St. Agnes Catholic Elementary School (from here on out, just St. Agnes) is Kindergarten to Grade 8. It currently has a student population of around 280, spread between 12 classrooms. There are 30 staff members at St. Agnes. Its address is 254 Neilson Avenue, Waterloo. Its phone number is (519) 885-3180. St. Agnes offers Extended Day Care. The school’s team name is the St. Agnes Flames.
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St. Agnes opened officially in December of 1956, becoming the fourth separate school in Waterloo. Starting out as a one-storey, six classroom building (nine rooms in total), its inaugural year consisted of 110 students taught by three staff members (including its first Principal, Sister Constantina). Within ten years, the student population had more than tripled – this area of Waterloo was developing fairly rapidly – and additional classrooms and a gymnasium were added to St. Agnes.
After several school closures, St. Agnes’ student population reached a pinnacle of 620 (necessitating additional portable classrooms), but once St. Matthew Catholic Elementary School opened, and St. Agnes’ boundaries changed, it stabilized at around 270 (close to its current number). The school’s final addition was completed in 2001, consisting of a library, staff room, health room, and offices.
According to the WCDSB website, St. Agnes currently has two affiliated Parishes: the first is St. Michael Parish, of the large St. Michael’s Catholic Church (built in 1965 and currently serving approximately 3000 families). The second is the nearby St. Agnes Parish, of St. Agnes Catholic Church, which serves as a spiritual home for St. Agnes and two other Catholic elementary schools.
As for St. Agnes herself, she was born in third-century Rome. She was martyred around 304, at the age of just 13, and she now represents innocence and purity, often being depicted with a lamb. To this day, her skull is on display in a Roman church.
St. Agnes stands in the southeast corner of the suburban Lincoln Heights neighbourhood (which is itself in southeast Waterloo). Its location gives it quite a few benefits: on- and off-ramps to the Conestoga Parkway (Highway 85) are very close, there are shops and restaurants nearby, and students have access to several parks (they can even walk across their own playground and sports field directly to St. Agnes Church). You can read all about Lincoln Heights itself in our article on it here.
The Fraser Institute is a Canadian organization; one of their major projects is ranking the elementary and secondary schools in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia each year. They use publically-available data from the Education Quality and Accountability Office’s Grade 3 and Grade 6 testing. Each school’s average performance in Reading, Writing, and Math serve as the basis for its ranking (variables like Gender Gap, percentage of tests not written, and percentage of tests written below standard are also taken into account).
St. Agnes’ 2017 score was 8/10, placing it solidly in the Green category. This is a very respectable score; indeed, it places St. Agnes in the top 10% of all schools in Ontario (there are over 3000). Incidentally, it is also the #1 school named St. Agnes (there are 6). On a more local level, St. Agnes is the #3 school in the entire WCDSB (Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, and surrounding areas), and in a tie for the 6th most highly-ranked school in Waterloo (both the WCDSB and WRDSB).
St. Agnes has numerous ways for students to get more involved in the school, and to explore interests and talents outside of the standard curriculum. There are multiple sporting and athletic opportunities, including team-based sports like Soccer and more individual-oriented ones like Cross Country. In the 2014-15 season, the Intermediate Girls and Junior Boys were both 3-Pitch champions in the Red Division (Pool A)!
In addition to athletics, there are clubs and other activities that students can take part in, such as drama, dancing, and skating. St. Agnes also has a strong community spirit, and volunteering is an important part of the school’s identity.
St. Agnes is part of the St. David Catholic Secondary School (St. David) family of schools. When St. Agnes students graduate from Eighth Grade, they are zoned for St. David. At this time, St. David is the only Catholic secondary school within the City of Waterloo (though Resurrection Catholic Secondary School stands right at the Kitchener/Waterloo border). St. Agnes is fairly close to St. David (about a ten minute drive) but bussing is available.
St. David, too, is served by the St. Agnes Parish (as well as a couple others), so students can transition easily into the high school setting. It currently has a student population of around 1100. You can read all about St. David in our profile on it here. Note that students are eligible to transfer to another secondary school if it offers a program they’re interested in.
There are several ways to stay informed about St. Agnes, and what’s going on at the school. The first way, and perhaps the best way to get a quick idea of upcoming events, is their Online Calendar. St. Agnes makes very good use of this calendar, and everything from sporting events to various Spirit Days (and, to the students’ delight, Pizza Days) are included: check it out here.
For a more thorough look at what’s going on, you can peruse their monthly newsletters. These, too, are available online, and they discuss upcoming events and ongoing initiatives, as well as announcements, in greater detail. Newsletters can be found here, and you can see the June 2018 newsletter here.
Finally, you can follow the St. Agnes Twitter account for a more colourful look into the goings on at the school. Not only do they share photos of special events (like the Earth Rangers presentation), but they also share pertinent information and celebrate the achievements of students and staff. See their Twitter account here.
St. Agnes is known as the “Little School with a Big Heart,” and each year it endeavours to live up to this reputation. Just take a look at the short video preview of the school (including a tour of several different areas, a look at the school in action, and more) to see how: (St. Agnes – Featured School). With a positive outlook, academic credentials, and many extracurricular opportunities, St. Agnes Catholic Elementary School deserves to be recognized as another wonderful WCDSB school.
Written by Will Kummer