Frequently Asked Questions

How does the semester system work?

In semestered schools like Western, students are timetabled into only four classes from September to January, in what is called Semester 1 and an additional four classes from February to June for Semester 2. Students visit all four classes every day and receive a mid-semester Report card in November. At the end of January, there are a few days of exams, followed by a Final Report Card marking the completion of four credits. Students then move into Semester 2 at the beginning of February, with four new classes on their timetable. They receive a mid-semester Report Card in April and have an exam period and Final Report Card at the end of June. In total students will have completed 8 credits each school year, the same as in non-semestered school.

What is a SHSM?

Specialist High Skills Majors let students focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests while meeting the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). Students receive the SHSM’s seal on their diploma when they graduate.

A SHSM includes:

• A bundle of 8-10 courses related to a specific career path

• At least 6 Industry Standard Certifications

• Reach Ahead Activities (Field Trips and Training from Industry Experts)

• Contextualized Learning Activities (Cross Curricular Projects designed to help

students understand how Math, English and Science relate to their chosen industry)

Western currently has four SHSM programs:

• Leadership

• The Design Studio

• Engineering Robotics

• Hospitality Studies

What is the difference between a regular OSSD
and an OSSD with a Red Seal?

The OSSD is the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. All students who graduate from Secondary School in Ontario receive an OSSD. However, if a student completes the requirement of a SHSM program they will receive an OSSD with a Red Seal, indicating a higher level of achievement to all Post-Secondary Schools.

If my child is in the Gifted program,
can they still enroll in a SHSM program?

Yes. Western has streamlined its master timetable to ensure that programs such as Gifted and The Design Studio, Engineering Robotics, Leadership or Hospitality Studies don’t conflict with each other.

Can I take all of the SHSMs at Western?

No. Ministry guidelines state that a student may only complete one SHSM. However, Western offers many courses that run parallel to our SHSM courses for students not enrolled in a particular SHSM. For example if you are enrolled in the Leadership SHSM there are many Communication Technology courses available to you that run parallel to The Design Studio or vice versa.

Can I apply to more than one SHSM at Western?

Yes. We have many incoming students who apply to more than one SHSM to help ensure successful enrolment at Western.

Can I enroll in SHSM programs mid-way?

Yes, it is possible until the end of Grade 10. However this is based upon availability in the program and successfully completing the entrance criteria. This is not easily done, but the possibility exists.

Are all CyberARTS programs SHSM’s?

No. Currently there are 4 CyberARTS programs in the TDSB. However The Design Studio at Western is the only CyberARTS program which has been granted the SHSM designation.

Is your Robotics program an After-school Club or group of Classes?

Both. Western’s Robotics program is a SHSM which means it is a bundle of at least 2 courses each year from Grades 9 to 12. However, Western also has a hugely successful Robotics team called WARP7 open to all students enrolled at Western.

Are there fees involved with applying to a SHSM?

No. There are no fees involved with any application at Western. In fact all SHSM industry standard certifications are all completed at no cost to students.

Why is the deadline to apply to a SHSM so early?

The SHSM application deadline complies with the TDSB Optional Attendance application. Because SHSM programs have no catchment area associated with them, we must coordinate our applications with the Optional Attendance application.

Does Western have programs for the Skilled Trades?

Yes! Unlike many other schools in the TDSB where Skilled Trades Specialized Programs and facilities have disappeared over the years, Western is currently running many Technical programs such as Robotics, The Design Studio, Culinary Arts, Transportation Technology, Manufacturing Technology and Construction Technology.

Can my children attend university if they come to Western?

Absolutely! A common misconception about all Tech schools in Toronto is that they don’t provide equivalent academic programs to the collegiates, or that they don’t prepare students for university. At Western, we provide a full range of academic subjects at the University level and then supplement that with a variety of Technology courses that give all students the opportunity to develop invaluable hands-on skills that often give them a leg up in their postsecondary destinations. In fact, many of our Technology courses can be used for entrance to University.

Is the school safe?

Yes! Students at Western are happy, safe and comfortable in their classes and in around the building. The residential neighbourhood that surrounds the school is quiet and close to the subway. The unique variety of programs at the school recognizes the variety of strengths our students have and supports the diversity of our learning community.

Because Western is a ‘school of choice’ students come to school every day with a purpose and are focused on learning. These students have a sense of pride in their school, academics and sports, making Western a wonderful place to learn and grow into a successful individual.

Not a current student at Western and looking for old transcripts?

Please visit the TDSB website for further information about how to obtain your old transcripts. Click the following link for more information.