Transitioning to High School/Head Start

The transition from elementary school to high school is a time of celebration - new challenges and opportunities await for our students. We recognize that students enter Grade 9 with different strengths, interests and goals.

For this reason, students can select a variety of different course levels and programs that provide learning opportunities both in and out of the classroom. These programs will best meet an individual's needs and help students make choices to achieve a destination pathway that complements an individual's talents.

Grade 8 Student & Parent Information Session: Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Grade 8 to Grade 9 Transitional Supports

All students benefit from transitional supports when moving from elementary to secondary school. 

How to Register for Grade 9 for students not currently attending DCDSB Catholic Elementary Schools (Father Fenelon, St. Elizabeth Seton, St. Isaac Jogues, St. Joseph-Uxbridge, St. Monica, or St. Wilfrid)
We welcome students of all faiths at our Durham Catholic secondary schools. 

ALL PROSPECTIVE St. Mary students with a Pickering/Uxbridge home address MUST complete a Pre-Admission Package (excluding students from our Associate Elementary Schools who live within the St. Mary boundary). Print off the package using the attached link, complete and submit to Guidance with ALL required documentation. No appointment is necessary to submit the documents. Please note this package is required prior to scheduling course selection. The registration process is ongoing throughout the year, but for September 2023 enrolment, please submit applications by Friday February 10th, 2023 to allow for spring registration meetings with Guidance Counsellors.  

ANY PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS who are NEW to our Board MUST complete the DCDSB Online Student Application IN ADDITION to the Pre-Admission package. Please submit the Pre-Admission Package as soon as possible once you have submitted the online application. French Immersion students should select "ENGLISH" option in the online system; the appropriate French program will be adjusted by Guidance Counsellors during the course selection and registration appointments.

Any student who DOES NOT live at a Pickering/Uxbridge address must contact the Guidance Office for further instruction.

Once the application has been approved by Administration, Guidance will contact you to schedule the course selection appointment.  

Registration Process Summary Chart (January 2023)

Please call Ms. Sciascia Guidance Administrative Assistant (x56020) for further details. 


Head Start program

DCDSB/St. Mary offers a summer transition program for students entering Grade 9 called Head Start. This program is offered at St. Mary in late August and involves a review of language and mathematics skills and provides students with a preview of the Grade 9 curriculum for Mathematics, English and Study Skills. Health and well-being is also integrated into the program. Students also receive an orientation and tour of the school and start to make new friends. This is a non-credit program. 

Who: All Grade 8 students going into Grade 9 at DCDSB Catholic High Schools
Dates: Monday August 21 to Thursday August 24, 2023 
Times: 8:30 am - 1:30 pm
Location: St. Mary Catholic Secondary School
Transportation: Parents/Guardians are responsible for all transportation.

For information on how to register, visit DCDSB Continuing and Adult Education site or speak to your child's Grade 8 Teacher, Intermediate Guidance Teacher or elementary school Principal.

Reach Ahead program

If you are a Grade 8 student starting St. Mary in September, Grade 9 credits are available this summer as part of the DCDSB Reach Ahead Program. 

Summer School Reach Ahead courses will be offered online.

Successful completion of the Reach Ahead Program fulfills one of the two online learning credits that is a new requirement for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

Courses available:

  • Introduction to Business (BBI1O1)
    This course introduces you to the world of business.  You will develop an understanding of the functions of business, including accounting, marketing, and information and communication technology.  This course builds a foundation for further studies in business and helps you develop the business knowledge and skills you will need in your everyday life.
  • Exploring Family Studies - Transition to High School (HIF1O1)
    This course explores some relevant needs that students face: the transition to high school, how to relate to others, how to manage resources, and how to become responsible members of society. Students will have opportunities to develop interpersonal, decision-making, and practical skills related to daily life. They will use research skills as they explore topics related to personal and family needs. Students will explore strategies to support their personal health and well-being.
  • U.P. (Ultimate Potential) Math (GLS1O)
    UP (Ultimate Potential) Mathematics is a specialized program that provides student candidates with the opportunity to learn key math concepts, address gaps in learning, and develop problem-solving processes that are important for developing a good foundation for Grade 9 mathematics.
    *A recommendation from the Grade 8 teacher is required for each student in UP Math

  • Expressions of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Cultures (NAC1O)

    This course explores various arts disciplines, giving students the opportunity to create, present, and analyse art works, including integrated art works/ productions, that explore or reflect First Nations, Métis, and Inuit perspectives and cultures. Students will examine the interconnected relationships between art forms and individual and cultural identities, histories, values, protocols, and ways of knowing and being. 

Who: All Grade 8 students currently attending DCDSB elementary schools going into Grade 9 at DCDSB Catholic Secondary Schools 
Dates: July 4 to 27, 2023
Times: 8:30 am - 2:40 pm

For information on how to register, visit DCDSB Continuing and Adult Education site, or speak to your child's Grade 8 Teacher, Intermediate Guidance Teacher, or elementary school Principal.


The official dress code of St. Mary Catholic Secondary School is a result of discussion with faculty, students, parent council and administration. Our school uniform is compulsory. All students are to wear the uniform during the school day. The school colours are navy blue, white and gray. 

Durham Student Transportation Services automatically will capture student information during the St. Mary registration process and route information will be available late August. Parent/Guardians are required to call the 24 hour automated phone line 1-866-908-6578 or 905-666-6979 to obtain the student's bus #, bus time and stop location. Parents will need the student's OEN (found on a report card) in order to activate the system. 

To inquire about home address eligibility at any time, you can contact DSTS and speak to your Pickering coordinator (this includes St. Joseph C.S. in Uxbridge) at 1-800-240-6943. Please note that home address only can be used for transportation purposes. For more information see

Welcome to St. Mary Grade 8 students - Class of 2026! A video by Grade 12 Communications Technology (TGJ4M1) 

Welcome to Grade 9 at St. Mary: Gr 8 Parent Information Presentation (January 2022)
Getting Ready for Grade 9

Family of schools

Our school community is made up of students from the following Associate Elementary Schools:

Registration for Grade 8 students currently attending these schools is processed by St. Mary Guidance Counsellors in the elementary school classroom.

Additional Resources