The Croatian Catholic School “Kardinal Stepinac”

31.08.2011.

A New Direction for Croatian Catholic School

Knowledge of the Croatian language is an important way to keep our children connected to their rich heritage, history and faith. One of the ways we have maintained a connection to our roots is through the Parish Croatian School. The school has seen many changes and transitions throughout the years, however in recent years we have seen a troubling drop in school enrollment. Although some great suggestions have been made recently to reverse this trend, a more comprehensive change is likely needed. Through discussions with parents, students and faculty, a new vision for our Parish school is being developed and implemented.
As a first approach, several changes are proposed and are intended to be implemented immediately including:

1) the introduction of at least four new teachers such that each grade will have its own dedicated teacher
2) a new curriculum based on student proficiency in language
3) the introduction of new teaching aids and use of current technologies

Although the above are initial changes, it is hoped that they will address some of the challenges faced by our school, as well as by parents and students.
The goals which the school is to strive for include,

1) to develop an inviting, friendly and dynamic environment in which to learn about Croatian culture, history and language
2) to provide a connection for the attending students and their families to the Croatian community
3) to engender pride in the students’ Croatian roots
4) to promote Croatian contributions to the Canadian mosaic

A parent council has been formed in order to help implement these changes. All comments on the above as well as ongoing feedback from parents, current students and student alumni is welcome and highly appreciated. Your contributions will strengthen our school for the future.

Please send your comments by e-mail to hrvatska.skola.toronto@gmail.com. Please also bookmark the Calendar for the school which will be populated with important dates throughout the school year: https://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=hrvatska.skola.toronto%40gmail.com&ctz=America/Toronto

Mr. Hrvoje Beg

 

THE CROATIAN CATHOLIC SCHOOL “KARDINAL STEPINAC” TORONTO

 

Like most Croatian schools in Canada, the Croatian school in Toronto was from the very beginning affiliated with the Croatian Roman Catholic Parish.  This affiliation remains in effect to this day, even after the school’s formal integration into the International Languages and continuing Education Programs of the Toronto Catholic District School Board (formerly the Heritage Languages Program).

The school began operating in 1961-62 under the auspices of Our lady Queen of Croatia parish.  At the beginning was called Hrvtaska pučka škola u iseljeništvu (The Croatian primary school abroad), and later Hrvatska izvnadomovinska škola (Croatian School Outside of Croatia)..  The school’s intent was to teach the Croatian language as well as religion.  With the decision of the pastor, the parents and the teachers of the school, in 1977 it became known as Hrvatska katolička škola “Kardinal Stepinac” (The  Croatian Catholic School “Kardinal Stepinac”).

At first classes were held in the basement of the parish church on Awde Street (today, Croatia Street).  In January 1967 the school moved to Kent Public School across the street from the church and from September 1967 to 1985 classes were held in St. Helen Catholic School, also close to the church.  In the school year 1985-86 the school moved to St. Stephen Catholic School in Rexdale (north-west Toronto), where it operates remains to this day.

For a few years the Toronto Croatian school also served the Croatian communities of Oshawa (Durham  Region) and Mississauga (Dufferin-Peel Region).  In the case of Mississauga, the affiliation ended in 1980 when the administration of the school was passed over to the newly-established parish of Croatian Martyrs and  the Dufferin-Peel Separate (Catholic) School Board.

In 1992-93 the study of Croatian was expanded to the level of the Ontario Academic Credit, which enabled students to use the study of Croatian as a credit for the purposes of entering university. From 1993-94 Croatian at the secondary school level was expanded to four years.  Due to the rising enrolment and the need for more suitable space, the secondary school classes were moved from St. Stephen to Don Bosco High School.

Thanks to the efforts of teachers, the teaching of the Croatian language, culture, history, and religion, was enhanced by the development and publication of  teaching materials in the form of primers, text books, readers, religious books and various exercise materials. Without exception, these materials were  tailored to the special needs of children already born in Canada.  The Toronto Croatian school publications that merit particular mention are Učimo hrvatski izvan Hrvatske (Learning Croatian Outside of Croatia, Books I-VIII), and Kultura i povijest Hrvata (The Culture and History of Croatians, Books I-IV).  In 1984 the school started publishing its school paper called Osvit (Dawn), featuring students’ compositions, poems, drawings, puzzles and language games, along with articles on Croatian historical figures and educational articles for parents.  From 1990 teaching materials and books from Croatia intended for students of Croatian emigrants also started being used.

Throughout its history of nearly 50 years, the Croatian School became one of the most visible activities offered by the parish community.  Even though the number of students has been in decline over the last decade, the school continues to fulfill its important mission of teaching Croatian to the second and third generation of Croatian children in Canada, for whom Croatian is the mother tongue only in name.  It is particularly worthy to note that in the current ranks of teachers and school-community committee members one finds several formal Croatian school students., a true source of the school’s pride.

Even though it has been integrated into the  Catholic Board’s International Languages Program, the Croatian school has retained its original community character through its long-standing affiliation with the parish from which it derives ongoing support.

Mr. Vladimir Bubrin, PhD
November, 2010