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10 Aug, Wednesday
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Montreal Families

New high school set to open in Dorval

Collège Sainte-Anne’s Dorval campus is getting ready to open its doors in August when it welcomes students to its contemporary new building on Bouchard Blvd.

The state-of-the-art high school joins the family of schools that make up the Sainte-Anne educational institution. Founded in 1861, Collège Sainte-Anne — formerly L’Académie Sainte-Anne — offers three levels of education on two separate campuses. There is a preschool/primary in Dorval, and a secondary high school and CEGEP in Lachine. The addition of the second high school at the Dorval campus will give students additional educational and scheduling choices and accommodate the schools’ growing student population.

Motivated, engaged, and curious students

Isabelle Senécal, director of educational innovation for Collège Sainte-Anne, says the school will be implementing the most effective practices for motivation, learning, and student engagement.

The school’s pedagogy aims to engage students as life-long learners and prepare them to navigate the world. This will be done by developing competencies including problem-solving, creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, courage, and compassion. In addition to meeting core ministerial requirements, Collège Sainte-Anne Dorval aims to forge confident and committed citizens of the world through a variety of unique programs, and to break the ‘one-size-fits-all’ model of learning.

Teaching methods will include personalized coaching, co-teaching, and looping (spending two or more years with the same group of students).  The teachers will take the specific needs of adolescents into consideration so that they are engaged and involved.

In a typical day, a student can take part in a project where they’ll transform an idea into something that will have a tangible impact on the community. “Students will explore the methodology of project-based learning and the different steps and phases of social entrepreneurship — how do we go from one place to another to achieve our goal,” Senécal says.

In cycle 1, students will regularly attend discovery workshops divided into four themes:

  • In programming and robotics, they might choose to investigate web and game creation.
  • In science and engineering, aeronautics and meteorology will be options.
  • In media and communication, students can learn about journalism and cinema.
  • In exploration and the world, students can immerse themselves in the great explorers or learn about mythology.

Once in cycle 2 (grades 9 to 11), students will refine their interests and choose an academic stream from among those offered, which may include science, media, sports, or business.

Students will also have a mentoring class twice a week. They will belong to a team of six students and a teacher/mentor who will follow the students in their academic, disciplinary, and personal progress throughout high school. “We want to make sure that special relationships are created between students and teachers,” Senécal says. “The idea of mentoring is to create a safe space for all students. I tell parents that there is a dedicated person in the school who knows your child very well, and it’s his or her job to make sure that this child is known and recognized within the school.”

On Wednesdays, classes will end at 12:15 p.m., and students can relax or take part in an extracurricular activity. These include martial arts, yoga, or parkour; theatre, musical, or pottery and ceramics; carpentry, DJ-ing, culinary workshops, or learning a new language.

Students of the existing primary school and the new secondary school will explore the environment and nature-based learning in the campus greenhouse, the community gardens, the small “farm”, and the year-round outdoor classroom. Activities on the school’s synthetic field will include athletics, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and team sports.

New high school set to open in Dorval

Geared to teen’s rhythm

While based on the same academic rigor as Sainte-Anne’s Lachine high school, the Dorval location will follow a different class schedule. Instead of an 8 a.m. start, Dorval’s school day will run from 9 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. with homework time built into the schedule. The redesigned organization of the day will allow for a more personalized approach, with enrichment for some and support for others.

Another difference will be the mid-August start to the school year, to avoid the effects the long summer holidays have on learning. But it won’t be all work and no play. Four school breaks of one or two weeks will be planned during the year to allow students to rest and recharge, and extracurricular camps and trips will also be offered during the first week of each break.

A variety of learning spaces

The carbon-neutral building is inspired by best practices from around the world, including Denmark, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Japan. It will feature an abundance of natural lighting and open spaces, outdoor seating, and well-ventilated classes.

Senécal explains the design was largely inspired by the Thornburg concept, which identifies three types of learning spaces — the campfire, the puddle/watering hole, and the cave. This represents that students all learn differently — sometimes students are given guided strategies, sometimes they work collaboratively, and other times they need to focus and practice on their own.

“‘The campfire’ is the traditional closed classroom where a teacher is with their group for guided strategies, lectures, discussions, or presentations,” Senécal explains. “The informal ‘water puddle’ spaces are where students can collaborate, practice, and work together. While ‘the caves’ are where students can find alone time to concentrate, focus, and work individually.” Senécal says that 100 per cent of the spaces in the school will be used 100 per cent of the time. “The cafeteria can also be a classroom or a place where the students can go with their teachers. The entire school is flexible and can be used for different purposes.”

New high school set to open in Dorval

Opening and registration

The high school will be opening in stages over the next few years. The 2022-2023 academic year will admit only secondary one students, and an additional grade level with 144 students will be added annually until 720 students are enrolled in the school.

The application process for admission to Secondary 1 for the 2022-2023 school year is over. Those wishing to register for the 2023-2024 school year can submit an application online at the end of August.

Details can be found at secondaire.dorval.sainteanne.ca/admission

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