What are High schools in Ontario like?

Written By Sally Forsyth

Thinking of studying in Ontario, Canada? Ontario is an amazing province with lots of great schools and universities and is also the biggest city in Canada. The state capital, Toronto, is a vibrant dynamic city home to the iconic CN tower and many other fantastic attractions are also only a few hours away by plane from major US cities like New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Furthermore, the Canadian school system is quite similar to the US school system. Throughout the province, there are many top Canadian high schools for international students where you might consider applying to study abroad! Let's have a closer look at some of these top schools which might be the high school you are looking for.

Nucleus High School

Nucleus High  School is situated in the suburban city of Brampton, Ontario close to the exciting city of Toronto. Nucleus High School is a relatively small school with less than 200 students in grades 9 to 12. It has a very strong international program offering excellent support and a caring environment for international students. The school offers both year-long and semester-long courses as well as an excellent ESL program. The ESL program has a variety of levels to serve the needs of all students no matter their English proficiency level. The school also strives to help students adjust to Canadian culture and facilitates tours to local cultural and social events in the Toronto area.

The school has a major focus on individualized learning, concentrating on developing the potential of every student academically to prepare them for successful adult life. They also offer a unique fast track program which allows students to complete courses faster or on a different schedule. Nucleus High School also offers a wide range of AP courses to suit students needs. The school also has an academic advisor who uniquely serves its international students to help them make the right choices and prepare them for university application.

There are a variety of extracurricular activities as well such as track and field, soccer, yearbook club and debate team, so there will always be a great choice of options to suit every student.

Don Valley Academy

Don Valley Academy is situated in North York a suburb of Toronto. It is a relatively small independent school of only 100 students, however, 30 percent of the student body are international students. The school prides itself on its small classes with an excellent student to teacher ratio of 8 students per teacher to facilitate individualized learning.

The academic curriculum is of a high standard offering a variety of subjects and fulfilling the requirements of the province of Ontario. Although AP courses are not offered, the academic curriculum at Don Valley Academy provides excellent preparation for university-level courses. The school also provides a great ESL program offering language support to international students.

Trillium School

Trillium  School can be found in Markham, Ontario in the Greater Toronto area.  It is situated on three acres of land close to Milliken Mills Park. The total enrollment is about 300 students and 7 percent of the student body are international students.

Trillium has a demanding academic curriculum complying with the demands of the Ontario provincial curriculum as well as offers a wide variety of AP courses. There is a big emphasis on developing leadership skills and critical thinking skills. The school offers an ESL program for international students tailored to their individual needs for advancement in English proficiency.

Getting involved with the local community is also important for this school which is why Trillium requires every student to complete 40 hours of community service with local partners and organizations. The school also offers a variety of co-curricular activities such as attending concerts and art exhibits, participating in overseas visits, applied science workshops and robotics education.

Students have the option of boarding at Trillium, and all international students normally board at school in residences which provide a cozy home- away -from home setting. Additionally, evening and weekend activities are planned for international students to provide a variety of learning opportunities.

Willowdale High School

Willowdale High School is located in the suburb of North York in Toronto, Ontario. It is conveniently situated close to shopping centers, libraries, and medical facilities and is about 8 kilometers from downtown Toronto. 

ESL classes are available for international students and the school also organizes its own host families. Usually, the host families live near the school so that students can either walk to school or take public transit. Willowdale offers a wide range of subjects as part of the Ontario province curriculum and there are some AP courses available as well. There are various extracurricular activities such as the chess club and the robotics club.

Royal Imperial Collegiate of Canada

The Royal Imperial Collegiate of Canada school is situated on a 7-acre property in St Catherines,  117 km south of Toronto, and only a 15-minute drive from Niagara Falls. It is also in close proximity to the Canadian/US border and the US state of New York. This is an independent non-religious school where international students make up approximately 50% of the student population.

It has an impressive campus with a full-size gymnasium and theatre size stage as well as dance and visual arts studios. It also has dormitories on campus for international students and the renovated cafeteria strives to serve international cuisine. 

The Royal Imperial Collegiate school offers a strong international student ESL program with participation from international students from diverse countries all over the globe. The academic program is quite rigorous with a wide choice of options in each subject area such as humanities, modern languages, and the sciences as well as provides a wide range of AP courses.

The school offers a fantastic STEM academy focusing on different science and math courses and related extracurricular activities. It also has a great variety of athletics and sports such as fencing, tennis, and baseball as well as a multitude of clubs for students to join.

As mentioned previously, international students can live on campus in dormitories provided. Students are assigned to house parents who supervise and offer support when needed. Living with students from other cultures aids in expanding one's global perspective as well as developing new friendships!


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About the author

Sally Forsyth is a High school English teacher and an educational coach. She has worked in national and internatonal schools in different countries and different school systems, She is also the founder of CoachMyFuture, a coaching organization focusing on coaching teachers and educators in the educational sector.

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