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 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.

HeadStart Registration information will be released after March Break 2021

HeadStart Registration opens in Spring 2021

How does HeadStart make a difference?

Although HeadStart 2020 did not have the same interactive feel as it has in years past, the Waterloo Catholic District School Board still saw 928 Grade 9 students participate. Plans for 2021 are in the works.

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.

Learn to:

  • What is the 2021 -2022 school year likely going to look like for high school students?
  • What does 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
  • How to physical distance in a secondary 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 close to 1000 Grade 9 students entering our five Catholic Secondary Schools and the program does reach maximum capacity.  While we do not know what the pandemic status will be in Summer 2021, it is important that we keep numbers of students manageable for their safety.   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.  Program Dates are still to be determined, yet they are often at the end of August.

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.

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 class tours in their Family of Schools Secondary School in Spring – to be determined
  • Participate in virtual Transition Meetings arranged by your Elementary School
  • Register in Spring to attend HeadStart at the end of August.

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 are still being established.


to be determined

Reminder: HEADStart is a summer program and not mandatory, however once program dates are established, you will be required to register separately  for this summer program.

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 2021, 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
  • 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 2021 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 June 21, 2021.

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


Check back in March 2021