Grade 12 Student
For me, it all began in Grade 2. I was driving down Don Mills road with my mom. As we passed Marc Garneau C. I., I asked her, “What building is that?” Seven years later, I found myself in Grade 9 TOPS. The year began with a whirl: not two weeks into the school year, we were whisked off to Pinecrest. Over there, I met my closest friends for the coming years. The challenges began as soon as we got back to school. Among the various types of Grade 9 activities, I recall the Science Fairs and Math Competitions.
However, Grade 10 quickly proved that Grade 9 was little more than preparation. The trip to Algonquin Park required weeks of intense training and research. We all had to learn how to use the probes, cameras, and other types of experimental equipment. The challenge also required us to plan a healthy diet, cook for ourselves, and be physically fit for the rigorous hikes. Alas, all the work was made more than worthwhile during the actual trip. I remember one of my friends commenting that she had never seen the stars outside the city. I remember another classmate realizing, for the first time, what the Milky Way really was. I remember another classmate seeing their first moose. Among the many things at Algonquin Park, we saw the historic railway station, ice falls (waterfalls that have frozen over the winter), and trees that took five of us to surround. It was an experience that I enjoyed so much I accompanied the previous trip to Algonquin Park as a senior student, and will do so again this year.
Grade 11, though, proved that the previous year’s work was only in anticipation of the coming challenges. In Grade 11, the students worked with the best teachers in the school, taking the most demanding courses available. Mr. van Bemmel’s understanding and teaching of physics was excellent. He was dedicated to all of his students; he made sure that he didn’t leave the classroom until every student had understood the concept. Mr. McMaster’s Calculus course pushed all previous limits in mathematics, Ms. Wood’s Chemistry course taught us things never even considered before, as did Ms. Pay’s biology course, and Mr. Hussey’s English course was a journey through symbolism and philosophy. A much needed break from the rigorous Grade 11 workload was given to us as we went on the Grade 11 trip to Wanakita. Snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, and movies with our friends at Wanakita were just the things we needed to get our mind off the schoolwork.
This brings me to Grade 12, the final year at Marc Garneau. This year the TOPS organizers are planning on taking us to a major city for our year-end trip. I am enjoying all my courses, and have decided to go into teaching at university. I am directing a play, am president of three clubs, and am representing the school in competitions and conferences.
I can honestly say that I had an incredible time in TOPS. I think that in TOPS you have more opportunities than you would get anywhere else. Here, you learn more, and here, you build stronger friendships. TOPS truly was a life-changing experience for me.
Grade 9 Student
Somewhere through the panic of the homework, the rush of the classes, and the laughter of your friends, as you dominate the school halls early in the morning for those last minute cram sessions, it hits you! You belong here, and there’s nowhere else you’d rather be.
Being a student of the TOPS program involves hard work and dedication, not to mention a development of some interesting work habits. I think the thing that’s so wonderful about it is knowing that you’re learning with some of the best. These students and teachers are a big part of what makes the TOPS program so amazing. The TOPS student population comprises of people from all over the Greater Toronto Area, and working with them is something I look forward to every day.
I think what makes the program work so well is how closely knit the students are. They work together, joke together, and go to classes together. The teachers devote themselves to us and make us feel more like a part of the TOPS family. TOPS is about effort, as well as the amount of dedication you have for your studies. TOPS is designed to be a stepladder to success; it is fruitless, however, if the attempt is not made. Knowing that the people around you are willing to help you every step of the way… that’s what makes the traveling distance worth it!