Initiated by a group of dedicated parents familiar with existing alternative programs elsewhere in Ontario, SAGE started as a proposal to launch an “alternative” program in Hamilton. After studying the philosophies and methods of successful programs in London, Ottawa, and Toronto, the original volunteer committee approached interested families in Hamilton-Wentworth to find out what they wanted from their schools.
The volunteers drafted a proposal and Superintendent Charles Reid delivered it to the HWDSB Board of Trustees in 2001. The proposal was defeated, but the Board developed a protocol for reviewing Programs of Innovation, and then the volunteer committee re-wrote the proposal in accordance with the Board’s protocols. In May 2002, the Board approved the new proposal for a one-year pilot program to run through the 2002/2003 school year.
The pilot was approved with a limit of one hundred students to offer classes between Junior Kindergarten and Grade 5. In spite of the short notice, nearly one hundred students registered by the end of the summer.
At our second Social event on August 25, 2002, the interim Steering Committee held a vote to select a name for the program, and the families picked Scholastic Arts & Global Education – SAGE for short. Sage is a beautiful colour, a healing herb, and an ancient Greek wise person. It also includes two of the Five Goals of the Program.
At the end of the first year, an Evaluation Committee assessed the Program based on key criteria. After reviewing the assessment and receiving delegations from a number of SAGE families, the Board voted to approve the program permanently.
The original SAGE proposal has been brought to life at Strathcona School, which was chosen to host the program for its great location, modern facilities, a supportive School Council, and a dedicated Principal committed to the success of the program.
Strathcona School is right next to Victoria Park (a beautiful green space with a large play structure, lots of trees, swimming facilities, tennis courts, and baseball diamond), and fairly close to Dundurn Park, the RBG South Shore Trails, the Aviary, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and Hamilton Place.
Today, as a testament to the positive relationship between the SAGE program and Strathcona community, Victoria Park is home to a permanent Butterfly Garden that was developed in partnership with SAGE, the Strathcona Community Council and the City of Hamilton. It is tended by SAGE family volunteers and community volunteers working together.