Roundtable Q&A Discussion About St. Michael's College School (2021)
St. Michael's College School alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Ellie, Mario, Chris, Raphael had to say about the school.
- 4:43 - What made you apply to St. Michael's College School and eventually accept your offer of admission?
- 6:23 - What did you appreciate most about the school during your time here?
- 9:35 - To the best of your knowledge what differentiates St. Michael's from other independent schools?
- Show Full Video Contents
Highlights from the Q&A discussion
Ellie — current parent
Ellie is the president of St Michael’s College School Parent Association. Her son is now entering his sixth and final year at the school. She feels privileged to be a part of the inclusive St. Michael's College School community, and credits the school for shaping her son into a confident and academically focused young man.
- "There are so many strong points about St. Michael's College School, it is a very inclusive community. The boys learn discipline, goodness, and knowledge. There is a very wide community in that the students, the parents, the school administration, faculty, staff, alumni, and strategic partners all seem to be grouped together. There are no dividing lines. It's a learning environment which is really rich in academics, arts, athletics, and spirituality."
- "The faculty [at St. Michael’s College School] does a great job of engaging students to enrich, and stretch their thinking, and to use cutting edge learning strategies. In addition to that, there are numerous co-curricular activities that our boys really benefit from. I want to say there are close to 50 or 60 cool co-curricular activities that they can engage in. And we also have a very strong parent association. Lots of people that volunteer their time, are very generous and enthusiastic, and volunteering is a very inclusive thing."
- "I can't say that it’s true of all independent schools, but I find that St. Michael's [College School] really does a great job of reaching out to everybody.”
- "I think the strong legacy, the strong alumni, the strong network [at St. Michael’s College School] was very impressive to us. In addition, we were really impressed by the integration of spirituality into the entire school. It felt very comfortable and very natural. It just felt like something everybody could adopt, whether you were Catholic or not."
- “I feel that all the families that are part of our community value caring. It's about caring and being compassionate, being inclusive. Wanting or accepting challenges as a real positive thing, being collaborative, having a learning environment. … Integrity and compassion are huge in our environment, and that is what makes [St. Michael’s College School] so special. So not only do you feel this in the culture of the school, but you feel this in the community and the parents and the families that belong."
- "I have to say that every single musical that I have been to [at St. Michael’s College School] is just so impressive. It is like the kind of theater that we see in downtown Toronto. I just am always so impressed by the productions, and anybody that has gone that is not part of our school really walks away thinking, ‘how is it that the rest of Toronto isn't lined up to see this production?’”
- “I would say that my son is super impressed at how things have progressed at St. Michael's ... in terms of betterment and improvement on all the technology and supporting their learning [during COVID]."
- “The teachers and faculty have learned how to use technology in a way to make it very engaging with the boys that are working from home. So they really feel like a part of the class. And I think it's wonderful to see how things have really developed on the technology side, and how the teachers are really making an effort to make the learning so real, that they feel like they're part of the classroom."
- "I feel parents would find it very surprising that there's very little follow up required with teachers [at St. Michael’s College School]. Teachers are on top of things. I feel that if there's anything to be concerned about, you will be contacted. And I think that is very different from most other schools. Teachers are very engaged. They know exactly where your son is at. If you have any questions, they know exactly where they're at."
- “[Teachers] may not be able to tell you the exact mark, but they know exactly where the [students] at, and what they need to work on, if they need to work on anything… . [St. Michael’s College School] is a big school, but it's really not big. Even though we have a thousand students, you never really feel like there's a thousand students. You always feel that there's help, only an arm's length away."
- "What has been surprising for me is when your son enters [St. Michael’s College School] in Grade 7, he's introduced to leadership … . The school tries so hard to make sure that every boy has an opportunity to be a leader. So that is not something that you have to ask the school about."
- "[St. Michael’s College School] really tries to understand the boys so well, and encourages them to participate in different ways.”
Mario — alum
Mario is a St. Michael’s College School graduate. He went on to attend Western University, where he earned his honours degree in a double major of medical science and business administration. Mario hopes to become a surgeon, and is an example of the type of successful man that can be produced by St. Michael’s College School.
- "I think [St. Michael’s College School] is a powerful educational experience for students, but in a way that is available to all students. The school provides a lot of bursaries, grants, and the price compared to other private schools isn't necessarily as lofty. I think that that idea is really important because you're getting an incredible learning opportunity and an incredible environment. ... [St. Michael’s College School] is trying to make itself available to everybody, which means you benefit from learning with different demographics, or groups that might not be at the school otherwise. You're able to kind of develop into a well-rounded individual."
- "I think the beauty of St. Michael's College School is that it provides a lot in terms of your development as an individual. I think that if I wanted to try to look back at all of the things that I think I learned from St. Michael's , I'd have a long list. And I don't know if I have enough paper for that. I think there's genuinely a lot there, if I reflect."
- "I think I was extremely well prepared for university and I don't think I can emphasize that enough. University is overwhelming, of course, it will be for all students, but attending, I didn't feel like I was a step behind at all. In fact, I felt organized. I think part of that speaks to St.Michael's having concurrent courses throughout the entire year, students learn to manage more academics, more rigour."
- "I think having people at [St. Michael’s College School] that make you feel comfortable, and knowing that you can be the person you are, is incredibly empowering and allows you to develop.”
- “[St. Michael’s College School] is all boys. I think that that's part of what helped build the culture. I think that it also pushed us to come out of our shells and develop as individuals. I think it's one of those things that has helped me the most. Just going to the university and then now medical school."
- "The first [word I would use to define St. Michael’s College School] ... is integrity. I think the next one would be tradition, and the third I would say is respect... . [St. Michael’s College School] to me has taught me a lot about being an individual that has integrity, about respecting other people, understanding their perspectives, and using that as a springboard to learn and develop as an individual."
- "I genuinely loved the leadership opportunities [at St. Michael’s College School], specifically leadership camp … . I thought that the camping opportunities provided by [St. Michael’s College School] were astounding. ... I thought it was remarkable that you got very close with the other guys in the class. Being able to be around them outside of the school environment, and developing in ways that help you even out the other aspects of who you are as an individual. It also helps you connect to nature, I think is an incredible opportunity."
- “I think an expectation of [St. Michael’s College School] is that it is athletically focused and athletically minded. And though I do think that it's very strong in terms of their athletics, I think the school excels in so many other things. I know I’ve mentioned them earlier, but arts, for example, the incredible performances done in the theater, and at least from my personal experience.”
- “[St. Michael’s College School alumni] really appreciate how strongly the school prepares you for university. So I think that the surprise there, is that you really get into a developmental process for your son that is very well-rounded, and I think that perhaps, is a little bit under-appreciated."
Chris — current parent
Chris is St. Michael’s College School’s Associate Director of admissions. He graduated from the school in 1987, making him an alumnus. He appreciates St. Michael's College School’s strong mentorship program that helps in the success of current, past, and future students.
- "The way St. Michael's College School’s mentorship program works student to student, while they're in the building … . Our student prefects become leaders within the school, to show the way in terms of how a St. Michael's College School student looks, feels, and does on a regular basis.”
- "[St. Michael’s College School] has an outdoor education leadership program and that is for Grade 11 and 12 students, they get to give back, become leaders, and help facilitate their outdoor education camps for the Grade 7 - 10 students to attend. And the next two parts of the mentorship program really have to do with when a student becomes an alumnus. [St. Michael’s College School] has career days where alumni are able to come back and make presentations to classes of students depending upon their areas of discipline."
- "We're able to tap into our alumni and are able to come back and speak to our students. And then once the student becomes an alumnus, [St. Michael’s College School] has a strong alumni network where they can interact with each other at different events that we facilitate here on campus for our alumni to help grow in themselves, and in their professions as well.”
- “[St. Michael’s College School] encourages all of our students to get involved … in whatever that interest of the student is, and they want to pursue. For some it could be music. For some, it could be the arts, and for some it's athletics."
- “[St. Michael’s College School] has over 60 clubs and activities that students can get involved with. So we feel strongly that there's something for everybody. And we really want to encourage our students and our families to understand that we want their sons to be involved in that lifeblood of the school beyond the academic portion, because it creates the spirit of what the school is all about."
- “Through our house system that we've created this year, we've undertaken some intramural opportunities. So team sports involve competition amongst each other, because we're not able to compete with other schools [during COVID]. But certainly there's these opportunities at [St. Michael’s College School], amongst ourselves, to be able to keep the boys active, but also keep them pursuing the activities that they would like to pursue.”
Raphael — current parent
Raphael has one son that currently attends St. Michael’s College School in Grade 10. He is impressed with the school's ability to pivot during the global pandemic, and trusts that they will help mold his son into an empathetic, intelligent young man.
- "[Our son has] never looked back, and we couldn't be more happier with his choice [to attend St. Michael’s College School]. The choice that we really wanted him to make was to embrace his spirituality. The education has been unbelievable. The care, the teachers and support that they provided to him have been astonishing. We have reached out countless times to his teachers and within an hour or two we've received a response immediately."
- "The peers and colleagues that [our son has] met through [St. Michael’s College School] have all been beautiful individuals. And we couldn't be happier with everything that's occurred so far. … There really have been no drawbacks that we've seen. [Our son has] been engaged in all of the athletics as well as the academics and the leadership opportunities."
- "So in terms of his overall well-roundedness, [our son] has really been lucky and fortunate to be involved [at St. Michael’s College School] ]. They have really allowed him to bring out any type of shyness, any type of coy behavior. It's really been put aside.”
- "In speaking with the [other St. Michael’s College School] parents, we quickly realized that the values and some of our our ethics and some of the beliefs that we have in common resonated with each of those families, which I think for us is so important as both his spiritual guide, and knowing that those that are surrounding him also have that same type of comfort."
- “Our son … feels as though he's wearing a patch. And that patch is really a badge of honor. That badge of honor is not only one that represents [St. Michael’s College School], but it's a part of him. It's a part of his city, his DNA. I think we've heard him a number of times now say ‘mom and dad, I now bleed blue.’"
- "The other thing that we really loved is that our son has really developed a strong sense of empathy [since becoming a student at St. Michael’s College School] ... that empathy will allow him to become a good, strong pillar of our community. And in addition to that, the other thing we've also embraced is he has developed a very strong sense of self-awareness."
- "Before stepping into the pillars of St. Michael's College School, [our son] was somewhat of a shy boy. I think our son has learned to be more comfortable in uncomfortable circumstances. And that has really been demonstrated in the leadership opportunities St. Michael's College [School] has afforded him and other boys.”
- "I think something that we've learned is that there's really nothing at St. Michael's College School that surprises us. From the pandemic, to how well they were able to pivot, to how much they embrace the idea of forward thinking and caring."