News Release: Westwood Community High School and École McTavish Grade Reconfiguration Announced

(Fort McMurray, AB - December 22, 2017) The Board of Trustees approved the administrative recommendation to reconfigure Westwood Community High School and École McTavish Junior High to offer grades 7 to 12 effective the 2018-19 school year. This motion was carried at the December 20th regular Board meeting.

In addition, Westwood Community High School will now be designated as the Advanced Placement courses site, and École McTavish will act as the primary location for the PEAK athletic program as well as the French Immersion site for secondary students in the District.

Superintendent Doug Nicholls made both recommendations in considering FMPSD’s addition of new schools Christina Gordon and Dave McNeilly and the building of the high school wing currently underway at École McTavish. The board direction now means that all three regular secondary schools, including Composite High School, will house grade 7-12 instruction. Frank Spragins will continue to operate as an Outreach School which offers self-paced learning for Fort McMurray students.

“While there will be some natural challenges in moving both Westwood and École McTavish to secondary schools with grades 7 through 12, the discussion of this possibility has been in our District and community for the last few years. Both schools are thriving with strong results in all programs and high satisfaction from students and parents. The board and I believe that strong tradition will continue when offering students in our community a six year program at all of our secondary school sites,” stated Superintendent Nicholls.

Both schools will boast excellent future programming. Westwood has plans to implement a speciality academic program for junior high students to prepare them for high school Advanced Placement courses. A strong junior high French Immersion program at École McTavish will expand to high school years.  Both schools are gearing up for exciting high school Career and Technology (CTS)  and junior high courses (CTF)  like woodworking, welding, small engines, video and animation to name a few. Already robust Robotics, fine arts, and athletics programs at both schools will continue to grow and excel.

“This is exciting news! We are thrilled to extend our programming to include junior high students, so teachers and students can make connections earlier. We will work with our students and families for six years instead of three to serve our community well,” noted Cynthia Shelley, Principal, Westwood Community High School. 

“We have been hearing from families who wish to have a public school for junior high in the Thickwood area. We are happy to continue to offer Advanced Placement programming, and are looking at ways to infuse that academic experience into the junior high programs. Westwood has a remarkable IT program. We see this announcement as an opportunity to be able to offer technology option classes to grade 7-9 students in areas such as coding, virtual reality and Robotics. Earlier exposure to this programming means these students will have more time to learn and hone their technology skills as 21st Century learners. We will continue to offer quality options in the arts, athletics and many other areas of study,” she added.

Scott Barr, Principal, École McTavish Junior High School echoed similar sentiments.

“We are very excited to hear grades 10-12 will be in our building starting September 2018. Our staff is energized by the prospect of having our Marauder students for a full six years. The ability to work with students until graduation is a unique experience, and we look forward to watching the first Marauders walk across the stage at graduation.”

“We are also excited to use the new facility, which will be coming online next year. The construction is going very well and the students and the community will be impressed with the facility upon completion. Video animation and TV studio, cosmetology, recording studio, robotics/coding, RAP program, and so much more will be available for our students. We also look forward to continuing our academic excellence and strong character development, which our school is well-known for. The future is bright at École McTavish High School,” Scott said.

Staff in both schools are already starting initial planning for a smooth transition for students.  There will be questions raised after Christmas as the District moves through the transition process. Please look for more communication from the District and the schools in the weeks ahead through a “Question and Answer” format.

For more information, please contact:

Kiran Malik-Khan

Communications Manager

Fort McMurray Public School District

Cell: 780-880-7666