The Academy of the Sacred Heart, founded in 1821 in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, is an independent, Catholic school for girls in Pre-Kindergarten-3 through grade twelve, with residential accommodations for students in grades nine through twelve. It is operated independently within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette. Its brother school is Berchmans Academy for boys, founded in 2006.
The Academy was established in 1821 and is the second oldest institution of learning west of the Mississippi. It is the oldest, continually running member of the Network of Sacred Heart Schools in the world. It is also the oldest independent school in the Acadiana region.
Founded under the direction of Saint Philippine Duchesne, the Academy has remained in continuous operation through fire, epidemics, and war. Although thousands of Federal troops were encamped in the fields surrounding the Academy during the Civil War, the school was not touched. Union General Nathaniel Banks had a daughter in a school in New York run by the Religious of the Sacred Heart, and he was asked to look after the Grand Coteau sisters and their students.
On campus is a small chapel honoring St. John Berchmans, a Jesuit. St. John Berchmans appeared to a novice, Mary Wilson and cured her of a fatal illness. This miracle eventually led to the canonization of John Berchmans. It is the only shrine at the exact location of a confirmed miracle in the United States.
The Academy is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS) and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). ISAS is a voluntary membership association of private schools. The Association was founded in 1955 and incorporated not-for-profit in 1970. The membership of ISAS consists of 81 schools located in Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Mexico, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas enrolling over 44,000 students.
The Academy of the Sacred Heart is member of the Network of Sacred Heart Schools. The network consists of twenty-one educational institutions in the United States and over two hundred schools internationally. All of the network schools are rooted in the philosophy and vision of St. Madeline Sophie and are guided by the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Education.
The Academy is also a member of the National Catholic Education Association.
As a member of the Network of Sacred Heart Schools, the Academy commits itself to educate to the following goals:
• a personal and active faith in God
• a deep respect for intellectual values
• a social awareness which impels to action
• the building of community as a Christian value
• personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom
The Academy offers a strong, diversified curriculum. Lower School students (grades Pre-K3 through 8th) study art studio, music, guidance, and art appreciation in addition to the more traditional subjects.
The Lower School is divided into Primary (grades Pre-K3 through 4th) and Prep (grades 5th through 8th).
Upper School (grades 9 through 12) students participate in a wide variety of extracurricular activities including athletics, student community governance, performance art, clubs and community service.
Private music lessons are available.
The Academy also hosts many international students (including Foreign Exchange students) in its boarding facilities and has an English as a Second Language Program.Lucille May Grace (Class of 1919), Louisiana Register of the State Lands, 1931-1952; 1956-1957
Salma Hayek, actress
The Academy has an equestrian program with a barn available for students wishing to bring their own horses. The Academy is home to over thirty school-owned and privately owned horses. Sacred Heart Stables, center for the SSH equestrian studies division, features a fourteen stall barn in addition to the unique six stall barn that was built in 1886. The facility also includes two cement wash racks, two lighted, locking tack rooms, over 20 acres (81,000 m2) of fenced turn out, and three fully enclosed riding arenas.
After Hurricane Katrina, it hosted the satellite location for Academy of the Sacred Heart of the Rosary in New Orleans, and its students housed many of the dislocated students from New Orleans.
In 2006, it opened a boys division, Berchmans Academy, for boys in grades PK3-2nd grade. Berchmans Academy currently accommodates boys in PK3 - 12th grade.
In 2006, the administration decided to rename the institution that runs both the Academy of the Sacred Heart and Berchmans Academy. The new name is Schools of the Sacred Heart, Grand Coteau.
In 2006, Headmistress Mary Burns announced her retirement at the conclusion of the 2006-2007 school year. She was temporarily succeeded by Sister Claude DeMoustier, who was then succeeded by Sister Lynne Lieux in 2008.