Category Archives: ISACS Schools: Girls

Visitation School

Students at front door

My second visit in Mendota Heights (MN) was to Visitation School, where ISACS Past Board Chair Dawn Nichols is Head of School. In addition to time to check in with Dawn, I enjoyed a campus tour with Maureen Barry, Assistant to the Head of School, Parent Program Coordinator, and member of the Visitation Class of 1982. Hearing Maureen’s observations on both the school’s evolution over time and its enduring values offered an especially valuable perspective.

Firing RocketsFounded in 1873, Visitation is an independent, Catholic school serving a co-ed student body in preschool through grade 6 and girls only in grades 7-12. As such, it is the only all girls’ secondary school in Minnesota. The school currently has the largest enrollment in its history. The 610 students come from the entire Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area and diverse socio-economic, religious, and cultural backgrounds.

Leadership and STEM programs are important additions to the school’s long history of strength in humanities and arts. A 1:1 laptop program in grades 9-12 supports the integration of technology.

Art SuiteThe school is guided by a mission to provide an excellent education within a Catholic environment permeated by Salesian Spirituality – the charism of Saint Jane de Chantal and Saint Francis de Sales that places emphasis on virtues of gentleness, patience, humility, and liberty of spirit among others.

The Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary, who founded the school, continue to serve on the Board of Trustees and live on campus in the monastery that adjoins the school. They are visibly acknowledged as a part of the fabric of the school’s history in references throughout the campus including a striking display in the school’s main entry foyer.

What one aspect of Visitation would Dawn Nichols most like to highlight for her ISACS colleagues?

Visitation’s constituents are a strong faith community committed to the future of the school. Alumnae share an unusually strong connection to one another both outside of Visitation and through school sponsored activities. Alumnae frequently return to campus to visit former teachers, mentor students and support special programs. Last year’s pool of donors to the school increased by seven percent and donations to the annual fund grew by 12%.

(Photos courtesy of Visitation School.)

Columbus School for Girls

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Lavea Brachman, Jane Mykrantz, Jennifer Ciccarelli
Lavea Brachman, Jane Mykrantz, Jennifer Ciccarelli
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ISACS President in a particularly animated moment

It was an honor to participate in the installation of Jennifer Ciccarelli as the 13th head of school at Columbus School for Girls on the evening of August 26.  Board Chair Lavea Brachman ’80 opened the ceremony in the new Agnes Jeffrey Shedd Theater. Joining me at the podium for remarks welcoming Jennifer to her new post was The Reverend Jane Power Mykrantz ’52 . The evening was full of school tradition, including a fine performance by CSG’s choral group, The Grace Notes. A collection of photos from the event is available on Flickr.

Julia Mackessy, Student Ambassador, with the CSG Unicorn
Julia Mackessy, Student Ambassador, with the CSG Unicorn

I arrived early in the day.  After catching up with Jennifer over lunch, off I went on a school tour with a student ambassador, Senior Julia Mackessy.

While we walked the campus, Julia reminded me that the school serves 560 girls in preschool through grade twelve. When asked to highlight one aspect of her school for ISACS readers, Julia noted that, having joined CSG after starting high school elsewhere, she has loved the expectation for student engagement in class and the opportunities to try new things. As illustration, as we peeked in at the swimming pool, Julia mentioned how much she enjoys participating on the CSG team in this sport new to her.