The students and staff at St. Patrick Catholic Secondary School know what a great place the school is and they're hoping many more people will soon think so too.
The school, near Danforth and Greenwood avenues, is hoping to boost enrolment with its new designation as a Centre for Arts, Media and Technology. With fewer than 500 students the school is below capacity, while nearby schools Neil McNeil CSS and Notre Dame CSS are overflowing.
"Now it feels like a private school because it's so quiet," Rossana Cossaro said, the drama teacher at the school.
In an effort to correct this unbalance, the Toronto Catholic District School Board did a review and decided to put limits on enrolment at Neil McNeil (an all boys schools on Victoria Park Avenue just south of Kingston Road) and Notre Dame (an all girls school on Malvern Avenue just north of Kingston Road), and St. Patrick would receive a special designation.
"As a result of all those meetings they decided to encourage students to come here by offering the designation," Cossaro said. "To make us into something to attract students from other areas."
Students enrolled in one of the special programs will be able to attend the school from theoretically anywhere in the city, and with the school located near a subway line the hope is students will come to specialize.
"With the designation we circumvent any kind of boundaries. Kids coming here for the programs will be able to come from any area," said Vaughn Perusse, an art teacher at St. Patrick who also sat on the review committee.
The designation seems to already be having the desired effected as enrolment for Grade 9 in September, when the specialized programming begins, is already almost double from September 2010.
Auditions for the specialized program begin March 28 so staff has been busy spreading the word to feeder schools so interested students can book an appointment.
On the arts side students will be able to specialize in dance, drama, music or visual arts. For technology there will be opportunities in construction, hospitality food services, landscape architecture and 3-D design.
The media studies specialization will begin in September 2012.
Perusse said the school already has a strong art department - helped by a dedicated staff who have worked together for years - and a well equipped technology area.
The school will remain committed to core programming.
"It doesn't mean we're abandoning our role as a composite educator," Perusse said. "It's just that in addition to that now with our designation we'll be able to offer the specialized programming."
Students with a general interest in the arts shouldn't worry as they'll still be able to take classes without being in the specialized stream.
Perusse is excited about the changes.
"I have to say, we have something special going on," he said.
Students interested in auditioning can contact the school at 416-393-5546.