"Beate Mundo Corde": Blessed are the pure in heart. Adorned on the school's crest and displayed on the gates as you enter the grounds, truer words could not be said about the people of Trinity College School. Throughout my life as a young adult, I have consistently described my high school years as some of the best in my life. This was not because of my age, my friends, or my family, but from my school. What truly stands out at TCS, is the definition of "cool" seems to have been redefined at there. Whereas many high school experiences are commonly peppered with stressful social hierarchies, bullying encounters, and alcohol experimentation, TCS offers somewhat of the opposite. Perhaps because of it's more remote location in the charming town of Port Hope, TCS has developed it's own unique society. There, the most idolized students were not those with good looks, elitist tendencies, or natural athleticism, but were the ones with the most genuinely pure hearts. This was demonstrated by being friends to the community, volunteering, being kind to others, discipline in academia, leadership in sports, and passion in the fine arts. These trends fostered a community like no other, where holding open doors, mentoring younger students, and generally being “good" was revered above all else.
Trinity College School is a place where teachers, administration, and staff are all family. Perhaps because of it's more remote location in Port Hope, TCS has developed a supportive environment where everyone is seen as one. In my time there, not only was there unwavering support for students having difficulties, but problems were dealt with swiftly and appropriately. In many schools, when a student breaks rules, rumours spread and often misinformation and slander can develop around that student's character before the truth can be revealed. However, at TCS, when disciplinary action is taken on a student, the administration is always transparent and open to the community. Often, they will clear things up by making an official announcement to the school without revealing any details that would damage that student's character, clearing all rumours and settling the issue so that the community can move on. Further, because of the universal respect that students have for the school, it's rules, and the administration, disciplinary action that is taken by agents of authority are always supported by the student community.
Passion may be an understatement to describe the teaching style of those instructors at TCS. Again, because of the strong community at TCS and because most teachers either lived on campus, or very close by, they were almost ever-present in student's lives. Taking part in house competitions, being involved as Housemasters, and leading community volunteer projects were just a few of the things that teachers seemed to universally take part in. Teachers never simply worked and then returned home, they were a part of the family that was TCS. Some teachers were so passionate and excited to teach that they bordered eccentricity, making every class entertaining, engaging, and influential. Also, an enormous number of AP options were offered and pursued by students, fostering high levels of academic development. Above all of this, teachers were always there to answer questions, even after school, at the dinning hall, or during study, helping students achieve their academic goals and pushing them to be more than ready for when they reach university.
The academic weaknesses of TCS are very difficult to pinpoint, as the programs at TCS during my time there was nearly flawless. To understand the mindset of TCS academia, one must understand that a student is ASSUMED to soon be attending a great university in Canada, the U.S. or abroad. The question is not wether they will be admitted to a revered institution, but it is how well they will compete once they begin their first degree. The school prides itself greatly on the integrity of the academic offerings it has for the students. During my time there, TCS was one of the only high schools in Canada to have an electron microscope, it's own astronomy dome, world class music and arts centres, unparalleled sports facilities and countless other incredible academic tools that reflect its firm commitment to pushing the students to reach their full potential. Competition was friendly, yet fierce, as the culture was one of pushing each other's boundaries of development. One example of this was the intense house debates that took place periodically throughout the school year. Spirit and gusto saturated the historic hallways of TCS during these times. The winners of House Debates were celebrated and respected because of their wit and resourcefulness, demonstrating the school's respect for academic potential and the strive for greatness.
Again, the community at TCS is one that develops an environment akin to a large family. No other time of day was this more evident than in the late afternoon. Once the school day was over, students were given a short time to prepare before their extracurriculars began. During my time there, a student was required to chose at least one "sport" and one "arts" extracurricular per semester. This filled their time between dismissal and dinner. Options for students went above and beyond basic sports teams and music, offering school rock bands, dance troupes, improv teams, school productions, debate teams, community service options, and countless others. The bottom line was, students must be kept busy...and busy we were! Because of the quality of these offerings, many of us chose to go far beyond the required minimum, joining school choirs, community involvement teams, environmental awareness groups, and much more. The popular sports teams were the anchors which almost everyone strived for, but they were simply the centre of an enormous array of orbiting extracurriculars that helped develop leadership, creativity, and an overall confident sense of character. There is something for everyone at TCS.
During my time there, the student body in the senior school (gr 9 to 12) was around 500 students. This was divided into 10 houses of both boarding and day students. Even day students stayed late most days until around 7pm, creating a strong sense of community and belonging at our beloved school. As mentioned earlier, the culture of "family" was strong in the halls of TCS, acceptance and openness was universal as students came from countless different countries, cultures, and socio-economic backgrounds. One of the most prominent displays in the historic Osler Dining Hall is the countless array of flags of countries from which students have hailed. Many students fondly debate over which flag belongs to what country, and who in the school comes from such a far away land. Further, although TCS was established in the 19th century as an Anglican school, it is home to several religions, cultures, and practices of the multicultural students. These different cultures are often displayed proudly in morning chapel lessons geared toward the learning of new cultures. Finally, tuition costs of TCS may deter some students from applying, but the school offers an unusually high number of scholarships and grants programs to allow students to attend the school who show promise and drive. Overall, TCS is an eclectic international tapestry that fosters acceptance, learning, and overall "worldlyness".
Again, although TCS boasts an enormous amount of incredible qualities, one quality stands above them all: community. I, along with almost all students at the school thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Although most of us have moved on to achieve great things in all corners of the world, becoming doctors, artists, politicians, we have kept a strong connection since then. Our time at TCS was one that can not be recreated. This was a time of fierce academic pursuits and creative breakthroughs, of intense friendships, and unbreakable bonds. We were pushed to be our best without completely stressing us out, giving us outlets in athletics, social outings, and arts to find our balance. Students were kind and supportive of each other and bullying was virtually non-existent. If there is any weakness to TCS, it is that it may not be for students who need a lot of "alone" time. Those who wish to spend many hours alone a day or to relax will most likely not enjoy the high-energy community of TCS. The school is intense in the best way possible, but those who have a hard time keeping up or developing their passions may feel a little overwhelmed.
The alumni community of TCS is like no other I have seen, remaining strong in many parts of the world. From Toronto to London to Bermuda to Hong Kong, the community stays tightly-knit to their roots and events are held on a regular basis. This offers fantastic opportunities for networking, developing business relationships, and mentorship programs. At the school, parents are more than welcome on campus, often found wandering the halls looking at historic cricket team photos, or admiring the architecture. Further, groups like the "Guild" offer opportunities for parents to be involved in the running of school affairs and events. The alumni newsletter is one that almost everyone is excited to receive in the mail, updating everyone on life achievements and developments that go far beyond what facebook can provide.
Port Hope is a perfect town to be home to such a revered international school as TCS. The town is large enough to offer beautiful surroundings and community involvement, but small in a sense where students are not tempted to go finding trouble. With permission, students are free to roam the charming riverside area, visiting the favourite "Jim's Pizza", taking a stroll along the lake, or going to see a movie in the local theatre. Obviously, teenagers are at an age to easily find trouble, but with a small town such as Port Hope, there is not much trouble to be found. Students are more inclined to enjoy the quaint charm of the small town rather than go off to break rules. Overall, Port Hope is a beautiful and charming community that welcomes the students to roam and enjoy the historic riverside.
Integrity, balance, and heart. TCS accepts high achievers from all corners of the world for a number a different qualities. The one consistent and universal quality that the students possess is heart. Show them that you have the strength of character to contribute to a bright and incredible international community, and they will welcome you with open arms. After all, clearly displayed under every coat of arms at Trinity College School is "Beate Mundo Corder". Blessed are the pure in heart. Good luck!