Transition to Secondary School

As you leave elementary school and begin secondary school, this information will help you prepare for the new experiences to come.

Sign that says future on it

Which Secondary School Should I Attend?

Where you go to school is based on your home address (found by using the School Locator) and school boundaries (attendance areas).

If you are currently attending a French Immersion or Gifted program, then your My Pathway Planner has been set up at the secondary school offering the French Immersion or Gifted program serving your attendance area. If you do not wish to continue in either of these programs, please speak with your Grade 8 teacher advising you on your course selections.

If you are not in one of these programs, then your My Pathway Planner has been set up at the secondary school serving your attendance area. If you wish to attend a different secondary school, you must apply for a transfer and it must be approved by the school board.

What is Secondary School Like?

Courses and timetables

In secondary schools, most students have four courses each day and a lunch period. Over the school year, you will take eight credit courses, four each semester. You will have multiple teachers, usually a different teacher for every course.

Classes are generally 75 minutes long and there is no scheduled recess. You will receive a timetable that includes your courses and lunch period. At most schools, the timetables are available in the last week of August just before school begins.

Getting around

You will have a locker to store your personal belongings and you may carry your backpack if you wish from class to class. All schools have a map of the school to help you find your way around until you get familiar with your new school.

Secondary schools have a cafeteria that is open in the morning before classes begin and during the lunch periods.


Know your school’s expectations. Each school has a code of conduct that addresses things like dress code, cell phone use, hats, etc. Your teachers will share this with you early in the school year.

We are committed to maintaining a positive school climate where students have the opportunity to learn in a safe and respectful environment. No harmful behavior at school or out of school will be tolerated.

What might happen during the school day?

Starting the day

Know your public transit route and times.  If you have bussing provided, go to School Bus City. Plan your morning and afternoon route so that you can arrive to school on time.

You are responsible for keeping track of your assignments, test dates and extra-curricular commitments. Choose a method to use every day to manage your time, such as an agenda book or electronic calendar. Ask your family member, classroom teacher, or the Student Success Teacher at your school for some ideas.


Lunchtime is a good time to connect with your friends or classmates in the cafeteria or make use of the library. You may bring your own lunch or you can buy your lunch in the school cafeteria. If you leave school for lunch, make sure you return to class on time.

In class

Focus on developing your learning skills; responsibility, initiative, self-regulation, collaboration, organization, independent work.

School resources

Get to know your library/learning commons; accessing information efficiently and effectively is an important skill.

Support with your course work

Speak with your Student Success Teacher, Guidance Counsellor or Special Education Resource Teacher if your require extra support with your course work. Find out if your schools offers peer tutoring, after school literacy or numeracy programs. This is a great opportunity to be proactive with your learning or ask questions.

There are many caring adults, mentors and student leaders in your school who want to see you succeed. Connect with someone.

What if I need help?

There are many people who are available to support you throughout your time in secondary school.

How do I make friends and get involved?

In addition to being with familiar classmates from your elementary school, you will have opportunities to meet new people in each of your classes.

There are many opportunities for you to get the most out of school. Classroom experiences, extra-curricular activities, and your school community are part of your growth. When you get involved at school, you will have the opportunity to build friendships and be more successful.

Making new friends is easier than you think. Consider getting to know the people in your class, near your locker and on your teams or clubs:

  • Break the ice
  • Say “hello!”
  • Find someone with a common interest
  • Invite them to join you for lunch
  • Share exciting news
  • Offer your help or ask for theirs
  • Invite them to work with you on a project

Getting involved

Listening to or access school announcements so that you are aware of the many events and opportunities to get involved and make new friends:

  • You can try out for a variety of competitive teams. Some schools also offer intramural sports for recreation and clubs such as fitness clubs where you can be active in a non-competitive environment.
  • There are a variety of clubs and organizations such as Eco-club, GSA, Chess Club, DECA, Equity to name a few.
  • Your student council and athletic council organize school functions such as dances, fundraisers and fun theme days for school spirit.

Volunteering is a great way to learn more about your community and to develop your life skills. Keep track of your Community Involvement hours for graduation and to build your resume.