A Change of Pace in WCI’s Arts Program

Waterloo Collegiate Institute (WCI) has always been known as an academic school. This reputation was formed through its magnet programs,including Strings, Extended French and Advanced Placement courses, its abundance of math and science courses, as well as the number of students going into a post secondary education for these subjects.

However, in recent years, where WCI has been beginning to step up its game is, instead, in the Arts department.

As their selection of courses opened up, now including photography, drama, vocals, band, orchestra, visual arts, and guitar, their extracurricular activities before and after school also continued to flourish. This allowed more students to find something that they liked and have the opportunity to excel in their area of interest.

I decided to sit down with Mrs. Erdman, choir and band conductor, to find out her views on WCI’s current Arts program. Erdman started at WCI in the Fall of 2017 and had a 5 year plan to expand the vocal program because there are so many schools filtering into WCI which don’t have orchestral or band instruments and therefore aren’t able to be involved in that aspect of the Arts program in highschool. However, the vocals program has no prerequisites and therefore can involve everyone from the inexperienced to people coming from outside of Canada. Even better is that since coming to WCI Erdman says that “the biggest shift we’ve seen is the growth in the vocal music program. A lot more people being interested in being involved and we’re really branching out to include newcomers to Canada.”

Mrs. Erdman and some students during the first choir meeting of the 2019-2020 school year

Erdman says that when she was growing up she made a lot of her friends through the music program and really encourages students to get involved in the Arts program for the strong sense of community and to ensure students have an enjoyable part of their school day.

Through the help of Mrs. Erdman and so many other generous teachers and students at the school, many events have been able to go off without a hitch in the last few years.

Music nights allow students in band, orchestra, choir, guitar and more to show their parents and fellow peers what they have been working in. Arts and Culture Fest encourages everyone in the school to share what they love and put time and dedication into an amazing performance which includes improv (from WCI’s own improv team), dancing, singing, acting, and so much more. Just last year, the orchestra and choir were able to attend Nationals in Ottawa, which had to be entered with an audition tape, as well as the more local Kiwanis Music Festival and achieved great success in both.

As well, every year WCI puts on an extraordinary production, alternating between plays and musicals, and impresses not only the school population, but all of their friends and family. Students and teachers put in hours of rehearsal time almost every day to allow the performance to be truly amazing. In the past 3 years this has included Westside Story, Macbeth, and The Wizard of Oz, bringing nostalgic stories, Shakespeare, and hilarious showtunes to life in our very own WCI Auditorium. And of course, as previously mentioned, the play for 2019-2020 school year has been announced as Peter Pan, inspiring just as much excitement in the student body as ever.

Though it still has lots of room to grow, WCI’s Arts have been surprising us year after year with no sign of stopping, who knows what they’ll come up with next.