Private school eyeing former elementary school for possible move


The former St. Theresa School could be the new home of St. Peter’s College School, the  latter currently being based in Haliburton.

The former St. Theresa School could be the new home of St. Peter’s College School, the latter currently being based in Haliburton.

By Ron Giofu


A former elementary school in Amherstburg could be the new home of a private Catholic boys school.

St. Peter’s College School is looking to move from its current location in Haliburton and has identified the former St. Theresa School site in Malden Centre as a possible new site for the school. Headmaster Peter Thyrring said the 5,000 population base in the Haliburton area “has just been too small to sustain our school” and enrollment at any given time being 10-15 students.

“Haliburton unfortunately has not been a viable move for us. So this past January we started looking at other alternatives,” said Thyrring.

“So far we have come across four other opportunities. One of the suggestions was to look at Amherstburg. With an open school available, we have become very interested and motivated in moving. Amherstburg became very appealing as it has a large potential drawing area of about 2.2 million people, which includes a potential customer base from the USA. Amherstburg is also a historic town. Our students favourite subjects have always been their sports and play, as well as history, and science.”

Thyrring also cited Holiday Beach Conservation Area and the Libro Centre as being “great outdoor and sports facilities” in the town.

“St. Theresa School is very appealing and I would like to purchase it. If things fall into place, the goal is to have the doors open for Grades 1-8 this September,” he said.

The school was founded in 1990 and ran out of the GTA for 21 years, Thyrring stated. It is one of the first athletic sports schools in Canada pushing the theme, “A healthy body, a healthy mind.” He added that the school was set up “for athletic and or active boys who were looking for an alternative to the regular school system.”

St. Peter’s College School fluctuated between 28-55 students at any one time while in the GTA, he said. Thyrring said students have been attracted to the school from not only the Toronto-area but as far away as Florida, China and South Korea.

“We had access to 5.5 million people and never had to advertise. In 2011, we changed our goals and decided to move to Haliburton as we had a camp and outdoor education component already established there.”

Boys are allowed to apply to be part of St. Peter’s College School regardless of religion, academic or athletic ability but Thyrring stated that students must however be in good health, and be willing to work and play hard.

“Good attitude also helps,” he said.

Students and their parents must attend a presentation and evaluation before they are accepted into our school, Thyrring added.

“All our students are able to work at their own level and speed and are tutored on a one-to-one basis when needed,” he said. “This provides the maximum opportunity to be successful. The bar is set high and our students are  taught to strive to be the best that they can be.”

The student/staff ratio is usually about 10-to-1, said Thyrring, with staffing being based on how many students register.

“Our last year in the GTA we had 28 students,” said Thyrring. “For those students we had three well qualified teachers that were also certified coaches. Supporting them we had a French, Mandarin, and music teacher along with a full-time TA, office staff and part-time housekeeper. We were quite a family. If things do fall into place as I hope it will, we will need and want to hire from the area within a short period of time.”

Thyrring said only one school is operated but St. Peter’s College School does run a hockey school, a paintball wilderness camp in Haliburton and a sports adventure camp in the GTA.

“Many people call us the hockey school. However that is only a small component of what we do,” said Thyrring. “The way things work for us at school is that: The harder our students work academically, and the better quality of work they produce, the more sports and play we give them.”

Thyrring described the school as being “very hands on and has lots of activity.

“This school is different. The students even govern the school under the law. This school is cool and very different,” he said.

St. Peter’s College School is also “old school and teaches respect, self discipline, and responsibility,” he added.

“It holds both students and teachers accountable at all times. It also has high standards that in most cases surpasses the Ontario curriculum,” he continued. “Our school is very different and offer a great alternative for families looking for a change. My thought is ‘different schools for different kids.’ We just do things differently and our students have achieved great success in doing so.”

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