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New Westminster Secondary School is a high school in New Westminstermarker, British Columbiamarker, Canadamarker. It is the largest high school in BC. Students of grade 8 to 12 are enrolled. The school offers various advanced programs such as the International Baccalaureate program, Advanced Placement courses, and facilities such as the Automotive shop. The school mascot is a fireman and the spirit mascot is the Yak . During 2007, the Fraser Institute ranked the school in the top 50 secondary schools in British Columbia out of the 279 public and private secondary schools in the province.. This roughly translates to number 18 out of approximately 75 ranks given.


New Westminster Secondary School is located in Greater Vancouvermarker in the lower mainland, and is located close to a Skytrain station. The school is located over a two block wide campus area, and has many public facilities in close proximity to the school.


During the period of 1860 , the site of the school was a public cemetery where most of the prominent citizens of New Westminster were buried. Afterwards, the remains were transferred to the Fraser Cemetery in the 1870s. During 1940 , the corner of 10th Avenue and 8th was leased to the Federal Government. It served as soldiers' barracks to train soldiers during World War II. After World War II, the barracks were moved to the University of British Columbiamarker (UBC) and the rest of the cemetery was demolished. Finally, in 1948 The Public Works Yard was moved and the site was transferred to the New Westminster School Board for the construction of offices and high schools. The site was checked for burial remains before construction, but many areas were missed.

In September 1949 , Vincent Massey Junior High was unofficially opened by Premier Bryan I. Johnson. On December 16, 1949 , the school was officially opened. The school was named after the Right Honourable Vincent Massey , the eighteenth Governor General of Canada.

Student life

Activities and clubs

The school has the following clubs:
  • Anime Club - Students come together and discuss popular anime. There are many anime DVDs that will be played in the club.
  • Book Club - Students read and discuss about some popular books.
  • Chess Club - Students play chess and analyze moves, while learning more about the history of chess.
  • Debate - The goal of the debate club is to gain valuable public speaking and debating skills.
  • Environment - To encourage volunteers and awareness of growing ecological concerns and issues facing the world today.
  • Free the Children - To help build a school in developing countries. The club creates awareness to children who lack a voice and opinion by having a 24 hour silence in which students will collect donations for every hour they remain silent and promote a stronger voice for those who are underprivileged.
  • Grade Committee - To create an alcohol and drug-free party that is a great alternative to other grad parties where alcohol may present unsafe situations.
  • GSA - Gay-straight alliance: Raises awareness about issues related to homophobia.
  • Hip hop dance - Students learn hip hop dancing taught by experienced teachers and students.
  • Honour Society - To heighten student involvement in the school and community and to create awareness of global issues through sponsorship of students in the Third World. Students must be on the honour roll to join.
  • Improv Club - To allow students the opportunity to improve their acting and improvisation skills and improve self-expression, bring awareness to theatre program at NWSS.
  • Interact Club - Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Royal City and Rotary Club of New Westminster, Interact creates and partakes in local projects that benefit the school, local community and global causes such as fund raisers for a variety of causes. The current international goal is raising funds for the Kokoyotzin Kindergarten's school supplies. The kindergarten is located in Zihuatanejo, Mexico and is an initiative started by the Rotary Club of Royal City.
  • Knitting Club - To teach knitting to students, as well as providing a community service opportunity for students, to knit clothing for the homeless.
  • Salsa Caliente - Students learn Salsa taught by experienced teachers and students themselves. Beginner and advanced classes exist.
  • Service Club - To promote and assist with student activities. Some activities include poster-making, and assisting with fund raising for charities.
  • Ski - For students to have fun in the Canadian culture of skiing in the mountains of British Columbia.
  • Physics Club - Students come together and learn physics in fun ways and also enter competitions and Olympiads.
  • Power Presenters - Club designed to help students improve their presentation skills, such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote software skills, as well as design skills. These include skills that allow students to break away from templates and bullets. Events similar to TED are held to practice these skills and to discover their utility.
  • Voices of India - To raise awareness of the Indian culture and to fund raise to support a child in India and to support Indo-Canadian Youth Against Violence in Canada.
  • Student Council - The student council organizes and monitors events, dances, and other administrative work. Recently, the student council has come under sharp criticism from the students at New Westminster Secondary for not voicing the opinions of the majority of the students at the school. They have come under fire for allowing the cafeteria to sell "healthy" but "third class food" and not representing the best interests of the students during the undirected renovations which has left the Massey theatre cut of from the rest of the school.


NWSS has a large music department with many bands. Some of the bands include the grade 8 concert band, grade 9 jazz and concert band, grade 10 jazz and concert band, grade 10 jazz choir, grade 10 girls choir, chamber choir, senior 2 (grade 11) jazz and concert band, senior 1 (grade 12) jazz and concert band, and the Viola/violin orchestra. The school has 2 concerts each year in its own theatre, a winter concert in December and a concert in May/June. The students go on various trips and competitions. For example, the senior bands went to New Yorkmarker in April 2007. Others include competitions in Capilano College and performances in malls and schools. This year, Grade 10 Concert band and Jazz band, Grade 9 Concert band and Jazz band will attend a festival in Whistler from May 7 to May 10.

Every year a winner is determined for the N-Dub idol event, an imitation of American Idol and Canadian Idol where a student will have a chance to win a prize and gain recognition for their singing talent.

School maps

The school is composed of two wings, Massey and Pearson. The school is two stories high. The new school is currently being constructed, and is planned to be built three stories high on a smaller area, freeing room for a Middle School on the same campus.



NWSS has many programs for students who want to study specific categories of interest or are aiming for a specific area of study. These include:

  • NWSS Fine Arts Mini School - The NWSS Fine Arts Mini School is for people who are interested in studying areas involving fine arts, such as design, and movie authoring. Due to the construction of the new school, it is currently not being offered.
  • NWSS School of Tourism - The tourism program allows students to study tourism promotion and related topics. Tourism students can attain certification at various levels of achievement that supports them in entry-level positions and provides transferable skills for use in Tourism Training Programs. This program is approved by the Canadian Academy of Travel and Tourism (CATT)
  • Pre-Apprenticeship Automotive Program - As part of a joint initiative between BCIT and NWSS, this program is for students who meet the BCIT entrance requirements and wants to become an automotive mechanic, to take the first year of BCIT’s Entry Level Trades Training Certificate Program at the same time as completing graduation requirements. This program is offered to grade 10, 11 and 12 students.
  • Plumbing Apprenticeship Course - This new program starts from Sept. 2007 and is offered between NWSS and a post-secondary partner. Details of course include: plan design, install, and service of various types of piping systems; work with water heating systems, water supply & drainage; blueprint reading, drafting & sketching. Students will receive credit for Level 1 Technical training from the Industry Training Authority.
  • Secondary School Apprenticeship (SSA) - This course is offered to students who are willing to dedicate time to work as an apprentice with an employer on a part-time basis, while attending regular school classes. Students will complete 480 hours of apprenticeship while in secondary school.
  • Advanced Placement Programs - This program offers students an opportunity to study university level courses in Grade 12 or Grade 11 in some circumstances (with permission from instructor). These courses are offered out of class time, usually after school. The school offers the following courses:
    • Literature and Composition
    • Art History
    • European History
    • Human Geography
  • International Baccalaureate Programme - The NWSS International Baccalaureate (IB) program is a rigorous pre-university course of studies, offered at NWSS since the year of 2000. The school offers the Diploma Program (DP) and an unofficial Pre-IB Programme. The Pre-IB Programme contains a course called RIM, or Research in Motion. This course is meant to give students a basis in discussion of ethics and technology useful in the diploma programme. It includes a research paper known as the Long Term Project (LTP), imitable of the 4000 word Extended Essay completed by Diploma candidates. All students must take a qualifications test to enter the Pre-IB program, and may be asked for teacher recommendations for the diploma programme. Currently the highest diploma mark received by candidates at NWSS is 45 (out of 45). The school offers the following IB subjects (as of 2007):
    • Group 1: English A1 Higher Level (HL), English A1 Standard Level (SL)
    • Group 2: French B SL, French B HL
    • Group 3: History HL, ITGS SL and HL, Psychology SL and HL.
    • Group 4: Chemistry HL, Chemistry SL, Biology SL, Biology HL, Physics SL, Physics HL
    • Group 5: Mathematics SL, Math Studies SL
    • Group 6: Music SL, Theatre Arts SL
  • ESL Program - The English Second Language (ESL) Program at NWSS is for students whose second language is English. This program is offered to many International Students.
  • French Immersion Program - The French Immersion program at NWSS is designed to let students enhance their French skills by attending classes purely taught in French. This is the continuation of the Glenbrook Middle School late French immersion program. In this program, students are expected to speak French in most classes and upon finishing it, have almost native fluency. Students frequently go on exchange trips, such as Francemarker exchange 2007.

As well as these programs, NWSS offers other unique courses, such as Social Justice, Law, Ceramics and Sculpture, Comparative Civilizations, as well as hundreds of other electives and exploratory programs. These accompany the regular academic programs that the school offers.

School facilities and resources

Athletic facilities

New Westminster Secondary school currently has the following athletic facilities:
  • Three indoor gyms: a gym located in the Pearson Wing, and two gyms in the Massey Wing.
  • An outdoor bubble gym: an outdoor bubble gym located next to Pearson Cafeteria.
  • An outdoor football field: a football field with artificial grass, a track and field course, four natural lighting systems, an electronic scoreboard and a stand for audience.
  • Two soccer/multipurpose fields: two fields with goal posts and grass and baseball corner.
  • A skating rink: Moody Park Skating Arena is located on campus adjacent to Massey Theatre.
  • A fitness room: room with many workout facilities.

Sports Teams

New Westminster Secondary School has more than 5 sports team including:
  • Football Team (grade 9,10,11,12)
  • Soccer Team (Junior, Senior)
  • Badminton (everyone)
  • Volleyball (Grade 8, Grade 9, Junior, Senior)
  • Basketball (Grade 8, Grade 9, Junior, Senior)
  • Cosom Hockey (Everyone)
  • Boys Field Lacrosse Grades 8-12

Technology and exploratory facilities

New Westminster Secondary School currently has the following technology facilities:
  • Several Computer rooms
  • An industrial education shop
  • A woodworking shop
  • A metal working shop
  • Two home economics rooms
  • An automotive shop
  • A media centre

Academic resources

New Westminster secondary school currently provides the following academic resources:
  • A tablet PC and LCD projector for each math classroom
  • Eight science laboratories
  • An overhead projector per classroom
  • Internet connection (wired) per classroom (on request of teachers).

Fine arts facilities

New Westminster Secondary School currently has the following fine arts facilities
  • An auditorium theatre (1260 seat)
  • Two band rooms
  • Four fine arts classrooms (Fine arts section of school)
  • A dance studio

Other facilities

  • Two cafeterias: a cafeteria in the Pearson Wing (vends food) and a cafeteria in the Massey Wing (does not vend food).

Controversies and issues

Postponed future development

The current high school is structurally unstable and also prone to frequent breakdowns. Because of this, the Ministry of Education has allowed the construction of a new high school and middle school that will replace the old building. The high school will no longer accept grade eight students after the new construction of the Middle School. Work on the new building will begin in summer of 2005 and was expected to be completed in 2007.

In order to sustain enough funds, there has been a proposal to sell parts of the NWSS land to commercial development and housing. In 2005, the school board of NWSS requested for an additional $20 million dollar increase in spending money (in addition to the original $52 million dollars that was approved) for the new school, due to rising construction costs. However, the ministry has rejected the request. As a result, the construction of the new school is now delayed.

Asbestos incident

On April 26, 2005, part of the school was demolished in the anticipation of building a new school. However, due to the age of the school, asbestos was found to be in the floor of room 138, the room being demolished. Because of this incident, the school district was fined by WorkSafeBC, who claimed that the school district did not provide enough information to the workers about the asbestos. While the workers themselves claimed that they were not aware of the asbestos, former principal Joey Sahli stated in a school assembly that the workers had this responsibility to find out. The cause of the incident still remains debatable and unclear.

Within a month, the part with asbestos was blocked off in an attempt to prevent it from spreading. While the area was closed, there was a potential of students who were exposed to asbestos, having studied in that area. Drama students and teachers were potentially affected due to the location of the asbestos directly in the Fine Arts section of the school. As a response to this, the school district has conducted many surveys and health checks to assure the safety of the students and staff.

Drinking water incident

Drinking fountains were bagged and the cafeteria was shut down on November 17, 2007 after a test determined that the water at New Westminster Secondary School could have contained a bacterium found in fecal matter. The school has conducted tests on May 3, 2007 after the water was seen to be murky in the second floor of Massey Wing, but at that time the problem was not evident. More tests were conducted in October, but only until November were the results informative. According to a Ministry of Environment report, the presence of coliform bacteria indicates contamination of water with fecal waste that may contain bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Drinking water contaminated with coliform can cause stomach and intestinal illness including diarrhea and nausea, the report states. The school responded to this by flushing out the water in both ends of the school and provided bottled water for two days, while warning students about the unsafe water in the announcements. Notices were sent home on November 20, 2007 explaining the situation.

On November 21, 2007, the water in the school was reported to be safe to drink. Second tests shown that the school's drinking water did not contain coliform. According to Michael Ewen, school board chair, the A.C.M. Environmental Corporation, which tested that water and prepared the district's asbestos management plan, has made a mistake when it uncovered unacceptable levels of coliform in the water from samples taken on October 26. He states that "A second company tested the water and found that the water is fine and safe and always was" and that the coliform was found in taps from chemistry labs.

Tuberculosis incident

On December 4, 2007, school administrators were informed that an NWSS student had been diagnosed with infectious tuberculosis (TB). While the identity of the 9th grade student could not be released, over 200 peers and teachers who came into contact with the individual were notified, and voluntary testing was carried out in room 149 starting on December 11. Responding to the incident, superintendent John Woudzia stated: "It's a significant issue, (but) I'm convinced we have a good plan in place." Most forms of TB are currently treatable with antibiotics, but drug-resistant strains are becoming more common. As a follow-up procedure, the school tested these students and teachers once again on February 13, 2008.

School lockdown incident

New Westminster Secondary School was locked down on Thursday April 10, 2008 by police as officers tried to confirm reports of a handgun being seen there. Police were looking for a 14-year-old male teenager after a report of a handgun at New Westminster secondary school Thursday afternoon.

Police said the teen, a refugee from Rwanda, was spotted with a gun by another student, a Grade 9 girl. The teen did not seem to attend NWSS. She reported the gun to the school's police liaison officer who then ordered a lockdown. At approximately 1:40 p.m., a school wide lockdown was announced by the principal, stating that the incident was "not a rehearsal". Prior to this incident, the school has conducted several lockdown drills in the beginning of the year, especially after the Virginia Tech massacremarker.

New Westminster Police responded to the incident with full force and called in the Integrated Municipal Emergency Response Team and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Emergency Response Team (ERT), Burnabymarker RCMP, the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service and Delta Police Department to assist. There were several helicopters spotted circulating the school. Concerned parents were told to gather at Century House in Moody Park, where they are being briefed about the situation at the school. Victim Services was also on location while police used Moody Park Arena as the command centre.

The school conducted a controlled evacuation at approximately 4:00 p.m. in which classes were evacuated one by one while being escorted by heavily armed police officers. ERT officers were standing and patrolling in NWSS's hallways along the way. Students and staff were instructed by the principal to follow ERT officers' directions to leave the school in the quickest way possible. The top floor of Pearson wing was evacuated first, followed by the top floor in Massey wing, and then the bottom floors of Pearson wing, and Massey wing.

All classes on that day and the day after were canceled.

The 14 year old teenager was arrested on April 11, 2008, but released because there was not enough evidence to charge him.

Future development

The New Westminster School District is has announced the plans for the replacement of the New Westminster Secondary School (NWSS). NWSS will continue to be the biggest school in the Province of British Columbia with this largest and most complex construction project in the history of the province. As the only high school in New Westminster, NWSS also serves as a hub of the community, which means the high school students will enjoy the benefits of facilities not normally found in high schools. The new school will incorporate a community facilities development including improvements to the existing Massey Theatre (1260 seat auditorium), a new Fine Arts Centre which will also include a 300 seat theatre, expanded athletic fields, and a sports field house which will have a capacity for 6 basketball courts. Modern architectural designs will maximize space and light in the new school buildings, and incorporate state of the art heating and ventilation cooling systems.

The new school will be built on the site of the existing school and will accommodate up to 2,400 students – 375 more than the current enrollment. Enrollment at the New Westminster Secondary school is increasing, and this trend is expected to continue through to 2013. The replacement school was expected to open in September 2007, but due to funding issues, it is currently delayed.

As of April 29, 2007, it is believed that the government has promised either the new High School or Middle School will be built by the year 2009. It is currently being decided whether the school would accept students of grades 10-12 and have a middle school with grades 7-9, or to have the secondary school with grades 9-12 and the middle school as grades 6-8.

Notable alumni


  • New Westminster Secondary School was the main filming location for the five-season television series 21 Jump Street
  • New Westminster Secondary School was hit by lightning on September 18, 2007 at approximately 4:00pm during a thunder storm. The school was evacuated and no one was hurt. The lighting caused a failure in a school's heating system, leaving the entire school unheated the next day.
  • New Westminster Secondary School is the main filming location for the videos used in the Premier Go Program


External links

Official school websites

News reports


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