The Nativity School of Worcester, a boys middle school, announced its plans on Sunday to start to enroll girls next summer. In order to finance the establishment of a girls division, Nativity Worcester started a fundraising campaign last year, which has already raised $14 million.

The bulk of that money will be used either to purchase a larger school building in Worcester or to renovate the existing school building, according to school president Tom McKenney. The funds raised will also be used to support scholarships for existing and future students.

“For many years, we’ve wanted to open a girls division,” McKenney said. “We’ve heard from Nativity Worcester families, graduates of our school, and others that were asking, ‘Would my daughter or my sister be able to come to Nativity?’ and we believe in having equitable access to education opportunities.”

Nativity Worcester has a history of progressive policies and stances. Last June, the Catholic Diocese of Worcester stripped the school of its Catholic identity over the flying of a Pride flag and a Black Lives Matter flag. However, Nativity Worcester still designates itself as a Jesuit middle school.

McKenney said the decision by the school to open its doors to girls is “rooted in Jesuit values,” and that the addition of girls will help the boys already enrolled at Nativity Worcester.

“I think there's no question that this overall strengthens our community,” he said. “I think our boys will really benefit in a lot of ways, especially since we try to focus on not only academic excellence, but making sure students can develop socially and emotionally.”

After the girls division is established, McKenney said, core classes like math and English will still be separated by gender, while clubs and certain elective classes will be co-ed. However, McKenney said he believes this class setup will change over time as the school “[tries] to do the best that [it] can” to work with experts in girls’ education.

“We're trying to be as strategic as we can as we're building out our program,” he said. “But I think it will require us to definitely be adaptable, and make sure we're meeting the needs of all of our students in the coming years.”

For parents like Adriana Allen, whose son graduated from Nativity Worcester, this recent decision is a welcome one, as she plans to enroll her daughter at the school next year.

“I’m sure that nothing is going to change with the amazing program that they have here,” she said. “I’m just looking forward to sending her somewhere every day [where] I just know that they are going to support her like I want to support her.”