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About Forest Heights Collegiate Institute
Are you a parent/guardian (or future parent/guardian) looking in to schools in Kitchener Waterloo? Are you a student trying to decide which school will be the best fit for you? Or maybe you’re somebody who just really loves education? In any case, you’re in luck, because this is the first post in a series about secondary schools in the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB). Introducing: Forest Heights Collegiate Institute (FHCI for short, or if you don’t like acronyms, ‘Forest Heights,’ or if you don’t like heights, simply ‘Forest’).
Nestled between Fischer-Hallman Road and Queen’s Boulevard in Western Kitchener, Forest Heights gets its name from the beautiful Forest Heights neighbourhood in which it resides. It is conveniently located right next to the Forest Heights Community Library, and Forest Heights Pool, providing great opportunities in after-school activities and work for children and teens. FHCI was one of several secondary schools built during the 1960s in Kitchener-Waterloo; it was founded in 1964. Somewhat uniquely, most classes have window-access – the better to look out upon the fair streets of Forest Heights.
With approximately 1200 students, FHCI is not one of Kitchener-Waterloo’s largest schools. But keep in mind that the average size of an Ontario secondary school is 700. Forest Heights is small compared to a massive school like Cameron Heights, but still substantially larger than the provincial average.
Forest Heights’ motto is “sit tuum tollere,” Latin for ‘to hold the torch high.’ Their colours are gold and brown (though it’s gold and black on their uniforms). Their team name is the Trojans, and their mascot is Troy the Trojan.
Waterloo Region schools have incorporated a Magnet School system, in which certain high schools offer specific, specialized courses or programs. Many of these Magnet programs are geared towards preparing students for transitioning from secondary school into post-secondary opportunities, whether that be more schooling or joining the workforce. Students choosing to make use of one of these Magnet programs are eligible to transfer to a school outside of their designated home school boundary.
Forest Heights Collegiate Institute ESL Program
Forest Heights Collegiate Institute is one of the schools that offers a specialized ESL (English as a Second Language) program. What does this mean?
If you’re looking for a school that caters to English Language Learners, Forest Heights should be one of your top considerations. With 23% of the student body being ESL students, and speaking more than 50 different languages, the school is well-equipped to provide an excellent education to students for whom English is not their native language. By taking part in this Magnet program, students will be guided into proficiency with English by experienced teachers and support staff trained for this purpose. And with such a large percentage of ESL students, finding other students with similar language-learning and cultural experiences is a huge benefit.
Forest Heights Collegiate Institute Extended French Program
Forest Heights is also one of five WRDSB secondary schools with an Extended French program. This is different than French Immersion (which is offered at 2 WRDSB secondary schools) in that Extended French students must take seven credits taught entirely in French, whereas in French Immersion they must take ten. Students have opportunities for travel in French-speaking regions in Canada and abroad, as well as cultural experiences like movies and food. Knowing both English and French opens doors in Canada, and Forest Heights provides this opportunity.
Specialist High Skills Major Program
Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) is an Ontario Ministry of Education initiative that allows students to “focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests while meeting the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) (Ontario Ministry of Education).” This option is available for grade 11 and 12 students looking to acquire job-specific skills and certifications. Different high schools offer different programs; Forest Heights Collegiate Institute has two: Arts and Culture & Information and Computer Technology.
Students with an interest or inclination for either of these fields should also consider Forest Heights, not only for the more focused instruction and opportunities in career preparation, but also for finding a large group of likeminded, similarly-skilled students as a support base and peer community.
Forest Heights Collegiate Institute Teacher Ratings
The quality of a school’s teachers is one of the most important things to think about when you’re deciding where your children should get their education. One of the best resources to use when considering a school is Rate My Teachers (ca.ratemyteachers.com/Ontario) – a site in which students evaluate their teachers (and, correspondingly, their schools) on a variety of criteria. Of course, you should take this data with a grain of salt (not more than a grain, though – too much sodium is a bad thing) as reviews can be left semi-anonymously, and for any unstated reasons. But it very much helps to paint a picture of the school, and the culture created by the teachers who teach there.
Forest Heights Collegiate Institute fares very well on Rate My Teachers – it has an overall average of 4.26/5, based on 1,955 ratings. This puts it above Ontario’s average of 4.25. 76% of the teachers were given 5 star ratings – an impressive feat. Forest Heights’ overall ranking has steadily increased over the past ten years, which is another positive indication.
Forest Heights Collegiate Institute Community Involvement
Although Forest Heights is not one of Kitchener-Waterloo’s top academic schools, it offers a strong sense of community. One recent example of this can be found on the Forest Heights C.I. Twitter (link here): at the start of classes on September 5th, students and teachers collaborated on large murals expressing their hopes for the new year. Many FHCI students live in the Forest Heights neighbourhood and walk to and from school. The school also hosts community charity events, and offers a variety of clubs and teams, including: Chess, Anime, ‘Knit Happens,’ Golf, Curling, Robotics, and Dance.
Serving as a Magnet School for ESL, and offering Specialist High Skills Majors in Arts and Culture and Information and Computer Technology, Forest Heights Collegiate Institute can cater to students with these specific needs and interests. Its Extended French program provides an excellent option for students interested in cultivating their proficiency in Canada’s other official language. Smaller than most Kitchener-Waterloo schools, FHCI has a strong sense of community, which is cultivated by both students and teachers alike.
Written by Will Kummer