Programming and School Configuration: A Conversation with Our Communities


Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools has taken steps in the past year to address aging infrastructure, underutilized schools, and expanding into new areas, resulting in increased enrollment. We aim to continue building a future that serves students, families, and communities, fostering growth and community presence. We see opportunities in program and grade configuration. We invite you to help shape our future by sharing your input, which will guide decision-making. No final decisions have been made regarding schools, grades, programs, or funding.

*Engagement will launch on October 26, 2023, and close on November 30, 2023.

How to participate:

  • Watch our brief video summary here and learn more by reviewing the information below.
  • Please share your thoughts on programming and grade configuration through our engagement tool. 
  • Use our Engagement Tool
  • Encourage your child to participate in the school engagement opportunities.
  • Attend an in-person or virtual workshop.

Workshop Dates:

  • Online - Nov. 14, 2023, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. via Zoom. Click here to Register.
  • St. Albert - November 21, 2023, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. SACHS (33 Malmo Avenue St. Albert).
  • Morinville - Nov. 23, 2023, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. MCHS (9506 100 Ave.
  • Legal - Nov. 29, 2023, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.  Legal School (5122 46 St, Legal).
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Why is this is important?

Establishing a clear vision for the Division's future that caters to the community and students will serve as a valuable guide for the Administration and the Board in making decisions that align with their goals. These well-informed decisions will optimize the utilization of school facilities, strategically position the Division for future funding, and support the development of new schools. Moreover, this clarity will instill confidence in current and prospective families about the Division's offerings and commitment.

What is the difference between programming versus options within our schools?

In a school division or educational context, the terms "program" and "option" are often used to describe different types of academic offerings or educational pathways. Click here for a listing of our current program offerings. 


  • A program typically refers to a structured and organized course of study or curriculum designed to achieve specific educational goals or outcomes.
  • Programs are often focused on specific subjects or areas of study, such as mathematics, science, language arts, or vocational education.
  • They can be comprehensive and cover multiple subjects, grade levels, or educational stages, such as an elementary school program, middle school program, or high school program.
  • Programs may have defined requirements, core courses, and sometimes specific assessments or certifications associated with them.
  • Examples of programs include Advanced Placement (AP) programs, various Kindergarten offerings, Cogito, Sports Academy, Summer School, French Immersion, Elite Performance Centre, Registered Apprenticeship Program and special education programs.


  • An option typically refers to a choice or elective within the educational system that allows students to select from a range of courses or pathways based on their interests or educational goals.
  • Options are often offered as elective courses or specialized tracks that students can choose to take in addition to their core or required coursework.
  • They provide students with flexibility and the opportunity to explore different subjects or career pathways.
  • Options can vary widely and may include courses in art, music, physical education, foreign languages, or specialized career and technical education (CTE) programs.
  • Students may have the freedom to choose specific options based on their personal interests and career aspirations.

What programs does GSACRD offer?

All programs vary by school and grade. All programs vary by school and grade

  • Kindergarten - Children attend Kindergarten in either the morning or the afternoon. Or they can attend full-day programming.
  • Progressive Kindergarten - Children attend half-days until spring break, after which they transition to full days.
  • Nature Kindergarten -This program fosters the God-given gifts and talents of the child in the natural environment. It helps nurture the child's spiritual/social/emotional well-being while building physical literacy through interest-play-based learning, giving space for curiosity, connection, and reflection of the world around them as they construct meaning, engaging in rich learning experiences.
  • Cogito - Offers traditional teaching strategies to achieve the Alberta Education program of studies. This is a method of delivery that appeals to families who value structure, repetition and teacher-directed learning.
  • French Immersion - All grades. Single-track and dual-track options.
  • Sports Academy - Grades 4-12. Based on the philosophy that students can learn through sports to maintain or improve academic standing and improve sports skills at the same time. Programming provided in hockey, soccer, gymnastics, cheer, and dance.
  • Recreation Academy - Grades 4-12. Using numerous adventurous indoor and outdoor activities, students experience activities in various settings that will enhance physical literacy and promote lifelong healthy living.
  • Summer School - Grades 1-12. Online and in-person classes are offered over July and August, allowing students to complete courses in a short period of time.
  • Alternative Education - Grades 7-12 and mature students. Learning opportunities through in-person, online or hybrid for students.
  • RISE (Respectful, Inclusive, Supported Education) - Grades 6-12. Specialized inclusive program for students who require targeted and/or individualized support to meet their personalized educational goals. The identified learning needs of the students may be addressed by a varied, flexible placement in multiple classrooms, a single classroom, and/or in the community.
  • Elite Performance Centre - Grades 10-12. Includes modernized gyms, an on-site trainer to facilitate athletic-related requirements, schedules that are designed around the needs of students with exceptional extracurricular time commitments, support from teachers and staff to facilitate successful academic performance, and ultimately provide students with the ability to control their own learning
  • Registered Apprenticeship Program - Grades 10-12. Allows students the opportunity to be enrolled in high school and also work as a paid apprentice. The program is designed to allow you to simultaneously complete high school and 1000 hours towards the 1,500 required hours for the first-year apprenticeship in a designated Trade.
  • Advanced Placement - Grades 10-12. Students experience an academically enriched program through post-secondary-level courses. AP programming allows those with a passion for a particular discipline (such as biology) to take one specific course or to explore a career pathway in science, taking more courses (such as physics).

Comparing and Contrasting Different School Configurations: Elementary, Junior High/Middle School, and High School Models

There are many types of school configurations that have the potential to successfully meet the needs of students. When considering various school configurations, it's important to explore the nuances and advantages of each. Let's directly compare the K-6 and K-4, 7-9 and 5-8, and 10-12 and 9-12 models, considering both international and Canadian references where applicable.

K-6 vs. K-4 School Configuration:

K-6 Configuration:


Longer Elementary Experience: A K-6 configuration provides a more extended period for foundational skill development and social growth, fostering strong connections between students and teachers (Dahl & Shapiro, 2019).

Gradual Transition: The transition from elementary to junior high school is more gradual, allowing students time to adapt to increased academic and social demands (National Middle School Association, 2010).

K-4 Configuration:


Focused Early Childhood Emphasis: A K-4 structure caters to the specific needs of early childhood education, allowing educators to provide tailored instruction and support (Government of Canada, 2019).

Seamless Transition to Middle School: Students in a K-4 configuration transition smoothly to the middle school environment, where they continue their educational journey with a strong foundation (Alberta Education, 2020).

7-9 vs 5-8 School Configuration:

7-9 Configuration:


Cohort Continuity: A 7-9 configuration allows students to maintain strong relationships with peers and teachers for an extended period, fostering a sense of belonging (Government of Alberta, 2021).

Focused Transition: Students gradually transition to high school after junior high, ensuring they are well-prepared for the increased academic expectations (Edmonton Public Schools, 2021).

5-8 Configuration:


Middle School Alignment: A 5-8 configuration aligns with the middle school philosophy, catering to the developmental needs of early adolescents through specialized curriculum and support (Government of Canada, 2019).

Smooth Transition to High School: The transition from middle school to high school is more gradual, giving students more time to adapt to the challenges of high school (Government of Alberta, 2021).

10-12 vs. 9-12 School Configuration:

10-12 Configuration:


Focused High School Experience: A 10-12 configuration offers a more concentrated high school experience, allowing students to engage more deeply with high school culture, activities, and advanced coursework (Bryk et al., 2010).

Targeted College Preparation: Students have more focused college preparation during their final years, maximizing their readiness for higher education and future careers (Education Commission of the States, 2015).

9-12 Configuration:


Cohort Identity: A 9-12 configuration fosters strong relationships among students within the same cohort, providing support systems and a shared high school experience (Bryk et al., 2010).

Gradual Transition: A 9-12 configuration allows for a smoother transition from junior high to high school, ensuring students are well-prepared for the challenges of high school academics (Alberta Education, 2020).

In conclusion, different school configurations offer distinct advantages that align with educational philosophies and developmental stages. Whether it's the longer elementary experience of K-6, the focused alignment of K-4 and 5-8, or the tailored high school experience of 9-12 and 10-12, the choice should reflect the needs and goals of students and educators.


Alberta Education. (2020). "Elementary-Junior High School Grade Grouping." Retrieved from

Dahl, B. L., & Shapiro, E. S. (2019). "Effective Schools in Action: Lessons from Literacy Coaches." Guilford Press.

Edmonton Public Schools. (2021). "Middle Schools." Retrieved from

Government of Alberta. (2021). "Junior High School Grades." Retrieved from

Government of Canada. (2019). "Education in Canada: Key Facts." Retrieved from


GSACRD Grade Configurations

Currently most, but not all, of our schools are configured to offer:

  • Kindergarten-Grade 6, Grades 7-9 and Grades 10-12.

There are many successful options on how to configure schools. The best grade configuration considers student numbers, expected population growth, school size and resources available. The below information outlines our current school configurations.

St. Albert Schools

  • Albert Lacombe Catholic School - Kindergarten to Grade 6
  • Bertha Kennedy Catholic School - Kindergarten to Grade 6
  • École Sacré Coeur - Kindergarten to Grade 4
  • École Secondaire Sainte Marguerite d'Youville - Grade 5 - 9
  • École Secondaire St. Albert Catholic High School - Grade 10 - 12
  • Holy Family Catholic School - Kindergarten to Grade 6
  • J. J. Nearing Catholic Elementary School - Kindergarten to Grade 6
  • Neil M. Ross Catholic School - Kindergarten to Grade 6
  • Richard S. Fowler Catholic Junior High School - Grade 7 - 9
  • Sister Alphonse Academy - Kindergarten to Grade 9
  • St. Gabriel Education Centre - Grade 7 - 12
  • Vincent J. Maloney Catholic Junior High School - Grade 7 - 9

Morinville Schools

  • École Georges H. Primeau Middle School - Grade 6 - 8
  • École Notre Dame Elementary School - Kindergarten to Grade 5
  • Morinville Community High School - Grade 9 - 12
  • St. Kateri Tekakwitha Academy - Kindergarten to Grade 5


  • Legal School - Kindergarten to Grade 9