Claude Watson School for the Arts
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (January 2007)|
|Claude Watson School for the Arts|
|130 Doris Ave
North York, Ontario, M2N 0A8
|School type||Public., Intermediate school|
|School board||Toronto District School Board|
|Area trustee||Mari Rutka|
|Artistic Director||Ian Handscomb|
|Last updated: March 28, 2006|
The main campus of the school was originally known as Lansing Public School #4 (until 1934), and then later changed to Duke of Kent Public School (1934–1949) and also Spring Garden Public School (1949–1980). In 1981 the Claude Watson Arts Program was formed. Claude Watson is the only public arts intermediate school in Canada, and is governed by the Toronto District School Board. Claude Watson celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2007 instead of 2006 due to the construction and touch-ups of the new building. The school is unique in Canada, simultaneously providing arts and academic education to a total of 300 students in grades 4 through 8, unlike other arts schools which begin at grade 9. It has performed at Toronto's 2008 Olympic bid, TTC's 50th Anniversary, the Opening Ceremonies of the 1997 Special Olympics at the Sky Dome, as well, the Claude Watson Stage Band™ has performed at Musicfest Canada Nationals in May 2014 and received a gold medal. Claude Watson attended other numerous cultural festivals around the world in addition to major production partnerships with professional companies like the Canadian Opera Company.
The Claude Watson program consists of academic and artistic study. The arts program includes various forms of dance, drama, music, and visual arts. All students are required to take multiple full-year courses in each of the following areas: national dance, jazz dance (also incorporating tap, ballet, and hip-hop), modern dance, musical theatre, drama, mime, choral music, instrumental music, Orff, and visual arts (sketching, painting, print making, weaving, sculpture, etc.). In grades 5 through 8, students select an arts area in which to major. The major involves increased class time in the given area, and a major independent project. However, this does not excuse any student from participation in all the other subjects; they are all obligatory for all students. The school has a number of extracurricular groups including Jazz Combo, Concert Band, String Orchestras, ensembles, solo groups, drama groups, dance groups and choirs.
In 2006, the Claude Watson building was torn down and a new school was built on the same campus.
The Claude Watson program is continued at Earl Haig Secondary School for grades 9 through 12, but audition is required to attend the school.
Although it is a public school, admission to Claude Watson is by audition only. Unlike most arts schools, which require a single or very few short solo auditions in a single arts area, the Claude Watson audition requires demonstration of potential in all four major arts areas (dance, drama, music, and visual arts) over a period of several full days through performances and compositions, both individually and in groups. Evaluators include teachers at the school and professionals in applicable artistic fields. Applicants must also submit previous report cards, and letter of recommendation from a previous teacher.
The vast majority of applicants audition in Grade 3, for admission the following year. Applicants always greatly outnumber available places in the entering class, which has remained constant at 60 for the school's 30 year history. The school holds a separate audition process for students applying for admission to grades 5 through 8, although admission through this process is extremely uncommon as space is dependent on the number of students (very few, if any) who leave the program in the previous year.
There is a small application fee, but the school charges no tuition fees. These are thought to be contributors to the high number of applicants to the school each year, from a broad range of ethnic, religious, and socio-economic groups.
Uniform was first just a light blue shirt with matching plaid ties. Then, due to the lack of manufactured blue shirts, it was changed to white shirts. Later on, Ms. Heather Mitchell enforced a white shirt and black dress pants with the school logo and name embroidered into them. Hair accessories and tie are optional for girls. With the new shipment of uniforms, the students had new shipments of dance wear and gym wear. This consisted of blue or orange t-shirts with the Claude Watson logo printed on it, with jazz pants with the same logo for the females. Black sweat pants and black t shirts with the school logo printed on both are required for the males. A second, more professional uniform is used consisting of a white dress shirt for both genders, black dress pants for males, and a plaid skirt for females. A plaid tie is required for both genders, as well as black dress shoes. The first uniform is for dance purposes, and the second solely on the two large performances (Celebrations and Reflections)and on field-trips.
Celebrations and Reflections are two performances that the school shows, and are performed at Earl Haig Secondary School, in the auditorium. The performances are performed by the students and are mainly shown to friends and family of the students attending Claude Watson. Celebrations is held one week before the winter break, where students are able to show off there musical talent, and the one night show includes a 2-3 hour performance of music (instrument and vocals). Reflections is a two night show usually one week before the summer break that consists of music, dance and drama plays. Tickets usually go on sale for 10 CAD.. A video of the Reflections performance is also available for purchase in DVD format.
The school provides many trips for the students, including two main ones, a 4 day 3 night trip for the grade 7's at Mono Cliffs, and a 4 day 3 night trip to Ottawa for the grade 8's as their graduation trip. There are other trip for all grades to a wide range of places (from Stratford, Ontario to the movie theatre!), some just staying there during school hours, while others for the whole day and parent/guardian pick up in the evening. A special trip for the stage band members to Vancouver took place for Musicfest Nationals 2014 but that trip may not always occur.
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