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New Beginning

Christ the King ‘back on the map’ with IB program
Posted on 09/03/2018
Lisa Varacalli, Marta Marazita, Daniela Caruana

(Windsor, Ontario, Friday August 31, 2018) – It’s a new beginning at Christ the King Catholic Elementary School and sisters Lisa Varacalli and Daniela Caruana are ready to launch a first-of-its-kind program for Windsor-Essex.

Beginning Sept. 4, students in JK to Grade 3 will be in a brand new International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. The school was approved to offer the program earlier this year, and will be in a two-year candidacy phase before becoming a full-fledged IB school.

Like many of the teachers at the school, Varacalli and Caruana have been spending four to five hours a week doing online training on the new IB curriculum to get ready for the start of the school year.

“I really like that we are all starting at the same stage and that we’re all in this together,” said Varacalli, who is now in her second year at Christ the King. “And I’m really looking forward to seeing how it benefits the kids.”

Next year, the program will be extended for students in Grades 4 to 6, which means students who wish to remain in IB can go to the Middle Years Program at Assumption College Catholic Middle School, and then to the Diploma Program that’s offered at Assumption College Catholic High School. Busing is being offered to those schools from South Windsor on a pilot basis.

Principal Marta Marazita said since the launch of the program was announced earlier this year, there has been a real “buzz” in the community about it.

“We’ve been getting phone calls from parents every day who want to know more about the program,” she said. “We had to add an extra full classroom because we had about 20 additional students.”

Besides being in a new IB program, JK and SK students will be coming back to a newly renovated kindergarten area, which will include new lighting, a new kitchen area, as well as bathrooms inside the area just for those children.

“It’s just going to be a much more conducive learning space for those students,” said Marazita.

With a greater emphasis on inquiry-based learning, the primary years program challenges students to think for themselves and take greater responsibility for their learning as they explore local and global issues in real-life contexts. 

“It’s very global, and much more interdisciplinary,” said Caruana, who has been at Christ the King for the last three years. “It’s not just about what we know here. Our students will be learning about what they have in common with students from all around the world.”

Given that second language acquisition is a required component for IB programs, it made sense to launch one at Christ the King, since it already has a well-established French Immersion program, Marazita said.

Being in the Holy Names Catholic High School family of schools, Christ the King students, who are a short walk away from the high school, are already taking advantage of the new STEM Academy programs there, and are looking forward to using the brand new $1.2 million track and field that just opened.

All of these features are making parents in the surrounding neighbourhood realize that they have a real gem of a school right in their community, Marazita said.

 “We’re back on the map,” she said. “People are noticing us and are really paying attention to all of the great things that are happening here.”

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