Since 1963, Our Lady of Lourdes Academy has been churning out young women who go on to some of the best colleges and universities in the nation and become leaders in society. The all-girls, Catholic High School in Pinecrest is a case study in same-sex education.
"I find that in an all-girls school, girls focus more on their academics and they become more assertive and more self-assured," said the principal, Sister Kathryn Donze. "Their motivation astounds me, they put their heart and soul into everything that they do, they all go to college."
One hundred percent of the graduates go on to college. Students at Lourdes are encouraged to sample classes, programs, and clubs until they find their passions. That search can lead them to performing arts, fine arts, sports, humanities, STEM fields, virtually anything.
"Some of them discover they have a big basket of talent that they didn’t know they had," Sister Kathryn said.
Lourdes also has a top-notch sports medicine program, in which students get hands-on experience as trainers at athletic events. They also are exposed to careers in the wider field of health care.
"Yes, because they get to interact not only with trainers, but with nurses, physical therapists, and it gives them a well-rounded experience on where they would really like to go in the future," explained Belinda Rodriguez, the teacher who leads the program.
The school offers 21 AP classes, clubs ranging from debate to drama, a television production course, and the award-winning choir known as the Lourdes Singers, which is led by an alumnus.
"I know what you have to look forward to," music director Michelle Garcia-Bode says, explaining what she says to her students. "I know the self-esteem that this choir helps you build. The girls have a wonderful opportunity to express themselves, they develop a sisterhood."
That sisterhood is gaining new members every year, with each generation providing a network of opportunity for the next.