Lacordaire Academy Director of Admissions Saydi Callahan-Keefe sees a delicate balance around her at this unique Catholic school.
The three-acre campus blends the coziness of a small school with an academic rigor that prepares its graduates—for boys, that’s eighth-graders; for girls, it’s senior year—to enter an ever-more complicated world.
“Lacordaire is an age-appropriate joyful bubble,” Callahan Keefe says. “It’s a wholesome, small-school education. But we want them to be strong as they cross that graduation stage. To be ready for the outside world knowing how to be flexible, knowing how to creatively solve problems.”
College Prep, Dominican Style
Lacordaire was founded in 1920 by the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, NJ. From its start as a French-English school for girls, it evolved into a Lower, Middle and Upper School, housed on a campus that is home to some 288 students. Lacordaire is a coeducational school from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, and girls-only for high school. It’s led by a veteran leadership team that works together to meet its Dominican goals.
“High schools know that students from Lacordaire are going to show up and know how to do the work, maintain balance and participate in extra-curricular activities,” Callahan Keefe says. And our girls who graduate from 12th grade go on to some of the most sophisticated institutions in the world. They go to Yale, they go to St Mary’s in London.”
The college-preparatory curriculum here features forensics, Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society and performing and visual arts. There are scores of clubs, organizations and sports teams.
There’s also a rigorous public speaking program, which is fitting as the school’s name is an homage to Pere Henri Lacordaire, a 19th-century Dominican priest famous for his gift of public speaking and his membership in the Academie Francaise.
Service Through Kindness
Lacordaire was open in-person last year, and aims to safely do so again this year.
The school was happy to be of service to its students—as service to others and social justice is at the heart of its Dominican mission.
“It’s more important than ever that we get out of our own heads through service, through kindness,” Callahan Keefe says. “It brings our community a lot of peace to devote themselves to other people. Being of service can be a relief when the world feels complicated.”
A joyful bubble, indeed.
155 Lorraine Ave., Upper Montclair