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Who Are We?

The O'Neill Performing Arts program gives students specialized instruction in dance, instrumental, vocal music, and drama. We offer advanced courses, clubs, and opportunities to nurture and support P.A. students while they pursue their passion for the arts. O'Neill's Performing Arts program serves students from grades 9 - 12. Students in the program must take at least 6 arts credits over their high school career to recieve their DDSB arts certificate at graduation, and 8 arts credits to obtain the O'Neill Performing Arts Certificate. However, they are encouraged to take more if they'd like!

Located at O'Neill C.V.I. in Oshawa, the performing arts program is available to both in-region and out-of-region students! 

Program Details

  • First began in 1988

  • Students in the P.A. program still take regular high school courses (math, sciences, languages, etc.)

We create, explore, discover and learn together, fostering a deep and rich sense of community as we share our gifts. These meaningful moments help us to learn about ourselves, build character and share the joy of expressing our craft.

History and Tradition

The O’Neill Performing Arts program has thrived in the Durham Region since its humble beginnings in 1988. For over thirty years, it has earned a reputation of excellence across Canada and further abroad. Students in the program experience and develop both their creative and performance skills in dance, drama, vocal and instrumental music. Many students have continued their arts studies at the post-secondary level and beyond, whilst others have maintained their love of the arts while pursuing alternate career paths.

What we do

A band during a performance being conducted- music stands and sheet music is visible


All students registered in the O'Neill Performing Arts Program will take discipline-specific electives through all 4 years of high school. In first year, students are required to take 8 courses- 6 mandatory courses and 2 P.A. electives offered by the program (see the document below for more information). Second year is very similar to first year, except there are only 5 mandatory courses + 2 P.A. electives: this gives grade 10 students one extra elective to choose (it doesn't have to be related to the arts). This pattern continues with two mandatory courses + 2 P.A. electives in grade eleven, and one mandatory course + 2 P.A. electives in grade twelve.

By the end of all 4 years, P.A. students who have successfully completed 8 arts credits will obtain the O'Neill Performing Arts Certificate in addition to their high school diploma.

Course offerings are subject to change on an annual basis.

Arts & Culture SHSM

Arts & Culture SHSM (Specialist High Skills Major) is an enrichment program offered by the DDSB that can be taken within the P.A. department. Students must be in grade 11 or 12 to participate in the program, however, recruitment and registration is in Grade 10. Specialist High Skills Major Programs in the high skills fields are great for students who want to take an apprenticeship, attend college or university or enter the workforce.

O'Neill's Arts & Culture SHSM program involves a variety of arts courses that many P.A. students already take. See the O'Neill CVI Arts & Culture SHSM brochure for more information.

Students in SHSM will:

  • Gain experience through cooperative education work placements

  • Complete 8 to 10 courses in your selected field

  • Complete First Aid, CPR, and WHMIS training along with other specialized certifications

  • Engage in reach-ahead experiences

Cracked Concrete Wall

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The front of O'Neill CVI (facing Simcoe street). A historic looking school with doors out front.

Open Arts Program

We have un-auditioned courses too!

O’Neill’s Open Arts program is available to all O'Neill students, is taught by many of the same faculty as the audition program. 

Courses are offered in dance, drama, instrumental and vocal music, and do not require an audition. Any student can enroll!

Our Open Arts students benefit from being integrated into many of the same ensembles, workshops, and trips as the audition program. 

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