Welcome Letters


Welcome to the 2020-2021 School Year! Below are welcome letters from Head of School Julia Fanara and Assistant Head of School Sara McCarthy. 

Dear Alverno Community,

Welcome back! I know this is not ideal, nor is it what we hoped for to start the opening of the 2020 school year, but the important thing is that we are all coming back, happy, healthy and ready to see this as a new beginning. Alverno is here for you and we are doing all we can to make the beginning of the school year as special as possible. We have been working non-stop trying to keep up with the changing tides to make sure you have the best beginning that is possible right now.

First, I would like to welcome our incoming 9th grade class and transfer students into each class. These young women are very special because they found their way to us through a pandemic. They, unlike the rest of you, did not have the usual rites of passage, Registration Celebration, orientation week, a crazy scavenger hunt all around the school, or in-person classes during the summer. But they are such a positive and special group of young women and we are thrilled to be able to welcome them. 

We have some new ideas and strategies to share with you.This year, we are going to have an orientation for everyone! The schedule for orientation and the beginning of school is in the “Return to Learning” brochure that is included in this e-mail. You will be able to see when each of your groups will have an opportunity to come to campus to be together and learn about all of the new protocols. Masks will be required, social distancing will be enforced, and all appropriate measures will be followed. For those of you who are unable to attend due to complications, no worries. We will film it!

We are introducing a new schedule for distance learning that we hope you will like. It is also in the e-mail. It will provide you with opportunities to do your work while in class with your teacher right there with you to answer any questions. It also provides time for government, Academic Advising, community time, and, most importantly, time to pray as a community.

We anticipate that this will last for at least the first quarter of the school year. In the meantime, we are continuing to prepare the school for your return and retrofitting it with the necessary protocols. We have three plans ready to act on: Plan A – All students return; Plan B – Hybrid – students have staggered schedules; Plan C – Distance Learning. Obviously, we are currently in Plan C. However, when the Los Angeles Department of Public Health gives us the go ahead to reopen following all required protocols, we will be ready to welcome you back within two (2) weeks of the announcement. We will need this time in order for the students to learn new protocols for returning to school under Plan A or B, teachers getting their rooms prepared, and finally making sure everything is sparkling clean and ready for you. 

We are starting school in the time of Covid-19, but as you have heard me say before, this will not defeat us, but it will make us stronger. As author Vivian Greene once said, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” Let us dance and make the most out of this very unique time. Welcome back, everyone, and God bless you, all!

Stay safe!

Ms. Julia Fanara

Dear Alverno Heights Academy, 

Welcome to the 2020-2021 School Year! While I would certainly like to be welcoming all of you back to campus for in-person learning, we know that the school year will be starting remote. Per Governor Newsom’s order on July 17, all schools in counties on (or recently removed from) the state’s COVID-19 Monitoring List may not return to in-person learning. 

Although we had been planning for this as one of our three scenarios, it was still disheartening to hear this final decision. I firmly believe in the mission of Alverno Heights Academy and the wonderful experiences, education, and opportunities that we provide our young women at the upper school. A great part of the joy of my job comes from physically seeing your daughters, celebrating their successes, working with them on their challenges, and watching them grow into compassionate and exceptional young women. This will all still happen but now through the added lens of technology– we are truly living in an historic time. 

The Leadership Team, Faculty, and Staff have been diligently working throughout the summer to build curriculum and schedules that would meet the needs of all learners in three different scenarios (in-person, hybrid, and remote), which has been a new experience for everyone in education. I want to thank you for your grace and patience as we explored the best possible options to meet the academic, social, emotional, mental, and physical needs of our entire school community. 

Thanks in large part to the diligence and commitment of our faculty, we are pleased to open school remotely with a full, robust, and challenging program for our students. We are also working on plans that will allow us to shift to a hybrid approach as soon as it is safe to do so. When this happens, we will provide our families with two (2) weeks notice before reopening campus in order to be in compliance with local and state guidelines. 

We have made several changes to our remote learning program including: 

  • A longer schedule that is more reflective of a traditional school day
  • Built-in time for tutoring and office hours with teachers that will allow for reduced outside homework
  • Social-emotional engagement 
  • Explicit instruction for students on how asynchronous time should be used.
  • Streamlined and more consistent posting of information and assignments
  • Clear expectations for students and parents 

Additionally, our Faculty will be having additional discussions during our inservice to further refine and enhance our program. Teachers will be sharing some of these discussions and their outcomes within their individual classrooms. 

Your daughter’s preliminary schedule for the upcoming semester is now available in her ALMA account. As a reminder, she will access ALMA through alverno.getalma.com. After logging into ALMA, please make sure you review your daughter’s schedule with her to make sure that it fits her academic needs and goals. If you are concerned about her schedule or see an issue, please contact me. Additionally, if you have any issues accessing ALMA then please do not hesitate to reach out. 

As a reminder, your daughter should continue working on her summer reading and summer assignments. All English classes, ASL classes, AP U.S. History, AP World History, and AP Spanish Language and Culture classes have summer assignments. With the start of school delayed until August 24, your daughter has an extra week to complete these assignments– please make sure that she is staying on top of them! 

I will continue to touch base with families as we move towards the start of the year. I realize that remote learning is challenging and different than what many of us are used to, please know that I am here and available to discuss any issues. 

Thank you for your continued support and input. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I look forward to a wonderful year with your daughters no matter the circumstance! 

Stay Well, 

Sara A. McCarthy ‘05, M.Ed. 

Assistant Head of School 


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RSVP to Director of Enrollment, Kate Witherington (Kwitherington@alvernoheights.org) for the Zoom link!