Thornlea Secondary School

Last updated
Thornlea Secondary School
Thornlea logo.png
Thornlea Secondary School
8075 Bayview Avenue

L3T 4N4

Coordinates 43°49′46″N79°24′11″W / 43.82944°N 79.40306°W / 43.82944; -79.40306
School type Public school
MottoThink and be thought of
Religious affiliation(s)Secular
School board York Region District School Board
SuperintendentGillian Gibbons
Area trusteeJenny Chen
School number947814
PrincipalPaolo Burzese
Grades 9 to 12
Enrolment1100 [1]  (October 2018)
LanguageEnglish, French
Area Thornhill, Markham, Ontario
Colour(s)    Purple, white, black
MascotPharley J Cumquat
NewspaperThornlea Deadline
Last updated: September 2023

Thornlea Secondary School is a public high school, in the Regional Municipality of York, that opened in 1968 and is located in Markham, Ontario, Canada, in the Thornhill neighbourhood, on the northeast corner of Bayview Avenue and Willowbrook Road, just south of Highway 407.


The school began in 1968 as an educational experiment. The curriculum was varied and specialized, following a trimester system, and students were encouraged to address their teachers by their first names and focus on independent learning. Around 1980 this model gave way to a more traditional academic environment.[ citation needed ]

Academic life

Alongside traditional disciplinary staples such as English, mathematics, science (chemistry, physics, and biology), physical education, and social science (divided evenly between history and geography), Thornlea also offers courses in the fine arts, music (vocal, choral, orchestral, wind ensemble and jazz), drama, Introduction to business studies (General, marketing, and accounting), and design and technology (automotive maintenance, communications, media & film studies, woodworking and engineering, cosmetology). A survey course in philosophy that is generally popular among Thornlea seniors has also been offered inconsistently over the years, depending upon the availability of a qualified instructor. A variety of creative writing courses have also been offered over the years, again, the existence of which has typically been a function of instructor interest and availability.

Students from Thornlea have been known to perform well in provincial competitions in the sciences, such as the Ontario Biology Competition, hosted by the University of Toronto, and various mathematics and engineering competitions hosted by the University of Waterloo. Business students have also done well, with Thornlea sending many to the DECA international finals over the years, as well as having many students achieve high scores on the ¢OIN CA Challenge accounting contest, run by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario. In addition, Thornlea has been recognized as claiming the top prize for several years in Wilfrid Laurier University's Stock Market Competition.

The school has special education courses & classes (some integrated, some self-contained) including: Autism (various courses run based on need), Alternative Education, and Acquired Brain Injury.


The physical structure of the building itself has been the target of many complaints, notably due to its poor internal ventilation, and its noticeable lack of exterior windows (there are windows inside the school). This architectural peculiarity is accounted for by the fact that Thornlea was originally intended to be a prototype for an educational model where extrinsic stimuli (such as vegetation, the sky, wildlife) are minimized, while intrinsic stimuli (such as bookshelves, other students in class, computer terminals) are maximized. The idea was that students would then be less distracted and more psychologically conditioned to focus on their studies during the day. However, some classrooms and staff rooms are located in the middle of the school surrounded by walls. This leads to overheating and poor ventilation in summer. At some point the experiment was abandoned, and a new southern wing was built during the 2000–01 school year, complete with windows for every classroom that has an externally facing wall.

In the 2012–2013 school year, the school gained local media attention when it was discovered that the principal planned on painting over the murals that adorned the empty spaces above the lockers. [2]

Specialized Programs

Thornlea Secondary School hosts four main specialized programs, these three programs are ACAM, AP, SHSM and French Immersion. [3]


The ACAM program (Academy of Creativity and Multimedia) serves to provide all students wishing to pursue a career in the arts a specialized course. The ACAM program teaches a wide range of art skills and technologies, including Photoshop, Flash, Adobe Illustrator, Google Sketch Up, Google Terrain, Blender, Dreamweaver, Reaper and visual arts. [4]

AP Program

The AP Program stands for Advanced Placement. This program aims to enrich the classroom environment and challenge students to use higher thinking skills. Various courses can be taken under the AP Program, including Art, Advanced Functions, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Calculus and French. [5]


SHSM (Specialist High School Majors) is a program which enables students to develop relevant skills for various industries. SHSM students will be given 7-9 courses, including a co-op credit, in their sector. The three sectors available in the SHSM program are Arts and Culture, Business and Health and Wellness. [6]

French Immersion

The French Immersion program at Thornlea allows students to refine their French communication courses through a variety of courses. Students are required to take grade 9 geography, grade 9 PE, grade 10 history and grade 10 civics and careers in French as part of this program. They are also required to take on French course each year. Students must also choose 2 additional courses to take in French in either art, business, SAP or Co-Op. [7]


Thornlea Secondary School hosts a total of 42 clubs [8] (not including sports teams). Thornlea students often assist in the social activist life of Thornhill, and have, in the past, helped organize the Terry Fox Run, as well as the Walk Against Male Violence.

Amnesty Club

Thornlea's Amnesty club has helped with some social justice issues including Women's Rights in Iran, Black Lives Matter, and Indigenous Rights.


Another club within Thornlea Secondary School is the Thornlea Wellness Initiative Council or TWIC for short. TWIC is a club whose goal is to promote student wellbeing and mental health through several events and wellness activities. [9] Some events and wellness activities which TWIC host include the annual wellness fair, a therapy dog event, soccer tournament and a chess tournament. [10]

Thornlea Deadline

Thornlea Secondary School also hosts a newspaper that reports on events in and around the school. The first Thornlea newspaper was known as The Underground and was created in the 1980s. This newspaper was created secretly and acted as a hub for journalism. This secret paper would eventually be discovered by Thornlea administration and get shut down. A decade later, in the late 1990s, an official newspaper was created titled Deadline. This newspaper ran for several editions before being shut down after the editor-in-chief graduated. In the 2001-2002 school year, the Thornlea Music Council created a newspaper titled Volume, which was also shut down after a year after the entire editorial team graduated. In 2005 another newspaper titled Ka-Boom! This paper would eventually also be stopped. In 2021 two students at Thornlea, created a new newspaper. This time they titled it Thunder News. It acted as a newsletter for Thornlea students, and after the graduation of their editor-in-chief, it was handed off to two new executives. Under their guidance, it was rebranded to the TN Mag or Thornlea Magazine, and it ran for the 2022-2023 school year. However, it only released one edition. Most recently, in the 2023-2024 school year, the TN Magazine was handed over to a new editor-inchief, who, alongside two executives, decided to rebrand it back to Deadline. [11] [ dead link ]

Thornlea Lights, Set and Sound

Another club within Thornlea Secondary School is the Thornlea Lights, Set and Sound club also known as Thornlea Tech. This club is responsible for the wiring and behind the scenes of various assemblies and events throughout the year, including drama plays and the TWIC Wellness Fair. The Tech team uses soundboards, lightboards, cameras, speakers, wiring and various other forms of equipment to ensure that these events run smoothly. [12] Thornlea Lights, Set and Sound also hosts an annual haunted house, each year Thornlea Tech builds a haunted maze and students have to try and escape. In the 2023/24 school year, Thornlea Tech collaborated with Thornlea's Multimedia Club for their haunted house event. [13] In the 2022-2023 year, the club began a marketing campaign to gain new members, spearheaded by Owen Cui, the club created an Instagram and a website to help with this campaign. [14]

Thornlea Multimedia Club

The Thornlea Multimedia Club (MMC for short) is a club in Thornlea Secondary School that creates films and movies. The club consists of several departments; production, acting, editing, art, writing and audio. The Multimedia Club has made several films, including Who's Our Culprit, Bad Faith and Skadoosh. In 2022, they won the Vaughan Film Festival EIPMA Student Film award for their film Who's Our Culprit, directed by Kristen Ng. [15]

Thornlea Robotics

Thornlea Secondary School also hosts a Robotics team, that is called Thunder Robotics or Team 8764. The club is sponsored by the York Region District School Board, Thornlea Secondary School, the Argosy Foundation, Sylvan Learning and EMX. The Robotics team kicked off their rookie year in 2022 where they participated in contests as part of the First Robotics Competition. The Robotics team has participated in the District of Waterloo Event, District McMaster University, FIRST Ontario Provincial Championship and FIRST Ontario Provincial Championship - SCIENCE Division. Currently Thunder Robotics is ranked 53 of 198 teams in Ontario with a total point score of 97. They have participated in 41 matches since their creation and have won 16 but lost 20. [16]


Thornlea Secondary School hosts a wide variety of athletic teams. These teams include soccer, tennis, rugby, basketball, cross country, volleyball, golf, swimming, rock climbing, curling, skiing, snowboarding, badminton, track and field, ultimate frisbee, flag football and baseball.

Notable alumni


Film and television





See also

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  1. "York Region District School Board - Monthly Enrolment Report" (PDF). York Region District School Board. 12 December 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  2. Laura Kane (2013-06-16). "Thornlea students rally to save murals, editorspick". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2014-06-15.
  8. "Pages - Clubs". Retrieved 2023-09-19.
  9. "About Us". TWIC Site. Retrieved 2023-09-19.
  10. "Events". TWIC Site. Retrieved 2023-09-19.
  13. "Haunted House". Thornlea Tech. Retrieved 2024-02-16.
  14. "Home". Thornlea Tech. Retrieved 2023-11-14.
  16. "FRC Event Web : Team 8764 (2023)". Retrieved 2024-02-16.
  17. 1 2 3 4 "Musical Urbanism". Musical Urbanism

Further reading