REVIEW OF Rosthern Junior College High School BY parent, David Weiler-Thiessen
- Date of Review
November 19, 2019
Gr. 10 - 12
(5) Student Experience
Our son and daughter both enjoyed the opportunity for authentic interactions with teachers and other students at Rosthern Junior College. Our son benefited from the social interactions with other students through after-school informal activities from living in a dormitory setting. Our daughter, who is more social by nature, thrived at the school, both academically and by being able to participate in sports teams, choirs, school musicals, and student newspaper. Both of our children credit Rosthern Junior College with helping them become the people they are today. They were encouraged by teachers to participate in all the school had to offer: academics, athletics and the arts. Our children strove to excel in their academic studies. Our daughter participated in several sports over the three years she attended and both kids participated in the choirs and spring musical. Our son played soccer, which is not something he would have considered had he been at a larger public school. Our children have both continued the friendships they began at Rosthern Junior College after graduation. Our daughter, being vegan, found the vegan food options limited at times. The cooks were open to receiving input from our daughter regarding suitable options to satisfy her dietary choices.
(4.5) School Leadership
Rosthern Junior College is a tightly knit community where teachers and staff strive to build a culture of acceptance and inclusion for all students. As parents we felt a part of the team that nurtured our kids. The school administration consults with students on decisions that affect them when it is appropriate. There is an open door policy for students to approach all staff and administration. I think our kids felt heard when they made suggestions or offered feedback. Both kids experienced disciplinary consequences for choices they made at school. We supported the consequences as being reasonable and logical.
Our son appreciated the small class sizes and the amount of attention he received from each teacher. Our daughter appreciated the tutorial periods that all teachers offered. Both kids were thrilled with all of the out of classroom learning that Rosthern Junior College offered. Our son especially appreciated his trip to Alabama for the Alternative Learning Service Opportunity (ALSO) week in his grade 12 year. Our daughter appreciated the global perspectives she gained through her experiences in British Colombia, Alabama and Guatemala through her ALSO experiences. Our daughter was able to participate in the first year of the new curriculum program, Imagine, that utilizes experienced based learning, with regular and frequent out of classroom activities to augment the traditional classroom based learning. Some of the out of classroom activities included 'living library' events, meeting with agricultural producers on their farms to learn about environmental sustainability, and visiting social service based organizations in Saskatoon. Both our kids benefited from the relationships with their teachers. Our daughter commented many times about the positive one on one times she had with several teachers outside of the classroom.
Between the time our son graduated and our daughter started RJC the school made shift in the academic program to an experience-based curriculum that entailed many out of classroom learning opportunities. Grade 10 is Imagine, where students imagine a more just and peaceful world. During this year students explore ways to work with themselves and each other, to seek peace and social justice. Grade 11 is Thrive, where students explore healthy relationships with themselves, each other, God and the world. During this year students explore healthy lifestyle choices that benefit themselves and allow them to contribute to their community and the world. Grade 12 is Explore, where students explore and develop their leadership within the school and in the world. During this year students focus on global citizenship and post-secondary options. Spanning all grades is Belong, where students explore how to offer each other mercy and love. Through daily interactions in the school and in the residence students find their places as they build community together.
Rosthern Junior College offers a wide variety of activities and students are actively encouraged to participate. The vocal music program offers Concert Choir, a women's only choir, a men's only choir and an auditioned traveling choir. RJC has a tradition of performing a musical in the spring where anyone who is interested in participating is welcome. There are private voice and piano teachers available to students. Athletic offerings include: soccer, cross country, football, basketball, volleyball teams. Our kids participated in the the choirs, spring musical, soccer and cross-country. Students that want to participate in arts and athletics are encouraged to do so, and the schedule is setup to allow them to pursue their interests.
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.
(5) School Life
Although they have very different temperaments, both of our children loved attending RJC. Because students not only attend school during the day but also live together in the dorms they have a unique opportunity to know each other deeply through the ups and downs of life. We see the spirit of the students through the candid photographs on the walls of the school of class retreats, classroom, sports, rehearsals, dorm life, out of school learning, Alternative Learning and Service Opportunity (ALSO) weeks and social events. We also see the student enthusiasm and participation in the hundreds of photos on the school website of all the events the school puts on over the year. The Staff and Deans are always available to support and encourage students to learn to live together in safe and healthy ways.
A tradition of RJC is the opening program two weeks into the school year. We are amazed to see the number of people who attend this event each year. There are parents, siblings and grandparents as expected, and there are many alumni, friends and supporters in attendance. Included in the opening year program, parents of one or two current students are asked to share about the positive impact the school is having on their own children, and to offer encouragement for the student body as they begin a new school year. The school holds many events during the year where all constituents are invited to participate. We have enjoyed meeting and getting to know other parents while watching soccer games, partaking in refreshments after the Christmas and Spring concerts, and while planning the after graduation fireside activities. As a parent who didn't attend, but married an alumnus of RJC, I have been impressed with the number of the friendships my spouse maintains with his classmates 30 plus years later. They have become my friends as well.
(5) School Location
Rosthern is a prairie town of about 1800 people. In addition to Rosthern Junior College, is has an elementary school, a high school and another Christian school. It's amenities include: grocery store, pharmacy, bank, 5 restaurants, a thrift store and a hospital. The town also has The Station Arts Centre, a Fair Grounds, and outdoor swimming pool and a skating rink. Our kids enjoyed exploring the town on weekends. Our daughter frequented a coffee shop called Good Habits and our son attended sporting events at the skating rink. There is farm land and bush surrounding the town. For students that have access to vehicles, it is about a 45 minute drive to Saskatoon, which is the largest city near Rosthern, if they wish to see a movie or do some other activity on the weekends.
We thought the application process was reasonable. The four page application included the expected information as well as some short answer questions that helped the RJC Admissions staff get to know the applicant. Our kids completed the application each year on their own, with no complaint. The application process is informal with no interview, yet staff strive to ensure that the school is a good fit for the applicant and the applicant is a good fit for the school. Staff are available for questions and clarification throughout the application process. We appreciated that there were bursaries available to help with fees for those who required it. A face to face or Skype interview might be beneficial for students and parents who have many questions about the RJC experience.
(4.5) University placement and counselling
Both of our children were accepted to all of the universities to which they applied, and are both attending their first choice of universities. While RJC doesn't have a designated Guidance Counsellor, our daughter asked for and received extensive support in navigating the admissions processes to universities and in the course selection process. Many of the teachers are knowledgeable about the process. The school office does a good job of forwarding information about the University of Saskatchewan, and Saskatchewan Polytechnic, both of which are located in Saskatoon. Students are given the opportunity to visit the University of Saskatchewan to help them plan for a post-secondary program. Rosthern Junior College hosts a post-secondary school fair each year where faith based schools can market themselves to the student body.