Neil McNeil High School
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|Neil McNeil Catholic High School|
|127 Victoria Park Avenue
Scarborough, Ontario, M4E 3S2
|School type||Catholic High school|
|Motto||Fidelitas in Arduis
(Faith in Hard Times)
|Religious affiliation(s)||Roman Catholic
(Holy Ghost Fathers)
|School board||Toronto Catholic District School Board|
|Area trustee||Nancy Crawford
|School number||502 / 734080|
|Colour(s)||Maroon and Grey|
|Team name||Neil Maroons|
|Specialist High Skills Major||Health and Wellness
(awaiting approval from the board)
|Program Focus||Broad-based Technology
In 1954, six Holy Ghost Fathers came from Ireland. Their original purpose was to get missionaries as Archbishop James Charles McGuigan wanted an all-boys school in east Toronto and the first high school in Scarborough that was founded in 1958 by the Holy Ghost Fathers. The school was named after Neil McNeil, Archbishop of Toronto from 1912 to 1934. During his entire term as Archbishop, he fought tirelessly for the extension of funding for Catholic secondary schools. He demonstrated in both words and deeds the school motto “Fidelitas in Arduis”, which translates to “Faith In Hard Times”.
From its inception, priests came out to teach. The first principal was Father Troy until his retirement in 1965. At first the school was a two-story building with no gym and no cafeteria. In 1960, the third floor and gymnatorium as well as the cafeteria were added.
In 1967, the school entered an agreement with the Metropolitan Separate School Board (now the Toronto Catholic District School Board, where, by Grade 9 and 10, students would be under the publicly funded separate school system and Grades 11, 12, and 13 would continue as a private school. Since 1987, the school was fully funded by government and Neil McNeil was ceased as a private school. The school was maintained and operated fully by the MSSB although the Spiritans continue to lease the school.
Even though the last priest-principal of the school retired in 1990, the Spiritan presence is alive and well through the Spiritan Scholarship Fund established in 1995. By 1998, the fund disbursed more than $50,000 in scholarship awards for students going to university or community college.
Notre Dame is the "Sister School" of Neil McNeil Catholic Secondary School located not far from Neil McNeil. Both of these schools are regarded as among the oldest and most discriminative high schools in the TCDSB and in the city of Toronto. It is a school renowned for its elaborate and spirited school assemblies and tight knit community. Neil McNeil's patron saint is the Holy Spirit.
The Toronto Catholic District School Board acquired Neil McNeil's school facilities from the Spiritans' in 2009.
Threatened closure and possible relocation
Neil McNeil was one of five schools in the Toronto Catholic District School Board (along with Cardinal Newman, Jean Vanier, Notre Dame and St. Patrick) underwent a school accommodation review in June 2009, which were part of four clusters of 17 schools under review — either have too many or too few students and could be consolidated, relocated or closed. In December, the board decided to close two schools and relocate another.
The school's parent council co-chair Nicole Waldron said the group is opposed to one of the three options presented by the board for students from Neil to be relocated from Victoria Park and Kingston Road near the Scarborough Bluffs to St. Patrick (on the former Lakeview Secondary School grounds) in the Greenwood and Danforth Avenues area. He stated that “We are here tonight to say that the history of closing schools must end in this process. We are not here to close and to relocate Neil McNeil,” Waldron told a boisterous crowd of about 400 people at a public meeting on January 7 at Neil. The review of the east-end schools came into light because there are too many students at Cardinal Newman, Neil McNeil, Notre Dame and Jean Vanier and too few students at St. Patrick. However, both the sites of Jean Vanier and St. Patrick are currently owned by the Toronto District School Board via the Toronto Lands Corporation (TLC) realtor arm if returned while the Newman property and land is owned by St. Augustine's Seminary.
In this particular grouping, the TCDSB explored three main options:
- relocate Notre Dame students to St. Patrick
- relocate Neil McNeil students to St. Patrick and/or relocate Notre Dame students to Neil McNeil (if so, the schools could be similar to Michael Power/St. Joseph High School in Etobicoke upon consolidation in 1982); or
- provide a new program focus at St. Patrick.
Since the issue came to light last fall, local stakeholders have passionately expressed their desire to go with the third option of investing in bettering St. Patrick. Some of the possibilities could include refocusing the school into a centre for the arts, implementing a kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) French immersion program or even offering year-round school for students there from K-12.
The end result was St. Patrick became the Centre for the Arts, Media, and Technology in June 2010. Since then, the school board agreed with the Spiritans to make every effort possible to maintain the Neil facility for the next 50 years. That agreement is a clause in the June 2009 purchase agreement between the TCDSB and the Spiritan order.
Every Friday morning, the school song is sung, replacing the singing of O Canada on other weekdays.
School spirit and student life is fostered by the elected Student Council. Since the 2011-2012 academic year, Student Council has had autonomy over their affairs, reporting directly to the Principal. This has allowed Council to make quick decisions.
Towards the end of the year, the graduating class organizes a "Boxer Run" through their nearby sister school, Notre Dame. This consists of the entire grade 12 class coming together as a collective "hive mind" unit and stripping down to their boxers to run the hallways.
- Javier Acevedo, Canadian Olympic Swimmer, Rio 2016 Summer Olympics
- David Bourque, musician, Toronto Symphony Orchestra
- John Candy, comedic actor
- Andrew Cash, Canadian singer-songwriter and current Member of Parliament (New Democratic Party)
- Andre Champagne, former NHL player
- Mike Corbett, former NHL player
- Mike Corrigan, former NHL player
- Mike Del Grande - Current chair of the TCDSB, former city councillor
- Gary Dineen, former NHL player
- Lawrence Gowan, musician, STYX
- Billy MacMillan, former NHL player
- Keith Martin, Member of Canadian Parliament
- Jim McKenny, former NHL player
- Gerry Meehan, former NHL player
- Brad Park, Hall of Fame NHL player
- Rod Seiling, former NHL player
- Gary Smith, former NHL player
- Elvis Thomas, former member of the Canadian National Soccer Team
- Mike Walton, former NHL player
- Centennial College journalism students (2010-02-08). "High school’s future questioned | The Toronto Observer". Torontoobserver.ca. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- Sheila Dabu Nonato (Catholic Register): Community fights to keep Neil McNeil at home - January 15, 2010, Retrieved Sept. 5, 2013.
- "TLC Portfolio : As of August 31, 2012" (PDF). Chrisglover.ca. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- Joanna Lavoie Students, parents demand local Catholic high schools be kept open - East York Mirror, January 12, 2010. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
- "Office of the Director of Education" (PDF). Tcdsb.org. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- Catholic Register: [Toronto St. Patrick School embraces art and media] - January 15, 2010, Retrieved Sept. 5, 2013.
- David Bourque (2013-08-29). "Toronto Symphony Orchestra - Musician Details". Tso.ca. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- "Welcome To". Styxworld.com. Retrieved 2013-10-04.