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The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades Gr. 5 TO Gr. 12 — Port Hope, ON (Map)


Roundtable Q&A Discussion About Trinity College School (2020)

Trinity College School alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Jessica Eruchalu, Julien Northey, Paula had to say about the school.

Video Contents

Highlights from the Q&A discussion

Jessica Eruchalu — alum

Jessica attended TCS as a boarding student from 2012 to 2016. While at TCS she served as Head Girl. She’s currently studying law.

  • I came to university very well equipped. I'm in law school now and I feel comfortable. I tell my friends that my work at law school is very close to my AP standard at TCS.

  • I appreciate how well-prepared I was socially. I was around such a diverse group of students. I had classmates from Mexico, Germany, Japan, China, Zimbabwe, Namibia. And then I lived with these people 24/7. So you learn to be your authentic self.

  • I think not a lot of people can say they have this degree of friendship with their high school friends. I got to know my classmates so well that the person I live with right now is from TCS. I have two TCS people right now in my house. We are life friends; we have been friends for seven years now. And I've met so many other TCS people who I see in the streets, and we stop and say hi to each other. And that's a level of community that's hard to come by. I’ve graduated from UofT, and UofT has not met that standard.

  • Every time I face a difficult assignment, I’m like, ‘I did this before. They made me write a five thousand word paper in my grade 12 year.’ And that idea of prioritization: right now I’m in law school and they give me forty-five readings a week, and I know how to prioritize. TCS made me do three varsity sports. I was doing prefectship, Master Key — you learn to prioritize. And these are skills you don't think about when you're in high school, but you learn to appreciate once out.

  • TCS is a community. I’ll continue saying that. I've visited many schools; I’ve played at schools for sports; I've been at them for academic competitions; I just visit them because my classmates or friends may be there. I told my friends at Appleby, ‘You should have gone to TCS.’ I tell my friends at Havergal, ‘You should have gone to TCS.’ St. Clement’s? ‘You should have gone to TCS.’  At TCS, boarding is first and foremost. We were 55% of the population, which is not common.

  • We’re in a dinky town of 16,000 people. I love Port Hope, but it forces you to really invest in your community. TCS continues to outshine in that department: people from different backgrounds, experiences, and understandings of the world are able to be present in this little universe that we enjoy within Port Hope. Not like in Toronto where you’re going in and out of the school, where the community may not be as solid.

  • How many places can you refer to somebody you never speak to by first and last name? I can remember names off the top of my head. It's that level of intimacy; you can know somebody so innately because you see them face to face in the chapel; you're going to the dining hall scene together to eat; you're going to classes; you may be with them in sports games. .. It passively produces a community that is hard to match.

  • TCS has a rather strict schedule and rules, saying, for example, ‘You will get a full eight hours of sleep. You will eat your breakfast. You will go to class on time.’ You can’t skip class in peace at TCS. But that shows you the level of commitment they have to making sure that nobody slips through the cracks.

  • I felt quite revitalized by the busy schedule. I’m charged by school, but someone else may be charged by sports, and they go to practice; or maybe you’re charged by painting, and you have space in your calendar for painting. You make sure you sign up for the things that charge you. I think just from the outside looking in, you’re like, ‘Oh, this is a lot’. But  students are eased into it. And having been there for four years, it’s normal to me now. So when I went to UofT, I was like, ‘Wow, my first class is at 3pm? What do I do now? I guess I’ll go to the gym; I have to do something.’ And it’s like it’s just been inoculated within you; you’ve just normalized that behaviour. 

  • One thing that differentiates the day student experience at TCS from a regular day school is that you don’t feel weird staying late. Day students very frequently stay until 6pm, 7pm, working on projects with other students on campus, which makes the school experience very immersive for them as well.

Julien Northey — alum and current parent

  • School alumni

Julien attended TCS from 1988 to 1993. He subsequently earned a PhD in molecular genetics and biochemistry, and is now a professor. He has three daughters currently at TCS, ranging from grades 7 to 12.

  • Everything about the school just kind of created a very well-rounded aspect of character.

  • What I appreciated most was the rigor. The fact that you’re just always busy; you're always having to learn to prioritize; you’re always learning how to manage your time well. I really appreciated that rigor. And the focus: there were just so many activities, so many sports, so many things going on. It engendered a tremendous amount of focus. You had to be a focused individual  And, of course, in the midst of all that, there was just a tremendous amount of enjoyment in that process of a very full day; of a very well-rounded day.

  • I still have friends from around the world; close friends from Indonesia, China, etc. I had a roommate from Japan. That aspect is really neat.

  • The greatest thing I learned was my ability in English, my ability to write, because of the extreme rigor of the English program. I'm a scientist; a PhD in molecular genetics and biochemistry. And I’m a professor. TCS fostered my love of biology and science. But as a scientist, that’s what you appreciate: The ability to write.

  • That’s one thing parents may be surprised by. They may think ‘Oh, my kids will call me all the time.’ But I call my mom more now than when I was at TCS. Back in TCS I’d be so busy, and you’d feel the day move past you like a wave, and you were so immersed; you were making connections; you were having such a good time. Parents may be surprised thinking that your kids will call you more often, but they may not. Not because they don’t want to talk to you, but because every moment of the day is very much prioritized for a function.

  • When your schedule is that tight, you're not on your phone as much. You’re not checking it other than during that one hour between dinner and study, where you’re more likely to play at the basketball court with your friends or be with them in their rooms.

  • I remember moments where it did feel overwhelming with the amount of assignments, the essays, the tests. But it's interesting because, when I look back on it, it was the highly collaborative environment with my peers that made it fun. I just have this memory of it being very fun, because it was so collaborative. And there were tense moments, and you didn’t ace every test necessarily.

  • There was just something very dynamic, very fun about it, which I think alleviated that potential feeling of burnout. And the reason I'm raising this is because  three of my kids’ friends actually dropped out of an IB Programme at another school; they dropped out of the program actually because of burnout. That was actually the issue. It was so rigorous, but not well balanced. It was just all academic. There was no sports; no arts. It just wasn't a well-rounded program. My daughter is even busier now at TCS, but doesn’t experience burnout.

  • When I was going through university and graduate school there was an aspect with my writing skills — with my analytical skills, which were taught at the school — where I felt I always had an edge over my peers.

  • When I reflected on my time at TCS, since graduating 25 years ago, what sticks out is that aspect of being very well-rounded — and actually having a firm understanding of what it means to be a citizen; a contributing citizen; not someone who's passively living life, but an active citizen; and feeling very well-rounded, and feeling equipped, actually. That feeling I had: when I thought about my children, I thought, ‘There’s no other alternative’ than TCS.

  • We looked at a boarding school in Ottawa, but touring the school, I sort of went, ‘But it’s not TCS.’ I just didn’t feel the sense of a community; what I felt was instilled in me when I was at TCS. There was just something missing there, though it is a very rigorous and a very great school, with wonderful people.

  • The biggest change in my daughters was confidence: a tremendous, tremendous increase in confidence in themselves, with all three of my girls. I don't think, to be honest, I could have done that as a parent. There's something about the school that was able to instill that.

  • Heather started at TCS with people thinking she needed to do testing for a learning disability, because she just was so far behind the rest of the class. But in grade seven, for her first math test, she came home with a huge smile on her face, saying she got eighty two percent on her math test. This is where she was failing in grade five. We had just felt, you know, she just needs time. She needs time to catch up, build her confidence, build that focus, that desire to learn; to love learning, to actually love it.

  • I feel like there’s a sense of hope here, where if you have dreams, you can fulfill them. You can aim big and fulfill those dreams. When I graduated from the school, I felt hopeful that I could accomplish whatever I set myself out to do. I felt I could achieve that.

  • There’s just a genuineness to the people: honest, genuine people. A common theme, honestly, amongst families who choose TCS, and make up the TCS community  is genuineness. Sounds simple, but it’s what comes to my mind.

Paula — current parent

Paula has two daughters who enrolled at TCS as boarding students. One graduated last year, and the other is currently in grade 11. Paula hails from Mexico.

  • At TCS, every teacher, every member of the community, goes beyond the norm to help the student. Pauline, my eldest who already graduated from TCS, she's way ahead of all her peers in college here in Mexico. I get frustrated because I see the classes that she now has in college in Mexico, and I see the classes that she had in TCS, in high school. And, I mean, it's abysmal, the difference.

  • At TCS, they teach you to be a citizen of the world. That’s very particular at TCS. Every culture is respected. Every religion, every human being is respected.

  • They teach them to be human beings. Everyone is very focused on the academic side; on the ‘my child will enter a super Ivy League school’. But TCS teaches their students to be humans: to be respectful, to help each other, to reach out to their communities. It’s something that students learn indirectly at TCS. That’s what really impacted my eldest daughter.

  • TCS will give your child whatever they need to become who they are meant to be. My youngest, she’s a bookworm. So she found herself a bunch of nerds at TCS.

  • As a parent, puberty is the hardest stage. The best solution, in my opinion, is to send your child to boarding school. If you want to keep a good relationship with your child, send them to boarding school for those four years. Believe me, when they come back, they will love you forever and you will love them. I mean, it's the antidote to puberty.

  • If TCS were a person, I would describe the person as active and busy. An active and busy person; that’s how I would describe it.

  • It’s not a posh school. Wealth is not exhibited. Everyone’s equal. I think that’s something we in the TCS community have in common. When I was looking for boarding schools, and I would go to the United States to see their boarding schools, that would scare me. Wealth was exposed; they were very posh. Not TCS: everyone’s equal. It’s very democratic.


More about Trinity College School

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Key insights on Trinity College School

Each school is different. Trinity College School's Feature Review excerpts disclose its unique character. Based on discussions with the school's alumni, parents, students, and administrators, they reveal the school’s distinctive culture, community, and identity.

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Our Kids Feature Review

The 50-page review of Trinity College School is part of our series of in-depth accounts of Canada's leading private schools. It provides a unique and objective perspective on the school's academics, programs, culture, and community.

  • Trinity College School is one of Canada’s oldest boarding schools, and it shows in its traditions and the sense of reverence and pride that pervades the culture.
  • The school provides a fairly structured, village-like boarding environment.
  • The pattern of excellence among alumni at the school inspires students to aim high.
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