Within hours of a York Catholic District School Board meeting Oct. 30, trustee-elect Theresa McNicol posted to a local Facebook group that Newmarket’s Sacred Heart Catholic High School will be home to the board's first regional arts program for northern York Region.
“I was so excited I had to share the news with everyone,” said McNicol, who was re-elected to serve as the Catholic board’s trustee for Newmarket, East Gwillimbury and Georgina. “I’ve been working on this for three years now, every time I had an opportunity. The northern part of the board seems to lack programming.”
In a unanimous decision, the 10-trustee York Catholic board voted to support McNicol’s motion that would see the board’s only Catholic high school in Newmarket develop a four-year specialized regional arts program to advance students’ talents and abilities in that area.
“We want to take the strong arts component that’s already at Sacred Heart and push it to the next level,” McNicol said. “It’s going to be a very exciting time in Newmarket.”
The York Catholic board has been struggling with declining enrolment, McNicol said, and developing a regional arts program for its more northern students is one way to attract an influx of new students who “definitely shop around for the best high school” to attend.
The programming is expected to take about one year to develop, and will focus on the arts and technology. Sacred Heart staff have been tasked with that job, said McNicol, because they are the well from which the passion flows.
“The programming is so open-ended right now,” McNicol said. “From there, we can seek out partnerships with Newmarket Theatre and Old Town Hall, and many others.”
The regional arts program expects to see its first students in 2020, and will offer an alternative to the regional arts program at the York Region District School Board’s Huron Heights Secondary School.
Sacred Heart’s arts program will function similar to its sister program at Vaughan’s St. Elizabeth Catholic High School, in that students need to submit an application, be interviewed by staff, and undergo an audition.
Specialized arts programming is intertwined with the standardized board curriculum to give students additional hands-on opportunities to develop their artistic skills, such as developing a portfolio of work and earning an arts and culture specialist high skills major seal on their diploma.
Sacred Heart Catholic High School will hold its Grade 8 information night for students and parents/guardians on Thursday, Nov. 8 beginning at 7 p.m. in the cafetorium. All are welcome to tour the school, meet the teachers, and learn more about the school’s programs and curriculum. Sacred Heart is at 908 Lemar Rd., Newmarket.
Visit Sacred Heart to learn more.