Ursuline Academy focuses on student choice through its unique schedule and class options.

At Ursuline Academy the focus is on student choice.

“I know a lot of people say that,” says Sharon Redmond, president of the all-girls Catholic high school in Blue Ash. “When we talk about the Merici Model of the Ursuline’s founder St. Angela Merici, it is based on three things: the culture of the school, student choice and openness. For us, student choice is probably the most important piece.”

The school has embraced the Merici Model since opening the Blue Ash campus 46 years ago. The school day is built around 18 modules, each 20 to 23 minutes long, in which students may be in class or not, spread over a six-day cycle.

“One day you might have English in the morning and the next day it might be in the afternoon. The configuration of students and the times change, but you have the same teacher,” Redmond says.

The format allows the school to build the class schedule around what students want.

“The cool thing is it’s more like a college schedule,” she says. The days also include a number of free periods, where students can’t leave the campus but are free to study, seek extra help or spend the time as they want.

“The students are really in charge of their learning. They have to take responsibility for it,” says Redmond. “It really helps prepare them for college and time management.”

College preparation is what Ursuline is all about. One hundred percent of last year’s 163 graduating seniors were accepted at 55 different colleges, and 96 percent of those young women received scholarships totaling $26.6 million.

This fall Ursuline will have projected enrollment of 679 students including 175 in the class of 2020. Ursuline will also be offering some new courses this year.

One is a full-year advanced film course focused on film analysis, theory, history and the creative process.

“The goal is get students prepared intellectually as well as technically for a future in the field of film or media,” Redmond says.

Also new is a full-year forensic science lab course focused on crime scene investigations, forensic lab skills, digital sleuthing and forensic psychology.

Ursuline will also offer a semester course called “Women in the Public Sphere,” allowing students to analyze debates on gender and leadership and the challenges women face.

Redmond says part of the Ursuline philosophy is that any young woman who is academically qualified should be able to attend Ursuline Academy regardless of their family’s ability to pay.

Tuition this year will be just under $13,000, and she says the school works hard to hold down costs while maximizing financial aide. Some 41 percent of students receive some type of financial assistance. The school is in the midst of a five-year campaign to increase its endowment by $5 million to support student financial assistance.

Redmond says the most important thing for parents to know is that their daughters will be challenged at Ursuline.

“It’s a very rigorous curriculum and students will be challenged but they’ll also be supported by a very caring faculty,” Redmond says.