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As the Class of 2016 crossed the stage on Trafalgar Day with their heads held high and their futures filled with promise, one Trafalgar grad’s journey was just days away from its beginning. Christina Pongetti from the Class of 2016 has been accepted to the Royal Military College (RMC) of Canada as a Naval Cadet under the Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP). Christina plans to complete an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration degree and train for Maritime Surface and Sub-Surface in the Royal Canadian Navy.
Highly competitive and very involved in life inside and outside of school, during her four years at Trafalgar, Christina decided that RMC was her path for a single reason. “It’s difficult to explain all of the whys but I want to serve Canada in a meaningful way,” shared Christina.
An avid athlete, Christina is a natural fit for the program. The selection process for RMC is rigorous with candidates competing for limited enrolment based on both academics and athletic abilities combined with accomplishments, leadership experience and potential. All Officer Cadets must be bilingual by graduation and French is included in the daily university curriculum. “The application process was pretty long and there was a lot to do. I am lucky that I have the support and acceptance of my family, teachers and good friends,” added Christina.
The ROTP includes a fully-paid university education, textbooks and instruments, room and board, uniforms, monthly salary, full medical/dental/vacation benefits, and a full-time job with the Canadian Armed Forces upon successful completion of university and military occupation training. Christina’s initial contract with the Canadian Armed Forces is for 12 years, which includes her four years at RMC.
Since candidates for the ROTP must qualify for both university and the Canadian Armed Forces, Christina successfully completed aptitude, personality and medical testing along with comprehensive interviews and background/reference checking from September through January this past year.
Christina accomplished all this while still maintaining her commitment and involvement in a number of activities, including Trafalgar’s “Pursuit of Excellence” program as she played competitive soccer outside of school. In addition, Christina has been a member of the basketball, volleyball and soccer teams in each year she has been at Trafalgar, also serving as captain for the basketball and soccer teams. She is also a fully qualified lifeguard who has volunteered with the swim team and worked as a counselor at Trafalgar Castle’s Day Camp.
Her involvement at Trafalgar extended beyond athletics, where Christina was an active participant in House Plays and a keen “Big Sister” and mentor to other Trafalgar students. During her Grade 10 year, Christina travelled to Brisbane, Australia as part of the School’s exchange program further strengthening her independence.
Christina is also excited to be joining RMC's varsity women's soccer team this summer. Having already been sworn in with the Canadian Armed Forces in early June along with 28 other successful candidates, Christina will set out this week to begin her seven weeks of basic military training immediately followed by two weeks of varsity soccer training, and finally RMC's demanding four-week First Year Orientation Program, ?which culminates with the RMC cadet obstacle course in September.
“The challenge of the physical training and the teamwork required in the Canadian Armed Forces appeals to me and I am excited about the prospect of international travel with a career in the military. My visits to RMC and the Toronto recruiting centre, really confirmed my feeling that that this would be the right place for me.”
Congrats to a Trafalgar student confirming it’s a girl’s world.
Honoured for her ‘hard work and dedication to overcoming adversity’, alumna Michelle Jones, from the Class of 2015 is a true inspiration.
For as long as she can remember, Michelle played hockey and knew this was her sport because it was on the ice she felt most at home. However, Michelle’s story does not start with the devastating injury that sidelined her from the activities she loved and the sport she felt she was born to play - hockey. Michelle’s story began as a Grade 6 Trafalgar student who knew she wanted to explore all the opportunities that came her way and did.
Beginning her Trafalgar journey as a new student, Michelle was eager to get involved in the arts, theatre in particular, and to continue her passion for athletics. “From early on, I was involved in a lot of activities - gymnastics, soccer, diving and hockey. When I started at Trafalgar and had the chance to grow and develop my leadership skills through the school plays as well, I said why not,” shared Michelle.
It was this love of trying new things and not being afraid to push past any perceived limitations that led to Michelle becoming involved in basketball. “This was a challenge my teacher, Ms. Knight-Johnson gave me and I ended up loving the sport.”
After playing basketball competitively from grades 9 to 12, at the end of the season and in the last game of the championship, Michelle had a choice to make. “We were down only 1 or 2 points and I knew we could win the match, so I pushed myself and encouraged the team to try as hard as we could,” remembered Michelle.
Unfortunately the game took a different turn with Michelle suffering a torn ACL and MCL - serious knee injuries that would sideline her from sports in general and hockey, the game she loved so dearly in particular “The process was very overwhelming for both my parents and I. We needed to do MRIs, see an endless number of specialists and surgeons. The process seemed so involved.”
Having to wait until the MCL, which heals on its own, mended, Michelle could not have the necessary surgery on her ACL. “I was anxious to get back, as I knew this was my hockey scouting year and I was missing out,” said Michelle.
With the injury occurring in October 2014 and surgery completed in January 2015, the process of healing took a very long time. “I didn’t get cleared for contact back on the ice until December 2015. During the wait time, I just kept motivating myself by asking what I could do to make this better?”
Working hard with her physiotherapists at least 5 days per week on early mornings before school and late evenings after school, Michelle played her part in her recovery. “ I couldn’t have done this without the support of my parents who wanted to see me back. My mom reminded me ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ and this is true of my Trafalgar family, who supported me as well, said Michelle.”
It was this support from her parents that resulted in Michelle earning a prestigious invitation to the Gatorade Hockey Camp, where candidates with stories of triumph are scouted from all across Canada. This elite all expenses paid 2-day camp will see Michelle playing with the best of the best in hockey. “I will be skating with NHL coaches and probably even a member of the Olympic team.” Michelle is excited to take it all in and continue to strive to do her best.
Having completed her first year at University, Michelle is pursuing a Masters in Communications with a minor in Social Service Administration and a Women’s Leadership Certificate. It’s a lot of work for this athlete who also trains with her hockey team five days per week and plays two games every weekend. “I just don’t sleep very much,” she joked but notes with sincerity “I couldn’t do it without the support of my teammates. They help me cope.”
This reliance on friends started at Trafalgar, as Michelle credits the small-school setting with boosting her confidence and ensuring she tried it all. As for her sisters made at the Castle: “It’s harder now to see each other as we are all away for school but we remain close via social media and plan to connect this summer.”
Congrats Michelle on such an amazing story of success! The Trafalgar community will all stay tuned as there is more to come.
See Michelle’s journey to the GCamp here.
The story told by alumnae and current students alike of Ms. K is how she made them all “like” math. Her passion for breaking through to her students is evident and the difference she has made to hundreds of Trafalgar girls over her 34 years of dedicated service is immeasurable.
Barbara Kwietniowski retires at the end of the 2016 school year with plans to travel and to continue her gardening, which she loves so dearly. It is no wonder that as a tribute the Grade 11 and 12 students planted and dedicated a tree in her honour on the Castle grounds just outside the Grace Chapel. The Purple Magnolia is her favourite tree and she emotionally recalled at the unveiling ceremony how she has planted one at every house she has ever lived in, to which one student replied: “This tree is perfect because the Castle has also been your home.”
Ms. K. is a no-nonsense educator known for her calm demeanor and easy-going attitude. “It is so rewarding to see the growth in the students from year to year,” says Ms. K.
Passionate and dedicated to the yearbook process, Ms. K can always be seen with a camera in hand to document all our Trafalgar moments. In fact, she attended her surprise farewell from the students with camera in hand.
As Trafalgar prepares to say farewell to one of our own, we ask along with everyone else the secret to her unchanging looks. Students (past and present), faculty and staff will miss her thoughtful, kind, approachable and hardworking ways. We wish Mama K much happiness in retirement. This is your moment!