Pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion for all

Pro­gram as­sis­tance con­nects bright stu­dents to pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion

The Kids Post - - People - by Macken­zie Pat­ter­son

Toronto pri­vate schools, such as Up­per Canada Col­lege and Brank­some Hall, are known as some of the most pres­ti­gious in the coun­try, and they have price tags to match. Out­reach pro­grams, like African-Cana­dian Chris­tian Net­work (ACCN), pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents to ex­cel in an en­riched en­vi­ron­ment, help­ing to bridge the gap be­tween stu­dents from lower in­come ar­eas and pri­vate schools.

An­gelous Gi­na­nena is one such stu­dent. The ath­lete and science buff was con­nected to UCC through ACCN in Grade 8, and he’s now head­ing into Grade 11 in the school’s In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate (IB) pro­gram.

As a strong bas­ket­ball player, dili­gent stu­dent and hu­man­i­tar­ian (he trav­elled to Kenya with Me to We to build a school this past March), Gi­na­nena has led suc­cess in all ar­eas at school. He says his time at UCC has made him a well-rounded team player, and he doesn’t re­gret the de­ci­sion to en­rol in high school out­side of his home­town, Markham, de­spite the long com­mute times.

“Hav­ing to bal­ance bas­ket­ball and other ex­tracur­ric­u­lars with my school work has re­ally helped me be­come more of a fo­cused per­son,” he says. “All the things I’ve had to jug­gle and be­ing in a UCC en­vi­ron­ment where they preach think­ing ahead and plan­ning have re­ally helped me be­come a more dis­ci­plined per­son.”

Gi­na­nena says his plan is to go to med­i­cal school af­ter grad­u­a­tion, and he’s still de­cid­ing be­tween pathol­ogy and pe­di­atric neu­rol­ogy.

His mother, Lev­ina Kahunba, says she be­gan re­search­ing schools of­fer­ing the IB pro­gram when she learned her son was gifted and needed more of an aca­demic chal­lenge than the pub­lic school sys­tem could of­fer.

“He was do­ing well in school, but he was re­ally not chal­lenged. I thought maybe he should go to an IB school, and I heard about the fi­nan­cial aid pro­gram at UCC through ACCN, so I thought, ‘Let’s try this; if you get it, you go,’” she says.

Kahunba says the UCC com­mu­nity has wel­comed her fam­ily and she’s grate­ful that her son had the op­por­tu­nity to switch over to the pri­vate school sys­tem.

“I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the fact that they’re giv­ing th­ese op­por­tu­ni­ties to our kids. It’s been a great way to net­work, and it’s an en­vi­ron­ment where ev­ery­one is down to earth and so invit­ing. All the driv­ing and pick­ing up and drop­ping off has been worth it,” she says.

David McBride, vice-prin­ci­pal of en­rol­ment man­age­ment at UCC, says ACCN has con­nected the school with some of its bright­est stu­dents. This fall, UCC will have 17 stu­dents who have come through ACCN.

“We’re try­ing to make our­selves a much more ac­ces­si­ble school,” he says. In a city as mul­ti­cul­tural as Toronto, he says plu­ral­ism should be a goal of ev­ery school. “While fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance en­sures a more di­verse stu­dent pop­u­la­tion, the broader goal is to en­sure our stu­dents are part of a plu­ral­is­tic so­ci­ety, and will help to en­sure that Toronto, and the world, will be more ac­cept­ing of dif­fer­ent points of views and per­spec­tives in the fu­ture.

Tu­ition costs at UCC to­tal $31,000 for one year, which McBride es­ti­mates only one per cent or less of the pop­u­la­tion is able to af­ford. He says the fi­nan­cial aid the school of­fers and out­reach pro­grams like ACCN are es­sen­tial be­cause they pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for tal­ented chil­dren to re­ceive an en­riched ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence in­clud­ing qual­ity fa­cil­i­ties, small class sizes and oneto-one men­tor­ing.

Brank­some Hall also part­ners with ACCN as well as the Stephen Lea­cock Foun­da­tion to pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for low- in­come fam­i­lies. Kim­berly Carter, di­rec­tor of en­rol­ment man­age­ment at Brank­some Hall, says the school’s out­reach pro­grams have en­abled sev­eral out­stand­ing stu­dents to at­tend the school.

“We’re very proud of the fact that we have $1 mil­lion in fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to part­ner with fam­i­lies and make a Brank­some ed­u­ca­tion pos­si­ble. ACCN is one or­ga­ni­za­tion we work with to in­tro­duce us to some great fam­i­lies who may not oth­er­wise con­sider Brank­some Hall,” she says.

Carter says one out­stand­ing stu­dent in par­tic­u­lar comes to mind: Kiana Romeo, a schol­ar­ship stu­dent who grad­u­ated this past spring. For her Grade 12 project, Romeo cre­ated art pieces to show­case her ex­pe­ri­ences as a fi­nan­cial aid stu­dent at Brank­some Hall and how the school pos­i­tively im­pacted her over four years. Romeo’s project mo­ti­vated her class­mates to raise $84,000 to make more schol­ar­ships pos­si­ble for fu­ture stu­dents.

“It was Kiana shar­ing her ex­pe­ri­ence that mo­ti­vated her peers to take ac­tion, and now we will have an­other full schol­ar­ship that will be avail­able go­ing for­ward,” Carter says. “We want to make sure that fam­i­lies are aware that there are fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance pro­grams avail­able be­cause a Brank­some Hall ex­pe­ri­ence is not as out of reach as some fam­i­lies may think.”

The broader goal is to en­sure our stu­dents are part of a plu­ral­is­tic so­ci­ety.”

Gi­na­nena (cen­tre) along with fel­low Me to We vol­un­teers on their hu­man­i­tar­ian trip to Kenya

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