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School prepares for big move

Sir Sandford Fleming Academy closing this fall, moving to former Bathurst Heights SS
By Mike Constable

February 22, 2011

Neighbourhoods: Lawrence Manor

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This fall, big changes are in the books for students at Sir Sandford Fleming Academy.

The Toronto District School Board passed a decision in May to close the facility and move the student body to the former Bathurst Heights High School, on the edge of Lawrence Heights.

But a new facility isn’t all that’s in store for the students. The building will be refurbrished with new program options and a new name honouring John Polanyi, a Nobel Prize laureate.  

The University of Toronto professor and scientist was awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1986 along with two other colleagues for their work in the field of reaction dynamics. He is also known for his humanitarian work, helping to found the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Canadian Pugwash Group.

The new school will boast several academic initiatives that will reflect Polanyi’s passion for the sciences, including the Smart program, which will focus on science, math and robotics technology. The school will feature upgraded computer and science laboratories.  

“Our community consultations in the past few years said again and again that parents and students wanted a focus on advanced arts, mathematics and sciences,” said Arnold Witt, principal at Sir Sandford Fleming Academy. “The magnitude of this new program isn’t just for the students, or the parents, but for the whole community.”  

The new school will also be the first to incorporate a leadership program called I-Think from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. The program is aimed to help students become integrative thinkers, an approach that is the basis of Rotman’s MBA programs.

“With the I-Think program, students will learn how to adapt to changing circumstances,” said Howard Goodman, local school board trustee. “In many ways, it’s more important to think well then to have a piece of technical expertise.”  

Witt said that the new links with the University of Toronto are in addition to a four year old senior level criminology program currently offered at Sir Sandford Fleming. It is one of the first secondary school level criminology programs in the province.  

The new collegiate will also carry a food and nutrition and hospitality program that will have access to expansive winter gardens. In addition, the building will have technical design studios, two gymnasiums with bleachers, a weight room, fully equipped dance studio and pool facilities.

The current facility at Sir Sandford Fleming Academy will run as usual until the end of June, when the school board will have only two months to outfit and transfer the school.  

Goodman said he expects a healthy enrolment, given the response so far “has been extremely positive and gratifying.”

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