Local Houstonians know it as simply "Duchesne", where generations of their daughters were educated from pre-school through high school, graduating in white dresses, well-prepared for college. Tucked away among tall trees in Memorial, even at a busy intersection, the gracious campus is an ideal location for a school. As a Sacred Heart School, Duchesne, is among the finest of Catholic schools in this region for offering an all-girls education that is balance with arts, athletics, technology, service and faith.
Thanks to a delightful tour and a visit with newly appointed Tony Houle, Director of Admission and Strategic Imperatives, I had a rich update on Duchesne. The school profile of today's Duchesne reflects the changing demographics of Houston over the 30+ years since my daughter's contemporaries graduated from Duchesne. Current statistics include diversity of religion at 40% and color at 42%. 100% of graduates are admitted to a 4-year college or university, and 1-on-1 laptops in middle and upper school - plus the girls run The Cave where laptops are serviced (DASH was the first all local school to institute a laptop program). Duchesne academics offers 23 Advanced Placement courses, and now has one of only 3 All Girls Texas Robotics Teams - fittingly called Iron Plaid. In their first competition they took 4th place in the State. Today's Duchesne student is also a servant in our community, beginning with her school's Social Awareness Program in pre-K. A huge change in the School is the involvement of girls in athletics. The swim team is among the best in the City and volleyball ranks high. Field sports are soon to have their home games actually at "home" when the newly expanded, regulation size playing field is completed.
Of course, one can quickly notice a change in the school with faculty. A few of the beloved Sisters who founded the school still live on campus, but the faculty and administration are lay people, not members of a religious society. New faculty and new instructional strategies in the hands of talented teachers engage the female brain - yes, according to Michael Gurian, the brain is either male or female and there are educational applications, accordingly. For example, the new "modeling" curriculum in Aimee Modie's chemistry class, the Lucy Calkins reading and writing program in elementary grades, flexible seating in classrooms and halls, and walls for girls to write math problems or messages find a particular expression in an all-girls school. Duchesne librarians are special ladies who make the libraries vibrant hubs of activity. There are still stacks of books - hooray, but a also audio books, advanced technology and spaces for group work and conversation.
The goals of a Duchesne's Sacred Heart Education have not changed, nor has the fact that an all-girls education offers enormous values to girls not found in a coed school. Duchesne graduates are confident, competent, powerful young women who are allowed to be themselves, think critically, be curious, intellectual, and independent and to assume leadership roles in an school environment free of male approval or disapproval. For families with girls from three years through high school, Duchesne offers a unique opportunity for her education among Houston's private schools.