Junior High

from our Principal

Dear St. Cecilia Family,
 
The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation, who own and operate St. Cecilia Academy (SCA) and Overbook School (OS), are excited to announce that after a thorough process incorporating both our recent strategic planning work with the Institute for School and Parish Development (ISPD) and a feasibility study with Catholic School Management that was conducted last spring, we will launch a new chapter for the schools of the Dominican Campus beginning in the 2022-2023 school year.
 
The junior high program will move to St. Cecilia Academy, with SCA becoming a 7th-12th grade all-girls school and Overbrook School becoming a preschool-6th grade co-ed school.
 
This move brings clarity to a known challenge, strengthens both schools and allows us to continue to build upon our reputation of excellence in academics and strong Catholic identity in a way that highlights the Dominican Difference even more intentionally.
 
This decision was made, first and foremost, so that both schools can flourish more fully in their mission to our students and families. We cannot overstate the amount of study, data, thought and prayer that has gone into this decision.
 
We reviewed 25 years of enrollment and current demographic data and conducted an extensive junior high study that surveyed hundreds of parents, faculty and staff, alums, parents of alums as well as members of the diocese and both parochial and independent schools around the city. The data collected was straightforward, leading us to decide this will be the best possible path for students and families in our community as we look to the future of SCA and OS.
 
Seeking input from our community will not end here. While the essential decision about the future direction has been made, we will be asking our talented faculty and staff to offer their best wisdom to assure a seamless transition and effective collaboration between both schools. In the following weeks and months, we will communicate regularly with our community about our progress.
 
Please visit this link to share your feedback.
 
We are confident that this bold move will build on the already excellent work of both SCA and OS, uniquely positioning each school to address more deeply the spiritual, academic, moral and social-emotional formation of our students. 
 
Now, two unique offerings will be available on the Dominican Campus for the Nashville community: the only Catholic preschool-6th co-ed elementary school and the only Catholic junior high and high school for young women, both rooted in the Dominican Difference.  
 
We thank God for bringing us to this moment and we celebrate the exciting task that is before us. Please join us in prayer that this decision will bear good fruit in the souls of many children and young people for generations to come.
 
Sincerely in Christ,
Sister Anna Laura

Q & A

As Overbrook School (OS) and St. Cecilia Academy (SCA) prepare to move the 7th and 8th grades to SCA effective the 2022-2023 school year, below are answers to important questions.

List of 10 items.

  • Who made the decision and why?

    This decision was made by the Dominican Sisters of the St. Cecilia Congregation after their prayerful study of the available data, the recommendation of our executive committee and consultation with Catholic School Management. Our decision was informed by 25 years of enrollment and current demographic data and an extensive junior high study that surveyed hundreds of parents, faculty and staff, alums, parents of alums from both schools, as well as members of the diocese and parochial and independent schools around the city.
     
    The goal has always been to strengthen both schools, building upon our reputation of excellence in academics and faith that highlights the Dominican Difference.
  • What is the timeline for all of this?

    Beginning in the fall of 2022, OS will transition to a preschool-6th elementary school, while SCA will add 7th and 8th grade girls, becoming a 7th-12th  school. OS and SCA will work together to ensure a smooth and thoughtful transition, with faculty and staff from both schools involved in the conversations and planning.
  • Is this the right time to implement this change?

    It could not be a more providential time. This decision was not made in haste. Rather, it reflects a question that has been considered at various times and in various ways over the last 25 years. Coming out of the pandemic stronger than ever, both schools are poised to begin a new chapter.
     
    Both schools have exciting strategic growth plans in place that have already been set in motion. Placing this decision in the context of the larger question of Catholic schools nationally, the acceleration of challenges in our secular culture, the vibrancy of a growing Nashville and the changing landscape of schools in this city, we see that now is a most opportune time to position OS and SCA for a vibrant future.
  • Will OS girls have priority and a seamless transition to SCA, as in the past?

    Yes. Any girl from OS who wishes to attend SCA will have the opportunity for a seamless transition with even more expanded opportunities to participate in the various academic programs and co-curricular activities offered at SCA in the arts, athletics, clubs and more.
  • Will 7th and 8th graders mix with high schoolers?

    We recognize the distinct nature of 7th and 8th graders and the value of allowing them their own space and a program tailored just for them. At the same time, we want them to have the opportunity to be integrated into the larger SCA community when appropriate and to benefit from the school's resources, not to mention the positive example of its student leaders and faculty members.
     
    The integration of 7th and 8th graders into the SCA community will reflect this balance with particular sensitivity to the developmental needs of younger students. The SCA faculty and staff will work diligently to ensure that each and every student is equipped with the resources they need to excel academically, spiritually and socially.
  • What advantages will SCA 7th and 8th graders have?

    As a college preparatory school owned and operated by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, SCA has a 160-year legacy of excellence in the academic and moral formation of strong young women. 7th and 8th grade students will benefit on every level from the early integration into SCA, as they will gain access to various resources typically only available at the high school level.
     
    Ultimately, the goal is to enhance the successful junior high program already well in place at OS by providing students with opportunities for increased acceleration and access to high school courses, fine arts and co-curricular activities.
  • Was this decision prompted by enrollment concerns?

    Our decision was informed by many factors: 25 years of enrollment and current demographic data and an extensive junior high study that surveyed hundreds of parents, faculty and staff, alums, parents of alums as well as members of the diocese and both parochial and independent schools around the city. The data collected was straightforward, leading us to decide this will be the best possible path for students and families in our community, both now and for the future.
  • Will you share the junior high study results?

    Prior to making this decision, we surveyed hundreds of faculty and staff, parents, alums, parents of alums, as well as friends and colleagues from the diocese and parochial and independent schools around the city. In the interest of preserving the confidentiality and candor with which our participants shared their ideas, we can provide a summary of the main findings.
  • Where will the 7th and 8th grade be located?

    The 7th and 8th grades will be at SCA in a transitional space for the first year or two. At the same time, we will be working on a permanent home for SCA’s 7th and 8th grades as part of the school’s master planning process.
  • What can you share about tuition, enrollment, programming and scheduling at this time?

    Beginning fall 2022, OS will transition to a preschool-6th program, while SCA will add 7th-8th grade girls. OS and SCA will work together to ensure a smooth and thoughtful transition, with faculty and staff from both schools being an integral part of the conversation and planning. We have several tentative benchmarks throughout the year at which we anticipate being able to share the information below.
    • Late September – General outline of academic program, fine arts, athletic, co-curricular offerings and tuition set.
    • Fall Open House – Course descriptions, including electives and learning support, general student life overview – leadership/service/social emotional formation. Temporary physical location will also be shared.
    • First week of January – Uniforms, meal plan and further academic details – daily schedule, grading scale, etc.
    • Late March 7th-8th orientation, school policies and procedures
    • August 2022 – SCA launches 7th-12th program
    The admissions process for each school will follow the timelines published on the respective school websites.

List of 5 items.

  • What are the class sizes going to be? What details are you able to share with us at this time?

    There will be two distinct entry points at SCA: 7th grade and 9th grade. However, for the 2022-2023 school year, we will be accepting 7th, 8th and 9th graders from any families who wish their daughters to apply. As this program grows, our long-term goal is to have 45-50 students in each of the 7th and 8th grades. This will allow us to accept 25-30 additional students at the 9th grade for a high school class size of around 75. 
  • Will this change SCA’s unique identity and traditions it is known for?

    SCA has a deep and rich 160-year history that has responded to the needs of every age. The charism of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, as well as the traditions and joyful all-girls experience of SCA will continue to grow and thrive as a result of these changes.
     
    By transitioning to 7th-12th grade program, SCA will have even more years and opportunities to cultivate an environment where young women can form strong bonds while engaging in rigorous academics, competitive athletics and a myriad of vibrant co-curricular programs.
     
    This six-year structure will provide the opportunity for deeper intellectual, spiritual, moral and social emotional formation, helping girls to be grounded in their identity in Christ. Coming out of SCA as confident young women steeped in the Dominican tradition, our graduates will be even more prepared for college and life.
  • What kinds of academic/athletic/co-curricular opportunities will be available for students?

    SCA students will be able to participate in a number of different academic opportunities, including advanced courses. They can also take advantage of SCA's athletics and signature fine arts program housed in the new fine arts center.
  • What changes should I anticipate this year as a current SCA student?

    This is an exciting time to share with more people the great things that are already happening at SCA. St. Cecilia is dedicated to making this transition to a 7th-12th school as seamless as possible. The integration of junior high programming will not pose a disruption to SCA's current academic, athletic and social activities. We invite current students to share their ideas and best wisdom with faculty and staff as we work out details about student life and programming.
  • Will 8th graders receive Confirmation through SCA?

    Yes. Life in Christ and growing in the grace of the sacraments are at the heart of what we do at OS and SCA. Faith formation and sacramental preparation will continue to be a priority for us as we tailor the details of the religion curriculum to every grade level. We anticipate that the process for Confirmation will mirror the excellent formation the students receive at OS, with SCA now organizing the preparation and reception of the sacrament of Confirmation.