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Grand Theatre High School Project Sponsorship Decision (Updated January 24)

January 18, 2018

As you may have heard, the Thames Valley District School Board's Senior Administration decided to restore their sponsorship for this year's High School Project play.

The London District Catholic School Board has an excellent working relationship with the Thames Valley District School Board. Our work together is based on mutual respect, including the importance of making decisions independent of one another.

We give ALL students our unconditional care and support each and every day in our schools and classrooms. 

The Grand Theatre provides valuable opportunities to students in our community and although we have chosen not to be a sponsor for this year's production, we are pleased that more than enough funds have been raised to offset our sponsorship amount. 

Below is the update initially posted January 18:

As you may have heard, the London District Catholic School Board will not be financially sponsoring the Grand Theatre's High School Project this year. We realize that you may have questions and wanted to provide you with some additional information.

The decision not to provide our financial support has been inaccurately portrayed, especially in social media, as a decision resulting from an unwillingness to support students because of their sexual orientation.

We are proud that every day our school communities - principals, teachers, trustees, staff, students, parents, parishes and more - work very hard together to ensure all students are supported and cared for.

The script for this year's production is based on the story of a high school student's struggle to be permitted to bring his boyfriend to the prom. We value students who respectfully advocate for themselves and for others. In this case, the importance of understanding context is vital to interpret details of the story portrayed through artistic license. Many young people have yet to develop the ability to discern at that level.

We are concerned that the script contains adult language, mature themes, and promotes stereotypes that are divisive and outdated. For example, the principal is portrayed as "the hardline principal" with no recognition of his caring or concern for students and their well-being. The "priest with conservative religious views" does not reflect the caring and compassionate approach that so many priests bring to our schools, and which Pope Francis calls them and us to be as we live our faith.

ALL our students need our unconditional care and support every day and we do not wish for them to be given mixed messages about our desire, capacity and/or willingness to support them. 

We have an excellent working relationship with the Grand Theatre and value the opportunities provided to students as participants and audience members and are pleased that the independent fundraising campaign has been very successful. The High School Project has been and will continue to be a community project undertaken by the Grand Theatre. As in the past, we are not involved in the auditions, casting or production. Students and their families solely make the decision to audition and to take part.