Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
May 18, 2024
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A Family Feel

Albert College serves kids from the County — and around the world.
<p>Albert College Campus</p>
Albert College Campus

Its stone buildings, sprawling lawns and sports fields have been just over the bridge to Belleville since 1857. The atmosphere of the small, co-ed campus is intimate. The senior school has twisting staircases, attic classrooms, and a wood-panelled chapel with beautiful stained glass windows, now used for morning announcements and putting on plays in Albert’s legendary drama program. A lofty dining hall could have come straight out of Hogwarts.

There are just about 300 students from pre-kindergarten to Grade 12. A third are boarders from 15 countries around the world. The rest are local — including 50 from the County. 

The Early Primary Learning Centre might interest County parents on a waitlist for daycare. It’s for a small group of children 2.5 to 3.5 years old, with a bright classroom and lots of outdoor play space.

In the junior school, French and Music are introduced in Junior Kindergarten. “The kids can really play an instrument by the time they are in middle school,” notes Mrs. Kidd. Students enjoy athletic competitions, field trips, and a series of after school co-curriculars — supervised time for Lego, homework, yoga, or sports until 5:30, three days a week. 

Albert has a slate of successful strategies for integrating students who come from all over the world, and for fostering years of engagement. “We meet students where they are,” says Mrs. Kidd.  “Wherever they are when they come in, they will leave at a higher level. Our students develop their confidence and their level of achievement.”

There is ample opportunity to cultivate excellence in every area; the school stresses what it calls “the Five ‘A’s:” Academics, Arts, Athletics, Active Citizenship and Adventure.

The adventure part comes first. For middle and senior school students, the year starts with a three-night trip to an island in Algonquin Park.

“Every single new student is nervous about the same things,” says Mrs. Kidd. “And it’s not exams. They are worried about fitting in. The trip away together is a tried-and-true strategy for making everyone feel welcome, part of the family.”

As for the arts, a dedicated hour is set aside three days a week for drawing and painting, choir, drama, or music, a rich addition to the regular Ontario school curriculum.

“Students have an opportunity to develop talents they did not know they had,” says Mrs. Kidd. “They might never have realized they could paint, or sing. The experience is transformational.”

“Active Citizenship” means community involvement;  the school is proud of its volunteer program, which takes the Ontario school system’s mandatory 40 hours to two or three hundred.

The school also has flexible boarding options: day students can elect to spend a night after a late sports tournament or evening dance. More formal arrangements can be made to stay at the school from 1-5 nights a week.

Almost a quarter of Albert’s students receive some form of tuition assistance, making the school more financially accessible. The school disburses $550,000 every year in tuition aid and in scholarships.  

Rebecca Samfiru, a psychotherapist in Prince Edward County, has had three children at Albert College, including Ben, now in Grade 8, who has been at the school since first grade.

On the Albert College experience

“Ben is the type of guy who would happily play sports all day. He has really leaned into the 5 ‘A’s, and gotten exposure to a variety of new activities. He was in a play last year, and he is always the first to volunteer. He is becoming very self-directed in his interests and making decisions about how he wants to spend his time.” 

Advice for other parents

“Take a tour of the school and take advantage of the Spend-a-Day program. You will see the small classes and the interaction the teachers have with each student. All three of my kids spent a day, and it helped our decision-making when they came home and told us they were excited to attend. The program allows students to experience a complete school day, partnered with a buddy already at the school. Prospective students participate in every activity on offer, sports, arts, and, of course, lunch. They can even ride the bus.”

On the bus

“Busing was a lifesaver for our family, as we had three kids to juggle, with different schedules. The bus became our primary mode of transportation. It was one less thing I had to worry about, and the staff went above and beyond with our kids.”

Overlooking the Bay of Quinte, Albert College is about a half hour from both Wellington and Picton. The school sends buses into the County mornings and afternoons on two carefully tailored routes through Picton, Wellington, and Consecon. Every student is dropped off at their doorstep after school. For more information, see their website.

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 16 edition of The Picton Gazette
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