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Toronto District Christian High School:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades Gr. 9 TO Gr. 12 — Woodbridge, ON (Map)

Toronto District Christian High School:

REVIEW OF Toronto District Christian High School BY Alum, Elizabeth Mathai

  • Date of Review
    April 29, 2024
  • Grades (year)
    Gr. 9 - Gr. 12 (2017 - 2021)
  • University (major)
    University of Guelph (Applied Human Nutrition)
  • Gender
  • Enrolment
    Day Student

(4.5) Overall Experience

After having a few years to reflect on my experience at TDCH in my undergraduate degree, I can safely say that my experience at TDCH was highly positive in my adolescence, shaped my character into the individual I am today, and projected the trajectory of my life in a clear direction. From that period of time, the development I went through as an individual sticks out the most, as I can now clearly see how my emotional maturity progressed from the ages of 14-18. Something that TDCH gave me that is truly irreplaceable is the friendships I made in high school and how those relationships are still so evident in my life. The people I was surrounded with were not just momentary relationships, but lifelong connections that shaped my life and still pour into me to this day. The beginning of my undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph was a very different transition than I expected, in social, academic, and relational ways. TDCH was a very warm, empathetic environment, but not necessarily challenging. Academically, I felt like I learned a lot, but not necessarily tested on things I didn't already know or was able to problem solve. In contrast, my first year at UofG was very academically challenging and dissimilar to anything I had learned at TDCH. I felt like I was struggling to keep up with the simplest of assignments, and there was no one to turn to for guidance. I have figured out the university system since then, but dealing with these academic struggles made the jump from high school to university that much more difficult. As I mentioned earlier, the community at TDCH is like no other, and the strong, close-knit family I felt like I had in my friendships was suddenly absent. Figuring out the academic change was difficult enough, but when simultaneously challenged with constant loneliness, I had a really hard time. It took a while for me to find my footing in the 'real world' outside of the TDCH bubble, and it was difficult to make relationships that replicated what TDCH had provided me with. The same goes for the professor-student relationships, as it was all of a sudden the default in university to be a nobody. While I wouldn't change anything about my experience at TDCH, I didn't feel as if it prepared me for the secular university environment, and it was very easy to feel entirely lost after leaving. A prospective student enrolling at TDCH should expect to feel at home. The rich, Christ-centered environment is the perfect blend of compassionate yet tangible, and taking the step to get involved in TDCH's extracurriculars can provide you with relationships that last a lifetime. The conception of high school can be unnerving, but fully embracing the new people, teachers, and environment around you can lead to the greatest memories!

(5) School Leadership

One thing that stands out to me from school leadership is the teacher-student relationships I formed and how this provided me with mentors I know I can still connect with at this stage of my life. Though there was a clear level of respect outlined between the teachers and students, there was also a level of friendship in the form of mentorship that I haven't experienced anywhere else. It was evident how much the teachers cared about you as a person, and this showed me what to strive for in future authoritative relationships. Though I had a very positive experience with the leadership at TDCH, I know many of my peers did not have the same experience. I do believe that part of the positive experience is the initiative to make the best of the staff in front of you, and failure to do that can lead to resentment. Overall, the teachers and admin were respected to their faces, but behind their backs the respect was often lost. The fact of the matter is that teenagers are mean and will blame their hardship on the easiest target in their lives. I felt that teachers respected students for the most part, but I can recall a few cases where a student was singled out for their academic ability and put on the spot. Though this probably wasn't out of malicious intent, it is very easy to leave a high school student with a negative impression that can impact their adolescence. Problems were addressed appropriately, and I was left with the understanding that discipline is necessary and builds character. This is coming from a standpoint that never received intense discipline from authority at TDCH, but problems I witnessed my peers dealing with were never exploited and matters were kept as private as possible.

(4.5) Teaching

The teaching at TDCH was adequate, but I definitely felt that certain teachers were better equipped than others in their guidance. Depending on the class and subject, it was very easy to tell if a teacher was truly passionate about what they were instructing, or if they just got thrown in that environment and were 'scraping' by. I was overall satisfied with the quality of instruction I received, but not necessarily happy. I appreciated the more informal dynamic between students and teachers, as I don't find a superiority complex to be beneficial at all. Though a level of respect is necessary, the teacher-student relationship is better off when the teacher is able to get on the same level as the student and not only understand where they are at in their learning but strive towards a common goal cohesively with them. Certain teachers were passionate about their subject, but not always knowledgeable. Other teachers were knowledgeable about their subject, but not always passionate. Overall, I found Perspectives, Gr. 12 Business, Chemistry, Advanced Functions, World Religions, and E-Block to be classes taught by passionate teachers that were extremely well-versed in their knowledge of the content. Certain teachers naturally emphasized a love of learning through their passionate teaching, and others settled for letting the students take what they want out of the class. I was always challenged to do my best, but not always challenged to give my all in every class. Sometimes the lack of effort from the teachers carried over into the students' work ethic, removing the drive to do well in their class. Mr. Joel Sjaarda, Mr. Joel Dykxhoorn, and Mr. Terpstra had a strong positive effect on both my personal and academic development. I was strongly challenged by Mr. Sjaarda to strive after what I held a passion for, and always keep Christ at the centre of my life, regardless of what path I took. Mr. Dykxhoorn instilled a strong work ethic in me, challenged me to take steps out of my comfort zone, and pushed me to take on leadership roles that I wouldn't have usually. Mr. Terpstra grounded me with a new sense of self-confidence in my character, encouraged me without being condescending, and I truly felt like he could read me as an individual and pick out where my passions lie. Though Mr. Hoving wasn't a teacher, I appreciated his friendship, ear to listen, investment in my sports life, and care about me as an individual.

(2.5) Academics

One of the school's academic strengths is its E-Block program. It taught me not only how to take on tasks in a non-traditional academic environment, but taught me skills I still retain to this day for the greater good of our planet. One of the school's academic weaknesses was the Geography program, as I felt like the Gr. 9 curriculum was lacking depth. This may not be a common opinion, but I felt like TDCH fostered a relaxed, casual academic environment that was not as competitive as I would have liked. Though this is more positive for the encouragement of students, a competitive atmosphere can often push students to reach new heights they didn't think they were capable of. It felt like many students really didn't care about what they were learning, and the ones who didn't care were not being challenged enough. Though there was the opportunity to participate in further academic challenges and tests, I feel like there could have been more. I did not feel like the academic environment at TDCH prepared me for the cutthroat setting of the university environment, and I felt greatly unequipped when entering the post-secondary environment for the first time. Though there are numerous courses to choose from that are specific to university degrees like Kinesiology, Photography, and Art, there are also many that are missing. As I went into a university degree in Human Nutrition, I felt like I had a slight background in the science side of my degree, but no preparation in the business and home economics aspect of it. I think it would have been fantastic if TDCH provided a health, fitness, and nutrition course that had a culinary aspect to it.

(5) Extracurriculars

Extracurriculars are an aspect that TDCH hit on the nose. There is a strong variety of clubs, teams, and groups to be involved in, all addressing specific passions and providing students with a strong community of peers who have the same interests. I was personally involved in numerous sports teams during my years at TDCH, and I loved the competitive environment that always had a fun edge to it. There was strong relational development, problem-solving, team building, and adventure. TDCH did a great job at well rounding their students, and providing kids with the choice to be involved in as much as they would like to be.

(3.5) Students

As I reached my senior year at TDCH, I enjoyed the spirit of the student body less. While I grew closer with my tight circle of friends, I feel like I was able to notice more within the grades below me and was often disappointed with the recklessness. When I was in Gr. 9, I felt so welcomed and cared about by the older students, and when I was in Gr. 12 I felt like the younger students wanted nothing more than to be anywhere but TDCH. Opposite from what I would expect, I felt like students with high academic integrity, passion, and involvement were respected less than students who were 'cool' and didn't care about school. It was a challenging environment to feel accepted in the older grades, as peer image is everything. Diversity was high at TDCH, and I never felt like students' personal lives were exploited for others to see. In the friendship circles I was involved in, students got along and appreciated each other, but I am well aware of the opposite in other circles.

(4.5) School Life

Simply put, I loved going to school at TDCH and would love to not only send my children there but build a career there one day as well. Though I found academic aspects to miss the mark sometimes, the relational aspect provided me with essential tools I needed for the rest of my life and shaped me as an individual in a way that no other environment could have. I truly believe that my 4 years at TDCH were the most impactful of my upbringing, and I couldn't be more grateful. I think TDCH could better equip students for life outside of a Christian bubble in order to improve their quality of life after high school. I do feel that other students were generally happy and low-stress, especially in my circle. I was surrounded by friends with the same passions as I, and especially on the sports teams, were highly engaged in their involvement and excited to simply be there. The leadership opportunities I was presented with at TDCH helped me understand which situations I truly feel like I can excel in, and gave me a strong sense of assurance about myself.

(5) Community

One of the reasons that I am so appreciative of the friendships I made at TDCH is how I have seen them carry out in the alumni lives around me. There are so many parents I have seen who graduated from TDCH who still maintain their high school friendships and consider them the closest in their lives. Parents I know who went to TDCH in their adolescence still make a strong effort to be involved in events that the high school hosts and I can tell that they really care about giving back to the environment that nurtured them as they were growing up. I have definitely kept in contact with students from TDCH from my grade since graduating, and still see 5-10 of them on a regular basis. As mentioned previously, I truly feel like these relationships will last a lifetime and are worth nurturing.

(2) School Location

As half of Gr. 11 and all of Gr. 12 were COVID years for me, it definitely changed the experience of adventuring beyond school grounds in a drastic way. It was difficult in Gr. 12 to not feel held back as we had 'worked' all of high school for our senior freedom and were deprived of it due to health restrictions. In prior years, students ventured off property during lunch hours, but I preferred to play on property in the gym during lunch, mainly because the only option to go off property was far enough away that there was only enough time to run there and back in order to make it in time. To me, the school felt more like an island, which is why I chose to stay local during lunch hours.

(1) Admissions

When I did my interview with TDCH, I was in Gr. 5, and my brother was currently in Gr. 8 completing the application process. That being said, I recall very little, as most questions were directed toward my older brother and his entrance into TDCH. I did not find it stressful, as I didn't know the gravity of what the application meant as I was so young and not even considering the prospect of high school. As the younger sibling that didn't have an interview directed towards them, I wish I had an opportunity to interview when I was in Gr. 8 as my interests strongly changed between Gr. 5-8 and I wanted my own voice to be heard. I often felt like I was living in the shadow of my older brother, and much of my identity in high school was based on his. This application process definitely contributed to this, as I never felt like I had the opportunity to make an identity for myself.

(2) University placement and counselling

From what I recall from the university counselling program, I felt educated, but not necessarily supported. In Gr. 11, I had NO idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I didn't feel like I was supported with making a decision that was going to determine my career. Looking back on it now, I felt like I made the wrong decision in choosing my degree, and wish I was more encouraged to actually research what the program requires from you before applying. I do remember feeling very stressed, overwhelmed, and rushed, and unsure of what my future would hold. In terms of timing, I felt like I was informed of when to apply for things well ahead of time and was given the opportunity to approach guidance if I felt necessary.


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