Last Stop, @Ridley_College

Ridley College students, including players Jamie and Christine with Voyageur "Enter through the Marriott gates in order to get to the circle drive in front of the Upper School building" was one of the directions in a detailed email from Ridley College teacher Ken Hutton in advance of my last school visit during this trip to the Niagara region. Not too many schools have multiple gate options to get to the building where you want to be. Not too many schools have more than one building you might need to get to! But Ridley is straight out of the movies - looking somewhere between "Good Will Hunting" and "Hogwarts"; honestly, it's quite a magnificent campus and I was almost surprised not to see a game of Quiddich underway in the quad! Ken was there to greet me as per plan and took me up to our presentation room on the second floor of the grand old building. Through his friendly enthusiasm, I could sense that he was a bit disappointed that our visit to the school had not been embraced as a large-scale assembly but it was an unavoidable outcome given the normal timeline of scheduling events like this one at a school that is so rigorous in its scheduling of students and very disciplined about the time they spend in the classroom versus extracurriculars (not that I see Voyageur's story as extracurricular!). So this would be a lunch-time presentation for a small group of students but none the less impactful or well-received for so being.

The rowing machines stored along one wall suggested this was more of a multi-purpose room but the layout and equipment were perfectly suited for presentations or, I can imagine, theatre rehearsals or readings. We got set up quickly and launched in in record time in order to fit the lunch hour. Hutton (pictured very far left in the photo) had arranged for two students to play Voyageur in the "performance pocket" near the end of the presentation - that's them holding the guitar: Jamie Zhao (left) and Christine Ciu (right). Christine did a solo acoustic version of Charlie Puth & Selena Gomez's "We Don't Talk Anymore" and Jamie performed her own composition, "Imagine I'm Gone". I think that officially makes it a record: I heard more original songs performed by students and community members during this four days in Niagara than during any other community tour so far. I cannot tell you how gratifying that is when people - especially young people - choose to use their own voice when it comes to bringing Voyageur to life for their peers!

A special bonus of my trip to Ridley was finding Linda Chang - a couple of years my junior back in high school but close friends with the sister of my friend Isabelle Rousset so our circles definitely Venned. We had a chance to have a coffee in the magnificent cafeteria and get well caught up. Thanks to all at Ridley College and I hope I'll be back to speak to the whole school some time soon!

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