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Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate & Vocational School
Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School (more commonly ‘Kitchener Collegiate Institute’ – KCI for short) is a beautiful, historic high school near downtown Kitchener. It first opened its doors in 1855 – yes, it predates Canadian Confederation – at which time it was called Berlin Senior Boys’ Grammar School, and Kitchener was called Berlin. The school, and the city, changed their names in 1916. Until 1955, when KCI celebrated its 100th anniversary, it was the only public high school in the region (Eastwood opened a year later, and several more opened in the 60s to accommodate Kitchener-Waterloo’s flourishing population). Though there was pressure to close KCI in the early 2000s due to provincial funding requirements and the prices associated with maintaining an older building, the school and community fought to keep KCI running. It is one of Kitchener-Waterloo’s oldest schools, and it holds a special place in the hearts of KW residents. The school has received extensive renovations in the past couple decades.
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Having been around for such a long time, some famous faces (and the bodies attached to them) have passed through KCI. The notable alumni include Miranda Ranieri (a gold-medalist professional squash player); Al MacInnis (an NHL hall-of-famer who played for the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues); and most famous of all, Canada’s tenth and longest-serving Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King (he was PM during World War II). A statue of a young King sits in front of the school, sporting a jacket and vest combo and keeping an eye on the traffic going by. Speaking of which…
Kitchener-Waterloo’s brand new Light Rail Transit system (ION) travels directly past KCI, and the Grand River Hospital station is quite close. So in 2018, students and staff will be able to take full advantage of public transit, and hop on the Ion to and from school. Check out the system map here.
KCI School Spirit
KCI prides itself on diversity and inclusiveness. Students, staff, and the community form “ONE KCI.” The school colours are Red, Yellow, and Black (the same as the German flag, connoting the school [and the city’s] German heritage), and their motto is Veritas Vincat – ‘Truth wins.’ Their team name is the Raiders, and their mascot is Rodney the Raider, a swashbuckling pirate (though he only swashbuckles on weekends; the rest of the time he’s more of a knitting/sewing kind of pirate).
Kitchener Collegiate Institute offers a lot academically – so much that it can’t all be listed here – and it was ranked the top school in Kitchener by the Fraser Institute in 2016. The Fraser Institute’s ranking is determined by scores in literacy (OSSLT) and numeracy (EQAO), taking into account gender gap and incomplete tests.
Advanced Placement and Unique Courses
KCI offers Advanced Placement courses in History, French and Physics. These courses are recognized internationally, and serve two functions: they challenge advanced students with University-caliber work, and they can serve as university credits. KCI has strong ties with both University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier Univeristy, which is great for students interested in post-secondary school. Two unique courses offered by KCI are grade 11 and 12 Philosophy, and a dual credit in Earth and Space Sciences that both UW and WLU recognize. The AP program, and KCI’s unique courses, are a great way for students to prepare themselves for the challenges and opportunities to come after graduation.
KCI Specialist High Skills Major
KCI offers three programs aimed at developing students’ capabilities in specific fields. They are: Health and Wellness; Information and Communication Technology; and Environmental Studies. These programs can be pursued at the Workplace, Apprenticeship, College or University level, and they are perfect for students interested in a related career.
KCI also offers course sets in the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP): automotive, cooking, hairstyling, and horticulture. These can be taken as part of an apprenticeship, or on their own. Additional technical courses include woodworking and construction, among several others, and many of these can be taken as a dual-credit program with Conestoga College. For KCI’s horticulture program, the school has goats and chickens, which helps urban students understand farm production.
KCI System Designated Specialized (Magnet) Programs
WRDSB’s Magnet Program offers specific programs at specific schools, for which students are eligible to transfer from their home school. At KCI, the Magnet Programs are Extended French (7 credits in French); French Immersion (10 credits in French); and Fast Forward. KCI is one of five schools in Waterloo Region to offer Fast Forward, which is a program developed for students who have struggled academically in the past, and are looking to develop their literacy and numeracy skills and prepare themselves for the workplace. In Waterloo Region, KCI is one of two schools to offer French Immersion, and one of five to offer Extended French. KCI offers the Life Skills program, created for students whose primary exceptionality is mild intellectual. This is a non-credit alternative program, which cultivates skills for day-to-day life, including practical math, community awareness, and work preparation. KCI also has the Phoenix program, which has specific support for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
KCI’s athletics department has a sterling reputation. They offer numerous team sports (including volleyball, football, soccer, and many others); track and field and cross-country; and more. Find the whole list here. As just a few examples of KCI’s athletic successes, the KCI girls’ rugby team has won the WCSSAA championship two years in a row, and athletes from the school consistently perform well in track and field events, with multiple first-place finishes. Students excited to participate in high school sports will find plenty of opportunities at KCI. Keep up to date with KCI Athletics’ Twitter here.
KCI Activities and Clubs
KCI has a long list of clubs students can join, as well as the option to create their own with teacher assistance. Some of the clubs available here are: Culinary Club, in which students cook and chat about cooking; Coffeehouse, which features unplugged music evenings once a semester; and WAYVE (Wellness Acceptance Youth Voices Empowerment), a group fighting against bullying and promoting mental health and making KCI a safe, comfortable environment. The WAYVE regional website can be found here, and KCI’s WAYVE Twitter can be found here. KCI also has an active Tech Crew, who, in their own words, “make noise, make things shine, and make magic” (KCI Tech Crew). So students interested in noisy, shiny, magical experiences will have a home at KCI.
KCI has a very active Arts community, as well. The Art Council meets Thursdays at lunch and discusses upcoming projects and ways to promote the arts within the school. The school has an Open Studio, in which students can create art (both school-assigned and independent), and an active journalism club, which creates both the school yearbook (The Grumbler, developed through KCI’s journalism course) and the school’s student newspaper (The Edge). KCI has several courses and extracurricular opportunities in each music, film, and drama. As in the Academics section: this is just a small offering of what’s available at KCI.
KCI is a beautiful school – one of the oldest in Kitchener-Waterloo – and it has a lot to offer its students. So prospective students can proudly follow in the footsteps of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, and if they want to, they can even eat lunch seated next to his statue, watching the ION run up and down King Street.
Written by Will Kummer