Grey Highlands Secondary School
|Grey Highlands Secondary School|
|Flesherton, Ontario, N0C 1E0, Canada|
|School board||Bluewater District School Board|
|Vice principal||Dale Ahrens, Kathy Damsma|
|School type||Coeducational secondary|
Grey Highlands Secondary School is a Grade 9-12 high school located in Flesherton, Ontario, Canada, in rural Grey County. It was built in 1967 as part of a province-wide upgrade of educational facilities. Unlike typical rural high schools of the time that were designed only to graduate matriculation students, it was envisioned as a multi-disciplinary facility for students of all educational paths. Designed for 900 students, the building has been expanded several times; approximately 1200 students now attend.
Grey Highlands Secondary School (GHSS) was built in 1967 as one of the many new school construction projects undertaken by Education Minister Bill Davis in order to modernize and centralize rural elementary and secondary schools. When it opened in September 1968, it became the central high school for students from three smaller district high schools, covering a collection area of 195,000 hectares (750 square miles). Those smaller high schools were converted to elementary schools, which in turn replaced the many one- and two-room school houses that were still in operation until that time.
Until that time, the curriculum and facilities in Ontario's rural high schools were designed solely for academic students destined for post-secondary education. Students needing a level of education necessary for the trades, business or a non-academic career inevitably dropped out of high school.
E. Murray Juffs, the first principal of Grey Highlands and the main driving force behind the design of the school, envisioned Grey Highlands as a multi-discipline school encompassing opportunities for education in all streams, from occupational training as a car mechanic or short-order cook, to business office training, to a liberal arts education suitable for university preparation.
To this end, the original school incorporated four science laboratories, a greenhouse, six technical shops (auto, machine, carpentry, electrical, general, drafting), a double gymnasium, a smaller gymnasium and weight training room, an auditorium with a full proscenium arch stage, a music room with sound-proofed practice rooms, several typing and business machine labs, two home economic kitchens, a languages lab, a library with study rooms, a quarter-mile (400-metre) cinder track and football field/soccer pitch, and classrooms.
In addition to education, student involvement in intramural and varsity sports and other activities was expected. For the first ten years, a spring musical was a major school project under the direction of mathematics teacher Eleanor Juffs that involved most students and staff. In addition to several dozen students who appeared as cast members for productions such as My Fair Lady, Oliver!, Brigadoon, Anything Goes, Camelot, and Annie Get Your Gun, there was a full pit band, the sets were built by carpentry students, special effects were generated by the science department, and other students were in charge of audio, publicity, photography, ticket sales, ushering and backstage direction. Each musical ran for three nights, often playing to almost 3,000 people from the surrounding region.
In the 1990s, another wing was built onto the school, raising the capacity from 1,000 to 1,200 students. An elevator was also added to provide wheelchair access to all three stories of the science/classroom wing.
In 2006, a new wing was added that contained several new classrooms and computer labs, and renovations were done to the cafetorium and front foyer.
The school's sports teams compete against other schools in Grey and Bruce Counties under the umbrella of the Bluewater Athletic Association. Teams at Grey Highlands are called the "Lions", with the exception of Grey Highlands United, the soccer team.
Peculiarities of a rural high school
Due to the large cachement area, approximately 95% of the students travel to and from school via school bus. This large proportion of "commuters" can be a problem in terms of extra-curricular activities such as team practices and band rehearsals. During its first decade of operation, the school ran "late buses" twice a week that enabled students to participate in extracurricular activities until 5 pm. However, these were discontinued by the school board as a cost-saving measure, and students are now responsible for finding their own way home after extracurricular activities.
The area around Flesherton is in a snow belt region, and winter storms from Lake Huron and Georgian Bay can cause several "snow days" each year, when buses cannot safely deliver students. While this is not a problem for overnight storms when students are forced to stay home, there is always the question of whether to send students home early when a daytime storm threatens. This problem was not anticipated in the first winter of operation (1968–69), when a sudden storm stranded the entire student body and staff at the school, forcing them to spend the night in the gymnasium and auditorium. Procedures were developed to avoid this, including a barograph in the office of Head of Science W.J. Brown that would warn of drops in barometric pressure.
- Edna Lukianchuk (November 19, 1999). "Lives Lived: E. Murray Juffs". Globe and Mail.
- Grey Highlands Yearbook: 1968-69. June 1969.