The Toronto students who faced the pandemic with community-building opportunities

The Toronto students who faced the pandemic with community-building opportunities

In spite of the disappointment of a virtual graduation, Grade 12 graduates of TMS found creative ways to show resilience

Students across the country have faced more than a year of unpredictability as the pandemic shifted the ground beneath them. However, Grade 12 graduates at Toronto Montessori School (TMS)—an independent school based in Richmond Hill, Ont.—found opportunity amidst the challenge, putting into practice three key traits the school aspires for students to develop: positivity, entrepreneurial thinking and resilience.

“TMS Grade 12 students have had to deal with resilience in a year that should have been the culmination of years of hard work,” said Sheila Thomas, head of Upper School. “This year should have been one where our 42 graduates played their final athletic games, watched their last dramatic production and attended prom and graduation—milestones which had to “pivot” to virtual productions. In many cases, this is a year where students could have felt layer after layer of disappointment.”

While those feelings were inevitably there, TMS also saw their Grade 12 students rise to challenges and find optimism and opportunity in a number of ways.

Jeff C., a TMS 2021 graduate and communications chair for student council (who will attend the Rotman School of Management in September), noted, “During these tumultuous times, the pandemic has forced me to build resilience and adapt to our new reality. As a member of Student Council, I creatively helped to transition all our events into virtual ones and, as an ambassador for the school, I had the opportunity to participate in videos that replaced the previous in-person tours.”  

This past year, the TMS Grade 12 cohort embarked on initiatives to help others: creating a photo booklet to help newcomers, starting a new business to support artists, curating an online gallery to showcase student art, buying groceries for isolated at-home neighbours, sharing cycling expertise to help boost fitness and providing countless hours of academic support and peer mentoring.

Ms. Thomas reflected, Whether it was expertise or time, the larger community has benefitted from our graduates’ use of their gifts, at a time when it might have been easier to just do nothing and accept the various limitations and restrictions.”

While 2021 could be seen as difficult and disappointing in so many ways, it also held many silver linings that will become more evident long after graduation. Students developed increased skills like problem solving, risk taking, collaboration, increased technical prowess (thanks to Zoom and Google) and self-reflection.

These freshly developed competencies served them well when looking at their exceptional university acceptances and scholarship offers from leading universities and innovative programs across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.  Students like Mutian L. who was accepted into Physical Math Sciences at the University of Toronto with an entrance scholarship, Cassandra K. who will attend the Parsons School of Design in New York studying Design and Technology with an entrance scholarship, Hermann P. who garnered direct entry into Medical Sciences at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Ajay K. who will study Biomedical Engineering and Health Sciences at McMaster University and who was accepted with four engineering/excellence awards and a funded research position, and Wendy W. who was accepted into the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Presidential Scholarship.

In total, the TMS Class of 2021 garnered over 230 acceptances into leading programs at universities around the world and over $475,000 in scholarship offers.

“This was an incredibly difficult year for our 2021 Graduates, and although not one that we want to repeat, it certainly made clear the strength of the community we have worked to build at TMS,” said Kirsten Eastwood, executive director, Community Development.  “All TMS students have demonstrated incredible creativity, positivity and especially resilience.  We look forward to seeing those traits, along with an impressive foundation of academics, translate into bright and promising futures for our graduates this year”.

Founded in 1961, TMS is a leading, accredited independent school that offers a uniquely designed framework combining the Montessori and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.  The school’s co-ed student population of over 800 thrives in academics while developing the life-changing mindsets of entrepreneurial thinking, positivity and resilience, building a foundation at university and in life. Get to know TMS by visiting