Lauren Proper, a recent graduate of GCCS who is now in Grade 10 at J. F. Ross C.V.I. answered some of our questions on her experiences at GCCS and the transition to high school.
After entering high school, what did you miss most about GCCS?
After leaving Guelph Community Christian School (GCCS), I entered high school at John F. Ross C.V.I. I struggled socially for the first few months. I missed my close friends from GCCS. Throughout the years at GCCS, I belonged to a very tight knit group of friends, and even though we had some struggles along the way, we got through it – becoming even closer (as cliché as it may sound). So, when we left GCCS to attend different high schools, I was intensely missing the friendships from which I had separated.
Another thing that I really miss about GCCS is the Bible classes. While at GCCS, I didn’t value them as I do now, but realize and appreciate that those Bible classes taught me more about God and helped my faith to grow.
GCCS has helped me grow in confidence in my faith, so that I am able to share it with other people. Now, being surrounded by a lot of non-Christian people, I have the opportunity to share my faith with those around me and even participate in the Youth ALPHA lead-team. Youth Alpha is a Christian club that discusses a lot of big questions, such as “What is the Holy Spirit?”.
Do you feel GCCS prepared you academically for high school?
In most aspects, GCCS prepared me for high school. In fact, in many subjects, GCCS prepared me better than the public schools prepared my peers. For example, in French for the first semester of Grade 9, I was ahead for much of the course – and likewise for Accelerated English, Accelerated Math, Family Studies and others. The only subject in which I was not as prepared was Geography, simply since the course discussed new geographical topics that were not necessarily taught in GCCS or in almost any other elementary school.
In all, my Gr. 9 experience proved that GCCS prepared me well for high school. A strong elementary education coupled with a strong work ethic allowed me to exceed class averages in all my classes (including Accelerated classes) and achieve the Honour Roll in both semesters.
What do you believe are the biggest differences between a public high school and GCCS?
GCCS prepared me for a lot, but there was definitely a little bit of a culture shock when first entering high school (although it quickly became to feel “normal”).
When high school was discussed during my last couple of years at GCCS, I got the impression high school teachers wouldn’t care as deeply about the individual academic performance of students in their classes and that they wouldn’t support me in the same way as GCCS. I learned that teachers do care, but you really need to ask for help if you are struggling. The teachers at John F. Ross do support their students and I have seen my peers being coached on their grades and how they can improve.
A couple other things that were different from GCCS included the sheer size of the school, the number of students and the culture. Compared to GCCS, John F. Ross had ten times the number of students. GCCS also had a “home” type feeling – comfortable and predictable where everyone knew everyone. In contrast, the anonymity within John F. Ross excited me.
How do you live out your faith in John F. Ross? Are there programs and peers to support you?
GCCS Bible classes strengthened my faith and gave me confidence in God as I transitioned to John F. Ross public high school. I encountered many non-Christian people, and I continue to do so daily.
Throughout grade nine, I was involved in Alpha, and had many discussions about God with my peers – both religious and not. This year, in grade ten, I have committed to be a core Alpha leader, a person that will facilitate the session and the questions that come up. I most definitely do not have all the answers – and I know that – but I can refer people back to the Bible, without hitting them over the head with it.
Even though my friends may not all have a relationship with God, believe in a higher being, or firmly believe God does not exist, they respect and support me in decisions that I make about my faith and the programs that I attend. We talk about my faith and they ask questions, such as whether I think that they are going to hell (tough question…). Some of my friends now come regularly to Youth Group with me.
Overall, I feel supported in my faith by the people around me, some of which I know from GCCS, some of whom are Christians from other walks of life, or even new converts.
What do you love most about high school? How has GCCS prepared you for this?
The thing that I love the most at John F. Ross is the sheer number of people – I can be surrounded by people and still be “alone”. There are so many students in Ross that it is impossible to know everyone – so I can be surrounded people and still be by myself – if that makes sense.
The other thing that I love most about high school is all the learning opportunities – ranging from academic, social, sports, clubs etc.
GCCS has cultivated my love of learning and made it become something I need to do to thrive and feel fulfilled. Thanks to GCCS, I am fully prepared to continue learning at an accelerated and/or academic pace, while still achieving my course mark-related academic goals.
GCCS is known for its staff and excellent teachers. Are the public high school staff and teachers different? If yes, please explain.
All the teachers in both my academic careers at GCCS and JF Ross have been excellent, even if I may not have agreed with them or understood them all the time. Every teacher is their own person, and with the diversity of teachers, a student will have many different experiences.
The teachers at John F. Ross teach at a different pace, level, and in a different way. However, it really depends on the teacher – for example, this year in Grade 10, my Math teacher has been throwing in university level math that somehow connects to our lessons. In contrast, a teacher for a different course has been mistaking foolishness and false excitement as real desire to learn about the subject.
There are transgender teachers at John F. Ross, teachers of different ethnicities and different levels of experience. I have noticed that sometimes teachers will swear, and they don’t talk about God. For example, in Grade 9 Science, we learned about the Big Bang theory, which is very different from the Creation story that we are taught throughout our GCCS lives.
In high school, even if you are the only person of your gender in a course (I was the only girl in a boy’s Introduction to Technology course), the teacher will not treat you differently or make the curriculum easier (or more difficult for you) –you will be treated with the same respect as everyone else. This is not different from GCCS, but in high school, there are actual opportunities for classes to be separated by gender (e.g. Physical Education, Personal Fitness) or for classes to be co-ed (most common).
Overall, the teachers at GCCS and J.F. Ross are not very different from GCCS with regards to the enthusiasm with which they teach – but they are very different in basing every lesson or course in God.