the Virtual High School office


Virtual High School offers the John Smallwood Bursary and the Julie O'Rourke Memorial Scholarship.

  • The John Smallwood Bursary covers the full tuition cost of one Virtual High School course for a student who is economically disadvantaged. Students do not have to be enrolled at VHS to apply.
  • The Julie O'Rourke Memorial Scholarship is designed to offset expenses for a student pursuing post-secondary studies in a Fine Arts or Design program (variously defined). Students must either must be a current student with VHS or have successfully completed a course with VHS within the past three years from the date they apply for the scholarship.

John Smallwood Bursary

Bursary Program icon

John Smallwood, who has been a teacher and writer with Virtual High School since 1996, envisioned this bursary. John represents all that is desirable in an effective educator committed to students. The purpose of the John Smallwood Bursary Program is to provide enrolment subsidies to economically disadvantaged students, thereby ensuring that they have access to high-quality online education as they work to achieve their academic goals.

The John Smallwood Bursary is awarded on the basis of a student's financial needs. Our hope is that recipients remain in contact even after earning their Ontario Secondary School Diplomas to ensure that the bursary has been helpful in maximizing their chances of success.

Application Process for the John Smallwood Bursary

Application Form

How do I apply?

Complete the application form and include all required documents in an email to Awards@VirtualHighSchool.com. You may also choose to submit your application by fax or mail:

FAX: 519-565-4100
MAIL: Virtual High School Awards Team
John Smallwood Bursary
c/o Virtual High School
27 Main St. North, Box 402
Bayfield, Ontario, Canada
N0M 1G0

Who is eligible to apply?

The purpose of this bursary is to provide monetary support for Canadian students of any age, enabling them to enrol with Virtual High School. The extent of financial need will be a primary factor in choosing the award recipient.

Students may receive this bursary once per calendar year. Unsuccessful applicants may re-apply during each application period.

How important are previous marks?

While financial need is the primary concern when selecting recipients of the bursary, applicants should also have achieved passing grades in previously studied subjects.

How much are the bursaries worth?

Students granted a bursary will receive full tuition to one VHS course. This bursary is non-transferable, and successful applicants must utilize the bursary within 90 days of the date of issuance.

How often will these awards be granted?

One bursary will be granted six times per year. These will be issued during the months of January, March, May, July, September, and November. VHS must receive the application form and all other required documents via fax, mail, or email by the 15th of the month in which the bursary will be granted.

What else will I be required to submit?

In order for the applications to be considered complete, students will be required to submit the most recent copy of a high school transcript. If students do not have a transcript because they have been home-schooled or due to other circumstances, they may send an updated report of their academic progress. Applicants will also be required to submit proof of last year's gross annual income (e.g. Notice of Assessment) for their parent(s)/guardian(s) and themselves.

How do you decide who gets the awards?

The Awards Selection Committee will meet after the 15th of the month of issue to assess the applications received during that submission period. Recipients will be chosen based primarily on the extent of their financial need. Once the recipient has been determined, all applicants (successful or unsuccessful) will be contacted by email on or before the 25th of the month.

Who funds the bursary?

Virtual High School and its teachers have initiated the bursary program; however, any person may contact VHS to make a contribution to the program. Any donations made will be acknowledged on the VHS website and on social media if the donors desire such recognition.

Please contact Awards@VirtualHighSchool.com for further details.

Will the information collected remain private?

All information collected for the John Smallwood Bursary Program is CONFIDENTIAL. The Bursary Selection Committee is comprised of VHS staff who will treat all submitted information in a professional and confidential manner. Results will be released only to the recipient. With the written consent of the student, the results may also be used to promote the Bursary Program at Virtual High School.

Julie O'Rourke Memorial Scholarship

Julie O'Rourke

The Julie O'Rourke Memorial Scholarship, which is worth $1,000, is intended to offset expenses for a student pursuing post-secondary studies in a Fine Arts or Design program (variously defined). The purpose of the scholarship is to celebrate Julie's talents and the light she brought to the world by recognizing and encouraging that light in others.

Julie Ann Elizabeth O'Rourke loved life and had the rare gift of sharing that joyful enthusiasm with others. She was pre-eminently successful as a scholar and as an artist, provided deep insight into any challenge of the heart, and brought together diverse friends and family.

Julie was a professional photographer and fine artist. She received her BFA from York University, and after backpacking through Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia, she pursued her MFA through Ryerson University, doing major projects in New York City and the George Eastman House in Rochester. The focus of her Master's thesis was the restoration and conservation of photographs, particularly those from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Julie worked an entire summer with VHS, matching fine art and photography to short stories. Her ability to relate photography and art to the human experience enhanced the VHS English courses through her image choices.

Artistically, Julie was especially interested in the avant-garde and the synthesis of old and new forms. She had an aesthetic that combined Victorian, Art Deco, Industrial, and Post-Modern sensibilities. These themes recurred in her photography and in her other artistic endeavours. She had hoped to pursue a second Master's degree in the field of art therapy.

Julie had a deep love of travel and adventure. She hiked in Thailand, dived at the Great Barrier Reef, surfed in Portugal, jogged in Central Park, and moved within the artistic community of Paris. She frequently encouraged her friends by saying, "Don't talk about doing somethingódo it."

Her friends were both numerous and diverse, and she was equally comfortable at an academic discussion in a fine restaurant or an informal gathering in rural Ontario. The common thread was her great love of people; she had an intuitive way of understanding and appreciating others. For Julie, there was never any question that her friends and family would be compatible, and she never missed an opportunity to bring together the people she loved.

After a three-year battle with a rare cancer called adenoid cystic carcinoma, and two months after celebrating her thirtieth birthday, Julie passed away in March of 2011. Her love of life, people, and adventure never diminished during that fight, in spite of extraordinary pain and persistent bad newsóa testament to her incredible strength of character.

Application Process for the Julie O'Rourke Memorial Scholarship

The Successful Candidate

A successful candidate is chosen every August to receive $1,000 from the Julie O'Rourke Memorial Scholarship.

After the first year of post-secondary school, Virtual High School will reach out to the winner to inquire about how things are going. Specifically, the winner will describe their growth through studying art or design over the past 12 months, lessons learned in the past year, interesting people they have met, and information about future plans. Virtual High School will publish this information in a featured blog post in the Student Spotlight category.


The deadline for applications is August 1 of each year.

Application Form

You may complete an electronic copy and save it to your computer, or print a hard copy to include with your portfolio.


You must provide proof that you have been accepted, or conditionally accepted, to a program in design or the fine arts at the post-secondary level. The school that you are planning to attend must be accredited in its jurisdiction, but otherwise, there are no restrictions on the type of design or fine arts program you choose to pursue.

Examples of qualifying programs include:

  • Integrated Design
  • Animation
  • Media Studies
  • Visual Effects and Television
  • Fashion Design
  • Music Performance
  • Theatre and Drama Studies

You must be a current student with Virtual High School or have successfully completed a course with VHS within the past three years from the date you apply for the scholarship.

Please submit a copy of your acceptance letter or other proof with your application.


We want to know that, like Julie, you will produce work which will enable others to live life courageously, positively, and fully.

Please provide us with photographs, an audio clip, or video of some of your work, in any medium. We review a wide scope of portfolios, and we are not expecting you to have already acquired the skills and insights that your post-secondary studies will provide. However, we do need to see evidence that you are a practicing artist.

Application Process

Please complete the three requirements.

  • PDF Scholarship Form
  • Copy of Acceptance Letter to Post-Secondary Fine Arts or Design Program
  • Portfolio

Provide all three requirements using the application method of your choice.


A confirmation receipt will be sent once VHS has received your application.


  • Virtual High School Awards Team
    Julie O'Rourke Memorial Scholarship
    c/o Virtual High School
    27 Main St. North, Box 402
    Bayfield, Ontario, Canada
    N0M 1G0

All information collected is CONFIDENTIAL. The selection committee will be composed of members of the VHS Awards Team who will treat all submitted information in a confidential manner.