Notre Dame Academy
Notre Dame Academy is a Catholic, college-preparatory high school for girls in grades 9–12. The Sisters of Notre Dame founded Notre Dame Academy in 1949. The school has long partnered with Catholic schools and parishes, as well as with public and charter schools as far south as Long Beach. In addition to a robust academic core, Notre Dame Academy (NDA) offers students opportunities in athletics, entrepreneurship and the arts.
Describe some of your instructors’ accomplishments.
A dedicated team of expert educators nurtures our students as they strive for excellence. More than 80% hold advanced degrees in their field, and many serve as AP readers in their specialties for the College Board each summer. In addition, many win grants for their departments. Most recently, two of our instructors earned grants to support professional development, lab materials, educational software and digital resources for the STEM and humanities departments.
Tell us about some student accomplishments.
All NDA graduates are accepted to college, and this year 86% of those who applied early decision were accepted to their first-choice college. Also among this class are a Posse Scholar, two QuestBridge Scholars, and three student-athletes who committed to playing volleyball and soccer at the collegiate level. The graduating class of 2022 was awarded about $18 million in college scholarships. Many of our graduates are National Merit Scholars, Lifetime Sealbearers of the California Scholarship Federation and members of the National Honor Society. Nineteen members of the class of 2022 were AP Scholars.
What are some highlights of your academic program?
NDA’s comprehensive curriculum challenges each girl to develop her gifts and maximize her potential. A rigorous physics-first science sequence prepares students for advanced science courses in the upper grades. In addition, Regals have the opportunity to choose from 18 AP courses in every discipline. Currently in its second year, the school-wide Emphasis Program offers unique learning opportunities within and outside the classroom. Through student-led workshops, the symposium encourages curiosity through exploration and discovery. Combined with inquiry-based curricular experiences and experiential learning, our unique Emphasis Program challenges students to gain deeper knowledge of the world around them, develop passions and solve real-world problems.
What types of support do you offer students beyond academics?
The Office of Women, Culture, and Community guides the vision for student life by unifying our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives with our honor code efforts, all grounded in our Catholic faith. Through their collaboration with student leaders in the affinity groups, campus ministry, clubs and organizations, and student council, the team has begun to reimagine the values of sisterhood, excellence and service on campus.
Regals also benefit from a robust, four-year advisory program, which offers small-group, student-centered spaces facilitated by a faculty moderator. The program provides not only an opportunity to build a relationship with a trusted adult on campus but also a brave space to tackle the academic, social and moral questions teenage girls face.
Tell us about your extra-curricular offerings.
Ten athletics teams, four levels of dance instruction, an award-winning drama program, and myriad clubs and affinity groups offer opportunities for skill building and leadership development beyond the classroom. We also offer courses in disruptive innovation as part of our Duddy Innovation Center for Excellence as well as STEM cocurricular teams in robotics and rocketry. Our Mock Trial and Academic Decathlon teams regularly win awards, and our drama students consistently rank in the Drama Teachers Association of Southern California competition. Our new Speech & Debate team excelled in their fall tournaments, and our Rocketry team competed in the national finals of The American Rocketry Challenge, earning a spot in the Final Fly-Offs round.
What’s the most important thing students learn at your school?
A Notre Dame Academy graduate demonstrates faith, excellence, vision and leadership, and service and compassion. Our comprehensive curriculum prepares her to lead a life characterized by spiritual and moral growth, social responsibility and empathy, and a love of learning.
What are some ways parents can enhance their child’s educational experience?
Notre Dame Academy acknowledges that parents and guardians are the primary educators of their children and therefore partners with them to promote the growth of each student. With that in mind, we not only seek to affirm the values taught at home but also offer opportunities for each student to take responsibility for her own moral and spiritual growth. In addition, parents are welcome to get involved in opportunities on campus—from sports to musical theatre to wellness activities.
How does your school demonstrate community philanthropy?
NDA cultivates an environment in which students are empowered to live Catholic values and put their faith into action. We encourage a culture of philanthropy by providing monthly service opportunities and annual retreats with a service component.
How do you help your students feel at home?
Our students develop a unique sisterhood and deep sense of community through annual retreats and team-building activities. A faculty dedicated to student success nurtures and challenges girls with teaching methods focused on how girls learn.