Southwood strives to offer special opportunities for students in our community to enhance their secondary education through special programs.  We have two major enrichment areas: Advanced Placement, and Specialist High Skills Majors.

Advanced Placement (AP)

What is AP? See what Michelle Obama has to say about AP….

Advanced Placement (AP) is a program in the United States and Canada created by the College Board which offers college-level curricula and examinations to high school students. American colleges and universities may grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high scores on the examinations. The AP curriculum for each of the various subjects is created for the College Board by a panel of experts and college-level educators in that field of study. For a high school course to have the designation, the course must be audited by the College Board to ascertain that it satisfies the AP curriculum. If the course is approved, the school may use the AP designation and the course will be publicly listed on the AP Course Ledger.

Advanced Placement examinations are taken each May by students at participating American, Canadian, and international educational institutions. The tests are the culmination of year-long Advanced Placement (AP) courses. All AP exams (with few exceptions) combine multiple-choice questions with a free-response section in either essay or problem-solving format.   Students who receive a passing grade on the AP exam are then eligible for advanced standing in that subject area upon entrance to college or university.  This can include being granted credit for a first year level course in the subject area.  Individual universities vary in terms of which subjects they recognize, so parents and students are encouraged to research which post-secondary institutions will provide this opportunity in their subjects of interest.

Southwood offers pre-AP opportunities in a number of Grade 9 & 10 subject areas.  For more information on options offered at Southwood, please visit our AP page in the Academics section, or click here for this summary document of AP Pathways at Southwood.

The College Board website (click here) also offers detailed information on the program and its benefits.

Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM)

What is a Specialist High Skills Major?

Specialist High Skills Majors let students focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests while meeting the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). Students receive the SHSM seal on their diploma when they:

  • complete a specific bundle of 8-10 courses in the student’s selected field
  • earn valuable industry certifications including first aid and CPR qualifications
  • gain important skills on the job through cooperative education placements.

Who are they for?

Grade 11 and 12 students who are:

  • heading for apprenticeship training, college, university or the workplace
  • wanting to identify, explore and refine their career goals and make informed choices about their next steps after secondary school.

How can they help?

Students have the opportunity to:

  • gain important skills on the job with actual employers, at skills training centres and at school
  • earn valuable industry certifications, including first aid and CPR qualifications.

SHSM Programs at Southwood

The Environment Specialist High Skills Major is a program designed for students who have a passion for the environment and are looking for challenges and experiences applying their knowledge outside of the traditional classroom. Students will learn sector-specific skills and gain valuable hands-on experiences in environment based education. This program is ideal for any student interested in an intensive environment based education and who is looking to pursue a post-secondary education or occupation in an environment related field. For more information, please click on this link for a program description and/or contact Mr. Jason Bracey at


The Transportation Specialist High Skills Major program is also offered at Southwood.  For more information, please contact Mr. Steve Stockford at