The Upper School Program
Grades 9 through 12
In April 2019 the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) released the results of a study that shows statistically significant advantages for girls’ school graduates as they enter university. The study identified several key areas in which all-girls schools are better preparing their students for success in university and beyond. Based on the reported data, the researchers concluded that when compared to their female peers at co-ed schools, girls’ school graduates:
- Have stronger academic skills
- Are more academically engaged
- Demonstrate higher science self-confidence
- Display higher levels of cultural competency
- Express stronger community involvement
- Exhibit increased political engagement
We invite you to find out what makes our students NDA Prepared. Meet our dedicated faculty and phenomenal young women, learn more about what we have to offer, then schedule a shadow day to see for yourself!
Academy students receive a top-quality education that balances classical subjects and innovative approaches. The school provides a full range of academic classes, art and music, physical fitness and health along with opportunities to access specialized electives through our Virtual High School (VHS).
Academy students are presented with ongoing opportunities to move between academic levels so that each one will be challenged appropriately and supported academically.
College Preparatory (CP) - Upper School classes are all College Preparatory (CP) courses. To qualify for a diploma each student must earn a minimum 26 CP credits or the equivalent in AP and Honors courses.
Honors - Entering Grade 9 students must take special placement exams to qualify for honors. Honors placement within departments at all other grade levels requires a minimum of an 80 in the prior year’s honors course or a 93 in the prior year CP course.
Advanced Placement (AP) - Upper level Advanced Placement (AP) courses are offered throughout the mathematics, science, history, world language and English curriculums. Students seeking to enroll in an AP level class must have at least an 87 in prior related honors courses.
The Academy's commitment to technological innovation is reflected in our technology curriculum and supported by state-of-the-art science and computer labs, use of interactive whiteboard technology and software applications for classroom instruction, a policy that encourages students to bring their own device to school and wireless connectivity in every classroom. In this way we are able to prepare our students to thrive in a digital world.
Students can tap into the Academy’s strong and accessible athletic program, one in which a large percentage of Academy students participate. Varsity athletes perform strongly in their league, with many teams competing in playoff and state-level competitions. The school is also small enough so that students can try a sport for the first time.
Learn more about Academy Athletics and Sports Highlights.
Spirituality & Character
“Teach them what they need to know for life” is a founding principle for the Academy, one first pronounced by St. Julie Billiart. This principle guides our community of faculty and staff as they commit themselves to help students grow intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, physically and morally.
Our goal is to nurture each student as a unique individual. We seek to know our students and the gifts each one brings to our community while helping her achieve her goals within a caring and supportive environment. The Academy supports spiritual exploration and strong character formation, and promotes women’s leadership and service to those in need. As Catholic school, we are committed to the principles of Catholic moral teachings and social justice, while providing a faithful environment where prayer and liturgical celebrations bind the community.
Colleges show more interest in students who are well-rounded and know how to balance academics with extra-curriculars so the Academy offers a wide-range of extra-curricular opportunities. Students can sing in our large Glee Club, take the dance floor with the dance team (NDAnce), take the stage with the Drama Guild, or take the podium with Model UN. They can write for the newspaper (Damies’ Digest), and help with the yearbook and art/literary magazine (The Muse). Clubs are abundant at the Academy and new ones are always being created by students with a passion for a particular cause or interest. Each year there are about 20 clubs available for students to choose from.
Learn more about clubs and Student Life at the Academy.
The Academy nurtures student leaders at every turn – whether students want to lead in front or from the sidelines. Girls take charge at the Academy, with teachers supporting from the sidelines. Students are encouraged and supported to add their talents and leave their unique mark on the Academy!
Learn more about Leadership Opportunities at the Academy.
Our hands-on approach to lab science study makes learning fun, innovative and relevant. Students don’t just learn about subjects at the Academy; they take part actively in the learning process through discussion-oriented and hands-on courses. Providing our students with hands-on lab experience has helped to inspire more than 50% of graduates since 2015 to declare a major in a science, technology, engineering, or math field.
Learn more about the Academy’s Academic Curriculum.
The small-school environment, with an overall teacher to student ratio of 1:8, ensures that students get the support they need for personal success. Our unique Directed Learning Time (DLT), gives students in-school time to work on homework and get extra help from teachers. Teachers will also help students before school, after school and during lunch. The National Honor Society (NHS) also offers free tutoring during the school day. At the Academy, students will get all the support they need to achieve their personal best.
What about Boys?
Opportunities to socialize and collaborate with young men at school-sponsored events and outside of school are extensive. Formal and semi formal dances, casual dances, game nights, mission and community service events, academic competitions are only some of the activities promoting social interactions in a coed setting.
Benefits of All-Girls
When considering the boy factor, also consider what Academy students love about going to school without boys. They love the no-stress daily fashion issue. With a uniform to rely on and no boys to impress, girls can choose whether to wear make-up or not, how much to accessorize, or to just throw on their skirt, grab a polo and go. Girls at the Academy also report that school is a “no drama” experience, when competition for attention from boys is removed from the learning scene. Friendships form easily, and the girls bond and support each other in a caring community.
Today's social media world makes it more complicated than ever for girls to find their true selves among the selfie generation. Giving young women the opportunity to learn and socialize in a single gender environment has major benefits over co-ed settings, especially when it comes to learning. In a single gender environment, girls become more comfortable with risk-taking in a collaborative learning environment, which drives them to want to achieve more.
Check out the studies that show how girls who graduate from all girls’ high schools benefit academically and socially. We invite you to ask our students for yourself. Come visit us at an Open House opportunity or schedule a Shadow Day, and talk with students. Contact our Admissions Office to get all the scoop!
“The Academy teaches you how to work hard and manage your time, which are foundational skills for college. Being surrounded by other students who are working hard to reach their full potential inspired me to do the same. The experience was empowering not competitive and fully prepared me for the workload of college.” - Mary Kate McCarthy '14