Sounds of laughter and the opening of lockers echoed through the hallways at St. Patrick’s Community School in north Red Deer.
On Tuesday, students and staff returned to the classrooms after four weeks of summer fun. The kindergarten to Grade 9 school is the only one in Red Deer that offers a year-round program.
In a year-round school, the calendar is modified to allow for spread out breaks throughout out the year.
Students attend classes 186 days a year, the same as traditional calendar students. Students attending a year-round school, however, get longer breaks at Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring.
This is the 15th year that St. Patrick’s has operated with an alterative school calendar.
Principal Margaretrose Willms said the student population continues to grow, which shows there is a need for this calendar option in the city. Last year, 613 students registered compared to roughly 707 this year on the first day of school.
Willms said research has shown that shorter breaks from school helps students with retention of material learned over the school year.
“It’s a huge benefit for families who are in any kind of summer workforce industry like construction or farming,” said Willms.
“Summer is their busy time. They can’t go on holidays.
“When their students attend year-round schooling, they can go in October or spring break. They get the extended time to go on holiday and it doesn’t interfere with their child’s education.”
Students do not seem to mind the shorter summer break, either.
Caleigh Meraw, 12, a Grade 7 student, is in her second year at St. Pat’s. She switched from St. Teresa of Avila Elementary School to participate in the hockey program. Meraw said she likes the switch in calendar because the breaks are spread out throughout the year. She gets to hang out with her friends from other schools on the weekends and after school.
“It gives you enough break in summer time so you can fit in all your fun,” said Meraw. “This summer blew by and I did all my fun. I was excited to get back to school.”
Anna Cameron, 12, a Grade 8 student, has attended St. Pat’s since she was in Grade 2.
Cameron said she is unsure she would like to have a longer break in the summer because she is used to the year-round calendar.
Students who attend traditional schools in Red Deer head back to classes on Sept. 4.