Dressed in tiny green and orange African-print vests, nearly 115 students started their first day at the Africentric Alternative School Tuesday near Sheppard Avenue West and Jane Street.
As they sat cross-legged on the gymnasium floor at their first morning assembly, the students represented a victory for proponents of the controversial school, which had only 85 students enrolled as recently as last Thursday.
The last-minute push has helped bolster enrolment in the junior grades, according to Toronto District School Board trustee James Pasternak.
"The most encouraging signs are the numbers enrolled in the kindergarten programs," he said. "Based on the pathway, it gives the school a built-in flow of students into the early grades."
A traditional West African drum troupe played at the assembly, and students, parents and teachers sang both the Canadian national anthem and the Black national anthem.
"I think it's important that students know their history, and can learn about [black]leaders," said Osbourne Wellington, whose 3-year-old son, Darius, is starting junior kindergarten at the school today. "Then they'll know that they can dream bigger, that they can be more than basketball players."