Martin C. Barry
Sacred Heart School of Montreal is growing again. The school’s international program is growing. The school’s enrolment has grown for a third year. And now Sacred Heart is one of a few select high schools in Quebec – and the first all girls’ school in Montreal – to offer a Grade 12 program.
“Our growth is proof to me that people want values-based education,” says Shawn O’Donnell, Head of the school for the past decade.
“They want an education that is more than just academics and that involves true values and character building,” he says. “We believe there is more of a need for our education and our values-based program than ever.”
Faith-based, but inclusive
With a total school population of 230 girls, Sacred Heart School of Montreal offers boarding for 16 students, with room to accommodate 20 more boarders. The school prides itself on the small class size it offers, as well as a low 6:1 student/faculty ratio. One-hundred per cent of Sacred Heart School of Montreal graduates advance to post-secondary education.
While Sacred Heart School of Montreal was founded and continues to be based on traditional Catholic beliefs and values, girls from a wide spectrum of faiths are enrolled as students. “We’re very inclusive and various faiths are represented at the school,” says O’Donnell.
“Studies show that girls learn differently from boys,” says Director of Advancement Lili Le Fèvre, explaining some of the reasons the school offers single-gender education. According to O’Donnell, the girls are able to learn in a natural environment where they don’t feel pressure from the opposite gender. “They are free to be themselves,” he says.
The Grade 12 program
As of August 2019, Sacred Heart School of Montreal will become the first all girls’ school in Montreal, and one of a select few high schools in the entire province, to offer a Grade 12 program. The program, offered in English, will be delivered online through a partnership with the Ontario Virtual School (OVS), in conjunction with physical classes taught by teaching specialists at Sacred Heart School of Montreal.
Students will be able to choose between a Commerce and a Science stream. Girls must have completed Grade 11, but do not require a Certificate of English Eligibility to attend. At the end of the one-year, full-time program, students will receive a Grade 12 diploma (OSSD) from the Ontario Ministry of Education, enabling them to apply to universities in Quebec, other Canadian provinces, the United States, and throughout the world.
In Montreal since 1861
As part of a world-wide network of Sacred Heart schools operated by the Society of the Sacred Heart in more than 40 countries on six continents, Sacred Heart School of Montreal has been providing faith-based education since 1861 when the Convent of the Sacred Heart first opened its doors as a school for young girls.
At that time, the school was located on St. Hubert St. in Montreal and the enrolment was just 15 pupils. It was only after several changes of location that the current building on Atwater Ave., which has been a landmark for generations, opened in 1928 and started to receive students.
In 1982 the former convent was renamed Sacred Heart School of Montreal, as it underwent a transformation that installed a lay administration, with an understanding they would continue abiding by the mission and philosophy of the founders.
Vast educational experience
Sacred Heart School of Montreal is well-positioned to lead among providers of education in Montreal, in an increasingly crowded domain where some relatively new private educational institutions have no more than a few decades of experience behind them.
A strong point in Sacred Heart’s favor is its direct affiliation with hundreds of other Sacred Heart schools all over the world. With the sort of globe-trotting, fast-paced lives that many successful parents now lead, knowing there’s a Sacred Heart School in a distant city can be comforting.
Using its international network, Sacred Heart School of Montreal has a well-established exchange program that can provide enriching travel and learning experiences to senior students. Some of these exchanges have seen girls from Sacred Heart pursue studies in England, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, France, Taiwan, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.