Royal Crown School KEY INSIGHTS
Each school is different. Royal Crown School's Feature Review excerpts disclose its unique character. Based on discussions with the school's alumni, parents, students, and administrators, they reveal the school’s distinctive culture, community, and identity.
What we know
- The values of individualism, non-conformity, risk-taking, and curiosity animate the whole community and are cultivated by school leadership.
- The school provides an accepting, family-like environment, one where previously disengaged students thrive.
- The academic program prepares students for university.
Our editor speaks about the school (video)
Founded as an international school intended to meet the needs of students arriving in Canada to complete their secondary education, Royal Crown continues to have a large international boarding program, comprising between 60% and 70% of the student body. Asia is well-represented, though the nationalities are increasingly balanced and include students from Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.
The portion of domestic students at the school is on the rise. Not long after its founding, Royal Crown turned its gaze to local communities, just as local families, for their part, were discovering the school for themselves. It’s easy to understand why. To enrol here is to enter an authentic global community, one that exists beyond the superficial view of cultural diversity—food, dance, and holidays—and brings peers together in dynamic, meaningful, and often very personal ways. For a Canadian student to learn civics alongside students from Asia and Africa, for example, provides an opportunity for all of them to think about the material in new ways. Further, becoming friends with students who have lived very different lives can be eye-opening, adding a unique and valuable dimension to the high school experience.
The diversity at Royal Crown was what excited new head of school Michael Burke the most about stepping into the role in April 2022. “My goal is to bring together this diverse mix of students in a very intentional way,” Burke says. “We are creating an environment where students have an opportunity to grow, and help others grow. Strong academics and elite athletics are a focus, but the goal is also to create good citizens who will contribute to the betterment of our society wherever they go after graduating.”
Burke came to Royal Crown after 15 years in senior roles at the highly regarded Toronto French School. He says that the cultural and socio-economic mix at the school is unique and something that he has not seen in other private or independent schools. “We have in our school culture a certain grit and perseverance. Our students are on this incredible journey together. They are high-achievers who do things differently—that is at their core—creating a spirit of adventure that is a common element throughout the school,” Burke says.
The opportunities at Royal Crown foster an atmosphere where students can take risks and feed their sense of adventure. When we visited, one of the schoolrooms was being renovated to become a recording studio. Once complete, it will be the focal point of a recording arts program run in collaboration with the Remix Project, a Toronto-based organization working to build connections between young people and the music industry. It’s a unique partnership for the school—it’s frankly a unique partnership for any school. The curriculum will include skill development around sound production, music production and performance, and podcasting. The association with Remix will also provide an interface with the music industry within the city.
ON THE ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT
Royal Crown is a preparatory school in the classic sense, offering a liberal arts education. All the programs and scheduling have been crafted to grant students the requirements, skills, and postures they’ll need to gain entry to the university of their choice and thrive while there. The average class size is between 10 and 15 students. There is a focus on core academics, as well as research, independent thinking, data analysis, report composition, and public speaking. Students graduate having covered the curriculum as well as having engaged in individual and group work; they’ve communicated ideas with peers and had a hand in developing and delivering projects; they’ve had opportunities to experience a range of leadership roles and to help in providing service programs within the wider community.
Royal Crown is accredited by the Ontario Ministry of Education and delivers the Ontario high school curriculum, ultimately conferring the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). It’s ranked in the top 15% of high school diplomas among developing countries (PISA, OECD, 2014) and is recognized internationally as an admission standard on par with the International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement diplomas. “The OSSD ranks very high. So if you graduate with it, you can apply to universities in Australia, you can apply to universities in Germany, the U.S.… you can apply to universities around the world,” says Dave Venneri, manager of student recruitment. Not all degrees are as transferrable, and Venneri says it’s a primary draw for the students who enrol here.
In order to complete the OSSD, students are required to complete at least 30 credits in Grades 9 through 12. Some of the credits are mandatory: English, math, science, history, geography, arts, health and physical education, French, career studies, and civics. The remaining credits are subject to students’ discretion and chosen from a list of recognized courses. These include technology and computer studies, graphic and performing arts, world studies, international languages, social studies, and co-operative education. The discretionary credits allow students to design a course of study that reflects their interests and prepare for their post-secondary career. In addition to coursework, students are required to complete 40 hours of volunteer community service and pass the standardized Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test.
Royal Crown also offers a university preparation year meant for students who already have a secondary school diploma but would like to augment their transcript. They are able to gain credit equivalencies from their previous studies, taking any additional credits needed to fulfill the OSSD requirements. For students coming from countries where they graduate as young as 15, it is a chance to mature and to match the skills, knowledge, and academic experience of the peers they’ll join when they enter university.
Royal Crown School is thrilled to launch a new leading Canadian business program in partnership with the Rotman School of Management called “Youth Elite Business Program.”
This two-year program is the first Canadian program that prepares high school students to become global business leaders. It’s a powerful learning combination, provided by the Rotman School of Management and the University of Toronto in partnership with Royal Crown, and it delivers a Youth M.B.A. program for students who aspire to become next-generation business leaders. Upon completion, students earn a Youth Elite Business Certificate from Rotman and Royal Crown.
Sports feature highly in the school, with a majority of students taking part in some form of physical activity, ranging from recreational swimming to elite, world-class competitive basketball. Activity isn’t mandatory, though the student population is, nevertheless, an active one. Basketball is the headline within the athletics program, and for very good reason. Though still relatively new—it was launched in 2019—the elite basketball program has gained considerable public notice for the school. It’s also trained some phenomenal players and turned lots of heads in the sporting world. Student athletes regularly receive offers from a range of schools, including NCAA Division 1 schools such as Duke and the University of Texas, and even Ivy-league schools such as Harvard and Stanford.
ON THE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
Situated on the former campus of a police training college built in the ‘70’s, the façade of Royal Crown is maybe a bit cold and unremarkable when viewed from the street. Nevertheless, the interior spaces are inviting, spacious, and accessed through a broad entryway. The buildings have been updated extensively to meet the needs of the school. The science laboratories are well-appointed with everything you’d expect to find, including cameras required to deliver online and remote learning, and the newly renovated gym is a highlight. The pool was here when the police recruits were, but it has been entirely overhauled and retiled.
ON THE BOARDING ENVIRONMENT
A brand new residence on the school grounds is in the planning stages. The project will nearly double the space and bring, for the first time, the boarding program onto the campus proper. It will include a dormitory, to be christened Northwood Hall, with both single and double rooms. Also included in the addition are recreational spaces, student lounges, 11 study halls, and a significant extension of the food service facilities. Once complete, the property will be a campus in the fullest sense of the term, with Royal Crown becoming the only international private school in the city to have a student residence on its grounds.
Uniquely, Royal Crown’s residence is open 365 days a year, as is the food service program, with no additional fee required. It’s true that most students don’t stay over the winter break, but given the demands of international travel, many families appreciate that they have the option.
The academic program at Royal Crown is strong, though part of its strength comes from being more student-directed than is possible in larger institutions. One of the things that continues to distinguish Royal Crown in the educational market is that success isn’t only defined in terms of university admittances and marks earned. Yes, students gain what they need to get into the university of their choice, but they get much more besides.
THE OUR KIDS REPORT: Royal Crown School
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