History of Welland Centennial Secondary School
On Wednesday, July 21, 1965, a sod-turning ceremony took place on what was known as the Dougherty farm. This marked the beginning of work on Edward D. Russell’s architectural design for Centennial Secondary School. Steward-Hinan Construction of St. Catharines was responsible for the project which subsequently won several design awards. The Board of Education for the City of Welland had purchased the land in order to take advantage of federal grants from the Government to promote technical education in the Province. Interestingly, the large rock near the flagpole at the front entrance of the school is the original rock from the gatepost of the Dougherty property.
Plans to build an auditorium in the school almost did not materialize. However, due to the efforts of many people, City council members changed their vote in response to the public outcry. The auditorium was later named after Dr. J.M. Ennis, who as a member of the school board was a leading influence in its conception, design and construction. In 1966, the cost of building the auditorium was $372 000. To build a similar facility today with the seating capacity of 1138 seats, two large dressing rooms, a sizeable orchestra pit, and full stage would probably cost well over $2.6 million. Named to commemorate Canada’s centennial year, the school opened in September, 1966, with sixteen regular classrooms, twelve large shops and a library half its present size. Over the years the technical program at Centennial diminished and the school became more academic in nature. In the early 1980’s, an adult education program called Opportunities to Pursue Educational Needs (O.P.E.N.) was pioneered.