School divisions gearing up for year’s start

  • Aug. 28, 2013 9:56 p.m.

It’s that time of year again when students are looking at the first day of grade school, some for the first time and some for the very last time.

Both the Red Deer Public Schools (RDPS) and Red Deer Catholic Schools (RDCS) return for another year of learning on Sept. 3 after the long weekend.

Dave Khatib, Red Deer Catholic Schools division principle, said in the 2012-2013 school year the district saw a 5% increase in student numbers, and they are predicting a 2.3% increase in numbers this coming year.

Piet Langstraat, superintendant of schools for RDPS, said they are anticipating growth consistent with previous years.

“It’s just part of a trend year over year for the last few years we have seen the same kind of growth. We project to continue to see that growth for the next number of years with the growth of the City,” said Langstraat.

RDPS student population last year was just over 10,000 students and Langstraat said they expect to see about 250 more students this year.

Both school systems also just finished a literacy program in conjunction with Red Deer College where they took 20 students, 10 from each system, and brought them together for 21 days of reading and writing.

“We are always concentrating on literacy so this program worked at getting the kids to read as it will suit them well when they get to school to have these abilities,” said Khatib.

He and Langstraat both said that a major focus is literacy in their students.

“We know our English as a Second Language population is increasing so we want to make sure we are working with them,” said Khatib.

Langstraat said the idea with his teachers and staff is to incorporate reading and literacy right from Grade 1. “We want these kids to be literate in all subjects. When our students take courses like say physics for example we encourage our staff to make sure the students understand the concepts and vocabulary that is specifically required there,” said Langstraat.

The public school system is also looking forward to the future with some changes to take place in the 2014 school year including a move of the Gateway Christian School to the River Glen School location.

RDPS is also seeing the addition of Ecole Barrie Wilson which is a pre-Kindergarten to Grade 5 school opening in September 2014.

Khatib said while there aren’t many things that RDCS is doing differently this year, there are things that they always want to work on.

“Our faith goal for this year is to go make a difference. We want each school to take that statement and tune it to their own needs but we are looking at a lot of students doing stewardship and living beyond their own realm,” said Khatib.

Both Khatib and Langstraat said parent involvement is a large portion of student success and plays a major role in high school completion.

Advice from Khatib to parents new to the community is to get in touch with their school for information and for all parents he said to “Always read to your children.

“When we look at our elementary students we want to see parent involvement in their education, and the single best way to do that as a parent is to read to your children.”

Registration dates for school are available online. For information regarding this visit for public schools and for Catholic schools.