From Far and Wide: Raymond’s Story

Mississauga, Vaughan, Ajax, Maple, even Whitby, to name a few.

The geographic area St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) students and staff come from is far and wide.

Raymond Mao is one example. The grade 7 student began attending SMCS in September 2018, commuting from Markham, Ontario.

Door-to-door, that is a 40-kilometre distance, each way, for the just-turned 12 year-old to tackle every day. And so far, so good, according to his family.

“Raymond is excited to get up in the morning and come to school. He’s excited to be at SMCS”, says Mindy, his mom. “It has made my son feel a part of a community.”

Mindy and her eldest son Raymond, a grade 7 student, travel daily from Markham, ON to attend St. Michael’s College School.

TIMED TRAVEL

The logistics have been carefully orchestrated, overhauled and refined over the months to ensure success. It begins with Raymond’s alarm going off at 6 a.m., daily. 

“Raymond has a set schedule he goes by and is eager to start his day,” says Mindy.

About 30-kilometres of the trip involves Mindy driving her son to Yorkdale each morning. He then concludes the next 10-kilometres of the journey to SMCS --- on the subway.

“On the way home I travel by subway over an hour to Scarborough Centre to meet my mom,” says Raymond, the eldest of four boys. “I use this time to study and read over course material I learned throughout the day.” 

At the same time, Mindy pauses her work schedule to go pick up her son in Scarborough, before the two make the 15-kilometres trek home to Markham.

WHY SO FAR?

“When picking from different private school schools, we were looking into a school that would be Catholic and all boys,” says Mindy.

Her research began right outside her window.

The local Catholic elementary school Raymond could have attended for Grade 7 is quite literally 230 metres away --- a three-minute walk.

The Catholic high school in the area is just over two kilometres away from their home, or a five-minute drive.

So why choose to commute so far?

“My neighbour in Markham, always told me how great a community SMCS was to her two boys,” says Mindy, referring to her next-door-neighbour Gina, an employee at SMCS. 

Raymond plowing the snow after a heavy snowfall at his Markham, ON home.

“Although Gina told me about the school, it was watching how her boys conducted themselves away from SMCS which made my decision easy.”

GOING THE DISTANCE

The Mao household is always on the go. Mindy, a small business owner, and her husband have four boys --- 12, 10, 8, and 3 years old. 

Raymond’s enthusiasm for his still-new school, coupled with his 80-plus per cent average and the fact that the daily commute is now second-nature --- further validate the decision.

“The effect SMCS has had on my family is incredible,” says Mindy. “My younger son Edmond, knows all of the schedules and teachers Raymond has. He often reminds Raymond of his upcoming tests!”

She adds, “If they choose to, I definitely want to send the younger boys to SMCS as well.”

The Mao brothers, aged 12 to 3 years old. From left to right, Zymond, Raymond, Edmond and Belmond.