In Tooley's energy-focused SHSM at Lasalle, teacher Liane Esau keeps a solar panel at the back of the classroom that can be taken apart and reconstructed, or hauled outside to calculate the best angle at which to capture solar energy.
In Grade 10 we start to tell them if you're interested in sciences, if you're doing really well and you want to take more, the energy SHSM doesn't mean you're going to go into energy," Esau said.
It's hard to quantify the success of the program, but Leclair said results from a board survey of the 2011 SHSM graduates following high school were promising.
The province credits programs like SHSM with increasing the graduation rate to 82 per cent from 68 per cent in 2003-2004.
It's not clear how colleges, universities and apprenticeship programs will reward SHSM graduates, but Esau said Lakehead University in Thunder Bay has already committed to giving priority rooming to students with the certificate, while other institutions are awarding bursaries to qualifying students.
She now has 29 enrolled in the energy SHSM, 13 of which are graduating this year.