Academy of Our Lady of Peace conducts major upgrade to buildings

Head of School Lauren Lek
(Robyn Scherer)

As Academy of Our Lady of Peace in Mission Valley looks to the future, school leaders have been upgrading facilities that in some cases have been around almost as long as the school’s 140-year existence.

“Several of our buildings date back to that time period,” said Head of School Lauren Lek, who lives in Carmel Valley, referring to the founding year of 1882.

That’s what spurred the school to begin “one of the largest and really the first comprehensive capital campaign” in the history of the all girls Catholic school, which serves about 750 students.

“That capital campaign included the renovation of 40,000 square feet of two of our largest academic buildings, Navarra Hall and then Shiley Hall, the center for science and innovation,” Lek said.

The school is also in the process of building a 20,000-square-foot library media center and performing arts complex, which is on pace to be completed by the end of this school year.

“That will help bring us up to speed in terms of campus facilities to meet the needs of our students today,” Lek said.

Lek also said that about 40% of the school’s graduates enter STEM majors in college, outpacing the national average.

“We know from research that if a girl can see it, she can be it,” she added. “Too often in our STEM fields, our girls haven’t been shown the opportunities, they haven’t seen other women in leadership positions. And we know that for our young women, particularly our young women of color and our young women who are coming from lower socio-economic populations. When they see other women in positions within STEM, they believe they can do it too.”

The school’s other notable programs include dance.

“We have one of the very few honors dance programs in the state of California, and yet the facilities that our students are trying to work out of just aren’t up to par,” Lek said. “For example, our library is one of the largest classrooms on campus. In trying to serve 750 students, it doesn’t quite have the square footage we need.”

Lek said that the school’s 750 girls come from 82 different zip codes, and about 12-15% of them cross the international border every day to attend school.

“Our young women are part of a global conversation about how they are leaders today, what they’re doing to make a difference and how they’ll change the world,” Lek said.

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