The Toronto District School Board will launch an Africentric high school program this September in Scarborough’s Winston Churchill Collegiate, starting with a Grade 9 program in which all five compulsory subjects — math, geography, French, English and science — will have a focus on African heritage.
Despite the late start — the board only began to notify Grade 8 students in early June — it hopes to enroll 60 students by September to the program, to be named after the late Leonard Braithwaite, the first black Canadian to be elected to Queen’s Park.
Unlike Oakwood Collegiate on St. Clair Avenue West, which opposed hosting an Africentric program last year because some saw it as segregation, Winston Churchill, on Lawrence Avenue East near Kennedy Road, has been open to the concept, noted trustee David Smith.
“There’s always been mixed views about Africentric schools, but when I explain the need that brought us to this crossroads — that there are a number of students who just aren’t meeting expectations — they understand,” said Smith.
“I believe we will have enough students to start in the fall.”
The plan is to add a grade each year and be open to students from across the city, including the first wave of graduates from the board’s Africentric alternative elementary school, near Sheppard Avenue and Keele Street, when they are ready for high school in September 2013.