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Stratford, Ontario has three secondary schools presenting quite a range of programs, extra curricular activities, and offerings to the up and coming generation. There are two school boards in Stratford: the Avon Maitland District School Board and the Huron Perth Catholic District School Board. There is also one private sector secondary school that we will also explore.
The following showcases Stratford’s three secondary schools, giving you a glimpse at what they offer your teenager as well as highlighting what makes each school stand out in its own right. Each school excels in different areas. In the end it will come down to what school best fits the requirements and aspirations of each individual student to develop their full potential.
Stratford District Secondary School
Stratford District Secondary School is an Avon Maitland District School Board school. It is located at 428 Forman Avenue in the northwest quadrant of the city, directly adjacent to the new McCarthy Road Area and Coventry neighbourhood. Stratford District S.S. is now an amalgamation of two former high schools: Stratford Northwestern Secondary School and Stratford Central Secondary School. This merge took place for the 2019 - 2020 school year, combining both the staff and students to the Stratford Northwester S.S. location, with a new name. This is now Stratford’s only public secondary school.
Stratford District Secondary School offers a variety of unique and special programs including culinary classes, Cosmetology, and Green Industries – which branches into Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, and Landscaping. Stratford District S.S. offers a series of programs under Specialist High Skills Major, which allows the individual student to customize their academics to focus on a path to a vocation that suits their interest and abilities, all while meeting the credit requirements for their diploma. Through Specialist High Skills Major (SKSM), students can choose from five focus courses: Health and Wellness, Energy, Transportation, Manufacturing, and Hospitality and Tourism. Stratford District S.S. is also known for its impressive array of athletics and a variety of courses in the arts.
Because Stratford District S.S. does not have enough of a history in itself to show any scores, we will have to look at the previous two schools for their provincial testing scores.
Stratford Northwestern Secondary School ranked 352 out of the province’s 739 secondary schools, with an average Fraser Institute ranking of 5.4 out of 10. Stratford Northwestern’s score of 6.4 in 2019 landed it above the provincial school average of 6. This was up from the previous four years’ scores.
Stratford Central Secondary School ranked in the top one hundred – 95 out of 739 and scored an impressive 7.7 out of 10 in 2019. This was Stratford Central’s second best score over the last 5 years. It was consistently a high scorer, ranging from 7.1 to 7.8, making Stratford Central’s average an inspiring 7.5.
Beyond academics, students have a plethora of clubs and activities to find their niche in their teenage years. Stratford District Secondary School’s sports cover the entire gamut: Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Curling, Field Hockey, Golf, Hockey, Rugby, Soccer, Swimming, Tennis, Track and Field, Volleyball, and Wrestling. Those who lean more toward the arts also have an impressive array of music ensembles to choose from: the Symphonic Band, the Concert Band, the Jazz Band, the Marching Band, the Flute Choir, and Choir. There are also many clubs to join, such as: Me to We, Fly Fishing Club, Dance Club, and the E-Team.
St Michael Catholic Secondary School
St Michael Catholic Secondary School, affectionately nicknamed ‘St Mikes,’ is the only secondary school under the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board in all of Huron and Perth counties. Established in 1990, St Michael Catholic Secondary School is located adjacent to Stratford District Secondary School, at 240 Oakdale Avenue in the northwest quarter of the city, just south of the McCarthy Road Area and Coventry neighbourhood subdivisions. Both schools share the same library, opened in 1993, called the Stratford Education Recreation Centre (SERC).
As of 2019, St Michael Catholic Secondary School ranked 330th out of 739 with a score of 6.5 in the Fraser Institute ranking scale. St Michael’s average score over the last five years is 6.4, usually holding steady slightly above the provincial average with scores ranging from 6 to 6.6. Also of note, the percentage of students with special needs taking the testing for these scores was 27.2% in 2019. This makes St Mike’s scores particularly inspiring.
St Michael Catholic Secondary School is well known for its athletic programs, consistently bringing home OFSAA medals. The school offers an extensive and vigorous academic program for all of its students to discover and grow in their potential. St Michael’s also offers courses through the Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM), including: Arts and Culture, Business, Construction, Energy, Health and Wellness, Non-Profit / Social Justice, Sports, and Transportation. St Mike’s also offers a French Immersion program and Co-op opportunities for students to participate in. Their selection of programs in the arts includes: Drama, Musical Theatre, Visual Arts, Media Arts, Instrumental Music, and Guitar. The band program consistently participates in the Kiwanis Festival and has even moved to the Musicfest Regionals. The school’s Technological Education courses are also diverse: Construction, Electrical Techniques, Plumbing and Sheet Metal, Manufacturing, Communications, Design, Transportation, Hairstyling, and Aesthetics. With such a wide range of courses and programs to choose from, it is no wonder more than 900 students call St Mike’s their home away from home.
After school programs, clubs, and extra curricular activities are as exciting and manifold as their academic offerings. There is an activity to suit every single student at St Michael’s. For the athletes, there’s sports; for those interested in clubs, everything from the arts to social justice; for music lovers, there are three bands: junior band, jazz band, and senior band. Every student can blossom and grow in their interest and skills with such a wide array of choices on every level at St Michael Catholic Secondary School.
Nancy Campbell Academy
Stratford’s third and final high school is the Nancy Campbell Academy, operating under the private sector. It is located just at the edge of the down town core of Stratford at 45 Waterloo Street South, just a block from the Avon River, and flanking the lovely neighbourhood of the Avon River South Area. This co-ed preparatory school, founded in 1994, has a residence for students to board in, but also accepts day students. There is tuition for admission, ranging from $9,750 to $40,065 – the latter for those boarding in the school’s residence (complete with a swimming pool), located the other side of the Avon River, just a short distance from the school. Scholarships and Bursaries are available. School enrollment varies, but comparatively low to other schools; recent counts being anywhere from 80 to 170. Class sizes range from 5 to 18 pupils per class, creating a more personal, individualised learning atmosphere. While the social environment of learning may be relaxed, the academics themselves are anything but. Students are pushed to their full potential and find their purpose through the wide array of programs and activities the school offers.
Nancy Campbell Academy offers a wide range of programs that melds the arts and sciences in scholastic superiority. Along with the usual high school selection, courses are available in English as Second Language (ESL), Civics (Politics), Law, World Citizenship, Humanities and Social Sciences, Foreign Language, and Technology and Media. Students are enriched through a diligent curriculum designed to challenge them to their full potential. Nancy Campbell Academy’s education also focuses on character building through mentorship programs, training up tomorrow’s leaders in every field of opportunity.
Because Nancy Campbell Academy has not taken the testing for the Fraser Institute School Rankings, scores are not available for comparison with Stratford’s other two secondary schools. However, Nancy Campbell Academy’s academic excellence and success rate is apparent in that there is over 95% placement of its graduates in universities. The school’s distinctive education methodology has been proven to develop students for the competitive university scene. Excellence is the goal at Nancy Campbell Academy.
There never needs to be a dull moment with all that Nancy Campbell Academy has to offer its students through extra curricular activities, clubs, and events. There are plenty of clubs to get involved with such as: Basketball, Chess, Gym, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Music, Math, Yoga, Dance Workshop, Writers Club, Badminton, and Dodge Ball. The Academy offers workshops twice a year at the Wildlife Outdoor Education Center, in Tiny, Ontario. Short term programs include ESL credit program, Nature Camp, Wilderness Survival Camp, and Arts Camp. There are also many projects, including: tree planting, highway cleanup, and climate rallies, as well as opportunities through Stratford’s House of Blessing and Optimism Place, among many others. Students are required to give 50 hours of service in the community per year. Through the school’s Dance Workshop, international service trips takes students abroad to experience and inspire fellow students through their song and dance performances. There are also school trips for students to experience Canada’s sites, steeped with adventure and learning. At the Residence, where each boarding student has their own private room complete with a desk, bed, dresser, and closet, there is always something going on in the kitchen and Common Room, bonding classmates as family – which is unique to Nancy Campbell Academy.
It is clear that each of Stratford’s three high schools has their own flare, with manifold course offerings, a wide array of after school activities, and programs specializing in developing the next generation for their unique niche in this world. Stratford being a small city, living in specific neighbourhoods does not need to factor in to the decision of what school to attend. Should one need a lift, all schools are accessible by city bus lines if no other mode of transportation is available. In now comes down to each individual student and which school would be best suited to challenge and develop their potential to the fullest, and prepare them for what lies ahead.
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