St. Frances Academy is a 188 year old Catholic, independent high school owned and operated by the Oblate Sisters of Providence. We were formed in 1828 by Mother Mary Lange, a Haitian refugee and woman of color, who wanted to teach children of slaves Religion, but quickly realized that they first needed to learn to read. Needless to say, this was against the law in Maryland, a slave state. Mother Mary Lange was undaunted by this task and began the school in her home.
Over the years, St. Frances' educational mission has expanded to include orphans, an elementary school, a boarding school to what it is today: a co-ed high school for the marginalized and disenfranchised. Approximately 80% of our students come from families below the poverty line, yet 95% are admitted to college. The average SFA student enters ninth grade three years below average in Reading and Math, but are on grade level or above by the eleventh grade.
Because many of our students come to us from situations of emotional stress, we have an extensive counseling program. Two-thirds of our students are engaged in weekly individual therapy, and many others participate in group therapy, which includes grief groups, anger management groups, ADD/ADHD groups, etc. We feel that therapy and counseling frees the student of their anger and depression and allows them to concentrate on their academics thus resulting in their attaining or excelling their grade level by the eleventh grade. Being a small (200 students), intimate school helps the students to feel a sense of family and keeps them from "falling through the cracks."
Our work is challenging and sometimes exhausting but we are blessed with a devoted faculty and strong administrative leadership. We have many African-American men on our staff (including the Principal and Vice Principal) that act as positive role models for the many boys and girls who have not experienced positive, faithful men in their lives.
We are a religious school but we expect our students to accept and support all religious beliefs. We have a Jewish Studies program offered to all Juniors so that they can understand the Jewish faith and also relate the Holocaust to the slavery experience. This creates and alliance with our students and those of the Jewish Community where they work together as part of the BLEWS (Blacks & Jews) program.
As a comprehensive, eclectic, high school we are admitting more students of diverse backgrounds. Some students speak English as a second language and many are seeking to better themselves in a new country.
We have an inclusive Athletic program consisting of basketball, football, tennis, golf, track and field, baseball, and lacrosse. Although we have a state of the art gymnasium, we have no practice areas for football, baseball, tennis, golf, track, or lacrosse. This means transporting teams back and forth to games and practices.
St. Frances needs strong financial support in this crippled economy. The average student pays around $6,000 yet the cost of educating each student is $12,000, therefore we must raise the balance in order to maintain our budget. Any help that you can give will support our mission to build up the fragile students that we educate and make them strong citizens for tomorrow's world.