Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart is a private, college preparatory, all-girls school. It was founded in 1960 as part of the Network of Sacred Heart Schools. The school derives its name from Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, a Catholic nun, French saint, and founder of the first houses of the Society of the Sacred Heart in America. Duchesne began its enrollment in 1960 with 52 students in 7th, 8th, and 9th grade. Today, the school educates over 600 girls from pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade. Duchesne is a part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
Duchesne is a Catholic, college preparatory school which incorporates the Catholic faith into its curriculum. The Society of the Sacred Heart was founded in 1800 in France by Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat and allows membership only to women. The Society emphasizes women’s education, and Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne brought that emphasis to the USA in 1818. All schools in the Network of Sacred Heart Schools are required to adhere to the Goals and Criteria of the Sacred Heart Education to commit themselves to educate students in these areas:
- A personal and active faith in God.
- Deep respect for intellectual values.
- Social awareness which impels to action.
- The building of community as a Christian value.
- Personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom.
Duchesne is located off of I-10 at the corner of Memorial Drive and Chimney Rock. The campus originally covered the 15-acre Bering family estate in 1960, but was reduced by the eventual enlargement of Chimney Rock road. The campus boasts many pine trees and a feeling of seclusion from the Memorial area. Duchesne’s facilities include two main classroom buildings, tennis courts, gymnasium, athletics field, and a chapel. The “White House” contains the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools, as well as the School Libraries. The Fine Arts Building contains an atrium for art shows, a theater room, a dance studio, and several art rooms. The chapel is large enough for 300 people and received multiple awards in 1999 from various religious programs.
Students who wish to attend Duchesne must fulfill the following for their candidate profile:
- Parents must attend a tour or open house (or both) for all grade levels
- Applicants for PreK-4 must schedule and attend a classroom visit
- Applicants for grades 5-8 must attend one of the following: Student Visit Day, Tour, or Open House
- Applicants for grades 9-12 are encouraged (but not required) to attend one of the following: Student Visit Day, Tour, or Open House
- Applicants for grades 9-12 must schedule an interview
- Applicants for grade 5-12 may submit either:
- ISEE results
- Student portfolio*
- Teacher Recommendation Forms
- Student and Family Photos
- Birth Certificate
*The Student Portfolio includes a digital portfolio using any method or combination of methods (video, photos, podcast, and/or work samples, etc.) and a writing sample.
Once spaces are filled, Duchesne offers a “wait pool” in which students are not ranked and are reevaluated once a space opens up in enrollment.
For the ISEE for grades 6 and 9, we recommend that applicants target a stanine of 5 or better in all test sections.
General Academic has more than 16 years of experience helping thousands of students prepare for the ISEE. Inquire about private tutoring or register for ISEE prep courses starting December 21st at our Rice Village Study Lounge.
Duchesne’s curriculum offers three track options: On-Track, Advanced Track, and the AP Track. Duchesne requires that students complete 4 credits of English, Math, Science, History, and 7 credits of Religious Studies (including Social Awareness) in order to graduate. AP courses are listed as electives, but count towards achieving these requirements for each section. As part of the Religious Studies requirements, students must participate in Social Awareness in which they must complete four community service projects each year of their Upper School career. Electives include Robotics and Engineering, World Religions, Creative Writing, Shakespeare, History of Film, Environmental Science, Spanish Literature, and more. The Catholic faith is incorporated into the curriculum wherever possible.
Students must earn 27 credits to graduate:
Foreign Language (3)
Physical Education/Health (2)
Religious Studies (4)
Fine Arts (1)
Computer Studies (.5)
Laptop Integration (.5)
and Social Awareness (no credit).
Duchesne offers students with some learning differences extra time on tests. No other information is available at this time about the school’s accommodations for students with special needs.
Per graduation requirements, students must take 3 years of a Foreign Language. Duchesne offers French, Spanish, and Latin to satisfy this requirement. The school’s history stems from France, and, as such, Duchesne takes pride in its French Language program. Students interested in French may take up to French V, AP French Language, and AP French Literature. Duchesne also offers a comprehensive Spanish program, wherein students may take up to Spanish V, AP Spanish Language, and AP Spanish Literature. Latin I introduces students to the literature and history of Ancient Rome and gives them a basic understanding of the language from which the English language takes much of its upper-level vocabulary.
Students are required to complete 1 credit in Fine Arts courses (most are worth .5 credits) and Duchesne offers a wide selection. Students interested in music may join the Music Ensemble, Sacred Ensemble, Music Theory and Application, Orchestra, and Band, the last of which collaborates with St. Thomas High School for rehearsals and performances. Students wishing to get creative with visual media can take courses in Photography, Drawing, Ceramics, and Painting. Theatre Arts courses are also offered for students who wish to develop their acting abilities and learn more about behind-the-scenes production. Duchesne also offers AP Art History and three AP courses in Studio Art (Drawing, 2D Design, and 3D Design).
Duchesne began the Learning with Laptops program in 1998 and currently offers a 1:1 ratio of computers to students in the middle and upper schools. Students may bring their own laptops or check out a school-owned laptop. As of 2010, Duchesne began integrating Tablet PCs into every classroom in grades 5 through 12. DASHBoard (Moodle) is used by students to connect with faculty on matters of homework, tests, and online resources. DASHConnect is the associated communications portal used by parents, Duchesne alumnae, faculty, and staff. Students may also participate in the CAVE (Computer Audio/Visual Emergencies) Helpdesk, which acts as an internship rather than a traditional class. CAVE Helpdesk students help in the repair of a number of computer and technical issues, from laptops to printers to projection devices. The CAVE staff is certified in the COMPTia A+ curriculum and in Toshiba, IBM, and HP Portables.
Students in the upper school have access to a number of extracurricular activities. Students may choose one A club, one B club, and one or two Independent clubs, though clubs vary from year to year. A clubs include French, Spanish, Tolkien, and St. Thomas Spirit, while B clubs include Face AIDS, Shakespeare, and Anime. Independent clubs include Fishers of Women, Cycling, Campus Ministry, STAND, Robotics, and Yoga.
Moreover, as part of the Network of Sacred Heart Schools, Duchesne offers students access to the Sacred Heart Exchange Program. This program gives students the opportunity to spend several weeks at another Sacred Heart School in the US or Sprout Creek Farm, a working farm in Poughkeepsie, New York. Students may also attend the Sacred Heart School in Australia during the summer.
As early as 7th grade, students can participate in a variety of sports throughout the year, and 8th grade students compete in the Houston Junior Preparatory Conference. 7th and 8th grade students may participate in basketball, field hockey, cross country, soccer, softball, swimming, track, and volleyball. Upper school students (grades 9-12) compete in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools League. Upper school students may participate in golf, basketball, tennis, softball, cross country, field hockey, soccer, track, swimming, and volleyball. During the summer, middle and upper school students have the option to attend school-sponsored field hockey and volleyball camps.
The primary goal of Duchesne’s Parents’ Association (PA) is to encourage the building of community as a Christian value. The PA sponsors events such as the Mothers’ and Fathers’ Welcome Coffee, the Book Fair, the Mother-Daughter Luncheon, the Extravaganza Benefit Auction, and more. Parent volunteers also staff the school’s bookstore, facilitate uniform resale, and take part in family outreach programs.