York Region art school to get proper facilities

By  Erin Morawetz, The Catholic Register
  • April 29, 2012

MARKHAM, ONT. - A York Region school will soon have more reason to sing and dance as construction on a new arts building nears completion.  

St. Michael Catholic Academy in Markham, Ont., should be ready for a September opening. St. Michael’s is the only elementary school in York Region with a special focus on the arts: instrumental music, dance, drama and visual arts. Students in Grades 4 to 8 get special instruction on these subjects every day, in addition to the regular academic classes. When students return in September, they will be returning to a building with specialized facilities. Currently they are in a typical school building, without the facilities to cater to an advanced arts program.

“We were making do with regular classrooms, but you really can’t do that. You need specialized flooring for dance, you need soundproof rooms for music,” said Susan MacDonald, principal of St. Michael’s.

For this academic year, the school has been operating out of a temporary building as their old one was completely torn down and redone.

“This (new building) is being built for the arts,” MacDonald said. “We’re going to have an academic wing, and an arts wing with oversized gym, an oversized stage, a dance room, a drama room and an instrumental music room.

“The art room is actually going to be in the academic wing. It’s pretty hard to run an art class across the hall from an instrumental music room,” MacDonald said with a laugh.

While this new building doesn’t add space for more students (it caps out at 450), MacDonald hopes word gets out about the new facility — which is on track with its construction and is “looking great,” she said — and what it can bring to interested young artists.

“There’s no auditioning for students,” MacDonald said. “But we want to make sure the school is a good fit for the student.

“(Students need to be) committed to learning … and have a passion for the arts.”

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