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English and the Arts

Inspiring Critical Thinking and Creativity

Recognizing the long tradition of combining the academic study of the arts with the practice of creative expression itself, Notre Dame integrates the study of English, Fine Arts, and Performing Arts within one multi-disciplinary department. Since ancient times, literature, music, and the visual arts have been regarded as interlocking spheres of creative expression.

Notre Dame offers a traditional sequence of courses in English, Fine Arts, and Performing Arts, with a commitment to cross-curricular collaboration.

English at Notre Dame

The course offerings of the English program enable students to reflect upon the language they use in their daily lives and to develop the reading, writing, speaking, listening, and critical thinking skills essential for effective communication.

Students read and analyze a diverse array of literary works, write in a variety of styles, and participate in discussions and presentations. They conduct research at every level of study and develop an ability to locate and evaluate appropriate sources. Students are challenged to write from their hearts and minds in a way that will influence their writing for a lifetime.

Notre Dame’s Writing Center, a resource for reinforcing a variety of writing skills, is open and available every period of the day and is staffed by upper-level Writing Fellows and members of the English Department.

Middle school and high school students have the opportunity to serve on the staff of a variety of student publications, including the newspaper and literary magazine.

The Arts at Notre Dame

At Notre Dame, we believe that the Fine and Performing Arts are both a creative and an academic pursuit. By creating, students learn to appreciate the creative process, to solve problems, to respect others’ forms of expression, and to work in groups. The Arts faculty consider the development of imagination, creativity, and aesthetic judgment to be essential complements to the critical thinking skills developed in other disciplines.



Middle School English Department

The middle school language arts program reflects Notre Dame’s commitment to the “whole child” by using a variety of teaching and assessment techniques. In grades six through eight, students experience various literary genres and essay styles in order to develop fundamental 21st-century critical thinking and writing skills. As part of the Academy’s goal to foster a love of reading in each child, outside reading is integrated into English courses. Students read and analyze their chosen works to demonstrate their comprehension and analytical skills.

High School English Department

All high school students continue to develop their reading comprehension, writing, and vocabulary skills through written compositions and oral presentations.

Ninth grade students are exposed to a variety of writing styles and genres in their study of world literature, while the tenth grade curriculum focuses on major British authors and movements. In eleventh grade, analysis and literary interpretation are stressed as students develop an understanding of the major movements in American Literature. The twelfth grade course, Women and Literature, aims to expand students’ understandings of women’s experiences as expressed by male and female writers from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

All seniors participate in a Senior Capstone Project, an experiential and research-based project of their choice. Honors and Advanced Placement courses are available in grades 10, 11, and 12.

Fine Arts

Art programs at Notre Dame are developmental and all sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth grade students have art classes each year. After ninth grade, students can continue in an elective or major program. We believe that offering an art program in a nurturing environment that is built on success develops each student’s self-esteem, and a freedom to experiment, think critically, and take risks.

Students have the opportunity to experience art through field trips to leading museums in Philadelphia, New York, Washington, DC, and Baltimore.

Student works are regularly displayed on campus for others to experience and enjoy. Students are encouraged to enter contests and have won awards in juried contests.

AP Studio Art and AP Studio Art History have prepared our students to enter art and design programs at many fine colleges, including Rhode Island School of Design, Savannah College of Art and Design, Philadelphia University, Syracuse University, the Art Institute of Chicago, and University of the Arts.

Choral Music

The Academy of Notre Dame offers three choirs for students. At the middle school level, students may elect to take choir if they enjoy singing. When students reach high school, they can enroll in the high school chorus (unauditioned) or may choose to audition for the select choir, Women’s Chorale, which is an auditioned group of current and past choral music students. Student of all grades may choose to sing in the Academy’s Liturgical Choir, or participate as cantors.

For students who wish to continue their music education but who do not wish to sing or play an instrument, the Academy also offers Music Theory and AP Music Theory courses.


The Academy of Notre Dame’s dance program offers dance to all interested students with varying degrees of dance experience; whether a student has been dancing for years or is a beginner, there is a class for everyone. At the high school level, students can take the following performance courses: Introduction to Dance, Dance Appreciation and Performance, or Dance Company. For students who are interested in dance for the physical benefits but who do not want to perform, a Dance for Fitness class is available.

At the middle school level, Dance is a required course. All dance classes, with the exception of Dance for Fitness, perform in the Winter Performance in January and the Spring Performance in May.

The Academy of Notre Dame Dance Company is an auditioned group of students who practice and perform year round. The Dance Company course is designed for students who are serious about the art of dance. Auditions for the Dance Company are held each March, prior to student course selection.


Instrumental Music Program

Notre Dame’s middle school and high school instrumental ensembles offer students who play string and wind instruments the opportunity to perform in concerts on campus, at special events, and in All Catholic Band and Orchestra performances. In addition to the curricular music courses, Notre Dame offers private music lessons in the areas of voice and piano. Additional fees are required of those students electing to take private lessons at the Academy.


Notre Dame’s thriving Theater Program includes a high school musical in the fall, a middle school musical in the winter, and an all-school play in the spring. Additionally, students who want to be involved in theater, but not as a performer, can join Stage Crew for productions throughout the year and gain experience in designing props and scenery and managing lighting and sound equipment.

English and the Arts Faculty

Dr. David Califf, English Department Chair
Mrs. Lindsay Miller, Arts Department Chair

Ms. Marielle Alexander, English
Mrs. Jennifer McNulty Brown, English
Mrs. Kim Burke, English
Mrs. Pam Devenney, Dance
Mrs. Christine Kline, Instrumental Music
Ms. Kara Luzi, Visual Arts
Mrs. Kathleen McGuiness, English
Mrs. Julie McNulty, Visual Arts
Mrs. Kate Rupertus, Visual Arts
Mrs. Kathleen Shaheen, English

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A Catholic, Independent, College Preparatory School for Young Women, Grades 6 through 12

Our Mission

The Academy of Notre Dame de Namur, a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school, commits itself to the education of young women of grades 6 through 12 for responsible living in a global society.

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