HeadStart to Grade 9

At the end of August each year, Get a HeadStart to Grade 9 is offered. HeadStart is a voluntary, value-added summer support program offered for FREE for Grade 8 students entering Grade 9. This program is only available to students enrolled in our Catholic Secondary Schools each September. Students and parents tell us how timely, and transformative HeadStart is.

Although this program is NOT mandatory, separate registration for HeadStart is required.

How does HeadStart make a difference?

HeadStart is an in-person preparatory program which provides students with those preliminary tools to be academically successful at the beginning of the school year.  The program is infused with literacy and numeracy activities and the all-important social adjustment factor.

Learn to:

  • What is the 2023 -2024 school year likely going to look like for high school students?
  • What does a blend of in-class, online and remote learning look like in a high school setting
  • How to manage a semester system for both in-person and remote learning
  • Follow your timetable, find your classes and meet your new peers who will join you – ahead of time
  • Navigate around other parts of the school and how to access people resources
  • Feel a part of a new school community before the first day of school

 “Thank you to the team who runs HeadStart. My son came out of it with a lot of confidence and excitement for starting his journey at St. David’s. He even said he’s going to be one of the leaders some day when he’s in Grade 12. Thanks so much for making the beginning of grade 9 much less scary (for me especially!)”

– parent of St. David CSS HeadStart student

Each year, we try to accommodate as many Grade 9 students entering our five Catholic Secondary Schools as possible and over half choose to participate.  Unfortunately, the program does reach maximum capacity.

Nervousness about starting high school is natural for most students in the days leading up to the first day of Grade 9.  HEADStart can alleviate some of that anxiety.

Since 2010, St. Louis Adult Learning and Continuing Education Centres  and the Waterloo Catholic District School Board have worked together to create a phenomenal program that addresses academic and social anxiety, provides Gr 8 students going into Grade 9 with the tools of academic readiness, study and organizational skills to achieve success and a chance to connect with peers (old and new) in meaningful ways during this transition.


Get a HEADStart to Grade 9 is a four-day (half day) program and will be filled with small group and some safe large group activities throughout the school, so students can gradually adjust to the “largeness” of high school.  As students prepare for this significant transition, HeadStart is offered just before the new school year begins.  HeadStart program dates are Monday August 22 to Thursday August 25, 2022.

Commitment to attend HeadStart ensures optimal learning, the greatest benefit and the least disruption within the limited hours the program is running. If students cannot attend at all for whatever reason, please let us know in advance if you can. All students who are able to attend HeadStart will be encouraged to pay it forward and show their peers who were unable to attend HeadStart, a few tips they learned once school begins.

Transition to Grade 9 in so MANY WAYS!

Every Waterloo Catholic high school has a team of students and staff that will help before school begins.

  • Read the Entering Secondary School Transition Guide
  • Attend a pre-recorded Grade 8 Information and Pathway Presentation evenings for Parents and Students
  • Ask questions about courses, different levels and different pathways when you meet the school guidance teachers
  • Students may be able to attend virtual class tours in their Family of Schools Secondary School in Spring – ask your day school if this is happening
  • Participate in virtual Transition Meetings arranged by your Elementary School.

HeadStart gives Grade 9 students a bit more support, more time to adjust to the transition, and gain more confidence to cope with the first few weeks of high school … and as a benefit, they will be able to focus more on course learning and achievement and making choices regarding involvement in other school activities rather than “sweating the small stuff”.

Grade 9 is an exciting, yet challenging milestone.  Get excited and BE PREPARED for those first few weeks/months of Grade 9 at our Catholic Secondary Schools next September.

Learn about:

  • What the 2023 -2024 school year will look like for high school students?
  • How technology and in-person learning blends in a high school setting
  • Strategies to manage a semester system
  • Following your timetable, finding your classes, and meeting your new peers who will join you – ahead of time
  • Navigating other parts of the school and how to access people resources
  • Belonging to a new school community before the first day of school

Don’t be nervous.  Bring out your Best!

Students and Parents alike have repeatedly shared how this program “transforms” them. Confidence increases, attitude toward school is positive, bonds with new friends are meaningful, and achievement in course work is focused. This brief program is only ONE piece of the whole transition to high school, however this concentrated effort by each Catholic Secondary School is making a difference!

Morning or Afternoon Sections 

Reminder: HEADStart is a summer program and not mandatory, however participants must register separately for this summer program.

Dates to be determined ( 4  half days )

4 MORNING sessions: 8:30am – 11:30am


4 AFTERNOON sessions: 12:00pm-3:00pm

Get a HEADStart to Grade 9 is offered at all five Catholic Secondary Schools with the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

  • Monsignor Doyle CSS, 165 Meyers Rd., Cambridge
  • Resurrection CSS, 455 University Ave., Kitchener
  • St. Benedict CSS, 50 Saginaw Pkwy., Cambridge
  • St. David CSS, 4 High St., Waterloo
  • St. Mary’s High School, 1500 Block Line Rd., Kitchener

ONLINE Registration starts in March 2023

Please contact stlouis@wcdsb.ca if you have questions.

Monsignor Doyle CSS
St. Benedict CSS
St. Mary’s High School
Resurrection CSS
St. David CSS