Staff and admin arrive in Paris.

Dear students and parents,

The staff and administration arrived two days ago in Paris at the Lycée Notre Dame de Sion to begin preparation for our month of Parisian adventures. The Program Heads, Deans, Activities Directors and Assistants are finalizing the many details to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.

We are looking forward to meeting you at the airport on July 3rd, and we are thrilled to welcome you to this enriching, exciting, and amazing cultural experience! A bientôt!

L’Académie de Paris.


July 20 Parent Letter

photo (14)Dear Académie de Paris Parents,

I am pleased to report that your children are taking full advantage of all that Oxbridge in Paris has to offer.  Last Sunday, at our weekly assembly, I encouraged them to continue to make new friends and embark on excursions after their majors and minors (if rest is not a priority).  After visiting several classes and joining them on trips, I can assure you that this group is an active and engaged one, willing to take on challenges and help others.

The week began with our “revolutionary” surprise, a night of dancing in the courtyard of a local fire house (the Bal des Pompiers) and a traditional way to celebrate Bastille Day. The staff in Paris was most impressed with the way that students not only participated with enthusiasm but “marched” back to Notre Dame de Sion in an orderly fashion!  I had the chance this week to witness a dynamic cohort of Philosophy/Le Bien et le Mal students debate the political philosophies of Rousseau, Descartes, and Voltaire (before a trip to the Panthéon).  I also observed students grapple with the concept of the “Avant-Garde” after both listening to a local fashion designer discuss his “obsession with fur” and visiting an exhibit about French fashion of the 1950s at the Musée Galliéra.  With open and inquisitive minds, students learned French vocabulary by touring the Père LaChaise cemetery or discovered the secrets of becoming a writer by listening to the sage and humble advice of esteemed guest speaker Darin Strauss.  Culture and Cuisine teachers led their students  – and other interested gourmands – in a cheese-tasting extravaganza (there were ten different varieties), and our Medicine and Public Health teacher inspired his students to dissect both hearts and lungs.  Students learn by doing at Oxbridge, and my many conversations with individuals were a testament to the way that learning is most effective when approached both experientially and creatively.  What could have been more rewarding than to hear a student tell me about her defense of the inductive method or another one about his new-found passion for bio-ethics?

“I am planning out every free moment until the end of program,” proclaimed one participant, “because I just don’t want to miss out on anything in Paris.”  As you are aware, students are free to explore Paris on their own or engage in planned events after classes.  This week, activities directors were extremely pleased with attendance at their activities, including a couple of visits to museums which are definitely off the beaten tourist path:  Mundolingua, a fascinating languages museum, and the Counterfeiting museum, offering a glimpse into the art of all things fake and fraudulent, were among the unique options.  A number of our students climbed aboard the world’s most famous train, the Orient Express, while others visited the French Senate or the Stade de France. Two “House” events occurred this week, a Quiz night and the Ox-lympics, and competition was fierce for team points.  For videos, photos, and more detailed reviews of each of our activities, please see the program blog at:  Additionally, the calendar for the upcoming week’s activities is attached.

Tonight, at our weekly assembly, I reiterated the message that my role is to make sure that everyone is safe, healthy and happy.  As a teacher of both leadership and European history, I discussed what it means to be a “citizen” of the Académie de Paris and seized the opportunity to assure them that I was not a proponent of absolute rule, as was Louis XIV (a hint of what is to come on our trip to Versailles this Wednesday)!  In addition to building a sense of community, we strive to attend to the needs and interests of every child, and as always, we hope that your son/daughter will reach out to us if need be.


Best Regards,

Heidi Kasevich, Ph.D.

Director, Académie de Paris, Oxbridge Academic Programs

End of Week One Update from the Director, July 13, 2014

IMG_1066Dear Académie de Paris Parents,

It has been a very busy week here at Notre Dame de Scion as students settled into Oxbridge life in Paris.  Every student has selected his or her major and minor courses amongst a list of twenty-four  in subjects as diverse as Psychology, Photography, Le Bien et le Mal and Paris et L’Avant-Garde.  We have worked hard to ensure that students are both comfortable and challenged in their courses, which are offered in both French and English.  We currently have everyone in the right place.  As you know, students have been encouraged to expand their horizons and follow their passions, and it was rewarding to have individual discussions with students about the subjects that truly spark their interest.  Getting to know our students on an individual basis is one of my primary goals as director this summer, and these conversations about classes have enabled me to begin to get to know them as learners.  I look forward both to visiting classes and hearing about culminating projects that the teachers have in mind for their students. 

A variety of activities awaited your children after their courses were finished each day, and some highlights of the week included visits to a local bakery (in French or English) and to the Tuileries fun fair.  What could be more enjoyable than making French bread with an expert chef or flying high on an amusement park ride?  Sixty-six students went on tours of the Opéra Garnier, and one of our activities directors reported that students on the medieval tour were so enthusiastic that they did not want it to end, so he decided to extend the tour by taking them to the Panthéon.  The cold and rainy weather has not stopped this curious and courageous group of students; some have even exclaimed that the “rain is lovely.”  We are nevertheless hoping to see some blue skies next week! Please consult our blog to see pictures of our classes and activities (we update it on a regular basis):  (  To catch glimpse of the upcoming week’s activities, see our (revised and attached) activities calendar.

Each night, students gathered in the cafeteria for dinner:  new friendships formed as students tasted some of the chef’s specially prepared meals (salmon and spaghetti were favorites this week). We have organized the students into both hall and house groups (named after Parisian monuments) so that they can make new friends with greater ease.  Each of the six houses will “compete” in events this week, including a quiz night and an Oxbridge Olympics.  At the end of the month, the house with the most points will get to participate in a special (secret) event.  Another “revolutionary” surprise for everyone will occur on the evening of Bastille Day.

As always, do not hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns or information that you would like to share with us.  The health and safety of our students is of paramount concern to us. 

Best Regards,

Heidi Kasevich, Director

July 6 Arrival Letter

View of Notre Dame de Sion from the Tour Montparnasse Photo taken by student Brandon Chiu

View of Notre Dame de Sion from the Tour Montparnasse
Photo taken by student Brandon Chiu

July 6, 2014

Dear Académie Parents,

I am delighted to inform you that your children have arrived safely in Paris (if they were scheduled to arrive today), and we are simply thrilled to welcome them to Notre-Dame de Scion.  After receiving their room assignments, participants gathered in the Jardin d’Hiver for snacks, conversation and games.  Additionally, many of them took advantage of the five walking tours of the neighbourhood that we offered this afternoon. I noticed many return with new friends and a few essential items (ice cream included).

After a healthy dinner in the cafeteria, we gathered as an entire group for our “Getting to Know You” assembly.  I began by explaining how the Oxbridge approach to study abroad is a unique one that will open doors for intellectual, social, and emotional growth, as it did for both of my children.  As I stated, “You will have the best summer ever, as long as you take full advantage of all that we have to offer both inside and outside the classroom.”   Our team of deans, program assistants, and activities directors introduced themselves by both showing a home-made video and talking directly to the community.

Tomorrow, participants will learn all that they need to know about program rules and regulations during our second assembly, and as I said today, we will do everything possible to ensure that everyone will be both safe and happy.  They will then dive into the academic part of the program with abridged major and minor classes (one hour each).  The activities directors have planned four different excursions for the afternoon, including a visit to the Sainte Chapelle, a thirteenth century church with stunning stained glass windows, and a trip to the observation deck of the tallest skyscraper in Paris, the Tour Montparnasse.  Please note that some of our activities throughout the month have a limited number of places, so we will not always be able to include everyone in their “first choice” activity.  However, we will do our best to make sure that all participants “get” their first choice approximately the same number of times.  Please see the attached activities calendar for a preview of upcoming events for the month (note that it could change depending on weather).

The silence on the halls is a fine indicator of sound sleep, and I am hopeful that your children will be well-rested for the first full day of the program tomorrow.

Thank you for entrusting your children to our care.

Best Regards,


Dr. Heidi Kasevich

Director, Oxbridge Academic Programs, Académie de Paris

July 3 Welcome Letter from the Director

HeidiJuly 3, 2014

Dear Académie Parents,

I am delighted to inform you that our administrative team has been hard at work since last Sunday to make sure that everything will be ready for the arrival of your children on July 5th.  The Notre-Dame de Scion
schoolhouse has been transformed into a study abroad center, and we are doing all that we can to ensure that your children will have an unforgettable summer of 2014. With a skilled, committed and enthusiastic
team of deans, program assistants, and activities directors, your children will have the support they need to adapt to Oxbridge life in Paris.  Our seasoned teachers are prepared to fully engage their students in creative ways and to exploit local riches to the fullest.

In addition to major and minor courses, your children will have the chance to participate in a myriad of activities over the course of each week, and we hope that they will take full advantage of all that Oxbridge has to offer. A hall and house system will ensure that your children have ample opportunities to meet new friends, and activities directors have planned three excursions per day for the entire month.

We will strive to fulfill our mission on a daily basis:  imaginative teaching, active learning, and the chance to safely prepare to become more independent and self-reliant.  Please anticipate a weekly update about life
here in Paris and do not hesitate to reach out to us if need be at or at