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The Calgary Catholic School District's Sacred Heart School is now teaching boys and girls separately. ((CBC))

The first day of school had something else new about it at one Catholic elementary school in Calgary – separate classes for boys and girls.

Starting Thursday, Sacred Heart School will split-up genders during class time because, according to principal Leanne Timko, research shows that boys and girls learn differently.

"Girls, they seem to like to get up and act and dance and things like that. So there might be opportunities for those kinds of presentations inside of their classes. Boys are hands on, wanting to build and create," she said.

A classroom for Grade 5 and 6 boys features posters of planes and football games on the walls and books about adventure and trucks on the shelves. Girls' classrooms have books about pets and relationships.

Boys and girls will still be able to socialize together between classes and during some sports and music classes, Timko said.

"Our inter-murals programs will be coed. We'll have our school choir as coed," she said.

But Lynne Preston, who runs a daycare not far from the school, worries that keeping boys and girls apart might eliminate certain opportunities for the children.

"Here at the daycare the girls and the boys have the exact same opportunities. So if a girl wishes to play dress up as a fireman for example, and a boy wants to dress up as a princess — they have that opportunity," said Preston.

Timko acknowledged that her school's approach is not necessarily the right choice for everyone. But, similar to a science or sports school, it provides parents with an option, she said.