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In the summer of 1996, several women educators began meeting to consider the possibility of founding an all-girls middle school in the southwest section of Detroit.   A committee of 20 educators was soon formed, made up of several lay women including members of six religious congregations:

  • Sisters of Mercy, Regional Community of Detroit

  • Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe, Michigan

  • Religious of the Sacred Heart, U. S. Province

  • Sisters of St. Joseph, Nazareth, Michigan

  • Sisters of Charity of Our Lady, Mother of Mercy

  • Adrian Dominican Sisters, Adrian, Michigan

Throughout the history of our country, many organizations have founded schools for special groups of students as a supplement to the public school system.  Notable examples include the schools founded by dioceses and religious orders specifically for the education of disadvantaged students.   Two recent examples in Detroit are the Cornerstone Schools, founded by the Archdiocese of Detroit for elementary and middle school at-risk students, and Loyola Academy, founded by the Jesuits for the education of at-risk high school boys.

Recent examples of middle schools for girls are in New York, Boston, and Milwaukee: Holy Child Academy in New York, founded by the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, and Mother Caroline Academy in Boston and Notre Dame Middle School in Milwaukee, both founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame.   Mother Seton Academy in Baltimore is a middle school for both girls and boys, founded through the collaborative effort of seven religious congregations.

Through the collaborative efforts of the planning committee, Our Lady of Guadalupe Middle School opened its doors in August 2001, in a portion of St. Stephen's School in Southwest Detroit. The committee chose this site because of its socio-economic level and because of the multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-cultural nature of the area: Hispanic, African American, Arab, and Appalachian.

The committee also chose to educate preadolescent and adolescent girls because of concern over the lack of an urban school specifically designed to address their needs.  Committee members who have lived and worked in Southwest Detroit are convinced that there is an urgent need for a holistic, individualized, and integrated approach to education for urban middle-school girls. These young women come from families which are excluded from society's advantages and for whom private education is prohibitive and where dropout rates are high.  The girls need an environment that is nurturing and challenging, value-oriented and educationally motivating, in order to support them and their families as they move from past and present limiting situations to futures they can imagine and then realize.