History of Our School
ESCHS School History
In the spring of 1927, former premier of Ontario and Minister of Education, G. Howard Ferguson visited Cochrane and found the existing school building unfit for students. So, it was determined that a new school would be built near Lake Commando. Construction began that summer and was completed at the end of the year.
In January 1928, Cochrane High School was officially opened to the public. In that first year, the ground floor of the school was rented out to the Public School Board while the high school’s four rooms were housed on the top floor. But, by the 1929-30 school year, an increased enrollment led to staff being increased to five teachers. Also, at this time, a special French course was introduced for the French-speaking students who were beginning to attend the school for the first time. This building provided adequate accommodation until 1938 when the Department of Education called for courses in shop work and home economics. Due to space restrictions, these courses were offered at Central School, which was another school located nearby. In 1945, a course in agriculture was added as well. Students in Grades 9 and 10 received instruction in various special agricultural topics.
Student enrollment increased sharply during the 1940’s and 1950’s. In 1930, there were 130 students. By 1963, there were 311 students. This number was projected to increase in future years. The building proved to be inadequate for the needs of the school.
So, in 1971, the pupils moved into a brand-new secondary school which is our present high school. It was renamed Ecole Secondaire Cochrane High School. During the 70’s and 80’s many new clubs formed including the Drama Club, Reach for the Top, Concours Litteraire, Voyageur Club, Genie en Herbe and much more. There was cafeteria food available for the first time. Student athletics continued to be very popular and many students joined various sports teams. ESCHS even had a football team and cheerleading squad!
In 1984, William J. Mulligan became the Principal and with the support of the School Board and staff, introduced a totally new educational system that was adopted that was modelled after a high school in Alberta. Called Project Excellence, students learned through self-study and at their own pace. Through this model of education, it was possible to offer 350 courses which was unheard of for a small, rural school. This system was well received by some but not all and was widely debated in the community at large for its merits and shortcomings. Project Excellence was phased out in the early 2000’s.
Since that time, the school has continued to evolve and change. In 2014, Ecole Secondaire and Cochrane High School and Cochrane Public School merged under the leadership of one Principal and two Vice-Principals. One initiative undertaken during these years by District School Board Ontario North East was a commitment to a 1:1 iPad program for all students in Grades 4 and up. Ipads enabled students to have the internet at their fingertips and also, assistive tools and features easily accessed by those who both needed it but also recognizing that these were also good for all.
In the 2019-20 school year, ESCHS and CPS became two separate schools once again, each with their own administration. In March 2020, an unprecedented worldwide event changed traditional education structures and led to an online school format due to the highly transmissible and deadly Coronovirus arriving on the scene. Teachers taught virtually through online platforms and students logged in from home if they could. In June 2020, ESCHS graduates experienced a drive-in graduation and received their diplomas in an outdoor event to minimize the spread of Covid-19.
The 2020-21 school year was like no other! Health and safety became the priority with students able to attend school amidst strict protocols to minimize the continuing spread of the virus. Students began the year in an Octomester system where they had one class all day for about a 5 week period. Students and staff wore masks, sanitized continuously, and attended school only if they passed health unit school screening. Though it was difficult to maintain school spirit, the ESCHS School Council did their best to make school fun by being innovative with student activities! Throughout this year, schools reverted to and from online learning depending on data regarding Covid-19 cases in the province. By Semester 2, schools were permitted to offer a quadmester system and instead of one course a day, students were able to have two subjects a day. We offered hybrid learning and some students joined into their regular classes virtually from home if they did not pass health screening.