Part 04

Q&A: David Fischer, Director of Admissions of St Michael’s College

Since 1852, St. Michael’s College School has been educating and forming young men in goodness, discipline and knowledge for lives of leadership and service. We are Canada’s only Catholic, Basilian, faith-based independent school, educating young men from Grades 7 to 12 in a university-preparatory program. St. Michael’s College School brings integrity, unity and healing to a fractured and uncertain world by graduating young men who change the world through lives of faith, character and service.

How did St. Michael’s adapt when pandemic shutdowns hit Canada this spring

Before the pandemic, we were running summer school online courses via a cloud-based student management system called Edsby. Students each have Edsby accounts with their timetables and assignments included. With Edsby and Microsoft Teams, we were able to move our entire school program online, while still maintaining our regular schedule of six academic periods a day. Parents and students appreciated how quickly we made that switch, especially since many of our 60-plus clubs and activities continued to function virtually too. For example, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney spoke to our politics club on Zoom, and our physical education department provided daily workouts online.

How has St. Michael’s prepared for the new school year?

Each class is split into two groups, with one group staying at home every other day. We’ve added large in-class monitors and cameras to connect those remote learners to the classroom. To further reinforce our students’ connectedness, we introduced a house system that splits our student body into eight smaller groups across the grades. Each house participates in structured activities, and in many cases, the older students will act as mentors for the younger house members.

What makes St. Michael’s unique as an educational institution?

Our dedication to spirituality is our biggest differentiator. Young people are curious about the big questions of life, which is why our students take a course in religion and participate in a spiritual retreat experience every year. We also start each day with a morning prayer and offer virtual masses out of our chapel on weekends.

Service is also really important to us. Students do around 80 hours of service throughout their high school years, whether that’s helping out with school events or doing outreach in the community. For example, we send out students to make sandwiches and donate them to the homeless at the Good Shepherd Ministries shelter in Regent Park.

Browse the 2020 Private and Independent Schools Directory now