Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy
|Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy|
|440 Saint Katherine Drive
La Cañada Flintridge, California, Los Angeles County, 91011
|Type||Private, Day & Boarding|
|Religious affiliation(s)||Roman Catholic|
|Oversight||Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose|
|President||Sr. Carolyn McCormack, O.P.|
|Principal||Sr. Celeste Marie Botello, O.P.|
|Asst. Principal||Rosemary Johnston
|Color(s)||Red, Black and White|
|Song||"Hail, Flintridge, Hail"|
|Athletics conference||CIF – Southern Section|
|Mascot||Teddy Tolog Bear|
|Accreditation||Western Association of Schools and Colleges|
|Publication||Verité (literary magazine)|
|Academic Dean||Kathy Desmond|
|Admissions Director||Luana Castellano|
|Athletic Director||Stephanie Contreras|
|Major Gifts Officer||W. Greg Cornell|
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy is a private, all-girls Catholic high school in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles run by the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. It is located in La Cañada Flintridge, California, on a 41 acres (170,000 m2) campus near the San Gabriel Mountains.
The school serves both as a day school and a boarding school, with 12% of the student population living on campus. Students come from across the United States, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Mexico and Pakistan.
FSHA’s 41-acre campus was originally the site of the Flintridge Hotel, which was designed and built by architect Myron Hunt in 1926 atop the San Rafael Hills, at the direction of Frank Putnam Flint, a United States senator from what was then called La Cañada. Flint owned the land on which the hotel was built and commissioned Hunt, due to his expertise in designing in the Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival architecture styles. The Flintridge Hotel, soon acquired by Bowman-Biltmore Hotels, was the renamed the Flintridge Biltmore Hotel. It included a large main building with a dining room, lounge and patio, in addition to six smaller cottages meant to house whole families. The grounds also included a pool, tennis courts, golf course, archery range and several large lawn areas. The business failed as the Great Depression continued, and the hotel was closed and sold in 1931.
After the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose took over the property in 1931, the hotel was converted into a school exclusively for boarding students in grades 1-12. The billiards and game room became a chapel, the hotel's beauty salon became the head administrator's office, the bridal suite became a community room for the Sisters, and the Green Room (formerly an elegant ballroom) was converted into a recreational room for students. The main dining room, with wood paneling and chandeliers, is virtually unchanged from 1927 and still used by both boarding students and the Sisters. Senator Flint originally owned many of the furnishings and decorations that remain in the original hotel building.
In the school's early days, all students were boarders and classes were taught in the hotel building; the cottages were used as dorms. Beginning in 1945, a decision was made to begin saving money to build a new structure for classrooms. In 1950, the decision was made to build a new high school building, which cost $210,000 and was completed in 1951. The Class of 1952 became the first senior class to occupy the new high school building. The building had three state-of-the-art science laboratories, a new library and spacious classrooms.
In November 1955, the Sisters voted to borrow $100,000 to build an auditorium. The academic year of 1956-57 marked the first year the student body was able to utilize this new auditorium. This new building allowed for expanded performances of plays on a stage instead of the lounge. The old elementary school building on Palmerstone Drive, formerly servants' quarters for hotel employees, was later sold as a private residence.
The area known as the Octagon, which was located between the pool and pedestrian bridge, once served as a music conservatory. A fire in 1971 damaged the building so severely that it was torn down. The Octagon now serves as a gathering spot with an expansive view of the Rose Bowl, Pasadena and the San Gabriel Mountains.
Today, the only parts of the old Flintridge Biltmore hotel in use for student instruction are an art studio in the Annex of the old hotel and the upper part of Cottage 4, which houses music instruction. Due to the greater needs of the school, Flintridge Sacred Heart was able to expand its science and athletics facilities in 1998. A new 26,000-square-foot (2,400 m2) Student Activities Center opened on campus, which houses three state-of-the-art science classrooms with labs, a gymnasium, aerobics room, exercise room, training room, multipurpose athletic field and amphitheater. With the completion of the Student Activities Center in 1998, the science laboratories in the high school building were transformed into regular classrooms. The cottages now house school services such as admissions, technology and development.
After several collisions with garbage trucks, the pedestrian bridge that crosses St. Katherine Drive to connect the main building with the cottages and high school was closed during the summer of 2010 for repairs. It reopened before the start of the 2010-2011 school year with a reinforced structure and much of its original materials intact.
The campus of Flintridge Sacred Heart is transected by the Pasadena—La Cañada Flintridge border, with the Glendale border less than a mile away. The school’s street and mailing address remain in La Cañada Flintridge. The area is commonly known within the FSHA community as “the Hill” – the campus sits atop the crest of the San Rafael Hills.
Senator Flint opened the Flintridge Hotel on December 14, 1927. He soon sold the unprofitable hotel to the Biltmore hotel chain, which reopened the property on December 20, 1928. Yet with less than a dozen guests at any one time, and compounded by the Great Depression, the Flintridge Hotel never succeeded as a resort. When the economy dramatically declined in 1929 and following years, the hotel could not survive. Bankruptcy was declared and the buildings sat vacant for almost two years.
At the same time, the Dominican Sisters of Mission San José were planning to build a convent and boarding school in Pasadena and heard about the Flintridge Hotel property. Archbishop James Cantwell contacted Mother Dolorosa at the Sacred Heart Convent in Los Angeles. Mother Dolorosa and Sister Thomasina decided to see the hotel, and a representative escorted the two Sisters to the former hotel that same day. They were so charmed by what they saw that they left for the Motherhouse at Mission San José that same evening. The property’s remote location made it an ideal setting for the education of young women and a peaceful living environment for women of the Order. Mother Dolorosa requested the support and permission to pursue what she felt was “a perfect site for a boarding school.” The asking price for the entire resort was $150,000, but the Prioress General’s answer was initially negative. Undeterred by this response, Mother Dolorosa and Sister Thomasina went back to “The Hilltops” and waited to show the Prioress General, Mother Seraphina Mertz, the former hotel. The Prioress General saw the hotel, but turned down the offer. Mother Dolorosa was still determined and so returned to the Motherhouse where she persuaded Mother Seraphina to “come and see the property” a second time. Both traveled south to Los Angeles to visit the site and finally agreed on a decision. With the approval of Mother Seraphina and her Council, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy Corporation was established on July 24, 1931. The officers were elected and the first order of business was the decision to take out a loan from the Security First National Bank of Los Angeles in the amount of $150,000 to purchase the entire hotel, six outlying guest cottages and 54 acres (220,000 m2). The deed was signed at the Motherhouse on St. Dominic’s Day, August 4, 1931.
On Saturday, August 15, 1931, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Dominican Sisters, headed by Mother Dolorosa, foundress and first superior of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; Sister M. Frances, pioneer and first principal; and Sister Thomasina took permanent possession of their new home. Legend has it that the women’s car broke down on the drive up to the property, so they walked the rest of the way in their heavy wool habits carrying only a $5 bill and a statue of Mary. The next day, after Holy Mass, a breakfast was served for the almost 2,000 people who came to visit the site. Many of the visitors were parents who registered their daughters. Tuesday, September 2 marked the first day of classes for 200 students in grades 1 through 12 under the direction of the Sisters, along with many new teachers. The school was exclusively for boarders until after the new high school building was constructed in 1951. At about the same time, the school began to phase out the elementary grades, and the elementary school was closed in 1963.
After surviving a decline in enrollment caused by the turbulent social atmosphere of the late 1960s and 1970s, the Flintridge Sacred Heart student body began to grow to its current population of approximately 400. The school has always drawn its day population from a wide geographical area that now includes the entire Los Angeles basin, with a concentration from neighboring communities of the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys. International boarding students are a significant asset to the Flintridge Sacred Heart community; students come from all over the globe and have since FSHA was founded.
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy is a college-preparatory school that educates students in the Dominican tradition. Classes are taught by teachers in a seven-period rotating format, allowing students to complete graduation requirements and sample a wide variety of electives. For the 2012-13 year, 82 University of California-approved college-preparatory courses and 27 Advanced Placement and Honors courses are offered. A typical course load includes English, a foreign language, math, religion, social studies, science and an elective. The latter can include courses such as journalism, creative writing, American politics in film, art history, robotics and forensic science, as well as multiple options in the arts (see below). French, Spanish and Latin are the foreign languages offered at FSHA.
Several subject areas are explored further through clubs and co-curricular activities, such as Latin Club, CAM (Christian Action Movement), French Club, Theatre Club, La Vanguardia, Amnesty International, Science and Environment Club, Book Club, Ambassadors, Art Club, Math Club, Varsity Club and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions).
Recent graduates have matriculated to colleges such as Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Barnard, UC-Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Johns Hopkins, Claremont McKenna, Southern Methodist University, NYU, Boston University, Sarah Lawrence, College of William & Mary, Santa Clara University, Villanova, Purdue, Parsons School for Design, University of Washington and Loyola Marymount University.
Flintridge Sacred Heart is home to approximately 50 boarding students, many of whom are international students who travel a considerable distance to attend. For the 2012-13 academic year, boarders from the following countries call FSHA their home: United States, Canada, Mexico, China, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong and Vietnam. Recent years have also seen boarders from Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Guatemala, India, Macau, Nigeria, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Spain.
Boarding students take a standard schedule of courses, though three classes – Writing, Grammar Intensive; United States History for International Students; and American Government for International Students – take into account the fact that many boarders do not speak English as a first language. Each international boarding student takes the TOEFL each year to measure progress in written and verbal English. There are also leadership opportunities for available exclusively for boarding students, including participation in the Boarding Student Council, the Boarding Student Ambassadors, or as a writer for the At Home on the Hill section of Veritas Shield, the student newspaper. Many international boarding students have graduated from FSHA to attend four-year colleges in the U.S.
The boarding halls contain 23 rooms, with two to three girls sharing each room. In order to foster interaction among students from different cultures, the director of boarding students makes a consistent effort to assign students from different countries as roommates. Every room is equipped with wireless Internet, bed, chest of drawers, bookcase, desk and chair for each student, walk-in closet, private bathroom with shower and tub, locker for valuables, lighted ceiling fans and heaters. Scheduled outings take students to Southern California landmarks, including Disneyland and Mammouth.
Students of all faiths are accepted at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, though the campus ministry program draws on the history and tradition of the Dominican Order, started by St. Dominic de Guzman more than 800 years ago in Spain. The Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose carry on St. Dominic’s vision of Veritas (truth) through the four pillars of the Dominican Order: prayer, study, community and service.
Students at each grade level participate in spiritual retreats led by adult and trained peer leaders, including one- and two-day retreats for underclasswomen, a four-day retreat to Catalina Island for juniors, two days of prayer and a four-day Kairos retreat for seniors, and a final Kairos day of prayer in spring of senior year.
The faculty campus minister trains students to minister during liturgies, retreats and community service opportunities. Each grade elects its own campus minister to lead peers in prayer during class meetings, while the ASB campus minister starts the beginning of each day with a prayer over the public announcement system. Students are trained as peer leaders in the LIFE (Living in Faith Experiences) program, as Journey Leaders and as Kairos leaders, all of whom lead retreats.
FSHA’s religion classes include the study of ethics, world religions, Catholicism, the Old and New Testaments and applied theology. Each student must complete 15 hours of Christian community service in her freshman, sophomore and junior years. Seniors have a special, more focused service project.
FSHA also provides a large number of competitive sports teams in which more than 70 percent of the student body participates. Athletes compete in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) as members of the Mission League. The school sponsors more than 20 varsity and junior varsity teams in basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball and water polo. An equestrian team competes throughout the year in the Interscholastic Equestrian League. Teams consistently reach league and state finals, and have achieved numerous championships over the years.
Recent triumphs include a CIF Southern Section Division I soccer championship, the first in the school’s history; a third-place finish in CIF cross-country state finals, its best-ever showing; and a school record for Vanessa Romero '11, who became the first FSHA basketball player to score more than 1,000 points in her high-school career.
Champion swimmers, divers and soccer players — among others — have earned athletic scholarships to institutions such as the University of Michigan, Princeton University and USC. Alumna Andrea Kropp ’10 placed second in the 200-meter breaststroke final at the 2011 World University Games in Shenzen, China.
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy has also historically had a strong arts program, both in the classroom and as an extracurricular activity. Classes include: Theatre I, II, III, IV; Stagecraft; Dance I, II, III, IV; Ceramics; AP 2-D Design; AP Drawing; 3-D Design; AP Art History; Music Ensemble (traditional orchestra); Contemporary Music Ensemble (rock band) and Choir are just some of the activities that students may take as electives.
Visual arts students display their work in an exhibit at the end of the school year. Music students generally perform in two concerts: one during the holiday season, and another at the end of the year. Dance students perform in the yearly Dance Concert along with members of the two dance companies, Junior Saltatrix and Senior Saltatrix, who audition to join.
Outside of the classroom, a fall musical and spring play involve students interested in acting and singing. Recent productions have included Chicago, The Miracle Worker, Evita! and Steel Magnolias. Students can also join FSHA’s ComedySportz team, which performs throughout the year.
The student newspaper at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy is the Veritas Shield; it publishes approximately once a month during the school year. Students are also responsible for publishing the school yearbook. The creative writing produced throughout the school year is compiled into a publication called Verite, which is available in the spring.
The school publishes a twice-yearly magazine, View from the Top, in addition to monthly newsletters for alumnae and parents. FSHA has accounts on multiple social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and LinkedIn.
The school has received numerous accreditations, including the Western Catholic Education Association, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the California Association of Independent Schools.
Hail, Flintridge, Hail
With a joyous song, we greet thee!
From the hills,
Life will guide us through the years
Long may we cry!
With loyal voices!
Hail, alma mater
All hail to you
Long may we sing to alma mater
Long may we sing our praises due
Sovereign of the hills,
We are true to you.
Hail, Flintridge, Hail
With a joyous song, we greet thee!
From the hills, life will guide us through the years
Long may we cry!
With loyal voices!
Hail, alma mater
All hail to you!
- Astrid Fischel Volio, the First Vice President of Costa Rica from 1998 to 2002.
- Christina Crawford, daughter of Joan Crawford
- Melissa Sue Anderson, actress
- Cheryl Crane, daughter of Lana Turner
- Caitlin McHugh, model/actress
- Camille Johnston, First Lady Michelle Obama's former Director of Communications
- Gage Golightly, star of Nickelodeon's The Troop
- Michelle Jacobs, the 83rd Rose Queen of the 112th Tournament of Roses Parade in 2001.
- Natalie Innocenzi, the 92nd Rose Queen of the 121st Tournament of Roses Parade in 2010.
- Drew Washington, the 94th Rose Queen of the 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade in 2012.
Notes and references
- To Our Lady Of Grace
- WASC-ACS. "WASC-Accrediting Commission for Schools". Retrieved 2009-06-05.