great artist and even got much of my art displayed during opening day. This goes to show how much the staff cared about students' success. If I was to say everything is perfect, that would not be just. Since the school is not as big as it seems, there will be deficits in terms of the variety of classes you can choose from compared to different high schools. However, the experience outside of school is well worth it.
Robert Land Academy removes distractions as much as possible to ensure students can be focused on the class material. For example, students were not allowed to have cell phones when enrolling. Alongside great teaching staff, students have to attend designated study hall periods, a quiet time for finishing homework and reviewing for exams. If you are struggling in a subject, there are tutorial periods every Monday and Thursday hosted by teachers. These periods offer a more private and hands-on approach to help students understand the class. I think the academic system really helped me prepare for the future. Many times have teachers told me how drastically different university is compared to high school. The amount of effort the teachers put in and the challenge that the academic materials provide proves how much the staff cared about students' success.
There are many opportunities for community service, mostly around going on parades and helping out affiliated partners. In terms of clubs, there are many interesting clubs students can partake in every Wednesday, including boxing, automotive repair, Army Cadets, climbing and much more. The pinnacle, however, is the Bataan Memorial Death March, where students travel down to New Mexico to participate and honour a historic marathon, and parachute. I was in the music club for all my time in the academy and it was the best experience I've ever had. I get to play the piano alongside other musicians and jam music every Wednesday. During the open week, our club will perform live at the mess hall for all the parents and guests. It was truly a remarkable time.
Since the aim of the school is to help correct bad habits and behaviours hindering students' path to academic success, most students enrolling have trouble in either academics or discipline. However, through adapting to the school system and approaching life in a brand new way, students begin to see the big picture and discover a goal they want to pursue. In the end, students are happy that they achieve their goals and move on with the rest of their lives. That is how I felt when I graduated. Students spend time together in a barrack throughout all their duration at the academy. Although conflicts are inevitable, students get to learn how to live with one another and compensate for cultural and lifestyle differences, which is an important skill to master.
(4.5) School Life
Over the years of my attendance at the academy, the quality of life has drastically improved and will continue to improve with the new headmaster in charge. Although you lose many items given to you for granted (such as the internet, cell phones, video games, social media life, etc.), the return on investment is a more active, more outgoing, and a more healthy lifestyle. At first, it was rough to adjust; many struggled, including myself. But soon I realized it is more important to build discipline.) Over the years, the school offered more merits and rewards for students who go above and beyond to assist others as the budget of the school increases. Therefore, the quality of life is definitely increasing. I think that it is the best in terms of providing a safe shelter while keeping all the goals of the school in action, which is ensuring academic success.
The alumni community is a new scene to me. As a recent graduate, I have only interacted with the alumni twice. With the new headmaster, a lot more emphasis is put on the alumni and many events are planned to continue the connection between the school and the alumni. Robert Land Academy hosts a 73km tradition every year known as the Fall Exercise. Many military academies from the US, RMC, and the New Mexico National Guard would come up and join us in this adventure. This was a wonderful opportunity to gain more insight and life advice from other great people. Oftentimes, there are guests during lunch. Some are board members, others are members of parliament. They would offer the students speeches about their life experiences and provide more advice, which I think is a wonderful opportunity to expand your horizons.
(3.5) School Location
The location of this academy is not the most ideal to find in my opinion, but the best possible place for an isolated, safe, and focused hub for learning and improving lifestyle. Located in Wellandport, the Academy has lots of space for many activities to be held. In terms of aligning its goals, this is the best place. Because it is in the middle of the Niagara region, where everything looks similar, it was hard to find. My uncle got lost twice when finding the school.
My greatest advice for parents thinking of enrolling their children is to talk with them first. In the end, I believe that improvement comes from oneself. I was forced to come to this academy. However, I understood the importance of discipline while being at the school, and I decided to change and strive to be a better person. It worked out for me. This does not necessarily mean it will work for anyone. As a result, it is more important to not strain the relationships between you and your children. The academy system works, it is up to the student if they want to follow it, or resist it. Resisting would not do any good for both you or your children. In terms of admissions, I had an interview with the deputy headmaster. It was a smooth and easy process and the school is very open to accepting different types of students in the attempt of helping them through the school system.
(5) University placement and counselling
Major Simmons, the Academic Advisor, is the person that changed my life the most. Also being my grade 12 English teacher, he taught me many life advice that helped me decide what I wanted to pursue in my post-secondary study. My parents wanted me to apply to the US, and Major Simmons accommodated me with materials for the SAT exam as well as time to apply through the common app application for US colleges. Major Simmons talks to all graduates individually and allocates time to discuss future plans and enrols you in the required courses accordingly. On top of that, being one of the best English teachers I have ever had is a bonus. Overall, the university counselling is great and it perfectly synchronizes with the academic structure of the school.