Columbia News

2018 JMS End of Year Award Ceremony

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Today (June 21), the annual Junior Middle School (JMS) ‘End of Year Award Ceremony’ was held @ The Grill located in the Ainsliewood Building of Columbia International College.

The ceremony, which began promptly at 10:00am, kicked off in style with the beautiful melodies of Mr. Lawlis’ soon-to-be graduating Vocal Music Class’ rendition of the Canadian Anthem, ‘O Canada.’

Shortly after, Mrs. Denice Garell-Teti, Head of CIC’s Junior Middle School program took the stage to deliver the opening remarks.

With the ceremony in full swing, the Principal of Columbia International College, Mr. Bill Ironside, gave the Keynote address to a very pleased, very entertained audience.

During his address, Mr. Ironside shared with the audience his dreams whilst in middle school. Then referred to as Billy, he dreamt of becoming a tennis player, just like Serena Williams.

Facing the JMS students, he asked ‘What are YOUR plans?’ As, the future, he said, “was in their hands.” Mr. Ironside then proceeded to surveying the JMS students, asking which of them would become a doctor, an engineer, or get into the arts. For every question, at least one JMS student stood proudly, as the crowd showed them love by clapping.

Mr. Ironside offered some words of advice to the graduating JMS class. Here are the five little habits / choices he shared:

  1. Heart – Have a big heart
  2. Effort – Always make the big effort. “Just do it,” like the Nike Brand. Take it a bit further and “Just do it well.”
  3. Attitude – Maintain a positive attitude. “I can is better than IQ.
  4. Relationships – Establish strong relationships.
  5. Time Time is precious, live in the moment. Enjoy the moment that you’re in.

Mr. Ironside ended his address thanking the parents in attendance (and those who couldn’t make it), as well as the teachers who have and continue to guide and educate the students. To the teachers, he said: “Thank you so much for not just standing in front of the class and lecturing, because you’re knowledgable.” he said. Adding, “Thank you for believing in the students and doing a great job with student-centered teaching.”

Mr. Ironside’s address was followed by an address by an alumni of the JMS Program. This year, the JMS alumni selected for the address was Miss. Elizaveta G.  Originally from Russia, Miss Elizaveta began her CIC journey in 2013. Two years after arrival, she concluded her run as a JMS student, moving on to high school in CIC.

It is now 2018 and Miss Elizaveta is on her way to university, having maintained an average of over 95, garnering over 400 community service hours, admission offers from some of Canada’s Top Universities (Rotman Commerce, McMaster University, etc.) and being awarded $77,000 in University Entrance Scholarships.

During her address, Miss Elizaveta used her own experiences as a CIC student to encourage her former peers! “I was not a stranger to the school,” she said. To the graduating Grade 8 students, she gave amazing advice having had to transition from JMS to High School. “I want you to dream and I want you to dare.” She continued: “I want you to try new things everywhere. Whether it is to sit with new people at lunch or go skydiving. I want you to make mistakes and not be frightened by them because I know you will stand up and keep going, just like everyone else. Beautifully ending her address, she told the students to live their lives to the fullest and be the “card dealer” in their lives.

At this junction of the ceremony, several awards were given to the students for their endless months of hardwork through the semester.  Some students walked away from the ceremony having received over five (5) awards, whether it be academic or residence awards.

Anchored by the Vocal Music Class, The JMS Band, led by Mr. Lawlis, showcased their ukulele skills, playing several notes as the Vocal Music Class sang the classic ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow.’ The performance, thereafter, was followed by a little goodbye song by a JMS student to his fellow students.

Though there were many memorable moments during the ceremony, a video of the Bridging program (Grade 5 – 6), put together by Ms. Jennifer Oraham was definitely the most memorable. Needless to say, here is a video of the JMS Bridging Program that will make your day:

With the ceremony coming to an end, Miss Assol B. (one of the graduating Grade 8 students) took the mic for the Vote of Thanks. While on stage, an emotional Miss Assol thanked everyone who so much as said hello to her while she was a JMS student here at CIC.

She thanked the residence staff for looking after her. She also thanked her “astonishing” teachers for helping her out whenever she needed help, thus made her succeed through her journey as a JMS student. Notable, Miss Britiviva spoke about the small classes here at CIC, referring to them “convenient” as being in small class helped her and her fellow peers build a much closer relationship with their teachers. 

Mrs. Denice Garrell-Teti, the Head of the JMS program also got a shoutout during the vote of thanks. Looking towards Mrs. Garrell-Teti, Miss Assol said: “She is a great leader and an even better listener. She has always listened to any problem I had and tried her best to solve them.”

After thanking her parents (and wishing her Dad a Happy Birthday), she thanked her “lovely” friends and fellow JMS students for always making her days better and changing her as a person. “Overall my experience at CIC was a rewarding journey that I would never forget.” Here, I learned to be more independent, respectful, responsible, and strong.” She continued: “I also learned that it is important to make my voice heard and share all of my opinions, even those I thought I should never [share].”  A very bold and intelligent Miss Assol concluded her speech by thanking CIC for opening a “new path to a bright future”  and providing her with exactly what she needed to step into the next season of her life. “Goodluck and congratulations,” she said, as she walked off the stage.

Ending the ceremony on a high note, Mr. Lawlis’ Vocal Music Class belted out their rendition of Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.”

Rewatch the entire award ceremony below!

JMS Students Put On Alice In Wonderland Jr

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After four months of preparations and rehearsals, the Junior Middle School at Columbia International College held a performance called Alice In Wonderland Jr on June 8th.


Head of Junior Middle School Denice Garell-Teti could barely contain her excitement when she introduced the play to the audience including parents flying from overseas to attend the JMS graduation ceremony on June 21st.


Alice in Wonderland Jr. has been adapted for young performers and is a fast paced version of the original story.


JMS teacher Mark Jackson is the director of the play. He said “The JMS department edited the script to accommodate the number of students we have and to allow them to reach their full potential. We explored 6 musical numbers that have been transposed into keys appropriate for young voices.”


The school play included 100% participation from all students in the JMS department.


The play includes such wonderfully wacky characters that there is plenty of opportunity to showcase students of all different skill levels, including musical talent. In addition to dramatic arts as a subject, students also take Visual Arts and Music.


Not only do students learn about stage direction and blocking, but theater provides the opportunity for students to be creative, work collaboratively, problem solve and gain confidence in their English speaking abilities.”


Maria Zheng is the leading actress playing Alice. She’s also a talented Ballet dancer and owns her Youtube channel on children’s book reviews.


At CIC,JMS students are fostered under the unique YAA (Young Academic Achievers) Program which provides them with great opportunities to thrive not just academically, but also socially, emotionally and physically. Student talents are showcased in an annual JMS art gallery and school-wide talent shows.

600 Graduates Turn The Tassels At CIC May Graduation

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Video: CIC 2018 May Graduation Ceremony

  • 21:50 Processional and Choir
  • 33:50 Principal’s Address
  • 43:50 Keynote Speech
  • 54:55 Diploma Presentation
  • 1:53:20 Awards and Scholarships
  • 2:15:55 The Valedictory Address
  • 2:28:50 Vote of Thanks
  • 2:38:35 Remarks from Executive Director
  • 2:48:45 Cap Tossing
  • 2:51:30 Recessional


On Thursday, May 16th, Columbia International College (CIC) celebrated over 600 May graduates with a grand ceremony held at the FirstOntario Concert Hall. This event was live streamed over social media and amassed thousands of views from all over the world.

CIC began with a dream… a dream to make things better for international students living and studying abroad. In 1979, the dream took flight in a small building on Mohawk Road West with just 9 students and 6 staff. It evolved each and every year, and grew to become Canada’s largest private boarding, junior middle, and university preparatory school.


During the 2017-2018 academic year, CIC students contributed 39,105 hours of community services. In a warm letter of congratulations to the graduates, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger highly recognizes the accomplishments of Columbia’s Total Care Education and the positive impact the students have made on the local community.

The Orchestra Hall was packed with proud friends, families, staff and guests from all over the world, enthusiastically watching the graduates bring this chapter of their life to a close and step into the future with great confidence.

Representatives from many Ontario universities were invited to the ceremony. They were on behalf of Brock University, Guelph University, OUIT, University of Ottawa, Ryerson University, University of Toronto, Wilfred Laurier University, York University.


School band and choir performed the national anthem “O Canada”.

Principal Steve Saunders offered his welcome to the audience. He encouraged all the graduates to be resilient in the face of failures and rebound back from challenges.


Professor Edward Sargent, Vice-President, International of the University of Toronto, delivered an inspiring keynote speech, urging the graduates to take some risks in the future since risking the safety of comfort will propel them forward and excel.

“When we’re mentally imprisoned, we’re acting as our own jailers.” He said: “therefore, we have the power to be our own liberators.”

He spoke of his own experiences, attributing his academic, professional, business achievements and even a  happy marriage to risk taking.

This is undoubtedly the most cheerful moment of the ceremony – graduates were called onto the stage and received their diplomas and scholarships.  Applause erupted from the crowd as they walked across the stage and waved to the families.

Darius Mwesigwa offered words of wisdom in the valedictory speech. Since he came to Columbia in 2014, Darius has been on multiple executive leadership teams, growing as a leader throughout his time, culminating in him being an inaugural member of the Residence Life Prefect team, receiving the top honor of being nominated the Residence Life Prefect of the semester by his peers.


Darius described his four years at CIC as “an amazing journey” and this graduating class as “one of the most successful that CIC has produced.”

He urged the fellow graduates to push boundaries and “enlarge your comfort zone”.

“Seek opportunities, strive to obtain them and, in the end, reap success.”

“You have the potential to build a legacy for yourselves and build a community from poverty,” he exhorted his classmates.


Madina Usserbayavas delivered a heartfelt Vote of Thanks. During her time at Columbia, Madina found the time to complete her Bronze level Duke of Edinburgh, accumulated over 250 community service hours while being involved in many athletic clubs.


Madina shared her personal stories that resonated with all graduates and thanked CIC staff and teachers for helping her develop academic and social skills for future success. . She credited the Total Care Education® for providing students with unique opportunities to make smooth transition into the new life and grow holistically.


In his closing remarks, Executive Director Clement Chan thanked parents for entrusting their children to CIC. He stressed that Total Care Education is very unique and, over the past 39 years, CIC’s various departments have teamed together to help students to achieve great accomplishments.

As the ceremony drew to a close, graduates tossed their caps high into the air and let out a great whoop. Congratulations to the 2018 May graduating class and we wish you the best in the future!

                                                                                                           Graduation Photos

Watch more videos on our Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiNLscRwLJ-aF3DpOUc-wBQ

Columbia International College hosts ICEF Agents in Hamilton

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On Monday (May 1, 2018), Columbia International College (CIC) had the pleasure of hosting over 35 ICEF agents from 18 different countries.

In collaboration with Mohawk College and with the support of the City of Hamilton, the agents were gladly welcomed to Hamilton (“The Education City”), discovering the best our city has to offer international students.

During their FAMiliarization Tour, the agents visited Hamilton landmarks and were greeted by the Mayor of Hamilton, Fred Eisenberger. Over the course of their visit, they also had a chance to explore CIC and Mohawk campuses and residence facilities.

It’s always great when our agents get to meet our staff to get first-hand information on our programs and unique Total Care Education System®. It’s also important for them to see and talk to current students and experience life at Columbia International College!

We look forward to continuing working with our partner agents and welcoming students from all over the world to CIC!

Check out some of our favourite photos from their visit below!

Columbia Celebrates Student Achievements In A Big Way

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At Columbia International College (CIC), student achievements are celebrated in a big way. On April 25th, Columbia held an award ceremony to recognize those who truly excel in extracurricular activities and character building.

Hosted by Student Development, the ceremony is a bi-annual tradition that highlights the exceptional contribution of our students to the CIC and Hamilton community.

Character building through out-of-class activities has been the core of Columbia’s Total Care Education since its inception in 1979. We are pleased to have developed numerous students into global citizens and made a great difference in the world around us.

Congratulations to all of the winners! Keep shining!

Check out pictures from the ceremony below!

For more photos, please visit our Facebook page by clicking here!

Leadership BBQ hosted in honour of Executive Student Leaders

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Last night (April 24), Student Development hosted an appreciation dinner for all the hard work the executive student leaders put into this past winter semester. The evening started with appetizers and mingling as the students were able to enjoy the food from Sodexo.

Before dinner, the students were presented the nominees for valedictorian and had the responsibility of voting.

An excellent dinner was next, where the staff served the students their selection of drinks.

At the end of the night, student development thanked the students for all their hard work and wished those of them graduating, best of luck as they move on to university.

Check out photos from the Leadership BBQ below!

EPP Students Visit Compass Group

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Meet and Greet with Compass Group

The students from the Elite Pathway Partnership (EPP) Program proudly represented Columbia International College (CIC) last Wednesday, April 4th during a business visit to Compass Group: Chartwells.

The EPP students were fortunate enough to be greeted by the Senior Vice President of Sales, Ms. Nancy Zuccarelii, and the President of Chartwells, Mr. Ashton Sequeira.  With great hospitality they provided the students with an inside look to the head office, and introduced them to the behind the scenes of a global food service company.  This included meeting various departments such as: marketing, human resources, sales department, etc.

During the tour, the students were introduced to the CEO of Compass Group, Mr. Saajid Khan.  He informed the students of his vast experience in the food service industry, and his global contribution to Compass Group, via working in many different countries across the globe.  He used his multi-national experience to connect with our students, and took an interest in their diverse cultures and backgrounds.

After the tour, the EPP students had the opportunity to hear Mr. Sequeira speak about Chartwell’s commitment to the global community via their vast variety of global partners, provided a sneak peak to the latest technology in food service, explanation of their business model and vision, and future scholarships and job opportunities within the company.

A question and answer period with the Mr. Sequeira was immediately followed, where the students  asked the company pressing questions regarding food service, menu options, environmental sustainability, food waste, and proposed focus groups to ensure student satisfaction.

The EPP students should be extremely proud of themselves for displaying exceptional leadership and professionalism in front of business professionals.

Take a look at the pictures from the business tour!

CIC Students Shine at New York Model UN

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During Mar 16-18, Columbia International College delegates tried their hands at the Change the World Model United Nations (CWMUN) for the third consecutive year and displayed remarkable debating, presentation and conflict resolution skills throughout the simulations.

The three-day annual event held at the UN Headquarters in New York City attracted over 2,500 students from all around the world. Five CIC students were recognized for outstanding contributions in the committees and countries they represented:

  • Best Position Paper: Chi Weng Mou (Kimmy)
  • Honorable Mention: Zimu Zhao, Lecheng Zeng (Charlie), Karen-Olivia Kouame, Nandi Traore

“Upon entering the General Assembly Hall for opening ceremonies, the students expressed much excitement and willingness to resolve global issues, ” said Anthony Mattiacci, CIC’s Senior Activities Advisor overseeing the training program.

Since 2016, CIC students have participated in the CWMUN, stepping into shoes of UN ambassadors and debating major issues challenging the world.

The preparation seminars are also a great way to help students develop skills in leadership, research, public presentation and consensus building through negotiation.

CIC has received lots of positive feedback on our delegates’ accomplishments.  If you see the members of the Model U.N. Team, please congratulate them on their hard work and achievements at the conference.

Photos by Anthony Mattiacci

Best Things To Do In March

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March is coming! It could be warm and breezy today and bone-chilling tomorrow. So, we’d remind all the students to dress for the weather, eat well and keep fit. Aside form your regular routines, the Student Development Office is offering a slew of exciting activities in March – community service, sports, special meals, movies… Each day will be packed full of fun!

Mar 2nd (Fri):

Mapleview Shopping

Mar 3rd(Sat):

30 Hour Famine

Mar 4th(Sun):

  • Toronto Raptors
  • HSBC Chilly1/2 Marathon & Frosty 5K

March 5-6(Mon、Tue):

March Orientation

March 7(Wed):

ICS South America

March 10-12(Sat – Mon):

  • Duke of Edinburgh at Bark Lake
  • Niagara Falls

March 12(Mon):

Ontario Gleaners

March 12-16(Mon – Fri):

March Break

March 15-20(Thu – Sun):

Model UN trip in NYC

March 16-17(Fri、Sat):

Wizard World

March 21(Wed):

ICS Mexico lunch

March 23(Fri):

Movie: Tomb Raider

March 24(Sat):

Leadership Retreat

March 29(Thu):

International Fashion Show

March 30(Fri):

Good Friday Holiday

March 31(Sat):

  • Royal Ontario Museum
  • Afro Fest
  • Buttons and Bows

Any questions, please visit the Student Development Office at S244.

Campus Tours Help With Your University Decisions

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It’s late February now and university offers are arriving in a matter of just weeks! Many students will be facing a pleasant challenge: to pick one from multiple offers. In order to help them make the final choice, the University Placement Office (UPO) have arranged an array of university tours in March and April.

  • University of Ontario Institute of Technology,Saturday, March3,Sign up by Friday, February 23
  • Western University,Saturday, March 10,Sign up by Friday, March 2
  • University of Waterloo,Saturday, March 10,Sign up by Friday, March 2
  • University of Toronto (St. George Campus),Saturday, March17,Sign up by Friday, March 9
  • University of Toronto (Scarborough Campus),Saturday, March24,Sign up by Friday, March 16
  • York University,Saturday, March 24,Sign up by Friday, March 16
  • University of Toronto (Mississauga Campus),Sunday, March 25,Sign up by Friday, March 16
  • University of Guelph,Sunday, March 25,Sign up by Friday, March 16
  • Brock University,Sunday, April 8,Sign up by Friday, March 30

Campus tour is a great way to explore your university and program options. Admission Officers and student ambassadors will be on site to give walking tours and get your questions answered one-on-one.

Ready to sign up?  For each tour, there’s a $10 fee to be paid at the College Store and you’re also required to sign up at the UPO.  There are limited spots for each tour, so register as early as possible. 

2017  University Tours Videos


University of Toronto, St. George Campus


McMaster University


York University