Our School

Why Alternative?

Considering Alternative? You may be considering a change in schools or moving into Calgary. You may thrive in a smaller, more informal and highly personalized setting such as the one offered at Alternative High School. Alternative High School has offered its unique program for almost 40 years. Unique features of our school include: Circle of Courage philosophy embedded in all we do, flexible timetabling, highly interactive education model based on the democratic process format that emphasizes student choice and responsibility.

Our Vision

Alternative High School is a caring community that provides academic and personal support in respect of Circle of Courage philosophy. In an environment that supports democratic living, learning and respect are paramount, individuals will be encouraged to explore their passions and have meaningful connections to their community. 

Our Mission

The Circle of Courage provides the framework for our vision. 

The Circle of Courage Philosophy

Alternative High School has adopted the “Circle of Courage” Philosophy. At Alternative High School our relationships and conduct should always reflect and respect an understanding of the four spirits. 

  • Belonging – Each person is a “relative to all” in the community, to be surrounded with affection and acceptance. 
  • Mastery – Each person is supported in achieving their highest level of success and is taught to celebrate and encourage the success of others.  
  • Independence – Each person is encouraged to make responsible decisions through guidance and without coercion. 
  • Generosity - Each person learns that the highest virtue and mark of courage is to give of themselves. 

Our Beliefs

We believe 

  • that learners learn best in a safe, dynamic, collaborative learning community characterized by choice, supported risk taking, and positive interpersonal relationships. 
  • our teaching practices demonstrate strong beliefs in purposeful and meaningful involvement, and construction of knowledge. 
  • in establishing and nurturing strong interpersonal relationships within our learning community. 
  • students take responsibility for their own learning and behavior with guidance when they are provided with clear expectations, personal support and relevant feedback. 
  • diversity is addressed through a variety of teaching and learning strategies that recognize different learning styles, multiple intelligences, and the need for differentiated instruction. Respect and personal excellence are the by-products of quality learning. 
  • that all people have the right to a democratic process and the responsibility to protect others that are vulnerable. 
  • that we are custodians of our natural environment and have an obligation to ensure its health into the future.

In respect of these belief statements a portion of funds raised by students will be directed to charities/organizations which have values consistent with our beliefs.


Alternative High School (AHS) began operation in early September 1974 through the efforts of the Alternative High School Society. This group of parents paid the cost of a teacher and provided programming for 12 students in the old YWCA building on 12 Avenue SW Calgary. The Society approached the Calgary Board of Education Trustees in the early months of 1975 resulting in Alternative High School opening as a Calgary Board of Education program in September of that year.

The administration of AHS was the responsibility of the Department of Continuing Education which arranged the move of the school to a wing of Parkdale Elementary and Junior High School (1978-79) and the addition of a junior high upgrading program (initially known as U19, later AIM) in 1980-81. In September 1984, both AIM and AHS were transferred to Area 1 of the regular Division of Instruction, then Area High Schools in 1988. 

In September 1985, the school moved from Parkdale to the former Melville Scott Junior High at 1723 - 33 Street SW where it was cohoused with the PICSS Program. In September 1990, the school finally was relocated at our present site in Clinton Ford School, 5003 - 20 Street SW. 

AHS has grown to a current capacity of approximately 95 students and 11 staff.

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​​Our School's Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation

We are committed to acknowledging and supporting the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission 94 Calls to Action specific to education. Our school, along with all CBE schools, made a TRC Commitment to Action. On June 21, we renewed our commitment, which can be found under Resources.​​

Acknowledging the Land

We would like to acknowledg​​e the traditional territories and oral practices of the Blackfoot Nations, which includes the Siksika, the Piikani and the Kainai. We also acknowledge the Tsuut’ina and Stoney Nakoda First Nations, the Métis Nation (Region 3), and all people who make their homes in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta.​

​​​School Development Plan

​Each year, our school prepares a development plan with input from teachers, school staff, students and parents. We review many sources of data, including report cards, provincial achievement test results and school surveys. Based on this information, we create our plan identifying targeted areas for growth. Our school development plan is not meant to represent all of the work that takes place in our school, but rather it focuses on specific areas for improvement.​​​

​​​​School Improvement Results Report

Our school also prepares a results plan, which looks at our previous school year. It shows our students’ achievement and progress in meeting the goals and outcomes as set out by the CBE and Alberta Education, outlines some of the highlights of our school development plan and gives an overview of our school. You can look on the CBE website for system-wide results​.