Rothesay, NB | Grades 6 - 12 | Shortlist
We have had 3 children attend RNS for grades 10-12. Our children have really enjoyed all the oppportunities provided by the school. They find the IB program to be academically challenging. They enjoy the international aspect of the school, allowing them to meet people from around the world and learn more about other cultures. They love being able to compete in sport at a higher level. They have made lifelong friends through the experience of living at the school and having sibling-like relationships with roommates, housemates and teammates. They have participated in many of the extracurricular opportunities including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Go Girls, Cybertitans, Robotics Club, band, student-directed plays and the musicals. I know one of their favourite parts of the year is opening weekend when they go to New River Beach and have inter-house competitions. This activity is a great ice breaker to introduce the kids to the all-inclusive atmosphere at the school.
The school has an outstanding leadership structure. The Head of School, Head of House, personal advisor and teachers all work together to monitor the school environment and ensure each individual student is properly supported. Discipline issues are dealt with promptly and effectively. The administration department is concise and cooperative. If I ever have a question with a charge, I just ask and it is explained or corrected. The school communicates constantly with parents and students through their portal as well as email, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. On the RNS portal, we can see our child's daily schedule and homework assignments, contact teachers if necessary, and receive effort reports and academic reports. Through the school's weekly emails, we are well informed about what has happened in the past week and what are the upcoming activities at the school. During this time of COVID-19, I must commend the school and its leadership team. Many processes needed to be reworked and many new processes developed to ensure the health and safety of everyone at RNS. The leadership team worked diligently throughout the summer and achieved a successful reopening in September!
The teachers at RNS are excellent. The first day our children attended RNS they immediately commented about the quality of the teachers saying things like: "They explain things so well it is really easy to understand difficult topics." We have been very pleased with the material covered by the teachers and the pace at which it is covered. Our children have been sufficiently challenged without being overstressed. The two effort reports and three cumulative reports prepared by the teachers have provided us with valuable feedback on our children's performance in their courses. Teachers at RNS also provide continuous support to the students. Two of our children have started university and the transition has gone well. They have been properly prepared for the pace and complexity of University studies.
The academic program at RNS was the most important criteria for us when deciding to send our children to a private school. RNS offers the IB curriculum which provides students with a higher level, more inclusive academic base. Courses like Theory of Knowledge (TOK) encourage students to think about life philosophically. Another critical reason for choosing RNS was the fact that RNS puts the "student" first in student-athlete. The school consistently reiterates that it is the education that will determine your future for most student-athletes. Their athletic program allows for normal academic processes even when teams are on the road. We are confident that the academic program at RNS has more than adequately prepared our children for life's next steps...we feel it has changed their entire outlook on life and the world.
There are many extracurricular opportunites at RNS: Round Square, RNS Outdoor trips, STEAM, Model UN, Robotics, Debate, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Youth for Youth, band, student-lead plays, musicals and lots of athletic opportunities. RNS offers some sports at a Prep level e.g. Men's and Women's Hockey and Men's basketball but also offers sports at a Varsity level or at a non-competitive level. All students must participate in a sport in each of the three athletic terms. This encourages students to stay active and gives them the opportunity to try other sports they may not have had a chance to experience.
RNS has approximately 300 students from grades 6-12. The students are very welcoming and all-inclusive. Every fall, a couple of grade 12 students take on the challenge of naming every student in the school! Thus really demonstrates the "everyone belongs" type of community at the school. Student bonding is a high priority at the school. Students are split into four houses and participate in inter-house challenges. This provides another opportunity for students to interact with other students not in their grade or on their team. The school spirit is exceptional. If the school is hosting an important game, students gather in the dining hall to create posters to support their team. At Halloween, all students and teachers develop creative costumes and really enjoy the opportunity to have a little fun!!
Our children have really enjoyed life at RNS. Going to a private school may mean leaving behind your friends and family but our children have found many new friends and family-type relationships. Being away from home has helped them mature and learn to be responsible for themselves and their own schedules. Living with your friends 24x7 is a welcome change for rural kids who are used to travelling 15-30 min to visit a friend or attend a practice. Attending a school with day students as well as boarding students has allowed the children to visit other students homes and have an opportunity to spend some time off campus. Playing on sports teams at RNS has provided many travel oppportunites within Canada and to the US.
Since our children are boarding students at RNS, we are not overly active in the community. The school does communicate about all activities taking place and encourages all parents to be involved. Our family has participated in the Grandparents' Day and the annual auction and fundraising dinner. Our daughter was in music for one year and we attended an event where they each performed an original composition. We have also attended many sporting events to cheer on the teams! Most of the parents we have met, we met through the sports teams. Unfortunately, there are a lot of other parents whom we do not get the chance to meet. Drop off day and graduation are really the only times when most parents are at the school and those are very busy days! Our children have been supported well by the parents of local students at the school. Local parents help the students when they need to do things like shop for Halloween costumes and provide opportunities for the students to spend some time off-campus hanging out with their friends.
RNS is located in the community of Rothesay, 10 minutes from the city of Saint John. Rothesay is a very peaceful community along a river with beautiful water views. The campus is on a beautifully treed lot. Students often hike up to Spyglass Hill to enjoy the picturesque view! The school offers a shuttle service to Saint John where the students can shop for anything they may need.
The application process was very straightforward. We attended the school one day for a tour, met with the sports coaches and our children attended a couple of classes. The admissions team answered all our questions and helped support us throughout the decision process. Once we decided to attend the school, there was lots of paperwork to complete. But we didn't finalize our decision to attend until mid-August and were all set to start in Sept! I would definitely recommend going for a day to the school. Spending time on the campus and in the classes giving you a real feel for the culture at the school. I would also recommend attending a couple of schools. Having multiple options to compare helped us make a decision and pick a great school.
Like most schools, RNS hosts university information sessions. For a couple of months in the fall, different universities attend RNS and present information on their university to grade 11 and 12 students. Students on the sports teams often tour universities when they are there to play games. The RNS university placement office meets individually with the students to help advise them on their university options. RNS also offers the opportunity for students to write their SAT. Making a decision on a future career path and picking a university is a very complex process. As a parent, I found the University counselling and placement process difficult. Living in another location, we were not able to attend the information sessions or the sessions our students had with the university placement office. This made it more difficult to evaluate the universities and help with the selection process. But ultimately, it is the students' decision, and our daughters were both accepted at their universities of choice in their chosen programs. The school also helped our daughter arrange a tryout with the university sports team.