Rothesay, NB | Grades 6 - 12 | Shortlist
I had an incredible and transformative experience from attending Rothesay Netherwood School (RNS). I came to the RNS from a public school for my senior year, and it was by far the best school experience of my life. At RNS, students are encouraged to develop in many areas, including academically, artistically, athletically, and as a leader and global citizen. At my old school, kids were pigeon-holed into narrow stereotypes, which limited the development of the whole person. So I was shocked at RNS to see jocks leading in school plays and artists on sports teams. The school broke down those stereotypes and gave me the confidence to pursue every dream. The best thing about RNS for me was the combination of caring faculty and staff coupled with rigorous academics. This approach allowed me to try, fail, and try again in a safe space, which accelerated my development and really prepared me to go to any university I wanted. Looking back now, the only thing I would have changed is I wish I had heard about the school sooner. For prospective students, they should expect to be challenged, to be mentored, and to broaden their horizons because an education from RNS opens many doors.
While I attended RNS, our headmaster, Mr. Paul Kitchen, was one of the most senior and experienced heads of school in Canada. His school experience and vision were an incredible asset, and I still remember some of his mantras. One was to always treat everyone with "dignity and respect," which has stayed with me even to this day. I also think that because we were a small school community where the leadership was integrated into our daily lives, issues would reach leadership quickly and were addressed promptly. As a global school with a student body representative of many cultures, matters of discipline and miscommunication have to be handled with care, and this is something that the administration did very well.
RNS is blessed to have a team of dedicated educators, most of whom live right on school grounds. For them, teaching seemed more of a life than just a job. As well, the small class sizes really provided me the extra attention I needed in order to advance quickly. With the school's university-level courses, in some fields such as mathematics, I did the equivalent of two years of school in one. This feat was only possible with the combination of engaging in-class learning, my academic advisor's support, and that we had supervised homework time six days a week. Before I went to RNS, I had never really been challenged in school, and my natural intellect allowed me to catch on quickly without much work. But at RNS, I learned how to really study, which was a tremendous asset when I went away to university and then medical school. Before studying at RNS, I had focused on the sciences, but teachers and other students at RNS encouraged me to explore the arts, and to this day, I trace my love of fine art and theatre back to my time at the school.
RNS provides students with a very rigorous, well-rounded education. The culture was collegial and encouraged teamwork, discussion, and the sharing of knowledge. As a small school, I appreciated that teachers could coordinate and integrate particular lessons across multiple subjects to help reinforce lessons and build connections. But being a small school also limited the variety of courses that could be offered. One of my favorite things about the academic program at RNS was that we received an effort grade for every class every month. This allowed my parents to log on to the school website and monitor my progress with a greater context than merely a letter grade. This meant a lot to me because when I started at the school, my grades quickly slipped because I wasn't as advanced as the students at RNS, but I worked very hard, which was reflected in my effort grades. By the end of the year, my grades rose, which demonstrated to my family and me that my hard work was paying off, and I was learning how to overcome academic challenges.
When I studied at RNS, every student was expected to be involved in athletics, the arts, and community service each semester. For sports, the school has programs ranging from beginner to nationally competitive varsity teams. Time was built into our daily schedule for either our sports, arts, or extra academic help depending on the day of the week. This approach normalized extracurriculars and allowed students to try something new each semester.
When I studied at RNS, there were approximately 250 students split from grades 6-12. The senior class was the largest, with around 45 students total. The students came from across Canada and over a dozen countries, including Germany, Japan, Egypt, Mexico, and The Bahamas. The student body was very inclusive and welcomed into many aspects of student life. I also boarded and lived in the senior boy's residence, which allowed me to live and learn with other high-school boys from around the world. The school has a very global outlook, and students who participated with their whole hearts were greatly respected. As for socioeconomic factors, we had students from billionaire families but also many from middle-income households. Most students receive some form of scholarship, as I did, or need-based financial aid, and I think the uniform policy helped build inclusivity. I felt that students and friend groups were very mixed, both racially and economically, and this diversity was celebrated.
I was so excited when I was accepted to RNS and absolutely loved going to school there, as did my peers. Students were grouped into four houses, and there was a friendly rivalry between the houses during school competitions. Students and staff were very engaged with school life and generally forward-looking and optimistic. Stress is a normal part of life, and RNS helped me manage stressful times, like living away from home for the first time, applying to university, and pushing myself to try new things. The high intensity of school and extracurriculars was balanced with longer school holidays and frequent long weekends. This allowed me to go home every month and helped prevent homesickness and burnout. Our houseparents also provided another layer of support, fun, and supervision, which helped ensure everyone was coping well.
RNS is always open and encourages parents, grandparents, and alumni to visit the school and engage with the community. Parents and grandparents are always on the school's various governing bodies and contribute significantly to various school events. As an alumnus, I moved around frequently so have mostly stayed in contact with the school's administration directly. I especially love the school's quarterly magazine and learning about what's happening at the school and the broader school community. The school's deepest roots are in New Brunswick and the Maritimes, but there are alumni networks nationally and internationally. The school also hosts an annual reunion weekend every spring, which is an excellent opportunity for alumni and their families to come back to the school for events and to reconnect.
RNS is located in the incredibly beautiful and affluent community of Rothesay, New Brunswick. The school is very independent and is a bit of a bubble onto itself. However, half the student body are day students, and the school is integrated into community life, mainly through extracurricular activities and volunteer work. The area is extremely safe and surrounded by beautiful nature, including hiking trails, forests, and the river.
I was scouted to attend RNS by a recruiter seeking out top students in Atlantic Canada. The process was very exciting for my family and me as no one in my family had ever attended a boarding school. I also applied for and won a scholarship, which was necessary to cover most of my tuition. My whole family toured the school, and we felt like the school was making sure that I was a good fit and to see how my family would fit in with the broader RNS community. The school also kept in touch with my parents about my younger brother as they encourage siblings to attend the school. My parents are incredibly proud that I attended RNS and have spoken with other families who sent their children to the school as well.
RNS has University Placement Coordinators who meet with students individually to help them plan their career goals, identify universities and programs, and assist them with their applications. When I attended the school, senior students were each encouraged to apply to at least three universities. My University Placement Coordinator helped me look beyond Atlantic Canada and identify the best pre-medical programs in Canada. Ultimately, I went on to study Life Sciences and International Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. The application process for university varies by school and can be quite complicated, so I was thankful to have such comprehensive support integrated into school life. At the time, I didn't consider studying abroad and wasn't familiar with the SATs but might have benefited from learning more about applying to schools internationally, especially the United States. But overall, I had an excellent university placement experience that broadened my horizons beyond the Maritimes.