Part 02

Exciting extracurricular opportunities private schools can offer

Students can pursue passions, master skills and discover new interests

Receiving a world-class education is undeniably one of the top draws at private schools in Canada, but equally appealing is the wide array of extracurricular activities they offer. “Students hone their strengths and individual talents, leading to the development of self-esteem and confidence,” says John Healey, elementary principal of Bond Academy in Scarborough. “They’ll practise life-long skills, including teamwork, leadership, creativity, critical thinking and communication.” Whether it’s celebrating existing talents or exploring something new, a private school’s extracurricular programs enrich and complement learning, foster connections, and help create well-rounded students. “They allow students to actively create a culture of belonging,” says Hilary Adamson, executive director of enrolment management and student experience at Toronto’s Bishop Strachan School, “making a positive impact on both the school and the broader community.”

Whatever a student’s passions or abilities, the robust extracurricular programs at Canadian private schools offer something for everyone.


From drawing and painting to dance, theatre, choir, band and beyond, private schools give students countless ways to exercise their creative muscles. “The Art Room is open each and every lunchtime for personal-interest projects,” says Andy Hall, vice-principal at WillowWood School in North York, where the Cartoon Club, Film Club, and Anime and Manga Club are popular. “[Our] Music Club is also loud and full of energy. No matter what the musical ability is, students know they can come by and try out an instrument.”


As more and more private schools focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), their extracurricular programs—
from coding, robotics and math clubs to science fairs and environmental-stewardship initiatives—are following suit, allowing students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to fun hands-on activities. “Our Rocketry Team was founded in 2022 based on students’ interest in not only building and launching rockets, but also breaking barriers and inspiring the next generation of girls in STEM,” Adamson says.


Many extracurricular activities—the school newspaper, yearbook, debate club, lan- guage classes, trivia groups or even ping- pong games—help students build new relationships, engage in friendly competition and/or work together on school-wide projects. Bishop Strachan has a long-standing public-speaking and debate club that spans generations; WillowWood recently launched a gay/straight alliance to build social awareness; and the Bond Academy’s chess club does more than just teach pattern recognition and pawn breaks. “It improves our students’ concentration and problem-solving,” says Healey.


At many Canadian private schools, students can also participate in service-based extracurricular ventures—which teach social responsibility, empathy and understanding in the process. “Students develop their leader- ship skills, explore their curiosities, dive into their passions and give back to their community,” says Adamson. These activities might include organizing fundraising events, volunteering with local non-profit organizations or leading a peer-support group.

Regardless of their focus, extracurricular offerings at Canadian private schools continue to evolve and expand. “As the year progresses, and needs arise and are brought to our attention, we’re more than happy to offer new opportunities,” Hall says. “And we welcome all ideas to the discussion table.”