The Abelard School

The Abelard School

Infobox Education in Canada
name = Abelard School

motto = "Don't be afraid to think!"
established = 1997
principal = Mark Young
students = ~40
grades = 9-12 (+13)
city = Toronto
province = Ontario
country = Canada
campus = 203 College street, 5th floor
website =

The Abelard School is a small private school in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, named after the 11th century scholar and philosopher Peter Abélard, and its teaching philosophy is based on a Socratic approach.

It is a small school, sometimes having classes as small as one person or as large as ten people, as it is tailored towards highly motivated students who are selected through a comprehensive admissions process. The school has a strong academic foundation, and offers a program based on classical western civilization.


The education provided by the Abelard school has several distinguishing traits.

Abelard offers many courses, with class sizes ranging from one to as large as ten people. Which courses are actually taught depends on interest and how important teachers see students taking these courses in comparison to other courses. Advanced Placement courses (AP) are offered to students who excel in certain areas, and consistently achieve outstanding results in these courses. Some students choose to stay an extra year to improve their grades and/or get more credits. Students are strongly encouraged to not specialize while in high school. [ [ Abelard School website introductory page] ]

The classes taken by Abelard students vary from those taken in a standard Canadian high school. In addition to the standard mandatory French class in grade nine, students must take French in grade 10 (though some students, especially those to whom English is a second language, are exempted). Latin is also mandatory in grade nine. Grade nine students take a Foundations Science course instead of grade nine science that covers both grade nine and ten science, emphasizing the interconnections between all the scientific fields. Foundations Sciences allows students who wish to take Biology, Chemistry and Physics until grade 12 to only need to take two courses a year as well as making it easier to take AP science courses. In grade 10 students take a Foundations Literature course in which they read the Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, Greek tragedies, and large sections of the Bible so that students will be able to understand references to these foundation texts. [ [ Abelard School Courses] ]

Students are rarely in a single traditional grade. Though they are referred to by the grade they are in only considering how many years they have been in high school, almost all students take courses in other grades. This isn't only because of students going back and taking old courses or foundations sciences: students sometimes skip grades and excelling classes may do two courses in one.

It has often been featured in articles about progressive education [ [ Centennial College School fair The Toronto Observer] ] .


The school is not based on a term system; students take the same courses all year. They may take up to ten courses, six one-hour courses on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and four hour-and-a-half courses on Tuesday and Thursday. Students usually take eight courses and have two spares. Students have been known to exceed ten courses by taking courses at lunch or doing them independently.

The school begins in September with a barbecue. Classes start in the subsequent day. [ School Calendar]

There are two exams a year, one before Christmas and one in June.

Extracurricular Activities

Abelard has many extracurricular activities. Every Fall, three students are elected to the student council which can form clubs. The drama class has an annual play. Every year, the school creates a yearbook and literature journal. The school encourages students to take part in academic contests and programs like University of Toronto's mentorship program.

The school occasionally goes on trips to other countries. It also sometimes goes to the Model United Nations in New York.

Students often do personal projects, sometimes collaboratively. Common projects include working on open source projects, political activism, creating educational resources (including trying to replace textbooks), and scientific experiments. Teachers often provide help, feedback, and even allow them to use school resources (such as the science lab under supervision).


The school was founded in 1997 by a group of teachers from Thornton Hall. The four founding teachers are Michelle Lefolii, Brian Blair, Alina Rossinsky, and Shai Maharaj. The current principal is Mark Young.

In September 2006, The Abelard School moved to a new location at St. George St. and College St., on the top floor of a 5-story office building on the southeast corner.

The former school Mascot was Claudius the Roman Viking. The costume was lost, however, during the move to Abelard's new location.


External links

* [|Abelard School Official Site]
* [ An article on the founding of the school]

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