Rosthern, SK | Grades 10 - 12 | Shortlist
My time at RJC was exceptional. Due to the small size of the school and the high ratio of teachers to students, my academic experience was very positive. One on one interaction with the teachers and staff allowed for a more personal connection, creating more intimacy in the classroom between students and faculty. Something that stands out to me is the amount of extracurricular time put in by the staff at the school. Nearly every staff member was involved in coaching a sports team or leading a choir or club. Regarding what I would change, during my tenure some of the facilities were dated, but since my graduation the labs have been renovated and further renovations of the building continue, improving the school's ability to function. If you enroll, you should expect lots of opportunities to get involved. There are many committees, sports teams, SRC, etc. to join that enhance your experience at the school.
School leadership does a good job of maintaining a low stress and casual environment. During some more stressful situations (i.e. student disobedience), slightly more serious and professional attitudes were assumed to deal with it. That is not to say that the staff are not professional in their approach, just that they assume a more casual approach to connecting with and teaching student, which I maintain is for the better. This allows for more inclusion and encouragement to those reluctant to participate.
Teaching at RJC was very similar in most respects to my time in public school, but different teachers employ different pedagogies. My experiences varies from formal lectures to creative projects to reading a comic book depicting history. The dynamic between instructor and instructee is, as previously mentioned, quite informal, but maintains a high level of respect for the teachers. While I attended teachers were mostly passionate about their work. I don't think I ever needed help to love learning, but perhaps they encouraged it in others. One thing I appreciated about the teaching was niche areas that are not always taught at other schools, such as Agriculture in my grade 10 year.
The atmosphere is one of learning together, meaning though seeking high grades were encouraged, I never felt overly competitive. I would say the strength of the academic program is its collegiality. I remember helping people out in study hour and class to learn math or biology. As previously mentioned, learning together was emphasized. I felt I could have had better instruction on writing, which I did not develop skills in until later in university, but few people come out of high school with the ability to write well.
The quality of extracurriculars is outstanding at RJC. I believe it to be the strongest draw to the school. Previous to my arrival at the school, the choirs placed nationally at music festivals and during and after my time there, provincial championships were won in girls soccer, football, track, and badminton. The quality of the results is indicative of the leadership of these activities, as well as the environment to those participating to excel.
The student body was small, but very involved and intermingled. It very much reminds me of Stuart McClean's Vinyl Cafe whose slogan is "we may not be big, but we're small." Being small means it is easy to be involved and easy to get to know others at the school. The typical student would be involved in one or two extracurriculars with a full course load. I would say the qualities that garner respect in the willingness to be involved and the willingness to be yourself, or at least to try and find out who you are. While students come from many backgrounds, the most common is a Mennonite heritage, which is unsurprising given the Mennonite roots of the school. While RJC is a religious school, there are many students who do not affiliate with a religion and is by no means a prerequisite for attending.
I found school life to be busy. Perhaps not as busy as life after high school, but certainly much busier than being a farm student and being unable to participate in many extracurricular activities. I really enjoyed going to school there. I really enjoyed the friends I made there as well as the sense of home. I don't know how RJC can improve the lives of students there now, as it seems to be a slightly different place than when I attended, but I think the approach and philosophy of the school aided the quality of life in the fact that it isn't unnecessarily overbearing. It also seeks to provide a conversation when one is needed to create an open dialogue.
I think the broader community is fantastic. Certainly as an alumnus there are ways to remain connected through alumni tournaments and fundraising banquets, as well as attending shows and matches throughout the year. It is difficult for all parents to remain involved, but they are certainly welcome to attend sport games and choir performances. These are important times that students can catch up with parents. The alumni tournaments play a good role in keeping sports teams sharp by playing older competition, but also at reuniting people who haven't seen each other for extended periods. I still keep up with lots of friends from the school. Fellow graduates and classmates made up a good proportion of my roommates throughout college. I still look forward to the tournaments every year.
The feel of Rosthern is very relaxed. I would say it is typical of small town Saskatchewan. Students are encouraged to walk about town. It is easy to integrate into the town as there is a significant part of the student body that attends from the town itself. Furthermore, it has great amenities such as a bakery and thrift store, both great places for people with limited disposable income. Campus tends to be the home base though.
I would say do not put too much pressure on yourself when applying. RJC is an open and welcoming community. My experience with the application was that it was easy to fill out. The interview went swimmingly and it was very easy to talk to the staff. The most stressful part, which really wasn't stressful at all, was figuring out what classes to sign up for. I always found that to be the most difficult part of school, finding a schedule that worked. I knew that RJC was the right fit for me prior to attending, as I had witnessed both of my elder brothers attend prior to me. I knew I wanted to go there when I saw how good of a fit it was for my elder brother.
I found two experiences particularly useful. First, RJC made it easy to attend the open house at the U of S. There was a van that went for the day, allowing me to see what the U of S was actually like. Secondly, the dean at the time, Graeme Rinholm, was quite helpful in guiding my interest and aiding with use of the university website, having spent some time there recently prior to his employment.