SHSM: Specialist High Skills Majors

ARTS ALIVE

What is a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM)?

The SHSM is a Ministry-approved program offered to students at no cost, that helps students make successful transitions to a variety of post-secondary destinations. It is designed to meet the needs of students who would like to pursue an apprenticeship, college or university studies or employment in a specific sector. Students who successfully complete all program components will earn a Red Seal on their OSSD which indicates that the student has focused his/her high school experience on a career path that matches his/her skills and interests.

Components of the SHSM

A student enrolled in the SHSM program will need to complete the following components in their grade 11 and grade 12 year. Throughout the school year, the opportunity to complete these components will be available for students to complete.

  • A bundle of courses (please see the course requirements section)
  • Connected Learning Activity (CLA) (Over the course of Grade 11 and 12, students will complete an assignment that connects various subject areas to the Arts and Culture sector)
  • FREE Industry-Recognized Certifications, Awareness, Training (please see the additional requirement section)
  • Experiential Learning (please see the additional requirement section)
  • “Reach Ahead” Experiences (please see the additional requirement section)

Post-Secondary Opportunities

Graduates with an SHSM in Arts and Culture will not only finish with an enhanced resume of experiences but they will also be prepared for careers or post-secondary studies in a variety of arts focused areas. A small sample of careers in this field includes:

  • Musical Occupational Therapist
  • Painter/Decorator
  • Goldsmith/Jewelry Designer/ Florist
  • Hairstylist/Cosmetologist
  • Broadcast Technician
  • Film or Video Camera Operator
  • Journalist/Novelist/Writer/Screen Writer
  • Politics/Social Worker
  • Event Management/Marketing/Public Relations
  • Dancer/Actor/Musician/Singer/Music Producer
  • Curator
  • Graphic Artist/Illustrator/Animator
  • Theatre Set Designer/ Stage Manager/ Stage Production
  • Photographer
  • Architect/Interior Designer/Interior Decorator
  • Fashion Designer/Fashion and Retail Management
  • Academic Textbook Illustrator

... and many more that may not have been mentioned

According to the Canada Council for the Arts, arts and culture are essential elements in the new global economy; not only for their entertainment value but also for the skills they develop as individuals. An arts education challenges people to think critically and to solve problems creatively – skills that are now in high demand.

Connection to the Community

St. Brother André CHS has had a long history of Arts-related achievements (e.g., the winner of the logo design for York Region Police trucks vehicles in partnership with MADD). Students in the drama program routinely perform on stage, creating memorable performances, not only at the school but also at public venues such as the Markham Theatre. Students in our music courses have shared their talents with the community at in-school events (e.g., liturgies, Christmas and spring concerts, talent shows) as well as out-of-school events (e.g., Town of Markham Santa Claus Parade, Christmas pageants, concerts at all nine elementary feeder schools). In addition, students in Arts courses have participated in, and won, many provincial, national and international graphic, photographic and artistic contests (e.g., the winning logo for an international bocce contest that was open to a host of countries, including Switzerland and Italy).


The school has partnered with many community organizations to improve the quality of Arts-related curriculum, by applying the theoretical and practical knowledge learned in the classroom to a variety of real-world experiences, and by using various art skills to meet the varied and specific expectations of target audiences.

Dual Credits

Arts and Culture SHSM students are automatically eligible to enrol in dual high school/ college credit courses during their co-op placements. These courses are taught on a college campus. Choosing this option will reap several benefits:

  • Arts-related dual credits are considered a grade 12 SHSM major
  • Taking a dual credit at a college campus is also considered a reach ahead activity
  • Students earn a free post-secondary credit and a high school credit before graduating from high school and gain access to all campus resources for the entire semester