Athletes & Artists Series: Balancing Artistic Expression and Academics | Trafalgar Castle School
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May 03, 2024

Athletes & Artists Series: Balancing Artistic Expression and Academics

Megan McLeod

Ice skating is not only a physical sport that challenges the body, but also a form of artistic expression that challenges the mind. Competitive Figure skaters express themselves through movement and ice skating serves as an emotional outlet. The rink is their canvas, their court, and their home away from home. With so much emotion left on the ice, putting the competitive sport behind in the pursuit of education can be difficult. Luckily, as Claire R. explains, “Trafalgar Castle School encourages students to continue their passions outside of the classroom.”

Trafalgar Castle School student Claire R. discovered her passion for skating at eight years old. She recalls loving the rink from the first moment she stepped on the ice and looking forward to skating each week. At this young age, she joined the Whitby Figure Skating Club, and her passion grew. It was on this ice, with this club, that she discovered her favourite thing about the sport: the combination of physicality and artistic expression.

As Claire nurtured her talent and developed her skills, she discovered that competing in ice skating was a way for her to exercise the artistic side of her brain, and her dedication to the sport intensified. Claire’s dedication, effort and focus led to a rigorous training schedule and a commitment to many competitions. However, while Claire pursued excellence on the ice, her studies became more advanced, and she found it was becoming increasingly difficult to balance school work with ice time.  That balancing act churned a worry that Claire would have to eventually leave her passion behind to succeed in her education. But then Claire was introduced to Trafalgar Castle School’s High Performing Athletes & Artists Program (HPAA).

HPAA is a program specific to Trafalgar and designed to provide students in Grades 9-12 with greater support and increased flexibility while pursuing athletics or arts outside of school at an elite level. The students who meet the program’s criteria are made known to the Senior School teaching staff, who coordinate with each other and the students to offer extra support when needed. (Grades 4 through 8 students in Junior School are supported individually by their homeroom teacher teacher).

When Claire began senior school at Trafalgar Castle School, she recalls that in addition to a seamless transition thanks to the School’s staff, faculty, support programs and a safe space to learn and grow, Trafalgar gave her the necessary backing to pursue a career in skating without sacrificing her studies.  Claire says she was immediately supported by her Grade 9 Advisor at Trafalgar and was relieved to learn about the program. “It was reassuring to know that my training schedule would be supported by my teachers when needed,” Claire explains that having the HPAA program in place is essential to her balance and success both on the rink and in the classroom. With the support of her Advisor and teachers, Claire feels she’s both encouraged to pursue her love of competitive ice skating and given the resources to maintain success in her academics.

Claire is grateful for the HPAA program: “Having time to exercise, both physically and the artistic part of our brains, is extremely important and relevant to performing well as a student. Not having to pick one over the other is a great balance for success.” she says.

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