REVIEW OF Trinity College School BY parent, Leslie Gibson
- Date of Review
May 04, 2022
Gr. 9 - Gr. 12
(5) Student Experience
Both of our sons' experiences at TCS have been undeniably incredible. Trinity has played such an important part in their lives and our family feels so fortunate that they have been able to attend such a special school for their formative high school years. What they have valued most is the sense of community that TCS provides. They have established wonderful friendships with students locally as well as from countries around the world. They have also developed meaningful relationships with teachers, coaches and residential staff. Testimony to their love of the school is the fact that they rarely want to come back home on open weekends. TCS keeps the students very busy during the day through their academic programming, athletics, service, evening study and opportunities for socialization.
(5) School Leadership
Stuart Grainger has been the Headmaster at the school for almost 20 years. He has been very welcoming to our family when we visit the school and always goes out of his way to say hi. He writes a weekly blog for the school newsletter that often reflects on many of the issues that our children face today. The weekly newsletter is an excellent communication tool for parents that provides relevant information about school life. Our sons' Housemaster has played an important role in their lives as we co-parent together. He is always responsive to our questions and concerns. Our boys find him very approachable and fair. I cannot imagine being responsible for over 30 boys in their House, but the residential staff take on the role with ease. Father Don is another wonderful leader at the school. He knows every student by name and has an incredible wealth of knowledge about the school's history.
We have been impressed by the level of teaching at Trinity. The majority of our interactions with the teachers have been during parent-teacher interviews. Due to the small class sizes, it is quite remarkable how well the teachers get to know their students and appreciate their various learning styles. They have provided tangible and constructive feedback on report cards and genuinely seem to want our children to excel. They have offered strategies to address areas of concerns and to help improve grades. They have made themselves available to offer extra assistance when needed. Several of our children's teachers have also been their coaches in various sports which strengthens the teacher-student relationship. When learning moved online during the pandemic, the teachers were quick to pivot and provide effective teaching and lessons virtually keeping the students engaged.
TCS provides an extensive academic program with many courses to choose from. They simplify the course selection process and highlight the necessary courses students need to take each year. Each student is assigned an Academic Adviser when they begin at Trinity who they meet with on a regular basis to discuss their academic work. The Advisors act as a support for students as well as an advocate to help connect them to extra assistance when needed. They often liaise with the student's teachers. Evening study is a requirement for boarders to attend on weeknights from 7-9. Our sons have valued this dedicated time which allows them to complete homework, seek assistance and prepare assignments. The school uses a helpful online academic communication tool called Edsby that both students and parents can access. Teachers use Edsby to outline lessons and provide dates for upcoming tests and assignments.
There are an abundance of opportunities for the students to participate in after classes finish. The offerings include competitive athletics, recreational athletics, the arts and service learning opportunities. Our sons participated in cross country running (the Harriers!), alpine skiing and rugby. The teams have participated in the obvious CISAA races, but have also attended several invitational meets. On numerous occasions over the years, coaches in each of our son's chosen sports have reached out to us personally and have reflected on our sons' athletic performances with pride. During ski season, the Alpine team visits nearby Brimacombe Ski Resort 2x/week for on-hill training. We are amazed at how their skiing has improved from the quality coaching they have received. The Harriers have participated in a fun team marathon to cap off the cross country season the past 2 years.
There are approximately 450 students in the Senior School with an equal male/female balance. Approximately half of the students are boarders and about half of these boarders are international students. The size of the school is ideal in allowing the students to really get to know kids in their individual grades through shared classes. Extracurriculars and service learning allow for further interaction with students from other grades. There is an inclusive, tight knit sense of the community that the students embrace. The Prefects and Student House Leaders go a fantastic job in building school spirit by planning fun and creative school-wide activities throughout the year. During Awards Ceremonies, it is amazing to see the students celebrating their teammates successes. From our experience, we have found both the international community and the boarding at Trinity are two of the school's greatest strengths.
(5) School Life
Without a doubt, our sons have absolutely both loved attending TCS. From the classes and athletics, to the House activities and Senior school events, there is always something happening to engage the kids. The heart of the school is Cirne Commons where the kids hang out together on comfy sofas after classes and on weekends. They often show movies or big sports games here. Orientation Week is always a fun-filled time. TCS does a fantastic job with integrating new students into the school with full school activities, House outings and grade specific activities and trips. Our sons so look forward to the start of school and their return to TCS. During the year, there are always activities organized that the boarders can sign up for over the weekends. The Sushi Bus to Peterborough was a favourite of our oldest son. As parents, we have felt very connected to the school life through TCS' social media presence on Instagram and Facebook. There are hundreds of photos posted monthly that provide us with a (huge!) window into our sons' lives.
TCS is all about establishing community with students, parents and alumni. The week prior to our youngest son starting school, we were invited to a get together with other Toronto TCS families. This was a lovely introduction for him to meet other new students from our area, not to mention an opportunity for parents to connect. At the start of the year, parents can join the Parents Guild which holds various meetings and get togethers. Parents of course are welcome to attend sports games and events and cheer on the Bears. As parents, our favourite events are the annual Christmas service and the Oxford Cup. The Christmas service is a beautiful evening hosted by Father Don with Christmas carols sung in candlelight, followed by a festive dinner in Osler Hall for all families. The Oxford Cup is a yearly cross country race that all students participate in and which also attracts families and alumni. This race has been held for over 150 years. There is always such great energy at the start of the race as each House shouts out their House cheers. Both my husband and oldest son are alumni and there is a strong alumni community with dinners, newsletters and class reunions.
(5) School Location
The TCS campus is one of the factors that drew us to the school. As a prospective family, it is essential to make a visit to Trinity. It is located on over 100 acres of beautiful land in the Haldimand Hills and boasts its own challenging cross country running course on the school grounds which has been used for High School Provincial Championships. The town of Port Hope is a quintessential preserved small Ontario town located on the Ganaraska river that runs through the centre of town. There are great coffee shops and restaurants that students can venture down to after classes or on weekends and are the perfect spot to take our children for a delicious meal when we come to visit. Port Hope is located on Lake Ontario which is beautiful all year round. TCS is about 1 hour's drive from Toronto.
The Admissions team was incredibly welcoming and accommodating from our very first interactions when we attended an Open House with our oldest son. The team greeted us by name and then the student Masterkey tour guides took over by touring us around the school. Their pride in the school was obvious. We really appreciated that students were involved throughout the Admissions process. The Admissions team was super responsive to any questions we had and also connected us with Parent Global Ambassadors for parent-related questions. Personalized handwritten letters from both students and the Admissions Team are included with offers of admissions, as well as a school tie welcoming our family to the school. The Admissions team continued their wonderful work during the first weeks of school by keeping families updated sharing photos and videos of our children through their social media accounts.
(4.5) University placement and counselling
TCS has a focused university planning process that begins for students formally in Grade 11. Students attend regular meetings that outline the various steps that need to be taken to prepare for the eventual application process. The Guidance Department provides several information sessions to parents throughout the year to ensure everyone is up to speed on pre-requisite courses and application deadlines. Their presentations provide useful information on specifics when applying to Canadian universities, as well as American and International schools. Universities are invited to the school throughout the year to provide presentations to the students on their respective school. During the course selection process going into Grade 11, I was impressed when a Guidance Counsellor reached out to us to ensure our son had chosen the correct courses to meet the pre-requisite for a particular course of study.