Newcomer Stories: Getting Into Catholic Schools

Tuesday, June 11, 2013
 
One of the biggest worries as a parent when you embark on such a big move across oceans and seas is to make sure that the kids suffer as less as possible.  Regardless of how difficult and chaotic this time can be for you (or me in this case), the kids must never feel too traumatised with the move. In short, their lives must go on.
 
We timed our departure from South Africa to be the month of December because that was when schools closed and we thought it best to let the children finish their respective grades. Around January, after being in Canada for a month, we started looking for schools around the area we lived in.
 
The choice was made easy by the school catchment system applied here in Canada. Basically, each school has a boundary map and if you stay within its boundaries, your child can be enrolled into that school. In Ontario, I found that each area usually had 2 accommodating schools - one public school and one Catholic school. Both types are public schools, funded by the government, except that there is religion teachings in the Catholic schools.
 
As a family, we had decided before landing that we would be enrolling the kids into Catholic schools. We went to a newcomer information centre, where we booked to have assessments done on the kids. Although the kids were allocated to their levels based on their age, the assessment was also  important to assess that the kids would be in the right level. My kids were promoted a grade higher. My younger one would have been grade 4 based on her age, but was put into grade 3 since in South Africa, she had only finished grade 2.
 
We gave in our address and the information centre confirmed the schools that my children were going into. At the school, we went to register the children. Documents that were required for registration were birth certificate, proof of address, immunization record and ID passport. At the elementary school, we also had to produce my youngest's and my baptismal certificates. You see, to attend a Catholic elementary school, it is compulsory for one of the parents of the student to be Catholic and for the student to be baptised in the Catholic faith.
 
For my eldest, who was attending high school (or secondary school as it is called in Canada), all she needed extra was to buy a few sets of school uniforms. Her baptismal certificate was not required as all students were accepted regardless of their faith.

All in all, it was an easy registration for them. I was glad. As a parent, it's always a great feeling to know that with so much uncertainties around us and our situation at that moment in time, something was going right. The kids were all right after all. :-)

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