FAQ’s on the Lower School


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Lower School

We are so excited about the interest in the lower school! We are working on putting all of the details into place and will update families as more information becomes available. To help answer questions, we have put together a list of frequently asked questions below. We will add to these as time goes on. If you have questions about anything specific, please e-mail lowerschool@alvernoheights.org

1. How confident are you that the school will be up and running by September?

Assuming the restrictions for schools have been lifted, physical school will begin on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. If we are unable to return to campus in September due to the COVID-19 restrictions, school will begin on September 8 remotely. However, we are blessed to be located on a 13-acre campus, so we are hoping to return in the fall with social distancing procedures in place.

The school year will end on June 11, 2021. Summer camp will begin on June 14, 2021.

2. How do the high school girls and families feel about the lower school addition?

All high school parents and students have attended Zoom information meetings. Although this was a surprise to the Alverno community, on the whole the response has been positive and supportive. Many of our students are excited about the new relationship and have already expressed interest in working with the children in the lower grades and brainstorming ideas to include them in Alverno life. Ms. Fanara has received several e-mails from current parents offering support and assistance in marketing the lower school.

3. How and when will the school be accredited?

Currently, Alverno Heights Academy has a seven-year accreditation term through 2021 from the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). 

4. Where will the money come from to fund the build of the school?

The Alverno finance committee will be managing the funding and finances of the lower school. 

5. Will there be a playground for the lower school?

The new sports field along with the permitted sports courts will be used by the lower school.

6. Is there a parish attached to Alverno? How and how often will students attend mass?

Alverno Heights Academy is an independent Catholic school and is member of the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS). Although Alverno is not attached to a parish, the school maintains positive working relationships with parishes and pastors throughout the San Gabriel Valley. We have welcomed visiting priests from several parishes for Mass on campus and encourage our students to extend invitations to their own pastors. Additionally, we are blessed to have a priest within our own school community who regularly leads Mass and prayer services for us.

Our school was founded by the Sisters of St. Francis and is sponsored by the Immaculate Heart Community. Both have a charism of honoring the land, so most of our masses are celebrated amongst the beauty of nature on our campus. We celebrate our Baccalaureate at St. Rita. The specific mass schedule for the lower school has not been decided.

7. Will there be some sort of zoom tour or info session for the lower school?

We are currently working on putting together a tour of campus for families to get more information about the property, Alverno’s history, and more. We will provide all families who have completed an inquiry and/or application with a link when this information becomes available. 

8. How can families receive a tour of the school?

Tours are available by completing an inquiry form on the website. Click here to do so

9. What is the enrollment goal and what is the expected student to teacher ratio?

The enrollment goal is 200 students total in the lower school. We expect this to take a few years.

10. How many grades will be combined?

The plan is to have all grades within their individual homerooms. Students will have the advantage of instruction by some of the high school teachers for academics and extracurriculars. The high school national honor society students will be available for tutoring, mentoring and after school care.

11. If the lower school is looking at say 20 per class, will that be split evenly between boys & girls?

The goal is to balance genders as best as possible.

12. Will local children get first enrollment priority?

Enrollment will be on a first come, first served basis. 

13. Is there a principal of both the upper and lower schools and a head master that oversees it all? What will that chain of command look like?

Ms. Julia Fanara, M.A. & M.Ed. P’01, P’03, and P’05 will be the Head of School for both schools. Ms. Joanne Harabedian M.S. ’69 will be the Director of the Lower School.

14. When will we know who the teachers will be?

Teachers will be announced in May following the completion of interviews.

15. Will your teachers have teaching credentials?

The teachers will have teaching credentials, master’s degrees or both.

16. What will the curriculum look like? Arts? Music? American Sign Language? Spanish? Drama?

Ms. Harabedian is working with a group of experienced educators to create a robust and highly competitive academic curriculum including Spanish, Music, and the Arts. The Upper School offers American Sign Language to its students and may provide opportunities for students at the lower school to begin learning as well. As more information becomes available, we will provide all families who have submitted an inquiry and/or application with updates.

17. What sports will be available?

We will be a part of CYO. However, the size of the school will determine which teams can be fielded.

18. Will there be computers available for students to use?

We are currently investigating the use of Chromebooks.

19. Will there be computers or robotics or will that have to be fundraised for?

Competitive robotics and coding will be offered in grades 3-8. Fundraising during the school year will be earmarked for specific needs.

20. Will there be a raise in tuition every year to cover the extra costs to start the school?

Tuition will not be raised dramatically from year to year. The plan is to keep it at the same rate of 4-5% per year.

21. What are the yearly parent obligations?

The Lower School expects that families contribute at least 35 hours per family per year. You may buy-out at $50.00 per hour for a total of $1,750.00. Outstanding balances will be added to your tuition. Families with a child enrolled in the lower school and daughter enrolled in the upper school will be expected to contribute 40 hours total to Alverno Heights Academy.

22. Will there be an earlier drop off program? Like the after school program, but in the morning? 

We will offer early morning care at 7:00 am for parents who need to get to work early, including teachers, doctors, nurses, etc. 

23. What is the Kindergarten and TK age cut off date?  

Students in TK should be 4 years old by the start of the school year. We will make exceptions if it is determined that the child will do well in TK. The Lower School will admit students with the understanding from the parents that their child may be enrolled in TK for two years if they are younger than 4 years old. This additional time provides benefits including the development of emotional, physical, as well as cognitive benefits of allowing a child to blossom according to their unique time clock. 

We will look at every child in honestly assess their readiness. We don’t hold kids back due to age alone if they are ready to move ahead.

24. When will acceptances go out? 

Acceptances are sent to families within a two (2) week period following an interview. 

25. Will there be interviews for applicants and families? 

The Director of the Lower School will be contacting families to schedule interviews through Zoom. We look forward to meeting the new families interested in our campus! 

26. What will the daily schedule look like? 

School will begin at 8:10 a.m. and conclude at 3:00 p.m. Students will be dismissed at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesdays to accommodate for Faculty and Staff Meetings. 

27. Is TK a full or half day program? 

The TK is a full-day program from 8:10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. 

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