I'm writing this review as an alumnae of TCS and as a parent of three current students. As one of the first girls at TCS, I made lifelong friendships, succeeded academically, and benefitted from the sports, arts and community service programs offered by the school. Let's not forget I met my husband at TCS! Fast forward thirty years (!) and our three boys are in boarding (Bickle House, Brent House and Bethune House) and loving every minute! The pandemic has been challenging but TCS adapted right away and has done its best to keep the students engaged while adhering to the local Public Health mandates. We regularly see photos of the boys with their friends on the TCS Instagram/Flikr accounts, which is nice because they are clearly having too much fun to send photos to Mum & Dad!
The school does an excellent job of communicating with parents with a Parents' Newsletter, Covid-19 updates and as previously mentioned, photos! :) The Headmaster's newsletter is a thoughtful message (short blog post) that gives me confidence our kids are learning character and leadership skills. We don't hear about discipline from the school, but our boys tell us they have received Quarters (similar to demerits) for uniform and lateness infractions. A Gating is a serious offense, (smoking, etc.) punishable by hourly sign-in with a teacher or Prefect and so far we haven't been advised of any Gatings - Hopefully, that means none for the Gibson boys!
The teaching at TCS is second to none! Students are encouraged to seek extra help when needed and the teachers are not only accessible after hours but make an extra effort to ensure classes are informative and engaging. As an example, the business class used a stock simulator to teach students about investments. The accounting class played Monopoly. There is ample time in the schedule for students to seek extra help and the two hours of mandatory study each night (supervised by a teacher and only exempt with an 86%+ average) goes a long way to helping students succeed academically. It's been said before but TCS is a school where it's cool to excel academically. I think the fact that teachers also coach extracurricular activities makes them accessible to students in a way that builds relationships beyond academics. The students see them as more than a teacher.
The academic program at Trinity College School offers something for everyone. Whether the arts, STEM, Advanced Placement (AP) or many more, academics are a focal point of life at TCS. I absolutely believe the school is preparing students to succeed in post-secondary education. The study habits they are forming combined with critical analysis skills, encouragement and an awareness of their roles as thoughtful, considerate citizens will serve them well throughout their lives. The academic culture at TCS was important to us as parents because we wanted our boys exposed to both coeducation and international students (as academic, critical thinkers) as these demographics represent their future work environments. We are certain Trinity College School has provided a terrific academic foundation for our boys that will help them succeed.
Extracurriculars are key to the TCS experience. The school offers a wide variety of options and there really is something for everyone. Our boys are big into sports and I particularly appreciate the school mandating a weekly club activity that forces the students outside of their comfort zone. For example, our boys play football, basketball and rugby but one chose "improv" and the other chose "art" as their club activity.
On the first day, new students and their families are greeted by returning students and provided a tour around the campus. I particularly like the school's approach to maintaining a 50% boarding and 50% day student population in addition to a 50% male/female ratio. I remember a friend whose son started at TCS a year before ours did and he said "it was kind of weird at first how nice everyone is but that's TCS." I have also personally witnessed positive peer mentoring where a grade 12 student went out of his way to make a fellow student feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation by engaging other students to model the supportive behaviour. There is no doubt in my mind that TCS is an environment where students are encouraged to be their best selves.
To say our boys love Trinity College School would be a huge understatement. It's like a combination of camp and Hogwarts. Between the friends, food, no parents, activities and a stunning campus that offers everything from sports to arts and more, I want to go back to school! TCS provides an environment where students can test out independence in a safe environment with teachers and staff who provide the right amount of structure to balance fun and academic success. The House system provides a "home" for students where they meet others from diverse backgrounds and engage in friendly House competitions. Student leaders like "Prefects", "Head of House" and "Peer Mentors" work hard to ensure there is a high fun factor on campus at all times!
There is an excellent extended TCS community and I can say that as an alumna and as a parent. As an alumna, there are often "Branch Dinners/Receptions" where alumnae get together, sometimes annually. Every year the school hosts reunions for five-year grads, 10-year grads, 15-year grads. It's a fun-filled weekend of sports, class dinners and catching up with old friends. Alumnae are often welcomed back to the school to speak with students about their careers. This provides students with the opportunity to ask questions about careers they might be considering. As a parent, it really depends on how involved you want/can be. The Parents' Guild organizes events like The Bear Fair and other events like care packages during exam season and many more. Pre-Covid The Guild organized a fabulous wine tasting event at the school and during Covid, organized a virtual flower arranging workshop.
Trinity College School is located in the charming town of Port Hope, approximately 100 kilometers east of Canada's biggest city, Toronto, Ontario. From TCS it's a short walk to Port Hope where students can find hair salons and barbers, grocery stores, restaurants including fan favourites like Jim's Pizza and Olympus Burger - and even a Starbucks! For parents visiting the school, there are a few beautiful boutique hotels such as The Waddell, Hotel Carlyle (both have lovely restaurants), and a little farther away, The Comfort Inn.
We had the benefit of experiencing a pre-Covid admissions process and a during-Covid admissions process. Pre-Covid was (obviously) better. The prospective students arrived at the school on a Friday morning and were paired with a "buddy" for a full day of classes, meals, sports and an overnight. While their buddy was in study (7 PM - 9 PM Monday - Friday), the prospective students wrote their entrance exam. The overnight was particularly helpful to get the full TCS experience! Students met up with their parents on the Saturday morning for a full guided tour of the school. TCS did everything they could to make the during-Covid admissions process a positive and informative experience for prospective students. In addition to outside only tours of the school, TCS filmed a video of "TCS life" and held regular Zoom calls with prospective students, parents and current students.
Our oldest son is in grade 11 and there has been limited university placement and counselling information communicated to parents up to this time. However, the school has been very helpful with course selection, particularly with regard to what schools and programs require Advanced Placement (AP) courses. I anticipate there will be more communication with parents in the coming months with regard to the university application process. However, our son has already identified three universities he is considering based on the program(s) he would like to study. It has been challenging to plan university visits due to Covid but we are planning a visit over the March Break and to another school over the April long weekend. It's likely the third visit will have to wait for the Fall, due to summer camp commitments.