It could be a first for Windsor-Essex.

The Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board has applied to the Switzerland-based international education foundation for an International Baccalaureate primary years program at Christ the King Catholic Elementary School.

Established in 1968, International Baccalaureate programs aim to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who are motivated to succeed by offering specific programs that are geared to students in certain stages of their development. Schools must be authorized to deliver IB programs and currently, more than 4,000 schools around the world are established as IB schools.

“We are going to infuse the Ontario curriculum with the IB requirements,” says Martha Marazita, the principal at Christ the King. “It will include a better understanding of world issues and things happening around the world so we can build a better world by understanding the different cultures and different traditions."

Marazita says Christ the King would be the only IB Primary Years program school in the region, and it could happen as early as September.

“By focusing on the development of the whole child, the Primary Years Program prepares students to become active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others, and have the capacity to fully participate in the world around them,” says Director of Education Terry Lyons.

The WECDSB has already been providing a Diploma Program at Assumption College Catholic High School for almost 15 years, and has recently established candidacy Middle Years Programs at Assumption College Catholic Middle School and Cardinal Carter Catholic Middle School in Leamington. Cardinal Carter Catholic Secondary School is also a Diploma Program candidacy school.

“Our teachers and administrators already have a wealth of experience in delivering IB education, so as Trustees, we’re very confident that we can deliver a program at Christ the King that will exceed the educational expectations of parents there,” adds Board Chair Barb Holland.

During the candidacy phase, the school will begin by offering IB programming to students in JK to Grade 3 while working towards fulfilling all the requirements of becoming recognized as an IB World School. All teachers in the PYP section will be given access to IB curriculum materials and the school will be assigned an IB consultant who ensures that it is meeting all the necessary criteria.

Marazita has already travelled to Seattle, Washington to begin her initial IB training.

“This is a very rigorous program with very precise standards that have to be met,” she says. “We have an outstanding staff here and they are very eager and excited to embrace the challenge.”

Christ the King is currently a dual-track English and French Immersion school, although it will become completely French Immersion in 2024 when the English track is phased out.

In addition to the IB program, kindergarten students will also be in newly renovated classrooms when they start school in September. The Board has invested $350,000 to completely renovate the kindergarten classrooms, including new washrooms inside the kindergarten space, and new lighting.