Toronto, ON | Grades JK - 12 | Shortlist
As a former student of Seneca Hill from Grade 1 -12, I can truly attest to the warm community and academically-driven environment that the school offers. Over the course of my attendance at Seneca Hill, I gained tremendous support from those around me- not only through teachers but life-long friends and peers. Seneca Hill has proved to be a memorable experience- I not only had the opportunity to foster a love for academics but I was also motivated to set goals for myself, understanding and appreciating a variety of creative outlets that I was presented with. I was able to learn valuable life skills- not only suited towards my learning but ones that would say carry over to my professional endeavors. Seneca Hill allowed me to feel safe, valued, and cared for; and I know that I will carry the memories made during the rest of my post-secondary education and beyond.
The faculty at Seneca Hill has always proved to be approachable and friendly- fulfilling their philosophy of creating a family-oriented environment. Students are able to be acquainted with a variety of staff (whether their teachers or not) through offering a helping hand during the school day or one of the after-school programs. Students are able to address the problems they may be facing which are viewed with the utmost importance by staff, with school values ensured to be enforced at all times. The principal, Mr. Esper really takes an interest in the students. He attended our year-end field trips to Montreal and Ottawa and really looks for ways to make school exciting yet challenging for us academically. He always lends a listening ear and sincerely wants to make school a better place for us as students. He consistently asks for our input to make Seneca Hill be the best place it can be for the student’s doing everything in his power to ensure that students stay safe and happy- truly making Seneca Hill a second home.
Each teacher at Seneca Hill fosters an innate dedication in wanting each child to succeed- whether through providing accommodations to your learning, providing extra help and support, or to simply provide a listening ear for each student. Each teacher I had took a personal interest in me- helping me to unlock my academic potential while providing me with helpful feedback to ensure that I succeeded. Small classes allowed for teachers to get to know each student person which allowed ample opportunity in providing the appropriate support suitable for each child. Course expectations and assessment outcomes are clearly stated with each assignment- however, clarification is always readily provided as needed. This proved particularly important for me as it allowed for adjustments to be made as I worked while also allowing me to implement the feedback provided by my teachers. Differing teaching styles were also used to cater to the varied learning styles- allowing each student to process the information more easily.
The academics offered at Seneca Hill are challenging but only to further the capabilities of each student without being overwhelming. The academics are designed to not only teach the content to the students but are presented in a manner to allow each student to see its relevance to their daily life as well future career ventures. The academics offered also allow for students to gain exposure to new interests and new experiences through corresponding field trips/events. The academics offered at Seneca Hill are rooted in core life skills that are necessary for a successful career and personal life endeavours. Students are encouraged to demonstrate time-management skills, communication, critical thinking, GRIT, etc. through well-rounded assessments and varied courses. Students are encouraged to think beyond the structure of a numerical system or simply achieve specific course requirements, but rather understand why specific courses are relevant and how their learning transcends beyond the classroom level.
Seneca Hill offers a variety of different extracurricular clubs catering to many interests of its students. Students are able to exercise fundamental skills such as critical thinking skills while also being able to meet others and socialize with other students. The clubs offered not only expand upon some of the academics offered through Seneca Hill but also foster new interests for its students through clubs founded in music, science, history, art, physical activity and much more. Although not mandatory, students (myself included) have found it to be an excellent way of expressing a measure of creativity.
Seneca Hill’s family-oriented philosophy, in-line with the school’s zero-tolerance for bullying policy, allows for ease in getting along with other students. Small classes allowed for me not only to gain the support of my teachers but allowed me to get to know each of my peers personally, opportunities even being made to be friends with those in other grades. Any conflicts that occurred between students would always be resolved quickly, with friendships still being maintained at the end of the day. With an extremely diverse student body, students have the opportunity to learn new languages and cultures- this particularly being amplified through our annual “International Day” celebrations. Collaborative projects and designated recreational time are encouraged school-wide allowing each student to find their voice among their peers and gain the confidence to have open discussions about the aspects and issues of their life - allowing each student to feel truly expressed and welcome by one another.
Students are able to engage in many activities during the school day outside of their classes. Designated outdoor time is provided daily allowing the students to socialize while also engaging in fun physical activities. Annual and special events such as guest speakers allow the students to expand their worldview while also fostering and engaging in their interests. We also had an amazing time during our end of the year field trips to Montreal and Ottawa visiting the universities, Ontario Parliament Building and other sites that made us expand our thoughts about our futures. School life created a culture that allowed students to be able to express themselves, learn new concepts- not solely through an academic viewpoint but through a professional, social and personal level as well.
There is a strong sense of community at Seneca Hill. Students are able to not only make friends and collaborate with those within their grade level but also below and above their grade as well. Students are able to understand each other and provide general socialization and advice to each other. Students are able to feel accepted by one another despite varying backgrounds, truly providing a sense of a second home to many. Community involvement between parents and school is strong - not only in allowing the parents to openly express their experiences and feedback but even be part of the academics. During designated school events, parents have been invited to share information regarding their occupation or specific interests, allowing each child to further expand their worldview, contributing to a strong community environment.
The school location is at the heart of Don Mills- directly across the street from Shops at Don Mills. Mr. Esper arranged for annual trips to restaurants such as Jack’s Astors to maintain the community bond between students as well as faculty. The location has also proved to be a valuable social experience among students during lunch breaks, allowing students to foster a sense of connectedness and independence.
One particularly strong mission of Seneca Hill is that of ensuring that each student is prepared for the post-secondary environment and for their endeavours to future careers. Those within the secondary school program are extremely privy to this, with numerous opportunities to expand upon their current interests and gain insight into what they may pursue for a career path. Students are encouraged to meet one-on-one with faculty members to discuss what the post-secondary pathway might look like through exploring potential programs of interest and gain a deeper understanding of what their ideal field of study would be. Students annually attend the University and College Fair to explore what post-secondary institutions would be most suitable to them and their personal career goals. Students also start preparing for the application process months in advance with consistent guidance and follow-ups to ensure that deadlines are met within a timely manner.