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First day evolves into yearlong journey of success

For Shelby McGregor, September feels different this year. For one thing, her son Dash, 6, isn’t a “new boy” anymore. Looking back, both admit to a few jitters when Dash entered Grade 1 at the Prep that first day. Shelby couldn’t have anticipated, however, just how radically Dash would “blossom.”

“When I saw my husband’s face after he walked out of that first parent-teacher interview, I knew I’d made the right choice,” says Shelby. While contemplating whether to apply to UCC, she mentions conversations with friends struggling with their own decision—whether to apply to UCC at early year entry or to wait. Based on Dash’s experience, Shelby’s advice is clear.

“I have to say I can’t believe what UCC has done for Dash,” she says. “I see a huge change in him. He’s so happy to go to school.” Indeed, it’s reassuring for Dash to be attending school for the first time with his two older twin brothers, Mack and James, now in Grade 5. But the key reason he’s flourished is the small-school feel and high-support faculty. Coming from a small school, Shelby had concerns for Dash about UCC’s size. She needn’t have, she says.

“Dash has become a really good reader,” she says. “The support we got was unbelievable.” She especially loves the reading buddy program. It pairs Grade 1 and Grade 3 boys once every eight days, for a half hour session of mentored reading practice. Additionally, Grade 1 boys have two teachers in class for every supervised reading session.

Dash also loves UCC perks such as having the opportunity to skate in gym class in the double-pad arena, piano lessons (offered as a supplementary fee) and creative after-school programs such as Lego club. However, it was a specific classroom project that truly unlocked one of Dash’s unique talents.

His Grade 1 teacher Christy Gordon attests to the evolution of his fun-loving spirit which really took flight during the production of the class play, “The Tale of the Turnip.” In his role, Dash had to mime an old man pulling the turnip from the ground.

“Dash was the most imaginative and creative boy in his group,” says Gordon. “He even made this little beard for his role. He had the audience cracking up with his exaggerated gestures; they were just dead on. He took a lot of pride in his work.”

Now, after a summer at his Muskoka cottage spent golfing, swimming and playing tennis, Dash is refreshed and ready to go—last year’s first-day jitters forgotten.

Says Dash: “I just knew I was going to have fun when I came here.”