Westdale Secondary School

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Westdale Secondary School
700 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 1A5
Coordinates 43°15′36″N 79°54′05″W / 43.2601°N 79.9015°W / 43.2601; -79.9015Coordinates: 43°15′36″N 79°54′05″W / 43.2601°N 79.9015°W / 43.2601; -79.9015
School type High school
Motto Alius Alia Via Ad Astra Ascendit
('Each Reach For The Stars In Their Own Way')
Founded 1931
Principal Michelle Visca [1]
Grades 9-12
Colour(s) Green and Gold
Mascot The Westdale Warrior
Last updated: January 14, 2018
Westdale crest

Westdale Secondary School is a public high school founded in 1931 in Hamilton, Ontario. It is a school in the city of Hamilton and is located in Westdale Village, a suburb in the west-end of the city. It is administered by the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. Westdale celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2006. Westdale is also the most populated public high school in Hamilton, Ontario.


Westdale was founded as a collegiate school—housing three collegiates under one roof—and was, at a time, the largest school in the British Commonwealth. The original building was referred to as "Westdale Composite School", or "Westdale Tripartite School", because it housed three separate schools. The collegiate, technical and commercial schools were housed on the left, middle, and right side of the school, with the cafeteria on the fourth floor (the cafeteria has since moved to the first floor). The architects Prack and Prack designed the building with arched doorways and pseudo-buttresses of the "school gothic" architectural style. Constructed by J.M. Piggott Construction Company at an initial cost of $1,306,521 (including 4.7 hectares of land), the school has undergone three major renovations, which occurred in 1959, 1974/75. Westdale Secondary school has also become an IB school as of 2008, and has been the home of the Westdale Latin Programme since 1931.[2]

Westdale Secondary School, front view

Charity activities[edit]

Westdale regularly participates in and plays host to numerous fundraisers and awareness rallies. Each year the students organise such events as Keep the Beat, Coffee House, and the 30 Hour Famine. Westdale makes annual contributions to the Stephen Lewis Foundation through crêpe sales and other fund raiser activities. In 2005, Westdale students were part of the effort to keep the Victoria Cross of Frederick George Topham in Canada, as it was being auctioned off by his family. Westdale also runs an annual canned food drive for the food banks in Hamilton.

Haiti Run[edit]

Westdale annually hosts the Haiti Run, a charity event held on a Saturday in the fall to raise money to build schools and nurseries and to raise awareness about the desperate situation in Haiti. Participants walk, run, or jog through Westdale Village having secured pledges in the weeks leading up to the run.

War Child[edit]

Westdale regularly raises money for War Child Canada through an event called "Keep the Beat". In the period of 2003-2006, Westdale raised $34,000 for War Child Canada. As a show of their appreciation, War Child asked Sum 41 members Cone and Dave to visit Westdale to kick off the '05-06 Keep the Beat, at the Coffee House event. As a direct result of Westdale's effort, a school in the village of Makobola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, is being rebuilt after being destroyed in war.

Terry Fox Run[edit]

Westdale Secondary also raises money for cancer research every year in the Terry Fox Run. Westdale students collect pledges in the weeks before the run, then they may choose to walk, jog, or run through Westdale Village. Over 2 million people around the world participate in the Terry Fox Run every year.

Stephen Lewis Foundation[edit]

In 2008, Westdale Secondary School's student council held the Red Ribbon Rock, a coffee house aimed at raising funds and awareness for the fight against the spread of AIDS in Africa. Raising over $1500 between the coffee house and crepe sale, hosted by the Grade 12 French Immersion class, the student council was recognized by the Stephen Lewis Foundation for their support.

Hand Angles[edit]

In 2012, Westdale Secondary School's student parliament held a bake sale to raise money for Hand Angles, a charity which provides sexual services to disabled people. The bake sale was very successful and raised over $1200.

Westdale Helps[edit]

Westdale Helps is an organization formed through Westdale Secondary School in 2006. It was originally proposed by a chemistry teacher new to Westdale, Dr. Orton at a student club meeting. The first and most notable initiative of this organization was the Honduras Initiative. The group raised funds for building materials in order to help families build homes through Habitat for Humanity. In July 2007, a group of volunteers in the organization traveled to Honduras to complete this goal. The two homes built measured roughly 400 sq ft (37 m2), with material costs of about $6000 per home.[3]

In order to raise funds, Westdale Helps has hosted a number of fundraising activities. The most notable of them is the Westdale Helps Honduras Benefit Concert.

Extracurricular Activities[edit]

Drama & Theatre[edit]

Theatre Westdale participates in the 62-year-running Sears Drama Festival, putting on annual productions of musicals, and a host of other activities including an annual 24-hour Improvathon. In terms of musicals, in 2004 Theatre Westdale performed West Side Story to audiences in four sold-out nights and in 2005 they performed Grease. At the Sears Festival in early 2005 Westdale submitted two plays, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) and The Least Offensive Play in the Whole Darn World. Both plays won numerous awards and The Complete Works advanced to the provincial showcase. The following year (2006) Westdale submitted the Greek tragedy Antigone to the festival and won much critical acclaim, including 4 out of the 17 awards available at the regional level of the competition. In 2007, Westdale again entered two plays: The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged), and The Bald Soprano. The Bald Soprano advanced to the provincial showcase, winning a total of twelve awards throughout the 2007 festival. The 2008 Sears Festival year included one entry from Westdale, the student-written, student-directed play Prizefighter. The play received 10 awards at the District and Regional levels, including one for outstanding prop direction.

During 2007-2008, Westdale ran a pilot program of a Theatre Production course, in which students learn the on- and back-stage jobs that go into producing and performing a musical production. The production, Guys And Dolls, was performed in January 2008. Theatre Westdale's 2008-2009 production, Cabaret, was performed in December 2008 and was directed by Erin Newton. In 2009, Westdale performed a Sears Drama Festival entry named Enter Alice which was written and directed by Aaron Jan. The play received three awards in the District Festival (Awards of Excellence for Costumes, Performance, and Original Script) and three awards at the Regional Showcase (Costumes, Performance and Original Script). On December 9/10 Theatre Westdale performed the musical Annie which sold out for all matinee performances. In 2010 for the Ontario Sears Drama Festival the cast did a student written play by Aaron Jan. The play is called Rain which deals with the issues of homophobia in a high school setting. Rain won 4 awards including 1 for performance, lighting and direction and an outstanding performance award. The play went on to win 4 more awards for performance,dancing, stage management and the adjudicator's award for script. In 2010/11 Theatre Westdale put on the musical Footloose. In 2011 for the Ontario Sears Drama Festival Westdale performed a production of Elephant's Graveyard. In 2012 a collective of students wrote the Historical piece Triangle, the collective focuses on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the problems of working without a union. The collective was performed at the District, Regional and Provincial levels of the Sears Ontario Drama Festival winning awards in Stage Management, Music, Acting, Technical Theatre and Direction. In 2012, Theatre Westdale presented a representation of Little Shop of Horrors, by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, however the production was cut short because of the labor dispute between the Ontario Government and the Teacher's Unions. Following the labor dispute, Westdale put on two productions in the spring of 2013 for the Sears Drama Festival, Drafts and Asylum, directed by students Greg Waters and Russel Niessen, respectively.


Westdale has many music groups, including the Jr. Band, Sr. Band, Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Jr. Jazz, Sr. Jazz, and the Choir.

DECA at Westdale[edit]

Westdale Secondary School also has a new but growing DECA chapter with members ranking in the Regional, Provincial and International levels. The DECA Regionals take place in the month of November. Students who succeed in the Regionals move to the next stage which is known as DECA Provincials. Provincials take place in the month of February and takes place in the Sheraton Hotel. Each year students from WSS DECA attain top places in their competitions and some move to the final stage; the Internationals where they represent Canada. WSS DECA prepares its students by providing the essential skill sets to perform at each stage of DECA.

Model UN[edit]

Model United Nations is an academic simulation of the United Nations that aims to educate participants about current events, topics in international relations, diplomacy and the United Nations agenda. Westdale students rank highly in Model UN conferences, and also host HAMMUN every year, a conference with participation from across Southern Ontario.

Specialist High Skills Major[edit]

The Specialist High Skills Major Program (also known as SHSM) is a ministry-approved program which allows students to focus their skills in specific areas of interest as they earn their Ontario Secondary Diploma. Students at Westdale Secondary have the option to complete the High Skills Specialist Diploma in Arts and Culture or Construction.

Notable alumni[edit]

Partial listing of notable alumni:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Staff" Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  2. ^ "School History." Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  3. ^ Westdale Helps
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Celebrity High: Westdale Secondary Alumni" (Press release). The Hamilton Spectator. 2006-05-19. Retrieved 2007-05-04. 
  5. ^ Len Blum  – Biography
  6. ^ Eugene Levy – Biography
  7. ^ "John Lawrence Reynolds." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2004. Biography in Context. Web. 10 Jan. 2014. Gale Document Number: GALE|H1000131826
  8. ^ Myron S. Scholes, "Autobiography", in The Nobel Prizes 1997, Editor Tore Frängsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1998
  9. ^ Reynolds, John Lawrence. "Where did the money go?". The Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 27 April 2011. 
  10. ^ Martin Short (I) – Biography

External links[edit]