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Class of 2017

Checking in with the Class of 2017

Recently we connected with a few of De La Salle's 2017 Graduates to see how they are doing in their first year of University. We wanted to know things like how they were enjoying their choice of Program and University; besides academics, what have they learned about being a University student; how they are continuing to live the Lasallian Mission; how well they believe Del prepared them for the post-secondary experience; and, any advice they would give to Del's current Senior Students.

What we were happy to find out is that thus far University has been a very positive and exciting experience for our Grads. They all feel very grateful for the lessons they learned from their Grade 12 teachers; and although they acknowledge that University is no walk in the park, they believe they are more prepared than their classmates because of their Del education.

These eight students have allowed us to share their reflections and experiences with all of you in an effort to help you through the preparation and transition from De La Salle to University life.

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Angela Abenoja
University of Toronto -Life Science

Years at Del: Grade 9-12
Special Programs: AP English, Biotechnology & Interdisciplinary Studies
Extra-curriculars: Yearbook Committee, Call Night Volunteer, Children’s Book Bank Volunteer, Wordplay Mentor

Enter to Learn: To me, a Lasallian education consists of two parts: striving for academic excellence as a student and aspiring for moral excellence as an individual. At Del, I was fortunate enough to be taught by zealous and patient teachers, who pushed you to be the best version of yourself possible— ones who saw potential in each and every student. However, even though we are given all the tools needed for success; ultimately, what really matters is how dedicated, driven and determined you are, which are values that Del instills in all of us. While these values build strong students, they are also needed to build conscientious and thoughtful individuals, who respect their teachers, peers, and most importantly, themselves. Subsequently, I hope to stay true to my Lasallian education by carrying these values with me throughout my whole life.

Leave to Serve: As Lasallians, we are constantly reminded of the importance of community. Through Del’s commitment to service, we are taught that our actions should always promote our duty to help and support those in need. Del has taught me that true success is not solely measured by achieving great things within your career; rather, true success is measured by the impact your actions have on the lives of others. As I leave the small Del community and enter the vast world around me, I hope to make a difference in the lives of others by living according to the virtues of humility and compassion— virtues fostered greatly at Del. Without these virtues present in our everyday lives, any success we may attain is purely superficial and meaningless.

Important Lessons: The most important lesson I learned at Del that I will take with me to university cannot be found in any textbook. Instead, it can be summed up in only one word: perseverance. Everyone faces adversity, but what really matters is accepting the hardships, while knowing that beyond there lies better things.

Most Memorable Moment: My most memorable moment at Del was being part of the group that won $5000 for the Children’s Book Bank through YPI (Youth Philanthropy Initiative). Personally, it was extremely rewarding to see such a deserving organization receive support, as being an avid reader myself; the Book Bank’s mission to spread a love of reading to low-income families is one that I am very passionate about. This experience was also the reason I decided to volunteer at the Book Bank, a position that never ceases to put a smile on my face. However, none of this would have been possible without being assigned the YPI project in Grade 10 Careers and Civics, which shows that what we learn at Del is never limited to the classroom.


Stephen Brade
University of Toronto -Engineering Science

Years at Del: Grade 9-12
Teams: Hockey

Enter to Learn: At Del, the goal of my teachers was always to help me understand something completely rather than merely knowing it. This is how my experience is defined by the first half of our motto "Enter to Learn" because the core of my education was always focused on learning rather than just getting a good grade. In my future, I hope to continue my pursuit of understanding as it not only brings me success but will make me thrive in whatever I do.

Leave to Serve: In my experience, volunteer work was only second to our school work in priority. This instilled in us the notion that when we leave the school, whether it be after graduation or simply walking to the subway, it is most important to treat the community around us with kindness and respect. I look forward to continuing to serve my community and perhaps the global community once I have completed my studies as an engineer.

Important Lessons: On the first day of Dr. Lawrie's philosophy class, he wrote on the dry erase board the word "sapientia." Accidentally, he wrote the word in permanent marker and it hovered above our heads for sometime. The word means wisdom and, like the scribble on our white board, wisdom cannot be erased. It is eternal and, for the philosopher who devotes his life to its pursuit, invaluable. That is the most important lesson that I learned at Del, to always pursue wisdom and understanding, to pursue the priceless and immaterial aspects of life.

Most Memorable Moment: Although we ended up finishing second, tying up the final game of the Brother Arthur Hockey Tournament to send it into overtime was pretty great. Considering that I had given up two turnovers that lead to goals against earlier in the game, it was a nice bit of redemption.



Matthew Chang
McGill University -Biomedical and Life Sciences

Years at Del: Grade 6-12
Special Programs: AP Calculus, and Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies
Teams: Badminton
Extra-curricular: De La Salle Wind Ensemble, Bassist for Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, Volunteer Tutor at Centre for Immigrant and Community Services, Centre Assistant at Kumon of Markham-Unionville.

Enter to Learn: Personally, “Enter to Learn” means having an open mind when learning new concepts, regardless of how boring, tedious, or useless it seems. I try to be open-minded when I take new risks, as they are opportunities for me to step out of my comfort zone. For example, when I first started Grade 12 Philosophy, I did not enjoy it as much as my other courses. However, in keeping with the spirit of “Enter to Learn,” I realized that Philosophy made me think about certain ideologies from a different logical perspective. This essentially taught me to look at other real-life situations and to “think outside the box” to solve them. Thus, being able to analyze situations and come up with a variety of hypothetical answers or solutions will help me unearth medical breakthroughs.

Leave to Serve: As I finish my time here at Del, I will always remember what “Leaving to Serve” really means. It stands for giving back to everyone in my community that helped form me in any way, regardless of what they mean to me. I define “Leaving to Serve” as taking what I have learned and applying it to benefit our society. Leaving to freely serve with acts of kindness and generosity is what a Lasallian should strive to do and it is what I will continue to do throughout university and my life.

Important Lesson: The most important lesson I learned at Del was the concept of perseverance; the concept of never giving up even when things are truly difficult. Even after the intense workload from Biotechnology, Biology, Physics, and Chemistry, I, along with the rest of my classmates, managed to overcome these challenges together. Looking back, I realized that nothing was as bad as it seemed in the moment and the mistakes I made helped shape me as a person.

Most Memorable Moment: My most memorable moment at Del was filming a French movie with my friends back in Grade 9. The fun we had preparing the scripts and shots brought us closer together. I will never forget the countless sessions after school where we would film in the auditorium and around the campus, putting fake blood everywhere, shooting each other with NERF guns, laughing at all the silly mistakes we made, and having to retake an entire five-minute shot to fix it. That French class was a lot of fun, and this project was definitely one of the major reasons why.



John Crisostomo
Les Roches-Bluche Switzerland -Bachelor of Business Administration in International Hotel Management

Years at Del: Grade 9-12
Special Programs: Rome Summer School
Teams: Basketball
Extra-curriculars: DECA, Athletic Council
Scholarships: Les Roches Bluche Special Prize Scholarship

Enter to Learn: Del has made a significant impact and has changed my life. Both my parents attended De La Salle in the Philippines and I wanted to follow in their footsteps. When I started at De La Salle “Oaklands,” I was excited to encompass the qualities of my parents, since they credit their time at De La Salle as being a huge part in shaping who they are today. Now that I am graduating I look back on when I started in Grade 9 and how I have changed for the better and how Del has molded me into the person I am today. The teachers, counsellors, and staff members have taught me what it means to be Lasallian.

Leave to Serve: After exiting the “pearly black” gates of De la Salle, I look to keep learning but also to help and serve my community. As a part of the career I am pursuing in hospitality and hotel management, it is important to embody the qualities of a Lasallian. Most of my job will be to learn how to treat others with respect and help those in need. I would like to thank all the teachers who taught me these lessons; I will be forever grateful. Del taught me how to serve and now it is my job to exemplify these qualities.

Most Memorable Moment: In Grade 9 I was on the Junior Varsity Basketball Team and we had a game against Bayview Glen (at the time one of the best teams in our league.) It was a close game and even our coach, Mr. Riachi, thought we were going to lose. I took a hard charge under the net and I got possession of the ball. I had injured myself, but I chose to keep playing. With little time left on the clock, I hit a three-point shot that sent us into overtime, even with blood trickling out of my head. We ended up winning the game. The camaraderie and teamwork displayed between my teammates, coach, and even players on the senior team, showed how unbreakable our bond is. At that moment, I felt that Del was the school for me.


Emma De Tommaso
Schulich School of Business, York University -International Bachelor of Business Administration

Years at Del: Grade 9-12
Special Programs: Rome Summer School, AP English, AP Macroeconomics, AP Human Geography
Teams: Basketball (Grades 9-12), Junior Volleyball Team
Extra-curriculars: Student Executive member, Head of Community Council, “Wellness Wednesday” leader, Meagan’s Walk Team Captain, Knights of Columbus Volunteer, Salesian Leadership Retreat
Scholarships: Loran Scholarship Nominee, York University Automatic Entrance Scholarship, Student Life Award, Awards of Distinction Merit Scholarship, Harry Arthurs Alumni Families Entrance Scholarship

Enter to Learn: The phrase “Enter to Learn” intrigued me from the first time I heard it. It represented a call to enter Del with an open mind and an open heart in order to embrace the unique spirit and culture of our Del community. Del students learn to think more divergently, aim higher and work collaboratively. We are constantly challenged to reach higher and provided with the foundation and support to excel. At Del, learning extends beyond the traditional classroom and we leverage our in-school experiences and competencies developed into every facet of our lives. My learning through my time in the classroom, on Student Executive, on the court and in the hallways, have taught me the value of perseverance, dedication, respect, empathy and cooperation that form the foundation of all I do. Del has instilled a lifelong love of learning and I am excited to build upon this solid foundation.

Leave to Serve: The concept of servitude is one that is deeply embedded and embraced by Del students. Although personal achievement and growth is important, it is equally important to recognize that our greatest responsibility and privilege is that of serving others. Del has afforded us endless opportunities to serve both the communities in which we live and globally. As head of the Community Council, I had the opportunity to meet with many Lasallians and work alongside numerous international charity efforts. This sparked a love for travel, which is why I have chosen the International Bachelor of Business Administration program. To be able to positively impact others is both gratifying and humbling. I look forward to continuing my involvement with Meagan’s Walk, broadening my opportunities to serve others and expanding my perspective on a global level. I am grateful to Del for reminding us daily that we have a greater purpose and encouraging us to prioritize it.

Important Lessons: The most important lesson that I will take with me from Del is that when you make a person feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, they are inspired to be the best that they can be. Through the tight knit community at Del, on both a local and international level, students become individuals rather than numbers. By making everyone feel as though they are a meaningful part of a community, the school gives us a sense of purpose and belonging. I will try to take this mentality with me as I go on to university and to never forget the importance of making someone feel needed, appreciated and connected.



Jonathan Fortini
University of Western Ontario -Medical Sciences

Years at Del: Grade 5 Survivor
Special Programs: AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, AP Calculus, AP English
Teams: Hockey, Soccer, Track & Field
Extra-curriculars: Student Executive –Head of Junior School Council, Volunteer Assistant Hockey Trainer, Salesian Leadership Retreat, Lab Visitor at SickKids Hospital, Math Tutor, Habitat for Humanity
Scholarships: Western Continuing Admission Scholarship

Enter to Learn: To me, this part of the school’s motto has a dual meaning. For one, Del has a reputation for providing its students with an excellent academic education. However, the learning does not end there. What makes Del so special is it provides a community in which students can grow as individuals and learn lessons that are more important than the school curriculum. Among other things, Del has taught me to learn from my failures, to persevere in the face of difficulty, and to constantly strive for excellence. Del also taught me the importance of compassion and humility and showed me how to find moments of pure happiness in even the most stressful situations. These are all lessons that I will never forget, and I think I speak for all of my fellow graduates when I say that we are able to walk into university next year with the confidence that we will succeed, and that is all thanks to Del.

Leave to Serve: Now that I have graduated, this part of the school’s motto is more meaningful than ever. As Lasallians, we are called to share our gifts and talents with others and to serve those in need with generosity and compassion. In true Lasallian fashion, Del provides its students with countless opportunities to give back to the community in this way. However, with graduation comes the responsibility for us to consciously choose to give back on our own. Fortunately, Del has prepared us to do just that. I plan to volunteer my time whenever I can while in university, and I have every intention of staying involved in the Lasallian community that will always be my family.

Important Lessons: Out of all the lessons Del has taught me, the one that I am most often reminded of is that hard work pays off. I am convinced that there is no school in the world that works its students harder than Del does. That being said, if you are willing to put in the necessary time and effort, success will follow close behind. I believe that this lesson applies to all aspects of life, and I am confident that if I continue to work hard in university and beyond, I will be able to achieve my goals.

Most Memorable Moment: Throughout my time at Del, I have made too many memories to count. However, if I had to choose one moment that is the most memorable to me, it would be my last day of Grade 12. On that day, there was laughter, there were tears, and there was an overwhelming sense of pride that my eight-year journey had finally come to an end. Del will always be a second home to me, so while my final day as a Del student was emotional to the say the least, it was also a day that I will never forget.



Chloe Gonsalves
Providence College, Rhode Island -Biology

Years at Del: Grade 6-12
Teams: At Del: Hockey, Field Hockey, Soccer; Outside of Del: Leaside Wildcats Junior Hockey Association
Scholarships: Full NCAA Scholarship

Enter to Learn: During my first week at Del, I remember thinking that I was in way over my head. The workload was difficult and the new surroundings were overwhelming. However, as always, the most difficult path was by far the most rewarding. The lessons Del has taught me extend far beyond the walls of a classroom, they are lessons I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Leave to Serve: Del has surrounded me with so many exceptional people who harbor a unique perspective and who are willing to share their knowledge. As I depart from my second home of 7 years, these are the people who have inspired me to stay curious and act selflessly. They have armed me, and my fellow graduates, with the tools to pursue excellence in all aspects of life so that we may reach our full potential.

Important Lessons: Del has taught me that one of the most prominent traits of a successful person is the understanding that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react. Knowing you can bounce back from adversity allows you to accept the possibility of failure, not shy away from it.

Most Memorable Moment: That’s a tough one. I’d have to say my final game with the Senior Girls Hockey Team this year. I’d been playing on the team since I came to Del, and every year we lost in either the semifinal or gold medal game. This year was my last chance to bring home the first-place banner so it meant a lot to win- especially because of how many bright, personable girls in the younger grades I had the opportunity to play alongside.



Emily Grydziuszko
McMaster University -Bachelor of Health Science (Honours)

Years at Del: Grade 9-12
Teams: Cross Country, Track and Field
Extra-curriculars: Theatre De La Salle – Lead Actress, peer tutor, volunteer at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Oratory Children’s Choir
University Scholarships: McMaster Honours Award
Special Programs: AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, AP English Language and Composition

Enter to Learn: When I made the decision to attend Del, it was largely due to the simple fact that I wanted to be challenged. Well… challenged I was. Del has allowed me to learn to my brain’s carrying capacity, and I couldn’t be happier about it. When I think about leaving these halls forever, my first thoughts are full of fear. What if I don’t love my professors as much as I love these teachers? What if my new classmates aren’t as intelligent and persevering as these classmates? At Del, we thrive off each other. I have learned so much about myself and about the world from these people, and I can only hope that there are people half as lovely in university.

Leave to Serve: As I move on from De La Salle, I feel a deep desire to hold on to the spirit of the school. Del students learn by example to be kind, empathetic, industrious, strong, and gracious. We do not volunteer our time simply because we need our 40 hours. The genuine love for others is evident at school events, charity events, and in the halls. Our school is a community that gives back because we realize that we are so blessed. In our world of hate, war, and violence, I know that I cannot forget this.

Important Lessons: The most important lesson I have learned at Del is the necessity of appreciating your education. De La Salle students find it easy to gripe and groan about our intense courses, but as we graduate, we appreciate how much we have learned in this vigorous environment. Thank goodness we CAN complain! My friends in other high schools have trouble with a lack of stimulation in their courses. That is not a problem of the Del student. Our teachers are incredible! They challenge and push us, knowing that we can take it. I will always remember to be thankful when I am stressed about a project, or when I am struggling with a concept. “You are sponges!” says Mr. Vlahovic. Learn vigorously while you can.

Most Memorable Moment: My most memorable moment at Del is really a combination of moments from Theatre De La Salle. I have been singing and acting on stage since I was 5 years old, so theatre has always been my thing. In Grade 11, I joined the Beauty and the Beast production as a Silly Girl, and it was an incredible experience that left me aching for more. In my final year, Mr. Luchka, Mr. Labriola, and Mr. Cherny believed in me enough to give me the lead role of Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance. I can never thank them enough. Theatre allowed me to escape from my rigorous studies and gave me an outlet to express my passions. I found my confidence on stage and I found my best friends behind the scenes. Thank you, Theatre De La Salle, for this incredible opportunity. I would do it all again a hundred times over.



Emily Nolfi
Smith School of Business, Queens University -Commerce

Years at Del: 9-12
Special Programs: AP English, AP American History, Rome Summer School
Teams: Basketball, Volleyball, Soccer (Grade 9-12)
Extra-curriculars: Student Executive Head Girl, Blood Donor, Rep Soccer, Del Wind Ensemble, Basketball, Children’s Book Bank Book Drive
Scholarships: Chancellor’s Scholarship Nominee, Queens Entrance Scholarship, Laurier Scholarship

Enter to Learn: Del taught me that learning goes way beyond the walls of the classroom and the pages of a textbook. Throughout my high school journey, I am confident that I have matured as an organized student, a trustworthy friend and an empathetic person, thanks to the many wonderful experiences and mentors at Del. The strong role models at Del taught each of us through their patience and many charitable actions. Not only has Del provided me with strategies to be successful in my academics, but also on how to build my character every day.

Leave to Serve: Throughout our many excursions to St. Francis Table, Good Shephard and serving our local community, Del has made me realize the importance of giving back and expecting nothing in return. We as a society, regardless of who we are or where we are from, need one another in order to stay strong as a community. Del has taught me to always look out for others and your reward will be found in the joy you bring and support you provide to those who need it.

Important Lesson: Embrace the community around you. Del is so special that it was able to offer a close-knit environment where each and every one of us in a green blazer, from grade 5 through grade 12, was a familiar face and supportive friend. At university, I will strive to find my “Del community” and make sure to lean on it when I need support and be there for others when they need support back.

Most Memorable Moment: My most memorable Del moment was trying out for the Girls Basketball Team on the second day of high school and playing with the same group of girls and coaches for four years. Not only did this team make my transition into high school happen more smoothly, it gifted me a group of girls I call my closest friends, a pair of coaches who I will always look up to and an endless amount of memories and achievements to look back and smile on.



Samantha Rizzi
Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario -Honours Business Administration

Years at Del: Grade 9-12
Special Programs: AP English, Rome Summer School
Teams: Cross Country
Extra-curriculars: Student Executive—Head of Community Council, Meagan’s Walk Co-organizer, Wellness Wednesday Leader, DECA, Theatre De La Salle—Stage Crew, Christmas for Kids Volunteer, Swim Instructor
Scholarships: The Western Scholarship of Excellence $2000.00

Enter to Learn: I entered Del because of the school’s reputation for academic excellence and the expectations placed on their students. I have had the privilege of building relationships with great teachers and being exposed to dynamic classrooms. While the academics were even beyond my expectations, I am leaving with an even greater appreciation for what I have learned beyond the textbook through all the influential mentors and amazing classmates. My growth through learning is a result of all the successes achieved and challenges overcome that were experienced and felt together with my extended family at Del. The moto “Enter to Learn” has become a vital part of my approach to all new adventures and learning opportunities because I will take with me forever a confidence that with hard work and perseverance, I can excel in anything I wish to pursue. More importantly, Del has instilled that learning happens well beyond the classroom, in our interactions and even with obstacles we encounter, but if we keep the mentality that we are open to learning, then we will always continue to grow as individuals.

Leave to Serve: “Leave to Serve” instills the core value in each of us to give back to our community and beyond. Throughout my time at Del, I was actively involved wherever I could. Community involvement supporting social justice issues is extremely important to me and Del provided me with a platform to act on it. Del reinforces that the term “family” extends beyond those within our direct boundaries and includes all those in need of support, love and compassion. Del has planted within us all the seed to prosper, and it is our responsibility to lead by example, to continue to plant the seed wherever we head in our futures and bring about positive change.

Important Lessons: Life is full of challenges and that was true during my time at Del. My pre-Del self would have backed down or tried to find a way around them. However, now after having gone through the past four years, I have learned to use challenges I encounter as my drive, working through them, to enable my success. Moreover, I learned that I am never alone. I had a school community, both staff and students, that had faith in my abilities and were there to provide me with positive encouragement. In the moment, I may not have understood why things may have unraveled the way they did, but looking back I am grateful because I learned that not everything will be easy and instant, and if I want something I need to be prepared to work for it!

Most Memorable Moment: Looking back at the past four years, countless memories come to mind, but the one that stands out the most was something that occurred at the beginning of my Del experience. Within the first few days of school to be exact. I had arrived at school when the door was held for me by another student. He looked at me and said, “Hi, you’re Samantha Rizzi, right?” That’s when I stared at him blankly quite unsure of who he was. Then, he continued by saying, “You are in my Religion and Geo class, you sit in the back corner.” So of course, I pretended to remember seeing and knowing him as well, and we both continued on our day. Little did I know I had just met my best friend. It is these types of friendships that have enhanced my memories throughout my time at Del.



Sofia Savio
Schulich School of Business, York University -Business Administration

Years at Del: 8-12
Special Programs: AP Calculus, AP Economics
Teams: Volleyball, Track and Field
Extra-Curriculars: Aeronautics Club, Bonsai Club, Astronomy Club, DECA, Math Tutor
Scholarships: Automatic Entrance Scholarship

Enter to Learn: Del has shaped me into the person I am today, and I could not be more grateful for the friends and opportunities it has provided me with. The motto “Enter to Learn” is exactly what a Del student fulfills. All the hardworking and dedicated teachers at Del have taught me more than just their specific subjects, but have taught me valuable life lessons that I can take with me wherever I go in life.

Leave to Serve: Del has taught me to always give back. Del teaches us far beyond academics. It teaches how to be good and genuine people and to always serve our community. As well, all my classmates and friends have had a major impact on my life. The strong sense of family and community that we have at Del cannot be found anywhere else.

Most Memorable Moment: There have been so many memorable moments throughout my time at Del. However, the best one would have to be our last day of Grade 12 classes. It was a bittersweet day filled with laughter and tears, and ended with a fun water fight. The memories and friendships created at Del will live on forever.