Overbrook Academy opens day school

Overbrook Academy opens day school

Overbrook Academy on Austin Avenue in Smithfield will be opening its doors to the community – now young girls can enroll for day school.

SMITHFIELD – For the first time since opening in 2015, the Catholic Overbrook Academy international boarding school for girls in Smithfield on Austin Avenue is opening its doors for day school.

Overbrook Academy is accredited by AdvancED and teaches girls grades 6-8 Common Core curriculum, as well as the importance of volunteering and spirituality. The academy is a part of Oak International, a Catholic service organization that also directs educational programs in Ireland and Switzerland.

With a new director and principal at the helm, Overbrook Academy is embracing change.

Director Cristina Villasenor said the academy is a valuable experience that young women in the community deserve the opportunity to experience.

“My hope is to have more girls so they can experience the richness of the program,” Villasenor said. “We cannot keep it for just a few.”

The director estimates the academy will enroll 60-80 international girls for the upcoming school year. Since the campus currently has capacity for approximately 110 students, Villasenor said there is plenty of opportunity for local girls to enroll in day school.

The academy completed a pilot program for the day school this year, with one local girl enrolled, and said the process was a success.

“We have a wonderful program to offer students, why not expand it?” said assistant director Caren Colombi.

The experience is especially fitting for students who follow the Catholic faith and want to learn more about spirituality.

Principal Susan Mansfield said the academy not only focuses on educating the mind and body but also on “addressing the spiritual needs of the individual.”

The academy has a priest who serves as the campus chaplain and holds Mass every day, as well as an annual confirmation ceremony.

“This academy exists as a means of evangelization,” Villasenor said.

But the director added the academy also exists to provide a “home away from home” for the girls.

“One of our objectives is to create a family spirit,” she said.

Villasenor speaks from experience – she was a Woodlands Academy student in Ireland.

“I have it in my heart,” Villasenor said.

Both Mansfield and Villasenor have ambitious goals they hope to achieve in their positions.

“We want to institute a STEM program next year,” Mansfield said.

Students will be required to take one STEM class but will be able to choose from the subjects of oceanography, meteorology, environmental science, and engineering.

“We really want to get girls involved in science,” Mansfield said.

Villasenor said the academy eventually hopes to develop a partnership with Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, a Catholic, co-educational, college-preparatory school.

“For those who want to continue their studies in America,” Villasenor said.

Girls who choose to take advantage of the partnership would be able to remain in America to attend high school at Saint Raphael Academy but would still live in the dorms of Overbrook Academy.