Academic excellence continues to be a strength of a SMUS education. Each year, I find that the beginning of the academic year brings considerable joy and excitement. We welcome new and returning students and faculty, and we also celebrate the successes of our students as we receive assessment results through the summer months. This year is no different.

In preparation of academic highlights to share with our full staff in the opening meeting on September 3, I emphasized the rigour and successes in our academic program. Looking back, the wrap up to our academic year included demonstrations of learning, school exams, experiential pursuits and Advanced Placement exams, the highest level of our academic programs. Our students were engaged with various final assessments which allowed them to demonstrate what they understood and could do with their learning.

Although Our Report Card for 2018-19 will be released in the weeks ahead, I am taking this opportunity to share a few key highlights from our students, including our 2019 graduates.

In our Advanced Placement program, 226 of our students wrote 617 AP exams in May, and our overall average was a score of 3.8 out of 5. Most impressively was that 90% of our exam writers scored a 3, 4 or 5 (including the most scores of 5 ever at SMUS) which was our school's best result since 2010. Achieving these scores indicates that the students are "very well qualified" for university-level study. Further, 28 of our students earned the distinction of National AP Scholars due to their exam average of 4 or 5 on all of their AP exams. These results demonstrate that the majority of our students who write AP exams are more than well prepared for university-level courses. On that note, we should commend our AP teachers for their dedication to each student's success.

In June, our students wrote the English 12 Provincial Exam and our exam average was well above the provincial average in both public and independent schools.

Our Grade 10 students demonstrated excellent proficiency in the Graduation Numeracy Assessment, with most of our students demonstrating a "complete" or "sophisticated" level of understanding of the concept and competencies. We will continue to monitor the performance of our students on the new provincial literacy and numeracy assessments on an annual basis, as the province no longer conducts provincial subject exams.

Finally, our 144 graduates from the Class of 2019 received 600 university acceptances to 156 post-secondary institutions across Canada, North America and internationally. This class earned a staggering $3 million in scholarships with their university acceptances in areas of study including business, economics, sciences and humanities.

It is important that we celebrate our academic successes and continue to strengthen our program and the opportunities we provide our students. Our educational approach is focused on inquiry and real-world learning connections, balanced with essential skill development. Within that we must also consider how formal assessments and opportunities such as math contests, science fairs, and creative writing and spoken word competitions to name a few, allow us to showcase the academic commitment of our students and teachers. This academic breadth and rigour is the foundation for the success of our graduates in both higher learning and in life.