REVIEW OF St. Jude's Academy BY student, Orlando Scarlett
- Date of Review
January 23, 2018
(4.5) Student Experience
As soon as I walked through the St. Jude's Academy doors I knew it was a community I wanted to be a part of. I was greeted by a very friendly and welcoming admissions team. My grade 10 academic year taught me a lot about the school, but one thing stood out to me—community. As a K-12 school, the St. Jude's community is very integrated. All members staff and students connect with each other, assisting each other in every way possible. There is also a very diverse and multicultural student population, allowing students to connect and learn about different cultures. I am now in my senior year at St. Jude's Academy and I couldn't be more pleased with my progress since enrolling. The teachers are very well-learned and motivated, giving every student the feeling they genuinely care about his/her education and well being. I have been recognized as an academically gifted student at the schools I attended before I arrived at St. Jude's, and I expected a challenging curriculum. I certainly have not been disappointed here in that regard. The school has equipped me with all the tools I need for the next chapter of my life and I have met several lifelong friends.
(5) School Leadership
All levels of staff at St. Jude's genuinely care about the student population. This translates into a very measured approached to leading that is readily noticeable by everyone. The culture within the school assimilates that of an upside pyramid, with staff acting as a support system for students. The teachers have an open door policy and students have mentors in each and every teacher to turn to for academic and personal support. As a member of the varsity soccer team for the third consecutive year, I am still amazed by the fact the headmaster finds time into his busy schedule to attend several soccer practices. The school also affords students a lot of freedom without compromising discipline. We feel like we have a voice, and our desires are always acknowledged, if not met.
St. Jude's academic staff is very well-learned and flexible in the way lessons are conducted. Teachers acknowledge that different students learn at a different pace and adapt classes to match everyone's needs. Personally, I love to be challenged and the teachers are not hesitant to present me with tricky questions to ensure I am engaged in learning. The classroom is not very bureaucratic, and the ideas of each student contribute to the progression of the learning process. The teachers, especially in the scientific department, are not dogmatic; rather than implying that they know everything, they encourage students to challenge their beliefs and explore more empirical academic resources. One of my favourite aspects of the teaching style at St. Jude's is the hands-on approach to learning. We frequently have outdoor educational excursions and we conduct our own experiments to test even generally-accepted facts. I will certainly miss my teachers upon graduating as they have vastly contributed to my development not only as a student, but a person.
Throughout my academic career, the general curriculum has been relatively easy for me. When I arrived at St. Jude's, I expected a new challenge, and it was presented to me. The teachers apply what we are learning to the real world which adds many more variables to problems we solve. This increased my interest in school, and I was motivated to do a lot of external research. My personal learning pace is also acknowledged, as I am frequently assigned work above the grade level. Along with this, there is a culture where we as students work together to solve complex problems, and even practice for SATs and AP exams together. I appreciate that very few of our courses are semestered. We take full-year courses which makes it easier to pick up where you left off the following year.
There are several teams and clubs to participate in at St. Jude's. I am a member of the soccer team, DECA chapter, Mock Trial team, and Model UN. Each club and team is effectively led, be it by teacher or student. To me, one of the most important things about extra-curricular activities within the school is that students are not restricted to what the administration offers. We can write proposals for clubs, and start them with the help of teachers. We are encouraged to be very competitive, and we are coached very well. I have had a number of personal successes. We were second place in the Peel Regional Mock Trial tournament last school year, and I was a top 20 finalist at DECA ICDC in Anaheim, California. We are all motivated to become better students, and participating in these activities certainly allows this to happen.
The student body at St. Jude's is very multi-cultural. We connect with several different backgrounds and cultures. I think this is very important because it teaches us understanding, and how to work together with every culture. Being a small school, we are all friends with each other. We look out for each other and always collaborate to conquer the task at hand. It is almost instantly noticeable that each student believes that he or she is a part of a big family. We always work in groups, and study together. To my knowledge, conflict rarely occurs, and is quickly resolved when one does occur. There is not a typical St. Jude's student. We embrace individuality, and work together to make sure everyone fits in. Everyone is everyone's friend, so bonding with someone
(3.5) School Life
The school community is very tranquil, and fit for learning. When we are not in class we socialize with peers in the common area, play sports on the sports fields, or read in the library. In spring or summer, we often enjoy the outdoors. We were all placed in houses when we were admitted into the school, and houses often compete throughout the school year. There are multiple house competitions which vary in nature; some are academic, while some others are sports-related. This adds to the buzz and excitement within the school, with each house challenging for the title each year. As the school grows, I expect the school life to grow with it. For now, however, there is an aura of learning and connecting within the school.
St. Jude's prides itself on community involvement, and integrating all the members of the school. The staff is actively involved in helping the students, and we as students connect very well. When a student is enrolled, he or she is placed into a house, where there are community building exercises such as house games. The house games we partake in build a great sense of community. All students from K-12 get to know each other. Administration encourages teamwork, and this shows among the students. We are involved in our external community. The school takes on many humanitarian projects, such as donating to Syrian refugees, and contributing to several charities. Personally, St. Jude's is like a home away from home. I am sure this feeling is common among other students. We feel encouraged and motivated in the morning to go to school, and bond with members of our second family.
(4) School Location
St. Jude's is located in Meadowvale, Mississauga. It's the ideal mix of city and suburb lifestyle. The school's direct surrounding is very peaceful and it is easy remain focused even if you are outdoors. At the same time, the Mississauga City Centre is only about fifteen minutes away. Therefore, if students do decide to leave school property after school, we do not have to go far. Students usually stay on school grounds throughout the day, but we often order lunch from the many retailers close-by. In spring, summer, and fall students tend to use the outdoors to study and play sports. The surrounding is very comfortable, and students never feel endangered. Some of us even like to stay on campus after school hours because it is very homely.
The admission staff that greeted me when I first visited St. Jude's was very friendly and welcoming. They made sure I was comfortable, and I had a chance to be myself. On the school tour, the admission officer asked about my goals and seemed genuinely interested in my aspirations. It was an informal interview, which I personally appreciated. At the end of the tour, I was informed about the school vision and what exactly would be expected of me as a student. I also had a chance to meet a few of the academic staff. They all seemed passionate about their work, and throughout my years at St. Jude's I have realized this observation was true. My friends have notified me that the admission process is a bit different now, with a written evaluation being added. Otherwise, it is very similar. Just be yourself, and show your passion for learning. Your admission process will be one to remember.