Old Scona Academic High School

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Old Scona Academic School
Old Scona Exterior.jpg
10523 84 Avenue NW

, ,
Coordinates53°31′11″N 113°30′07″W / 53.51972°N 113.50194°W / 53.51972; -113.50194Coordinates: 53°31′11″N 113°30′07″W / 53.51972°N 113.50194°W / 53.51972; -113.50194
School typePublic Secondary School
MottoAlways to Excel
School boardEdmonton Public Schools
SuperintendentDarrel Robertson
Area trusteeMichael Janz
PrincipalDee Elder
Enrollment370 (2018)
AreaOld Strathcona
Colour(s)Maroon, Green, and Gold             
Team nameOlympians

Old Scona Academic School, often referred to as Old Scona or OSA, is a high school located in the Old Strathcona district of Edmonton, Alberta. It is a small academic high school with a population of approximately 340 to 360 students. The school's stated purpose is to provide academically inclined students an opportunity to grow in an environment of intellectual stimulation. The school's motto is, "Always to Excel".


The building housing Old Scona Academic was opened in 1908 as Strathcona Collegiate Institute, which was one of the first high schools in Edmonton. University of Alberta classes were held on the upper floors from 1909 to 1911. In 1912, the name of the school was changed to Strathcona High School.[1]:121 Strathcona High School closed in 1958, following the opening of Strathcona Composite High School in 1955 and of Bonnie Doon High School in 1958.[1]:122,349,354. Following the closure of the high school the building was used as Strathcona Junior High School (Until the mid-1960s). It later saw use for continuing education, special education, and as an annex for MacEwan University when that institution was founded in 1971.[1]:122 In 1976, the Board of Trustees of Edmonton Public Schools opened Old Scona Academic High School, an academic alternative high school in the original Strathcona Collegiate Institute building. Since June 1980, Old Scona Academic has been an International Baccalaureate World School.[2]

Reputation and results[edit]

Old Scona Academic has been recognized as one of the best high schools; Maclean's Magazine named OSA as the top academic high school in Canada.[3] In addition to its Maclean's ranking, OSA has consistently been ranked by the Fraser Institute as the best high school in Alberta.[4] In 2011, it was featured as the top-ranked high school in the Edmonton Sun's High School Report Card.[5]


The 120 students who enter OSA each year are chosen on the basis of set criteria from an excess of applicants. Prospective students are evaluated using a standardized admission exam, in addition to grade 9 marks and a character assessment from a Junior High counselor or principal. Only applications from students with an overall average of at least 80%, from Science, Math, Social, and Language Arts, are considered. For grade 10 applicants, an overall average of 80% is required, although summer-school courses are not included.[6]

Programs of study[edit]

Old Scona Academic offers the International Baccalaureate (I.B.) Diploma Program in addition to fulfilling the Alberta Education Curriculum. Students begin grade ten enrolled in a pre-I.B. program. During this year, students must elect to either pursue the full I.B. program, a partial I.B. program, or the basic Alberta Education Curriculum. Most OSA students enroll in partial I.B., with approximately ten to twenty students a year opting for the full I.B. program.

The Old Scona Academic Higher Level (HL) I.B. course offerings as of 2010 are English A1, European History (Route 2: Peacekeeping), Biology, and Physics. Mathematics, Chemistry, Computer Science, French B, and Group 6 arts are offered only at the Standard Level (SL). Most courses are also offered as regular Alberta 20 and 30 level classes, for those students only taking the basic Alberta Education Curriculum or partial I.B. program.

Students who elect to undertake the full two-year I.B. program to receive an I.B. Diploma, must complete all six groups of courses, as per the International Baccalaureate (I.B.) Diploma Program.[7][8] This includes Group 1: English, Group 2: Second Language (French), Group 3: Individuals and Societies (History), Group 4: Experimental Sciences (Chemistry, Biology, or Physics), Group 5: Mathematics and Computer Science, and Group 6: Arts. At least three of these groups must be completed at Higher Level (HL). In addition to these classes, I.B. program students must take the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) class, complete an extended essay, and must document a number of extra-curricular and community involvement hours known as CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) hours. Unlike other Canadian provinces, Alberta does not allow completion of the I.B. Diploma program to be used in lieu of the provincial diploma. As a result, on top of their I.B. course load, full I.B. program students must fulfill the requirements of the Alberta Education Curriculum that do not get covered by the I.B. program, such as the Career and Life Management (CALM) course, physical education, and ten credit 30-level course requirements.[9] Additionally, many post-secondary institutions (particularly those in Alberta) will not solely use the I.B. program for acceptance (though it does provide benefits). Many, for example, require completion of Chemistry, Biology, and Physics at the 30-level. As the I.B. program only requires one of these courses for Group 4, students must take the remaining two outside of the I.B. program. These combined requirements often lead to lengthy course loads and extended class hours / homework.

As a result of these demands, most students at Old Scona Academic choose to pursue a partial I.B. program. While this does not grant the student any I.B. Diploma status, there are benefits to completing many 30-level classes in I.B. Higher Level (HL). Many post-secondary institutions will view completion of these higher level classes (with good marks), as equivalent to completing comparative introductory classes in the post-secondary level. Therefore, students can use partial I.B. to get credit for many introductory post-secondary classes like Biology and English, saving both time and tuition later on.[8]

Because OSA is a small school, it has a limited selection of elective classes. These include choral music, instrumental music, jazz band, performing arts, drama, debate, art, theory of knowledge (which can be taken without the full IB diploma), computer applications, and computer programming. Physical education at the 20 and 30 level is not required by the Alberta Education Curriculum, but is offered as electives for students. In the past, many students have also taken second languages such as German and Japanese through external programs affiliated with Alberta Education.


Designed by local architect Roland Lines, the cornerstone of the building was laid by the first premier (and education minister) of Alberta, Alexander Rutherford in 1907, the same year Strathcona became a city. The school was officially opened by Lieutenant-Governor George Bulyea on 17 February 1909. It was one of the largest and most up-to-date school buildings in the province at the time, featuring an advanced automatic climate control system. The style is described as Edwardian Classical Free, which retains some decorative features of the Victorian era but is more subdued, practical, and utilitarian, and less traditional.

The building has received a number of renovations since its opening. The most recent major renovation and restoration took place in 1997. Since then, smaller restoration projects like new flooring have taken place. Modernization of the school to include computer labs, a wifi network and LCD projectors in classrooms have been careful to maintain the historic integrity of the building. Some elements, such as the external fire escapes, remain part of the building for historic integrity, but are no longer in use due to structural age. Many of the building's mechanical systems, although today out-of-date and replaced for efficiency and safety reasons, were highly advanced when the building was constructed. Many elements have been left by renovations for decorative effect, are on display in the school, or have been stored in the Provincial Archives of Alberta.

In September 2008, in recognition of the academic history of the various institutions that have used the building over the years and the architectural significance of the building, the school was designated a Provincial Historic Resource. This designation limits the modifications and additions that can be performed on the building.[10]

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Numerous student-run clubs are available at Old Scona Academic, such as Multicultural Club, Speech & Debate Club, Brain Care Youth, Go Club, Business/Finance Club, Hip Hop Club, Bollywood club, Reading Buddies, Key Club, and World Issues Club. There are also many student-run chapters of international organizations such as: Room to Read, UNICEF, the Gay-Straight Alliance, and Amnesty International. Also,the school houses a Right To Play club, which has brought professional hockey players such as Travis Ewanyk to the school for fundraising. An informal Guitar Club operates after school. A club also writes and prints the school's magazine, "Tabula Rasa".

A fully elected student council organizes a number of extracurricular events, such as dances, as well as school-wide volunteer and fundraising initiatives. Annually, the school plays host to an inner-city elementary school, providing carnival-style entertainment for many kids who come from lower-income households. Owing to new junk food initiatives from the Edmonton Public School Board, the school store was temporarily shut down. An elected grad council is also responsible for the organization and administration of the grade 12 graduation.

The drama and music programs regularly produce performances that are given to students and the general public. School-organized trips are also common, with Europe, South America, and Vancouver Island as regular destinations.

Speech and debate team[edit]

Old Scona has a competitive debate club and is one of the biggest debate clubs in the Alberta Debate and Speech Association by population. Old Scona won bronze in Edmonton's Law Day Mock Trial competition in 2013 and silver in the 2014 competition. In 2015, they received gold and in 2016, Old Scona claimed both gold and silver. Currently there is a Speech & Debate 15 class taught by senior speakers and debaters and the current Old Scona debate coach. The Old Scona debate team has participated in tournaments such as Lois Hole Debate, Model Legislature, George Cormack, Churchill's, and Model United Nations.


Although OSA is primarily an academic-focused institution, the school maintains athletics teams in most major sports. All school teams are known as the "Olympians". The team colours are maroon, green, and gold. Due to the nature of the building, OSA does not have an in-house gymnasium. There is, however, an outdoor basketball court, baseball diamond, and soccer field. Additionally, the school utilizes a local church gymnasium only one block away for general physical education courses and team practices. The nearby Garneau Tennis Club and Tipton Ice Rink are also frequently used by phys. ed classes and teams. Other nearby schools, such as Garneau Elementary and King Edward Elementary, serve as venues for certain team practices.

Despite the lack of in-house facilities, and a small school population, Old Scona Academic maintains decent athletic standings in city competitions. During the 2006-2007 city finals, the swim team, despite their small size, achieved fourth place overall. The OSA Badminton Team, for the past few years, has repeatedly made it to the city finals. The team for the 2007-2008 season lost Harry Ainlay Titans in the city semi-finals. However, a doubles team continued on to provincials and won the gold medal there. The 2007-2008 senior men's basketball team ranked 3rd in the John Paul II Patriots Tournament and the Canmore Tournament. The 2008-2009 women's basketball team won silver in the John Paul II Tournament. The 2008-2009 senior men's basketball team finished second overall in the city conference, losing 79-69 to the Queen Elizabeth Knights in the finals. The 2009-2010 Curling Team earned a bronze medal in the EPSB Junior Curling League. The 2010-2011 Old Scona senior women's volleyball placed first in the Edmonton Public Schools City Conference. They won 3-2 against the former undefeated champions, Vimy Ridge. From 1994 until 1996, the men's soccer team was undefeated and won back-to-back championships. In 2014-2015, the men's soccer team were the undefeated champions of the Metro Edmonton High School Athletic Association. They retained their title in Tier 4 in 2016-17 under the captaincy of Vlad Muresan.[11] The cross country team had a seminal provincial victory in the 2017-2018 season. The size of the team and the quality of the running program were staggering for a small school.[12]

Badminton Provincial Champions

  • 2008-2009 (Senior 3A)
  • 2011-2012 (Senior 3A)

Soccer City Champions

  • 1988-89 (Junior Men)
  • 1994-95 (Junior Men)
  • 1995-96 (Junior Men)
  • 2005-06 (Senior Men Tier 2)
  • 2014-15 (Senior Men Div 3)
  • 2016-17 (Senior Men Tier 4)[11]

Volleyball City Champions

  • 2003-2004 (Junior Women)
  • 2010-2011 (Senior Women)
  • 2012-2013 (Senior Women)

Basketball City Champions

  • 2003-2004 (Junior Men)[13]
  • 2010-2011 (Senior Men Tier 3)
  • 2012-2013 (Senior Women Tier 3)
  • 2015-2016 (Senior Women Tier 3)

Handball Provincial Champions

  • 2012-2013 (Senior Men Tier 2)
  • 2013-2014 (Senior Men Tier 2)

Cross Country Provincial Champions

  • 2017-2018 (1A/2A/3A)

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Kostek, Michael (1992). A Century and Ten: The History of Edmonton Public Schools. Edmonton Public Schools. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  2. ^ "International Baccalaureate". Ibo.org. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  3. ^ Brian Bergman With Karin Marley (2005-08-22). "Canada's best high schools | Macleans.ca - Education - Universities". Macleans.ca. Archived from the original on 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  4. ^ "The Fraser Institute Alberta High School Report Card". FraserInstitute.ca. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  5. ^ "Edmonton Sun High School Report Card". EdmontonSun.com. Retrieved 2011-06-11.
  6. ^ http://oldscona.epsb.ca/registration.html
  7. ^ "IB Diploma Programme curriculum". Ibo.org. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  8. ^ a b http://oldscona.epsb.ca/IB.html
  9. ^ "Alberta Education - Guide to Education 2010–2011". Education.alberta.ca. 2010-09-01. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  10. ^ https://hermis.alberta.ca/ARHP/Details.aspx?DeptID=1&ObjectID=4665-1342
  11. ^ a b "Metro Athletics: CHAMPIONS - 2016/17 SCHOOL YEAR" (PDF). Metro Athletics Canada.[dead link]
  12. ^ "OSA cross country provincial champions (2017-2018)". Twitter. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  13. ^ http://oldscona.epsb.ca/Athletics.html
  14. ^ Clarence Campbell
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-21. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  16. ^ "Chrystia Freeland on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-09-01.