Notre Dame High School hits highest enrollment in 3 years

NDHS students on the first day of school.

Classes resumed on August 16 and students at Notre Dame High School (NDHS) in St. Louis are settling into their new routine. NDHS’ roots reach back to 1895, when the School Sisters of Notre Dame founded Sancta Maria in Ripa High School, a school for young women who were interested in entering the congregation. With more than 123 years of educational excellence, the curriculum and diversity have changed, but the freshmen excitement is still the same. “They are excited, yet a bit nervous,” said Sister Jan Berberich, who has served 32 years of her ministry life at NDHS and has helped hundreds of students throughout the years. “Freshmen want to do everything correctly and look at everything with fresh eyes. They want to succeed and are ready to learn. They also bring fresh energy and commitment.”

Sister Janise BerberichSister Jan is one of three sisters employed full time at NDHS. Currently, the sisters oversee theology, history and physics. Two other sisters volunteer to tutor and manage the testing center. Sister Jan works in the Theology Department and is an advisor to the students. The advisor program is unique because it requires all students to meet with their advisor once a week. The young women discuss anything from academic concerns to social issues. This program provides the students with an opportunity to discuss issues in confidence with an adult while allowing parents a point of contact for any concerns they might have. “I love the advisor program,” said Sister Jan. “It’s all about relationships. The advisor becomes their advocate to teachers and parents. This program is the one thing alums remember. It’s a lifetime relationship that makes a difference not only to them, but also to me.”

Dr. Meghan Bohac, president of NDHS, said there are 243 students enrolled this year, with 73 young women in the freshmen class; this is the highest enrollment in three years. Dr. Bohac, an alum of the class of 1998, is starting her fourth year as President of NDHS. The current trend in education is to tailor curriculum around STEM - science, technology, engineering and math. This school year’s curriculum has added several new classes to meet growing trends, including: advanced placement environmental science, integrated business in technology, women and literature, and a brand-new robotics club. While NDHS is working to incorporate current trends, they maintain their Catholic identity by keeping faith alive and preserving the mission of the SSNDs.

Each class is designed to help students succeed in college. Classes are 45- to 60-minutes long, with unstructured periods to allow students to meet with teachers, work on homework and get extra help. Many of the students graduate with college credit, which supports a smooth transition from high school to college. What truly sets NDHS apart from other schools is “the robust academic diversity, which reflects the real world the girls live in,” said Dr. Bohas. The student body is diverse, with students coming from all over the St. Louis region. Many immigrant families also attend NDHS along with a growing number of non-Catholic families.

During the first few days of school, freshmen have orientation, schedule run-throughs and take yearbook pictures. While the tradition of Big Sis – Little Sis (seniors and freshmen support system) is maintained, these freshmen also get assigned a nun buddy. The nun buddy is the perfect opportunity for NDHS students to engage with sisters. Three students are assigned to a sister and they interact throughout the year. “These sisters and students create a real relationship that is maintained years after high school,” says Dr. Bohac. “I know many students who still exchange cards with their nun buddy.”

Learn more about Notre Dame High School.

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School Sisters of Notre Dame

320 East Ripa Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-561-4100


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