HeadStart is a voluntary, value-added summer support program offered for FREE for Grade 8 students entering Grade 9 only at one of our five WCDSB Catholic Secondary Schools.  Although this program is NOT mandatory, separate registration for HeadStart is required. This program is only available to students enrolled in our Catholic Secondary Schools each September. Students and parents tell us how timely and transformative this program is.

If you already registered your Grade 8 child for HeadStart, please watch for an email from stlouis@wcdsb.ca for detailed updates, assigned dates and times to attend the program.

Two important changes:

  1. Due to renovation delays, St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School HeadStart program is relocated to St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Elementary School, 210 Cowan Blvd., Cambridge
  2. Due to unforeseen changes to the school calendar, ALL HeadStart students who originally selected August 31 and September 1st  dates are now reassigned to Monday, August 24 and Tuesday, August 25.  If these dates do not work for you, please email stlouis@wcdsb.ca

For those parents who have not registered their Grade 8 child for HeadStart, we are accepting students on a waiting list until August 6.

***Another message will be posted on Wednesday, August 19, with specific details and expectations surrounding the HeadStart program.***

Waiting List Registration until Aug 6 midnight

How does HeadStart make a difference?

Although HeadStart 2020 will not have the same interactive feel as it has in years past, the Waterloo Catholic District School Board is hopeful that we will be allowed in the schools prior to September 8th – the first day of school.

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.  Activities are infused with literacy and numeracy activities and the all-important social adjustment factor.  To ease the anxiety surrounding return to school and ensure proper cleaning protocols for COVID-19, in-person programming will be on a reduced schedule, yet still offered over 2 days. Parents will be notified of the times your child will be expected to attend, once decisions are made in July.

HeadStart will NOT be offered online or remotely.

Waiting List Registration is now open until Aug 6 only. We will be hiring teachers to maintain a maximum 15:1 ratio. NOTE: If the Ministry of Education, Waterloo Catholic District School Board and local Public Health authorities do not deem it safe to host this program, HeadStart could be cancelled with little notice.

Learn to:

  • Open your lock / find your locker
  • 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
  • How to physical distance in a school setting
  • What does in-class, online and remote learning look like in a high school setting
  • Feel a part of a new school community before the first day of school

“ Excellent initiative for Grade 9 students! As a former SMH Grade 9 student when it was located downtown, this would have been a great intro to high school back in the day. For my somewhat shy and apprehensive daughter, this program was a great icebreaker, a chance to find her comfort zone and start the first day off on the right foot. Congrats on a well-developed program, great communication ahead of time. A bonus for any new Grade 9 coming into SMH.”

– parent of St. Mary’s HeadStart student

In years, prior, we have accommodated over 1000 Grade 9 students entering our five Catholic Secondary Schools and the program does reach maximum capacity.  This Summer, it is important that we keep numbers of students manageable for their first return to school since March.   We appreciate your patience as we determine the best options to deliver a stellar, in-person, transition program safely and effectively.

Nervousness about starting high school is heightened 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 skills to achieve success and a chance to connect with peers (old and new) in meaningful ways during this transition.

Two Awesome Days!

Get a HEADStart to Grade 9 is a two-day program and will be jam-packed with activities that because of Covid-19 will be limited to small group activities throughout the school, so students can gradually adjust to the “largeness” of high school.  As we prepare for a school year like no other, HeadStart is offered just before the new school year begins.  Please choose either Wed and Thurs, Aug 26/27 OR Mon and Tues, Aug 31/Sept 1 to participate.

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 a few tips they learned once school begins.  If the Ministry of Education, WCDSB and Medical Officers of Health deny us from offering this program in schools, HeadStart will be cancelled.

Transition to Grade 9 in so MANY WAYS!

Every Waterloo Catholic high school has a team of students and staff that will help once school begins. HEADStart merely 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”.

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

  • Find out what you need to know about your new high school
  • Meet energetic student leaders, Guidance, Student Success and Chaplains who are all committed to supporting ALL Grade 9’s
  • Get your timetable early … and make sense of it!
  • Find your locker and classes ahead of time
  • Get study skills tips to keep those grades up AND be involved!
  • Find out what to do and who to talk to when you are having trouble
  • Make new friends in small and large groups

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 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!

HEADStart programming times will be adjusted from a two day, full-day program to a two day half-day program on the following dates.  Your child will be ASSIGNED TO A TIMESLOT and an email indicating this assignment will be sent shortly.


Cohort 1

Monday, August 24, 2020, 8:30-11:30am – Day 1

Tuesday, August 25 , 2020, 8:30-11:30am – Day 2

Cohort 2

Monday, August 24, 2020, 12:00pm-3:00pm – Day 1

Tuesday, August 25 , 2020, 12:00pm-3:00pm – Day 2

Cohort 3

Wednesday, August 26, 2020, 8:30-11:30am– Day 1

Thursday, August 27, 2020, 8:30-11:30am – Day 2

Cohort 4

Wednesday, August 26, 2020, 12:00pm-3:00pm– Day 1

Thursday, August 27, 2020, 12:00pm-3:00pm – Day 2

Those that plan to attend St. Benedict HeadStart, your child will be assigned a different time.  Either 9:00am-11:00am OR 11:30am-1:30pm and relocated to St. Margaret of Scotland on Cowan, Cambridge

(no programming on Friday, August 28, 2020)


Reminder: HEADStart is a summer program and not mandatory, therefore a separate registration for this summer program is required.

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

St. Louis plays a supportive role in planning, organizing and registering students for this sought-after FREE summer program.

If your child is registering to attend the following high schools in the Fall 2020, then they should be encouraged to register for this summer program as well.

  • Monsignor Doyle CSS, 165 Meyers Rd., Cambridge
  • Resurrection CSS, 455 University Ave., Kitchener
  • St. Benedict CSS, 50 Saginaw Pkwy., Cambridge (held at St. Margaret CES, Cowan Blvd, Cambridge)
  • St. David CSS, 4 High St., Waterloo
  • St. Mary’s High School, 1500 Block Line Rd., Kitchener

Get a HEADStart is offered FREE

to students who are currently in Grade 8, attended a publicly funded school in both Grades 7 and 8 and can provide an Ontario Enrolment Number (OEN).

Waiting List

All private school and home schooled children planning to attend a Catholic Secondary School in Grade 9 in September 2020 must be REGISTERED for a Catholic high school in order to be considered and will be placed on waiting list for HeadStart.

Waiting list determinations will be decided August 6.

Many thanks to the Ontario Ministry of Education for supporting the Continuing Education Literacy and Numeracy Learning Opportunities Grant.

If you have already registered, please DO NOT RE-REGISTER.  Please email stlouis@wcdsb.ca to confirm or verify your registration information.