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SHSM (Specialist High Skills Majors) 412
SHSM (Specialist High Skills Majors)

APPLY TO SHSM by filling this form (copy and paste into your URL):

Our students tals about their SHSM experiences - Watch this Video

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SHSM: Specialist High Skills Major Programs at Thornlea

The Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) is a Ministry-approved program that lets students develop the skills and professional knowledge required in various industries while earning their high school diploma.

Students take a bundle of 7-9 courses, including 2 CO-OP credits in a related job field, during their grade 11 and grade 12 years.  Students can gain experience through course work and special reach-ahead opportunities and are able to customize their high school experience to focus on an academic and career path that interests them.

At Thornlea, we have 3 SHSM programs, each one focusing on the economic sector in its area: Arts and Culture; Business; and Health and Wellness.  The courses associated with these programs cover the skills and knowledge that are required to succeed in the workplace and in post-secondary environments which lead to careers in these three sectors.

How to get started in Grade 11:

​When choosing your courses for Grade 11 on My Pathway Planner​, check off the SHSM box.  This will indicate your intent to join the program.  Also, choose the right mix of courses based on the charts above.  Remember that you have to take 2 major credits at the Grade 11 level and 2 major credits at the Grade 12 level.  You also have to take Coop in either Grade 11 or Grade 12.

Pick up an application form from Guidance or from Room 305.  Fill out the form as best you can, and bring it back to Guidance or Ms. Walker in Room 305.

Who to Contact:
For general questions, ask your Guidance counselor.  Specific questions can be brought to Ms. Lana Fisher (Thornlea Vice- Principal) and Mr. Ryan Wineberg (SHSM Regional Resource Teacher).

SHSM Teachers:

  • Mr. Sharrief Sims (SHSM Business Sector)
  • Mme Ilana Bern (SHSM Arts and Culture Sector)
  • Ms. Jacqueline Ross (Health and Wellness Sector)
​Note:  Because Thornlea's SHSM Program provides students with multiple subjects requisites and options from across the curriculum (including English, Math, Business, and Art), many of our teachers are involved in this program.


Students who complete the program are awarded a special Ontario Secondary School Diploma, with a red seal, that shows they have successfully completed an approved Specialist High Skills Major program. Colleges and universities are acknowledging the extra work and understanding that comes with these programs and are now awarding scholarships in some cases.

Students also receive a record of their achievements, including certificates affirming their completion of training courses.  This can be used by the student, when seeking employment, as a record of skills and knowledge beyond the high school program.

Benefits of SHSM
  • builds both a student's theoretical and practical experience to give him or her an advantage heading into some of the most competitive and lucrative job sectors and post-secondary destinations
  • shows the student which careers are available in a specific sector, and teachers the student what he or she needs to do to be successful in that sector
  • allows the student to become aware of and/or experience post-secondary and apprenticeship opportunities
  • helps the student see concrete connections between school and work
  • helps the student get a head-start on summer job opportunities and future employment
  • helps the student make useful real-world contacts
  • allows the student to earn a specialized degree--a Red Seal Diploma--in recognition of his or her participation in specialized career-focused programming

Who can enter the SHSM Program?

The program is for all high school students who want to focus their studies in the Media, Art, Health & Wellness, Business, or Transportation sectors.  Whether your pathway leads to university, college, or directly to the workplace, the program is arranged so that you will get the educational and practical experience required to set you on your way.  You will get to try out many of the careers associated with these job sectors while in class and during special field trips. The overall experience will help you to make the right choices for your post-secondary pathway.

Certificates by Program:

Arts and Culture (Choose 6):
​Mandatory Optional​
Standard First Aid

​Stage Combat
Portfolio Development
Customer Service
Lighting and Sound Equipment
Recording Equipment
Training in Art Technique

Business (Choose 6):​
​​Mandatory ​Optional
Standard First Aid
Customer Service
Counterfeit Detection
Health & Wellness (Choose 6):
​Mandatory ​Optional
Standard First Aid
Infection Control
​​Conflict Resolution
Personality Inventory
Automated External Defibrillation (AED)
Customer Service

October 31st, 2019 - First Aid and CPR Training (Mandatory Training)

"Did you know" fact: In the chain of survival, early CPR and the use of an automatic external defibrillator can increase the chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest up to 75 percent.

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    Our Co-Op and SHSM students received training in First Aid, Cardiopulmonary
Resuscitation (CPR) and learned how easy it can be to save a life by using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). They were taught by certified instructors. All students are now certified at the Canadian Red Cross Standard First Aid and CPR.
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November 22d, 2019 - Speed Painting Workshop with Mme Bern
Advanced Training in Art Technique: SHSM Arts and Culture students from Thornlea SS and Westmount CI participated in this workshop to learn painting techniques.

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