“We have a unique dynamic of students from all over the world, with all kinds of interests, working together and supporting each other,” says Director of Boarding Emma Kanga.
Seaton’s and Wedd’s boarding houses can accommodate 88 boarders from Years 8 through 12. Residence staff live alongside the students and help guide them along their learning journeys.
During the week, boarders’ days are busy with classes, clubs and teams, but on weekday evenings, they have house meetings and required study time. Afterwards there’s time to socialize, and on weekends, there are activities like laser tag, a Blue Jays Game, bowling or a musical, planned by Joseph Hill ’18, residential adviser and weekend activities coordinator.
Hill has surveyed the students to see what activities appeal to them and also builds in free days when life is hectic. “It’s pretty special to have the entire city outside your door,” Hill says. “And although sometimes it’s tough to be away from home or to fit in immediately, the positives far outweigh the negatives.”
New boarder Will Greer, Year 11, knew that moving away from home to pursue his dreams at UCC would be challenging, but he’s embraced the experience.
“The number of doors the school can open is amazing,” Greer says. “In looking towards my future, I want to see what I’m capable of.”
A standout baseball pitcher, he’s adjusted well to living away from his home in Sarnia, and he relishes meeting housemates from around the world.
“For us boarders, it feels more like university. I realized I’d need to be a lot more mature and handle myself a lot better. Boarding promotes good habits. And the people come from such diverse backgrounds. I like to pick their brains. It’s a really interesting experience.”
Atom Thususka, a returning Year 11 student, followed in his brother’s footsteps by coming to UCC from Sudbury in Year 10 to further his academics and his hockey prowess.
“At the beginning of the year, it was tough to be away from home, but, honestly, although I love to go home on breaks to see my family, I like being here and miss it when I’m away. It’s like a second home.”
For Thususka, the key to settling in is to get involved.
“You just need to put yourself out there and get on a team, join a club or make one good friend,” he says.
“Being on the hockey team helped me be part of a group and integrate. This year is a lot easier, because I’m back with my friends.”
The community is broader than just the boarding students. Residence staff and their families join them twice a month for a family-style dinner where they celebrate holidays from the various countries the boarders represent, or just enjoy a barbecue or a good meal together.
But there is a special bond that forms among the boarders that Hill sees as precious.
“They are closer than I’d ever imagined from my vantage point as a former day boy,” Hill says. “They know and support each other and are intentionally involved in each other’s lives in a way that most teenagers wouldn’t be.”