June 6, 2011
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

EDMONTON — A proposed all-boys academy for grades 4 and 5 in Edmonton Catholic Schools has been ditched for the time being due to low registration.

The program was to start in September 2011 at two different schools.

But the district has not given up on the idea yet and plans to try again next year at just one location.

The district received 11 registrations at St. Matthew’s School on the north side and 14 at St. James School on the southside “and we did not believe that that would be enough at either site to begin the program,” said assistant superintendent Boris Radyo.

“We were looking for a minimum of 23 (boys) at either school.”

This district surveyed parents in the fall and concluded there was enough support to start two programs, one on each side of the North Saskatchewan River, Radyo said.

The school district will resurrect the idea next year and possibly offer only one site for the whole city, he said. “We’ll survey parents again to see if the interest has been maintained in the program.”

NOT GIVING UP

“We think the need is out there and we are not going to give up,” Radyo said. “We think if the location is right parents will sign up their child.”

The all-boys academy is something officials have been seriously considering since the Jean Forest Leadership Academy for Girls opened in 2005.

“We are always looking at innovating new programs for our students based on the needs of our families and expressions of interest from parents, who have been telling us we have an all-girls program that’s very successful so why not look at the needs of boys,” Radyo said.

The district decided there was support for an all-boys program after sending 3,600 letters to the families of all boys registered in Grades 2, 3 and 4.

“Research shows that boys have different learning needs than girls and an all-boys program would have looked after those specific needs,” the assistant superintendent noted.

“Boys need things like hands-on activities. Boys enjoy movement through the day in their learning. Boys need special attention paid to the way they learn to read and write.

“So we need types of literature that boys like and enjoy, and we need to base programs around those learning needs.”

The philosophy and teaching methods of the proposed academy might appeal to parents who want the program as an educational alternative for their boys.

BASIC PREMISES

Ideas to be implemented in the all-boys school would include:

  • A Catholic perspective on social justice and service to the community;
  • Resources that encourage personal goal-setting and celebrations of success in literacy achievement;
  • Positive male role models in teaching and support staff.

The district hasn’t yet decided on a site for the all-boys program next year. “We just want to see how enrolments come into our schools and whether there is available space and the opportunity to provide transportation throughout the city to that site.”