Rosthern, SK | Grades 10 - 12 | Shortlist
The student body at RJC is smaller than most public high schools and with a range of Grades 10-12, class sizes have a tendency to be between 20 to 25 students keeping the ratio of students to teachers very healthy and effective. The student body is comprised of local, out of province and international students making it a diverse mix of students. While attending RJC I was given the opportunity to learn firsthand about different cultures from around the world as we were classmates and roommates. That experience taught me tolerance and the importance of diversity and inclusivity in our world. To this day I am still connected and close to the friends I made 30 years ago while attending RJC. These friends were an important part of my life in a very influential time and have continued to be my support system into adulthood.
RJC students have a high spirit and a sense of pride to be an RJC student. I have always bragged about how going to RJC was the best 3 years of my life, I have made life long friends, I have bonded with everyone quickly, and since it is such a small size school, you really cut out the "in groups" and allowing everyone to bond and know each other. High school is hard, in general, with all the teenagers' hormones, but RJC made it that much better. We have a diverse background of students: including traditional Meonnite students who have been growing up with a church family, including students from a different religious background, or students that don't even know what religion is! We have students coming from all over the world, including local town students, students from different cities in Canada, students from different countries like myself, I am from Hong Kong. There are students from Germany, Switzerland, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, India and many more!
One of the school programs is called Belong. The dorm / community councils do an incredible job of welcoming all new students at the beginning of the year. The school has multiple theme days and retreats through the school year to create deep and lasting friendships between the students. It appears to me that almost every student at Rosthern Junior College participates in multiple teams and clubs. It also appears to me that when a team, club or choir is performing, that the remainder of the student body is there to cheer and show support regardless of location. We had the wonderful opportunity to host a few international students over the weekend and holidays. After three years, our son and his friends referred to each other as brothers.
The student body becomes much more than people you go to school with. As a student, the other students become like family. It really didn't matter where you came from. Whether it be Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico, Columbia, it Switzerland. The first day, everyone starts with a blank slate and we get the opportunity to know people for who they are. Because of everyone essentially starting with a blank slate, there doesn't tend to be a lot of tension between students. For prospective students, my advice would be, stay open. These are people you will remember for the rest of your life and will share many incredible experiences with.
The student body was small, but very involved and intermingled. It very much reminds me of Stuart McClean's Vinyl Cafe whose slogan is "we may not be big, but we're small." Being small means it is easy to be involved and easy to get to know others at the school. The typical student would be involved in one or two extracurriculars with a full course load. I would say the qualities that garner respect in the willingness to be involved and the willingness to be yourself, or at least to try and find out who you are. While students come from many backgrounds, the most common is a Mennonite heritage, which is unsurprising given the Mennonite roots of the school. While RJC is a religious school, there are many students who do not affiliate with a religion and is by no means a prerequisite for attending.
The student body size is smaller which is awesome, having around 70-80 (give or take) students from grades 10-12. My grad class was smaller as well, which made for really close friendships and a great sense of community. It helped too that then we all helped each other with academics as well as life stuff. There is still a range of students that attend RJC. There are those that it's family tradition to attend, those that are super excited for everything, those that just want to lay low and get through high school, those that like gaming, those that like sports or theatre and more. Everyone can find something they like at RJC. The "typical" student though would be willing to try new things, because that's a huge part of first off moving into dorms for school as well as the spirit of how RJC does things (there's lots of opportunities to do new things). Mostly everyone participates in the fun events because that's the 'norm'. Most students are Christian or were at least willing to learn about Christianity, but you don't have to be Christian to attend RJC or even to fit in. Everyone is welcome! Most students got along with mostly everyone (but of course there are conflicts here and there). There's a wide range of ethnicities that attend RJC too which is great.
The fact that the school is small, lends itself to a personal and intimate experience. There is no way that any student can just disappear in the masses, as is the case in many/most of the larger schools. Everyone has a role to play and everyone is an important link in the chain. There is a lot of emphasis on participation in actiyans the staff go out of their way to involve everyone. Because of the caring and intimate atmosphere, students find it easy to “be a part of the family” in a non-threatening and non-intimidating manner...just like at home. The special bond between students stands out as something unique and really special and that continues to ripple out in the larger school, parent and alumni family. Students who spend such a large proportion of their time together in such a positive and caring atmosphere, build a foundation based on enduring values for the rest of their lives.
Rjc has a smaller student body, in and around 80 students currently. For most students at rjc this actually ends up being a good thing because it forces you to talk to other kids that maybe you wouldn’t have if there were more students that were more like you at the school. Just because it’s a Christian school doesn’t mean the students must be, there is a wide range of different beliefs and everyone is accepted and allowed to believe what they will. While most students developed a circle of friends they most often spend time with there is no feeling that a student can’t cross circles and talk to anyone they want to.
I would say half of the student body if not more had previous family members who had gone to the school. Most of the students had come from different schools throughout the province. They came to RJC so they could get away from bullying, and be themselves. The students were unique and came from all backgrounds; there was international students, students from poor and rich and middle class families, there were students of all ethnic backgrounds etc. There was only 75 students in the whole school, around 55 people lived in the dorms. The student body was welcoming, friendly and sincere. All students were driven and filled with hopes and dreams for a better future for themselves and society. The students all created close bonds with each other.
We often hosted international students over long weekends and breaks, as well hosting friends that our children brought home. We got to know many of students personally from hosting them in our house. We can say that the students at RJC are amazing. It is wonderful to see them arrive in grade 10 or 11, a bit unsure of themselves, then see them graduate confident and responsible young people. Some of the confidence students gain is through the relationship they have with teachers and staff, but much of it is gained through the support and encouragement of their peers throughout the school year. I appreciated that our kids were able to know students from many other countries and get some insight into their cultures and faiths. The student body is small enough that most students have a good relationship with everyone else at the school. At the start of each school year, each grade goes offsite for a 2-3 day class retreat. During the retreats students begin to form the bonds of friendship that connect and carry them through the school year. Each spring, prior to the Alternative Learning and Service Opportunity (ALSO) week, students are encouraged to engage in fundraising activities, where the proceeds will be used to assist the service organizations they will be working with during the ALSO week. There is a lot of energy from the students regarding finding ways they can give back in meaningful ways. There are several theme based social activities coordinated throughout the school year, such as Sam and Sadie Hawkin's nights, Junior/Senior Banquet, and Girl's and Boy's night dorm activities that the students enjoy participating in.
When our sons were there, the student body hovered around 80-85 students between grades 10-12. This means that no one falls through the cracks. Everyone gets involved because everyone is seen and known. I think the general atmosphere is one of camaraderie. Are there cliques? Sometimes. Do teens have issues to work out? Yes. Is there support and encouragement for that? Yes. Deans and teachers and administration know what's going on and can provide mentorship to the students. The student body is a mix of international and Canadian students, Christian and non-Christian students --- so our kids get exposed to a variety of cultures, religions, and perspectives. which is one of the strengths of RJC. The dorm community ensures people get to know each other and interact.