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Académie Ste-Cécile International School:
The Our Kids Report > Key Insights
Grades JK TO Gr. 12 — Windsor, ON (Map)

Académie Ste-Cécile International School:

Académie Ste-Cécile International School KEY INSIGHTS

Each school is different. Académie Ste-Cécile International School's Feature Review excerpts disclose its unique character. Based on discussions with the school's alumni, parents, students, and administrators, they reveal the school’s distinctive culture, community, and identity.

What we know

  • An individualized approach to rigorous learning.
  • A diverse community with a faith-based foundation.
  • An academically focused culture is enhanced by strong arts and athletics programs.

Handpicked excerpts

Académie Ste-Cécile International School (ASCIS) is a not-for-profit, English, private, co-educational school located in Windsor, Ontario. Starting in JK and continuing through to Grade 12, ASCIS has day students starting in Junior Kindergarten, and a mix of day and boarding students starting in middle school.

Since 1996, ASCIS has been an accredited IB World School offering instruction in courses leading to the International Baccalaureate Diploma. So, it has a long experience with the rigorous academic program. The school also prepares students for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) and Advanced Placement (AP) examinations.


ASCIS is an interfaith school with foundations in the Catholic faith. ASCIS welcomes children of all faiths and backgrounds. At the beginning of each school day, all students and staff participate in a school prayer that is chosen bearing in mind ASCIS’ great sensitivity to ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue. At mealtimes, a short prayer of grace/ gratitude is recited.

Catholic students attend a Catholic Mass on campus while students of other faiths may opt to attend the Mass or attend the ethics classes where they will discuss a wide range of topics related to the school’s core values, including spirituality, integrity, respect, and self-discipline.

With its lower student-to-teacher ratios, an average class size of 15, and a high level of student participation in extracurricular activities, ASCIS aims to be a place where strong social bonds are built.

“Our students really grow up with each other,” says Kristin Diana, principal of the elementary school. Many start in JK and continue on with the same group of children through to high school graduation. As they reach secondary school, international boarding students bring cultural and linguistic diversity to the student population and, for day students, a unique and expansive view of the world.

“Community is such a strong value within Ste-Cécile,” says former student Rebecca Parker. “Not just because it’s such a small population for a school, but because of the fact that the teachers genuinely want you to succeed, and those people with whom you’re in classes, they really are your friends. … Everybody wants to see you succeed, and they want to see you have a good time while you do it.”


“Teachers are readily available to students when extra help is needed,” says Dr. Benjamin Cooper, a Chemistry teacher and principal of the secondary school. “We’re a smaller institution, so we really get to know the students,” says Dr. Cooper. “When I have 12 or 13 students in chemistry class, you spend more time with each student individually and can easily identify their gaps in understanding and can guide them accordingly.”

“Teachers who are in tune with the needs of their students help create a culture of excellence”, says parent alumni Sandy Hamilton, whose two children, Lisa and Kevin, graduated from ASCIS in 2009 and 2011. They have since gone on to earn university degrees in nursing and business.

“There wasn’t one teacher who wasn’t giving 100 percent,” remembers Hamilton. “My daughter started (at ASCIS) in Grade 6, but she was way behind in French. The teacher came to me and let me know my daughter was at about Grade 2 level in French. I said, ‘What can we do?’ She offered to tutor my daughter a couple of days a week.” It wasn’t long before Lisa was speaking French at the same level as her peers. 


The school now called Académie Ste-Cécile International School has roots that reach back to 1979, when the school’s founder, Thérèse H. Gadoury, opened a music and dance school known as Académie Ste-Cécile Academy of Music Inc. She remains the directrice of the school today. By naming the school after the patron saint of music and musicians, Saint Cecilia, Gadoury ensured the school would maintain a focus on the performing arts.

And it has. After expanding beyond music and dance to offer elementary courses in 1993 and secondary in 1996, the school continues to also operate private dance and music schools that are open to the public. Students have easy access to on-campus spaces for private music lessons outside of school hours.

The performing arts are deeply embedded in the student experience of the elementary and secondary schools. ASCIS offers Senior and Junior concert bands, Jazz Band, Vocal Chorus, String Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble and Liturgy Group. A yearly musical featuring elementary drama and music students is mounted each spring. Recent productions have included The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast.


Starting in the primary grades, music is introduced through vocal performance and movement. Students acquire basic music concepts that prepare them for instrumental music classes in Grades 5 through 8. High school students become well-rounded musicians by learning music concepts and theory, performance skills and how to interpret, create and use music in digital formats. The high school program prepares students for post-secondary study of music. It must be stressed that ASCIS focusses on all core subjects and in particular, mathematics and science.


Though academics is the primary focus at ASCIS, the school offers ample opportunities for physical activity. Students may choose from among nine competitive sports, including badminton, basketball, golf, swimming, tennis, track and field, running, soccer and volleyball. Seven recreational sports are also offered, and students have access to state-of-the-art athletics facilities, including a basketball gym, tennis courts, a track, and a soccer pitch.

Taking part in basketball and soccer allowed her children to get to know students in higher grades, notes parent alumni Sandy Hamilton. “When you’re at a big school, the kids in Grade 11 and Grade 12 don’t get to know the younger kids. But at this small school, the older kids were so great and so encouraging to the younger kids.”


Established in 1993 as an elementary school, Académie Ste-Cécile International School (“ASCIS”) began offering secondary instruction in 1996, moving and expanding its campus to its current location on Cousineau Road as it grew.

The school’s 30-acre park-like property, set just outside the city’s centre, is one of the school’s major draws. The chapel is its focal point. Originally built in 1957 to house the Holy Redeemer College, the chapel building is one of Windsor’s most noteworthy pieces of architecture. It was designed by Prairie School architect Francis Barry Byrne. Byrne was an internationally renowned architect (1883- 1967) who began his architectural career with Frank Lloyd Wright.

The spacious campus has grown to include separate buildings for the elementary and secondary schools, separate dormitories for male and female boarding students, and professional-level performance spaces and athletics facilities. Classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards, as well as cameras and monitors to allow for seamless continuation of lessons during the pandemic and inclement conditions.


ASCIS offers instruction for both the IB and the OSSD diploma as well as for certain examinations of the Advanced Placement (AP). The culture leans toward rigour, and both parents and students describe a culture that values excellence and hard work. “When you are around a bunch of people who are succeeding to a very high level, you also want to succeed to a very high level,” says former student Rebecca Parker. But the environment also supports students as individuals, she notes. “Having the opportunity to do the IB and having that interwoven with the one-on-one experience, it helps you work through the heavy course load of the IB diploma. It was really, really important that we had that support system of the teachers.”

The math- and science-focused IB Programme requires students to work hard, notes Parker. “You are going to have to have a strong work ethic to get the grades you want to see.” Her hard work paid off, she said, explaining that her academic focus helped her attract interest in universities when the time came.

For a school of its size, ASCIS offers a wide variety of courses, even beyond the core science and math courses, says Secondary Principal Benjamin Cooper. “We offer philosophy, business, economics, and the arts. We get together every year to work out a whole new schedule, and we aim to make every effort to tailor our program to what fits the needs of the students.”


“ASCIS expects 100 percent of our graduates to be accepted into university should they choose to apply,” says Cooper.

Since graduating from ASCIS more than a decade ago, Sandy Hamilton’s children Lisa and Kevin have completed post-secondary study at the University of Waterloo and the University of Windsor. After having studied the IB Programme, the transition to university-level expectations was smooth. “My daughter completed a couple of university courses at Ste-Cécile, so that was great. My two children really learned how to study, how to succeed at school. So they didn’t have trouble at all when they got to university. They already knew what they were doing.” 

THE OUR KIDS REPORT: Académie Ste-Cécile International School

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