What makes Ridgemont High School different?

20140416-191116.jpgSomething I’ve noticed about Ridgemont from the day I started working here is how the students’ friendships stretch across grade boundaries. Grade 9 kids hang out with grade 11 kids, 12s with 10s . . . whatever goes. Maybe it’s because we’re a smaller school (~800 students)? Maybe it’s because that’s the kind of friendly environment we’ve set up for the kids? I’m not sure. But I do know that I noticed it early in my time here and it’s one of the things that really impresses me about our school and our students.

Today was a “spirit day”; student’s council declared it Juniors VS Seniors day where the juniors all where red and the seniors all wear blue. Spirit days are a great way to make the students feel a connection to each other and the school. They also tend to be just plain fun (like ugly sweater day!). I was all in for today’s spirit day. As a teacher, I decided I should wear both colours as I am an ally to all students in all grades. Here I am, pictured above-right, in all my red & blue glory for today.

20140416-191125.jpgBefore the 9am bell I usually stand in the hall by my classroom door, reminding students to move along & get to class on time. A student that I know passed by me in the hall and I noted “Well that doesn’t look like blue to me!”. He is a senior student who participates in many school events but wasn’t wearing blue to represent the seniors . . . what gives? He replied “Miss, I believe in unity; it shouldn’t be juniors AGAINST seniors!” with a huge smile on his face. That’s when I noticed he was wearing a purple t-shirt (combining both red & blue) and had “RHS Unity” inked across his cheeks. So perfect.

I love that this student thought critically about the message behind our spirit day, decided he didn’t agree, and then adopted his own related message to spread. This particular student is part of a club that serves as mentors to our incoming grade 9 students each year; Link Crew. And today reinforced why he is such an awesome person to have on that team. Who better to welcome our new grade 9s than a senior student who doesn’t feel we should be against or higher up than our junior students; but friends and allies with them.

Just one more reason why I love Ridgemont and our students!

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)