Parents are being encouraged to consider enrolling their children in the Africentric high school program run out of Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute in Scarborough.
Trustee David Smith, who supported the initiative, made the call this week as parents and students mull over their high school options for next semester.
The Africentric program is named after trailblazer Leonard Braithwaite, who passed away last March at age 88. He was instrumental in the revocation of a section of the Ontario Separate Schools Act that allowed for racial segregation in public schools when he asked the Legislature to “get rid of the old race law” during his maiden speech at Queen’s Park on February 4, 1964. His advocacy for gender equality also led to the admission of female legislative pages.
“The registration process is now underway and we want to put Leonard Braithwaite into the mix,” said Smith. “A lot of work was put into getting this program off the ground and we want students to take advantage of this opportunity. There are lots of space and qualified teachers.”
In November 2011, Toronto District School Board (TDSB) trustees cleared the way in a 14-6 vote for elementary students attending Canada’s first Africentric Alternative School and other interested students to be taught in a similar learning environment at the high school level.
When a plan to start the new high school at Oakwood Collegiate Institute was scuttled in early 2011 following an outcry from community residents and students, Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute willingly stepped in as the host school for the Grade Nine program.
The pilot was launched last year after most Grade Eight students had made their high school choice for the fall and the curriculum was completed in mid-August just before the new school year started, giving parents and students little time to digest the courses offered and make informed decisions.
“We acknowledge that parents and students did not have the required time last year,” said Smith, who has two children that were exposed to an Africentric school education in the United States. “This is not the case now and we expect the program will be filled once the new school year starts in September.”
The compulsory courses offered are English, Geography, Math, Science and French. The elective courses are drama, music, information & communication and business technology.