Royal West Academy

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Royal West Academy
Address
189 Easton Ave
Montreal West, Quebec
Canada
Information
School type Select Enrollment
Motto Sapere Aude
Founded 1951–1983 as an elementary school then to become Montreal West High School in 1983, which the name was then changed to Royal West Academy, its current name
School board English Montreal School Board
Principal Tony Pita
Grades 7–11
Enrollment 850
Language English
Colour(s) Blue, Burgundy, White and Grey                 
Team name Wildcats
Website

Royal West Academy (commonly referred to as Royal West or RWA; French: Académie Royal West) is a public alternative anglophone secondary school in Montreal, Quebec. Royal West has limited enrollment, and prospective students are only admitted after an entrance examination and interview. It is situated on Easton Avenue in Montreal West, but, as a 420 school, its students come from all parts of the Greater Montreal Area. Royal West Academy is part of the English Montreal School Board (EMSB).

The EMSB allows Royal West to choose the first 180 students who score the highest points on the entrance exams held, usually, in October. The first 50 students with the highest grades get an "early acceptance"; the next 200 do an interview, where they choose the next 130 that get to attend Royal West Academy the following school year. Royal West has also placed high in scholastic math competitions, including its rank of first in Quebec in 2006.

History[edit]

The grounds where Royal West is now located was once the Saint Philip's Anglican Church. In 1894, the Aberdeen School was founded. It was renamed as the Montreal West High School in 1921. Ten years later, in 1931, the building was demolished and a larger building was built in its place. In 1951 and 1959, an extension to the main structure was built to make way for an elementary school. The extensions are what is now called the west wing.

In 1980, the elementary school was closed because of poor enrollment. The Royal Vale elementary school moved in, but was closed as well. Finally, in 1983, the Royal Vale French immersion high school and Montreal West High School merged to form Royal West Academy. The new Royal West Academy is quite different from its predecessor; unlike most public schools it has a uniform and an entrance examination.

Until 1998 the school was within the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal.[1]

The Royal West Academy yearbook is called The Phoenix, in homage to the fact that Royal West Academy was born out of Montreal West High School. Students are encouraged to submit art and literature for The Phoenix and there is one illustration of a Phoenix that is chosen each year for the cover.

School grounds[edit]

One of the RWA Logos

The oldest and largest section of the school is shaped like a rectangle and runs from end to end of the school property. It stands three stories high. Behind the main structure, there is a two-story addition colloquially entitled the West Wing. The school houses three gymnasiums (only two in use), three science laboratories, an auditorium, music room, a cafeteria, two art rooms, an exercise room (rarely used/ dance show and school teams only), three computer labs, and its own library.

Royal West has two outdoor fields, one to the front of the school building and one to the back. The front field is a rectangular field with parameters suited mainly to soccer and football. The front field is used for classes, soccer and football games and on the last day of school for the annual Shaving Cream Fight. The back field is mainly used for classes and the BBQ held twice a year.

During the 2000s, plans were drawn up to enlarge the school using portion of land where the new gymnasium and the back field is currently. In 2007, construction of the new gymnasium began. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on June 21, 2007. The new gym was opened during the first few weeks of 2008. The first major event held in the new gym was a basketball game between the teachers and the Montreal Alouettes.

Student groups[edit]

Student Life Association[edit]

The Student Life Association (SLA) at Royal West Academy is the organization responsible for most student life events at the school. These events include school dances, the Variety Show, Winter Carnival Day, Free Dress Days, BBQs, Movie nights, etc. In May of every school year, a full week of campaigning followed by a presentation of platforms by all Slates (2 Secondary 4 students, one Secondary 3 student, and one Secondary 2 student) who are willing to become the SLA executives for the following year, takes place. All students in the school vote for who they want to be responsible for their student life in the following year. Additionally, the Student Life Association is also made up of a Dance Committee, a Refreshments Committee, an Athletics Chair, a Special Events committee, an Environment Committee and Social Justice Club liaison, and others deemed appropriate by the executives. Members are awarded 3 extra-curricular credits of their choice for their work throughout the entire school year.

Orientation Day

Every year, the Student Life Association organizes an orientation day for new students, and secondary I. Group leaders participate in fun activities with students, organized by animators. Students are additionally given a tour of the school. Some traditional activities include dodgeball, and Earth Ball, played with a large red ball. The entire Student Life Association takes part. This year, the Environment Committee took part, organizing educative activities, and giving each participant a reusable lunch bag, and water bottle, as well as pen made from recycled materials.

Prefects[edit]

Prefects aid the school staff in ensuring that rules and proper conduct are followed by the student population. This usually translates into Prefects being present during cafeteria and library hours, as well as during special events and assemblies. Each prefect is awarded with one community and one cultural credit. Prefects are identifiable by their grey vests and head prefects are identifiable by their tartan vests, which they wear during their duty.

Prefects are selected in May for the following school year.There are two head prefects, (seniors) and two foot prefects (Juniors). These head and foot prefects are elected by the other prefects. Prefects applying must be in grade 9 or 10, must submit an application in the form of an essay, and agree to an interview with the head and foot prefects, along with the involved staff. At this interview, candidates are tested to ensure that they are compliant to the form of leadership practiced by the head prefects. There are approximately 30 prefects each year.

Bands[edit]

The Honour Band represents the school in music competitions and festivals, and performs live for special occasions such as Memorial Day and graduation ceremonies. It consists mainly of students in grades 9 through 11 who are selected through auditions. Its members wear specially made burgundy coats with pins representing the number of years they have been in band. The band also elects student executive members at the first Thursday rehearsal of each year. The members of the student executive are the President, who acts as a liaison between the students and the band director and does pretty much everything else, the Vice-President, who runs the publicity crew and prints up tickets for each concert, the Secretary, who takes attendance each Honour Band rehearsal, the Librarian, who organises and distributes sheet music to the band, and the Equipement Manager(s), who is in charge of the Setup Crew, who in turn make sure that the stage is setup for performances. The Royal West Academy Honour Band is also the only high school marching band in the city of Montreal, and participates annually in numerous parades in Ontario and the Montreal region, including the Montreal St. Patrick's Day Parade. Every year, an Honour Band performance trip is planned. Most recently, the Honour Band visited Cuba on a cultural exchange.

The school bands are best known for their impressive talent, especially among the senior tenor saxophone players of the graduating class of 2017.

There is also a Winds band composed of juniors, a Jazz Band composed of seniors, and an acapella choir. In July 2008, the Jazz Band was selected to play on the main stage for Montreal's JazzFest. The Honour Band most recently won a gold medal at the 2014 English Montreal School Board (E. M. S. B.) Music Festival.

Environment Committee[edit]

The Environment Committee used to be called the "Environment Club", but underwent a name change to better reflect its current organization and objectives. Royal West Academy's Environment Committee is made up of students in grades 8 through to 11 who share the common goal of protecting our natural environment.[2]

Consequently, the committee holds a variety of events throughout the school year to raise awareness of numerous environmental issues. Its annual "Earth Week" includes fun and informative events such as a "No Car Day", "No Trash Day" and a "No Lights Day", as well as assemblies, tree plantings, organic baking sessions and after-school screenings of environmental documentaries. During the 2006-2007 school year, it invited guest speakers from Greenpeace and the Sierra Club of Canada to come and talk about climate change, as well as the need to modify our daily habits to diminish our impact on the environment. During the 2008-2009 school year, members of the committee chose to present at these assemblies as opposed to inviting guest speakers; the assemblies during Earth Week therefore showcased all that committee members have done, and plan to do in the coming years, to make Royal West Academy more environmentally-friendly.

The Environment Committee is also actively involved in changing the school's and the EMSB's environmental policies. It has built a park in the school's backfield,[3] campaigned Montreal West Town Hall for better recycling facilities (and thus helped to bring in a new recycling program)[4] and is currently trying to eliminate cafeteria waste by replacing plastic utensils with reusable and compostable ones. The Environment Committee also has its own bi-monthly newsletter, the Eco-Ego, which features articles written by students on a variety of environmental topics. The Eco-Ego is published as part of the school's monthly newsletter, the RWA News.

In addition, the committee regularly attends environmental forums as representatives of the school's environmental movement. In 2008, they were the "hosts" of Learning for a Sustainable Future's EcoLeague Youth Forum, which took place at Environment Canada's Biosphere Environment Museum.

All students at RWA are able to apply to become members of the committee at the end of the school year for the following school year. As of the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year, the environment committee has its own homeroom, room 104.

Members of the committee are invited to participate in an annual nature hike. On June 22, 2009, students hiked on Mont Saint-Hilaire. There is also an annual "eco-trip" that many Environment Committee members choose to attend, but the trip is open to all students at Royal West. During the 2008-2009 school year, the "eco-trip" was to a sustainable village in Costa Rica.

The Environment Committee has a liaison within the Student Life Association so as to help Student Life Association become more environmentally friendly and to help the Environment Committee in its publicity campaigns. In 2009, they took part in the SLA's Orientation Day.

Social Justice Club[edit]

The Social Justice Club is a student-run activist group whose purpose is to spread awareness within Royal West and within the community of current social or political issues. It explores topics as various as human rights, HIV/AIDS and land mines in its weekly meetings and organises awareness campaigns, fundraisers, supply packages and petitions with the objective being to effectuate positive change. Its yearly trip has brought members to other countries including Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Honduras, and South Africa in order to gain a better perspective of the world. Currently, the club is supporting a petition campaign demanding action by the Canadian government to return the Cree their lands, which are being used for oil. Additionally, members of the Social Justice Club publish a periodical newsletter called "The Activist", which features letters from students, editorials, and articles about different social justice issues in Canada and around the world.

Debating[edit]

The school is well known for its debating team, which has a long and successful history at both the provincial and national level. The team is coached weekly by a dedicated staff member and student managers.

Reach For The Top[edit]

The school has had a Reach For The Top team for several years. In 2008, the team became the Provincial Champions and went on to compete in the National Competition.

Bardolators[edit]

The school has a theatre group for the students, they perform 2 Shakespeare plays per year and Shakescenes, which are presented to the grade 7-9 English classrooms. They have weekly meetings and rehearsals in the auditorium. Mr Floen is the director and has been producing these plays with the students for the past 12 years. There are many Bardolator trips. In 2008 and 2016, the students went to England. Most years they visit Ottawa and Stratford, Ontario. When graduating a Bardolator receives a special academic credit for the activities in theatre.

Shaving Cream Fight[edit]

At last day of school before exams, students of Royal West Academy gather in the front field and participate in a yearly ritual in which they cover each other in shaving cream while classical music is blasted over loudspeakers.

Welcome Back BBQ[edit]

A welcome back BBQ is set up every year, usually during the first month and second Friday of the school year. Students gather in the back field and feast on hot dogs and chips. Games such as Tug of war, and watermelon eating contests are set up on the field to entertain students. This event is organized by the Student Life Association.

Goodbye BBQ[edit]

The Goodbye BBQ is a more recently established BBQ and takes place during the last month and last Friday of the school year. It is similar in structure to the Welcome Back BBQ noted above. Students gather in the grounds behind the school where hot dogs, drinks, popsicles, and watermelon slices are served. Various games are set up throughout the field to entertain the students. Also, during both Welcome and Goodbye BBQ's, they have people sing karaoke. This event is also organized by the SLA.

Notable graduates[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]