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Grades 5 TO 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. When I went to university, I felt comfortable. I'm in law school now and I still feel comfortable. I tell my friends that my work at law school is very close to my AP standard at TCS. I was very well prepared academically.”
  • “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 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. I think [not a lot] of people [can] say they have this degree of friendship with their high school friends. … 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.” 
  • “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. And the thing is: TCS is a community. I’ll continue saying that. 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.”
  • “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. We’re in a dinky town — 16,000 people, (I love Port Hope) — and that forces you to really invest in your community.”
  • “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.”
  • “One thing I would say to improve [the school] is to let children make mistakes sometimes. But TCS is like, ‘Oh, mistakes? Give us your phone before you sleep, so you have a full eight hours.’ I don't know what eight hours looks like. [Laughs]. I count to ten and skip eight. I don’t know how to get a full eight hours of sleep now as a law student. But TCS will say, ‘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.”
  • “There are so many things I do now that I didn’t do prior [to TCS]. I remember Mr. Large … he was like, ‘Hey Jessica, you should sign up for debating.’ And I was like, ‘What’s debating, Mr. Large?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, it’s this thing where you just talk.’ And he put me there. It’s just one example of a challenge where they say, ‘Hey, you’re really good at this, try it out.’ … And now I’m in law school.”
  • “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. And it’s actually good behaviour, because burnout is not necessarily about doing a lot of things, but about doing things that don’t charge you.”
  • “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.”
  • “I'm a scientist; a PhD in molecular genetics and biochemistry. And I’m a professor. … People say, ‘What was the greatest thing you learned to do at TCS?’ Okay, one, it fostered my love of biology and science. But really, actually, above that, was my ability in English — my ability to write — because of the extreme rigor of the English program. And sometimes, as a scientist, that’s what you appreciate: the ability to write.”
  • “Back when I was at the school, if you missed a class, you’d get quarters. This is one of these demerit points [systems]; we called them a quarter. So when you got four quarters for missing class, you had to run 10 kilometers, and you had to run 10 kilometers within an hour. And if you didn’t, you had to do it again the next day, which means you’d miss your practice, which meant you probably weren’t a starter then [on your sports team]. So you made sure you went to class. But they’ve gotten rid of it now. I would put that back: I would make everyone run 10 kilometers for missing something.”
  • “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. But I don’t know: 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 program 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 sporting; no arts. It just wasn't a well-rounded program. I don't think [it was] any more academically rigorous than Trinity, yet somehow, maybe, the feeling of burnout doesn't happen [at TCS] because of the way things are structured at the school. … [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. We did a very rigorous tour there, and it’s a great school. ... But inside, 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. And that has come over these years, to the point where I don't have to ask her to do her homework; she loves doing math homework.”“[If TCS were a person, I would describe the person as] joyful, genuine, and hopeful.”
  • “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. 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.”
  • “There’s such an emphasis on character — [on the values of] kindness and character; discipline. Being a great citizen, and understanding what it means to be a contributing citizen.”
  • “A common theme, honestly, [amongst families who choose TCS, and make up the TCS community] … is genuineness. There’s just a genuineness to the people: honest, genuine people. 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.

  • “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, every teacher, every member of the community, goes beyond [the norm] to help the student.”
  • “At TCS, they teach you to be a member of the world. That’s very particular at TCS. Every culture is respected. Every religion, every human being is respected.”
  • “[At TCS] Pauline learned how to be helpful to others — how to be reachable to others.”
  • “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].”
  • “My youngest, she’s a bookworm. So she found herself a bunch of nerds [at TCS]. TCS will give your child whatever they need to become who they are meant to be.”
  • “As a parent, puberty is the hardest stage. The best solution 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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Our Kids Feature Review video

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Parent, Leslie Gibson (2022)

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 suc...


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There are so many things to list but the sense of community, levels of support, service opportunities and extracurriculars would land at the top. I have had two children graduate and one who is about...
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