Choosing SMCS: The Zibiri-Aliu Family
The Basilian model of education, a Catholic and spiritual emphasis, the welcoming community-focused atmosphere, and a plethora of co-curricular activities were among the top factors that led the Zibiri-Aliu family to apply to St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) for the 2023-24 academic year.
Elan Odhiambo immigrated to Canada from Kenya in the summer of 2023, beginning Grade 9 at SMCS in September.
“We learned about SMCS from our local parish, where we attended mass at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church,” says Elan’s mom, Winnie Zibiri-Aliu. Both Winnie and Elan’s dad, Osikhena Zibiri-Aliu had already been in Canada for two years completing their master’s degree in law while Elan remained in Kenya under the guardianship of his grandmother. “SMCS sparked our interest because of the dedication to the Catholic faith and education style, where the focus is on mind, body, and spirit.”
As Elan had previously been attending St. Andrew’s School Turi, a Christian school under the British curriculum, he and his family wanted to be sure he had an easy transition to a Canadian school.
“I decided to apply to and accept the SMCS offer because I believed that I needed to further continue my education in an establishment that values my individual welfare and beliefs and SMCS struck gold in my inquiry,” says Elan. “The reason why SMCS stood out as an excellent choice is because of its welcoming atmosphere, great people, intuitive teaching styles, and the overall friendly demeanor every student exhibits towards each other.”
Osikhena adds, “The co-curricular activities were also a deciding factor for us. Our son was already a very good swimmer and represented his school in international swimming competitions, as well as being a talented music enthusiast. Prior to joining SMCS, he played the guitar and the piano and was preparing for Grade 3 ABRSM (The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) exams. When he joined SMCS, he immediately fell in love with a new instrument, the saxophone, and joined the Grade 9 Beginner Band. Given his passion and interest in music, SMCS was a perfect fit!”
Elan was also involved in the admissions process and was able to take part in virtual sessions and interviews before arriving in Canada.
“The admissions process for Elan was quite seamless as he was engaged virtually,” says Winnie. “We learned about the wonderful SMCS community and alumni, as well as all the great causes that the SMCS community is involved in. This is a strong testament to the good formation provided, to enable the boys to grow into tomorrow’s leaders!”
Once Elan had arrived in Canada, the family was able to take part in an in-person tour of the school.
“The admissions team was very patient and supportive and walked us through the process with the utmost professionalism,” says Osikhena. “We had some delays with Elan’s permanent residence due to immigration backlogs, but as soon as the delays were cleared, we were able to complete the registration process and get him admitted.”
Since beginning his SMCS journey, Elan’s parents note that they have seen their son thriving, doing well academically, building friendships, and that he’s excited to come to school every day.
“In my time at SMCS, my experience has been full of adventure, friendship, ingenuity, and intuitiveness. Although I’ve been in SMCS for a few months up to this point, I have found my way into numerous activities, such as the Aviation Club, which I assist in running from time to time. I am also a member of the Grade 9 Beginner Band, the SMCS Swim Team, and Debate Club,” says Elan.
“Lastly, I would like to add that even though my personal experience in adjusting to the new environment was difficult, as I left some great friends and family back home, coming to SMCS and having wonderful friends and mates has really made that process much easier!”
His mom adds, “We believe our son is in good hands at SMCS, and we look forward to him achieving his best during his time as a student, to equip him with the requisite skills (both technical and soft skills) for his future career pursuits!”