At the secondary level, Niagara Catholic continues to nourish the intellect, creativity and the physical gifts of students. At this level, there is a strong commitment to community and church involvement which fosters a supportive extension of family for young adults in their development.

Catholicity is a priority in all aspects of the educational journey. The school, home and church are partners in education and faith development of students.

A Graduate is Expected to be…

  • A discerning believer formed in the Catholic Faith community who celebrates the signs and sacred mystery of God’s presence through word, sacrament, prayer, forgiveness, reflection and moral living.
  • An effective communicator, who speaks, writes and listens honestly and sensitively, responding critically in light of gospel values.
  • A reflective, creative and holistic thinker who solves problems and makes responsible decisions with an informed moral conscience for the common good.
  • A self-directed, responsible, lifelong learner who develops and demonstrates their God-given potential.
  • A collaborative contributor who finds meaning, dignity and vocation in work, which respects the rights of all and contributes to the common good.
  • A caring family member who attends to family, school, parish, and the wider community.
  • A responsible citizen who gives witness to Catholic social teaching by promoting peace, justice and the sacredness of human life.

Understanding Graduation Requirements


Courses in Grades 11 and 12 are designed to prepare students for a post-secondary destination. There are five types of courses offered: university, university /college, college, workplace and open.


University Preparation Courses – these courses are intended to provide students with the knowledge and skills to meet entrance requirements for many university programs. Courses focus on theory and also investigate related applications.


College/University Preparation Courses – these courses are intended to provide students with the knowledge and skills to meet entrance requirements for certain college and university programs. There is a focus on both theory and practical application.


College Preparation Courses these courses are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the requirements for entrance to most college programs or for admission to apprenticeship or other training programs. Courses focus on concrete applications of theoretical material.


Workplace Preparation Courses – these courses are intended to prepare students to move directly into the workplace after secondary school or to be admitted into apprenticeship or other training programs.  Courses focus on employability skills and on practical workplace applications and theoretical materials that support these practical applications.


Open Courses in Grades 11 and 12 – These courses allow students to broaden their knowledge and skills in a particular subject that may or may not be directly related to their postsecondary goals, but that reflects their interests. These courses are appropriate for all students regardless of post-secondary destination. These courses are designed to provide students with a broad educational base and to equip them for active and rewarding participation in society. They are not designed with the specific requirements of university or college programs or the workplace in mind.


A credit is granted when a course of at least 110 hours (that is, a regular full-year or full-semester course) is completed successfully. A partial credit may be granted for a shorter course. A credit is granted to a student by the principal of a secondary school on behalf of the Ministry.

DEFINITION OF SEMESTERED AND NON-SEMESTERED SCHOOLS Semestered schools are schools that offer courses are on a half-year basis.  Students normally earn four credits in the first semester, from September to January, and another four credits in the second semester, from February to June.  Non-semestered schools are schools that offer courses on a full-year basis.  Students normally earn eight credits during the school year, from September to June.

CHANGING COURSE TYPES: GRADES 9 TO 10 Students, who successfully complete any academic or applied course in Grade 9, will have acquired the core knowledge necessary to proceed to either type of course in Grade 10. However, some students may be encouraged to successfully complete additional course work. This additional course work entitled “Cross-over Materials”, will allow the student to demonstrate the achievement of learning expectations that are included in one course type and not the other.

Procedures for Students Who Wish to Change Course Types some students may change their educational goals as they proceed through secondary school. When they decide to embark on a new pathway, they may find that they have not completed all of the prerequisite courses they need. Schools must make provisions to allow students to make such changes of direction and must clearly describe these provisions in their school program/course calendar.

In most cases, a student may enrol in a different type of course in a given subject
in Grade 10 than the type he or she completed in Grade 9, although doing so may
require additional preparation, as recommended by the principal. In the case of
mathematics, however, the sole prerequisite for the Grade 10 academic mathematics
course is the Grade 9 academic mathematics course, so a student who is
planning to move from the Grade 9 applied mathematics course to the Grade 10
academic mathematics course must take either the designated transfer course or
the Grade 9 academic mathematics course.

In Grades 10 to 12, a student may change to a different type of course in a given
subject provided that the student has taken any course specified as a prerequisite
for that course. If the student has not done so, he or she may take one of the
specified prerequisite courses through summer school, night school, e-learning,
the Independent Learning Centre, or independent study.

Ontario Secondary School Diploma Requirements

The Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) will be awarded to students who successfully complete 30 credits including 18 compulsory credits and 12 optional credits. Such credits will be based on the discipline specific expectations and assessment policies as set out in the provincial curriculum policy documents.

Religion Credits All students are required to successfully complete a Religious Education course in each year of secondary school:

  • 4 credits in Religion

18 Compulsory Credits Students must earn the following compulsory credits to obtain the Ontario Secondary School Diploma:

  • 4 credits in English
  • 3 credits in Mathematics
  • 2 credits in Science
  • 1 credit in Canadian History
  • 1 credit in Canadian Geography
  • 1 credit in the Arts
  • 1 credit in Health and Physical Education
  • 1 credit in French as a Second Language
  • 0.5 credit in Career Studies
  • 0.5 credit in Civics

Plus one credit from each of the following groups:

  • NEW 1 additional credit in English, or French as a Second Language, or a Third Language, or a Social Sciences and the Humanities, or Canadian and World Studies, or Guidance and Career Education, or Cooperative Education*.
  • NEW 1 additional credit in Health and Physical Education, or the Arts, or Business Studies, or French as a Second Language or Cooperative Education*.
  • NEW 1 additional credit in Science, or Technological Education, or Computer Science, or French as a Second Language or Cooperative Education*.

In addition to the compulsory credits, students must complete:

  • 8 Optional Credits **
  • 40 Hours of Community Involvement Activities
  • The Provincial Literacy Requirement

* A maximum  of 2 credits in cooperative education can count as compulsory credits. ** May include up to four credits achieved through approved Dual Credit Courses.

*Some courses, such as technological education, interdisciplinary studies, and
cooperative education courses, may be offered as multiple-credit courses.

In Grades 11 and 12, students will focus increasingly on their individual interests
and will identify and prepare for their postsecondary pathways. In these grades
there are also increased opportunities for learning experiences beyond the school,
including cooperative education, work experience, and specialized programs such
as the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, Specialist High Skills Major programs,
and school-work transition programs.

Dual Credit Programs dual credit programs are ministry-approved programs that allow students who are still in secondary school to take college or apprenticeship courses that count towards both an Ontario Secondary School Diploma and a postsecondary certificate,
diploma, or degree, or an apprenticeship certification.

Students may earn up to 4 optional credits for college-delivered dual credit courses. Students may not use college-delivered dual credits to meet compulsory credit requirements or to satisfy the related course requirement for a cooperative
education program.

Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) Programs
Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs are ministry-approved, specialized,
career-focused programs that allow students to acquire technical knowledge
and skills in specific economic sectors while meeting the requirements of the
Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). Boards and schools may offer only
the Specialist High Skills Major programs for which they have ministry approval.
A school approved to offer an SHSM program must offer the program in all four
pathways: apprenticeship training, college, university, and the workplace.
Each SHSM program consists of the following five required components as
defined in the document Specialist High Skills Majors: Policy and Implementation:

  • a defined bundle of credits consisting of 8 to 10 Grade 11 and Grade 12
    credits, including 2 cooperative education credits;
  • certification and training recognized within the sector;
  • experiential learning and career exploration activities appropriate to the
  • reach-ahead experiences connected to the student’s postsecondary plans;
  • Essential Skills and work habits required in the sector and recorded in the
    Ontario Skills Passport (OSP).

Students who complete the requirements for the OSSD and for an SHSM will
receive an OSSD embossed with a red “Specialist High Skills Major” seal. Credits
earned towards an SHSM are indicated on the Provincial Report Card, and completion
of an SHSM program is recorded on the Ontario Student Transcript. In
addition, students receive an SHSM Record outlining their achievement with
respect to the five required components, and a copy of that record is filed in the
student’s OSR.

Students who do not complete all the requirements for an SHSM or who transfer
to another school before completing the SHSM program should receive a copy of
their SHSM Record with the notation “Partially Completed”. A copy will also be
filed in the student’s OSR.

Specialist High Skills Major programs must be developed and implemented in
accordance with the requirements outlined in Specialist High Skills Majors: Policy
and Implementation.

Credit Recovery
Boards and schools should make credit recovery programs available to their students.
These programs are designed to help regular day school students meet the
expectations of a course they have completed but for which they have received a
failing grade. A credit (or credits) for a course must be recovered within two years
from the time the student fails the course. Students may work on recovering more
than one credit at a time through the credit recovery process, and there is no limit
on the number of credits a student may recover.
Credit recovery may be delivered as part of the regular day school program and/
or at summer school. Instruction must be delivered by a qualified teacher. Credit
recovery programs may accommodate continuous intake and may be delivered
through e-learning. Procedures and requirements governing the operation of
credit recovery programs are outlined in Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation,
and Reporting in Ontario Schools – First Edition, Covering Grades 1 to 12.

The Ontario Secondary School Certificate (OSSC)
The Ontario Secondary School Certificate (OSSC) will be granted, on request,
to students who are leaving secondary school upon reaching the age of eighteen
without having met the requirements for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.
To be granted an OSSC, a student must have earned a minimum of 14 credits,
distributed as follows.
7 required compulsory credits

  • 2 credits in English
  • 1 credit in mathematics
  • 1 credit in science
  • 1 credit in Canadian history or Canadian geography
  • 1 credit in health and physical education
  • 1 credit in the arts, computer studies, or technological education
    7 required optional credits
  • 7 credits selected by the student from available courses
    The provisions for making substitutions for compulsory credits described in
    section 6.2 also apply to the Ontario Secondary School Certificate.

Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test


Students are required to demonstrate their competency in Literacy skills to earn their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.


The Grade 10 Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) is a credentialing and mandatory test for all students earning a secondary school diploma. The interdisciplinary test will be based on the Ontario curriculum expectations for communication, particularly reading and writing, up to and including Grade 9. The test serves to determine whether students have acquired the reading and writing skills determined essential by provincial expectations for literacy. Students who have not demonstrated the required skills will be provided with remedial assistance and the opportunity to retake the test until they have successfully completed it. The test will be administered annually.

Accommodations For students receiving special education programs and service as indicated on the Individual Education Plan and to provide fair and equal opportunity to successfully complete the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test.

Deferrals For students registered in ESL/ELD courses and/or ENG2L courses until they acquire the level of proficiency required for successful completion of the test and for students who have been identified as exceptional. Deferrals are for a period of time only.

Exemptions For students whose IEP indicates that the student is NOT working towards attaining a secondary school diploma. Should the learning expectations in the IEP be revised, the student will be expected to successfully complete the test.


An alternative way for students to demonstrate the provincial literacy skills required for graduation if unsuccessful on the OSSLT.


With the Principal’s permission students provide academic proof of Literacy skills competency in extenuating circumstances.

Student Success Strategies

Student Success is based upon the four pillars:

  • Literacy
    • Board Literacy Committee
    • School Based Literacy Teams
    • Literacy Leadership and Professional Development
    • Tracking Student Literacy
    • Literacy Data Analysis and Teacher Training in Data Collection
    • Think Literacy Subject Specific Training / Resources
    • Literacy Resources – Teacher Developed and Trade Book
    • OSSLC / LDCC Teacher Training
    • OSSLC Program Resources
    • OSSLT Student Preparation
    • OSSLT Information Posters
    • PA Day Literacy Conference
    • Student / Parent Literacy Tool Kit
    • OCA-Dissemination of DRA Statistics of Data for grade 9 teachers
    • Demonstration Classroom for Grades 7, 8 and 9 Teachers
    • DEAR Resources Grades 7 to 12
    • Literacy Motivational Sessions
    • Student Success Provincial Literacy Conference
    • P3 Literacy Support
    • Literacy Tutors in the Classrooms
    • Literacy Data Analysis
    • Literacy Coaches-co-collaborators with classroom teachers to enhance teacher practice
  • Numeracy
    • Board Numeracy Committee
    • School Numeracy Committee
    • Professional Learning
    • Track Math Results and Support At Risk Students
    • Math Communications Pamphlet for Students and Parents
    • EQAO Pamphlet and Posters
    • Professional Development on Assessment Strategies
    • Purchase and In-service TIPS Manipulative
    • Manipulative Inventory
    • Improve Classroom Resources
    • Run LDCC Math in all High Schools
    • Provide Access to Professional Learning Communities for Teachers
    • Spring-Teacher Professional Development Conference
    • Student Success Ministry Numeracy Symposium
    • Math Data Collection, Analysis and Decision Making
    • NCDSB Numeracy Conference for Grades 7, 8 and 9
    • CTC – Catholic Teachers Communicating – Grades 7 and 8
    • TIPs Textbook Alignment
    • EQAO Student Preparation Package
    • P3 Support for Numeracy
    • Mathematical Literacy Data Analysis
    • Numeracy Coaches-co-collaborators with classroom teachers to enhance teacher practice
  • Pathways
    • Success Strategies for Students Board Steering Committee
    • Board Pathways Advisory Committee
    • Family of Schools Student Success Advisory Groups
    • Student Success Teachers
    • SSCP Student Success Communication Process
    • Data Collection, Analysis and Decision Making
    • Certification Programs
    • Technological Studies Improvement
    • Expansion of APC – Apprenticeship Preparation Courses
    • OYAP – Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program
    • Cooperative Education Expansion
    • SUCCESS Program – Alternative Education
    • Credit Recovery Program
    • Alternative Pathways – Online Learning
    • Choices into Action Supports
    • Regional School to College to Work Initiative Program – C3
    • Pathway Development Communication and Promotion
    • Administrators’ Data Decision Making Training
    • LDC/Workplace Course Development and Teacher Training
    • Pathway Professional Development
    • P3 – Pathways Preparation Program
    • Sustaining Technology Education Labs
    • Transportation for Co-op and APC Students
    • Success Strategies for Students School Pilot Programs
    • Professional Learning – Cost Sharing Co-op AQ
    • Credit Recovery Manual
    • Lighthouse Projects: Jr. Success, HEROS, Mentor Connector
    • SHSM – Specialist High Skill Major
    • Hospitality Travel & Tourism
    • Transportation and Technology
    • Horticulture and Landacape
    • Student Success Team E-Manual
    • PPLP Program Writer
    • Blueprint Marketing and Communication & Branding
    • Restructuring and Reculturing of Guidance Departments Across the Board
    • Transition Development & Training
    • Student Success 9 Indicators of Success
  • Community, Culture and Caring.
    • Community Partnership Programs with BEC, NTAB, Niagara College and Brock University
    • Community/Career Awareness Programs
    • Tutors in the Classroom Training
    • Brock Partnership Mentoring and Tutoring Program
    • Student Success Camps, Grade 7 and 8
    • Student Success Destination Conference
    • Speakers Bureau
    • Parent Conference Mission Possible
    • Take Our Kids to Work Day
    • Teen Esteem
    • Teacher Internship
    • Employer Appreciation
    • Career / Job Fair for Workplace Graduates
    • Workplace Community Liaison Teacher
    • Professional Development – Special Education Part 1
    • Girls Talk & Building Buddies
    • Professional Learning Team – Differentiated Instruction
    • Building Buddies
    • TV, Radio and Newspaper Advertising & Promoting
    • Student Success Teachers Committees / Meetings
    • Sustaining Capacity with Support Staff
    • Health Camp (March Break)

Special programs in each of these areas are in place to support student success.

Prior Learning Assessment


Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition is a formal evaluation and accreditation process. Students may obtain credits towards the secondary school diploma (OSSD) for knowledge and skills that they have acquired outside of secondary school. This prior learning is assessed and evaluated to determine whether the student has met the provincial course expectations. The student may “challenge” a specific course for credit or may obtain credits through the “equivalency” process if they have credentials from schools outside Ontario.


Students may earn no more than four credits in Grades 10, 11 and 12 through the challenge process, including a maximum of two credits in any one discipline. Information brochures are available upon request from Student Services.


  • Night School
  • Summer School
  • Online Learning These programs may be available with the approval of the principal in extenuating circumstances. Many of these opportunities are also provided through the Adult and Continuing Education Learning Centres.
  • External Music Credits – more information is available through Guidance

School Uniform

school-uniformFrom their inception, the secondary schools of Niagara Catholic have established the tradition of the school uniform whose unique colours, crests and pieces offer students the choices they need for personal comfort and seasonal opportunities.

A dress code governs the condition of uniform items and the total presentation of the student. Uniform items are expected to be in good repair with no alteration other than size or length. Oversized uniform items are not permitted as part of the uniform. Uniform regulations take effect on the first day of school in September. Students must be in proper uniform while on school property or while representing the school off site during the school day; including during lunch.

While we respect the right to individual expression, excessive body piercing and tattooing are not allowed.

Christian Community Service

It has been the tradition in the Niagara Catholic District School Board to encourage students to become involved in the community both locally and globally. Elementary and secondary school students actively participate in voluntary Christian Community Service as an experiential component of their religious Education programs.


Hours: A minimum of 10 hours of Christian Community Service per year, each year of secondary school, for a total minimum of 40 hours is the minimum requirement for the graduation diploma. Students will be encouraged to go beyond the 40 hours of service. The Christian Community Service Project will be undertaken during the semester in which a student takes Religious Education, and monitored by the Religion teacher. For students who complete their project outside of the Religious Education Course, approval and monitoring will be provided by the Principal or designate.

Eligible Activities: Any service work for community agencies, churches, service organizations, individuals who are in need, any activity pre-approved by the Principal or designate. Each school will develop its own list of sites/activities eligible for Christian Community Service.

Co-Instructional Activities

Our students are strongly encouraged to become involved in the extra-curricular activities offered by their school. Participation allows the student to develop interests, gain experience, further social skills, improve organization and time management skills, and add to their overall sense of community during their high school careers. The opportunities are many and cover a broad spectrum from sports, the arts, etc…

Need Credits to Obtain your High School Diploma?

  • Are you currently working and believe that you don’t have time to finish school?
  • Do you want to earn your Ontario Secondary School Diploma?
  • Do you want a better job?
  • Do you want to get on the path to furthering your education?

The HEROS Program may be just what you’re looking for! 

Whatever your situation, we can help you get the extra credits you need to complete your high school diploma. Our HEROS* program is flexible and will be customized to meet your needs.

For further information call 905-354-3531 Ext. 111 or visit Niagara Catholic’s Continuing Education website

LET US WORK WITH YOU Having your secondary school diploma can open new doors for you … You have everything to gain … Give us a call today!

* HEROS: Helping Educators Retrieve Opportunities for Students