Save The Italian Program at St. Alphonsus

Save The Italian Program at St. Alphonsus

May 6, 2022
Signatures: 172Next Goal: 200
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Why this petition matters

Started by N Friio

May 6, 2022

Deana Helton

Area Director

Central Schools


Dear Ms. Helton, 

On the evening of Friday April 29th, an email to parents in the St Alphonsus school community was sent to inform us that the Italian Language Program would be shut down effective at the end of the school year 2022. We received this email with no prior communication, discussion or context.

The Italian Language and Cultural Program has been integral to the in the fabric of St. Alphonsus School for generations. Many members of the school community  feel upset and uninformed with the decision to cut the program. In response we have joined together in an effort to achieve the following objectives:

  • Reinstate the Italian Language and Cultural Program with a more structured approach including continuity through into High School.
  • Increased transparency and communication from District and Administration on program changes that directly impact families and students.
  • Engage in a Town Hall discussion with Area Director and other decision makers to review options.

St. Alphonsus is a pillar within the Renfrew/Bridgeland Community. And a fundamental piece of that is its connection to the Italian people, language and values that are generational within our community. Cutting the program directly impacts the cultural retention of those who help build the community we now enjoy and takes valuable education away from our children. Many families have chosen St Alphonsus solely because of the value of the Italian Language and Cultural Program. 

One point of contention for many parents is the lack of transparency from the District and Administration. Considering the historical context, cultural values and emotional attachment to this program, parents feel slighted with approach made to cut the program, and the lack of information provided to families. The general school population was never advised and had no prior knowledge that the Italian Program was in any way at risk. 

In a day in age where there are so many changes placed on us in our environment, this type of behavior creates distrust and demonstrates a lack of respect. We would like to see more cooperation with families when it comes to the primary focus of teaching and learning. It is commonly expressed how parent involvement is crucial to the success of the students. We would expect nothing less from our administration and the Calgary Catholic School District. We request more open communication going forward.

Continuing ahead, the Parent Council is requesting we be provided with an opportunity to learn more about the program cut and what it will take to have it reinstated. We believe a Town Hall forum would allow parents to become informed and provide their feedback in an open discussion. Here are some concerns (but not limited to) the parents would like addressed:

  1. When was the Italian Program deemed at risk and why were parents not informed earlier?
  2. Due to how the program has been structured at St. Alphonsus, continuity was not made possible so students cannot continue through to High School. How can we reinstate full integration of the Program for K-12 learning?
  3. Some families were interviewed from outside the district on the basis of admission to the Italian Program. What will be done regarding these families?
  4. St. Maria Goretti and St. Alphonsus are the only Calgary schools with the Italian language offerings. What can we learn from each other about how to run the program successfully?
  5. What percentage of the population is needed to enroll to have the program reinstated? (Please elaborate on French participation levels vs Italian).
  6. Has the school population been asked if they will participate in the Program in the upcoming years? Where are the statistics and surveys to back up the cut?
  7. What involvement will the district provide to help reinstate the program if the council can prove it is supported by both school and community? Can funding be adjusted so that the Program remains open?
  8.  If ⅓ of the school population is taking Italian in Grade 4 what population is taking French? Please provide data. 
  9. Fundraising and parent volunteers have been supporting the program directly. Please elaborate as parent involvement will surely diminish when cuts are made to these highly supported programs.
  10. Funding at one point came directly from Italy. Please elaborate. Other community funding and support is still relevant.
  11. Cultural events as substitutions provided in lieu of the language program are not adequate. By removing the language aspect of the cultural program, what value do the remaining aspects offer? 
  12. Lastly, statistics for the program cut have been accumulated over the last two years during Covid and do not represent actual student participation levels or potential community growth.

Thank you for your consideration of our concerns. As parents we value open and respectful communication with the goal of a positive learning environment.



The St. Alphonsus Parent Community 

This letter is written with the consent and concerns presented on behalf of the parents who are listed on the attached. 

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