In addition to celebrating its 90th year as the only all-girls, Catholic, college preparatory school in the Rochester region, Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women will be graduating its inaugural sixth grade class on June 7.
Of the 127 seniors who will be accepting their diplomas at Eastman Theatre, 26 Gibbs St., Rochester. Twenty-three have spent seven years at Mercy, longer than any of the 13,200 alumnae who have come before them.
“My parents wanted me in a Catholic school where I would grow up in a safe environment,” said Jessica Jacobs, class of 2019. “When Mercy first introduced the sixth grade program, we toured, we loved it, we could feel the sense of community and the sisterhood that was around us. I made my decision that day.”
When Mercy opened its doors in 1928, five faculty members taught 75 freshmen. For 62 years, Mercy grew its high school program — not only expanding its academic curriculum for grades nine through 12, but also its student body. Seventy-five students turned into a few hundred, then
several hundred. In 1990, Mercy expanded to include a middle school, accepting seventh and eighth graders for the first time.
In 2012, Mercy once again expanded to include sixth grade. A few years later, the school changed its name from Our Lady of Mercy High School to Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women. Despite the name change, the school’s official alma mater — along with thousands of alumnae — refer to Mercy as “high school.”
The addition of the sixth grade was handled carefully and strategically. Instead of modeling this new grade as the next grade after fifth, Mercy’s program acts as a supportive transition between elementary and middle school, a time in the development of a young woman.
The sixth grade environment and curriculum focus on the development of the whole child, including expanding cognitive and non-cognitive skills, as well as encompassing enriching activities and ensuring multiple opportunities for parent involvement. Mercy’s embrace of differentiated instruction allows the whole group, small group and partner work to be paired with flexible grouping.
“During middle school, our students develop the study skills and academic foundation required to ensure their future report cards are reflective of their effort and abilities,” said Sherylanne Diodato class of 1993, dean of Mercy’s Middle School. “All of our middle school and high school
teachers work closely to ensure seamless vertical alignment of curriculum from grades six to 12.”
Mercy’s college preparatory program includes a curriculum that is aligned with national College and Career readiness standards. Mercy discontinued participation in the New York State “Year after year, Mercy’s graduating seniors receive generous college acceptance packages.
Members of the 2019 graduating class earned an average of $236,000 in total scholarship offers from all the colleges and universities to which they’ve applied,” said Mercy President and CEO Pam Fennell Baker class of 1974. “The combination of our college prep curriculum, all-girl environment, and amazing faculty really yields an incredibly high return on investment.”
“There has been a lot of transformations over the past seven years,” said Hayes, a graduating senior. “Although I’ve only grown two inches since I started at Mercy as a four-foot-ten sixth grader, Mercy has helped me grow and succeed in my studies; I couldn’t be happier.”