Alverno Heights Academy Launches Lower School


Alverno Heights Academy Launches Lower School 

The 2020-2021 School Year will establish Alverno as a TK-12th Grade School

Sierra Madre, CA (April 28, 2020) – Alverno Heights Academy is excited to announce the addition of a transitional kindergarten (TK)-8th grade for the 2020-2021 school year, creating a lower school and upper school, all under the name of Alverno Heights Academy. The lower school will be co-ed while the upper school will remain all-girls as it has for 60 years. Alverno will be one of the few schools in the area offering TK-12 on one campus and the only one in Sierra Madre. The upper school will hold a maximum of 200 girls and the lower school will hold a maximum of 200 students. 

The Alverno Heights Academy Board of Trustees has been considering expanding the school for several years in order to sustain itself in an ever changing economy and world. Through the school’s recent accreditation process, it became clear that Alverno’s unique programs, student life, and versatile 13-acre campus offered opportunities to expand the school. The addition of a lower school will help to bring a cohesiveness to the educational experience that is hard to find, yet very beneficial. Mr. Ken Farsing, President of the Board of Trustees, recognizes the significance of this addition, “As we celebrate our 60 year anniversary as an independent Catholic school, this is really about extending Alverno Heights Academy’s excellence in education and inclusive philosophy to all age groups.” 

Joanne Harabedian, Alverno Heights Academy class of 1969, has been officially hired as the Director of the Lower School at Alverno Heights Academy. Mrs. Harabedian is an accomplished educator with a wealth of expertise and experience in TK-8 Catholic education. She served as the Principal of St. Rita School in Sierra Madre from 2007-2020, where she developed a robust school with a wonderful reputation as being highly selective with high academic standards. Along with Head of School Julia Fanara, she is looking forward to building a Catholic school in the independent school model as part of the Alverno Heights Academy family. Mrs. Harabedian is energized by this new opportunity, “As a student at Alverno Heights Academy, I learned to be a woman who could become who I imagined. And now, guided by God’s magnificent plan, I am back home at my Alma Mater to be a part of an amazing venture that will offer limitless opportunities for students from TK through high school; an inspirational model of innovation in education for the next generation.” Hiring of faculty and staff for the lower school will begin this week. Opportunities to apply for these positions will be available on the Alverno website. Alverno prides itself on its small size and individualized attention, which will be an important factor in enrollment decisions and the hiring of faculty and staff. 

The lower school will launch with temporary modular classrooms that will be located on the gravel area north of the prayer garden and south of the Michillinda Avenue parking lot. The middle school will use three classrooms located at the east end of the south hallway of the upper campus. Alverno’s goal is to construct permanent classrooms for the lower school in the south-west area of the campus, near the Michillinda/Highland side of the 13-acre campus. The upper and lower schools will have different schedules, different lunches, and their own designated areas. Both schools will have access to the Learning Technology Center, cafeteria, new athletic fields and to the historic Villa del Sol d’Oro. 

The school as a whole is dedicated to preparing its students to function in a society as informed, knowledgeable persons, who have the requisite skills to make and implement mature decisions about complex problems. The lower school, just as the upper school, is enlivened by the spirit of its Immaculate Heart Community sponsors and mindful of the Franciscan roots of its founders. Both schools will celebrate Catholic liturgies and involve students in an impressive service learning ministry. The lower school will host a robust academic program, CYO sports, campus ministry activities, their own unique student council and many other enrichment programs. The lower school will have many opportunities to collaborate with the upper school in academic settings, visual and performing arts, campus ministry retreats and a variety of activities. 

Alverno Heights Academy will become two schools, under one name, with the same philosophy. The energy and synergy that the two schools can offer will be electric, especially in Alverno’s 60th anniversary year. Alverno’s upper school mission remains the same: To empower each young woman to be exactly the person she wants to be. Head of School, Mrs. Julia Fanara is looking forward to expanding on years of Alverno tradition, “Alverno Heights Academy is changing, but it is changing for the better. During this time of transition and uncertainty for our society as a whole, Alverno is excited to launch this new lower school and be able to bring the spirit of Alverno to younger children, both boys and girls, so that they can experience the empowerment and love that comes from being a part of Alverno’s unique and special community. Alverno Heights Academy will roar into the 2020-2021 school year with a new zest and vitality to be strong and sustainable for another 60 years.” 


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