Toronto, ON | Grades 7 - 12 | Shortlist
As an Alumnus of St. Michael's College School, I can say firsthand that my experience was excellent. I have had the pleasure of being taught by some of the best teachers around and been coached by some of the most dedicated staff one can imagine. St. Michael's in my opinion is about excellence in every part of one's upbringing - academic, spiritual, and physical. It has certainly prepared me for my personal life as well as my career. It is no surprise that it was the first, and only, choice for my son to attend St. Michael's when entering high school. What is also very special and unique is the way the broader community is involved. I have met many fathers who never attended the school themselves but now have their sons there and it's almost like they are alumni too! I still have the winged 'M' on my car and wear my Grad pin with pride after all these years.
As a student, and now as a parent, I have always felt confident that the school has had my best interests, and now those of my son, at its core. While the world and society has certainly changed from the early/mid 90s, one constant has always stood the test of time at St. Michael's - dedication of the staff and leadership. Being involved now as a parent, I see things in a different way and again, am thoroughly impressed with how the school has managed this 'new normal' that 2020 has sprung upon the world. What has been done is nothing short of amazing.
I have to say that I was indeed lucky to have dedicated and memorable teachers while I was attending St. Michael's College. Fr. Zinger's Grade 10 Religion homeroom is one I still draw from to this day with his 'Patience is a virtue' teachings. There was always a degree of mutual respect. 'Was every single teacher I had my favorite?'. No, by no means, but I will say that the vast majority of my teachers and coaches and the experiences I have had were amazing. I see how my son interacts with his teachers and his enjoyment of the experience at the school is reflected in his marks - better than mine were too, which is what I could only ever hope for and I look forward to how his 2020/21 year will evolve.
I credit much of my success to my time at St. Michael's and its ability to prepare me for university. I do recall in first year at the University of Western Ontario, I was in a Political Science class and there were multiple people asking about how to write an essay... I had done probably more than a dozen by the time Grade 13 rolled around! Furthermore, since Grade 9, we had to do full solution exams, not just multiple choice and so when it came to writing exams in university, while it's never easy, granted, I was far more prepared. It just further drove home the concept of how the education I received, while at times challenging and indeed stressful, was a very important piece of my academic journey.
One of the great things about St. Michael's was the balance I had as both a student and an athlete. I had the privilege to be a part of the Kerry Blue's Football Team throughout my time at the school and we worked together to win multiple championships. This taught me the importance of teamwork and some of my best friends to this day were my teammates. I also was a member of the Track and Field team where we enjoyed a great amount of success. My son also has joined a couple of the teams and some coaches were the same ones I had back in the day - though some with more grey hairs than when I attended! But it is the dedication to excellence that has persisted no matter the era.
When I started, Ontario still had Grade 13 so these were going to be the guys I was around with for 5 years. As mentioned previously, some of my closest friends to this day were the classmates that I met while at the school. It was a great atmosphere where we would gather at the Arena or on the Field to watch the teams play and of course there were some healthy and fun rivalries. Now, more than 25 years after leaving the school as a graduate, I still interact with dozens of classmates on a regular basis. The funny thing as well is that some of us have not seen each other much since graduation but when we have gotten together, it feels like almost no time has passed! This is unique.
As mentioned in previous posts, my time there was awesome. The friends, the memories, the sports, the overall just being part of that school was enjoyable. I still wear my St. Michael's branded clothes, hats, and now due to this whole COVID-19 situation we find ourselves in, I even wear my 'M' branded mask. Were there times at the school that some classmates had less than a perfect experience - for sure - but that is the anomaly. We still, all of us now in our mid-40's, reminisce about our time walking down those hallowed yellow brick halls. Now my son gets to experience that and I am confident that when he leaves as a graduate, he will be blessed with the same feeling, as will the majority of his classmates.
The community at St. Michael's is something unique. I am proud to be both an alumnus and a parent and what has struck me, even more now with a son attending, is the amazing passion of the people who are involved in the school. I mentioned earlier that some of the most passionate members are those that had no previous ties to the school but now have a son attending - to see how they rally to support initiatives is heart-warming to say the least. Being part of the Alumni Association, I also get to experience what it is like to see those fellow graduates come together to also support what the school is looking to accomplish and provide a vast resource for new graduates to tap into as they grow in their careers and in their life journey.
Growing up in the York Mills/Bayview area, getting to school was never much of a challenge. I do know of many classmates that did commute though from all reaches of the GTA - Woodbridge, Whitby, Keswick, King City etc, as that was the draw of St. Michael's. It is a great location, and given the infrastructure around it, will only serve to improve as things continue to evolve.
Back when I applied in the late 80's, it was a different setup to how it is now - I do recall the entrance exam and some of the other details required but obviously things have changed with all the online setup and evolution of the school. Currently, the team that is in place is beyond exceptional. When my son applied, I did have many questions about things and every question was answered. I do recall the communication as consistent and on point. Nothing superfluous, just the right amount of creating an environment that is welcoming and interested in learning more about him. I have a natural connection to St. Michael's but it was still important to know that we were always in the loop. The day my son got his acceptance was so overwhelming that he shouted out in the house with such excitement that I think the neighbors might have even heard him!
The amazing thing about this process is it brings back all of my memories around getting ready for university and I will say that while I had a laser focus on where I wanted to go, every single interaction I had was supportive and insightful. Since my son is in Grade 11 now, we are starting that journey so that we are also prepared. He is very laser focused on his future and I credit the school for helping with that thought process. The Guidance Counselor that he works with is exceptional and the thing I really appreciate about him is the genuine interest in making sure that my son is supported. I expect that as Grade 12 looms, things will get even more interesting and am confident that among everyone at the school, he will have the best possible setup to get to where he wants to go.