We Are Lawrence

Bellesini is Expanding!

Dear Friends,

Over the past twelve years we have had incredible success changing the lives of young men in Lawrence.  This success would not be possible with the extraordinary investment and dedication of our donors, volunteers, teachers, staff, students, alumni, families, and community partners.  Together we have helped more than one hundred boys achieve their full potential despite the significant challenges they face. 

  • Only 6% of low income students attend private high schools in the U.S., but 92% of Bellesini students currently attend, or have graduated from, a private school;
  • While the graduation rate for males in Lawrence is just 58%, 100% of Bellesini alumni have gone on to complete high school; and
  • Just 21% of low-income students complete college, but 84% of post-secondary Bellesini alumni have gone on to attend college, and another 7% are attending a technical school.

The Academy has long considered how we could broaden our impact on the Lawrence community.  Specifically, our leadership has focused on the need for more educational opportunities for the 2,500 middle school girls living Lawrence.  These young women face many obstacles to academic and personal success:

  • The teen pregnancy rate in Lawrence is the 3rd highest in the state. Teens who become mothers are more likely to drop out of school and face a significant increase in economic insecurity.
  • 90% of Lawrence students are low-income. Low-income students score lower on standardized tests, engage in more risk behaviors during adolescence, and are five times more likely to drop out of high school.  Only 1 in 10 low-income students go on to earn a college degree.
  • The graduation rate for girls attending Lawrence public schools is 72%--the 7th lowest graduation rate for female students in the state.
  •  51% of Lawrence's female students scored proficient on the 2014 English MCAS, while only 44% were proficient in math and just 21% were proficient in Science/Tech Ed.  Lawrence is labeled a "chronically underperforming district" that needs "substantial intervention" because of its poor MCAS scores.
  • 91% of students in Lawrence are Latino.  Latina girls face significant challenges compared to their female peers, including lower proficiency in math and reading, higher high school dropout rates, and greater rates of obesity.  They are less likely to enroll in AP classes or to take the SAT.  Only 3% of Latina women are represented in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields.   Poverty rates for Latina women are nearly three times those of white women.

In response to these challenges Bellesini will be admitting girls in the fall of 2015, beginning with one class of 15 girls and growing to serve 60 girls in grades 5 through 8 by the 2018-19 school year.  Understanding that the needs of girls and boys are unique, classes will remain single gender, utilizing a "coinstitutional" rather than coeducational model.  This means:

  • All academic classes and most after-school programs will be single-sex; 
  • Boys and girls will have separate sections of the building during the school day;
  • The students will have opportunities to interact in positive ways in some after-school programs and school-wide activities; and
  •  We will be building an addition to the school that will include classrooms for girls and a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Center that will include new science, art, and technology labs. 

Although there will be additional expense in educating more students, the net effect of expanding from 60 students to 120 students will drive down the per pupil cost from $12,000 to about $10,000, as many efficiencies are gained. We hope that you will join us in welcoming the first class of girls. 

We will be accepting applications for girls entering grade 6 starting February 2nd.  We will be adding one grade each year. Once we have completed the building we will accept girls in grade 5.  Thank you for your support as we look forward to serving more students in Lawrence and offering more opportunities for success to both boys and girls!

With gratitude,
ED's Signature 

Julie DiFilippo
Head of School