John Paul II Bilingual Program
The John Paul II Bilingual Program is the only publicly funded Polish Bilingual Program in North America. The school is part of the Edmonton Catholic School district and uses the curriculum of the district with part of the instruction being in Polish with emphasis on Polish language, arts, culture, history, geography and traditions.
The school opened its door on September 4th, 1984 at St. Alphonsus Catholic School. It started with kindergarten and first two grades with English as a language of instructions 75% of the time, and Polish 25%. Polish is the language used for geography, religion, Polish customs, fine arts and physical education. A daycare and an out of school care program is available for younger children and those who have to wait for their parents to pick them up. Parents pay for out of school care and extra curricular activities such as calsses in dance, music, drama and sports. The Edmonton Catholic School District pays
teachers' salaries and provides the facility and school resources.
On the occasion of Pope John Paul II visit to Edmonton on September 17-18th, 1984, His Holiness sent an Apostolic Blessing to the staff, students and school promoters of the newly opened school. Grade three was introduced in 1985 and over the next two years grades four and five were added. By the 1991 school year, the program included all nine grades.
In 1990 with 267 children enrolled in the program, the John Paul II Bilingual Program had outgrown St. Alphonso School and the program was moved to a new location at St. Basil School.
The John Paul II Polish Bilingual Program always celebrates Polish Independence Day (November 11th), May 3rd Constitution Day, St. Andrew's Day, oplatek - Polish Christmas Eve tradition, Easter with sharing of eggs - pisanki and International Children's Day. The students also participate in annual festivals such as Heritage Days and Polish Harvest Festival - Dozynki.
Since its inception, the school has been a centre of Polish culture, a place where children receive the best education possible and where future leaders of the Polish community are being groomed.
More detailed information regarding the John Paul II Polish Bilingual Program can be found at the school's website (www.stbasil.ecsd.net) and in a book published by the Canadian Polish Historical Society of Alberta in 2009 and
entitled "Polish Education in Edmonton 1906-2006".