I've been a student at Star Academy for 4 years, and it feels like my second home. As soon as I first came to the school, I loved the teachers. They are so kind, patient and teach using interactive lessons. The class sizes are small and this helps my concentration and allows me to ask more questions. I love going to Star Academy because the learning environment is just right for me. I also love how delicious the lunch program is! There are many other clubs offered such as coding, crafts, cooking and many sports. I like football, cross country and volleyball the best. For the older grades there is also leadership club and yearbook club. If I could change anything about the school, I would wish that there were more academic clubs (i.e. public speaking, debate, etc.). One thing I did not know before I came to Star Academy is that recess is before lunch. I personally enjoy this more because I can work up more of an appetite before lunch and it allows me to adjust from recess to class much easier. Overall, I did not have many surprises about Star Academy because I attended for a week in July 2017 since Star Academy also has a programme in July, which is great for new students.
The Star Academy Staff make me feel different than teachers past schools. I feel like I can be myself in a non-judgement space. The teachers have a perfect balance between kind and strict. They make it easy to want to listen and to follow the rules. The teachers are understanding and always willing share a funny story about themselves to get the students laughing. That is one of my favourite parts about the Star Academy Staff. The principal, Mrs. Benneyworth has a way with the students and always sends them home with a smile. Prior to COVID-19, she would gather all the young students to read a story after lunch before going back to class. When I was younger, that was one of my favourite parts of the day. Mrs. Benneyworth is mainly involved with the Pre-K to Grade 4's, while Mrs. Rees is involved with the Grades 5-8 students. She helps with science experiments and will run clubs, like volleyball. There is not a single thing that I would change about the teachers or administration at Star Academy.
My learning situation at Star Academy is slightly different than most students. Coming to Star Academy, I was ahead in math and language arts. A few days into grade 4, I was moved to the grade 5 program. This was great for me because the work was more challenging and I was no longer bored like I had been in primary school. Even then I was able to work a grade ahead in math so now (in grade 8) I am doing a grade 9 high school credit. I find the rest of the subjects to be just right. There's a variety of activities and difference types of assessments so each student can show what they have learned. In grade 8 my teacher speaks with us about many different issues and social problems, including racism, segregation, sexism and global problems. Each week we research an article about the assigned topic and share it with the class. It is an interesting way to learn the world and I feel like it is very useful. I often hear jokes about students in college that can do calculus but don't know a thing about taxes. I actually first learned how manage my money in Grade 5 and every year since the teacher has taught us about financial literacy. At Star we learn to code, have guidance class (Grades 5-8), learn cursive and about the environment. I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to learn to many useful things at Star Academy at a young age.
I love participating in extracurricular activities. We are required to do at least one club in each of the five terms. I usually choose 3 or 4 clubs each term. Some examples of clubs offered are cooking, gardening, gift wrapping, crafts, chess, yearbook and leadership. Sports offered include soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, cross-country and yoga. If I were to add a club or team, I would like to add a debate team since that's something I'm interested in. Overall, there is a variety of activities and clubs and everyone can find something that they are interested in doing.
I remember when I first came to Star Academy, I was shy, lacked confidence and kept to myself at the beginning. I eventually made a good friend, that became a best friend. I soon realized that lots of students were friendly and they made me feel welcome. Ever since Grade 6, the 2021 graduating class has become very close. Socially, both introverted and extroverted students do well at the school. My class is a mix of nice, fun, quirky kids. Many come from different backgrounds and there are loads of interesting stories. The classes are small so it is important that everyone is respectful, helpful and is able to work together. Academically, the students I feel do the best are those that put effort into their work. The teachers are helpful and take time to show the strategies and tools we need for success in high school. It is then up to us to actually do it. Overall, Star Academy is a welcoming and accepting place no matter what your background is. In grade 8, I can now appreciate the many perspectives and strengths that each of my classmates has.
If I had to take a group of visitors around Star Academy, I start in the foyer with the big skylights and tell them about the different things that happen in that space. The foyer links to the full size gym, which surprises a lot of people. I think this is because it is a small school and people don't expect a full size gym. Star Academy makes good use of the gym since all classes have gym every day. Next we would head down the one main hallway in the school and see the classrooms and the posters on bulletin boards. With a peek in to each classroom, the visitors can get a feel for what the school is like. For example, there would only be 14 desks in a room and they would be organized in various ways that allow students to work together to promote collaboration. I would also show them the amazing playground in the back of the school. It is a forest with lots of natural play spaces. There is also an outdoor basketball net and tetherball. There are also a three outdoor classrooms, each with chalkboard attached to the outside wall of the school, with tree stumps for seats and the students all have their own whiteboard and clipboard for outdoor work this year.
I feel like the workload provided by our teachers is appropriate at each grade, although, in middle school I feel that some days we should be getting more homework to prepare us for high school. Many days I only have 20-30 minutes of homework, but that could be because I use my time wisely during class and I am usually a fast worker. Assignments are clearly laid out and the teachers use rubrics to mark so we can see exactly how we did in each area of the assignment. Teachers are also good at getting things back to us in a reasonable amount of time. If ever you have a question about the work or an assignment the teachers are helpful and spend extra time with you. Success is different in each person's eyes. My current teacher talks about the things we need to do to be successful both now and later in life - hard work, perseverance, a good attitude and a willingness to try things. My classes talk about jobs we imagine we will have when older and how to get there.
It took some time for me to feel comfortable at Star Academy because I am introverted. I didn't know anyone in my grade when I first arrived but eventually that changed and I got to know my classmates. After a few months I had a best friend and school started to feel like a second home. The teachers help everyone feel comfortable and encourage students to make some new friends each September. I'd like to think that everyone feels included. After all, with a class of only 10-14 students, it's hard to be left out and for someone not to notice. Everyone needs to join at least one club or activity each term so that's a place where people can work with others that have similar interests.
The location of the school makes it a bit tricky to find. It is at Dixie Road and the QEW but since there isn't a proper exit from the QEW, there is a roundabout way to get there. Students are not allowed to go off school property during the day unless it is an organized activity supervised by a teacher. There is a mall close by but it's across a busy street. Our lunch time is only 30 minutes so it's really not long enough to leave for lunch, even if we wanted to. Given our amazing lunch programme I don't know why anyone would want to miss it!
For admissions, my parents read about the school and then booked a tour using an online form. Parents first have a meeting with the principal or director and also a tour of the school. Then, as a student I came in for a visit with the class I would be joining. I stayed for the day and while I was there I met with a teacher that had me answer math questions, do reading and spelling, and I also wrote a paragraph. It was sort of like a test but not stressful. The teachers and students were all friendly and kind to me. I didn't have to wait long to find out that I was offered a place at the school. Since this was in the spring I joined the July programme which allowed me to meet people in my class and it made me feel more comfortable before September. What I didn't know when I applied was how amazing the teachers all are.