Alverno's Summer Conservatory for Middle School Girls Offers a Summer of Self-Discovery

Through English, math, culinary arts, leadership and more -- girls thrive!

Published : Monday, May 22, 2017 | 12:41 PM

When Lily Murphy of Broadoaks Children’s School set foot on the Alverno Heights Academy campus for her first day of the Academic Conservatory for Middle School Girls, she certainly had no idea that she had just found her home for the next four years.

“I first learned about Alverno through a high school night at my school in Whittier,” said Lily Murphy ’20. “I attended the Conservatory because I liked the school and I wanted to get a feel for the atmosphere and teachers. I wanted to make sure that this high school was one where I could be happy and feel comfortable.”

According to her mother, Melanie Murphy P’20, Lily was hooked after the first week.

“When I picked her up at the end of the first week, Lily got in the car and said ‘this is the high school for me and I will do whatever I need to do to get in’ and she did,” said Melanie. “After attending the Conservatory, she became extremely concentrated on her grades so she could attend Alverno and we are so thrilled she is part of the Alverno Heights Academy Class of 2020.”

This year, Alverno Heights Academy made some changes to the already highly successful Conservatory program including adding the World of Science class and bonus classes of Zumba, Computer Science, and American Sign Language. Additionally, parents can now choose to enroll their daughters in individual weeks or in the full five-week program. Plus, any student who enrolls in any of the weeks will be able to sit for a practice HSPT on Saturday, July 8 and receive an annotated score report and review meeting with Alverno’s Director of Admissions and Enrollment Management, Sara McCarthy ’05.

For students in the Conservatory, classes started in the morning with Language Arts Advancement/Creative Narratives, which is geared towards preparing students for the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) and High School Placement Test (HSPT) while also helping to perfect those important writing skills. The next classes of the day include Drama, Dance, and Improvisation as well as the new World of Science class that will allow middle schoolers to take a look inside Alverno’s growing and successful STEM program. Finally, a Leadership class that pushed the girls to evaluate women’s roles in government, the media, and business rounds out the morning schedule.

“Seeing Lily discuss women’s empowerment and women’s issues in class really helped her grow,” said Melanie. “Her self-esteem improved as she looked differently at how women and girls were portrayed in the media and print. It opened a door for us to discuss issues from politics to magazine covers to music videos.”

Following lunch, the students attended Promotion in Algebraic Computation, which focuses on a variety of engaging and challenging math activities that will allow students to master mathematical formulas and prep for the HSPT and ISEE placements tests. After Algebra, students were engaged in a Mixed Media class that includes a variety of different hands-on visual art opportunities including collage, printmaking, and photography.

Finally, students who enroll in the full-day program will have the opportunity to experience individual week classes of Computer Science, Zumba, and American Sign Language. These special workshop classes will give students the opportunity to experience different components of the academic curriculum at Alverno.

“The Creative Narratives and Mixed Media classed were my favorite classes at the Conservatory,” said Lily. “I have never really enjoyed Art classes that much but Mr. Lewis found a way that made art fun to me and I really enjoyed it.”

By the end of the program, Lily was convinced that Alverno was the school for her but she was also confident in who she had grown into as a woman and the new friends she had made.

When asked if she would recommend the program to another girl, Lily didn’t hesitate.

“I would highly recommend it,” she said. “I had great fun getting to know the teachers and forming a bond with some of the girls that I keep to this day. Through the Conservatory, I got a feel of the school, the way the teachers presented their classes, and because of it I fell in love with the school.”

Her mother seconded her answer.

“We are so grateful for the wonderful experience that the Conservatory gave our daughter,” she said. “Watching her decide that this was the school for her and that she wanted to improve her grades to get there was incredible. I loved that a door was opened for us to discuss self-esteem and how women are portrayed. We would whole heartedly recommend the experience to anyone.”

There are limited spaces available for the Conservatory for Middle School Girls for summer 2017. Courses for this summer include Language Arts Advancement/Creative Narratives; Drama, Dance, and Improvisation; World of Science; Leadership for Girls; Promotion in Algebraic Computation; Mixed Media; and bonus classes of American Sign Language, Computer Science, and Zumba. For more information, please visit or contact Ms. Suzy Ares ’93 and P’17, Alverno Summer Institute Director, at

About Alverno Heights Academy

Alverno Heights Academy is an all-girls, independent, progressive Catholic, college preparatory school dedicated to its mission of empowering each young woman to be exactly the person she wants to be. Located on the property of the former Barlow Estate in Sierra Madre, California, Alverno Heights Academy was founded in 1960 by the Sisters of St. Francis who sought to create an environment in the San Gabriel Valley where young women could become informed and knowledgeable persons. Later renamed Alverno High School and sponsored by the Immaculate Heart Community, Alverno’s program—academic, spiritual, aesthetic, social, and physical—has been shaped by the staff, trustees, and students. As Alverno Heights Academy once again, the school remains committed to its mission by encouraging each of their young women to be who they imagine. For more information about Alverno Heights Academy, please visit






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