Ecole St. Mary preparing to welcome new students at annual Open House

Daily Herald File Photo Principal Dwayne Gareau addressed the crowd before the tour of Ecole St. Mary High School during their open house in 2023.

Ecole St. Mary High School plans to welcome the next generation of students with an Open House in March.

St. Mary Principal Dwayne Gareau said this time of year is unique because the staff is preparing for the end of one school year and the start of another.

The school recently introduced some high performance physical education programs and those are expanding.

“We added to Our high performance physical education classes, which have been a huge success,” Gareau said. “The students have really enjoyed them and so all the programming that we saw last year, we’re continuing to build off those.”

The plan is to add a hockey high performance program for next year lead by teacher Tyson Dallman. Gareau said there’s a big demand for that kind of activity.

“We always operate those high performance Phys. Ed. classes on a supply and demand, meaning, if there’s a demand for it we’ll offer it,” he said.
“He (Dallman) interned with us and so he’s really excited about that one. That’s a new program that we’ll be offering next year that we think will be popular as well, obviously, because PA is a fairly big hockey community.”

Gareau explained that the school continues to build off what they do well such as drama and arts. That includes a recently remodelling band room which was originally damaged in a June 2023 flood.

“Our band room, it looks phenomenal, our lecture theatre looks great, so everything is back to normal,” he said.

“The drama, the band, it didn’t slow down. We just operate under a different room but continue to grow and those programs are continuing to grow, and so it’s nice to be back into our spaces now that we’re fully operational down there.”

The open house is on Wednesday, March 6 and 7 with doors opening at 6:30 and the open house starting at 7 p.m. with some words from Gareau in the gym before tours of the school start. He anticipated the tours will take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half.

They also do individual tours which can be booked by request.

“They’re coming from a smaller school and there’s just the uncertainty of what the high school is,” he explained. “They come see like, look, it’s not this big scary place.”

Gareau said he continues to operate the school like a large elementary school as opposed to a small university which continues the philosophy of former principal Mark Phaneuf.
“We are transitioning them to be ready for university or trade school or post-secondary in the larger building. We are transitioning them into that phase. At the same time, we understand that they’re not quite there yet as a learner,” Gareau said.

He said that there is always some type of final exam to prepare for because that is a common part of everyday life. Gareau gave the example of taking something like food safety courses.

“We have talked to all our staff and to our teachers and to our learning leaders and try to work into what is the best means of an assessment and what that looks like and we do still implement some finals and implement final assessments, so that’s something that we were very proud of here,” he said.

Gareau said that the staff is looking at both parts of the student’s life. He said that one message of the open house is that they value academics, co-curricular and extracurricular activities.

“We are excited for our students that are ending this year, but we’re also looking forward to the new students that may be in the building next year,” Gareau said.

He said that the greatest asset that they have is current and former students and families who can tell about the experience of attending Ecole St. Mary.

“Obviously, we’re a faith filled school that that values that and then we value the whole thing that encompasses from our sports to our music to our arts, to our academics, and it’s all important to us and we value all of that,” Gareau said.