The Best Public High Schools in Calgary: Setting the Benchmark in Education



Discover why Calgary boasts some of the best public high schools in Canada. Whether you’re relocating or simply curious, this guide will shine a light on some of the top educational institutions in this vibrant city.

Imagine you’re standing on the top of the Calgary Tower, gazing down at the bustling city below. From this vantage point, you can see more than just the beautiful skyline or the Bow River winding its way through the city. 

Now, focus a bit more, and you’ll spot the foundations of Calgary’s future… its high schools. Just as a home is important in determining a lifestyle, a school shapes the future of its students. 

Ever wondered what makes the best public high schools in Calgary so renowned? It’s a blend of history, culture, advanced curriculums, and an undying commitment to excellence. 

Whether you’re a parent, a student, or someone considering relocating to this dynamic city, understanding what makes Calgary’s high schools top-notch is something you’ll want to know. So, let’s dive in

Use our quick navigation guide below to jump to any point of our blog on The High Schools in Calgary:

The Best Public High Schools in Calgary

Western Canada High School

Central Memorial High School

Forest Lawn High School

Ernest Manning High School

Sir Winston Churchill High School

William Aberhart High School

Crescent Heights High School Calgary

Notre Dame High School

St. Francis High School

St. Mary’s High School

Navigating Calgary’s Top High Schools: The Ultimate Destination for Quality Education

We are experts when it comes to Calgary…

The Best Public High Schools in Calgary


Western Canada High School

Founded in 1923, Western Canada High School has an illustrious history that’s hard to match. Located in the heart of Calgary, it’s one of the oldest and largest secondary schools in the city. Consistently ranking among the best public high schools in Calgary, it has received numerous awards over the years for both academic and extracurricular excellence.

School Philosophy: Western Canada High School emphasizes a balanced approach to education. This means not just excelling academically but also nurturing creativity, critical thinking, and community service.

Special Programs: Home to the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme and a French Immersion program, Western Canada caters to diverse academic aspirations. Their arts and athletics programs are also noteworthy, offering students a variety of options to pursue their passions.


Western Canada High School Highlights:

International Baccalaureate (IB) Program: Offers a rigorous, internationally recognized curriculum.

Advanced Placement (AP) courses: Allows students to tackle college-level material.

Fine Arts Focus: Emphasizes drama, music, and visual arts.

Off-campus opportunities: Connections with community partners and businesses.

Central Memorial High School

Central Memorial, founded in 1970, is known for its innovative approaches to education. It’s a hub for creativity, offering specialized programs that make it one of the best high schools in Calgary.

School Philosophy: The institution firmly believes in fostering an environment where students are encouraged to explore, innovate, and challenge boundaries. This high school in Calgary inspired with their values that drive their commitment to student development.

Special Programs: Central Memorial is recognized for its Performing and Visual Arts program, providing aspiring artists with unparalleled training opportunities. The school offers the Advanced Placement program for academically advanced students.


Central Memorial High School Highlights:

Center for Performing and Visual Arts: Renowned for its arts programs.

National Sport School: Nurturing elite athletes while maintaining academic standards.

PVA Dance program: One of the most sought-after in the city.

High-tech facilities: Modern spaces for digital and multimedia learning.

Forest Lawn High School

Since its establishment in 1961, Forest Lawn has made significant strides in academic and extracurricular domains. Nestled in southeast Calgary, it’s a testament to the city’s cultural diversity.

School Philosophy: Forest Lawn’s philosophy revolves around creating an inclusive environment where every student feels valued. They aim to foster individuality, resilience, and community spirit among their students.

Special Programs: Apart from its impressive academic curriculum, Forest Lawn offers a Career and Technology program, giving students hands-on experience in fields like media, design, and health sciences.


Forest Lawn High School Highlights:

Diverse Student Population: Promotes inclusivity and multiculturalism.

Career and Technology Centre: Prepares students for the future job market.

Dual-Credit opportunities: Allows students to earn post-secondary credits.

Extensive extracurriculars: From robotics to arts clubs.

Ernest Manning High School

Named after Alberta’s longest-serving premier, Ernest Manning High School was established in 1964. Over the years, it’s carved out a niche for itself, routinely being mentioned among the best public high schools in Calgary. Its modern facility, opened in 2011 near the Westbrook LRT and Westbrook Mall, serves as a beacon of contemporary education.

School Philosophy: They champion a holistic approach, where traditional academics is fused with character development, ensuring students are well-prepared for the complexities of the modern world.

Special Programs: The school is well-regarded for its Advanced Placement (AP) program, allowing students to challenge university-level curriculum while in high school. Its unique Broadcast Media Studies program gives students a practical insight into the world of broadcasting.


Ernest Manning High School Highlights:

Broadcast Media Studies Program: Unique program offering hands-on broadcasting experience.

Proximity to Westbrook LRT and Mall: Convenient for students.

Advanced Placement (AP) courses: Provides an academic challenge.

State-of-the-art facilities: Modern infrastructure for comprehensive learning.

Sir Winston Churchill High School

Founded in 1968 and named after Britain’s legendary Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill High School stands out not only in Calgary but also nationally. The school consistently ranks among the best high schools in Calgary, making it a sought-after destination for students.

School Philosophy: With "Non scholae sed vitae" (We learn not for school, but for life) as its motto, the school emphasizes real-world applications of knowledge, fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Special Programs: The school is renowned for its International Baccalaureate (IB) program, providing students with a rigorous academic experience recognized worldwide. Its bilingual Mandarin program is one of its kind in the region.


Sir Winston Churchill High School Highlights:

Bilingual Mandarin Program: An opportunity to be fluent in Mandarin.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Program: Globally recognized academic program.

STEM Focus: Emphasizes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Diverse club offerings: From debate to coding clubs.

William Aberhart High School

Opening its doors in 1957, William Aberhart, fondly known as "Abe," is named after the seventh Premier of Alberta. It’s a powerhouse of academics and extracurricular activities.

School Philosophy: William Aberhart believes in cultivating an environment of mutual respect and trust, where every student can realize their potential. "Building the future, honoring the past" captures the essence of their approach.

Special Programs: Renowned for its French Immersion and Spanish Bilingual programs, the school offers a multicultural learning experience. Furthermore, its Advanced Placement courses provide an accelerated academic track for ambitious students.


William Aberhart High School Highlights:

French Immersion and Spanish Bilingual programs: Promoting multilingual education.

Advanced Placement (AP) Courses: For students seeking higher academic rigor.

Cultural and Artistic focus: With events like the annual fashion show.

Extensive sports programs: Catering to various athletic interests.

Crescent Heights High School Calgary

Established in 1915, Crescent Heights is one of the oldest high schools in Calgary, offering panoramic city views from its elevated location. With a rich history spanning over a century, it’s no surprise that it ranks among the city’s elite educational institutions.

School Philosophy: Crescent Heights instills in its students the core values of respect, strength, and involvement. They believe in creating well-rounded individuals ready to make a mark on the world.

Special Programs: Apart from an impressive array of AP courses, the school stands out for its Performing Arts program, nurturing budding talents in drama, music, and dance.


Crescent Heights High School Highlights:

Centennial Celebration in 2015: Marking its long-standing history.

Performing Arts program: Fosters talents in drama, music, and dance.

Advanced Placement (AP) Courses: Enhancing the academic experience.

Active Student Council: Encouraging leadership and student participation.

Notre Dame High School

Inaugurated in 1984, Notre Dame has quickly risen through the ranks to become one of the best high schools in Calgary. This Catholic school, located in the northeastern part of the city, is not only a hub of academic brilliance but also a beacon of spiritual and moral guidance.

School Philosophy: Notre Dame holds the belief that every student is unique and deserves an education that caters to their individual needs. Rooted in Catholic values, the school places an emphasis on the development of character, moral integrity, and community service.

Special Programs: Apart from a robust core curriculum, Notre Dame offers Advanced Placement courses for students seeking academic rigor. Their celebrated Fine Arts program draws young talents from all over Calgary.


Notre Dame High School Highlights:

Renowned Fine Arts Program: Drawing talents from all over Calgary.

Engaged student community: With initiatives like the Peer Ministry.

Comprehensive sports programs: Catering to a variety of athletic pursuits.

Modern infrastructure: Ensuring a conducive learning environment.

St. Francis High School

Established in 1962, St. Francis has a legacy of over five decades in delivering top-tier Catholic education. Nestled in northwest Calgary, the school has consistently found its place among the best public high schools in Calgary.

School Philosophy: With a foundation in the Catholic faith, St. Francis champions the holistic development of its students, nurturing not just the mind but also the heart and soul.

Special Programs: The school’s Spanish Bilingual program is particularly noteworthy, offering students a chance to become fluent in one of the world’s most spoken languages. Its athletic programs are renowned, producing several top-tier athletes over the years.


St. Francis High School Highlights:

Spanish Bilingual Program: Unique in the city, promoting language fluency.

Strong spiritual guidance: Rooted in Catholic values.

Athletic excellence: Producing top-tier athletes over the years.

Advanced Placement (AP) Courses: Offering academic depth.

St. Mary’s High School

As one of Calgary’s oldest Catholic high schools, St. Mary’s, founded in 1885, has a storied past. From its humble beginnings to its modern campus, the school has evolved, but its commitment to excellence remains unchanged.

School Philosophy: St. Mary’s is built on a foundation of faith, hope, and love. It aims to instill in its students the values of empathy, leadership, and service, preparing them to be conscientious global citizens.

Special Programs: Apart from its standout academic curriculum, St. Mary’s is known for its fine arts program, which includes visual arts, drama, and music. Its Advanced Placement courses cater to academically ambitious students.


St. Mary’s High School Highlights:

Fine Arts Program: Including visual arts, drama, and music.

Advanced Placement (AP) Courses: Catering to academically driven students.

Faith-based learning: With events and initiatives promoting spiritual growth.

Community involvement: Emphasizing service and giving back.

Navigating Calgary’s Top High Schools: The Ultimate Destination for Quality Education

As we wrap up our educational tour, it becomes evident that Calgary isn’t just known for its picturesque landscapes and thriving economy. It’s a city that values education, and its high schools are a testament to this commitment. 

Whether you’re drawn to the historical institutions with legacies spanning over a century or the more contemporary schools with state-of-the-art facilities, one thing’s for sure: Calgary offers an unmatched educational experience. 

And as you think about relocating or even just understanding the city’s fabric, isn’t it comforting to know that the future generation is in excellent hands? 

The best public high schools in Calgary aren’t just buildings; they’re cradles of dreams, aspirations, and most importantly, potential.

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