The Academy of Our Lady of Peace
|Academy of Our Lady of Peace|
Deus Illuminatio Mea
"God is My Light"
|4860 Oregon Street
San Diego, California, (San Diego County) 92116
|Religious affiliation(s)||Roman Catholic;
Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet
|Head of school||Lauren Lek |
|Teaching staff||26 |
|Average class size||28 |
|Color(s)||Blue and White|
|Accreditation||Western Association of Schools and Colleges|
|Tuition||$16,800 (as of 2015) |
|Athletic Director||Melinda Blade|
Academy of Our Lady of Peace (locally called "OLP"), is a Catholic high school for young women started by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJ). Located in the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, OLP's mission statement is as follows: "to assist and enable parents to fulfill their role as the primary educators, and to inspire its students to grow as committed Christians who are building Christ’s kingdom of justice, love and peace." Though the school itself is Catholic, the student body represents a diverse body of religious, racial and social backgrounds, and serves the communities of San Diego County and Tijuana, Mexico. Its local partner, or 'brother school', is Saint Augustine High School for young men, commonly called "Saints".
Founded in 1882, OLP is the oldest high school in San Diego. The school was actually co-ed until the late 1890s, when it became a women-only school. Its popularity grew, and in 1925 the Sisters of St. Joseph purchased the Vandruff Estate, built in 1916 and called Villa Montemar, in what is now San Diego's Normal Heights area. Those 20 acres (81,000 m2) of land overlooking Mission Valley originally was host to spacious gardens, a swimming pool, an observatory, a chapel and three large buildings (two that served as residences and one for a scientific laboratory). Later, these properties were converted into classrooms, a small music building and the current library.
The Holy Family Event Center replaced the swimming pool in 1997, and plays host to the Academy's sporting events, physical education classes and school assemblies. The school gained national attention when it was featured in the 2000 film Bring It On starring Kirsten Dunst, an episode of SciFi's The Invisible Man (2000 series), and for part of the TV series Veronica Mars.
The Academy has received Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award each year it has entered the evaluatory contest: 1988-1989, 1992–1993, and 1999-2000. In 2008-2009 the school's Academic Decathlon Team finished in second place overall among all San Diego County schools participating.
In 2006 the Academy strained its relationship with the surrounding neighborhood by advancing an expansion plan while in violation of its current conditional use permit. On Sept. 24, 2007, Code Compliance Judge Mandel Himelstein ruled that the Academy must cut enrollment by more than 100 students, reduce staff, and pay more than $100,000 in fines and court costs for violating City of San Diego building codes. The Academy was told to reduce enrollment to 640 students and cut staff from 60 to 45 by July 1, 2008; penalties for failure to comply could reach a maximum of $250,000.
In 2009 OLP sued the City of San Diego in Federal court, charging that its plans to further its expansion by the demolition of two historically-designated homes have been rejected by the City in a manner that violates their freedom of religious expression. The trial concluded October 19, 2012, with the jury ruling in favor of Academy of Our Lady of Peace, awarding $1,111,622.00 in monetary damages. The parties continued to negotiate, and in April 2013 the Academy reached a settlement with the City of San Diego, ending the dispute between the school and the city. "The city has agreed to pay to relocate two homes on AOLP’s campus while razing a third by May 1, 2014, clearing the way for construction. The settlement also includes provisions limiting the total cost of all permits and inspections to $100,000, fast-track all permits for completion and a $500,000 cash settlement."
Groundbreaking on a new on-campus parking facility began May 30, 2014 and the two level parking structure was finished in Spring 2015. The parking structure allows for 104 off-street parking spaces, significantly freeing up congestion of the city streets.
Set on a hill over valley royal, mountain and sea afar,
Built by a love and devotion loyal stands Villa Montemar.Stand and cheer, loyal daughter, for your Alma Mater with a hail, hail, hail!
Though years may pass other cares abringing, and you may not be near,
Turn back our thoughts, your [now "our"] hearts are singing to those memories dear.
So sing to Villa Montemar, where our hearts will be always;
Sing once more to Our Lady of Peace who deserves all our tribute and praise.
With your shoulders back and heads up high, and a bright gleam in your eye,
OLP's Alma Mater was composed by Ada Nisbet, who graduated from OLP in 1924.
The school uniform is provided by the Mills Company, and students are required to wear it every day. However, there is a lot of flexibility in the uniform itself, with three different skirt styles and patterns, and many different shirt options.
Two types of free dress are offered: regular "free dress" consists of wearing a modest non-uniform outfit without any jean material, and "jeans days" in which students can wear jean pants or modest jean skirts and shorts. Special occasions such as food drive prizes or spirit days merit a jeans day pass. Birthday girls are given passes for free dress. These free dress days are optional, although most girls choose to participate.
Entrance into the Academy is very competitive. The majority of entering freshmen are from parochial schools, although students from public schools and homeschooling environments do attend. Because they are not from private institutions, public and homeschooled students often set up an interview with the principal or assistant principal. Overall minimum requirements include:
- - Achievement of no less than "C" grade in all subjects through middle school
- - A citizenship (conduct) grade demonstrating satisfactory behavior
- - A satisfactory attendance record (excessive absences and tardies noted)
- - An indication that effort expended in their present school is satisfactory
- - Satisfactory recommendation by principal and/or 8th grade teacher
- - An excellent grade on the entrance exam distributed by Scholastic Testing Services
To graduate, each girl must take at least 240 credits, in the following subject areas: Religious Studies and English (8 semesters), Social Studies, mathematics, and electives, (6 semesters), Laboratory science (Biology and Chemistry) and either Spanish or French (4 semesters), and two semesters of Fine arts. Two semesters of Physical education are taken in the freshman year, and semester-long Health and Speech classes are taken during the sophomore year.
Girls are encouraged to not only follow but exceed the University of California's Undergraduate Admissions Requirements, which correspond closely with the OLP graduation requirements, when selecting their courses each year. Classes may be taken at local community colleges and counted for graduation credit if pre-approved by the Registrar, otherwise girls are encouraged to either complete their requirements through the school during the regular year or over the summer. AP classes are available in many subjects. Students must also complete at least 75 hours of community service in their four years as a graduation requirement in areas including environment, school/parish work, education, the elderly, and community awareness.
Tuition is $16,800 per year (as of 2015-2016 school year); The school has a monthly payment plan available and financial aid is also offered.
Official school organizations include the student government (ASB), the CSJ Leadership Conferences, Campus Ministry, the Big Sister-Little Sister program, Cheerleading, CIF Athletics, Carondelet Circle, and a number of student-created clubs such as the Women of Science Club, Culinary Club, and the BeYOUtiful Club. Students are also welcome to propose their own clubs, specific requirements in mind. OLP also has its own chapters of several national and international student organizations, including the International Thespian Society, Kiwins, Amnesty International, and many more independent student-run co-curricular activities. Students may also choose to assist in compiling the annual yearbook and publishing the literary magazine, email updates, and the school newspaper.
Annually, the Academy celebrates Grandparents Day, St. Joseph’s Day, Parish Day, Community/Play Day, and holds a Christmas Candlelight Procession. Various informal dances are held at Saints, and OLP organizes one semi-formal "Miss OLP" dance in the winter and one formal joint Prom with Saints. Prom is organized by the Junior Class councils of each school. Homecoming is exclusively put together by Saints.
Each year, OLP sponsors a Fall musical and a Spring drama, both of which allow participation from Saints and other neighboring schools. Each semester, the Academy provides the students with an Arts assembly, showcasing the choir, drama classes and productions, as well as the individual talents of gifted students. The long-running tradition of Spring Sing—a musical production run exclusively by students since 1970 —is a yearly highlight, and often draws the participation of over 100 girls from each class. The themes vary from year to year, including seasons, shoes, eras, and fairytails.
Seniors typically enjoy "free", or non-uniform, dress on a day of their choosing, the privilege of wearing white shoes with their uniform, Father-Daughter Night and Mother-Daughter Luncheons, Senior Privilege Day, a Sober Grad Night with Saints, Baccalaureate Mass and Award ceremonies, as well Grad Night at Six Flags Magic Mountain. They also can design their class sweater, which can be worn any day of the week, and their class T-shirt, which they may wear on Fridays.
- WASC-ACS. "WASC-Accrediting Commission for Schools". Retrieved 2009-06-05.
- Vigil, Jennifer (November 6, 2008). "Expansion plans upset residents near school". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
- Vigil, Jennifer (March 4, 2009). "Council upholds appeal of OLP school expansion". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
- Overview of historic preservation lawsuit
- Barker, Lucy D. (April 28, 2013). "Council votes to settle with Academy of Our Lady of Peace; Normal Heights school wins fight with city". San Diego Reader. Retrieved 9 September 2015.