Parents, students upset as Canterbury High School cancels specialized dance course

Parents and students at Ottawa's Canterbury High School are upset following the cancellation of a specialized dance course at the arts high school.

It’s not just any Grade 12 course for credit; it’s the pinnacle for aspiring dancers, a showcase of their work, and a springboard into a life-long love of performance.

'Dance Night' is an annual production put on by Grade 12 students near the end of their school year.

"Something just amazing to see," says student Kampbell Featherstone.

They work towards this event as part of a dance class at the school, which was supposed to start next semester. Now, they’ve been told that the course is cancelled.

"It’s kind of disappointing that the school has to take away something like this," says Featherstone.

Kennedy Yates was also looking forward to the class, and learned of the cancellation through an email.

"Honestly, I was devastated, along with my other classmates. This is something I’ve been looking forward to since Grade 9, and it's the reason I applied to the dance program," said Yates.

Students say it’s unlike any other course at the school.

"A showcase where we perform our dances, that we have created,” says Natasha Prystasz.

Emma Goodfellow says she’s looked forward to this since starting at the school.

"This is a goal that we’ve been all working towards for the entire four years at Canterbury.”

It’s an important element for many students, as they pursue post-secondary education.

"This course in particular is one that students use as critical part of their portfolios, if they’re moving forward in a dance or arts program," says Emma’s mother, Alison Goodfellow.

Natasha’s mother, Andrea Goodman explains the importance of the course, and ‘Dance Night'.

"It would be similar to an arts student taking an art class, creating a painting or sculpture; they have it, they put it in their portfolio, they can present it to post-secondary schools, employment opportunities, etc.," said Goodman.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, the Ottawa Carleton District School Board writes that "the school is down in enrolment from its spring projection,” and it’s required to reduce “the total number of classes."

The statement adds that, “some level of reorganization in the system is the norm and can be expected… the cancellation of this course does not preclude a Dance Night in the spring."

According to the board, "the course will be offered as an option for students to select in the 2022/2023 school year."

However, students want to see the class return this school year.

“The reason why I think all of us came to the school, I think everyone just wants to run again to do what we came to the school for,” says Prystasz.