One of the school programs is called Belong. The dorm / community councils do an incredible job of welcoming all new students at the beginning of the year. The school has multiple theme days and retreats through the school year to create deep and lasting friendships between the students. It appears to me that almost every student at Rosthern Junior College participates in multiple teams and clubs. It also appears to me that when a team, club or choir is performing, that the remainder of the student body is there to cheer and show support regardless of location. We had the wonderful opportunity to host a few international students over the weekend and holidays. After three years, our son and his friends referred to each other as brothers.
The fact that the school is small, lends itself to a personal and intimate experience. There is no way that any student can just disappear in the masses, as is the case in many/most of the larger schools. Everyone has a role to play and everyone is an important link in the chain. There is a lot of emphasis on participation in actiyans the staff go out of their way to involve everyone. Because of the caring and intimate atmosphere, students find it easy to “be a part of the family” in a non-threatening and non-intimidating manner...just like at home. The special bond between students stands out as something unique and really special and that continues to ripple out in the larger school, parent and alumni family. Students who spend such a large proportion of their time together in such a positive and caring atmosphere, build a foundation based on enduring values for the rest of their lives.
We often hosted international students over long weekends and breaks, as well hosting friends that our children brought home. We got to know many of students personally from hosting them in our house. We can say that the students at RJC are amazing. It is wonderful to see them arrive in grade 10 or 11, a bit unsure of themselves, then see them graduate confident and responsible young people. Some of the confidence students gain is through the relationship they have with teachers and staff, but much of it is gained through the support and encouragement of their peers throughout the school year. I appreciated that our kids were able to know students from many other countries and get some insight into their cultures and faiths. The student body is small enough that most students have a good relationship with everyone else at the school. At the start of each school year, each grade goes offsite for a 2-3 day class retreat. During the retreats students begin to form the bonds of friendship that connect and carry them through the school year. Each spring, prior to the Alternative Learning and Service Opportunity (ALSO) week, students are encouraged to engage in fundraising activities, where the proceeds will be used to assist the service organizations they will be working with during the ALSO week. There is a lot of energy from the students regarding finding ways they can give back in meaningful ways. There are several theme based social activities coordinated throughout the school year, such as Sam and Sadie Hawkin's nights, Junior/Senior Banquet, and Girl's and Boy's night dorm activities that the students enjoy participating in.
When our sons were there, the student body hovered around 80-85 students between grades 10-12. This means that no one falls through the cracks. Everyone gets involved because everyone is seen and known. I think the general atmosphere is one of camaraderie. Are there cliques? Sometimes. Do teens have issues to work out? Yes. Is there support and encouragement for that? Yes. Deans and teachers and administration know what's going on and can provide mentorship to the students. The student body is a mix of international and Canadian students, Christian and non-Christian students --- so our kids get exposed to a variety of cultures, religions, and perspectives. which is one of the strengths of RJC. The dorm community ensures people get to know each other and interact.