Sisler High School

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Sisler High School
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Coordinates 49°55′52.3″N 97°10′36.8″W / 49.931194°N 97.176889°W / 49.931194; -97.176889Coordinates: 49°55′52.3″N 97°10′36.8″W / 49.931194°N 97.176889°W / 49.931194; -97.176889
Type Public secondary
(French immersion, ESL, Adapted, Life Skills, and Accelerated programmes)
Motto Vincit qui se vincit
("One conquers who conquers oneself")
Established 1957
School district Winnipeg School Division
Principal George Heshka
Enrollment 1800+
Colour(s) Red and Black         
Mascot Spartans

Sisler High School is the largest high school in the province of Manitoba with over 1800 students. It was built in 1957, and named after William James Sisler. As principal of Strathcona School in the North End of Winnipeg, W.J. Sisler was instrumental in helping new immigrant families adjust. He faced a great challenge in the fact that a majority of the students did not speak English; there were twenty-two countries of origin and eighteen language groups in his student body. In addition, many of his students came from areas where they were deprived their right to education. In his book Peaceful Invasion, W.J. Sisler says "Once they understood the value of education that was freely offered to them they took full advantage of all that we could give them". He adapted the education system for his immigrant students, and the provincial government of Manitoba soon officially adopted his method of teaching.[1] Sisler High School today has a large ESL (English as a Second Language) program.


Sisler High School has been recognized for teaching excellence. Principal George Heshka, who has been principal of Sisler High School for twenty-five years, has overseen the creation of various programmes such as the All-Girl classes, the 24-Hour Exile, and the humanitarian groups of Sisler High School.[2]

Nine teachers at Sisler High School have won Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence. This is the most that any single school has received this award.[citation needed] Mr. Chris Bandfield, social studies department head, also won Manitoba's Lieutenant Governor's Classroom Teacher Award, of which only one is awarded annually at the secondary level.[3]

Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence
2015 - Charles Bazilewich,
2014 - Jamie Leduc,
2013 - Kenneth Gordon,
2011 - Gregory Shedden,
1999 - Dennis Mogg,
1998 - Spencer Duncanson,
1998 - Hope Kideckel
1997 - Kristin Peterson,
1997 - Lesley Peterson,
1997 - William Korytowski

In 2011, Sisler High School became one of sixty three schools that is recognized by Microsoft as a Pathfinder School within the Innovative Schools Program. This accomplishment allowed Sisler to send a group to Washington D.C. to present Sisler’s innovative teaching practices around the world.[4]

In March 2005, the school was recognized with the Canadians for a Genocide Museum Educator's Award for its contribution for education on issues surrounding genocide;[3] specifically for its In Exile for a While programme. The school regards this to be a high honour, as it even edged out distinguished co-nominees—retired lieutenant-general, The Honourable Roméo Dallaire, and Inky Mark, Member of Parliament.

Sisler students have won the Harry Hood Memorial trophy twelve times. This trophy is awarded to student athletes who demonstrate outstanding scholastic and citizenship abilities. Sisler students have won this award more than any other school in the province.[4]

Since 2002, Sisler has had the highest amount of students per year selected to participate in Shad Valley.[citation needed]

In 2002 Sisler High School’s partnership with IBM was recognized with the "Conference Board of Canada RBC Royal Bank Partners in Education" Award.[4]

January 2009 English Provincial Exam Results[4]
Provincial Divisional Sisler
English (4S and General)
Pass Rate:
Consumer Math
Pass Rate:
Applied Math
Pass Rate:
Pass Rate:

Accelerated Program[edit]

Sisler High School's Accelerated Program allows students to enroll in grade 9 and potentially finish their first year of university by the time they finish their grade 12 year. Sisler High School offers five university courses, in conjunction with the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. Those courses include: Calculus 1, Calculus 2, English, Physics, and Psychology.[5] Sisler is the only school that has their AP students take both the University of Manitoba Calculus 1 and 2 courses.[citation needed] Prior to the 2005-2006 school year, Latin was also offered as a course. Advanced Placement chemistry is also offered, as well as many other enriched courses.

French Immersion Programme[edit]

Sisler High School's French Immersion has an enrolment of nearly 200 students. The French Immersion programme allows students to graduate with a French Immersion diploma, and full use of both official languages of Canada. Students enrolled in French Immersion are required to complete 14 credits of French-language courses. Two courses which are not offered in an English equivalent, and are therefore exclusive to French Immersion, are the Communications médiatiques (Media Communications) and Sciences humaines (Political History of the Twentieth Century).

The French Immersion programme also has compulsory participation in the Canadian Parents for French (CPF) Concours d'art oratoire until the end of grade 10. The Concours d'art oratoire (Contest of the Oratory Art) is a French-language speaking contest in which participants write their own piece on a topic of their choice and perform it in public. Alumnus and former president, Jan Raeimon D. Nato, is a three-time provincial champion of this competition, and placed second at the National level. Since then, he has been asked to speak at the CPF-Manitoba's 25th anniversary dinner, and at the Bureau de l'éducation française's French Immersion: Moving Ahead Into the Future conference. Many students go on to continue their studies at the Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface.

ICT and Vocational Technology Department[edit]

As Manitoba’s largest culturally diverse dual track high school located in Winnipeg’s North End, Sisler, recognized as an innovator in technology education, utilizes cutting edge pedagogical delivery systems including inverted classrooms, distance education collaborating with industry experts from across the globe. Sisler, a proof of concept school, provides ubiquitous Wi-Fi, BYOD and HD videoconferencing across academic, cultural, social and digital divides. Sisler is an award winning school including 1st in CyberPatriot International Exhibition, Premiers Award of Innovation, Microsoft Innovative Pathfinder school and the Adobe Educators Choice Award in 2012.

Awards 2012 Adobe Educator's Award
2011 Microsoft as a Pathfinder School of innovation

Digital Voices[edit]

Digital Voices is a two credit block Digital Media course designed for students interested in digital story-telling through e-collaboration and social media. The focus of this course is to provide students with the opportunity to embrace, document, depict and digitize all components of our cultures (the Seven Sacred Teachings, traditional stories, rituals, religious artifacts, etc.) while experimenting with digital media with students from around the world. Students will create digital media projects by combining traditional and digital media platforms including: web management platforms, photography, image manipulation, app development, video-editing, sound-editing, animation, motion graphics, special effects and vector design. Students will have an opportunity to collaborate with peers and experts in the industry through blogs, social media and video conferencing. Learn more by visiting: and In addition to successfully completing this 2 credit course, student with an 80% (or higher) and who meet the articulation agreement setup, will receive a Digital Media credit at the University of Winnipeg. Learn more by visiting

Digital Voices finished as the 2012 Finalist for the Adobe® Educators’ Choice Awards! The Adobe® Educators’ Choice Awards celebrate teaching and learning resources that unleash students’ creativity. Digital Voices Impressed the international judges and peers selected the program as one of the best projects, lesson plans, curricula, and tutorials.


Sisler High School’s Digital Voices course launched an Educational Speaker series called SoapBox.ED through High Definition Video Conferencing solutions in 2013. The SoapBox.ED series is hosted by students for students and shared through internet streaming. SoapBox EDucation provides an opportunity for students to address their views on a subject using Sisler's digital soapbox platform. The soapbox will attempt to enrich our understandings of cross-curricular outcomes, but adapted to meet the needs of 21st education. The main focus of this initiative is to provide a 21st-century learning opportunities for students throughout the Province of Manitoba and rest of the world. In addition, SoapBox.ED will:

  • bridge the gaps between education and community,
  • provide an enriched interactive forum for students to gain real life experiences,
  • provide a student-led digital forum with professionals,
  • provide students with an equitable opportunity to develop a deeper knowledge of subject matter through communication and Inquiry.
  • remove the carbon footprint of travelling


  • Mock virtual trials with international schools (education beyond borders),
  • Debates: Alternative Energy and world issue debates,
  • SoapboxEd Speaker series hosted by Digital Voices’ students for students throughout Manitoba,
  • Surgeries through HD video conferencing

Interactive Digital Media (IDM)[edit]

The Interactive Digital Media Program is intended to prepare students for employment and post-secondary programs in the interactive media industry. The Interactive Digital Media Framework brings together the required skill-sets in app development, augmented reality, web design, mobile applications, game technology, game design and game-based learning models. Sisler students have been learning all aspects of interactive media by creating all of their own digital content while meeting (and in some cases even exceeding) industry standard workflow practices by handling their own pre-production, production, and post-production processes.

Here are some highlights:

  • Sisler has been offering Lunch & Learns in App Development (Grades 6-8) to students attending North District schools,
  • Sisler is the only Manitoba High School with a professional Motion Capture Studio,
  • Sisler students have pitched their App and Game development company to the CBC’s Dragons’ Den,
  • Sisler High School is an active partner in Girls in Gaming,
  • Sisler has beta-tested educational games for Project WhiteCard and NASA,
  • Sisler has an Articulation Agreement with the University of Winnipeg’s Practical, Applied & Distant Education (PACE) program. Students have an opportunity to receive up to 7 dual credits App, Game & Web courses,
  • Sisler has established educational partnerships with KindOMa apps, iQMetrix, Complex Games, Project WhiteCard, City of Winnipeg, and the University of Winnipeg.

Visual & Performing Arts Department[edit]

Sisler High School's Visual & Performing Arts (VPA) Department offers courses in Art, Band (Jazz Band and Concert Band), Choir (JazzAM! Vocal Jazz Choir, Chamber Choir, and Concert Choir), Dance, and Drama.

In 2005-2006, Sisler formed their first Ukrainian Dance Group. Sisler's Ukrainian Dance group had the chance to perform at Dance Manitoba, and received gold for Competing Bukovinian Ladies and gold with honours for Pryvit.[citation needed]

From 2002–2004,2006, 2008, and 2013, Sisler High School's choirs have won the Earl Grey Trophy, the highest honour for a school choir in the Winnipeg Music Festival.[6] The choir also sends many of its members to the Provincial Honour Choir of Manitoba. In 2002, Sisler's Jazz Choir Jazz-Ma-Tazz received an invitation to perform at MusicFest Canada. In 2003, Sisler's Chamber Choir followed suit. In 2005, Sisler High School's Chamber and Concert Choirs also received recommendations to perform at MusicFest Canada. In 2015, Sisler's Women's Concert Choir and JazzAM! (Vocal Jazz Group) were also invited to MusicFest Canada.

On 18 October 2005, four members of Sisler High School's Chamber Choir joined the[7] Winnipeg Boy's Choir to sing O Canada at the official welcoming ceremony of Governor General Michaëlle Jean at the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. The visit to Winnipeg was Jean's first trip as Governor General.[citation needed]

The bands annually participate in The Winnipeg Optimist Festival, in which they have been awarded gold and silver medals. Sisler High School's bands have also been asked to perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra during the New Music Festival. Many students also perform with the divisional and provincial honour bands. Sisler offers a grade 9/S1 band, concert band (non-auditioned and generally for S2-4 students), jazz band (which is auditioned and again generally for S2-4 students), wind ensemble, beginner's band, and a pit band that consists of wind ensemble band members. The S1 band is scheduled into the school day, and accepts both beginners and non-beginners. The other bands practice before school, at lunch and after school.

In 2005, the dance troupe Sisler's Most Wanted brought home golds at the Winnipeg Dance Festival. The Sisler's Most Wanted dance troupe has its origins as an all-male dance troupe aimed at preventing crime, and has since then grown into a male and female troupe which is held in high regard throughout Winnipeg.[8] Sisler's VPA Department Head, Spencer Duncanson, has received an anti-crime award from the Attorney-General of Manitoba for his leadership in the Visual & Performing Arts Department.

On 8 October 2002, Sisler High School's Jazz-Ma-Tazz ensemble and Sisler's Most Wanted dance troupe performed for the Queen of Canada, Elizabeth II, during her visit to Winnipeg as a part of the Golden Jubilee festivities at The Forks.[9]


Sisler High School also offers a wide athletics program. It consists of traditional sports such as track, hockey, football, darts, rugby, volleyball, soccer and basketball, but also includes sports such as cricket, curling, and golf.[10]

Student Humanitarian Leadership[edit]

Sisler High School has gained recognition for its various humanitarian endeavours. These include Generation Peace, the Overseas Educational Fund, Global Medical Aid (GMA), the In-Exile Programme, and 30-hour Famine.

Generation Peace[edit]

Generation Peace was founded in 2000 and has grown to take on many humanitarian endeavours, achieving great success for international development. They mainly work with war-affected children through "War Child Canada", holding fundraisers to raise money for this organization. They have worked with Tsunami relief, Hurricane Katrina relief and Christmas Cheerboard in the past. They have also previously worked with the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation to present conferences. Their main events include "go nuts for donuts" sales, the annual Santa Gram sale, and, in collaboration with OverSeas Educational Fund, the annual Talent Show. Meetings are generally held at lunch and after school.

Overseas Educational Fund[edit]

OverSeas Educational Fund (OSEF) was created in 2003. Ultimately, OSEF raises funds and awareness for education overseas. They raise funds to support daycares in the Philippines through International Association for Transformation (IAT) as well as the Village of Hope initiative in Zambia. OSEF works through doing many fundraisers within the school, some of which including the Walk for Education, the Christmas-themed spirit day (entitled "Spartan Winter Wonderland"), food sales, dances, the annual talent show, holiday themed sales and events, as well as numerous others. OSEF also supports and operates with the many other humanitarian events occurring in the school. Meetings are held every Tuesday after school.

The In Exile Program[edit]

The In Exile Program was inspired by the Red Cross Exile program. Essentially this program simulates a refugee experience to spread awareness to high school students from numerous schools. It is held at Bird's Hill park annually. They have done both twenty-four- and twelve-hour exiles, both of which include a simulation walk, campground experience, guest refugee speakers, and "debriefing".

The 30 Hour Famine[edit]

The 30 Hour Famine is an annual schoolwide event that raises thousands of dollars every year for famished and underprivileged children overseas. Sisler students collect sponsorships for fasting for 30 hours. This event includes the "Break For Bread" dance in the evening in which faminers and non-faminers come together to dance, break dance and avoid thinking of food.


The Students of Sisler Environmental Helpers is a program that attempts to reduce Sisler's carbon footprint and improve the school's sustainability. There are many divisions of the program, each in charge of its own project. The recycling team recently installed blue boxes in each classroom that can be filled with plastic bottles and metal soda cans; the composting team stores bio-waste such as fruit and vegetables and grinds it up to turn it into fertilizer, the SolarWall team plans to install solar panels in the theatre to provide ventilation and air conditioning. One of SOSEH's most challenging divisions is the geothermal project, with the goal to install a geothermal furnace for the senior gym. Achieving the Geothermal plan for the school's senior gym accounts for the Winnipeg School Division's support. Currently, students are going around the hallways of Sisler, asking for change, "change for change", in order to support the costly project, and to promote the project's excellent environmental friendly goals for the school. On top of everything else, a low-priority BioSphere project is in the works: the project entails transforming the smallest courtyard of the school into a prairie landscape by planting grass and trees found in such an ecosystem. A glass roof will cover the courtyard and over time students will be able to witness the effects of global warming on a prairie climate such that the city of Winnipeg is emerged in. Ultimately, SOSEH's goal is to turn the whole school into an eco-friendly environment, in every way possible.


Global Medical Aid faundraises to provide medication to people in third world countries. In 2006 GMA held a Dance Dance Revolution competition to raise money, the winner in the heavy difficulty category of competition to have a chance at challenging Canada's DDR champion.

Student Groups[edit]

There are also many other extracurricular activities offered at Sisler.[11] These include:

Sustainability Circle[edit]

Sisler's Sustainability Circle (SSC) consists of Recycling Team, Compost, E-Waste, After-School Cookers, Gardening, and Fair Trade. Many students spend hours volunteering in these environmental groups. Sisler’s recycling team has recycled over 60 tonnes of material since 2009. In 2014, SSC was presented the Anna Lindsey Protecting Our Earth Award by Manitoba's Eco-Network for the significant contributions to awareness and protection of Manitoba's environment. They also host the Annual Fall Feast, where After-School cookers cook meals and use ingredients from the school's garden and local farmers.

Freshly Pressed[edit]

Sisler has always encouraged core beliefs and values such as freedom of speech and freedom of equality. Freshly Pressed is Sisler High’s Student newspaper. Any student is able to submit to the news paper and students are encouraged to express their thoughts and ideas through this group.

Athletic Council[edit]

Sisler’s Student Athletic Council organizes school events such as intramurals, school dances, and mini olympics.

Christian Youth Group[edit]

Is a non-denominational group in Sisler that is open to everyone. CYG has weekly fellowships, on and off school grounds. CYG’s main focus is to bring Christ to the school. They also hold the annual Easter service and host Operation Christmas Child.

Robotics Team[edit]

In 2003, the rookie Sisler robotic team entered the Canada F.I.R.S.T. robotics competition. The team won awards or medalled in every category except for "Best First Year Team". The team won the "President's Cup" for finishing first place overall, including an amazing second place in the robot hockey competition.[12]

S.T.A.N.D. (Sisler Teens Against Nicotine and Drugs)[edit]

Held a petition for the students and staff to sign, asking the administrators to ban smoking on school grounds, and got over 800 signatures. Several members went to a division board meeting where they held a vote about the issue. They voted to ban smoking on the school grounds starting September 2007. Several members were also interviewed for the Winnipeg Free Press, and had their photos published. This group has been praised in the Manitoba Legislative assembly and in the House of Commons. This particular student group was also invited to present at the National Conference on Tobacco and Health in Montreal. One of S.T.A.N.D’s most recent accomplishments is creating the first ever “Go Smoke Free Day” at the Red River Exhibition.

Sisler's Science Squad[edit]

Known as SSS or S cubed. Visits Lord Nelson to put on mini science shows once a month for half the school year. The other half of the school year is spent for the prep and the showing of the annual Science Magic Show at Sisler's Science fair, and for aiding in running the Division's science fair while putting on a Science show for all the students. And recently when the nation's science fair was held in Winnipeg they were asked to perform another science show.

Distinguished Alumni[edit]

  • Lloyd Axworthy, Former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Former Director of the Liu Institute for Global issues at the University of British Coloumbia, and the Current President of the University of Winnipeg graduated from Sisler High School.
  • Gary Filmon, Former Premier of Manitoba (1989-1999).
  • Louriza Tronco, Actress.[13]